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Hungary : Budapest – Our Winter Vacation In “the Paris Of Eastern Europe”

Since the “open skies” agreement was signed between Israel and the EU, allowing low-cost airlines that didn’t work in the Israeli market till then, such as WizzAir and Easyjet, to fly from Israel to many destinations in Europe at very low prices – Daniel and I started a new tradition of a winter vacation once a year.

What’s amazing about our winter vacation is that it’s super cheap for two reasons:

1. We fly to Eastern Europe, which is significantly cheaper than Western Europe when it comes to expenses for attractions, food, hotels and flights.

2. During the cold season airfares and hotels fares drops since the cold winter months attract a lot less tourists than the summer months.

Trip Guide To BUDAPEST, HUNGARY- FLIGHTS, HOTEL, FOOD AND GOOD SPOTS!! = WANDERLUST || מדריך טיול בודפשט, הונגריה - טיפים לטיסות, מלונות, אוכל, קניות, וכל הדברים ששווה לראות בעיר Trip Guide To BUDAPEST, HUNGARY- FLIGHTS, HOTEL, FOOD AND GOOD SPOTS!! = WANDERLUST || מדריך טיול בודפשט, הונגריה - טיפים לטיסות, מלונות, אוכל, קניות, וכל הדברים ששווה לראות בעיר

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During the last couple of years we flew to Bucharest, Romania, mainly because Daniel's brother is in medical school there, and we took advantage of the cheap flights to visit him and to get a taste of what Bucharest has to offer {huge shopping malls, casinos and some restaurants and bars…}.

This year, the Irish airline RYANAIR, which is considered to be the largest low-cost airline in Europe, launched super-cheap flights from the airport in Ovda, near Eilat, to different destinations in Eastern Europe {Poland, Lithuania and Hungary}, as part of a cooperation with the Israeli Ministry of Tourism and the Eilat Hotels Association .

We decided to take advantage of the fact that we live in Eilat and enjoy this attractive offer to fly to a new destination – the capital of Hungary, Budapest!

Flight

As I mentioned before, we flew from the airport in Ovda with RYANAIR.

When Daniel checked flights on the company's website, they were super-cheap – and when I say super-cheap, I mean 10 Euros for each direction! Yes, just like the price of a bus ticket between cities {if not less…}.

It took us some time to finally order the tickets, and we ended up paying 25 Euros for one way {on Saturday} and 30 Euros for the way back {on Wednesday}. This basic ticket allows each passenger to check-in a 10 kg suitcase and take a small carry-on.

Since we traveled during the crazy sales season in Europe, we decided to add an extra 15 Euros to each direction, per person, and to take an additional suitcase that’s limited to 15 kg.

We’re also both tall people so we decided to treat ourselves to spacious seats near the emergency exit for an additional 15 Euros per person – so each ticket ended up coming out to 115 Euros – less than a round trip ticket from Eilat to Tel Aviv!

RYANAIR is operating the line to Budapest and to two additional destinations just until the end of March, so it’s worth it for you to be spontaneous if you feel like going on a super-cheap vacation.

Tip – when ordering your ticket, especially for low-cost flights, it’s important to pay attention to the fine print – the baggage weight limit, printing your pre-flight check-in, etc. to avoid paying fines at the airport.

Trip Guide To BUDAPEST, HUNGARY- FLIGHTS, HOTEL, FOOD AND GOOD SPOTS!! = WANDERLUST || מדריך טיול בודפשט, הונגריה - טיפים לטיסות, מלונות, אוכל, קניות, וכל הדברים ששווה לראות בעיר Trip Guide To BUDAPEST, HUNGARY- FLIGHTS, HOTEL, FOOD AND GOOD SPOTS!! = WANDERLUST || מדריך טיול בודפשט, הונגריה - טיפים לטיסות, מלונות, אוכל, קניות, וכל הדברים ששווה לראות בעיר

Hotel

Although Budapest offers a wide variety of relatively cheap hotels, especially during the winter season, we debated a lot when we chose the hotel because the hotels in the city are very old-fashioned and not the most attractive in my opinion. Even the luxury hotels like Kempinski and Sofitel, offer rooms with an antique look that’s far from modern.

The main consideration we had when we chose the hotel was its location – we wanted it to be as central as possible in case the weather wouldn’t allow us to walk around outside too much.

I searched the website Hotelscombined, an excellent website which makes the hotel selection process much faster and it compares between all of the major tourist sites simultaneously (Booking, Expedia, Hotels, etc.). You can narrow down your search on this website by hotel ratings {by stars and by guest reviews}, price range, location and more.

We decided to narrow our search down to central 4-5 star hotels, and after checking the options offered, we decided to go for the Mercure Budapest City Center Hotel, a 4 star hotel, that’s located on the city’s main shopping street, Vaci Utza.

The hotel was very nice, let's just say that it's not the DAIOS COVE, but it’s an excellent option for a trip to this European city, since you spend most of your time outdoors anyway {especially when you plan a shopping trip 😉 }.

Besides its excellent location and the attractive price {55 Euros a night}, the hotel offers a relatively diverse breakfast compared to many other hotels in Europe, and includes a variety of fruits and vegetables, cheeses, sausages, pastries, breads and cereals, hot and cold drinks and more.

In terms of disadvantages – as I already wrote, the rooms are relatively old looking {although they aren’t very different than many hotels in Israel…}.

The hotel is rated 8.1 {very good} on Hotelscombined, combining the reviews from all of the tourist websites, but if the location wouldn’t have been such a major consideration, we would have chosen the Hilton Budapest City hotel, a 5 star hotel, a bit far from the city center {around a 20 minute walk} and is near the WestEnd shopping center.

Trip Guide To BUDAPEST, HUNGARY- FLIGHTS, HOTEL, FOOD AND GOOD SPOTS!! = WANDERLUST || מדריך טיול בודפשט, הונגריה - טיפים לטיסות, מלונות, אוכל, קניות, וכל הדברים ששווה לראות בעיר

Attractions

We dedicated Sunday to the city's tourist attractions, since Budapest is mostly closed on Sundays just like Israel is on Saturdays {yes… even the shopping malls…}.

Trip Guide To BUDAPEST, HUNGARY- FLIGHTS, HOTEL, FOOD AND GOOD SPOTS!! = WANDERLUST || מדריך טיול בודפשט, הונגריה - טיפים לטיסות, מלונות, אוכל, קניות, וכל הדברים ששווה לראות בעיר Trip Guide To BUDAPEST, HUNGARY- FLIGHTS, HOTEL, FOOD AND GOOD SPOTS!! = WANDERLUST || מדריך טיול בודפשט, הונגריה - טיפים לטיסות, מלונות, אוכל, קניות, וכל הדברים ששווה לראות בעיר Trip Guide To BUDAPEST, HUNGARY- FLIGHTS, HOTEL, FOOD AND GOOD SPOTS!! = WANDERLUST || מדריך טיול בודפשט, הונגריה - טיפים לטיסות, מלונות, אוכל, קניות, וכל הדברים ששווה לראות בעיר Trip Guide To BUDAPEST, HUNGARY- FLIGHTS, HOTEL, FOOD AND GOOD SPOTS!! = WANDERLUST || מדריך טיול בודפשט, הונגריה - טיפים לטיסות, מלונות, אוכל, קניות, וכל הדברים ששווה לראות בעיר

We bought tickets for the tourists’ bus that drives by all of the important sites in the city – City Sightseeing Budapest, because it’s the easiest way to get around between the attractions and to get brief and interesting explanations about the city on the way.
Of course you could also tour around the attractions with the local bus which is cheaper, but it’s much more complicated and time consuming. Besides that, after we experienced a boat ride with the same company in Amsterdam, we decided that it was the best way to find special areas that we wouldn’t know about without the tour.

Trip Guide To BUDAPEST, HUNGARY- FLIGHTS, HOTEL, FOOD AND GOOD SPOTS!! = WANDERLUST || מדריך טיול בודפשט, הונגריה - טיפים לטיסות, מלונות, אוכל, קניות, וכל הדברים ששווה לראות בעיר Trip Guide To BUDAPEST, HUNGARY- FLIGHTS, HOTEL, FOOD AND GOOD SPOTS!! = WANDERLUST || מדריך טיול בודפשט, הונגריה - טיפים לטיסות, מלונות, אוכל, קניות, וכל הדברים ששווה לראות בעיר Trip Guide To BUDAPEST, HUNGARY- FLIGHTS, HOTEL, FOOD AND GOOD SPOTS!! = WANDERLUST || מדריך טיול בודפשט, הונגריה - טיפים לטיסות, מלונות, אוכל, קניות, וכל הדברים ששווה לראות בעיר

During the tour we got to know the Eastern side of the city – “Pest” – where the Jewish Quarter is, the food market, the National Museum and other charming streets with restaurants and shops, and the Western side of the city – “Buda” – where we toured around the castle district and we took the cable car to Buda Hill Funicular to the magnificent observation point – it’s highly recommended.

Trip Guide To BUDAPEST, HUNGARY- FLIGHTS, HOTEL, FOOD AND GOOD SPOTS!! = WANDERLUST || מדריך טיול לבודפשט, הונגריה - טיפים לטיסות, מלונות, אוכל, קניות, וכל הדברים ששווה לראות בעיר Trip Guide To BUDAPEST, HUNGARY- FLIGHTS, HOTEL, FOOD AND GOOD SPOTS!! = WANDERLUST || מדריך טיול בודפשט, הונגריה - טיפים לטיסות, מלונות, אוכל, קניות, וכל הדברים ששווה לראות בעיר Trip Guide To BUDAPEST, HUNGARY- FLIGHTS, HOTEL, FOOD AND GOOD SPOTS!! = WANDERLUST || מדריך טיול בודפשט, הונגריה - טיפים לטיסות, מלונות, אוכל, קניות, וכל הדברים ששווה לראות בעיר Trip Guide To BUDAPEST, HUNGARY- FLIGHTS, HOTEL, FOOD AND GOOD SPOTS!! = WANDERLUST || מדריך טיול בודפשט, הונגריה - טיפים לטיסות, מלונות, אוכל, קניות, וכל הדברים ששווה לראות בעיר Trip Guide To BUDAPEST, HUNGARY- FLIGHTS, HOTEL, FOOD AND GOOD SPOTS!! = WANDERLUST || מדריך טיול בודפשט, הונגריה - טיפים לטיסות, מלונות, אוכל, קניות, וכל הדברים ששווה לראות בעיר Trip Guide To BUDAPEST, HUNGARY- FLIGHTS, HOTEL, FOOD AND GOOD SPOTS!! = WANDERLUST || מדריך טיול בודפשט, הונגריה - טיפים לטיסות, מלונות, אוכל, קניות, וכל הדברים ששווה לראות בעיר Trip Guide To BUDAPEST, HUNGARY- FLIGHTS, HOTEL, FOOD AND GOOD SPOTS!! = WANDERLUST || מדריך טיול בודפשט, הונגריה - טיפים לטיסות, מלונות, אוכל, קניות, וכל הדברים ששווה לראות בעיר Trip Guide To BUDAPEST, HUNGARY- FLIGHTS, HOTEL, FOOD AND GOOD SPOTS!! = WANDERLUST || מדריך טיול בודפשט, הונגריה - טיפים לטיסות, מלונות, אוכל, קניות, וכל הדברים ששווה לראות בעיר Trip Guide To BUDAPEST, HUNGARY- FLIGHTS, HOTEL, FOOD AND GOOD SPOTS!! = WANDERLUST || מדריך טיול בודפשט, הונגריה - טיפים לטיסות, מלונות, אוכל, קניות, וכל הדברים ששווה לראות בעיר Trip Guide To BUDAPEST, HUNGARY- FLIGHTS, HOTEL, FOOD AND GOOD SPOTS!! = WANDERLUST || מדריך טיול בודפשט, הונגריה - טיפים לטיסות, מלונות, אוכל, קניות, וכל הדברים ששווה לראות בעיר Trip Guide To BUDAPEST, HUNGARY- FLIGHTS, HOTEL, FOOD AND GOOD SPOTS!! = WANDERLUST || מדריך טיול בודפשט, הונגריה - טיפים לטיסות, מלונות, אוכל, קניות, וכל הדברים ששווה לראות בעיר

We saved Budapest’s biggest treat for its residents and tourists, the thermal baths, for the last evening of the trip.

The luxurious thermal baths in the city date back to the Turkish occupation period and the hot springs located all around Budapest provide the thermal water to these baths. We decided to go to the Gellert Spa, in the luxurious Gellert Hotel located on the western side of the city.

The baths are built in an Art Nouveau style and are decorated with mosaics, spectacular stained-glass windows and marble columns, and combines the ancient historical heritage with modern facilities.

The outdoor swimming pool is closed during the winter, but we enjoyed the indoor thermo-mineral pools that offer different degrees of heat, the saunas and the Jacuzzi, and of course we couldn’t skip the couple massage which was much needed after our long walks around the city {also known as shopping 😉 } .

Shopping

The main trigger for our trip this year were the crazy sales that occur all across Europe every January.

Since we only had two shopping days in Budapest, we split our time between the WestEnd shopping center and the main street, Vaci Utza.

Vaci Utza is the city's traditional fashion street where you can find major fashion chains, different makeup brands, shoe stores and of course souvenir shops.

The WestEnd shopping center is the biggest mall in Budapest, with more than 400 stores selling clothing and shoes, home accessories, makeup, toys and even has a movie theater. Although it’s not located in the tourist part of town, you can get to it quickly by any means of transportation {metro, tram, taxi or even walking if the weather allows}.

During the sale season, almost all of the stores in the mall, and especially the chain stores and international brands, like H&M, TIMBERLAND, MANGO, BERSHKA, PULL&BEAR and ZARA have major sales that can reach up to 70% off – and they have a ton of items.

The mall itself isn’t as glamorous as it’s described on many sites and is very reminiscent of the Dizengoff Center in Tel Aviv with its complicated structure. If you get lost you should go to one of the information centers in the mall and get a map of the stores.

An important tip – the mall has a baggage hold on the lower floor near the bathroom that is open every day from 11:00 AM, and lets you get rid of your coats and unnecessary layers, and it only costs 100 Forints {less than 0.5 euros} for a whole day!

Another important tip – don’t forget to ask for the necessary forms for tax refunds and keep all of the receipts from your shopping trip, because tourists are entitled to a refund of up to 16% VAT on receipts that exceed 50,000 Forints from stores that are part of the agreement {you can also accumulate receipts from different stores belonging the same parent company like ZARA, Pull & Bear, Bershka, Massimo Dutti and Stradivarius}.

At the airport, before you check-in your luggage, look for the IBUSZ counter in order to get the refund.

Food

When I think about Hungarian food I have two things in mind: Goulash soup and Kurtosh. Oh yeah, and of course paprika, too.

The first could be found in almost every restaurant in town, whether in traditional or trendy restaurants, and they know how to prepare it wonderfully.

The second, which I couldn’t stop thinking about for at least a month, was less common and while we explored the city we only found two street vendors that sold Kurtosh {really strange considering my previous visits in Romania where I found more Kurtosh than I did in Hungary…}.
Oh well, at least the ones we found were good and did a great job keeping my body warm in the cold European winter

Trip Guide To BUDAPEST, HUNGARY- FLIGHTS, HOTEL, FOOD AND GOOD SPOTS!! = WANDERLUST || מדריך טיול בודפשט, הונגריה - טיפים לטיסות, מלונות, אוכל, קניות, וכל הדברים ששווה לראות בעיר Trip Guide To BUDAPEST, HUNGARY- FLIGHTS, HOTEL, FOOD AND GOOD SPOTS!! = WANDERLUST || מדריך טיול בודפשט, הונגריה - טיפים לטיסות, מלונות, אוכל, קניות, וכל הדברים ששווה לראות בעיר Trip Guide To BUDAPEST, HUNGARY- FLIGHTS, HOTEL, FOOD AND GOOD SPOTS!! = WANDERLUST || מדריך טיול בודפשט, הונגריה - טיפים לטיסות, מלונות, אוכל, קניות, וכל הדברים ששווה לראות בעיר

During this short vacation we managed to fit in quite a few of the city’s delicacies, offering a wide range of dishes including hot and heavy traditional food  that consisted mainly of casseroles, and modern food which includes refreshing fusion cuisines and amazing prestigious restaurants.

I’m not that into the traditional food {not really my cup of tea}, so the only time we ate a traditional restaurant was the evening we got to the hotel and got a recommendation for a restaurant called Fatal which was very close to our hotel. The restaurant had a huge menu with a wide variety of traditional dishes, and the atmosphere was cozy but very touristy. I didn’t like it so much because I’m not crazy over the dishes they serve and I don’t really enjoy touristy restaurants.

However, we ate at three amazing restaurants + one cool bar that are a must for visitors in the city:

1. ONYX – You must eat at this restaurant – especially if you’re a foodie!

The Onyx restaurant is a Michelin-starred gourmet restaurant that serves re-interpreted Hungarian food with a modern twist. It’s located at the beginning of the Vaci Utza street and has a Hungarian classic and luxurious style – with classic wallpaper and gold decorations on the walls and elegant furniture, that add a royal feeling to the restaurant’s ambience.

We decided to go to the restaurant for lunch and we enjoyed the business menu that cost 8,990 Forints {29 Euros} for the basic menu that includes an appetizer, a main dish and a dessert.

In the evening the restaurant offers a tasting menu or your choice from a special dinner menu.

The meal is long and can take a few hours and is a great experience with impeccable service, unique and concentrated flavors and dishes that are simply a work of art.

Although the prices are relatively very high compared to other restaurants in the city, in Israeli terms it’s considered very reasonable in relation to its prestige.

** UPDATE ** ONYX has received a second Michelin star and the prices are a bit higher now. Prices are still attractive to the Michelin restaurant at this level.

ONYX - Trip Guide To BUDAPEST, HUNGARY- FLIGHTS, HOTEL, FOOD AND GOOD SPOTS!! = WANDERLUST || מדריך טיול לבודפשט, הונגריה - טיפים לטיסות, מלונות, אוכל, קניות, וכל הדברים ששווה לראות בעיר ONYX - Trip Guide To BUDAPEST, HUNGARY- FLIGHTS, HOTEL, FOOD AND GOOD SPOTS!! = WANDERLUST || מדריך טיול לבודפשט, הונגריה - טיפים לטיסות, מלונות, אוכל, קניות, וכל הדברים ששווה לראות בעיר ONYX - Trip Guide To BUDAPEST, HUNGARY- FLIGHTS, HOTEL, FOOD AND GOOD SPOTS!! = WANDERLUST || מדריך טיול לבודפשט, הונגריה - טיפים לטיסות, מלונות, אוכל, קניות, וכל הדברים ששווה לראות בעיר

2. Curry House – an authentic restaurant which serves Indian cuisine.

All of the dishes we ordered – the traditional naan, samosa, butter chicken, lentil dal and other dishes – were fresh and had a perfect balance of flavors.

The dishes’ degree of spiciness was stated on the menu so that even people who don’t enjoy spicy food that much can find dishes they’ll like.

The only downside of the restaurant was the relatively “sleepy” service, but I still highly recommend this restaurant.

CURRY HOUSE - Trip Guide To BUDAPEST, HUNGARY- FLIGHTS, HOTEL, FOOD AND GOOD SPOTS!! = WANDERLUST || מדריך טיול לבודפשט, הונגריה - טיפים לטיסות, מלונות, אוכל, קניות, וכל הדברים ששווה לראות בעיר CURRY HOUSE - Trip Guide To BUDAPEST, HUNGARY- FLIGHTS, HOTEL, FOOD AND GOOD SPOTS!! = WANDERLUST || מדריך טיול לבודפשט, הונגריה - טיפים לטיסות, מלונות, אוכל, קניות, וכל הדברים ששווה לראות בעיר CURRY HOUSE - Trip Guide To BUDAPEST, HUNGARY- FLIGHTS, HOTEL, FOOD AND GOOD SPOTS!! = WANDERLUST || מדריך טיול לבודפשט, הונגריה - טיפים לטיסות, מלונות, אוכל, קניות, וכל הדברים ששווה לראות בעיר

CURRY HOUSE - Trip Guide To BUDAPEST, HUNGARY- FLIGHTS, HOTEL, FOOD AND GOOD SPOTS!! = WANDERLUST || מדריך טיול לבודפשט, הונגריה - טיפים לטיסות, מלונות, אוכל, קניות, וכל הדברים ששווה לראות בעיר

3. Menza – another restaurant we found by accident, and we considered eating there twice since it was so good, was the Menza restaurant located on the Liszt Ferenc Tér Street.

The restaurant, which is divided into three levels, is decorated in a retro style – with a very trendy and urban seventies look, and every level is colored differently but in a way that corresponds with the other levels.

When we got there for lunch at around 16:00 the restaurant was almost completely full with local families, businessmen and tourists.

The dishes were huge and refreshing, with a lot of taste and accuracy, and there was a wide variety ranging from classic Hungarian dishes like Goulash soup and other Hungarian soups and dishes like steak, several fish dishes, hamburgers and more.

The prices there are very reasonable and the atmosphere is great.

MENZA - Trip Guide To BUDAPEST, HUNGARY- FLIGHTS, HOTEL, FOOD AND GOOD SPOTS!! = WANDERLUST || מדריך טיול בודפשט, הונגריה - טיפים לטיסות, מלונות, אוכל, קניות, וכל הדברים ששווה לראות בעיר MENZA - Trip Guide To BUDAPEST, HUNGARY- FLIGHTS, HOTEL, FOOD AND GOOD SPOTS!! = WANDERLUST || מדריך טיול בודפשט, הונגריה - טיפים לטיסות, מלונות, אוכל, קניות, וכל הדברים ששווה לראות בעיר

4. Spiler – hiding in the old Jewish Quarter courtyards in Budapest, is a magical area called Gozsdu Udvar, and at night it turns into a pedestrian street full of young people, cool bars and restaurants.

After a short walk in the area, we decided to go to Spiler – a bar – restaurant packed with industrial urban chic, which serves Hungarian food, like Goulash soup and traditional pizzas along with other bar foods like Fish & Chips, hamburgers and spicy wings.

They also have a rich cocktail menu, a variety of beers and wines – all at prices that will make you order more and more.

SPILLER - Trip Guide To BUDAPEST, HUNGARY- FLIGHTS, HOTEL, FOOD AND GOOD SPOTS!! = WANDERLUST || מדריך טיול בודפשט, הונגריה - טיפים לטיסות, מלונות, אוכל, קניות, וכל הדברים ששווה לראות בעיר SPILLER - Trip Guide To BUDAPEST, HUNGARY- FLIGHTS, HOTEL, FOOD AND GOOD SPOTS!! = WANDERLUST || מדריך טיול בודפשט, הונגריה - טיפים לטיסות, מלונות, אוכל, קניות, וכל הדברים ששווה לראות בעיר

Budapest – you were amazing! There’s no doubt that it’s impossible to get enough of you in such a short time…

We’ll definitely return to you

A Weekend in Budapest : Where to sleep, eat & travel in the “Paris of eastern Europe” | What to do and see in Budapest | Travel destinations to add to your bucket list. Click through to see the full guide on hedonistit.com

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