Cheap flights to Budapest
Boasting the romance of Paris and the beauty of Prague, but beating them both on price, Budapest should be your next weekend break destination.
When it comes to beauty, there really is nowhere quite like Budapest – the ‘Queen of the Danube’ is right up there with tourist heavyweights Paris, Vienna and Prague. The difference? Well, Budapest has that distinct eastern flavour to it that sets it apart from the competition – the Ottoman baths here are the real thing, don’t you know.
And so is the architecture, which ranges from Baroque and Neoclassical to Art Nouveau and neo-Gothic. Wander the city’s elegant tree-lined boulevards, pop into its many leafy parks or sail down the Danube for mind-blowing photo opportunities few other cities can offer.
The 1,000-year-old heart of the Hungarian capital isn’t just a pretty face – its abundance of snug spots are ideal for eating, drinking and shopping . Most visitors to Budapest will visit the quaint cobblestone streets and smart town squares adjacent to Buda Castle. But, this is also where to hunker down and get warm with some good old-fashioned Hungarian comfort food and a glass of Egri Bikavér (or any other Hungarian red).
One for the bold, the relaxed, the spontaneous.
Armed with a light pack of camping gear, how does it sound to take an alternative route walking east from the airport until you hit the countryside, then walk between quiet rural villages for a day or two, or three? It's a sleepy region of farmland, rivers, forests and meadows. I love the serendipity and surprises of arriving in small villages I have never heard of, and seeking out conversation and sustenance in the local cafe. It's blissfully far from an organised package holiday.
If, however, you prefer something more prescribed than just following your nose, then pick a deliberately non-touristy small town such as Jászberény. It is 60km from the airport, so you could either go by taxi or hire a car for the weekend. (There is also a direct bus there from Budapest city centre.) There is a nice river, a nature conservation area, historic buildings, a beautiful church, and plenty of accommodation.
Level of Difficulty: Moderate - the activity is simple, but the boldness is harder.
What to pack: Suitable clothes (check the weather forecast!), woolly hat, headtorch, raingear, sleeping bag, mat and bivvy bag.
Best time to go: June, to make the most of the long evenings.
Ice Terrace (Jégterasz)
Ice skating rink with retro bleachers right between the Arena Plaza shopping mall and Budapest's splendid, 1925 built racecourse 'Kincsem Park'. Nice family outing before or after a movie/shopping/the races. Rentable skates.
Stay at Budapest's oldest hotel, Pest-Buda, which has just reopened. The contemporary décor is very much along boutique hotel lines, but the restaurant downstairs serves heart-warming Hungarian fare, just like grandma used to make. pest-buda.com/en/hotel
Ever wondered what kind of treasures in vintage clothing might be hidden away in the former satellite countries of the Soviet Union? Go on a personalised vintage clothes tour with Styleomad and see for yourself. Budapest vintage tours can be arranged by appointment Monday to Saturday for groups and individuals, at email@example.com. The 25 euro price tag includes a glass of Hungarian bubbly to set things off in style. http://styleomad.com/
The ArtYard at Andrassy út 66.
As well as exhibiting and selling the latest works by Hungarian and expatriate artists, in a choice location on Budapest's own Champs-Élysées, the ArtYard sells reasonably priced items such as pillowcases, napkins and hand printed tote bags.
Bródy Sándor u. 13, 1088
If you want to see what off-grid/underground Budapest hospitality was like before the days of multi-lingual menus and wifi everywhere, climb through the maze of interconnected rooms at this subterranean, through-the-looking glass sort of place. They have 80 different types of tea on offer, a miniature bouncing castle for the kids, and you can forget that the 21st century even got started.
Part of the Museum of Applied Arts, it is worth the trip out of the city centre to admire the fine baroque Nagytétény Castle, its grounds, and the well curated museum within, displaying furniture from the Gothic era all the way up to Biedermeier. www.imm.hu/en/contents/nagytetenyi
Flea Market - Klauzál tér 11.
The newly opened market hall is a farmers' market six days a week. But on Sundays, not only is it home to one of the few supermarkets open downtown, it's also a bustling antique market with some great communist era memorabilia.
It's no secret big budget films are being shot in Budapest, but now an all new form of Escapism has come to town. It's called Filmbuilding, and it puts you in the centre of the action as director and star of your own action flick. Enquiries at firstname.lastname@example.org or look for filmbuilding - one word - on Facebook.