January, February and March are proven to be the two most depressing months of the year, spent up after Christmas, January is always full of gloom and doom with dismal weather and short days, it isn't surprising that so many people feel low and horrible at this time of year. We need pick me ups, and this makes January the perfect time to book a long weekend holiday, to relax and recuperate, and Budapest offers this, and won't break the bank.
Budapest is Hungary's gorgeous capital, and in January and early February, a thick layer of snow is likely to fall onto the city, making its streets more magical than ever. It has recently become one of central Europe’s major weekend getaway destinations, an absolute hot-spot for the trendy tourist. Maybe the number one George Ezra song has brought significant attention to the Capital, but I believe that it's a combination of the city's beautiful architecture, designer shops and trendy cafes along side the iconic Hungarian landscape that almost screams for attention.
A weekend break would allow you to enjoy Budapest's many beautiful boutique shops, the many aesthetic hipster Cafes and the city's 120 thermal baths, as well as hundreds of other of attractions, all in one weekend. But Budapest is such a big city, what are the most worth while places to go, when limited on time?
As someone who loves more off-beat and unique experiences, I'd head to the suburbs of Budapest to Memento Park, to do this take the 150 bus from Kosztolanyi Deak Ter, however keep an eye out for Budapest's iconic yellow trams as a means of transport, which are cheap and easy to catch. If you want a bit of political history, and jaw dropping Instagram shots, Memento Park is a unique totalitarian themed amusement park and exactly where you want to go. The best time to visit the park is at dusk, when large statues of various communist icons, like that of the infamous Stalin and Marx, cast bizarrely beautiful silhouettes that stand boldly against the unique Hungarian sun set. This is perfect for taking beautifully quirky photos of an experience you will never forget.
Need to relax and have a little fun? Budapest is renowned for its many thermal baths, all of which are reasonably cheap to visit. Some would even argue that the baths in Budapest are even more worth while visiting and memorable than the Volcanic baths in Reykjavik, Iceland. You cannot visit Budapest without visiting a public bath house, as they are such a key tourist attraction, but are also a large part of life in Budapest, besides who doesn't like a little pampering and me time?!
The best public bath house in Budapest is Széchenyi. Within the Neo-Baroque building, on the Eastern side of the city, there are over 15 different pools to relax and splash about in, making it the largest bath house in Europe. According to TripAdvisor it is "an experience not to be missed".
However for a more relaxing and intimate experience, another popular bath house is the Gellert Bath House just south of the Széchenyi baths. References to healing waters in this location are found from as early as the 13th century, and the waters are said to heal many health issues, whether you believe this or not, it is worth while visiting what has been named as the most beautiful baths in the city, with its beautiful main hall with a large gallery and glass roof, perfect for that jaw dropping #nofilter photo, once again, it is not at all worth missing
Calling all fashion enthusiasts! Throughout the 1970s, Tisza Cipő was Budapest's main shoe factory that mainly manufactured shoes for trendy German shoe brand Adidas. In the late 1980s, just as the factory became popular among style-conscious Hungarians, hungry for the iconic Western footwear, the factory sunk into serious debt, was declared bankrupt and was closed. In 2003, a wealthy Hungarian investor & self-proclaimed “sneaker freak” reopened the factory and remarked the shoes using high quality leather and a few modern changes in design. Ever since, Tisza Cipő has been known as Hungary’s retro shoe factory, and is a very popular place among tourists and retro fashion enthusiasts alike. The company's small flagship store in Budapest city centre has hundreds of limited edition and one of a kind shoes, all featuring the iconic “made in Hungary” shoe tongue and the Tisza “T” on the side. The authentic Soviet shoes bring back a distinct 70s nostalgia, similar to that of Adidas superstars. The factory and shop is definitely worth the visit while staying in Budapest.
The Hungarian Parliament Building is one of the prettiest buildings in Europe, and a tour of the building is a die-for experience, even if you aren't interested in Hungarian politics (who is?!) The building is a very popular tourist destination and landmark of Hungary, sitting in the gorgeous Lagos Kossuth Square, on the banks of the Danube river. The stunning building, is built in the Gothic Revivalstyle. The dome is Renaissance Revival architecture, and helps make the parliamentary building the tallest in Budapest, giving off gorgeous and highly photogenic views.
If you've ever dreamed about being in a real life princess castle: The Halászbástya, also know as the Fishermans Bastion is the place you want to be. The Fishermans Bastion, although sounding like a fish mongers, is in fact a large white stone castle built in the Neo-Romanesque style sat on the bank of the Danube river in Budapest. It was originally built between 1895 and 1902 based on the innovative ideas of the famous Hungarian architect Frigyes Schulek. Now the building stands a popular tourist attraction, rebuilt after its near destruction during WWII by Frigyes Schulek's son, János Schulek. Admittance is free, but for a more detailed tour taking you to parts of the building hidden from the public, there is a varying fee depending on the tour package booked. According to trip advisor the payed for tour is "worth every Huf!" This is perfect if you're into history, but also if you just want to go somewhere pretty for free.
Calling anyone up for an afternoon of fun and games: Claustrophilia isn't you're average tourist attraction by any means, but it's an amazing experience, and an absolute must do within the city. Claustrophilia is a puzzle and a challenge. You are given an hour to collect clues from around the room you are locked in and solve the problem, the prize? To get out of the room. The Claustrophilia experience is one to remember, and is on another level compared to other similar experiences. It's great for filling up your day between shopping, eating and other attractions, and is definitely a must do within the city.
In the city's trendy Jewish Quarter, there's a courtyard called the Gozsdu Udvar Courtyards, down the many side alleys and passages, there are hundreds of hipster bars, restaurants and pubs, each with divine menus with everything from mouth watering mocktails to massive burgers with gorgeous organic Hungarian beef. Spiler, said to be worth the flight to Budapest alone, is the ultimate burger bar to visit, and is probably one of the best places to eat in Budapest. Whether you're there for the food or the buzzing urban environment, you are bound to love the eclectic Jewish Quarter.
But if these aren't for you, Budapest is the perfect place to chill out in a quirky cafe and relax with a yummy hot drink among the locals, or go and sit in a Hungarian park and enjoy the sounds of Budapest. There is so much to do in the city, there is something for everyone. Budapest is your go to travel destination of January 2017, so what are you waiting for? Book you're tickets now and stay in Europes die-for holiday destination today!