David and I had been excited to visit Budapest ever since our first stop in Argentina, when we had the opportunity to visit a working polo farm in Orense and learn to play from a professional polo player. Argentine polo players will often spend the summer (their off-season) in Hungary playing for a duke or a count (really!) and so ever since January we were planning to see our new friend Edgardo play in Hungary.
Due to a miscommunication, we learned that the polo season had ended weeks before our trip and we didn’t have the chance to see Edgardo or watch him play. With a suddenly open agenda for our time in Hungary we set about exploring this belle époque city that surprised us with it’s elegance and international food scene.
Our absolute favorite activity in Budapest was taking a speedboat tour with Dunarama to see the sights along the River Danube. We motored north slowly, taking in sights like the stunning Parliament Building, Chain Bridge and Buda Castle, then they kicked the motor into high gear and sped south on the return trip that had us laughing as we fell all over ourselves. What a thrill! I’ve heard the ride is even prettier at sunset and would highly recommend the trip as an exciting introduction to the city of Budapest.
We stayed at the Corinthia Hotel Budapest. First opened in 1896 as the Grand Hotel Royal, it as the center of Budapest’s social and cinematic scene in the 20’s and 30’s, and Wes Anderson drew inspiration for his popular film, The Grand Budapest Hotel, from the property’s archival records. We loved being in the center of the city and the hotel’s breakfast was simply incredible – one of the best I’ve had in Europe.
Despite our last minute change of plans we were surprised how much we loved Budapest. The city feels so romantic, from the lively cafe culture where guests dine in ornate belle époque halls to the twinkling lights along the Danube at dusk. Some of our favorite spots include: Espresso Embassy (coffee and breakfast pastries), Lehuto Kezmuves (craft beer bar), Vicky Barcelona (tapas and cocktails), Getto Gulyas (Hungarian and great atmosphere), Callas House Cafe (elegant spot for cakes and coffee next to the Opera) and Ellato Kert (one of the (in)famous ruin bars serving tacos and beers). On our last night I learned of Hungarikum Bistro, and we tried to go but they were booked up several days in advance. The food (traditional Hungarian) and atmosphere looked amazing so if you visit Budapest please try it for me and let me know what you think!
On our last morning we rose early to take in views of the sun rising over Pest from Fisherman’s Bastion. The views of the city at dawn are unparalleled and we didn’t arrive a moment too soon. Pro tip: visit before 8am! 5 minutes after the following photo was taken a group of 100 cruise ship people stormed the bastion. We were outnumbered and fled.
Hopefully we’ll be able to return to Hungary again in the future to see our friend play polo, until then, we’re grateful we got to discover this beautiful city!
All photos by David and Stacie Flinner for stacieflinner.com