Budapest in the autumn is magical – the baths, the Christmas markets, the Danube sparkling with hundreds of lights. This is my second visit to Budapest and my second blog post – the first time I went I was interrailing. You can read about that here. I loved it so much that I decided I wanted to take my boyfriend here for his birthday this year – It’s the perfect city to spend a long weekend in.
The apartment I chose was Happy Home Budapest (Fox), in the middle of the Jewish quarter and close to all the ruin bars – more on those later. I chose the apartment for its quirkiness and the location, but it did also have amazing 9.6 reviews on Tripadvisor! It came with a free minibar, coffee pods and a bottle of wine which were such nice, thoughtful touches.
Definitely my favourite part of Budapest is the bathhouses. On our first night, we headed to Szechenyi Baths, the largest and most visited. There are 15 indoor baths and 3 outdoor pools, all at different temperatures. There are also saunas and steam rooms. The outdoor pools are so romantic and magical at night – one of the outdoor pools even had a jacuzzi and whirlpool.
I’d definitely recommend if you’re visiting Budapest for three or more days to visit another bathhouse as well. We headed to Gellert, which is on the Buda side. Gellert is breathtaking inside, probably the prettiest Art Nouveau bathhouse, but has fewer pools than Szechenyi. The large outdoor wave pool wasn’t open, though as it’s not heated that was probably for the best. They do also have an outdoor heated bath but it was fairly small and crowded.
The Ruin Bars
Ruin bars are a unique part of Budapest culture. These spring up in the ruins of abandoned buildings and are mostly situated in Budapest’s old Jewish quarter. As this neighbourhood was left to decay after WW2, it was an ideal place to develop an underground bar scene. Most of the major bars aren’t really underground anymore but have managed to keep the laid-back atmosphere despite the bustling crowds. The smaller, newer ruin bars still pop up, get shut down, and move frequently depending on whether the authorities find out, the neighbours complain, or an investor buys the property to renovate.
My favourite ruin bar by far is Szimpla Kert, the original and most popular bar which opened in 2001. Once an abandoned factory, it has a large open courtyard and is filled with eclectic furniture, graffiti, fairy lights, cocktail bars and even an old Trabant car.
We went there on the first night and ended up staying for hours, and then finished our second night there too. Drinks are reasonable (or really cheap if you stick to wine/beer!), and every room has such a different vibe you can just spend all night moving between them. The random objects everywhere make it so interesting to just wander around.
Instant and Fogas is a ruin bar complex and the most club-like by far. These joined together in 2017 after Instant outgrew its old premises (and a boutique hotel got built instead…). This complex again had an array of random things on the walls/suspended in the air, hundreds of fairy lights and a huge outdoor area – Fogas even has a huge circus tent-style ceiling.
Anker’t was nice and relaxed when we went, but we appeared to have missed the crowd as it was pretty dead. Doboz sounded cool but the £4 entry for men put us off – especially when all the others are free!
The Christmas Markets
The Christmas markets were one of the reasons I chose Budapest – they start in mid-November, which is quite early in comparison to other cities. The mulled wine was really nice, somehow so much nicer than the mulled wine you get at English Christmas markets. Mulled white wine was my favourite. Though there was a definite lack of vegan food though- no stalls had anything we could eat except chestnuts!
The markets we went to were concentrated around Vorosmarty Square (though there’s also some at the Basilica which open towards the end of November!).
The Boat Cruise
We took an evening boat cruise along the Danube, booked at one of the tourist information stands. We chose to go in the evening because of how gorgeous the Danube looks lit up. There are loads of different cruises to choose from, but we just went for a standard ticket with two free drinks (some surprisingly horrible Rosé). It is cold though, so if you sit on the deck make sure you wrap up!
The Street Art Tour
On our final day, we went on a street art tour which was a 2.5-hour tour around the Jewish quarter, looking at painted murals and street art. I always think a free (tip-based) walking tour is a great way to see a city, and I also love street art! The guide was great and told some really interesting stories as well. If you fancy doing your own, this map is really useful.
The Liberty Statue
The Shoes on the Danube
The Budapest Eye
This may be a very touristy thing to do… but you do get amazing views over the city! We made sure to do this on the brightest, clearest day.
I hope you enjoyed reading about my weekend in Budapest. Have you ever been? Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments!