As part of my 16 day interrailing trip in September, I spent a weekend in Budapest with 5 of uni friends! I thought I’d tell you all about what we got up to and share my recommendations and tips!
We stayed in an AirBnB since it actually worked out cheaper for all of us and it gave us the chance to use a free washing machine in the middle of our trip! It was a pretty nice flat with three bedrooms, a bathroom and a kitchen/ dining room. It allowed us to do lots of cooking our own food – saving us money on our trip and helping us stay under budget! The washing machine was also super useful and we’d always planned to find somewhere with one! This meant we didn’t have to pack as many clothes, which was a packing win! Admittedly the washing machine was almost impossible to figure out with no instructions but we eventually managed it! If you want to book your first AirBnB use this link here to get £34 off your first stay, whilst helping me earn some AirBnB credits for my next trip too! Now that’s what I call a win win!
We arrived late at night so pretty much headed straight to bed so we could get up early the next morning and start exploring! The next morning started the best way – with some mystery pastries from Lidl. Since we don’t speak any Hungarian, my friends just picked out some random pastries for us to try for breakfast. There was a bit of a battle for the pain au chocolats but generally they were all pretty good.
Once we were fuelled with pastries we headed out for a day of exploring. A couple of the girls had been out the evening before towards the Budapest Eye so we decided to head in that direction. On our way we stumbled across St Stephen’s Basilica and decided to have a look inside. It was absolutely stunning inside and it looked like a service had just finished, with people in some cool looking traditional dress.
Unfortunately as we left the church and headed towards the riverside it started to rain – something that became a bit of a theme during our time in Budapest! Luckily most of us had packed our waterproofs so we pulled those on and kept walking until it really started pouring and we had to shelter by a building. We took some cute photos – inspired by some girls who asked us to take their photos.
We then headed to the Hungarian Parliament, only to realise that we needed to book a tour for later on in the day. We got in the queue to book a tour only to realise the 3:15 tour we were planning on booking was in Italian – a language none of us speak! Instead we decided to book the 4:15 tour in French, in the hope that I’d be able to translate something interesting for the rest of the group.
Top tip – head to parliament early so you have the best options for which tour to attend. If you speak a language other than English consider attending a tour in that language as the English tours sell out the fastest!
Since we now had time to kill we decided to head to the Fisherman’s Bastion across the river – a top spot in Budapest and somewhere recommended to me by my parents based on their interrailing trip 25 years prior. Unfortunately it kept raining so much that our waterproofs ceased to be waterproof and there were puddles in the bottom of my vans.
Top tip – always ask people you know who have visited where you’re going if they have any recommendations. I got some fab ideas from my parents for this entire trip!
As we walked we stopped at the shoes by the riverfront – a memorial to the Jews of Budapest who were murdered by fascist Arrow Cross militiamen during WWII. They were ordered to take off their shoes, and were shot at the edge of the water so that their bodies fell into the river and were carried away. It represents their shoes left behind on the bank.
Despite the pouring rain meaning we couldn’t pause for long, it was still a powerful monument that told us something about Budapest’s history.
Once we’d crossed the bridge and reached the Buda side of river we were somewhat losing the will to live due to all the rain! We considered the funicular but the queue was long and in the rain so we let a very persuasive and also rather wet man sell us bus tickets which took us all the way up to the Fisherman’s Bastion
Once we got off our beautifully dry little bus at the Fisherman’s Bastion, we battled the hundreds of other tourists (who were exactly as unperturbed by the rain as we were) to take some slightly grey photos of Budapest. After we’d snapped our pics, we headed in to the Starbucks – the closest cafe we could find to dry out and warm up! It wasn’t exactly very Hungarian but I had a lovely cup of tea and a spinach and feta croissant for lunch – you wouldn’t find one of those in a British Starbucks!
After popping in the souvenir shop next door briefly, we took the bus back down the hill before realising the time and having to leg it back to parliament just in time for our tour! Arriving just in time, we joined our French tour group and set off on our tour around parliament. It was a beautiful building and we did learn some fun facts (although some of the vocab was a bit too niche for me).
After our tour of parliament, we were once again hungry so we decided to go to the very fancy New York Café for some posh cakes. We walked there with the help of good old Google maps and waited in the queue for a while. But within an hour we were seated and enjoying the ambiance whilst we ate our cakes. Since it’s pretty pricey, a friend and I decided to share the New York cake selection – including two mini cheesecakes, an apple pie and a tiramisu esque thing. The cakes were delicious but the main feature of the New York Café is the stunning decor and the live music being played.
Whilst the cakes were delicious, they weren’t the most filling so we hotfooted it back to our AirBnB, where we cooked ourselves the gourmet meal of some pasta and pesto. That evening we decided since the weather forecast looked marginally better for the next day we decided to book ourselves tickets for the Széchenyi Thermal Bath. Since we were doing last minute we wanted a way to have online tickets, so we used GetYourGuide. When we downloaded the app, we had our tickets ready to go and used them without any problem at the baths. If you’re looking for an activity to do on your next trip – check out GetYourGuide here and book your own awesome day out. This is an affiliate link, meaning you book your activity as usual and I get a small percentage for pointing you in the right direction.
The next morning we got up, had our breakfast and got ready for our day in the baths. In our case this involved making our own packed lunches since we were living our #budgettraveller life! Swimsuits on under our clothes and towels and flip flops packed, we used our trusty friend Google Maps to navigate our way to the baths. After a failed attempt at the metro (our stop was closed for some reason), we managed to catch a bus and make our way rather straightforwardly to the Széchenyi Thermal Bath.
Upon arriving and using our handy tickets on the GetYourGuide app, we headed to our lockers, which were activated using a snazzy wristband system. Once we’d put our bags and clothes away, we headed out to the pools – the main attraction! There were three pools outside, with loads of loungers and benches to chill on if you weren’t in the pool. The bath itself was beautiful – with yellow walls and bright blue water.
When we got in, the water was lovely and warm – especially after all the cold and wet of the day before. We then decided to try out the indoor pools, but they were far less pretty and bit smelly to be honest so we decided to stick with the outside pools. Since we’d left our AirBnB later than planned, we figured it was pretty much lunchtime and headed back to our lockers to get out our
Once we’d enjoyed some time chilling on the loungers, reading our books and listening to music before we headed back into the pool to spend some more time in the water. Since we’d walked 20,000 steps in the pouring rain the day before, it was absolutely delightful to just relax in the warm water.
Once we’d had our fill of the baths, we headed back into the locker room, which ended up being a rather awkward and entertaining experience for us all – being that we were all very British and therefore uncomfortable with the casual nudity happening in the women’s locker room.
Since it was nearby, once we left the baths, we headed to Heroes’ Square, to take a few pictures before heading back home to our AirBnB to eat. The monument was fascinating and we spent a lot of time guessing who the statues might be or represent, as well as picking our favourites. When we googled later, we discovered that each part of the monument plays tribute to key parts of Hungary’s history.
The evening just involved us all hanging out and eating spicier than anticipated fajitas (due to a lack of ability to read the flavourings packages). That evening though, just as we were all heading to bed, there was the loudest thunder storm I’ve ever heard in my life. This obviously made sleeping a challenge so we all piled into the bed of the biggest room and just hung out chatting and eating pom bears (the snack of the gods).
The next morning, it was time for us to check out of our AirBnB so we tidied up the apartment and packed our bags before heading to get taxis to the train station. After we finally managed to get some money out of the ATM – we’d only used our cards up to that point and summon two taxis to the station, we were horrified to discover that one of the taxis cost twice as much as the other! We then put our bags in the lockers in the station – these quickly became our best friends during our trip!
Top tip – if you have to check out early in the morning and your transport isn’t til later on in the day – dump your bags in the lockers at the train station, they’re cheap and mean you can spend the day exploring, rather than lugging around heavy bags.
Once we were free of the burden of our large rucksacks, we spent some more time walking in the rain, before getting a bus to the riverside near the castle. After climbing many steps to get up to the castle, in a tragic turn of events, the castle and the surrounding museums were closed because it was a Monday! The only way to get over our sadness was of course to eat – so we decided to go for lunch. We found a cute little cafe on the corner near the castle, that had the most amazing selection of cakes. Trying to be sensible, we all had sandwiches first before diving into a sub-section of the delicious cakes. I tried a sour cherry strudel – a Hungarian classic, on the recommendation of a family friend who used to live in Budapest.
Top tip – always check when museums, castles and other places of interest are closed. Often they’re closed on a random day you wouldn’t expect – so make you check before you plan out your days. In Budapest it seems that Monday is a day when lots of things are closed.
So that concluded the end of my weekend in Budapest! From lunch, we headed to the train station and on the next stop on our interrailing adventure!
I hope you find this little insight into my wonderful weekend in Budapest helpful!
Have you ever been to Budapest?
Is it on your bucketlist?
What do you most want to do or see in Budapest?