We have just returned from a wonderful long weekend in Budapest with a group of good friends and what a treat it was! I had always imagined it to be a beautiful city and it didn’t disappoint; grand architecture, opulent interiors and the incredible Danube creates unrivalled views. The history is fascinating, so much has happened here: fascism, communism, the nazi’s, revolutions and only in 1989 did it break away and gain it’s independence. We loved the people and most surprisingly for me – the food – it was wonderful. Thanks, mainly to Alastair, a friend who lives in Budapest and has for nearly twenty years. He gave us an incredible list of great local food haunts, bistros, markets and cafes, we ate like royalty.
Do hope you get to visit – here are a few of our highlights
St Stephens Basilica – a stunning church – climb to the top for great views. Built to honour the first King of Hungary – his arm is still there to view!
Visit a thermal bath – we went to Rudas and visited the Gellert. Baths are an institution in Budapest – the smell of the sulphur did get to us after a while. Some have great outdoor pools for the summer.
The Hungarian State Opera is a stunning building – look at the programme before you go – the week after we left they had some amazing ballets and concerts and all for a bargain!
Lots of lovely craft street markets everywhere – shame we travelled on Ryan air and had been persuaded to manage with hand luggage only!
Dohany Street Synagogue – the largest synagogue in Europe which was almost destroyed in the war. It has been beautiful restored with funds from Estee Lauder, Barabara Streisend and Tony Curtis. There is a great sadness here, over 600,000 Hungarian Jews died in the war. The Synagogue and it’s garden have some remarkable sculpture as memorials to all who lost their lives. On the banks of the Danube there is a chilling memorial by Gyula Pauer of the shoes left by those who were shot. Haunting.
We spent a lovely day over the river in Buda -the grand buildings of the Parliament and National Gallery reflect the long association with Austria, at times you feel like you are in Vienna!
The ghetto area around the Synagogue is now the home to the Ruin Bars – we drank at Szimpla Kert – huge and fun, perhaps for a younger crowd!
The food market by the chain bridge is just full of everything delicious – especially sausage! Loaded up with lots of lovely Hungarian paprika.
We stayed at The Kempinski in Erzsebet Square and really you couldn’t better the location – surrounded by street markets.