This was my third visit to Budapest, but my first visit during the warmer months, so I was excited to see how different the city was in the summer season with its warm continental climate. Budapest is one of my favourite cities in Europe, and a place I enjoy returning to time and time again. Will my summer Budapest city break be better than my previous visits in winter?
Late Summer Budapest City Break
Flight Time from London: The published flight time from London to Budapest is 2h 30m, but the actual flight time is just over 2 hours.
Airline & Airport of Operation: I flew to Budapest on British Airways, and I booked one of their flight plus hotel deals. On this occasion I didn’t just book a return to Budapest with a hotel, as I’ was travelling onto Vienna from Budapest and flying home from Vienna. BA offer flights and 2 night hotel packages to Budapest from £143pp. British Airways fly to Budapest 3-4 times a day from Heathrow Terminal 3.
As my flight to Budapest departed from London Heathrow Terminal 3 I had the choice of three different lounges to use before my flight; the British Airways Galleries lounge, Cathay Pacific business class lounge and the Qantas Club. I have visited the BA lounge in Terminal 3 many times before so I decided to try both the Cathay Pacific Lounge, and the Qantas Club. To read more about the lounges click here.
Transfer Time to City: Budapest Airport is located 16 miles from the city centre and takes around 30 minutes by taxi or transfer, costing around £20.
Where to Stay on a Budapest City Break: For this Budapest City Break I chose to stay in the Soho Boutique Hotel, located right in the heart of Budapest, about 10 minutes walk from Erzseber Ter. The hotel in general was clean and very modern, with a bar area near reception and the breakfast room located just beyond the bar.
I had a standard room which could be configured as a double or a twin. The rooms were also quite modern in design, but they were quite dark. There was a glass partition and door between the shower room and the bedroom, fine if you are on your own or a couple but if sharing a room with someone else this isn’t ideal, despite it being a nice design feature. The bed, although quite on the small side was adequate. The room had satellite TV with a range of channels, but the only English channels were news channels.
The room also had all the usual amenities of a four star hotel, but also included a complimentary mobile phone which you could use during your stay. As well as being able to use the phone to make free local calls, it was also pre-loaded with extensive attraction and restaurant information for Budapest. This was a very nice touch, but unfortunately I didn’t realise this until my last morning, and I was not informed about it at check-in. This was a shame as it would have been very useful. Breakfast was included in the room rate and had an extensive range of hot and cold options, as well as hot and cold drinks.
Top Attractions for a Budapest City Break
Official Budapest Castle Tour
The Official Budapest Castle Tour starts on the road between the bottom of the funicular railway and the end of the Chain Bridge. The tour takes you to the top of the hill, and there are a total of 5 stops where you can get off and explore if you wish. The bus stops at various locations such as Buda Castle and Fisherman’s Bastion. The buses run every 10 minutes so you don’t have to wait long for the next bus to come along. The tour costs 2,100HUF per person, which is around £6, so great value. The tickets are valid all day on the day of purchase.
I have visited the Szechenyi Baths on both my previous Budapest city breaks it seems to have become a bit of a tradition. I keep meaning to try one of the many other thermal baths in Budapest, but I just haven’t yet got round to it. The Szechenyi baths are located a 15 minute hop from the city centre on the metro line 1 to Széchenyi Fürdő. A one way ticket on Budapest’s metro will set you back 350 HUF, which is about £1. The baths are open daily all year round apart from a couple of days during the year, and usually open from 6am until 10pm. The entrance cost including locker hire costs 5500 HUF (£15), with discounted entry after 7pm and for early bird sessions between 6am and 8am. Prices are slightly higher at weekends, and you can upgrade locker hire to a personal cubical for 500 HUF. Towels and swim attire are also available to hire or purchase.
Restaurant Recommendation for a Budapest City Break
During my Budapest city break I had two outstanding meals one of which was in Aszú Etterem where I have eaten before, the other was at 21 Magyar Vendéglő which is located on Buda Hill.
Aszú Etterem offers a delicious modern twist on classic Hungarian cuisine in a beautiful setting and paired with a collection of stunning Hungarian wines. I have eaten in Aszú a couple of times in the past, and I couldn’t visit Budapest without enjoying another fantastic meal in Aszú. I think it has become a ritual for every future visit to Budapest! Aszú is located along Sas Utca which is just off Erzaébet Ter and you can expect to pay around £30-40pp for a three course meal with wine. I chose the red tuna tartare to start followed by the rosé breast of duck and confit of duck gizzards, enjoyed with a local red wine which I asked the waiter to pick for me. Afterwards I enjoyed a glass of one of their very own delicious dessert wines.
21 Magyar Vendéglő
I stumbled across 21 Magyar Vendéglő on Buda hill while I was on the Budapest Castle tour. The restaurant looked very modern and the food looked very appetising so I decided to have lunch here. There were tables available inside and outside, but as it was sunny and warm I chose to sit outside. Magyar Vendéglő translates to ‘Hungarian Restaurant’ so, as you can imagine, this restaurant served a range of classic Hungarian dishes. For my lunch I started with the goulash soup, followed by the chicken paprikash. The food was delicious and had a very authentic Hungarian flavour. I enjoyed a couple of local dark beers with lunch, and my whole meal and drinks cost just over £20. This restaurant was a great choice for lunch if you are visiting Buda Hill and fancy some traditional Hungarian justify.
Top Tip: When visiting Buda Hill you can take the funicular railway to the top, but the queues are quite long, so instead opt for the cheaper official Budapest Castle tour which is a mini hop on hop off bus.
Currency: Hungary’s currency is the Hungarian Forint and at the time of my visit the exchange rate was around 360 HUF to GBP.
Weather: I visited Budapest in early September and the weather was pleasantly in the late 20s and sunny.
Best Time To Go: I have previously visited Budapest in January and March and on both occasions the weather was on the cold side. The cold weather was nice during my previous visits to the thermal baths, however, for the trip as a whole it was nice visiting in September as the daytime weather was very warm during the day, with cooler evenings.
Recommended Duration: I visited Budapest for two nights on this occasion and this was on the short side. I have however stayed for three nights on both my pervious trips and this was a good amount of time to spend in Budapest for an enjoyable visit.
Conclusion: I thoroughly enjoyed my summer Budapest city break, the sunshine and the heat really shone a new light on the city, if nothing more than allowing you to sit outside for food and drink. However, one aspect for me was still better in the colder months, visiting the Szechenyi baths – there is nothing better than being outside in the freezing cold and submerging yourself into the warm waters of the spa baths. However, next time I visit Budapest regardless of the time of year, I really need to try one of the other amazing spa baths in the city.