When I chose Budapest for our New Year trip, I envisaged it being (temperature-wise) similar to Amsterdam, where we spent New Year the year before. I was wrong. It was MUCH MUCH COLDER.
What We Did
Tried to stay warm!!!
Despite my constant shivering, Budapest is a simply wonderful city with a LOT to offer -we were spoilt for choice in our 3 days there. We did 2 different walking tours with these guys – the Original Walk and the Jewish Quarter walk, which were both excellent (and it helped that they were free!) We ate street food at the Christmas Market (we were lucky enough to catch it on the last day before they took it down on New Year’s Day!). We had a walk through a frosty City Park to get to the famous Szechenyi thermal baths. We visited the most famous ruin bar of all, Szimpla Kert. We did a boat trip on the Danube (which sadly was not at all blue, more of a sort of murky grey colour). We took a tour inside the impressive Parliament Building. We walked across the Chain Bridge to the Buda side, walked around Fisherman’s Bastion by night and enjoyed the sparkling lights. We toasted in the New Year with lovely Hungarian fizz. We visited the inside of St Stephen’s Basilica and went up the dome to the top. We saw the ‘bronze shoes’ memorial on the banks of the Danube, a tribute to the Hungarian Jews who were shot into the water there.
Where We Stayed
Hotel President, about which I have nothing bad to say. It was well located and we could walk to everything we wanted to (in my humble opinion the Pest side is the much better side to stay – almost all the interesting stuff/nice restaurants/cool bars are over there), our room was warm and cozy and breakfast was tasty with a nice variety. We didn’t have time to use the gym or pool so I can’t comment on that.
Where We Ate
We actually ate amazingly well in Budapest – much better than I expected and best of all, for very reasonable prices!! The highlights were a slightly pricey but delicious dinner at Costes Downtown and an equally delicious and much less pricey dinner at Borkonyha Winekitchen (where the staff were delightful and matched very reasonably priced wines by the glass with the food). After our walking tour, the guide suggested lunch at Fortuna (which I don’t think has it’s own website, so I’ve linked to the Tripadvisor page) – it’s mainly used by the locals who work on Castle Hill rather than tourists so the food is authentic Hungarian and CHEAP!! We really enjoyed our chicken goulash with Hungarian dumplings. If you get a chance to try street food, you have to have Langos- the Hungarian equivalent of pizza (deep fried dough topped with sour cream and cheese -delish!)
As for drinks, DiVino right by St Stephen’s Basilica is a lovely wine bar with an excellent selection of Hungarian wines by the glass. Szimpla Kert is unmissable (Budapest is famous for ruin bars – bars set up in old abandoned buildings – but Szimpla Kert is the biggest, busiest and wackiest of all!) and you have to have hot chocolate at Cafe Gerbeaud.
I can’t wait to go back to Budapest… But maybe in the summer!!