Budapest…Made up of two cities, Buda and Pest. They are divided by the majestic River Danube. And although both sides are now joined by a number of spectacular bridges, they’re two very different places, each with a unique character, and each offering plenty to keep you busy.
In this article, we wrote about 16 things you should know before you go to Budapest. If you do your plan according to the things we have prepared, we hope you will return without any regrets, as you have done everything that can be done while you were there. What to take? What to eat? Where should we go? We wrote them all for you!
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# Things to do in Budapest
2. Relaxing at the thermal baths
Bathing is a major pastime for locals as well as tourists in Budapest, and there are plenty of baths to choose from. The thermal water is warm year-round (the coolest pools are 27 degrees Celsius), so even a winter visit to Budapest means you can strip down to your togs.
The most famous of all of the baths – and also Europe’s largest medicinal bath – is Széchenyi, a sprawling Neo-baroque building that’s home to indoor and outdoor pools as well as a sauna and steam rooms. Another popular bath in Budapest is Gellert, a smaller but equally beautiful building that makes you feel a little bit like you’re swimming in a cathedral.
3. Check out the views of Pest from Fisherman’s Bastion
For sweeping views of the city, head up to Fisherman’s Bastion on the Buda side of the river. Right across the Chain Bridge from Pest, you’ll find a funicular that ascends to Buda Castle. If you’re feeling fit (or don’t fancy paying) you can climb the stairs that wind their way up the steep hill.
The effort will be worth it though, as the views are incredible! Head to Fisherman’s Bastion (and admire the multi-coloured tiles on Matthias Church while you’re there) to see the intricate Houses of Parliament, Chain Bridge, and the vibrant city of Pest from above.
4. See the Parliament building up close
One of Budapest’s icons is the Neo-Gothic Parliament building, often photographed from across the river at Fisherman’s Bastion. But it’s even more spectacular up close. The third largest parliament building in the world, it’s over 100 years old and is home to over 20 kilometers of stairs! The Hungarian politicians must all be pretty fit.
You can see the inside of this limestone building if parliament isn’t in session, for a fee of around HUF 2,000 (double it if you’re not an EU citizen – sorry). I didn’t get to see the interior, but I hear it’s unbelievable. Either way though, the outside is beautiful and well worth inspecting up close.
5. See The Matthias Church
The colorful Matthias church is conveniently located right next to Fisherman’s Bastion.
The church is over 700 years old and the vibrant ceramic roof is made of tiles from the renowned Zsolnay factory of Hungary. It’s super impressive and detailed!
6. Check out the view of River Danube
The Danube is Europe’s second-longest river and its banks in Budapest are a part of Unesco World Heritage sites. A very popular way to explore the city and watch the top sights is by taking a river cruise during the day or the evening.
7. Visit The Great Market Hall
For food lovers, a market visit is a must-do in each new city. If you are traveling to Budapest, the Grand/Central Market Hall should be your best option to get acquainted with Hungarian cuisine and food culture. And what a plethora of flavors you will find! But in addition to the culinary delights, a large selection of Hungarian products (eg. lace, leather, embroidery, wines, ceramics..) can be found, so you can also collect your little tokens of Hungary here! You should not leave Budapest without visiting this market hall!
# What and where to eat&drink in Budapest
8.A cup of coffee at New York Cafe
New York Cafe, tucked inside the Boscolo Hotel, has been called the most beautiful cafe in the world. It’s like the inside of a palace or a really fancy theatre, and it’s full of tourists gaping at the beauty. But, the food and service aren’t great –, especially for the higher-than-average prices. Grab a coffee here and enjoy the four levels of opulence, but go elsewhere for breakfast.
A thick hearty soup is a very traditional way to start lunch or dinner but also common to have it as your entire meal. It’s always loaded with healthy portions of vegetables, potato, meat or a mish-mash of all three.
You can try it in Fozelekfalo cafeteria, Nagymező utca 18, Andrássy út. Order a soup or a creamy soup-like sauce to smother on your schnitzel. The menu changes daily.
No Hungarian kitchen is complete without paprika in their cupboards. The spice is used for different variations of recipes and creamy, rosy sauces over meat. Chicken paprika is a classic Hungarian dish.
10. Dobos Torte
Cafés have a long and rich history in Budapest, with many of the city’s most creative people spending their days in coffee shops, seeing and being seen. Many of the cafés are intricately decorated, serving sweet treats and delicate drinks in long-stemmed flutes.
If you’re stopping for refreshment, make sure you try the multi-layered Dobos torte, with chocolate buttercream between super-thin layers of sponge cake. The whole thing is topped with a shiny, solid caramel, and the sides are dipped in chocolate sprinkles or chopped nuts.
It’s indulgently divine, and definitely a must-eat when you’re in Budapest.
11.The Juicy + Budapest Bagel
The Juicy + Budapest Bagel “boutique” opened at Madách Square near Gozsdu Udvar, this area will not only be a great venue for having a drink with friends, or taking a pet for a walk, or having some juicy meat-filled sandwiches, but also the best hunting ground for the well-known, tasty, colorful, healthy juices, cookies, and puddings, and carefully made bagel-based sandwiches. The place is made even cozier with its terrace and a shared table, so we can drink our juices and eat tasty bites right there on the spot.
#Things you should get from Budapest
12. Traditional Hungarian Shirts
Put a little color into your wardrobe, or the wardrobe of a friend, by bringing a traditional Hungarian shirt back from Budapest. Although no longer worn every day, Hungarians still enjoy donning their more traditional garb for folk dancing events or national celebrations. Folk costumes from Hungary are very colorful and have beautiful designs embroidered on them. Women’s clothing tends to consist of flared skirts with petticoats and blouses with puffed sleeves. Men’s costumes tend to be long sleeved and complimented with a vest or a sash. Boots and embroidered shoes are also a staple of their traditional dress. Folk shirts are usually white and hand embroidered with colorful designs. Sometimes ribbons are used to decorate the collar or cuffs. Vaci utca is home to a host of shops that sell these wonderful souvenirs. Particularly recommended is Folkart Centrum at 58. Vaci utca. Located near the old town hall, their selection is vast and the look and feel of the shop are charming. Folkart Centrum is open every day of the week from 10:00 am-7:00 pm.
13. Tokaji Wine
Every year on Queen Victoria’s birthday, Emperor Franz Josef would send her one bottle of Tokaji Wine for every month she had been alive (a grand total of 972 bottles on her 81st birthday!). During your trip to Budapest, we recommend that you follow the Emperor’s example and purchase some Tokaji for your friends and family at home. Mentioned in the Hungarian national anthem, this wine has been a Hungarian treasure for centuries. Produced only in North Eastern Hungary, Tokaji wine comes in a variety of different tastes including dry, Szamorodni, Aszu, Eszencia, Fordiatas and Maslas. Its light color and fantastic taste, coupled with the slender, elegant bottles it comes in, make Tokaji a beautiful and delicious gift. Wine in Budapest is very cheap and prices for Tokaji range from $7-$25. Tokaji is easily purchased at the Bacchus Borkereskedes liquor store located at 23 Vaci Utca. Right in the heart of the biggest shopping street in Budapest, the store is large, reasonably priced and the very friendly employees speak some English. It is open every day of the week from 10:00am-8:00pm.
According to EU regulation, Palinka must be distilled in Hungary. This makes Budapest the perfect location to purchase some of this delicious liqueur. A traditional drink at dances, wedding, and celebrations, Palinka is arguably the most popular drink in Hungary. Go to any bar or restaurant in Budapest and Palinka will be on the menu. The most common form of Palinka is distilled from plums, but other fruits such as apricot, pear, peach, apple, and cherry are also used. The fruit is mashed up and then the fermentation process is begun. Finally, the Palinka is distilled using either a pot still or a column still. You can buy Palinka all over the city, including the Bacchus Borkereskedes Store at 23 Vaci Street.
Bottled in beautiful green bottles, this bitter herbal liqueur is made from over 40 spices, using a recipe that has remained a secret for centuries! Unicum is a beautiful dark, amber color, which it gets from the oak barrels it’s aged in at Zwack’s Budapest factory. Many Hungarians swear by the medicinal properties of this drink, which was originally brewed as a tonic for Emperor Joseph II in 1790. With a history almost as fascinating as its striking taste, Unicum is best bought at the Zwack Unicum Heritage Visitors’ Centre in Budapest.
After your first taste of the famous Hungarian dish “Paprikas Csirke” (Chicken with Paprika), you’ll be dying to get your hands on this magnificent spice. Hungarian cuisine is famous for its flavor and zest, and one of the essential ingredients is Paprika. This spice is not only delicious and colorful but is also rich in Vitamin C and other anti-oxidants. Grown in Hungary, the peppers are dried, ground up and sold in stores all around Budapest. Paprika comes in a variety of different strengths, flavors, and grades, including special quality, exquisitely delicate, pungent, rose, noble sweet, half-sweet and strong.
17. Kurtos Kalacs
Originally baked by Hungarian settlers in Transylvania, Kurtos Kalacs (“Chimney Cakes”, so named because of their cylindrical shape and the steam that rises out of the hot, freshly baked pastry) are one of the oldest, and arguably most delicious, pastries produced in Hungary. Although their traditional use was to celebrate weddings, christenings and the arrival of important guests, Kurtos Kalacs are now sold fresh on street corners all over Budapest. When you buy these delicious treats from a street vendor, you’ll probably be able to see the vendor’s special oven turning the freshly baked cakes over the heat. Bakers take ribbons of thin dough, wind them around wooden cylinders and then bake them over an open fire. Afterward, the baked cakes are sprinkled with caramelized sugar and other flavorings like vanilla, chocolate, coconut, and cinnamon. And, as if that weren’t enough, the desert is often then topped off with almonds or walnuts. Kurtos Kalacs are especially popular around Christmas time when you can purchase them hot in the Christmas markets. At any time of year, however, they are a delicious and inexpensive gift to bring back with you from Budapest. The cakes will cost around $2-4 a piece, depending on where you purchase them. There’s Molnar’s Kurtoskalacs on Vaci street 31 that is open from Monday to Friday 7:00 am – 9:00 pm and on the weekend at 9:00 am – 6:00 pm. We guarantee you won’t be able to resist entering this store when you smell the baking Kalacs.
We know that you will miss these tastes and products very much! Do you know where you can order these delicacies after a long time from visiting the Budapest?
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Bonus places list for Budapest!!
- Vajdahunyad vár
Shoes on the shore of Danube
Szent István Bazilika
Szabadság híd (on weekends)
Zenélő szökőkút at Margit sziget (at 9 pm, last show)
Gül baba utca
Bonus restaurant and cafe list for Budapest!!
- Juicy + Budapest Bagël
Rumpus tiki bar
Beach bar Budapest
My Little Melbourne
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