Postcard from: Romantic Budapest
Budapest is the tale of two ancient cities (Buda and Pest) united by bridges to create the bustling metropolis known today. With its gorgeous architecture and stunning vista views, you don't have to walk far in Budapest to be totally captivated by its beauty.
Whether travelling with a special someone, a group of friends or as a solo traveller, Budapest makes for a truly magical destination to visit in mid-Februray. Here's my recommendations for how to spend the perfect day in supremely romantic Budapest.
AN EARLY MORNING DIP AT GELLERT SPA
Known as the 'City of Baths', Budapest is well-known for its 'healing' thermal waters and there are many locations across the city in which to enjoy them. To truly experience the baths at their best, I highly recommend taking an early morning dip, locals-style.
The elegant Gellért bath and spa is rated one of the most beautiful in Budapest, mosaiced in the Art Nouveau style and featuring classical Roman columns. From 6am in the morning is when you'll really get to appreciate the surroundings undisturbed by anyone else, a truly intimate experience.
CATCH THE SUNRISE AT LIBERTY BRIDGE
Upon leaving the Gellért spa, refreshed from your morning dip, you're in good stead to catch the sunrise over the verdant green Liberty bridge, another Art Nouveau gem (of which there are many in Budapest) that offers a spectacular vista of the river, and a rare chance to catch this popular walking spot undisturbed by traffic or pedestrians.
WANDER ALONG THE DANUBE
Any sort of riverside stroll is undeniably romantic, and walking by the Danube is no exception. On a beautiful day, a slow amble along its banks, or a trip on one of the riverside trams on the Pest side of the city, offers the best opportunity to take in the enchanting scenery of Budapest.
If you're walking, pause for quiet reflection at the Shoes on the Danube monument, a stark portrayal of a dark moment in the city's history. It's a truly moving and unforgettable experience and a must-see sight in the city.
Walking on, you'll eventually find yourself at the landmark Széchenyi Chain Bridge, one of the first major bridges to permanently connect the cities of Buda and Pest. It reaches between the extravagant, neo-gothic Fisherman's Bastion on the Buda side, and the spectacular, Art Nouveau Gresham Palace on the Pest side.
COFFEE + A SLICE AT GERBEAUD CAFE
Tempting treats await at Budapest's grandest historic cafe, Cafe Gerbeaud. The long-time experts in confectionary and coffee provide a luxury experience, where you can indulge in delicacies such as the extremely chocolate-y Gerbeaud slice (pictured above) while soaking up the original lavish interiors.
A LIGHT LUNCH
If you're looking for something a little more substantial to eat for lunch, then without a doubt head to the charming neighbourhood canteen Mazel Tov situated in the Jewish Quarter. Walking in, you're greeted with a vast glass-roofed courtyard that connects the buildings at each side, decorated with impressive tumbling vines that creates an impossibly romantic setting.
The hearty menu is exceptionally good, focussing authentic Israeli food and fusion cooking. Be prepared to join a queue for the lunchtime rush!
A TIPPLE AT THE RUIN BAR
Not too far away from Mazel Tov you can find Budapest's buzzing centre for nightlife. This once dilapidated sector of the city has been revived into a popular and energetic meeting place for locals and tourists alike, with the renowned ruin bars at its social centre.
You can't help but be swept up in the quirks of these cavernous bars. Szimpla Kert is just one of many, but perhaps the best known for its vast location spanning across lots of different themed rooms. Hosting films, concerts and other cultural events, it's a great place to while away some time. Hole yourself up in a little nook and make sense of the artsy interiors while sipping on a local beer, or take a shot of the local spirit if you're feeling in the party mood!
There are so many great places to eat in Budapest (including an affordable Michelin-starred treat at Borkoynha's wine-kitchen), that you can't go far wrong when picking a restaurant for the evening.
For a romantic experience, head to Cafe Pierrot, an elegant fine dining restaurant which has steadily gained popularity with locals, celebrities, artists, intellects and diplomats alike. Portraits of past patrons can be found adorning the cafe walls as testament to the cafe's short history and brimming reputation.
Some nights you may find a pianist trilling the keys at the front of the restaurant, providing a relaxing ambience as you tuck into refined traditional Hungarian cuisine.
A NIGHT-TIME STROLL AROUND FISHERMAN'S BASTION
Not far away from Cafe Pierrot, wander the fairy-tale cloisters and take in the city lights from Fisherman's Bastion on Castle Hill, offering panoramic views across the city and the Danube. It's a purely decorative fortification, having been built in fairly modern history as a viewing platform to celebrate the Hungarian state.
It really feels like a dreamy escape to a mythical place as you wander through the spiralling turrets and buttressed walkways, marking the end to a perfect day in Budapest.
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