Please note this post contains affiliate links, meaning that if you purchase something through one of these links (marked with an *) I'll get a small commission at no cost to you.
I take my birthday very seriously, after all it’s the one day that I can make all about me. As mine and Billy’s birthdays are very close to each other we usually go away somewhere to celebrate both, although I make it very clear that on my actual birthday that day is mine – the rest of the holiday is for both of us. So last year we headed to Budapest, for no reason other than we saw a really good deal on Voyage Privé. Although we booked spontaneously and didn’t do much research, we had a fantastic time discovering some of the many things to do in Budapest. This post will show you what we got up to, and give you some ideas of things to do in Budapest.
We arrived late on the day before my birthday so headed straight for the hotel. The *Bo33 Hotel gave us a very warm welcome with drinks vouchers, a voucher for a meal in the hotel restaurant, a variety of maps and leaflets, and inviting us to book on to the private sightseeing tour that was included in our package. There was even a bottle of Hungarian sparkling wine and a bottle of red wine waiting for us in our lovely hotel room! As it was late, we went straight to bed and awoke fresh the next day to start my fun-filled birthday.
The Most Important of Things to Do in Budapest: Breakfast
A good birthday has to start with a good breakfast, and the BO33 Hotel put on a fabulous spread! There was all the pastry, ham, cheese (we’re talking a full cheese board), fruit, salmon and hot breakfast you could eat, plus a chocolate fountain! And yes, we dipped cheese in the chocolate fountain, and yes, it was delightful. To top it all off, you could help yourself to three types of Hungarian sparkling wine. As it was my birthday, we allowed ourselves to get a little bit tipsy at 9am.
A Good Wander
With full bellies we started our adventure by wandering in the general direction of the river Danube, heading through the Jewish Quarter, several markets and some beautiful buildings on the way. We crossed the river, leaving the Pest side of the city and entering the Buda side.
The Funicular and Castle District
I love a good funicular, so this was on our ‘must-do’ list of things to do in Budapest and it didn’t disappoint. We reached the top of Castle Hill, purchased a cup of mulled wine from a street vendor and admired the view over the city. We briefly explored the castle, before continuing our adventure in no particular direction.
The Labyrinth of Buda Castle
This was a totally unexpected find (I’d not even read about it), but we walked past the entrance and had no reason not to give it a go. Getting lost in here was great fun, even if it took a lot of persuading to get Billy to go into the pitch black tunnel. It was also educational, and we learnt that Dracula was imprisoned there by King Matthias Corvinus in the 15th Century. This shouldn’t be missed when planning things to do in Budapest!
After the labyrinth, the next thing we came across was the statue of Andras Hadrik. It’s not like us to recognise a statue, but we both remembered this from watching Richard Ayoade’s Travel Man – apparently it’s good luck to stroke the horse’s balls, and an absolute must of things to do in Budapest. Here’s Billy showing you where to rub:
Lunch in Budapest
Both of our phones had just run out of battery (exhausted last night we’d forgotten to charge them) so, rather than worrying about where we were or where we should eat, we simply chose a restaurant based on the fact that it looked “quite Hungarian” through the window. The good luck from the horse balls must have kicked in because the restaurant was exactly what we were looking for and it was honestly one of the best lunches I’ve ever had. I had roast goose with braised red cabbage and the first bite made my knees tingle and my heart pound, it was so full of flavour. After retracing our steps on Google Maps I’ve worked out that it was called Fekete Holló Vendéglő, definitely worth a visit!
This is always written about one of the top things to do in Budapest, and for good reason! It’s absolutely beautiful and the views over the city are stunning, and with even more good horse ball luck we stumbled upon it straight after lunch. After managing to get my phone to turn on for long enough for a quick picture, we climbed the stairs to the bar at the top of the Bastion. Already a little tipsy from lunch, we took great pleasure in drinking a couple more bottles of Hungarian wine, snuggling under blankets and watching the city change from day to night. I’m not usually the soppy type but it was outrageously romantic.
This is where my memory goes a little fuzzy, but somehow we made it back to the Pest side and by chance found one of the Budapest’s ruin bars… Szimpla Kert. This place was CRAZY and I absolutely loved it! We were only going to stay for one drink before going for dinner, but several bottles of that Hungarian sparkling wine and a shot of Unicum (disgusting Hungarian liqueur) later we were still going strong – oops!
Tired and hungry but too drunk to sit down for dinner, we decided to head back to the hotel, which proved very difficult without Google Maps. Luckily a local took pity on us and helped us find our way back to the hotel, where we took advantage of the vouchers for a meal in the hotel restaurant. And so it was the end of a perfect birthday! I’ve written another post on a fantastic restaurant we ate at during our trip, which you can have a read of here.