Travel Tuesday: Get Lost in the Streets of Budapest
Welcome to the beautiful city of Budapest straddling the river Danube in the fascinating country that is Hungary.
If you are looking for a perfect few days in a fascinating location that is ridiculously cheap, look no further than here. Got your forints? And your tram tickets? Then let’s go and see some of what Budapest has to offer.
We are feeling a little peckish, so what better place to start than with some food?
If you want something simple, then head to Budapest Market Hall, where you can feast your eyes on fruits, vegetables, and local delicacies including Hungary’s spice, paprika (don’t put the paprika in your eyes though… just a thought). Where you really need to head here is the food court area: may we suggest the Lángos, a kind of savoury pancake smothered in garlic, sour cream and cheese.
Just after something sweet? Then head to Nagyi Palacsintazoja - Granny’s Pancake House, for the best pancakes served 24/7.
For something more substantial, The Hummus Bar will fill you full to bursting. And for traditional food if you want to taste the local cuisine but be well and truly off the beaten track, may we suggest Potkulc, an eclectic little place that barbecues, has live music, and even a parrot in the courtyard to keep you company.
Now that we have had our fill of food, it is time to get the evening started. Budapest is practically synonymous with ruin pubs. Ruin pubs start out the evening as places to drink, but soon turn into impromptu dance floors (and actual ones). It would be rude not to give them a go.
If you’re less into dance and disco and more into rock and metal, then give Rocktogon a go, for its live music and friendly bar staff if nothing else.
Wanting to watch the football? In a slight Celtic twist, as well as a number of Irish pubs, Budapest is also home to The Caledonian, a Scottish pub that sells real fish and chips, as well as haggis and a Scottish breakfast.
Finally, because it has to be done, the Budapest Boat Party is a must. Be sober enough to take in the stunning views at the beginning of the evening at least though, otherwise you’ll be missing out!
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If what you are looking for is a quiet day, then how about the Jewish Quarter Walking Tour. You will get to see one of the most stunning areas of Budapest plus learn a little history along the way - you can’t go wrong.
Hősök tere (Heroes Square) is a large iconic statue complex of the Seven Chieftains of the Magyars and other important national leaders. Behind this square is a sprawling park that you could happily spend an hour or two wandering around.
Margitsziget, or Margaret’s Island, is a manmade island with an excellent running track all the way around it, tennis courts, and a beautiful open air cafe bar that has live music and delicious food and drink. It is a great place for a picnic or a leisurely stroll - or even a peddle car if you feel like it! There are also impromptu stalls all around the park selling ice cream and cold beer. Heaven!
You cannot go to Budapest without visiting one of the baths: we’re pretty sure that it’s actually a law or something (or at least, should be). Széchenyi is probably the most famous, with thermal baths, swimming pools, massage, saunas, and all sorts of other treatments available. The baths are even famous for bath parties if you want to turn your relaxing day into an entertaining evening.
Another activity rapidly becoming a ‘must do’ for Budapest are the many panic rooms where you can lock yourself in with your nearest and dearests, and fight your way out with an adrenaline rush. PANiQ-ROOM is currently one of the most popular if you want to give it a try.
Dos and don’ts
DON’T waste your money on one of those awful city tour buses that cost the earth. Instead, spend next to nothing on a tram ticket and get sat down on tramline 2, one of the most scenic tramline routes of Europe. You will see the Danube, old and new architecture, culture, urban landscapes: pretty much everything.
DO try the ice cream. It is sold outside most restaurants up and down all the main streets: it is good.
DON’T try and make a small purchase with a large forint note in a supermarket, unless you really want to be glared at by the checkout staff.
DO visit Alexandra Könyvesház: it may look like a (very well stocked) book shop downstairs, but take the escalator and you will be transported into one of the most opulent cafes you have probably ever seen. Complete with piano player. And excellent cake.
There are really not enough nice things to say about this incredible city: please put it on your to visit list and see for yourself.
Egészségedre! (cheers - not to be confused with egészségére - bless you!)