If it’s Friday it must be …. Budapest? I’m lucky to live close enough to Heathrow Airport to escape for a weekend break and a change of scene as the fancy takes me. Somewhere like Budapest, for instance, where the kind folks at Avios are sending me for a three day break. I was last there in August 2010, when I spent a week in Hungary with the family, exploring the sights of Budapest and relaxing further south, near Lake Balaton. The couple of days in Budapest at the beginning and end of that trip wasn’t nearly long enough and I’ve been wanting to go back ever since. On my last visit, it was the humid days of summer and thunderstorms, now I’ll be seeing a more chilly face of Budapest, but I have my reasons. My niece is currently working in Budapest, so that’s a good enough excuse for me to visit her, with my parents and sisters, for something of a family gathering, hoping that we’ll get the benefit of a local’s insider knowledge.
Did I mention that this trip is kindly being provided by Avios? You’ll remember them from the old Air Miles days, but since British Airways merged with Iberia Airlines, the scheme has been reborn as Avios and broadened to include loads of different ways to both collect points and spend them on fun trips with friends and family. Although I’ll be flying with British Airways from London to Budapest, you can also use your Avios points to book flights with many airlines, such as Iberia, Air Malta, American Airlines, Aurigny, Flybe and Monarch. I defy you not to find somewhere you’d like to visit on one of their flight schedules.
Since planning our weekend break in Budapest with Avios, I’ve had a good look around the website and was surprised at the number of ways that you can accumulate Avios points to spend later on a fun trip. I realised that I’ve been missing out on an opportunity to collect points, just by shopping at stores that I already use. Now I’m kicking myself that I could have been collecting Avios points while I bought my holiday wardrobe at Boden, my kid’s school uniform at M & S, doing my weekly online shop at Tesco, or by using the credit card from Lloyds TSB who I already bank with. Now I’m an Avios member I’m planning to be collect points at all my favourite brands when I shop, and make a quick check of the places that offer Avios points before I make any major purchases.
If you need any further inspiration, have a play with the Avios calculator where you can estimate how many points you could collect through your weekly shop, by filling up the car or shopping online. The website has plenty more ideas on ways to spend your Avios points on flights, hotels and other travel experiences. If your points won’t quite stretch to that dream trip, you can top up with cash, so there’s plenty of flexibility. I love the new Avios micro-site where you can decide where you’d like to go and then check how long it would take you to accumulate the points, depending on your own spending habits.
The Avios website was also very user friendly when it came to choosing a hotel for our stay in Budapest. You can narrow down your choice by filtering on star rating, facilities or points and then check the location easily on the map view or read Tripadvisor reviews direct from the Avios site. On such a short trip, I wanted to be close to the main sites on both sides of the river and eventually decided on the Intercontinental Budapest, a classic, luxury hotel that overlooks the Danube.
So what are we hoping to see in Budapest? Perhaps a return visit to the picturesque castle district, where the gypsy violinists seranaded us last time at the top of the Fisherman’s Bastion. From there it’s a great view over to the Hungarian Parliament Building on the other side although it might be a bit chilly to sit at the top in the outdoor cafe. I might pop in to the Matthius Church with the colourful roof tiles and interiors and visit some of the museums that I didn’t get the chance to visit last time.
Although we visited other spas such as the thermal lake at Heviz on our last trip, I didn’t have time to visit any of the classic Budapest thermal baths, like the Gellert or the Szechenyi Baths, so they’re definitely on the list. Spas in Hungary are much more about health and wellbeing than beauty and are a really local experience for all ages and incomes. Apart from that our itinerary is relaxed, but my niece has booked us some great local restaurants that she knows so I hope that I’ll be reporting back on delicious Hungarian dishes.
Stay tuned to my Instagram, Twitter and Facebook with weekend for live commentary of everything that we enjoy in Budapest and thanks to Avios for making the trip possible. I’ll be using hashtag #HOHTBudapest
Read about our last trip to Hungary and Budapest
More about Avios
Avios is an easy way to collect points at the places you shop everyday, at online stores, while grocery shopping, when you buy your fuel and when you spend on your credit card. Then convert the points into a flight, hotel, holiday or just a fun day out with your family. There’s plenty of inspiration on the Avios website to start planning your dream gettaway. Become a member of Avios and you can follow Avios on Twitter @AviosUK or on their AviosUK Facebook page and see some flying lawnmowers on the Avios YouTube channel
You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey