The historic spa city was calling to us. We spent our time trying out different thermal baths and eating traditional Hungarian food. Prepare to unwind in the picturesque European city of Budapest.
We stayed at the spacious 7Seasons Apartment Hotel. They have a 24-hour front desk making check in a breeze. Our unit had a full kitchen, clothes washer, living room, and separate bedroom! The central location is excellent with easy access to transit and a small grocer down the road. There are lots of restaurants, cafes, and bars in the area.
To settle into Budapest's spa and bath scene, we made a reservation at Magnolia Day Spa, a quiet private spa. We made sure to arrive early so we could take advantage of the amenities: a zen tea room to enjoy fresh fruits and herbal tea, hot tub, bio sauna, Finnish sauna (hot!), and the infrared cabin. It was the perfect warm up just before our 60-minute massage. The massage was professional and very relaxing. We were surprised at the value here. Our experience only cost 14,900 HUF ($50USD) for the spa package including 60-minute massage and use of all the amenities. Their 5-star rating on TripAdvisor can attest to that!
In the mood for food, we headed to a traditional Hungarian style restaurant, Százéves Étterem, which opened its doors in 1831. They serve classic Hungarian cuisine and play traditional live Gypsy music. It's a tad touristy, but a must do! The music is excellent and the food, rib stickin' good. What we consider goulash back in North America is actually called Pörköltek in Hungary. A beautiful meat stew served on small dumplings.
We started our morning at Lions Lockers and Breakfast. Don't let the locker part fool you, the cafe has delicious American style breakfast and bagels with great prices and service. The environment is also inviting with a contemporary design.
We were in Budapest for a total of 6 days, so were able to try out three of Budapest's famous thermal baths: Széchenyi, Rudas, and Király. Széchenyi Baths topped our list for its grandiose outdoor pools and beautiful neo-Baroque architecture. It's the largest thermal bath in Budapest, so although many people visit it never felt too crammed. If you only have time for one thermal bath we recommend this one! Buy your ticket in advance online since it's busier on weekends. You will be able to skip the line with your ticket.
Rudas Baths is a Turkish style bath with its highlight being the modern rooftop pool overlooking the Danube. However, it was so astronomically packed and confusing to get around it was our least favourite of the bunch. It also has strange hours and parts of the complex only open at certain times.
Kiraly Baths is a smaller traditional Turkish bath dating back to 1565. At this thermal bath you'll see locals. It doesn't look as striking as some of the other thermal baths and is quite small. But what it lacks in size makes up for the escape from the crowds. We didn't hear any English speakers here. If you have time for two baths we recommend adding this one to your list!
After all of that swimming, we were hungry for a salty lunch. Ari was craving pizza and we found Local Korner, which has stellar reviews on TripAdvisor. It's extremely good value and the pizza is delicious. The eccentric interior is fun to hang out in and we had fun drawing on the walls where people leave messages.
That evening we took the transit to Buda Hill to watch the sunset and see great views of the Hungarian Parliament Building and the Danube river. We grabbed hot apple cider in the market up at the top and walked the promenade.
From Buda Hill we walked down the hill across the famous Széchenyi Chain Bridge to our next destination, Hungarikum Bisztro. This was our favourite meal in Budapest and you have to make reservations weeks in advance. If you're looking for high quality authentic Hungarian food, this is the spot to be!
Budapest is famous for their ruin bars, funky, eclectic places that originally sprung up in old dilapidated buildings to service the creative crowd looking for a break on high drink prices. Now, they are very popular but still fun places to go. If you're looking for a chill vibe try Csendes Vintage Bar & Café. If you're looking for an energetic environment, check out Szimpla which is the most famous. A perfect place to end your evening.
Buying groceries gives us a warm local feeling. It's always nice to explore the shelves and see what a new country cooks up! Depending on the length of stay, we typically like to make breakfasts back at our apartment and then go out for dinners.
Finish your weekend with an enjoyable afternoon tea or lunch at the famous New York Cafe, known as the "most beautiful cafe in the world" with its Italian-Renaissance style. The cafe is part of the New York Palace luxury hotel, which opened in 1894. It has a history of serving artists and nobility and hosting literature and poetry events. Make a reservation online in advance!
Check out what it was like: