I felt very lucky to be taken on a spontaneous trip to Budapest in January 2017, a majestic city that took me by surprise. I did some research, but didn’t realise quite how incredible the architecture would be. You are enveloped within a feast of visual delights, especially down the infamous Danube River which makes the London Thames look weak in comparison. I would love to go back in the summer as it was a bit chilly but the snow was very beautiful. There is a lot to explore and experience in this picturesque city. Here are a few highlights from my trip:

Ruin Bar

I checked out two of the ruin bars ‘Instant‘ which was the local ruin bar to ‘Pest Broadway’ where I was staying (Check out  this guide for places to stay!) and the famous ‘Szimpla Kert‘ which is undoubtably the best ruin bar in Budapest! These artistic bars are multipurpose spaces with a labyrinth of corridors and rooms set across various floors. There is a sense of magic in exploring and get lost in them. No description can sum up the madness that unveils; I had so much fun here. The music was amazing in every room at ‘Instant’, which is the biggest ruin bar in Budapest; I discovered an awesome Northern-Soul Dj who mixed seven inch vinyl records – you can check him out here!

Thermal Spa

I was keen to check out at least one of the 100+ thermal spas in Budapest and decided to go for the best ranking which were the outdoor Széchenyi Baths. Here I floated amongst locals and tourists as the sun set giving the surrounding yellow buildings an orange hue. The juxtaposition of the forty-five degree pool heat with the minus freezing temperatures outside left you a little delirious, especially after a number of hours! If I had more time I would have gone to the 16th-century Rudas Baths and the art deco Gellert Baths as well. The spa’s are an amazing place to relax, have fun and detox.

Danube River Cruise

I had wanted to go on a river cruise to view the beautiful buildings and bridges by night. I was little dubious about the legitimacy of the tickets I had purchased from a man under an umbrella on the roadside, but my fears were soon gone as I set sail down the river. A trio of string musicians serenaded us as we passed under the beautifully lit chain bridge, past the Liberty Statue and Citadel, Parliament and the Sándor Palace. The stunning views blew my expectations out of the window and the experience was topped off by the trio serenading me with the Titanic theme tune!

Top tips:

Get a guide book at the start of your trip – you can pick one of these up in your hotel/ apartment reception.
Take a map with you – it is easy to get lost in a maze of tall buildings and similar looking streets. You can download a map journey on google maps at your apartment with wifi and then turn off roaming when you leave and the map will still guide you to your destination (as long as you don’t get lost!)
Bring some good walking shoes – there is a lot more to discover on foot.
In the winter – be careful of ice (I slipped and banged my head pretty hard on the first night!)
Be careful of the mafia taxi drivers and human trafficking in the early hours of the morning.
This is a great place (Stag Kiss Budapest) to learn loads more about Budapest before you arrive!

Other amazing sights included:

Parliament: You can get a 45 minute English speaking tour of this awe-inspiring building (sadly due to time constraints and being desperate to get inside, I ended up on the Spanish tour… not so informative!)

Shoes by the Danube River: An art installation of bronze 1940’s shoes by Gyula Pauer and Can Togay reminds passer by’s of the tragedy that Budapest endured during the Holocaust.

The chain bridge: where lovers had engraved padlocks made which they linked to the railings.

Ruin bar photograph by Vincent Ventura