1.Swim in a Thermal Bath
Budapest is known for its fantastic thermal baths, so naturally one of the MUST DO activities in Budapest is to spend an afternoon relaxing in one of the baths in the city. The Gellert Baths & Széchenyi Baths are both very popular for locals and tourists. We took a dip in the Art Nouveau Gellert Baths – which feels like swimming in a cathedral with its pretty tiled art on the walls of the pools. Make sure you head outside to the outdoor pools and definitely bring sandals or flip flops if you’re visiting in the winter (or you’re guaranteed to slip on ice in front of 50 people like me!).
2. Eat a Rose Gelato
When we heard about Gelarto Rosa‘s rose gelato (gelato made into the shape of a rose) we knew we needed to give it a try – even at -2 degrees! Located near St Stephen’s Basilica, this adorable shop is extremely popular and their gelato is a perfect mid afternoon snack as you’re wondering around the city (plus its so pretty!).
3. Climb Gellert Hill
Right near the Gellert Baths is Gellert Hill, in which you can find the best views of Budapest. This view was so beautiful that it even warranted its own post. See more photos and find more information on Gellert Hill here.
Also on your way down you can take the somewhat cliched, yet totally needed photo of you sitting on one of the many (but my favourite) bridges of Budapest (Liberty Bridge).
4. Visit the Shoes on the Danube
The shoes on the Danube is a memorial to honour the jews killed in WWII. These particular jews were made to take off their shoes (and any seemingly expensive item they had in their possession) and were shot on the edge of the water so their bodies fell into the river. Many of the shoes in the memorial are moulds of real jew’s shoes that were found in and around the edge of the water.
I found this memorial very moving as there is no large sign to explain the shoes, and other than the crowd of people taking photos there is nothing to announce why they are there. It is horrific to see the different kinds and sizes of the shoes, showing that women, men and even children were killed on this edge. It is definitely a memorial that is worth a visit.
5. Party at a Ruin Bar
Ruin Bars or Pubs are a Budapest specialty that they do just so well. They are old buildings that have been revived into bars and pubs, often with extremely quirky and rustic furnishings. Expect a great night and a bar like you’ve never seen. A mish mash of items, maybe a huge tree in the centre of the room, a bicycle hanging over head or a mini van next to the bar. Try Szimpla or Fogashaz – two of the most popular ruin bars in Budapest.
(Forgive the fuzzy photo – this was taken on new years and to be fair steady hands weren’t really on the cards).