Beguiling Budapest is a tale of two cities: peaceful hilltop Buda and bustling modern Pest. It's one of Europe's coolest cities, and also one of the cheapest, making it an ideal city-break destination. Most of the major sights are within walking distance, but public transport is easy-to-use if you want to go further afield. Spring (March-May) and autumn (September-November) are the best times to visit Budapest. As well as mild temperatures and fewer crowds, the shoulder season also offers the best prices on flights and hotels. Summer is the most popular time to visit Budapest, as the sizzling temperatures create the perfect atmosphere for Fröccs fuelled open-air parties. Winters are snowy and cold: the perfect excuse to enjoy the city's thermal baths and cafe culture.
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Aria Hotel Budapest by Library Hotel Collection
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What to do in Budapest
Budapest makes a great short break for shopaholics, couples, culture vultures, solo travellers and foodies. The city is strikingly beautiful, infused with romance and history. This is a city that's bound to get you plenty of likes on Instagram. The spectacular castle towering over the river, the moving Holocaust memorials and the breath-taking parliament building all contribute to the city's man-made splendour while the lush Gellért Hill and the rolling Danube lend natural charm. The rambling trolleybuses that traverse the city's hills, the ramshackle markets, and the eclectic architecture add a rustic twist while classical music performances, steamy thermal spas and impressive churches ensure there's plenty to impress high-brow travellers.
What you get up to in Budapest will depend on what you're into. Here are some quick tips for shopaholics and foodies.
From designer pieces to retro finds, Budapest is a shopper's dream.
- Kiraly Utca is home to a staggering array of designer galleries and chic boutiques as well as high street shops. Budapest Fashion Week kicks off in April and this street is the place to be. Design Week in October is also worth seeing, showcasing the finest Hungarian design from home-wares to fashion.
- A city break in Budapest wouldn’t be complete without visiting the thrift and flea markets. Rummage through old photos, purchase communist memorabilia, or buy vintage furniture and retro clothing. A popular market takes place in City Park on Saturdays and Sundays from 7am to 2pm (entry 150* HUF). Erzsébet tér on the last Sunday of the month (7am to 4pm), and the huge Ecseri Flea Market ( 8am-4pm weekdays, 8am-3pm Saturdays, and 8am-1pm Sundays) are also worth a visit.
Even on a short city break you can make the most of fine-dining and farmer’s markets. Locally made produce is worth buying to take home.
- The Szimpla Kert Ruin pub is an unlikely home for a farmer’s market but every Sunday from 8am to 4pm you'll find one. Sellers bring organic home grown produce to this quirky location, offering some real delights to sample during your weekend break.
- Wherever you go in Budapest, you’re never far from a heavenly pastry. The aroma of freshly baked goodies emanates from every street corner. Whether it’s crescent shaped Kiflis, fresh croissants, fluffy Salatini’s or scone-like Pogasca’s, there are plenty of delights to sample. Most can be bought for 100* HUF per kilo.
* Prices correct as of December 2015