I flew to Budapest recently with Jet2CityBreaks to check out the gorgeous East European city. I’d never been to Budapest, the capital city of Hungary, before…so when Jet2 asked if I’d like to go on a trip with them and some other bloggers/journalists, I emphatically said “yes”!
Known as the ‘Pearl of the Danube’, Budapest is a beautiful culturally rich city and is famed for its gorgeous architecture, thermal baths (it has around 80 geothermal springs and the world’s largest thermal water cave system) and it also has a complex history. Very complex actually! More on that later in this post.
Flying to Budapest
We flew from Manchester and although it was Ellie (The Wandering Quinn) and Aftab (Fresh & Fearless)’s first time flying with Jet2, it wasn’t mine. They’ve always been a great option for good value flights “up north”, so we all tend to know about them up here. Jet2 aren’t known quite so much in Southern England, but that will change soon with their Stanstead flights starting in March 2017.
I hadn’t quite realised how many places Jet2 fly to from Manchester if I’m honest (they fly to 48 city, sun and ski destinations from Manchester Airport and are now one of the airport’s biggest operators).
My Budapest blogger buddies and I checked in a hold bag each (Jet2 offer 22kg hold bags each for free) and also took on cabin bags (you can take on up to 10kg). I like to have ‘stuff’ with me on flights, even when they are just to Europe. I never know what I’ll want to do…read my kindle, listen to music, sleep…so I pack a handy bag with snack and essentials in (inc. my beloved little Anya Hindmarch flight bag – great for keeping earphones, sleeping masks, earplugs and travel adaptors organised).
It was a smooth flight of 2hrs 50 mins. I didn’t get to sit next to Aftab and Ellie on the flight (because I wasn’t all that organised before we went and didn’t check-in in time!), but I was sat next to two fab people who were really interesting. I quite like meeting new people on flights! Other than chatting, I mainly read my Kindle, sat back and relaxed.
The flight was at 9:30am on a Thursday from Manchester, which meant we got into Budapest with plenty of time to check into our hotel and have a bit of a wander before dinner.
I usually spend quite a lot of time trying to find flights at decent times and it can be a bit of a pain. I liked that because Jet2 are not just the holiday provider, but also the airline…they have control over their flight times. For the city breaks, they try to organise them early on Thursdays and Fridays and late back on Sundays and Mondays, so you get a good long weekend with plenty of time in the places you visit. I can definitely see the advantages in booking a city break with an airline for the friendly travel times.
Buda & Pest: Two Cities Become One
I hadn’t actually appreciated before I went that Budapest used to be two cities… Buda and Pest. Buda was the more upmarket neighbourhood and Pest wasn’t quite so monied.
They were united into a single city in 1873. These days Budapest has a population of 1.8 million and is cited as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. It’s ranked as the most liveable Central and Eastern European city on EIU’s quality of life index. Not bad, huh? It’s also ranked as “the world’s second best city” by Condé Nast Traveler, and “Europe’s 7th most idyllic place to live” by Forbes. Lucky Hungarians!
Exploring Buda Castle Hill
As soon as we’d checked into the Hilton Hotel (look out for the next post, which is a review of that hotel)…Ellie, Aftab and I went for an explore of Buda Castle Hill.
The first citizens arrived on Buda Castle Hill in the 13th century, after the Mongolian invasion. They sought protection in the hills of Buda. The first royal castle was built around this time…but the golden age of Castle Hill wasn’t until the 15th century.
Then came the first of many occupations (Budapest was occupied A LOT!)
After the Turkish occupation, Buda was in ruins…so a Baroque city was built, and Buda Castle Hill became the district of government.
This is the Matthias Church, which is over 700 years old…
The tiling on the roof is just gorgeous…
Today, Castle Hill is recognised as a World Heritage Site with Gothic arches, eighteenth-century Baroque houses and cobblestone streets. Though Castle Hill has changed much since building began in the 13th century, its main streets still follow their medieval paths and some houses date back to the 14th and 15th centuries.
During World War II, a lot of Buda was bombed to the ground and had to be rebuilt again. You can see the bullet holes in the buildings.
Now you know a little about the history, you can watch a quick video which brings Buda Castle Hill (and my gorgeous room at the Hilton Hotel!) to life here:
As you can see in the vlog, there are viewpoints all over Castle Hill and the views were fantastic! (despite it being a bit misty)
It’s the PERFECT place to watch the sunset…
Having had our fill of the gorgeous Hungarian sunset, we carried on walking down the cobbled streets.
Even the post boxes are cute…
Our wander on Buda Castle Hill ended with a look around a little market, which didn’t disappoint for Hungarian keepsakes.
The dolls really reminded me of the ones by Nana used to have. I could play for hours as a kid with these!
By the time we got back to near the Hilton Hotel, it was dark and Castle Hill was transformed into a lit-up Christmassy place. Lovely.
Book Budapest for yourself
£455 is the usual price for 3 nights at the Hilton Budapest including flights (time of year impacts price).
Jet2 fly from Manchester to Budapest four times a week throughout the year and they also fly to Budapest from East Midlands, Edinburgh and Leeds Bradford Airports. So, if you’re not all that close to Manchester, those other options could work better for you. I love to fly from Leeds/Bradford whenever I get chance, but Manchester is also a really easy option from Leeds. 1hr 20mins on the train and you’re right in the airport.
More on the trip to come!
This was just day one of the trip to Budapest and I’m yet to show to around the rest of the beautiful city, the Christmas Markets, a wine tour, the ruin pubs and lots more! Keep your eyes open on this blog and on my YouTube channel for more of a look around Budapest.
* Please note that this city break was complimentary from Jet2 for review purposes. My opinions, as always, are my own.