If you’re planning a weekend in Budapest, let me help. I’ve been three times now, spent over two weeks there, and would be well up for going again. After Barcelona, Budapest is my second favourite European city.Let me show you around.
Actor Anthony Hopkins claimed it was the most beautiful place he’d ever been, Alice Cooper said people needed to visit and Angelina Jolie is even rumoured to have bought a house in the city she loved it so much. If Budapest is good enough for the celebs, it’s definitely good enough for us.
Going to Budapest for the weekend is the perfect opportunity for 48 hours of spas, goulash and amazing architecture.
Budapest has a long and colourful history; it was originally formed by bringing together three separate towns or areas. Pest, Buda and Óbuda were the original districts of the city. But as the city grew so did the number of districts, now totalling 23. Here’s a look around just a few of them for your Budapest weekend.
Budapest is known for having almost 125 hot springs, and taking a dip is a tradition that dates back to Roman times. So making like Cesar in an art nouveau joint like the Gellert Baths or in Europe’s largest medicinal bath at Szechenyi Baths, is a must. For those who prefer a good beat while they bathe, make sure to put a ‘sparty’ on the Saturday night agenda.
If you’re on a budget on your weekend in Budapest, spend Saturday taking in the best of the city’s sites with a walk. Go along the Danube river where views of the Buda Castle, Liberty Statue, Little Princess Statue and Fisherman’s Bastion are free. Then cross the city into either the Buda side or Pest side of the city via the famous Elizabeth or Chain Bridge.
Complete your afternoon by hopping over to Margaret Island in the middle of the river where you can see the music fountain, medieval ruins and fancy water tower, also for a sum total of zero. This is where the famous Sziget Festival takes place every August.
Delve a little deeper into Budapest’s culture on the Sunday, and head underground. Hospital in a Rock is a museum under the Buda Castle dedicated to the secret military hospital built back in the 1930s.
Keeping the clandestine theme going, the Szabo Ervin Library is a 19th century throwback located within another library within an aristocrat’s old mansion — talk about hidden.
A little less secret is the city’s love for Michael Jackson. In front of the Kempinski Hotel there’s a tree dedicated to the star and completely covered in his image. You can walk by on your way to the For Sale Pub. Not actually for sale, this cosy joint is full of floor to ceiling ads, postcards and notes pinned to the walls by the hundreds of patrons who’ve visited in years gone by.
Start each day of your Budapest weekend with a Hungarian breakfast at a hip cafe like Zoska or take an extra shot of history with your coffee in Hadik as you sit where legendary writers are said to have once mused.
If you really want a breakfast in Budapest with a difference, check out the New York Cafe – it’s amazing!
Come lunch time, head to Central Market Hall on day one for a cheap and cheery experience where you can grab some goulash on the go and pick up a kolbice, aka a Hungarian hotdog, on day two.
For a more traditional experience in the evenings, visit the 117 year-old Kerek Tavern in the Obuda neighborhood or Pozsonyi Tavern in District XIII. With warm dumplings, cosy cave-like settings and checkered tablecloths, you’ll feel as if you’ve travelled back in time.
Wash it all down in the Buda Castle Faust Wine Cellar, where you can sample over 20 wines from across the country or try out one of the city’s ‘ruin pubs’ known for their grungy interiors and cheaper prices.
Budapest was made for walking. You can see the sites, save the pennies and work those muscles all while enjoying the Hungarian capital. However, if the distance from St. Stephen’s Basilica to the historic Citadel is just a bit much, the metro, trams, buses, ferries and trolleys charge around £1 for a single ticket or charge less than a fiver for 24 hours of unlimited travel.
Alternatively, wrap up warm and take to city’s waterways. Boat parties, tours and river cruises show you the best of the city from the comfort of the Danube.
It is perfect for picnics, enjoying the nature or just pretending you’ve left town and went on vacation!
Saint Sava Temple is the most important sacral object in the city. It’s located on the Vracar plateau in Belgrade, and it is known as one of the largest Orthodox churches in the world.
The church can receive up to 10,000 people at once and the choir gallery seats 800 singers.
The basement is home to an impressive crypt and the treasury of Saint Sava.
The crypt is open to visitors, but the inside works in the church are still not completed.
If you’re an art geek or if you’re interested in seeing the best examples of Yugoslav architecture, this Museum is something you must visit. Even though it was closed for 10 years, it has now become one of the most interesting cultural institutions in Serbia.
Even the way it looks on the outside is an art form. Due to its geometrical shape and the fact that it’s located across from Kalemegdan, it is called “the crystal at the confluence”. It is one of the greatest Yugoslav architectural pieces, and its creators have even received awards for it.
Today, the Museum’s fund consists of around 8,000 works. Therefore, this is the best collection of art from the Yugoslav art space. It is modernized so that your experience here would be just as enjoyable as in any big museum in the world.
Two other galleries in separate locations are also part of the Museum. Those are the Petar Dobrovic Gallery and the Colakovic Legacy. Both are worth the visit!
This is the only mosque in Belgrade, Serbia. Also, it might be the oldest standing building in Belgrade, since it was built in the 16th century. Just like the entire city, it went through a series of drastic changes to get to where it is today.
During the Austrian occupation, the mosque was actually turned into a Roman Catholic church. When the Turks returned, it became a mosque once again. Now, it serves as the main Islamic cultural center in Belgrade.
It is worth the visit, at least only for the historical endurance it has sustained over the centuries. If you’re lucky you’ll be in Belgrade in time for their traditional annual feast. They celebrate Eid al-Fitr, an important religious holiday, by preparing and giving out lots of delicious food!