I love city breaks! They give me enough time to get the taste of the city and recharge my batteries for the upcoming week of work. For a short period of time I am finding myself in a different country, surrounded by different people, eating local cuisine and enjoying sightseeing to the full. If I could afford it, I would be on a city break every week!
To celebrate Marcin’s birthday this year we have visited Budapest. For some time now we do not exchange gifts, we just do trips, which for both of us work much much better. At first we could not decide between Vilnius and the capital of Hungary. Both cities have so much to offer and they are reasonably priced too. None of us made a trip to any of them in the past, so the choice was a difficult one. At the end we have decided Budapest over Vilnius, promising to ourselves that we will visit Lithuania next year, perhaps celebrating Marcin’s birthdays in February.
We enjoyed a long weekend in the capital, exploring the city as much as we physically could. We have invested in the Budapest City Card, so our public transport was sorted from the start. We got few discounts with the card and free entries to Buda Castle National Gallery, Lukács Thermal Bath and Swimming Pool and Mai Mano House. The card offered as well two guided tours, one in Buda, the other in Pest, but we have decided that on this occasion we are going to create our own walks.
We spent our first day on simple, completely unplanned wander around the town. By pure chance we have stumble upon the Cave Church located on the Gellért Hill, looking towards the steam rising from the Gellért Bath located opposite, and Liberty Bridge slowly dissolving into the evening fog. The simplicity of the church caught us and we simply could not resist visiting. At this point I regretted not putting in one of our back packs swimming suites, as the steam from the Gellért Bath was very tempting. The evening was rather cold and soaking in the hot water would be a perfect end to our first day. So my advice to you – put your swimming suite into your bag if you are planning on visiting the Cave Church. You will not regret it! There is no need to take the towels, as you can rent them out, just remember to have enough cash for a deposit.
Next two days were filled to a maximum. The Gellért Bath looked so appealing, that we have decided to pack our swimming suites and visit The Szechenyi Baths (discount with the city card) after our sightseeing. I must admit – that was the best idea ever! As you can read in my post about the baths, I had a hard time to get my body out of the warm water. That day we have visited Buda Castle and its incredible National Gallery (included in our Budapest card), tried not to get lost in the Labyrinth beneath the castle, wander around the Fisherman Bastion (free!), stopped by at the Matthias Church, and did the tour at the Hospital in the Rock – Nuclear Bunker Museum (big discount with our city card). We even managed to get the quickest lunch of the trip in the bistro opposite the Matthias church, just before we did the Hospital on the Rock tour!
Our third day was similarly intensive. We have started with visiting the Hungarian Parliament (do not forgot your passport if you are from EU – the discount is huge!), quickly booked our tour in the Opera for the afternoon (got significant discount on our tickets with Budapest card), managed to visit St. Stephen’s Basilica (free!), stopped by Cat Café, which we have stumbled upon by pure chance (you gotta love wandering around the city, when you are making such delightful discoveries), went out for a meal in a very posh but lovely restaurant near the basilica (Hung(a)ry?), visited Mai Mano Photography House (free with city card) and used our free entry to the Lukács Thermal Bath, which was again, a very nice finish to another incredible day.
Our last day was a rather lazy one and as we had to fix Marcin’s glasses, we went to see Tropicarium (discount on our city card again!), which is, luckily for Marcin’s glasses, in a big shopping centre. As our flight was in the evening, we left our bags at the hotel and came back later on to get a taxi to the airport. Although it sounds posh and expansive, the taxi from and to airport seems to be one of the best and less complicated ways of getting to and from the hotel. The public transport in this instance was too much hustle and at the end, not worth the effort.
I have to say that the Budapest city card made a lot of things easier for us. It took care of our transport during the 4 days of our stay, got us few entries for free and we could save money on tickets to attractions too. Definitely something worth considering if you are planning your Budapest trip.