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Cool things do in Budapest if you're limited on time, plus the one hotel to book for super luxurious suites

Made up of hilly, mysterious Buda and the flatter, more cosmopolitan Pest you'll find Hungary's capital city, Budapest—the perfect compact city for a weekend away. If time is limited you're going to want to plan your time wisely which is why I've rounded up the all the cool things to do in Budapest for first timers to the city.

red rooftops trees and the danube river from buda hill
View of the city from Buda

Split in two by the Danube River, both sides of the city are equally mesmerising, yet both very different, so choosing which side to stay on can be a hard decision. There’s definitely more to do on the Pest side, so if you need entertaining this is the side for you. But if you want to hide away near the castle, eat good food and have incredible views of the city, try the Buda side, which is also home to my favourite hotel in the city, Pest-Buda Hotel. With just eight beautiful rooms, and two Atelier Suites, each with a freestanding bath, living room and two(!) flat screen TVs, this hotel is the place to truly unwind in Budapest. A ‘Frenchy’ Breakfast is included in room rates, with croissants, coffee, juice and the most amazing homemade jams, the perfect way to begin your time in the city...

9 cool things to do in Budapest if you're limited on time

1. Visit the cities most beautiful buildings

Architecture in Budapest is outstanding, so first things first, head some of the city's most beautiful buildings. Start at the world's second largest synagogue - Dohany Street Synagogue - the Moorish style building was built in 1859 and features two impressive domes and a rose-colored glass window.

orange brickwork from the front of dohany street synagogue
Dohany Street Synagogue

The parliament building, Fisherman’s bastion and Hungarian House of Photography are also worth visiting for their beautiful structures, inside and out.

2. Hit the spa

After a day of walking, a trip to one of the cities famous thermal spas, Lukacs and Szechenyi Baths will revive you instantly - both beautiful and relaxing. But if you're super limited on time and don't get chance to have a massage at one of the bath houses, try the Thai massage shop on Dohany Street - one hours massage costs just £22 and really hits the spot.

3. Eat traditional goulash and Hungarian wine

Like traditional Bulgarian food in Sofia, Hungarian food is hearty and filling—try a bowl of traditional goulash soup or Hungarian stuffed cabbage at Pest-Buda restaurant, billed as 'Grandma's home-style kitchen', the food is comforting and will leave you feeling happy. Or sample some delicious Hungarian wine with the most incredible chicken schnitzel at 21 Restaurant.

4. Hire a bike

Get back to nature with a walk or cycle around Margaret Island, the island is essentially a huge park with Japanese and rose gardens, more thermal baths, a tower to climb and there's even ruins to look at, don't miss it.

5. Explore Buda

Take photos of Matthias Church, over on the Buda side, it's one of the most unique churches in Europe, the roof tiling is particularly impressive.

intricate tiles and front of matthias church in budapest
Matthias Church

6. Drink like a local

Don't miss the famous ruin bars, built within the ruins of abandoned buildings in the Jewish Quarter! You'll find random dancing, beers aplenty and fun times for all or if you're in the city on a Friday, try Szimpla Kert, a sprawling converted old factory with open air cinema and farmers market.

7. Try lángos

To cure a hangover, try the typical Hungarian snack known as lángos, this deep fried dough is topped with garlic, sour cream and cheese, or for sweet fans there's chimney cake, crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside and shaped like a chimney, try it with sugar and cinnamon. Or if you're in the Buda side of time grab a slice of coffee and almond cake at Walzer Café.

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