Christmas is approaching, I love this time of the year, do you?! All the lights and the festive energy are so contagious! A date that brings people together, oh how I love it!
On my last trip to Eastern Europe I was delighted with the vibe of Budapest during Christmas. This was the second time I had been to the city this year and I lived two very different moments. In April I circled to a very quiet and serious city, with very few lights and slightly gray. However, in December, it was like a total different city! Fully lit up and happy. Flashing lights on every corner, decorated streets and many markets are fitted specially for the occasion in the main areas of the city. And i’ll tell you that even being chilly with a bit of Danube wind chastising and the days getting darker very early, the streets were filled with people until late at night. Such a privilege to visit the capital of Hungary during this time of the year.
Budapest is divided into two parts separated by the famous Danube river. On one hand, the agitated Pest. This is the largest portion and the most lively city center. On the other hand, Buda. Quiet, high on a hill. In the past, they were two distinct cities. They were only joined in the late 19th century. And even being formed from two cities, it is not very large and its main points of attraction can all be easily reached by foot.
A good starting point is the Danube river. From wherever you are, the sight that has the opposite bank is always spectacular, mainly during the sunset. For this reason, a nice place to stay is the Four Seasons hotel located in front of the Bridge of chains or Széchenyi Lánchíd (you can tell that the Hungarian language is pretty hard), one of the main postcards of Budapest and background image is of the beautiful Buda Castle. Ah! I’ll give you another nice tip! As the winter in Hungary is very cold, soups always fall very well. The Kollazs restaurant, on the ground floor of the Four Seasons, has an onion soup of the “gods” and with a breathtaking view if you sit close to the window.
To eat well in the city is very easy. My favorite restaurant is the Rosenstein. It serves Hungarian food made with love by a family that has been working together for several generations. It was recommended by two friends who live in the city and I chose it as a favorite. Everything is so good; it is far from the old center but close to the train station. You have to make a reservation because it is alway crowded and it is not a tourist location. Three other wonderful restaurants with great ratings are the Costes, Onyx and Nobu.
Now let’s get to what you cannot miss in Budapest:
1. Visit the Parliament of Pest on the outside and inside. Its elegance is impressive.
2. Go up on a funicular and check out the Buda Castle, the Bastion and the beautiful church of St. Matthias.
3. Go up to the imposing Basilica of St. Stephen and climb up the dome to view the city from up high.
4. Circulate through the jewish quarter and Synagogue of Budapest, the largest in Europe.
5. Taste the local wine – Tokaji – it is so traditional that is even mentioned on the National Anthem.
6. Go through the Central Market Csarnok. It sells Hungarian food, but what is most interesting is its iron structure similar to the Eiffel Tower.
7. Stroll along the banks of the Danube river and observe the sad Shoe Memorial.
Budapest is a city with a bold past. If you are interested in knowing more about the history of the Nazi occupation (its devastating, but I highly recommend it) visit the Museum of Terror. It is located on Andrassay Avenue, which by contrast, is the most elegant of the city, where designer shops and the Opera House are located. At the very end of this street is the Heroes’ Square and the Szechenyi Baths, one of the many thermal spas in the city.
And when you want to take a break, sit in one of the most traditional cafés in the city: New York Café (voted one of the most beautiful of Europe) or the Café Gerbaud with its wonderful sweets.
Budapest is a charming city. Did you enjoy the tips? I hope so. Leave me questions on the comment section below and let me know which places you would like more information on.
I wish you all a wonderful Christmas, lots of pace and love!
XoXo, until next time.