Back in November me and my mam headed off on a 3 night break to the beautiful city that is Budapest to experience the Christmas markets. We weren’t sure what to expect but upon arrival we were blown away. Today I thought I’d share what we got up to during our trip to Hungary and the highlights of the holiday. If you’re planning on visiting Budapest, then here’s a list of things to add to your itinerary.
There are plenty of different river cruises to choose from in Budapest. For 7000HUF each (about £17) we were served a pizza of our choice and enjoyed unlimited drinks (both alcoholic and soft drinks) whilst taking in the sights on a relaxing cruise along the river. If that wasn’t good enough value, we were able to use the same ticket again to come and see the sights after dark which was beautiful. We purchased our tickets from Silverline at the dock on the day however you can also book in advance here.
It’s pretty difficult to visit a city and not indulge in some good American grub from the iconic Hardrock Cafe. Lucky for us it was right on the doorstep of our hotel (we stayed at the Mercure City Center Hotel which I would definitely recommend if you want a central location). For a lot of people, it’s become tradition to collect a souvenir from Hardrock Cafes around the world. The atmosphere is always brilliant and the cocktails are amazing too!
The main reason behind our trip to Hungary was to experience their famous Christmas market. Situated just 5 minutes from our hotel in Vörösmarty Square, the fairylight-lit wooden huts were exactly as you would see in the movies. Selling everything from hand-painted baubles and crafty woodwork to traditional Hungarian gifts, it was lovely wandering around the stalls especially when it started snowing!
Another thing at the top of our list was the thermal baths. We were originally going to the Széchenyi thermal baths however they were a 45 minute walk from our hotel so we decided to go to the Rudas baths instead which were located a mere 15 minutes away. I’m so glad we decided to walk to the Rudas baths as we were able to cross the beautiful Elizabeth Bridge and take in the stunning views of the city along the way. We bought the wellness package for 3400HUF (about £8) which gave us usage to four pools which varied in temperature. We also had access to the amazing rooftop pool which was unbelievable! With a temperature of 36 degrees and panoramic views overlooking the river and the city, the views were breathtaking.
Sampling Kürtőskalács, a Hungarian Specialty
You can’t visit a new city without sampling their specialties. On our first day we walked over to a cafe to try their Kürtőskalács which is basically a hollow cake covered in a flavour of your choice – my mam picked cinnamon and I got chocolate. They were really tasty but quite filling so we wrapped up our leftovers to take back to our hotel with us. These were priced at 990HUF (about £2.50).
A new experience for the both of us was the ice bar. For 5000HUF (£12) we received a cocktail of our choice which were served in an ice glass and were given a fluffy poncho to keep us warm. We were allowed to stay inside the ice bar for as long as we wanted but as expected, it’s a bit cold to stay longer than 30 minute or so! Inside were some amazing ice sculptures which we took our pictures with whilst we enjoyed our local cocktails.
On our last day we weren’t getting picked up for the airport until 1:45pm so we decided to make the most of our morning by walking to the ice skating rink at City Park. As the largest ice rink in Europe, you can only imagine the scale of it. Situated behind a grand building with stunning architecture, the rink is a beautiful place and is definitely worth a visit. Skating laps around the rink whilst listening to Christmas songs was another highlight of our holiday. We paid 1000HUF ( £2.50) to rent some ice skates and 800HUF (£2.00) for one hour of skating which we thought was great value for money.
I’m aware I’m a little early talking about Christmas so soon but hear me out. I think January is the perfect time to start planning your holidays for the year to help banish those New Year blues and give you something to look forward to. For the past couple of years I have yearned to experience a European Christmas market outside of the UK. However come November when everything starts to get festive, I’ve always forgotten about my little plan to book somewhere. So if you would love to book a city break for the Christmas markets, I would suggest doing it sooner rather than later.
Is Budapest on your bucket list of places to visit? What is at the top of your travel bucket list?