Photo credit: Swim past an art nouveau fountain at Gellért Baths © Will Sanders / Lonely Planet

 

So tired Mummas I’m back from a glorious weekend in Budapest and promised to share my experience with you once I was … so here goes…

Initially I was planning on hitting 3 Thermal Baths over the weekend but after spending 4hrs at Gellert Thermal Baths on Day 1, I was all ‘thermalled out’. Not that it wasn’t amazing (because it was), just that the city is SO beautiful I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to see and do other things. The other baths we were going to visit but didn’t were The Secret Garden Day Spa (shhhh don’t tell!) and Széchenyi Baths.

Our itinerary was as follows:

Friday
Late afternoon flight from London Gatwick on Wizz Air cost around £67 return. We arrived at around 7pm and took a Bolt taxi to the hotel. Super easy app, seamless experience, cost around £25 one way. There is a bus and train option but we couldn’t be arsed.
We stayed at the NH Budapest City which was in a brilliant location for transport links, access to the river, restaurants and an amazing bakery for breakfast. Super clean, super comfy. We paid £191 for a twin room for 3 nights, excluding breakfast.
Saturday
We headed to Gellert Thermal Baths first thing by tram. We opted for a 72hr travel card which covers the metro, tram and all busses. It’s an absolute bargain at £12 for the 3 days and really easy to install the app, pay and use.

Access to the baths is around £27 and includes a locker only. Flipflops are mandatory and I would advise taking a pair with you as they are expensive to buy once you are there. We only took hand luggage so didn’t pack towels nor did we take the hotel towels (because we wanted dry ones when we got back to the hotel), so we landed up buying there. Towels were on the expensive side and I’d recommend taking 2 towels (one for the end of your visit) as your first one will be drenched by the end of the day.
I also opted for a 45 minute full body massage which was AMAZING and the cost of a massage and the towel was around £57.

There is a coffee shop upstairs for the best coffee I had in Budapest, cakes, pastries and sandwiches and a view down towards the main pool. I was under the impression that phones were not permitted in the baths but there were no end of Instagramers pouting and arching their backs whilst their poor friends were tasked with recording the magical event … so be warned ?.

I would recommend taking a small waterproof zippy pouch / ziplock bag to put your phone in so you can go and buy a coffee or a snack if you want to during your visit (otherwise it’s a long walk back to the lockers.)
Saturday afternoon we walked for miles and ended up at the top of the hill in the Castle district for sunset views over the city which were breathtaking! We opted for the short ride on the funicular which costs around £17, but it was cute and an experience so worth it as far as I was concerned.

We had dinner in a typical Hungarian restaurant situated near Central Market which was delicious, but I wouldn’t say the service was overly friendly. As a side note, we found that most people in the service industry were really friendly once we smiled and said hello first, their default face could be described as stern. This is no reflection on how lovely all of the local people were that we met over the weekend.
Sunday
We had breakfast at our favourite bakery again which cost a total of £7 for 2 x cappuccinos, 2 x delicious organic yoghurts and 2 pastries (!) and then took a tram and a bus up to the Castle District which was simply outstanding!

The whole area is beautifully preserved, clean, safe and the views are magical. St Matthias Church and the Fisherman’s Bastion are truly a sight to behold. We opted to grab a coffee and walk back down through the neighbourhoods which was lovely and quiet.

The highlight of the day had to be our afternoon river cruise which I HIGHLY recommend. £8 each for a 1hr cruise on a beautiful modern, comfortable boat (felt like the BA first class lounge at LHR) with a complimentary glass of Prosecco. Fantastic views, amazing friendly service, a lovely selection of both alcohol and alcohol free cocktails, very clean loos that didn’t feel like boat toilets at all, and they didn’t ask for tips at the end (which is rare on these types of experiences).

The company we went with was called Duna Cruises and they leave from Pier 10.

In the evening we headed out to the Jewish quarter to check out the Ruins bars and chose to visit Szimpla Kert. The concept is brilliant, the bars were super cool and the whole atmosphere was relaxed and very enjoyable. They do serve food if you are peckish but there isn’t a wide variety (think wraps).

On the whole Budapest gets an 11/10 from me. I can’t remember the last time I felt so safe in a city even at night time, and didn’t have to dodge dog poo on the pavements. It’s so clean, relaxing, so easy to get around and so very very beautiful.

EDIT: More top tips
  1. If you are sharing costs with a friend or group – download Splitwise onto your phone. Makes for dreamy accounting post trip!
  2. If you have a lightweight floaty sarong perfect for flouncing around at the thermal baths if you like a bit of coverage.
  3. Footwear – so essential! If you are walking al lot think carefully about your choices… my knees are killing me today!