So we got up nice and early to go and do some sightseeing. Although we had originally planned on using the metro the metro machines didn’t take notes and there was no ticket office that we could see so we headed out on foot. The temperature was cold but fresh and actually I’m so glad we got to see a bit more of Budapest.
We happened upon The Deak Ferenc square which still had a lot of lovely Christmas decorations up, including a giant Cola bottle and a Christmas tree made from logs that you could actually enter.
From there we headed onto St Stephens Basilica. It was a really impressive building, so beautiful. The sun beat down on it and we circulated it, taking in all the amazing architecture. Just outside the church the Christmas markets were still set up and we took our time to look around them. There was so much amazing food and drink on offer which was tempting but we really wanted to eat inside somewhere, where we could strip off our multitude of layers and get comfortable.
We ended up eating at Akademia Italia which was a lovely Italian restaurant. It sat within the church square and was one of the few places open at that time (approximately 11.30am). Although the service was a little slow as the staff scurried around preparing the restaurant for New Years Eve the wait was worth it as the food was delicious. I had a sausage and cream pasta whilst Adam had carbonara. We also had a side of pizza bread which was seasoned bread with tomato sauce for dipping.
We were finally able to get enough change together to buy some metro tickets and headed up to ‘Heroes Square’. It was a stunning space and the statues were really wonderful. We then walked through the city park, noting just how much there was to do there! There was even some ice skating going on.
Our destination was the Szechenyi baths, the largest medicinal baths in Europe. We prebooked our tickets, of which I was glad because it meant we beat the queues. The prebooked ticket included the price of a cabin in which to change and then leave our stuff. The light in our cabin didn’t work however so there was a bit of knocking around going on.
Using the thermal baths was an amazing experience. We spent about an hour in the warm waters, it was very relaxing. About 20 minutes of that was daring the other one to get out first! We were aware the -5 temperatures would cut through us. I would recommend bringing your own flip flops as they gritted the floor so it wasn’t nice to walk on. Once we had finally managed to pull ourselves out of the main outdoor pool we thought we’d have a walk through the internal pools, steam rooms and saunas. Everything was pretty busy and we ended up only going into one sauna but still I would recommend a visit to the baths for a unique experience.
We returned back to the hostel, showered and dressed to head out for our dinner cruise. The nearest metro stop took us out into Vorosmorty Square which was already getting itself into full swing for the celebrations. There were fireworks, sparklers, horns being blown, it was a great atmosphere.
We made our way down to the river to catch our 7pm cruise. The Danube looked stunning by night with the wonderful lit up buildings and bridges. We had booked a Legenda sightseeing and dinner cruise and I would really recommend it. It took 2.5 hours and the boat was a wonderful glass capsule, much better than any other boat I spotted on the river. It really allowed us to fully take in the views.
The staff were very welcoming and there was a singer & piano combo playing in the background the whole time which was nice. We had booked for the 4 course meal and we had a few menu choices for each course. We were also treated to a welcome drink. The drinks were an extra cost but they were really reasonably priced. The food was delicious, well presented and plentiful.
I so enjoyed seeing all the buildings lit up from the river, especially the Parliament building. It really did look spectacular. As we drew closer to midnight more and more fireworks were released. It was just amazing to see.
After the cruise we headed back to Vorosmorty Square to see out the celebrations. It was in full party mode with everyone drinking and laughing, it was such a memorable night!