A bath in the stunning Art Nouveau Gellert Baths, a stroll through the Central European Champs-Élysées, and an evening in the former Jewish Quarter, full of trendy bars and culinary discoveries. This is how a weekend in one of the most beautiful capitals of Europe – Budapest, can look like.
In Budapest, it does not matter whether you are traveling as two and looking for a “table for two”, or if you are alone. This destination is often chosen by people visiting the world without company – in the capital of Hungary you can meet many tourists who are open to mutual contacts, conversations and exchange of experiences. Traveling alone not only does not feel lonely, but you can even immerse yourself in the atmosphere of Budapest.
Tour of the most important monuments
If this is your first time in the Hungarian capital, it is worth spending part of the day visiting the emblematic monuments. The parliament building located by the Danube is impressive not only because of its scale – it is one of the largest buildings of this type in the world – but also due to its neo-Gothic architecture. It is the symbol of this city. The St. Stephen’s Basilica is the tallest building in Budapest and the third tallest in Hungary. It is where the most important Hungarian relic is kept – the mummified hand of Saint Stephen. The complex also includes the Royal Castle located on the hill. The steep ascent will be a challenge, but the effort will be rewarded with a beautiful panorama of the city. There is also an option for those who do not want to run out of steam – going to the Hill, by the oldest funicular railway in Europe built in 1870 that still operates today. Its route, which is less than 100 meters long, starts in the vicinity of the Chain Bridge, which is another symbol of Budapest – a crossing connecting Buda and Pest since the mid-nineteenth century.
One of the most interesting streets in Budapest is Andrássy út – the longest street in the city that is two and a half kilometres long. The variability of its patrons reflects the twisted fate of European history. Already in the 19th century it was named – as it is today – after its originator. It was also the street of Stalin and the People’s Republic. Apart from the dignified tenement houses, attention is also drawn to unusually old trees that must have witnessed all these changes. The street can be seen in the fifth season of the spy series “Homeland”, where it imitated one of Berlin’s avenues. It is interesting, because the street was more inspired by the French style and is called the Central European Champs-Élysées. While strolling Andrássy út, it is worth stopping by the building of the Hungarian State Opera House. It is a neoclassical building open to visitors with interesting frescoes on the ceilings. Next to it, there is one of the stops of the oldest yellow metro line – one of four in Budapest. The city offers residents and tourists the opportunity to travel by trolleybuses, buses, trams and even water trams. The metro, which has been operating here since 1896 (previously only the London underground was launched), is a must-see. By going down to the wooden station, you can almost go back in time by 120 years.
When you are satisfied with the picturesque views of Budapest, at the beginning of the second day and after an intense walk the evening before, do something for your body. There is no better place in Central Europe for therapeutic baths than the Hungarian capital. The most exclusive and breathtaking ones are the Gellert Baths. They enjoy constant popularity among both locals and tourists. Inside you will find thermal, immersion and bubble pools and whatever else you may ever wish for. A beautiful statue of Venus located in the main hall overlooks everything. It is a place not only for relaxation, but also for chatting. Similar attractions can be found in a different famous swimming pool complex – Széchenyi. It is the largest facility of this type in Europe, designed as early as 1881. The great thing is that it also has outdoor pools. Do you remember the famous photo of elderly men in caps playing chess in a steaming pool? This is a scene taken here by British photographer Martin Parr, made for the Magnum agency.
Erzsébetváros, or district 7
We recommend one address for the evening: the former Jewish district, marked as 7 in the administrative numbering, which is full of pubs, bars and restaurants. We are not talking about ordinary pubs, but the so-called Ruin Bars, which began to appear a dozen or so years ago in… ruins – young people adapted deserted and unrenovated premises to places of night entertainment, where it is easy to establish interesting contacts in an artistic atmosphere. The first pub of this type, “Szimpla Kert”, is iconic, however you will also find other similar places in and around Kazinczy utca, where you can drink delicious Hungarian wines, try craft beers, listen to music, talk and eat. Don’t deny yourself a delicious goulash variation or the famous Hungarian halászlé, i.e. a carp soup. Visit Kőleves, for example, where countless old enamel pots serve as decoration. In addition to the tasty menu, the restaurant also offers accommodation. The Jewish district is also worth visiting during the day to see the Great Synagogue rebuilt in the 1990s (larger ones can only be found in Jerusalem and New York), as well as impressive graffiti and murals. Among these contemporary murals there are also those devoted to the triumph of the football “Hungarian golden eleven” in the match against the English at Wembley, and the Hungarian export product – Rubik’s Cube, invented almost 50 years ago by Professor Ernő Rubik.
Listen to music and root
Finally, it is worth planning a trip outside the city. A popular spot near the Hungarian capital is Szentendre. It is located only 20 kilometres north of Budapest and many tourists come there in high season. You can easily get there by suburban railway and take photos of the charming, 18th-century tenement houses. Music lovers are already looking forward to the concerts scheduled for August 10-15 next year as part of the famous Sziget music festival. They have been held on the Óbudai Island by the Danube since the 1990s. During the last, pre-pandemic edition in 2019, the festivals stared, among others, Foo Fighters and Ed Sheeran, and before that – Arctic Monkeys, Rihanna or Blur. Sports fans will surely be interested in the Formula 1 Grand Prix held in the summer at the Hungaroring circuit near Budapest. It is also worth going to the Puskás Arena, which can accommodate almost 70 000 fans, where the Hungarian national team will play their matches in autumn with Albania and San Marino, competing with Poland for promotion to next year’s World Cup in Qatar. Those who have rock playing in their souls will probably be waiting for the concert of the famous American group Aerosmith scheduled for the Arena, which is to take place next summer.
Good to see
Central Market Hall
Ma ponad 120 lat i kryje w swoim odrestaurowanym, neogotyckim budynku niezliczone stoiska spożywcze (ach, te węgierskie papryki!), punkty gastronomiczne (gulasz!), a na piętrze także stoiska z pamiątkami. Uwaga – w niedzielę hala jest nieczynna, więc najlepiej zajrzeć tam wcześnie rano w inny dzień (czynne od 6:00). [en:] It is over 120 years old. It houses countless food stands (oh, those Hungarian peppers!), food outlets (goulash!) and souvenir stands on the first floor in its restored neo-Gothic building. There are. Note – the hall is closed on Sunday, so it is best to visit it early in the morning on another day (open from 6:00)
Rudas Thermal Baths (Rudas gyógyfürdő)
This is another option for those who appreciate therapeutic baths. Part of this bathing area is a dome-covered bathhouse from the time of the Turkish occupation. The building also houses the warmest swimming pool in Budapest – with water temperature of 42 degrees.
This island by the Danube is a place for nature lovers. It includes, among others, a Japanese garden, a rose garden, as well as the ruins of the Franciscan Church and the Dominican Monastery. It is also decorated with a monument from the 1970s, commemorating the merger of Óbuda, Pest and Buda into one city.
Good to know
Where to stay
In Budapest, you will find accommodation for every budget – from exclusive, five-star hotels in the most prestigious parts of the city, to cheaper, simplest hotels in well-connected locations, such as the Baross City Hotel next to the Keleti train station. We recommend private guesthouses, which are often located in beautiful historic tenement houses. Sometimes they have a roof terrace where you can have breakfast and enjoy the beautiful panorama of the city.
Where to eat?
The 7th district offers the most culinary experiences and the richest restaurant offer. It is worth eating in Kőleves, as well as trying Jewish cuisine in the nearby Mazel Tov. For a coffee and cake, you can go to the Art Nouveau Zsivago Cafe in the 6th district, near Andrassy út, where you can admire old furniture, openwork tablecloths and retro cups – you will feel like in the times of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy.
Bus E200 leaves from the terminal 2 , which will take you to the station Köbanya-Kispest. TAXI: A ride to the city center should typically cost around 7200 HUF (26 EUR) depending on traffic conditions. In the arrival hall of terminals 2A and 2B there are car rental offices.