Among the great capitals of Central Europe, Budapest (Hungary) is one of my favourite cities in the world - effortlessly packing in everything a traveler could dream of. There's stunning architecture, beautiful promenades, sweeping views (especially at dusk), the quirkiest drinking spots and wildly interesting stories nestled in its streets. Here are 8 things you must experience when you visit this epic city!
1. Architecture spotting at the Parliament: Located alongside the Danube River, the Parliament building is one of the most beautiful buildings you will ever see (honestly). Don’t miss checking it out in the day and again at night when it is completely lit up. In the vicinity, the beautiful Chain Bridge (which connects the banks of Buda and Pest) is a must visit.
2. Sunset at Fisherman’s Bastion: Built high above the city (in the Buda Castle vicinity) this 19th century pristine white mock bastion is a real-life version of the fairytale castles in Disneyland. Clamber up for some spectacular views of the Pest side of the city, or hang around at sunset for some stunning sights. Don’t forget to pose for a lovely photo-op! Afterwards, spend some time exploring Castle Hill including the charming Matthias Church.
3. Get your game on at the Pinball Museum: if you love arcade games and pinball in particular, this slightly quirky specialty museum is a must-visit. Tagged as Europe's largest continuously operating interactive pinball exhibition, visitors have unlimited plays on more than 130 pinball machines.
4. Relax in a gorgeous thermal bath: Bathing is a favourite past time for locals, and why should tourists be left behind—it is definitely a must-have experience. In Budapest, there are plenty of baths to choose from and luckily, the thermal water is warm all through the year. The most iconic bath is Szechenyi, a sprawling Neo-baroque building with a bright yellow exterior. I had a great time lounging about in the water, oblivious to all the activity around! Gellert (which makes you feel like you are swimming inside a cathedral) is also a good pick.
5. Party in a Ruin Bar: Budapest’s famous ruin bars are the hippest places to psrty in the city. These bars are concentrated in Budapest’s old District VII neighbourhood (the old Jewish quarter). The neighbourhood was left in ruins are World War 2, and hence become the perfect place for an underground party scene to take roots. A common characteristic across all ruin pubs is that they are in unassuming, abandoned locations with random (read: mismatched furniture), quirky decorations random art on the walls and loads of eclecticism. The best-known ruin pub in Budapest is Szimpla Kert, which is an absolute must visit.
6. Ride Budapest’s heritage metro: Don’t be fooled, this is no ordinary ride. Budapest’s metro is the oldest electrified underground railway system on the European continent and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2002. Ride the yellow line 1 stretch which follows Andrassy Avenue. Look out for the quaint stations that go by! Some of the original metro carriages can also be viewed at the Underground Railway Museum at Deák Ferenc Tér station.
7. Tuck into Hungarian Goulash: Hungarian food is delicious and hearty – and don’t miss tucking into a traditional Hungarian meal before you leave the city. Goulash (a stew of meat and vegetables) is one of the most popular dishes, and you’ll find it all around Budapest. The majestic Opera House on Andrassy Avenue is a great place to tuck into some authentic goulash. Don't forget to use the predictable but super fun hashtag #HungryinHungary to share this moment.
8. Coffee in the world’s most beautiful café: New York Café calls itself the world’s most beautiful café, and not without reason. It is stunningly beautiful, and looks more like a palace than a coffee house! The opulent decorations, intricate carvings and ornate ceilings make this a must-visit place. That said, don’t go expecting too much as the food is very expensive but strictly average on taste.
Photo credits: BudNews, Telegraph,szechenyispabaths, Culturetrip, TravelAddicts, Trip Advisor.
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