Budapest, the capital of Hungary is one of the top five city break destinations from Ireland and a great getaway option that won’t break the bank. A city of two halves, Budapest is separated by the stunning Danube River with Buda on one side and Pest on the other. Throughout both sides of the Hungarian capital, you will have plenty to keep you busy during a 3 or 4-night getaway. If Budapest is a city you are still yet to discover, keep on reading as we fill you in on everything you need to know about this exciting destination. This is the ultimate guide to Budapest.
Top Things to do in Budapest
Enjoy a cruise along the Danube
A cruise along the Danube River is a really great way to enjoy the gorgeous skyline of Budapest. Budapest, know as the Paris of the East and also the Pearl of the Danube gets its nicknames from its beauty. Take in its most fascinating sites, centuries of history and its old-time grace on a cruise. If you have the time, why not do two cruises, one in the daytime and one at night.
Visit a Thermal Spa
Did you know that Budapest is home to the largest geothermal cave system in the world? A day at one of the city’s thermal spas is not to be missed. Relax and unwind in one of the glorious thermal baths which bring wonderful health benefits such as relieving muscle tension and joint pains as well as improving blood circulation and digestion. The most famous spas to visit include the Gellert Spa and the Szechenyi Spa.
Great Market Hall
This top thing to do will give you a taste of Budapest as a local. Great Market Hall which was built in 1897 is the largest and most beautiful of all the marketplaces in Budapest. Here you can explore and ramble through its many merchants’ who offer food and other goods. You can also enjoy some food tasting tours in Great Market Hall and it’s a great place to people watch too. It is also centrally located, right next to the Liberty Bridge which has the Gellert Spa on the other side.
St. Stephen’s Basilica
St. Stephen’s Basilica is the largest church in Budapest and took 54 years to build from its planning to its construction. The impressive building is characterised by its remarkable windows and its rich ornamentation. Today, it can hold up to 8,000 worshippers.
Take the Metro
Budapest has had a metro system since 1896, making it one of the oldest in the world. The stations are beautifully decorated with ornate old tiles that give an other worldly feel to the older stations. We recommend you take Line 1 from Deak Ferenc Square which runs along Andrassy Avenue, past the Opera House to the city park.
Buda Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site is a must visit when in Budapest. This massive, Baroque palace was first constructed in 1265 and was also a Royal Palace. Today, the castle houses the Hungarian National Gallery and the Budapest History Museum, both wonderful attractions that you can experience for a fee. If you wish to explore the grounds and exterior of the building, you can do so for free as well.
Fisherman’s Bastion is one of the best places in Budapest to enjoy panoramic views of the city. This well-known monument is located in the 1st district of Budapest, quite near Buda Castle. With its ornate design, Fisherman’s Bastion is an elegant walkway that is towered over by seven cone topped towers. It is a must see on your getaway.
Ride the Funicular
One of the most unique experiences you can enjoy in Budapest is a ride on the Funicular. The Funicular begins at the banks of the Danube and brings you to the top of Castle Hill. It first came into service in 1870 but was destroyed during the war. In 1986, it was restored and shortly after, it was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The line is steep, with the Funicular travelling on a 95-meter slope and elevating 50 meters along the way. The views of the Danube towards the Pest side of the city are amazing.
The stunning Chain Bridge was the first bridge built across the Danube connecting Buda and Pest and visiting it during your getaway is a must as the views of the city from it are just spectacular. In terms of its location, the very heart of the city runs from the Chain Bridge down to the Liberty Bridge, which is an area of about 2 kilometres, making it the perfect route and length for a riverside stroll.
Budapest is also adored for its festive Christmas markets. The city comes alive at Christmas and is home to several Christmas markets throughout. This year, the markets run from November 18th to December 31st so if you are visiting during this period, be sure to enjoy a hot chocolate or hot apple cider as you browse and enjoy the many stalls and the wonderful ambiance.
When is the best time to visit Budapest?
Budapest is one of those great year-round destinations that offers something to experience and enjoy throughout every season. Summers are naturally the warmer time to visit, but winter is festive and magical and also a very popular time to visit from Ireland. In terms of duration, we recommend a minimum of three nights in Budapest although if you can, we recommend visiting for four nights to truly take in all that this wonderful city has to offer.
How to get there?
Both Aer Lingus and Ryanair offer direct daily flights from Dublin to Budapest, and you can also fly twice weekly from Shannon Airport on a Friday and a Monday. Flight time to Budapest from Ireland is approximately three hours.
Getting from the airport to the city centre of Budapest
There are plenty of options to get you from Budapest Airport to the city centre. If you wish to get a taxi from the airport, this will cost approximately €30 to €35 each way from the airport to your hotel. If you are happy to get a public bus, the 100E runs 24/7 and departs from the airport every 30 minutes. This bus takes approximately 45 minutes to bring you straight to the centre of Budapest to the Deak Ferenc Ter and it costs €4 per person each way. You can also travel to Budapest city centre via a shuttle that will bring you to your hotel. This costs approximately €10.50pp each way or €21pp return. Unfortunately, there isn’t a train station at the airport to offer service a city centre train transfer but with all of the above, you still have plenty of choice.
Where to stay in Budapest?
When it comes to where to stay in Budapest, there is a phrase to help guide you and that is ‘pest is best!’. Pest is the most popular side of the city for visitors. Here you will find great hotel options, plenty of restaurants, bars and shops and some key attractions as well as the imperial Parliament Building. There are also hotels on the Buda side of the city but we would recommend you consider basing yourself on the Pest side. All of the accommodation options on the Click&Go website are very central but our CEO Paul, who adores Budapest recommends you base yourself in pest and between the Chain and Liberty Bridge, as close to the Danube River as possible. The following three hotels are Paul’s top Budapest hotel recommendations:
- The three-star D8 Hotel is an absolute find. Paul stayed here last month and adored its amazing location as the hotel was within walking distance to everywhere. The rooms are cosy but perfect and the hotel is surrounded by five-star hotels, close to the Chain Bridge. Madame Tussauds and the famous coffee shop, Cafe Gerbeaud, right on the Deak Ferenc Square are just a few steps away.
- The four-star Continental Hotel is a beautiful art deco building, and this hotel really does feel more five star than four star. It is also in a great location. If you want to spoil yourself and if you like a really nice hotel, then the Continental will tick all of your boxes.
- The five-star Hard Rock Hotel is not far from the Opera House and St Stephen’s Basilica. The hotel is based in an old building, that was modernised and connected to a brand-new build next door, making it a really novel looking building. The location is also superb.
Currency in Budapest
The currency in Budapest is the Forint and the ATM machines in Budapest issue both Euro and Forint. You don’t need the local currency for your trip, and you can easily manage with Euro notes for cash. There are nearly 400 Forint to the Euro so the easy way to convert is that every 1,000 Forint equals €2.50.
So there you have it, the Click&Go ultimate guide to Budapest! If you would like more information on a city break to Budapest, you can reach our five-star holiday experts seven days a week on 01-6995329. Alternatively, visit our website to learn even more about this fascinating city break destination or find the best deal with our holiday deal finder.