Budapest is a tale of two cities, Buda and Pest, a city by day and by night. I’d heard of it’s stunning opulence and old school grandeur but I was pleasantly surprised by the new age traveller feel. We stayed in the Old Town Jewish District which was littered with hidden gems behind huge wooden doors. The day time cafe culture reminded me of Paris whilst the after dusk bar scene rivals Amsterdam.
Everything is easily accessible, you can walk anywhere in the city in around thirty minutes. We had fun catching the number two tram, which gives you a tour of the city for two euros.
Taxi from airport – The easiest transport arrangements I’ve ever experienced. Follow taxi exit at arrivals where you will find a convenient counter, tell them your destination and they give you a receipt with an estimated price and the taxi appears like magic. We paid 7000 to get to the central city – about £20.
DOB Design City Center – An Air B&B hosted by Suzanne. An ideal location in the Old Town Jewish District, a 5-10 minute walk from all the cool bars and restaurants we wanted to visit. The space is minimal and considered, with a double bed on a mezzanine and a sofa bed.
Cafe New York at Boscolo Hotel – Super opulent building, wonderfully restored. However, the pretty bit is reserved for hotel guests which is fair enough, I guess.
Kontakt Coffee – Simply speciality coffee and no sugar kind of vibe – I loved it.
Szimply – Sitting opposite Kontakt, vegan, friendly, cool and tasteful.
Liberté Budapest – Beautiful ambient 1920’s design with a duets of guitarists playing upbeat classics like ‘Moon River’.
Dobrumba – A casual and considered design restaurant, set in the Jewish quarter. The cuisine incorporates flavours from the Middle East with a modern twist. We had two very strong negronis and a selected of vegetarian sharing tapas plates and deserts. My favourite was the Hummus aubergine and the date and fig salad.
Deák St. Kitchen – Old school brasserie reminding me of Soho House in London.
Szimpla Kert – This started our weekend off on a high with three floors of rustic excitement. Graffiti is the main decoration here, providing many photo opportunities with the flash on. The music ranges from everything from reggae to dance. We particularly enjoyed the open mike set in the back left room, absolutely brilliant improvisation and genuinely amazing performances from an entertaining group of internationals. The wine costs less than water here, so it’s probably better to just drink.
Mazel Tov – A hidden gem, warehouse style in the Jewish quarter.
Budapest Castle Hill Funicular – Exactly like a scene from ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’. This lift will take you up the steep Castle Hill as quick as a flash.
Fisherman’s Bastion – This stunning neo gothic architecture is one of the most popular spots of the Castle District, as it offers a grand panorama of almost the entire city.
Number two tram takes you all around the city for just 2 euros.
Nanushka Store Budapest – Beautiful designer boutique, sale upstairs is discounted. I needed it all.
Budapest Design Store – Selling Hungarian artist works, I bought some simple prints and postcards.
Wild Flower Bar – Cute flower shop and concept store.
Ecseri Flea Market (Ecseri bolhapiac) – We didn’t manage to get here, but I really wish we had as I’ve heard it’s fabulous on a Saturday morning.
Just to note – these are not luxury spas, do not expect luxury treatment. I would recommend going early to avoid crowds.
Gellért Thermal Bath – The indoor option for those who don’t want to brave the winter cold.
Szechenyi Baths – The largest outdoor thermal pools, the summer hen party option.
Rudas Baths – Newly refurbished with indoor and outdoor options. The rooftop pool has panoramic views of the city and the cliffs, which was spectacular. It opens at 6am so we arrived at 8 and it was quiet. It was 5200 ‘all in’ per person (around £20).