So, you are sitting in London and it's a typical day... the sun is a cool glow behind some grey clouds and the Thames is calm, even cooler and not inviting you to take a swim. It's time to turn to thoughts of sun and adventure, interesting food and new experiences in Hungary.
I know some people loathe Ryanair, but they are my favourite budget airline. They have good prices, don't charge extra for a standard carry on bag and their customer service is good. I find that Stansted airport is better than Luton because there is no need to switch from the train to a bus and it's less congested on the return home.
**Warning - allow plenty of time at the airport!
I'm a frequent flier (every week or 2 I fly between London and Budapest) and it's upsetting to see the number of passengers who miss their flight by minutes because they weren't at the gate in time.
- Once a gate is closed the staff can't re-open it - they would lose their jobs
- Yes you can see the aircraft is still there and the doors are not closed yet - too bad!
- The flight take off time is NOT the time to arrive at the gate. You need to be there 30 minutes before.
- Check the gate number carefully - being in the wrong terminal with 5 minutes remaining is not enough time
Stansted specific advice
- Get through security as soon as possible, don't stop for a coffee first
- After security there are toilets and a departure board - use the facilities but don't wait here, there are shops and a big food hall further on
- Stansted has loads of shops in a large snaking S shape - you can run/push through the swarm of shoppers in under 5 minutes but a leisurely stroll is less stressful and will take you 10 minutes.
- If you are running late, don't stop! There are no short cuts, no little hidden doors for you to use, you MUST get through the snaking shops to reach your departure terminal.
- The food mall has Burger King, Starbucks, Weatherspoons as well as various sushi and a Boots and WHSmiths selling meal deals for under £5
- The departure gates
- Gates 30+ ... Once you take the mini-rail to get to your terminal you will not be able to get back. Once you get into the terminal building all of the escalators go up, so make sure that you want this terminal!!
- Gates 40+ ... This is a 10 minute walk from the food hall but if you are heading to gates 50+ you need to add on another 5 minutes. There are toilets just after gate 45/46 and another set right at the end of the terminal building beyond gates 57/58.
- Gates 80+ ... This the domestic arrivals terminal and a 5 minute walk from the food hall.
Coming in on a Friday evening to Budapest is a great experience. 9 times out of 10 the flight path is over the city itself.
To help get your bearings, the bright light to the left of the picture is the parliament building and the pink light to the right side is the national theatre. Check out our free download guide to sights along the Danube for more information.
What To Do
Hungary is a great place to have a holiday.
Budapest is clearly a favourite with everyone for entertainment, great food and historical wonders everywhere you look. The city itself isn't vast so it's easy to get out and see what else is about.
- The Little Danube is connect to the Danube and is protected by lock gates at each end. This means you have still, flat water with plenty of wildlife, fishing and gentle boating.
- The thermal baths in the city get very full all of the time whereas the ones in the countryside can be relatively empty on weekdays and outside of school holidays!
- August 20th is the big Hungarian national holiday and an amazing time for festivities. The city is packed at this time and full of music, dance and countryside businesses coming to sell their home grown/made products.
- There is a 'Budapest Children's Railway' that takes you up to the Buda hills for a great day of walking and spectacular view.
- Lake Balaton is 1 hour from Budapest, has more than 7 towns around the edge and is perfect for sailing and swimming.
- Further West is a natural thermal lake - perfect for a Autumn/Spring outdoor swimming.