When we envision romance in Europe we often wander to thoughts of a cafe in Paris or eating croissants next to the Eiffel Tower. Maybe a winery tour in Tuscany or a beach on the Greek islands. Of course, these are all excellent choices and endlessly romantic, but one of our favorite romantic Europeans cities often gets overlooked: Budapest. The capital of landlocked Hungary is as charming as it gets with incredible architecture, lovely cafes, and a different thermal bath each day, this city has it all for the romantic getaway. Here are our top six romantic stops in Budapest.
1. Take a tour of Budapest’s thermal baths
One of the highlights of a trip to Budapest is the endless options for thermal baths. The city is so well known for its baths that in 1934 it was officially ranked as the “City of Spas.” No matter where you’re staying in the city, there’s sure to be a thermal bath nearby. Some offer private bath experiences like at the stunning Gellert Spa. Their private bath comes with a fruit basket and a bottle of sparkling wine.
The Széchenyi Baths are not to be missed while in Budapest where you’ll see the locals playing chess while bathing. These medicinal baths opened in 1913 and are fed by two natural hot springs. In total, there are 18 baths to enjoy at Szechenyi. If you’re looking for a truly unique and romantic experience the Beer Spa is just the place for you. Here the tubs are prepared with hops, malt, and yeast which smells surprisingly herbal. In the beer spa you’ll soak in your wooden tub with a beer keg within arms reach, free for you to drink as much beer as you please during your 45-minute soak.
Also worth visiting are Rudas Baths, Lukács Baths, and Király Baths. Each one has a unique feel to it and all offer special spa treatments for couples so check in with which one sounds best. Or visit them all!
2. Cozy up in a beautiful palace turned public library
For all the book lovers out there, this one’s for you. In the center of Budapest lies one of the coolest public libraries in the world. The Szabo Ervin Central Library is actually a 19th century aristocrat’s palace. The beautifully preserved Wenckheim Palace was purchased by the city council and opened as a public library in 1931. The neo-baroque architecture of the former dining room and smoking room make for the perfect afternoon spent reading. Couples looking for a unique place to unwind will find exactly that here among the stories. This library is perfect for couples in love and those who love books.
3. Explore Budapest’s coffee culture
Budapest is legendary for coffeehouses. One of the most famous in all of Europe is the New York Cafe, which is an impressive 125 years old. This cafe was an important clubhouse for Hungary’s writers and artists. Legend has it that on opening day two writers stole the keys to the cafe and tossed them into the Danube River, an attempt to keep the cafe open 24-hours a day. Although that didn’t work out, the cafe is a marvelous display of architecture, great coffee, and memorable food. The goulash here is great. If the New York Cafe is busy, head to Gerloczy Cafe, Central Cafe, Hadik, or Muvesz Cafe. Or better yet, try them all!
4. Spend an evening at the opera
Budapest’s Opera House is known to have some of the best acoustics in all of Europe. The opera house opened in 1884, and is also home to the Hungarian National Ballet, so if opera isn’t for you, the ballet awaits. Ballet tickets start at $5 and opera tickets start around $6.50. Plan to arrive early for the evening’s show to enjoy the Opera Cafe for dinner or pop into the Feszty Bar At The Opera. Both are located inside of the opera house and are the perfect way to start the night before the show, or sip and savor after the show. Whichever show you see or where you choose to dine in the opera house, this wonderful, and oh so reasonably priced evening will be perfect for your romantic Budapest evening.
5. Take a walking tour of town
Budapest is a city split in two with the Danube River serving as the border between the east and west side of the city. The west side is Buda while the east side is Pest, together making Budapest. On Buda hill hop on the funicular to the top and explore Buda Castle and the Fisherman’s Bastion. All around this area on Buda hill you’ll find small restaurants, cafes, and bars perfect for an intimate evening. Fisherman’s Bastion offers the best view of the Danube River and Pest at any time of the day. On the east, Pest, side of town stroll along the Danube River past the Parliament Building and make your way toward the Central Market Hall, the oldest indoor market in Budapest. Here savor some Hungarian baked goods on the ground floor or opt for a full meal on the upper floor.
6. Dine al fresco on Raday Utca
Once the sun goes down, Raday Utca comes alive. Nestled in the southern part of the Budapest core just south of the Kalvin Ter Metro station, this street is filled with dining options, all of which offer charming outdoor seating under fairy lights. If you’ve already eaten, pop into one of the many bars, cafes, or galleries for a night well spent on the town. The street features cuisine options from all over the world, so there’s certainly something to choose that will suit everyone dining’s palate.
Planning a romantic trip to Budapest?
Let us know in the comments if you’re heading to Hungary soon and what’s on your “must see” list! We love this city and would love to help you plan your perfect vacation! Leave the heavy lifting to us and enjoy your fully planned and stress-free vacation! Let’s get planning!