Monday, September 9, 2019

Budapest in 5 days

You know that feeling when you finally begin to work on those promises you made with your high school/college girlfriends on things you would all check off your list together, before you turned a *ahem certain* age. Let's just say it's 30, for the sake of the discussion and nothing else. Okay who am I kidding, we all turned 30 and we finally made our big, fat European holiday happen and we did a 5 day trip to Budapest. As a result of which, you just got lucky and on a *legit* not the standard 'a lot of you have been asking me...' category of demand, find below my suggestions and recommendations, strictly based on what we actually saw and did, for Budapest. Grab some popcorn and start writing. 
I've divided this article into three bits. My top 5 places to grab meals in Budapest. My top 5 sights to visit in Budapest. Please find a lot of accompanying images of vain 'ol me. If you follow me on instagram, you have probably seen a whole bunch of these already but some shall remain exclusive to this article here. 


  • MAGYAR QTR: We found this on google maps (with great reviews) while walking around the chain bridge and absolutely loved it. It has a small but brilliant menu with some classic Hungarian dishes so it was our perfect first meal. Great value for money and the plating was very fine-dining esque. Remember though, there is hardly any vegetarian food on the menu and also in general, Hungarian food is heavy and extensively meaty. 

  • MAZEL TOV: This one makes it to almost all must-do lists on Budapest that exist and justifiably so. It is an urban jungle with dangling fairy light and large hamsas painted on exposed brick which makes it such a picture perfect spot. Their Mediterranean food is all you can dream of and more and made for the perfect cold meal in the 32 degrees of summer in August that we bore through. 

  • MOST BISZTRO: This one is quite large with multiple floors but I have to admit, the best customer service that we go through Budapest. The very diverse continental menu is a perfect palette cleanser between all the local meals you try. It's great for vegetarians and meat eaters alike and I would highly recommend getting a spot on the terrace since that is usually where the crowds hang.

  • NEW YORK CAFE: Their instagram bio describes them as 'Budapest's most beautiful cafe' and while I would normally scoff at something so gloaty, there is no way I could disagree with that sentiment. Built in the Italian Renaissance style complete with a live pianist, this place is a must visit for the experience along with some great cafe style food. 

  • SZIMPLY: It took us two visits in 5 days and an additional 40 minutes of a wait to get a spot here but it was all worth it. The tiniest little brunch spot with the most mind-blowing brunch food ever. PRO TIP: Do the two course tasting menu where I did the avocado toast and the pancakes and I can't begin to fathom how they could knock something so simple, so incredibly out of the park.


  • THE GREAT MARKET HALL: Dubai has its souks, Spain has its Mercdos or Mercats and Budapest has its Great Market Hall where you can find literally everything from Hungarian spices to souvenirs of any sort. PRO TIP: There is a scope to bargain here, but in our experience that doesn't go too far. Other things to look out for: clothing/accessories with Hungarian thread work, Hungarian porcelain, other little nick nacks. It is also the perfect spot for some great shots with the light filtering in through its high arched windows. Also, Euros and cards work mostly everywhere except a few places that will ask for HUF only. If you pay in Euros, expect your change in HUF too.

  • A HUNGARIAN THERMAL BATH: Apart from the fact that you're going to be experiencing natural (medicinal) hot spring waters in this bath, The Szechenyi Bath (the one we went to) comes with a neo-baroque palace of its own! Between the little whirlpools and the jacuzzi in the centre, we couldn't have picked a better place to spend half our day just lolling around. Of course there is a snacks and drinks bar attached. Also, this is located slightly on the outside of the city centre so if you would prefer to take a taxi, don't forget to download 'Bolt' (the Uber of Budapest, so to speak).

  • SZECHENYI CHAIN BRIDGE: Budapest (Buda and Pest) are linked together by 8 bridges that cross over the Danube and it's safe to say that the Szechenyi Bridge with it's lion headstones and intricate construction takes the cake. We made it a point to walk it at night too when it was completely lit up and looked over the gorgeous Buda Castle, the church et al on the other side (Buda).

  • A WALKING TOUR OF BUDA COVERING THE CASTLE, MATTHIAS CHURCH AND THE FISHERMAN'S BASTION: Safe to say that a trip to Budapest would be deemed incomplete without covering the whole of Buda on foot and a little insight into all these major attractions. We booked a walking tour with a very adept guide well in advance and quite enjoyed the whole experience. Also, best to see what combination works for you because there are some that include a funicular ride back into Pest from Buda. 

  • GOZSDU UDVAR AND THE RUIN BARS: A bunch of 30 somethings *gulp* couldn't exactly have gone to Budapest to just catch up and come back, to be honest. We obviously forayed into the ruin bar scene and the passage of Gozsdu to see what the hype was about. Szimpla Kert obviously took the cake with its myriad of themed rooms and a lot of quirky and extremely trippy decor bits across the whole building. It was also the largest bar I had ever been to. A cute albeit creepy discovery would have to be Csendes Vintage Bar which was also a ruin bar replete with everything creepy and amusing to decorate it. Try some 'palinka' (comes in a wide variety of fruit flavours), the Hungarian liquor or play it safe with some brilliant Hungarian wines. Also, there was a very lively salsa scene at the Cat Bar in Gozsdu on a Friday night.

We obviously did a whole bunch of other things too like a spot of shopping at some local boutiques, queue up at Gelato Rosa, visit St. Stephen's Basilica, a few forgettable meals, hunting down roasteries for our morning coffee, Heroes' Square, the adjoining park, Andrássy Avenue to walk down and gawk at some stunning mansions and high end designer boutiques, The Hungarian Parliament, the shoes on the Danube..the works. The point is, make your experience your own and just go with it.

I hope these travel listicles help you form your itinerary for whenever you visit Budapest. Do not forget to comment, share with someone who might be interested and save the page if you like the recommendations. 


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