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TRAVEL DIARIES – A Guide for Two Days in Budapest

Rich with history, culture, and amazing  architecture, the capital of Hungary undoubtedly embodies the ideal of European beauty. Three years ago when we came back from our first trip to Budapest, I promised myself we would be back in this beautiful city {I even mentioned this at the end of my first post on Budapest ?} and the promise was finally fulfilled this past March.

A Guide For Planning A Trip To Budapest - Things to do in the Hungarian capital {2 day itinerary, including food & restaurants tips, shopping and sightseeing}

A Guide For Planning A Trip To Budapest - Things to do in the Hungarian capital {2 day itinerary, including food & restaurants tips, shopping and sightseeing}

 

 

Although I had already fallen in love with Budapest the first time I was there, regardless of the freezing cold January weather, our second time around was an upgrade in every way. The weather was perfect with blue skies and the temperatures perfect for walking around, the hotel we stayed at was everything you could dream of and more, we ate in even better restaurants than we did last time, and we were even successful in the shopping department {More for Daniel really, not me – but to be honest he could use it more than me ?}.

Since we had already been to a few of the city’s famous monuments, we were able to enjoy the city in a more relaxing way, by taking walks around the city, and enjoying the packed wishlist I made despite the time limitations of our short trip. To sum up, it was a lot of fun, and of course I returned with extra special recommendations.

Click here to download my map of Budapest

Click here to watch the IG stories I posted in Budapest

 

 

STAY

 

Although Daniel and I usually like to stay in boutique hotels, this time we decided to go for one of the most famous hotel chains, and stay at the luxurious Ritz Carlton Budapest, situated in the heart of Budapest.

A Guide For Planning A Trip To Budapest - Things to do in the Hungarian capital {2 day itinerary, including food & restaurants tips, shopping and sightseeing}

Already upon entering the hotel I knew we had made the right choice. The Ritz Carlton Budapest, a 20th century historic building, wonderfully succeeds at integrating modern luxury with a traditional hue. This is evident from the moment you enter the hotel. After taking our first steps toward the bright, modern-styled lobby, the hotel’s focal point was revealed to us, the Kupola Restaurant with a breathtaking stained glass dome in its center. The dome is one of those things that no matter how many times you pass by it, it takes your breath away every time.

 

The rest of the hotel, from the lobby, to the rooms, the spa, and the bars and restaurants, is designed in the same elegant, harmonious style, that combines a traditional and modern look with attention to the finest details, just the way I like it.

The service was impeccable from check and through our entire stay. Every one of our requests was quickly fulfilled, and the staff always replied with a smile and with perfect English.

 

A Guide For Planning A Trip To Budapest - Things to do in the Hungarian capital {2 day itinerary, including food & restaurants tips, shopping and sightseeing}

We stayed in a Club Room, a gorgeous, spacious room, with a breathtaking view of St Stephen’s Basilica and the famous Erzsébet square, where the city’s huge ferris wheel is. The room’s decor is cozy and modern, as are its facilities – a hard-to-get-out-of king size bed, and a beautiful bathroom with a rain shower head, and a large bathtub difficult to refuse.

We also received access to the Ritz Carlton Club Exclusive Lounge, where we relaxed and enjoyed light finger food and drinks of all sorts, every day after touring the city.  

 

A Guide For Planning A Trip To Budapest - Things to do in the Hungarian capital {2 day itinerary, including food & restaurants tips, shopping and sightseeing}

A Guide For Planning A Trip To Budapest - Things to do in the Hungarian capital {2 day itinerary, including food & restaurants tips, shopping and sightseeing}

 

And while we’re already discussing food, the hotel has a number of restaurants. The Kupola Restaurant serves a delicious breakfast buffet along with an a-la-carte menu {the eggs Benedict and the Belgian waffles we ordered were no less than perfect!}. The Kupola also serves light lunches and has an afternoon tea menu. There is also the Kupola Bar, which serves cocktails and snacks, and the Deák St. Kitchen, the hotel’s flagship restaurant, on which I will expand later on in this post.   

 

The hotel also has a spa that offers a variety of pampering treatments and a gym open 24/7, but its highlight is undoubtedly the indoor pool and jacuzzi, both located in a breathtaking building with glass ceilings, creating a spectacular game of light and shadows during the morning hours.

 

 

Bottom line – I had high expectations from the hotel because of the famous brand behind it, and the truth is that the reality exceeded my expectations. Highly recommend.

 

EXPLORE

 

St Stephen’s Basilica  The largest and most impressive church in Budapest is named after St. Stephen. Entrance to the church is a nominal fee and you can also go all the way up to the dome of the basilica to view the city from a 70 meters high. When we visited the church, the elevator was out of service, but keep in mind, even when the elevator is working, you will need to climb up nearly 150 steps.

Fun fact {or not, I’ll let you decide ?} – I read, that the hand of St Stephen, considered sacred of course, is preserved and kept in the church.

 

A Guide For Planning A Trip To Budapest - Things to do in the Hungarian capital {2 day itinerary, including food & restaurants tips, shopping and sightseeing}

Chain Bridge  The Chain Bridge on the Danube is perhaps one of Budapest’s most famous symbols, and links the two parts of the city – Buda and Pest. On our last trip to the city we experienced the bridge only via the tourist attraction busride, but this time, we were grateful for the beautiful weather and were able to enjoy crossing it by foot, and looking over Castle Hill and the Parliament.

 

Fisherman's Bastion  My new favorite spot in Budapest, and one of best known spots in town, is the picturesque Fisherman’s Bastion. With seven turrets symbolising the Hungarian tribes that built Budapest, it looks as if it has been taken from the set of Harry Potter, and the view from it is simply spectacular. After our tour of the place, we decided to take a short break in a small coffee shop at the top of the bastion with a terrace panoramic view overlooking the city. From there, we went on to the Gothic Matthias Church, with its colourful mosaic rooftop. In my eyes, the church is way more impressive from the outside, than on the inside, and if you choose only to enter one church during your trip – you should definitely choose St Stephen’s.

 

A Guide For Planning A Trip To Budapest - Things to do in the Hungarian capital {2 day itinerary, including food & restaurants tips, shopping and sightseeing}

Budapest Eye  One of the things that brings a huge smile to my face is a ferris wheel, and the smile becomes greater when Daniel does me the favor of joining me for a ride {more like four! ?}. Budapest’s ferris wheel is located just a few short steps from the Ritz Carlton, where we were staying, and I even got to view it from my hotel window every morning and night. I was a little disappointed by the short amount of time we were actually on the wheel, but it's still a very fun experience.

A Guide For Planning A Trip To Budapest - Things to do in the Hungarian capital {2 day itinerary, including food & restaurants tips, shopping and sightseeing}

A Guide For Planning A Trip To Budapest - Things to do in the Hungarian capital {2 day itinerary, including food & restaurants tips, shopping and sightseeing}

 

Museum of Sweets & Selfies  A colourful museum with several rooms of different themes and colors, with the main attraction, or rather the only one, taking pictures and posting them in Instagram. The truth is that I really wanted to go to this museum, because it reminded me of the Ice Cream Museum in the US, but in my opinion it wasn’t well done, and I got bored quite quickly. I do not know how much you can call this attraction a museum, after all it has no real content beyond props for Instagram photography. In my opinion, it is not a mandatory visit, unless you really like pop style photos.

 

 

Click here for additional attractions and ideas for things to do in Budapest.

 

SHOP

 

Vaci street  The city’s famous fashion street, where you will find stores from the biggest fashion chains, to a variety of cosmetic companies and shoe stores, and of course tourist souvenir shops.

WestEnd Shopping Center  The largest mall in Budapest, with over 400 clothing and shoe stores, home decor, makeup, toys, and even a movie theatre. Although it is not located in the touristy part of town, it can easily be reached by all modes of transportation {Metro, tram, taxi and even by foot, weather permitting}. The mall itself is not as glamorous as described in many sites, and its complex structure is reminiscent of Dizengoff Center in Tel Aviv. If you feel lost, you should go to one of the information booths inside the mall and grab a map.

20 Photos to Inspire You to Visit Budapest, Hungary | Fisherman's Bastion

Important Tip – There is a coat check located on the bottom floor by the restrooms, where you can check in your coat and belongings. The coat check is open every day from 11am and allows you to peel off your winter layers and comfortably store them at a reasonable cost.

Another Important Tip – Do not forget to ask the shops for the forms required for tax refund, and make sure you keep all the necessary receipts from your shopping trip. Tourists are granted up to 16% VAT on invoices that amount to 50,000 Forint from a number of stores that belong to the same company; Zara, Pull&Bear, Bershka, Massimo Dutti, and Stradivarius. At the airport, before handing in your suitcase, look for the IBUSZ counter to get your refund.

 

EAT

 

Budapest is full of Hungarian cuisine – Goulash, Kiortosh, Langos {a fried pastry usually served with sour cream, garlic sauce, and yellow cheese} and paprika-spiced dishes. But these dishes are not all that the Hungarian capital has to offer. Last time we visited Budapest, three years ago, we discovered some excellent restaurants of different cuisines from around the world, but I must say that this time Budapest really outdid itself – so many restaurants and cool food spots opened since that visit!

 

Our trip to Budapest was relatively short, so we didn’t make it to all of the places I added to my wishlist, but at the end of this post I will add the names of a number of places you should check out if you plan on being there for a bit longer.

 

Mr Funk  A stunning colorful store that sells a large variety of colorful, beautiful donuts, and no less important – super fresh and tasty! Every one we tasted was delicious, but I would especially recommend the cream-filled teddy bear shaped donut, and the unicorn shaped donut, as well with cream. Besides all the donuts, there is Mr. Bagel, an additional in-store counter that serves a large selection of different bagels. We didn’t taste them because we were in the mood for sweets, but if there as good as the donuts – they are a must for bagel lovers.

 

Chez Dodo Artisan Macarons  A small, charming gourmet Macaron shop that would leave no one indifferent. I was recommended to check this place out by one of my readers just as we got to the city, and I must admit it was one of the best recommendations I have gotten in a while! All of the macarons are made by hand, with the best ingredients, and the flavor is simply perfect.

 

La Fabrrica  A cool Italian restaurant, right next to St Stephen's Basilica. We ordered a burrata served with vegetable antipasti, an incredible olive pizza and Pici pasta with bacon. All of the dishes we ordered were excellent, and completely lived up to out standards since our last trip to Italy. This place is highly recommended for Italian food lovers, aka everyone 🙂

 

Deák St. Kitchen  A Hungarian wine bar and grill, located inside the Ritz Carlton hotel where we stayed. Although considered a high end hotel restaurant, the atmosphere is actually quite relaxed and laid back, and the decor trendy and inviting. The menu is Hungarian with a twist, serving mostly meat which makes it a perfect place for carnivores looking for good quality meat that can be paired with local wines or special cocktails {for those of you who are adventurous – try the Kapie Margarita – served with a red pepper!}. By the way, if you’re looking for a traditional goulash soup, but one that is served more luxuriously – this is the place for you.

 

Sáo Food & Bar  A Chinese-Vietnamese restaurant that serves buns and dumplings, spring rolls and egg rolls, noodle dishes and rice, excellent salads and traditional desserts. We ate at this restaurant on our last night in Budapest and every single dish we ordered was just ‘wow!’, If you decided to check it out, don’t forget to try the poh soup.

 

Places to check out next time…

Nobo Restaurant  a branch of New York’s Nobu, that serves high-end Japanese cuisine. I understood its prices are not as expensive as in other Nobu locations, but is still considered as pricey in comparison to Budapest restaurants.

Bar 360  A cocktail bar situated on the rooftop of a bookstore in town, best known for its igloos, where the seating areas are located.

Vintage Garden A pink, Instagram-perfect restaurant, for which I got a ton of recommendations via Instagram though we didn’t end up having the time to check it out. {Pay attention to the mixed reviews on TripAdvisor}.

 

 

 

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Know about more interesting things to do in Budapest? Leave me a comment below!

 

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8 Responses

  1. We were in Budapest last summer. It was a heat wave, so very hot. But I liked this city very much and would like to go again. I wish I had had this guide last time.

  2. Visited BUDAPEST last year. Had a great experience. Point to note is they still maintain the old tradition and keep life cool and simple. Great people too.

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