Here are my top tips and itinerary:
We had booked to stay at the Corinthia in Budapest, the atrium was beautiful, spacious and had a huge Christmas tree which I appreciated immensely. . I would say the rooms were absolutely fine but perhaps not quite "5 star" (a little tired) but perfect for a city break.
We unpacked quickly and got out into the city to explore as I am a crazy planner and love reading about everything there is to do and planning meticulously! For our first stop, I had booked us to go to the iconic New York Café (for their famous hot chocolate and cake) which was actually a highlight of the trip and we all loved it.
Tip: Book ahead of going as the queues are long and you can wait for hours. Also, during the Christmas period, I noticed the first day of our trip was the last day they were taking bookings over Christmas period.
The New York café is stunning, with a lavish interior filled with elegant gold decor. It used to to be the hang-out for impoverished writers and poets, you can completely see why they came to this place it's just inspiring. They had an delightful band playing a range of enjoyable Hungarian folk music and we ordered the "24 carat gold hot chocolate" and traditional food and enjoyed the atmosphere.
We got up early and decided to head to the Szechenyi Thermal Baths. Budapest is famous for hot springs and this is the most famous with a multitude of baths inside and out. You can hire towels, dressing gowns, slippers and a cabin, which is a very small changing room where you leave your clothes. I would say that all in all I recommended hiring these for about £25. We enjoyed the outdoor baths which were hot and with the cold air on our faces was very enjoyable though the inside baths we didn’t love because of the smell. Not sure if it was the chemicals or just incredibly old pipes but we decided to spend most of our time outside.
We then walked around the fisherman’s Bastion where you can take in stunning views of the city and parliament which is the most beautiful building in Budapest. Be warned if you want to get the perfect Instagram shot make sure you get there early in the morning as it was incredibly busy.
From here we wandered the short distance to the Castle Hills Funicular tram which takes you down the hill, it has been in service since 1870 and is definitely lots of fun.
After returning to our hotel for a drink and some down-time, it was time to head out for dinner (my favourite!). Every time we go away we always try and book one fancy dinner and tonight I picked Baraka which is contemporary in style, had a great tasting menu and great food. (Highly recommend)
We then ventured to Vajdahunyad Castle which was built in 1896 to showcase the architectural evolution through the centuries and styles in Hungary. It was sadly having renovations done and so was closed when we visited, but it usually is a museum. By this time it had started raining hard and felt time to get inside. We had been desperate to get into the houses of parliament so we ventured there unfortunately we did not book in advance and a lot of the tours had sold out (they are divided up and operated by different languages). We decided to go on the French tour and pray our French GCSE / A-Level's would help lol. (You have to go on a guided tour but to be honest its worth going on in any language tour it’s not very long and incredibly beautiful. I had the top 10 Budapest book and just read that while going around). Touring Parliament was definitely my favourite interior, it is so beautiful and the architecture is breathtaking. It was also interesting seeing the crown jewels especially since the crown & sceptre were only released in 1978 from Fort Knox (they had been held there for safe keeping following the Nazi occupation of Budapest).
As it was so cold and wet we got a taxi back to the hotel had a shower and got ready for dinner at a local, relaxed restaurant called Hilda, that we had been recommended by a friend. It was an enjoyable trendy relaxed local hang out. The food was delicious and the espresso cocktails were to die for.
Our last day in Budapest we had lots of things to do we wanted to go back to Buda in the daylight and experience it again, so we took the Funicular back up the hill. My husband and my sisters' fiancé soon got bored of waiting in line and decided to walk as there was a little queue for the funicular which fortunately moved quickly. (though the boys still made it to the top way ahead of us!) so do try this for your self if you fancy a steep, brisk walk up hill for 10 mins or so. We went to the history museum, which was a little bit disappointing inside, and I didn’t know that the Nazis occupied the Royal Palace. It was bombed heavily during the war and a lot had to be renovated which means unfortunately the palace interiors do not match it's exteriors.
It was then nearly time to go home but we had enough time to have a quick walk around the market and get some food, I became obsessed with the amazing (unhealthy) fried bread topped with cheese which was unreal and some chimney cake.
It was however now time to go home…….