An insider’s guide to Budapest

An insider’s guide to Budapest

Photo: Keszthelyi Timi
Words by James Robertson

Budapest, the capital city of Hungary, is a travel destination that should definitely be at the top of your bucket list.

Often overlooked by tourists in favour of more well-known European capitals, Budapest boasts a nightlife to rival Berlin, a string of stunning sightseeing locales to match Paris and some of the best food the continent has to offer. For these reasons, and a whole lot more, Budapest needs to be a part of your next big travelling adventure.

See the sights

The Hungarian capital has one of the highest densities of landmarks anywhere in Europe. In an hour or two, you could see so much of what Budapest has to offer, given many sightseeing locales hug the sides of the Danube River. Highlights include the stunning parliament building, the iconic Chain Bridge, St. Stephen’s Basilica, Gellért Hill, the Cave Church and the fairytale-like Buda Castle overlooking the city from on high. But the spectacles don’t stop at the Danube.

Further into Pest, you can find Heroes Square, a monument to every one of Hungary’s leaders, beside a plethora of galleries and Vajdahunyad Castle, which overlooks a gorgeous lake in the summer and massive ice-rink in the winter. If you’re keen to get there, just take the first metro system in continental Europe.


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Check out Budapest’s answer to laneway bar culture

One of Budapest’s most famous recent developments is the popularity of ‘ruin bars’ cropping up across the city centre. Built into the dilapidated remains of disused buildings, ruin bars are a trendy phenomenon which has played a big part in advancing Budapest’s tourist boom in recent years. Boasting cheaper beers and cocktails than you’ll find in the rest of Europe, each bar possesses a beautifully DIY aesthetic, such as the popular Szimpla Kert and Fogashaz bars.

Chow down on the delicious cuisine

Hungary’s food isn’t as widely known as that of other Westernised cuisines, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less good. Famed for their use of paprika, you can find their trademark spice laced in all kinds of foods, especially in chicken or potato stews. Probably their most well-known dish would be goulash, but meals such as Hortobágyi palacsinta, a delicious meat crepe, and rakott krumpli, a potato, sausage and egg recipe, will be just as mouthwatering to dine on at the many authentic restaurants throughout the city.


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Relax in the baths

As it’s located on a geothermal basin, Hungary is a hotspot for spas and saunas. There are some incredibly soothing resorts across the country, but Budapest is home to Hungary’s most famous baths. The Széchenyi Thermal Baths, open since 1913, are Europe’s largest medicinal baths. Treat yourself to a day here and you’ll be immersing yourself in some incredibly relaxing heated water underneath the shadow of beautiful Neo-Baroque architecture.


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Dance your cares away at the Sziget Festival

Budapest boasts one of the biggest music festivals in Europe, taking place on the Isle of Sziget resting in the middle of Budapest’s portion of the Danube. It never fails to hold some of the best bands and singers from across the globe, such as Iggy Pop, Arctic Monkeys and Kendrick Lamar in previous years. Taking place in August annually, 2019’s festival is headlined by the likes of Foo Fighters, The National, Post Malone, the 1975 and many more.

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