8 Amazing Things to do in Budapest
There is no doubt that Budapest will wow you. Question is how much? And the more you know about what you should try and see, the higher the chances that you’ll want to cancel the return flight and stay in Budapest for a little longer 😀 There is a whole lot you can do in Budapest and if you go just for a few days, like I did, you kinda need to know what NOT to miss. Here are the few things you MUST do whilst in the capital.
Do A Free Walking Tour
There is no better way to start off your trip than with a free walking tour with Trip to Bupadest. That way you’ll get to know a little about the story behind all the cool places and buildings you’ll see whilst in Budapest. And trust me, even if you’re not much of a history fan, you’ll love this tour because these tour guides make it their priority to make the tour super fun so you’re definitely guarenteed to have some laugh. The tour runs at 10:30am and 2:30pm and takes about 2-3 hours but of course you can leave at any time if you realise you don’t quite fancy it. You don’t have to prebook or anything like that. Just have to turn up at the meeting point at Vörösmarty square! Check out their website for more info on what to expect from the tour.
Go Up St Stephen’s Basilica
Located right at the heart of Budapest, you can’t possibly miss to see St Stephen’s Basilica. It is the largest church in the capital and its dome is 96 meters high (same as the Partliament) which means that going up to the dome’s observation deck opens up to amazing views of the city. To get to the top you have to take the 364 steps but it’s well worth it. It costs 500 HUF but the opening hours differ depending on when you go, so do check out the Basilica’s website to plan your visit. One interesting fact is that supposedly, the current building regulation does not allow any other building in Budapest to be taller than 96 meters. So I challenge you to go find a building with a better city view than the one you’ll get from the Dome of the Basilica 😀
Try The Traditional Chimney Cake
Kürtőskalács, aka Chimney Cakes are something super yummy and extremely traditional in Budapest and in fact in few other neighbouring countries, such as the Czech Republic. Where it actually comes from, who knows 😀 They’re basically chimney shaped dough cakes (hence the name) baked on open fire. The most popular flavours are with cinnemon, chocolate or just sugar (cinnemon is my favourite). I recommend that you try the cakes at the Street Food Karavan which is basically a street market where I’d say they make the best chimney cake. AND they make it right in front of you which is super cool! If you decide to have your cake some place else, my tip would be to always ask to have it made fresh. You might get a grumpy look from the cake man/lady but it’s totally worth it 😀
Have A Drink At A Ruin Bar
You’ll hear about Ruin Bars a lot whilst in Budapest. As the name suggests they’re bars but what’s so special about them is that they’ve been built in the ruins of abandoned buildings which the government was going to destroy. That’s when young artists had the idea to transform these old buildings into places where people can have a drink, chat, dance, admire the art and the repurposing of the old space and furniture. For a walk round the ruin bar area, head to the District VII neighborhood which used to be the old Jewish quarter. From the outside you probably won’t recognise that a place is a ruin bar. You may not even hear any music from the outside or see many people queuing to get in. But once you’re in you’ll be amazed. Covered in antiques all over, the places have an amazing character. The mecca of all ruin bars definitely is Szimpla Kert which is the place I went to. It’s actually on the same stret as Street Food Karavan and it has a large courtyard for some dancing but they’ve also got a nice seating area in case you just want to chill and have a drink. But there’re A LOT of other places you could check out. Some of the best are Doboz, Grandio, Instant and Fogasház.
Have Some Palinka
This one you’ll either LOVE or absolutely HATE 😀 It’s the Hungarian fruit brandy with 37% to 55.5% alcohol which I guess is why they call it the national “firewater” LOL You can find it in any ruin bar and if you’re into booze, you have to add it to your list. I’m personally not a fan of alcohol and coming from Bulgaria where we have pretty much the same home made spirits, I gave this one a miss because I knew I was gonna hate it 😀 just like I’m not a fan of the Bulgarian rakia which is basically the Bulgarian palinka. But if you feel adventurous and don’t mind a burning throat, have some palinka 😀
Go Up The Gellert Hill
Even if you’re not into hiking, you gotta go up the Gellert Hill. It’s a 235 m high hill overlooking the Danube river and is the perfect spot for some panoramic views over the city, the river and the parliament. Once you get to the top, you’ll reach the Budapest’s Statue of Liberty and the observation deck where you can have a rest and take some nice pictures. To get to the hill, just cross the Elisabeth bridge either by foot, tram or bus from Moricz Zsigmónd Körtér. Once you get to the bottom of the hill, you’ll have to do just a bit of hiking to get to the top but honestly, it’s not difficult or super time consuming, you may need just over 30 min to get to the top.
Try The Thermal Baths
This is definitely a MUST DO! Budapest is famous for its many many thermal baths across the whole city. You can literally find thermal baths on every corner of the capital, all offering pretty much the same service but of course the interior tends to be quite different. I only had time to try out the thermal baths once so I went to what were supposed to be the best baths, called Szechenyi Baths. A day at the thermal baths ranges between 2000HUF and 5100HUF with the option to pay for extra things like spa procedures and massages. I must be honest and say that spending 5100HUF to go to the Szechenyi Baths was not worth it for me at all. The place looked very ran down, it didn’t look all that clean either and in general I personally wouldn’t go back there. I kind of regret not going to the Gellert Bath instead but it gives me a good reason to go back. Prices and opening hours differ between the baths too so check them out before you plan your visit 🙂
Have A Tea/Coffee At The New York Cafe
This is the most beautiful cafe in the world, or at least so they say! Without any doubt though, this was the first time I had my coffee surrounded by so much glamour. And yeah, I know, this is totally not me… I mean the posch and glamour but you gotta see this place. It’s got so much history and although quite luxurious, it actually looks pretty awesome and it may sound weird but once you sit down you don’t actually feel like you’re in a pretentious cafe. I’m not sure if it happens every morning but when I went to the New York Cafe, there was a little orcherta playing along and it felt more like I was in the teather than in a cafe. There is no dress code (at least in the mornings), in fact I was in my trainers. The coffee costs €6 and actually I didn’t like it at all 😀 but you’re paying for the experience more than anything else so it’s worth it. The cafe is at Erzsébet krt. 9-11 so pretty central too.
These are the 8 things you should do when in Budapest. But you can’t leave the capital before checking out these places too. ENJOY and please share this post with your buddies who’re planning a trip to Budapest. They’ll love you for it 🙂