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22nd March 2023

72 hours in Budapest

Feeling the need to escape Manchester? We’ve got you covered with our guide to spending a weekend in the cheap but culture-filled city of Budapest.
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72 hours in Budapest
Photo: Ervin Lukacs @ Unsplash

As the weather gets slightly warmer and the university term gets busier, you might be feeling the need to escape from daily life in Manchester. If you’re wanting to book those flights, a long weekend in Budapest is a brilliant option – it’s less than a three-hour flight, there’s tonnes of sightseeing to do, and it’s pretty cheap. If you need some travel inspiration and the push to get on Skyscanner, we’re giving you the ultimate guide to spending a weekend in Hungary’s capital.

Once you’ve navigated flying into Budapest, travel around the city is extremely reasonably priced. Although you’ll have to take either a bus or a taxi from the airport to the city centre, Budapest’s metro system is efficient and cost-effective. Visitors can buy a 72-hour travel card for 5500 Forint, which works out to around £12.50 for a full three days of unlimited travel.

Accommodation is also easy to come by for a good rate, and the best place to start looking for deals is usually Hostelworld. Beds in dorm rooms can be found for less than £10 a night, whilst a private room will set you back around £60 nightly.

Once you’ve sorted out the logistics, it’s time to explore Budapest. The city is known as the spa capital of the world, so is perfect for those wanting a relaxing getaway. Spas are a good place to start planning your trip: the most famous in the city is the Szechenyi Baths, which were built in 1913 and boast 18 pools and 10 saunas. There are other spas across Budapest dating back as far as the 16th Century, and all are relatively affordable to visit for a day trip.

However, although Budapest’s thermal baths are iconic, there is so much more on offer in the city. For example, the Hungarian Parliament Building is the third largest administrative building in the world, and offers some truly amazing gothic architecture. You can buy tickets for guided tours around some of the building, however the best views can actually be found by crossing the Danube river. Once on the opposite bank, you can take in the vast scale of the building from a distance.

Image: Hungarian Parliament Building, Budapest
Photo: Annabel Benton @ The Mancunion

The west banks of the river Danube border the Buda region of the city – Budapest was created in 1873 from the combination of the cities Buda, Pest, and Obuda. This, alongside Hungary’s control by the Soviet Union between 1949 and 1989, gives the city and its architecture some fascinating history.

One of the most famous historical landmarks in the Buda region is Fisherman’s Bastion, built at the turn of the 20th Century to celebrate 1000 years of the Hungarian state. The Neo-Romanesque style references the Medieval period, when the first Hungarian King began his rule, whilst many statues are in place to show off the city’s history. Climbing up the many stairs to the top of the Bastion also means that you’re rewarded with some truly breathtaking and uninterrupted views of Budapest, as well as views of the Bastion itself.

The climb is worth it for other reasons, as nearby to the Fisherman’s Bastion is Buda Castle, where you can relax with more fantastic views and open squares. The castle is home to the Hungarian National Gallery, where tickets start at £3.70.

Image: Views from Fisherman's Bastion, Budapest
Photo: Annabel Benton @ The Mancunion

More of the city’s history can be uncovered by walking further down the river Danube, to the Citadella. You will have to climb to the top of another hill, but the views are once again worth the 30-minute hike. The Citadella is a fortress, first built for military use in 1851 and used more recently by Soviet troops to dispel the Hungarian Revolution, so is a good place to visit if you’re interested in the city’s history.

Budapest is a busy metropolitan capital with a long history but it is also very green and not somewhere where you’ll be overcome by busy crowds or concrete buildings. One such green space is located off the Margit Bridge, in the centre of the Danube River. Here you’ll find a huge park, complete with river views and bikes for hire. There’s even a dancing fountain!

Once you’ve explored the park, there is a lot to see by crossing the Margit Bridge onto the East banks of the river, into the Pest region. Possibly the most impressive building is St Stephen’s Basilica, a Roman Catholic church named after Hungary’s first king. The Basilica is surrounded by wide pedestrian streets, where you’ll find lots of cafes and restaurants for a bite to eat once you’ve had your fill of sightseeing.

Image: St Stephen's Basilica, Budapest
Photo: Annabel Benton @ The Mancunion

You’ll also find yourself in the heart of Budapest’s wide shopping streets, as well as its bustling nightlife scene. The city is famous for its Ruins Bars, built in the old Jewish Quarter in buildings abandoned after the Second World War. The derelict spaces have been transformed over the last 20 years into a series of bars, whose great atmosphere draws from a mix of history, cool lighting, and reasonably priced drinks.

Budapest really does have it all. Whether you’re after a jam-packed sightseeing itinerary, a weekend partying with friends or a romantic getaway which doesn’t break the bank, Budapest is definitely a city to keep in mind when you next find yourself browsing deals on flights.

Annabel Benton

Annabel Benton

Co-Culture Managing Editor at The Mancunion // Twitter: @AnnabelBenton_

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