48 Hours In Budapest InStyle's Hip City Guide

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Think of Budapest and you probably think stag dos. And, while, I did encounter four separate rowdy stag parties on her Easyjet flight out, once you’re away from the airport and in the city, the beer-chugging lads, lads, lads were long-forgotten and replaced with chic stores, hearty food, cheap but delicious wine and architecture that gives Paris a run for it’s money.

Budapest straddles the river Danube; on one side is Pest, heaving with restaurants, bars, shops and the business district, while hilly Buda, is more chilled with the most amazing views of the rest of the city. As one local put it: “You work and play in Pest, and live in Buda.”

It’s a city that can be anything you want it to be: wildly romantic, drunken and hedonistic or chilled and cultured. Just a two-hour flight from London, this is how we suggest you spend 48-hours in Budapest:

Where To Eat

  • Zona


    Perched on the Buda side of Chain Bridge, with floor-to-ceiling windows for a mesmerising view of the Danube, Zona’s thing is simple food with an unusual twist. Think lasagne, but not as you know it, with king prawns, ricotta and beetroot or the pork ribs that come with a pesto and cornflake sauce. The chap playing old classics on the piano is at odds with the modern, and very Instagrammable, interior, but that’s the charm of the place. 

  • Menza


    If you only have one proper sit down meal while you’re in Budapest, make it at Menza. Hungarian for ‘school canteen’, the only similarities between that and my secondary school are the retro decor, because the food is nothing like I had back in the day. Grab a seat (under a heater and wrapped in a blanket on colder days) on the patio, watch the cool kids in trendy Liszt Ferenc Square and try some trad goulash or beef stew with dumplings all washed down with some local beer. 

  • Karavan


    For more chilled vibes, head to street food market Karavan. In the lantern-decorated alleyway next to Szimpla Hert (the best ruin bar of them all, but more on that later), the trucks and stalls sell everything from pad thai and paneer curries to langos burgers (langos is Hungarian fried bread topped with sour cream and grated cheese. Yes, we know, amazing). 

Where To Drink

  • Innio

    Innio wine bar

    Hungary isn’t known for its wine and, though you can get your hands on a glass for dirt, dirt cheap, it’s not the best (nor is the hangover that comes with it). If you’re craving some of the good stuff, Innio has one of the biggest international wine selections in the city and clever sommeliers who will talk you through it all. A bit on the pricey side, but worth it. 

  • Kiosk


    Live acoustic music, candlelight movies and innovative cocktails, you’ll find all the cool kids hanging out on the Kiosk terrace on a sunny day. Grab an apperoll spritz, flop on a bean bag and join them. 

  • Szimpla Kert

    Szimpla Kert

    Behind the domes of the Dohany Street synagogue (well worth a visit, the tour was brilliant) you’ll find the infamous ruin pubs of Budapest. The coolest – and most Instagrammable – of them all is Szimpla. Spread over several rooms and spilling into the garden, Szimpla is a junkyard teaming with crap, but crap that you can’t stop taking photos of. Think garden gnomes swinging from the ceiling, a robot trapped inside an old London telephone booth and neon signs that give Lights of Soho a run for its money. Drinks are cheap – you’ll get a glass of wine for £1.50. 

What To Do

  • Omorovicza Spa

    Omorovicza day spa 

    Kick off your city break with a facial at the Omorovicza spa on uber-posh Andrassy Avenue. Skincare range Omorovicza began in Budapest back in 2006 and has been creating all-natural products inspired by Hungarian spa treatments ever since. The flagship boutique is super sleek and all treatments take place while you’re swaddled in blankets on a heated water bed and cleansed, exfoliated and massaged back to your glowing, luminous best self. We went for the Gold Facial, £82. 

  • Sziget Festival

    Sziget Festival 2017 (9 – 16 August)

    Rihanna headlined last year and, so far, the 2017 line-up of this 7-day festival includes Kasabian, Alt-J, Rudimental, Clean Bandit, The Vaccines, Charlie XCX, Rita Ora and Tom Odell. It all happens on Obuda island in the middle of the Danube, which is transformed into one big party for the week. 

  • Gellert baths and spa

    Gellert Baths and Spa

    Known as the spa capital of the world, with 15 public thermal baths fed by the 118 springs surrounding Budapest, this is a city that will help ease your aches, pains and stresses rather than add to them. Our favourite is the Gellert Bath, set in an art deco hall so beautiful it’s a bit like going for a dip in a really ornate church. Get there early and you’ll have the thermal pools to yourself (aside from a few elderly locals). For a few extra quid you can get pummelled by a masseuse in one of the twenty massage booths. The best hangover cure we’ve ever tried. 

  • St Stephens Basilica

    St Stephen’s Basilica 

    For a euro you can climb the winding staircase to the roof of the largest church in Budapest and be rewarded by 360-degree panoramic views of the city. 

  • Fisherman’s bastion

    Fisherman’s Bastion


    For sweeping views of Budapest in all its glory, whizz up Castle Hill in the funicular. Spend an afternoon strolling around the Royal Palace and Old Town before heading across to Fisherman’s Bastion, a neo-gothic viewing terrace, where you can even get a cold beer as you watch the sun set over the city.

Where To Shop

  • Louis Vuitton

    Andrassy Avenue is Budapest’s answer to Bond Street with the likes of Burberry, Gucci and Valentino, as well as high street favourites Cos, Zara and H&M. You’ll lose hours here. 

  • Király utca

    Alternatively check out Király utca, a buzzy street full of design stores, independent boutiques and small art galleries. 

Where To Stay

  • Airbnb 


    In Budapest, you can’t beat airbnb. For £35 – £45 per night you’ll get a chic apartment in a central location. 

  • Four Seasons in Budapest

    If you’re more about the luxe vibes, it’s got to be the Four Seasons. Set on the bank of the Danube, overlooking Chain Bridge, nowhere else compares. Four Seasons Gresham Palace, rooms start at about £450 per night. 

Getting Around

  • Taxify

    Taxify is Budapest’s answer to Uber. Download the app and away you go. Or, a 24-hour pass for the easy-to-navigate metro is crazy cheap at £4.50. 


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