One of the things I said to myself when I finished university and took on a full-time job was to continue travelling, especially into Europe as it would be easy access. However, after going to Budapest once, I really really want to go back for a second time.
The city has a lot to offer for everyone, from young backpackers to middle-aged couples. I’ve written a detailed run-down below of some of the things we loved doing during our five day trip in Budapest.
Cycling is one of my favourite ways to see a new place, especially a city where sights, bars and cafes are spread across quite a large area (see my post here about Hyde Park).
Budapest is so beautiful that you need to get on your bike and see it all! We hired our bikes from out hostel for around 1600 Forint (5 Euros) for the day cycled up the Pest side of the Danube River, crossed over to the Buda side, cycled down, into and around Margaret Island before heading back up the Pest side and back to our hostel. This let us see both sides of the city, including Margaret Island and the Government building. The city is also pretty flat so perfect for anyone like me who doesn’t have the lungs!
2. Street Art
You wouldn’t normally associate Budapest with street art, but you would be surprised what you can find during a wander down the streets.
3. Thermal Baths
If you’re planning on visiting Budapest, I bet this is one of the main activities in the city that you already knew about. The baths are very modern and well-cleaned, but there is evidence of their age. I wouldn’t let this put you off though. There are lockers for personal belongings and I would recommend taking sandals/flip flops as the floors can get slippery!
4. Street Cafe
Don’t you just love eating good food in the sun and at the side of the road so you can people watch? With beautiful little bespoke cafes lining the streets, this is absolutely one of the things you should do in Budapest. The city centre offers high street chain restaurants like Hard Rock Cafe, but I highly recommend any little local cafe. Oh and you can’t visit without trying Goulash! Mmmm.
5. Ruins Bar Crawl – Cheap Beer!
I haven’t really spoken about my love for a good party on this blog yet, but I really can’t resist a crazy night out. The Ruins Pubs are old, abandoned downtown buildings which have been transformed into quirky gentrified pubs – mostly outdoors! And the only reason I suggest doing a bar crawl as they are usually guided so you will get to experience the the hidden gems! Beer, cider and wine is pretty cheap coming in at around £1 for a pint or glass, however, you will pay a little more for spirits but it still won’t break the bank.
6. Night Club
Like I said above, I love a good party. I’m making it my mission to visit a night club in every country I visit – so far so good! I’ve experienced some of the craziest parties and festivals, but the Budapest nightlife stood out for me. We actually got a recommendation from our bar crawl guide on the best local club, one that wasn’t full of nasty stag parties.
7. Stay in a Hostel
If you know me I’m an avid hostel fan (not the movies!). Not only are beds pretty cheap in comparison to other large European cities, but they are a great way to meet new like-minded people whether you are staying for a month or just the weekend. Most hostels will also offer great opportunities to see the city that you might not anywhere else i.e. free walking tours, bar crawls and even renting bikes. If they don’t offer them directly, they will certainly give you a leaflet that points you in the right direction.
Hostels with kitchens allow you to cook your own food as well, why not head to the market, purchase some local ingredients and stir up some hungarian cuisine? Our hostel even offered us free access to a large blow-up pool when the weather was sufficient, here’s where we stayed.
8. Go on a Free Walking Tour
Free walking tours are one of the best ways to see a city if you love a guided walk-through of its cultural history. Some of the best ones meet at Vörösmarty square (at the lion fountain) and booking isn’t required (for parties less than 8), you just show up! Tours vary in length but I found the average was around 2 to 3 hours long. Because these tours are free, and guides are voluntary, they rely on a generous tip! (Well worth it!).
9. Shoes on the Danube Bank
Shoes on the Danube is a memorial on the banks of the city’s river to commemorate the Jews that were killed by the Arrow Cross Militiamen during World War 2. The victims were ordered to stand on the bank and take off their shoes before being shot and falling into the river. The atmosphere at and around the memorial is quite sombre, a mirror opposite of the vibrant city itself, and you will often find flowers and wreaths around the area to honour the victims. I would highly recommend this site, its very poignant and a significant signature of the city’s past.
10. Cat Cafe
Last but certainly not least was one of my favourite parts of my Budapest trip, the cat cafe! At the time, it was one of only a few peppered across mainland Europe – there were none in the UK that I could visit. You can read all about my experience here, it was certainly an eye opener!
Thanks for reading, hopefully my list inspired you to visit Budapest or opened your eyes to something new in this wonderful city!
Have you ever been to Budapest?
What’s your favourite thing to in the city?