Last time I was in Budapest it was summertime, with thunderstorms threatening to crack the warm humidity and we took the children to watch the Hungarian folk dancing for the St Stephen’s day festival. This time I was back in February with a breath of snow in the air, but the promise of spring just around the corner. This was a family trip of a different sort; I had 48 hours with my parents and sisters, to see the sights, eat some great food and have as much fun as possible together.
I hope you enjoy the video below about our 48 hours in Budapest
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For such a short trip, I think the choice of a hotel can really make or break the experience, so after reviewing the many hotel options on the Avios website, we decided to go for 5 star Intercontinental Hotel. This classy hotel combines location and luxury and is perfectly positioned on the banks of the Danube, close to most of the main sites of Budapest.
The bedroom window framed a postcard view of the Royal Palace on the Castle Hill, so it seemed obvious to make this the first area to explore. A brisk walk across the Chain Bridge and we found ourselves at the foot of the hill, in front of the funicular which is more of a tourist attraction than something that the locals use. I guess it’s one of those try-it-once kind of things, but a little expensive at 1000 HUF (£2.90) or 1700 HUF (£4.90) return for the 5 minute journey. I’d already tried-it-once on my previous visit, so instead we decided to climb the easy paths that run up the hill. Once at the top, we followed the stone steps to the wrought iron gates that guard the Royal Palace and found ourselves in a wide paved square, beside the upper funicular station.
The Castle Hill
At the top of the hill the views from the balustrade towards the Pest side of the city and down the Danube were spectacular. In front of the Sandor Palace we watched the soldiers marching back and forth and stamping to attention, as they guarded the residence of the Hungarian President. It was pretty chilly, so we kept moving along the cobble street that runs along the top of the hill towards the St Matthias Church.
On our last visit in the summer a couple of years before, the family had decided to let me look around the St Matthias church alone, and sat in a shady cafe just opposite while I went inside. The church interior was surprisingly colourful with painted frescoes and pillars in rich shades of red and ochre. I recalled hearing somewhere, that many Medieval churches had paintwork that was far more colourful than the bare grey stonework that we see today. I loved the multicoloured tiled roof of the church which is not the original, but was replaced when the church was restored after shelling in the Second World War.
In front of the church is the Fisherman’s Bastion, a fantasy colonnade of turrets and arches, built at the end of the 19th century as a monument to the Guild of Fishermen. Here we found more spectacular views towards the Hungarian Parliament Building on the opposite side of the river, built on a similar design to the Houses of Parliament in London. In summer when we were here, there were open air cafes set up on the battlements and in the arcades, and I listened to the gypsy violinists playing Hungarian folk music for the customers, giving everyone outside a free concert. In February it was far from balmy, so we warmed up in the nearby Ruszwurm Cukrászda cafe over a coffee and slice of strudel.
St Stephen’s Basilica
Back on the other side of the river we walked from the Intercontinental to St Stephen’s Basilica, another major landmark of Budapest, with a dome that dominates the skyline. We had a browse around the souvenir shops in the square and the side streets near the Cathedral which are full of little restaurants and bars, making this a good area to eat out (we tried the Strudel House later that evening). We decided to return to the cathedral for Mass the following Sunday morning and afterwards had a look around the Basilica, which is named after King Stephen I, the first king of Hungary who brought Christianity to his country. Canonised after his death, the saint’s mummified hand is displayed in one of the chapels of the Basilica and is paraded every year on St Stephen’s Day (20 August) which is a national holiday.
Later that afternoon we walked along Andrassy Avenue, an elegant boulevard with shops selling all the top international brands. We passed by the State Opera House, which I would also have loved to visit, on our way to 60 Andrassy Avenue, now known as The House of Terror.
The House of Terror
This museum was once the headquarters of the Hungarian Nazis and until the 1950s housed the communist state terror organisations, where suspects were brought to be interrogated, tortured and executed in the bleak basement prison cells. The museum gives a fascinating insight to how the Hungarian population suffered under Nazi and later communist rule, and is a monument to the victims of terror.
Inside the foyer, we were greeted by a black and white wall of the faces of the victims who suffered here, together with a tank trapped within the inner courtyard, reflecting in a shallow pool of dark water. On the upper floors we passed through a series of exhibition rooms with films and videos showing marching armies and care worn faces of old men and women telling their stories of evacuation, deportation and oppression under the communist regime. The tour ended with a slow descent in the lift down to the basement to a video commentary about the process of execution and then we walked past the cold prison cells. Our visit to the House of Terror was a stark but fascinating and compelling experience that I would highly recommend if you want to understand Hungary’s recent history.
The No 2 Tram
If you want a low cost sightseeing tour, jump on the No 2 tram that runs along the river and stops outside the Intercontinental Hotel. In one direction the tram will take you past the Hungarian Parliament Building to Margaret Bridge and Margaret Island, where we enjoyed an afternoon dip in the open air Palatine Baths on our summer visit. In the other direction, the tram will take you towards the Central Market and Liberty Bridge which you cross to reach the Gellért Baths. You just need to stop at a convenience store to buy a book of tram tickets, which you validate on the tram each time you use one.
The Gellért Baths
On Sunday afternoon after Mass at St Stephen’s Cathedral and an elegant brunch at The New York Cafe, we took the tram to the Gellért Baths for that quintessential Budapest spa experience. This is one thing that’s equally fun in summer or winter; in summer the outdoor pools and terraces are open, while in the winter you can linger in the steamy Turkish baths with sauna and heated pools. The baths are part of the Gellért Hotel, but if you enter at the side, you’ll come straight into the glass domed foyer to buy your ticket at the kiosk. You’ll be given a rubber wrist band with a magnetic disc which gets you through the turnstiles and opens your changing cubicle where you can leave your clothes and belongings securely locked up.
In the central bath you need to wear a swimming cap, but in the other heated pools this is not required. There’s a small heated pool next to the larger one but at the far and of the baths from the entrance you’ll find heated Turkish baths and saunas as well as treatment cubicles on both side of the building. It’s worth checking which day to go as it seems that on some days, the two identical Turkish baths are segregated into male and female, while on other days all areas are mixed. Last time my parents came to Budapest and tried the Gellért Baths, they were directed to different changing rooms and spent some time wandering around, trying to find each other again. We had a good couple of hours trying out all the pools – our favourite was the beautifully tiled Turkish bath and we braved a run up the cold stone steps to the outdoor pool, which was thankfully heated once we got in. Bring your own swimsuit, towel and cap, as these seemed relatively expensive to hire, and flip flops are also useful to keep your feet off the cold and sometimes grubby floor.
The Central Market
On our final morning, we took the No 2 tram again to the Central Market which I’d also visited on my previous trip. The large, glass roofed indoor market is great to walk around and admire all the fresh fruit and veg, as well as the many stalls specialising in meat products of sausages and goose live pate. There were also as a large number of stalls just devoted to selling all kinds of Paprika products, the favourite spice of Hungary.
Upstairs there are stall selling handicrafts and souvenirs and this is a good place to come to buy small gifts to take home, such as the painted eggs that I’ve been collecting to bring out at Easter or hang from my Christmas tree. Along one side there are also a number of food stalls selling snacks and beer. You might like to try the Lángos which is a typical Hungarian street food; a kind of flat doughnut that’s served with many different sweet and savoury toppings, but traditionally spread with cream cheese with a sprinkling of grated cheese.
After lunch at the Central Market it was time to head back to the hotel to pick up our bags and take our taxi to the airport. We’d packed a lot in to our 48 hours in Budapest, revisited some old haunts and made new discoveries, had fun in the process, but still left plenty to uncover for next time.
More things to enjoy in Budapest
Avios is an easy way to collect points at the places you shop online everyday, when you buy fuel or spend on your credit card. Then you can exchange the points for a flight, hotel, holiday or fun day out with your family. There’s plenty of inspiration on the Avios website to start planning your next citybreak. You can follow Avios on Twitter @AviosUK or on their AviosUK Facebook page and see some flying lawnmowers on the Avios YouTube channel
Through Avios we booked the luxurious 5 star Intercontinental Hotel Budapest which was perfectly positioned beside the Danube for sightseeing. The hotel has a lovely spa with a pool for those early morning swims as well as relaxing treatments. The hotel can be booked using your Avios Points and a room similar to ours at the time that we were there in February was around 15,000 Avios points or £150-180 per room/night including breakfast but may be higher in peak season. It’s worth looking out for packages that include breakfast and use of the exclusive Club Lounge. You can follow the Intercontinental Budapest on Twitter @ICBudapest and on their Intercontinental Budapest Facebook Page.
Thanks to Avios and Intercontinental Budapest for hosting our 48 hours in Budapest.
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Paradise Valley was a bit of a hippy hangout in the 60s, when people came to camp by the clear blue pools and waterfalls, although the stories that Jimi Hendrix came here and gave the valley its name seem to be just pop folklore. The local Berber name for the valley is Tagharat Ankrim, as the valley runs the course of the Ankrim river and is now a nature reserve where you are still allowed to camp freely. We spent a day in Paradise Valley on a day-trip from Taghazout on our recent family holiday, staying on Morocco’s Atlantic surfing coast, near Agadir and if you are in the area it’s once place you won’t want to miss.
I hope you enjoy my travel video below of our day at Paradise Valley, near Agadir in Morocco
Of course like every organised excursion there was a stop along the way, but fortunately not to someone’s brother-in-law’s carpet shop. We stopped on the road between Aourir and Paradise Valley at an Argan oil co-operative, where the ladies gave us a quick demonstration of how the shells of the Argan nuts are broken open with a stone, then their brown outer coating peeled off to reveal the white nut. For cooking oil the brown kernels are ground into a paste and dried into a cake which is then pressed to make oil for cooking, while the white inner nut is pressed for the more refined cosmetic oil for face and hair.
The Argan trees are only grown in the south of Morocco and each nut just gives out a few drops of oil, making the Argan oil highly prized but expensive. Unless you are buying from a reliable source, beware of fakes and blends that are being sold as pure Argan oil. Needless to say, my daughter and I stocked up on a few small bottles of the Argan oil to try at home in the hope of having even more lustrous hair and soft skin. At the back of the showroom was a lovely botanic garden, where all the medicinal herbs and plants were labelled and laid out in beds with paths between, so we enjoyed our wander around before continuing our drive.
As we drove on up the valley, we found the landscape becoming more arid, as we passed into the foothills of the Atlas mountains. We arrived at a small car park with attendants (you will almost always have to pay for parking in Morocco, as much for people to “keep an eye” on your car as anything) and there was also an orange juice stall at the start of the path. Loaded with water and swimming gear, we started hiking up the path, which tracked above the river, then snaked down to a place where we had to cross on stepping stones. There were a few small open air cafes around where locals who live in the village of Immouzzer-Ida-Outanane up the valley have made small businesses to serve food to the groups coming to the valley.
We’d arranged the trip to Paradise Valley with Surf n Stay who we’d booked our apartment through and regularly organise these trips including a guide, transport, breakfast and a traditional tagine meal at the end of the day. First we stopped at the small enclosure with bamboo walls and low tables and carpet covered benches where our Moroccan host was waiting for us. The blackened kettle was boiling over the open fire and we were brought mint tea and flatbread which we dipped in honey and Amlou, a sweet paste made from honey, ground almonds and Argan oil, a bit like peanut butter.
After our late breakfast, we walked on for five minutes to the where the river started to make shallow pools and also some deeper ones where you could jump off the rocks. There was already a large group who had come from Taghazout, who had settled in for sunbathing on the smooth rocks, with much cheering and squealing as people jumped off the high rocks into one of the deeper pools. Will, our guide from Surf n Stay suggested that we walk on to the next pool where we were likely to have a quieter time and have the pool to ourselves. It seemed as if most of the groups never get past this first swimming area, so if you visit Paradise Valley, be sure to ask your guide to take you to some of the other pools higher up the valley, which are even more beautiful.
Ten minutes walk later and we arrived at a place where the cliffs rose into a gorge, which created a bowl around an area of deep blue water. There were places on the cliffs where you could jump or dive off from high up, which Will demonstrated by diving straight into the water, and my kids soon followed while I captured them on video. Those who weren’t so daring could scramble down the smooth side of the rock to some ledges nearer the water and go for a swim from there. I was so busy taking photos that I missed my chance to scramble down the rocks and swim before we were off to the next set of pools even higher up the valley, leaving the less energetic of our group here to relax.
We picked our way over the boulders and rubble for another 15 minutes past a series of pools and cascades, until we came to a point where you had to wade thigh deep through a pool to get to the other side.To avoid my camera and Iphone getting a dunking, I passed all my bags to our guide, Will, who put them safely in his rucksack so that I only had to worry about making sure I didn’t fall over in the water. If you are planning to walk right up the valley to the highest pools, it’s a good idea to have trainers that you don’t mind getting wet, although at a pinch you can get by with flip flops.
On the other side the way led to more shallow blue pools, perfect for swimming and one final pool through which you could swim to reach a waterfall with a perfect plunge pool beneath.
We were lucky to see the final waterfall flowing, as the river level is now much lower than it has been in the past, due to the water being used for irrigation. Fortunately, there had been several days of rain in the mountains before we arrived, so we saw the waterfall in full flow and could swim up to it, walk behind it and jump in the plunge pool beneath. We were told that these pools are only full at certain times, mainly in the springtime and later in the year they dry up.
After swimming for half an hour, we walked back down the valley with a full view of the pools and cascades flowing down the rocky gorge. It was a wonderful experience and we felt lucky to have seen this valley which really seemed like a little bit of Paradise.
Back down at the head of the valley after a couple of hours, we stopped again at the small hut where a tagine had been cooked for us over coals from the open fire, placed under the conical clay pot. The meat and vegetable tagine was really tasty and a lovely way to end our day in Paradise Valley. The Moroccan way to eat the tagine is as a shared dish in the centre of the table where you use your hand and the flat-bread to scoop up the pieces of vegetables, meat and sauce, although we found this a bit tricky so asked for forks and plates to help us. After relaxing a while with our tagine, we continued our walk back to the car park by a different route that avoided crossing the river and took us on a high path looking down on the river and small settlements with palm trees below. A visit to Paradise Valley is a fantastic day out and one that I highly recommend, especially if you are there in the spring time when the pools and waterfalls are most likely to be full of water.
More tales from our Moroccan surfing holiday in Taghazout
Planning your visit to Paradise Valley
We visited Paradise Valley as a day trip from Taghazout with Surf n Stay who we had rented our apartment through. They regularly take groups of their guests on this trip, but welcome others too, so if you are based in Taghazout, you can contact them through their website at SurfnStay.net or e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org or ring one of the contact numbers listed on their website (everyone speaks English). The day trip with Surf n Stay cost 250 Dirhams per person ($30, €23, £20) and covered transport from Taghazout with a guide, breakfast and a Moroccan tagine at the end. Other companies that you stay with in Taghazout may also offer similar trips to Paradise Valley.
If you want to visit Paradise Valley on your own, the best way is to hire a car. I have not looked into public transport options, but suspect that if you travel by local bus, you would have to plan more than one day in the area with an overnight stay, whereas with your own car it is an easy day trip. To reach Paradise Valley you drive south along the coast road from Taghazout or north along the coast road from Agadir until you reach the coastal village of Aourir, also known as Banana Village because local bananas are sold here on roadside stalls. At the roundabout on the main road (where there are 3 ATM machines, so worth a stop for cash) you take the road that leads inland and follow it for 30-40 minutes. You will pass the Argan Oil showroom, and a number of roadside stalls selling large fossils and ceramics. As I remember (although I was not driving) there was only one road and you follow it until the landscape starts to become rocky and barren and passes through a gorge area and then soon after you will see the car park on the right and a sign for Paradise Valley. You will be directed where to park in the small parking area for which there is a charge, and there is an information sign about the valley. I believe that the same road continues up the valley to the town of Immouzzer-Ida-Outanane where there are some hotels, if you need accommodation. The drive from Taghazout took around 45 minutes and I believe it is roughly the same from Agadir.
Note about Jimi Hendrix at Paradise Valley
I noticed that many guide books and websites had references to Jimi Hendrix naming Paradise Valley or even writing a song about it. However, when I did a bit more research about this I found that these stories were more folklore than fact, after I read this article. I contacted the author and learned that although Jimi Hendrix loved Morocco, he had only visited once on holiday in July 1969 when he stayed for 7-10 days. He spent time in Casablanca, Marrakech and Essaouira (which is around 3 hours further north up the coast) staying in nice hotels with his friends and almost certainly did not visit Paradise Valley, nor could I find any details of any songs that he wrote about the area.
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For me, a wonderful hotel is an essential ingredient of a city-break like the one I’ve just returned from in Budapest. I sometimes hear people say “Just give me somewhere clean and comfortable to come back to sleep” and think “Are they mad?” Call me greedy, but I just want more from my hotels! Give me clean and comfortable of course, but give me a little luxury, stylish furnishings that inspire me to go home and redecorate, perfumed bowls of hyacinths, artistic touches that catch my eye and service that makes me feel special. All of these are what makes a short stay in a city full of happy memories.
Which brings me to the Hotel Intercontinental Budapest, that I selected from the many hotel options available through the Avios website, as we were using Avios points. You may remember the old British Airways Air Miles that have now been reinvented as Avios points – you can earn them while shopping and then use them to treat yourself to a short break like ours. With only three days to pack in as much fun as possible, we wanted somewhere central and the Intercontinental is perfectly positioned, right by the Danube and within an easy walk of many of the key landmarks such as the Chain Bridge, Castle District and St Stephen’s Basilica. For a trip with my sisters and parents who are in their 70s, this kind of classy, 5 star hotel was ideal for a stay that wraps you in a cocoon of luxury without stress of any kind.
I hope you enjoy the video below about our stay at the Intercontinental Budapest
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And then there was the view! Although the hotel is not especially exciting to look at from the outside, being a block of a building covered with grey glass, when you are on the inside looking out it’s quite another matter. This is one hotel where you must book a room with a river view. My bedroom window framed a perfect postcard shot of the Danube with the dome of the Royal Palace rising from Castle Hill on the other side. I could have happily sat there all day watching the boats, like the huge barge filled with cars, go up and down the river, each on their way to somewhere interesting. As night fell, the lights twinkled on Castle hill and the Chain bridge, reflecting on the river, creating a magical view.
Our room with a view
We quickly settled into our rooms at the Intercontinental, mine with twin queen beds on the 6th floor which I was sharing with my sister, my parents on the 9th floor with a king bed and room for a sofa by the window. The bedroom was classic and elegant, with cherry-wood headboards and furniture, a black tortoiseshell bedside lamp and soft green bed throws and easy chairs. There were all the conveniences you’d expect, like a desk with Internet connection, a flat screen TV, a fridge with mini-bar , safe and ironing board. On the wall were some modern prints of the Budapest Castle district which picked up the deep red colour scheme and echoed the view outside from the window. The room was lit entirely by the side and floor lights, with no ceiling lights and I found the lighting levels a little too low in the evening, which was my only fault with the room.
A choice of standard and high speed Internet is available in the room at a charge which wasn’t cheap, something I’ve noticed is common in luxury hotels. It seems to be upside down thinking that if you stay in an inexpensive hostel you get free and fast wifi, but if you stay in a 5 star hotel, you pay through the nose for Internet access, so I hope that this is one charge that the hotel will change, as travellers come to expect wifi as part of the service rather than an optional extra.
The bathroom was compact but elegant with a wooden vanity unit and black marble sink surround, cream marble wall tiles and a range of luxurious toiletries. It was a little on the small side, but then my parent’s room on the 9th floor had a lovely bathroom which was much bigger with a frosted glass wall and room for both a bath and walk-in shower, so I guess it depends which room you book.
I’m not a great watcher of TV when I travel, preferring to get out and explore the place I’m visiting, but I did like the short video playing on the flat screen TV in which Chief Concierge, János Valcz, gave us his recommendations for things to see in Budapest, from fine dining and souvenir shopping, to a memorable dip in the Szechenyi Thermal Baths. It’s great to see a hotel using video in this way to bring their guests an insider’s view of the city and introduce them to the concierges who are there to help you get the most out of your visit. You can watch the video on Youtube here.
The Club Lounge
On our arrival from the airport, we were sent up in the lift to the 1st floor for a personal check-in service in the Club Lounge which was an extra benefit that the hotel had kindly extended us. This luxurious private lounge is a really beautiful place to relax with figured velvet armchairs, glossy coffee table books about Hungary and more exceptional views out towards the Danube and the Chain bridge from the full length windows.
The lounge also has computer terminals, free wifi and international papers, with complimentary drinks and snacks being served throughout the day. There is also the option to eat breakfast in the lounge as a quieter alternative to the main dining room. I really enjoyed gathering in the Club Lounge with my parents and sisters to have a chat over a coffee and make our plans for exploring Budapest or to have a lunchtime snack before heading out again.
The Club lounge is open for members of the Intercontinental Priority Club and Ambassador Loyalty Programmes and can also be purchased as an extra during your stay. I noticed that some of the room rates advertised also included use of the Club Lounge and I think that this would be be best value way of accessing the lounge which was really a lovely place to relax, meet with friends or business colleagues.
The Pool and Spa at Intercontinental Budapest
Budapest is a city built on thermal springs that feed the public spas like the Gellert and the Szechenyi Baths, but I’ll let you into a little secret. The Intercontinental has a fabulous pool and spa that’s tucked away on the first floor and perfect for a refreshing early morning swim or a few languid lengths and a warm up in the sauna after a day’s sightseeing. My parents, sisters and I all enjoyed a gentle swim at different times during our stay and pretty much had the place to ourself. With such a lovely spa and pool, I think the Intercontinental would be a fabulous place to base yourself for a girl’s getaway incorporating treatments at the hotel with visits to some of the other famous thermal baths of Budapest.
The pool has a pretty coloured effect with tiles that graduate from sea green at one end to turquoise at the other, while the dark stained wood, green recliners and eastern harp music give the spa a vaguely oriental air. There are two private treatment rooms and the spa uses Hungarian Kaviczky products which incorporate natural, organic agents, such as the waters and mud of the thermal lake at Heviz where our family spent a surreal afternoon a couple of years ago, drifting among the water lilies with rubber rings to keep us afloat. The spa often runs seasonal promotions such as a couple’s massage with champagne for Valentine’s day or a Mother’s day package, so be sure to check when you go for your swim. There is also a gym, which is useful to keep fit if you’re on business, although when I’m on holiday I prefer to keep fit by walking everywhere or in the case of Budapest, racing the funicular up to the top of castle hill.
Dining and more at the Intercontinental Budapest
The whole of the ground floor of the Intercontinental benefits from that view, through full length windows towards the Danube, Castle Hill and riverside walk. The lobby area is elegant and classical, with velvet button backed sofas, biedermeier style cherrywood furniture and some pretty bowls of hyacinths with wild catkins strewn over them that seemed to herald spring. Through the lobby seating area is the bar, where we stopped on our return from dinner one evening and sipped a coffee, listening to the musicians at the white Elton John piano. Hanging above the bar I noticed an large bulbous container of Palinka, the traditional spirit of Hungary that is often flavoured with fruits like cherry or apricot, although be warned that it’s eye-wateringly strong.
We enjoyed looking at the artworks around the lobby, including some abstract paintings in gold, terracotta and black and the sculpture we came to know as Kiss Kiss in which lips gently touch on disembodied faces. I expect that these artworks change regularly but there was a lovely carved wooden frieze of turn of the century street scenes, right opposite the lift which we enjoyed too, especially that girl on the swing.
At the opposite end of the hotel to the lobby is the spacious restaurant where we really enjoyed the buffet breakfast every morning with a huge selection of pastries, cereals and fruit if you were trying to stay healthy, or numerous hot dishes if you were indulging yourself. Although we ate out every night and didn’t get a chance to try the restaurant, we thought the menu looked very appetising with a mixture of international and local dishes such as Hungarian goat’s cheese on pumpkin puree or goose liver with roasted apples in a Tokaj wine and honey sauce. The hotel often runs themed food events to coincide with the many festivals and events going on in the city, such as the Formula 1 in July or the St Stephen’s day festival in August, and the Sunday brunch is also very popular, with a children’s corner so parents can relax.
So what did we see in Budapest?
If you’re visiting Budapest on a short break, you couldn’t get a better location than the Intercontinental which is at the heart of all the key things you’ll want to see. Cross the Chain bridge by the hotel and you’ll be standing in front of the funicular that takes you up to the top of castle hill, although it’s only a 10 minute walk if you’re feeling energetic. Stroll along the top to see many of the old palace buildings which now house galleries and museums, and end up by the colourful St Mathius Church and Fisherman’s Bastion where the views across to the Hungarian Parliament Building are fantastic, and you might just be serenaded by some gypsy violinists.
Close to the hotel is St Stephen’s Basilica where we went to mass on Sunday and in the surrounding streets are many excellent small restaurants and bars to try, such as The Strudel House where we ate on our first night. If you run out of energy for walking, the yellow No 2 and 2A tram is perfect for sightseeing as it runs along the river and stops right outside the Intercontinental Hotel. A couple of tram stops in one direction and you can look around the Central Market where we we stopped for lunch one day or from the same tram stop walk across Liberty Bridge to the Gellert baths for the old fashioned Budapest spa experience.
A couple of tram stops in the opposite direction will take you to the Hungarian Parliament Building and then on to Margaret Bridge where there’s a lovely park on the island in the Danube with an outdoor lido baths that we visited on a previous summer holiday. Not far from the hotel is the start of Andrassy Ut, a long boulevard lined with designer brands, where you’ll also find the House of Terror, a fascinating museum that gave us a taste of what the Hungarian people went through in the last century under the Nazi and Communist regimes.
We were extremely happy with our choice of the Intercontinental Hotel for our Budapest city break booked through Avios. The central location enabled us to easily see everything we wanted while the fabulous views and luxurous surroundings made our family gathering really memorable.
Need to know for the Intercontinental Budapest
Intercontinental Budapest, Apaczai Csere J. u. 12-14, Budapest H-1052, Hungary
We booked the Intercontinental Budapest as part of our city break through Avios, the easy way to collect points when you shop online, which you can then convert into a flight, hotel, holiday or day out with the family. Start planning how to spend your points on the Avios website and you can follow Avios on Twitter @AviosUK or on their AviosUK Facebook page and see some flying lawnmowers on the Avios YouTube channel
The Intercontinental Budapest can be booked using your Avios Points and a room similar to ours at the time that we were there in February was around 15,000 Avios points or £150-180 per room/night including breakfast but may be higher in peak season. For best rates book well ahead or enjoy a low season break as we did. It’s also worth looking out for packages that include breakfast and use of the exclusive Club Lounge. You can follow the Intercontinental Budapest on Twitter @ICBudapest and on their Intercontinental Budapest Facebook Page.
Other costs: WiFi charges (standard and fast service) were £11-19 per 24 hrs or £23-42 for 3 days. Breakfast if not booked with your room package 8000 HUF (£22)
My thanks to Avios and Intercontinental Budapest who hosted my spring break in Budapest
Other stories from our Budapest trip
You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey