Have you ever thought that you’ve been to a place enough times to know it pretty well and then you discover you were oh-so-wrong?
This is exactly what happened to me in Budapest! Are you curious how Budapest still surprised me, despite the fact it was my 4th time there? Read on!
Let me be honest here – With a Hungarian friend of mine, we used to fight about what city was better and more beautiful, Prague or Budapest. Each of us being extremely biased, we fought for our own cities – for me, Prague was the clear winner, of course! It didn’t help that he tried to show me something unique from Budapest nightlife each time I came.
Only now, on my fourth trip, have I realized what a unique mix Budapest is.
The accommodation that changed everything
During this past trip, my favorite hotel in Pest was fully booked so my boyfriend and I decided to stay in an apartment off the Nagymezö Street, on Pest side.
The way there was rather lengthy and we didn’t like it as much. But to our surprise, over the next days we found a myriad of great restaurants, bars and pubs that looked way different from those in the city center.
Nightlife and more
During this trip I found an area where all (yes, all) of Budapest’s locals hang out. It’s in a passage called Gozsdu, on Kiraly Street. It is packed there every night! There are so many bars, some of them have incredibly slow service and still they thrive!
So obviously, this is the place to be on a Friday/Saturday night.
The “ruin pubs” deserve a special category of their own. They are so unique! I felt like I was in Berlin, and that’s a major compliment (I also complimented Valencia on having the ‘Berlin feel’ here).
Recipe for discovering Budapest
Below is my recipe for discovering Budapest one level at a time. The time period of your visits could either be weekends, keeping each level for one weekend, or you come for a week or two and experience it all together (which I recommend!).
3 levels of Budapest discovery
1. Main sights
Everyone needs to ride on the Budapest’s overpriced funicular and see the Buda Castle, St. Matthias Church, walk across the Chain Bridge and admire the view of the Parliament from there.
Having a soak in one of the many thermal baths when the weather becomes unpleasant is another must. So is strolling through the buzzing Váci Street and Vörösmarty Square.
2. Getting past the main sights
Once you have all the main sights ticked off, explore further – go to the Big Market Hall, stroll around, see the Heroes Square and the City Park behind it with the impressive Vajdahunyad Castle. Doesn’t it feel awesome?
Go check out the ruin bars! And the Jewish Synagogue nearby, which is especially beautiful on a sunny day.
3. And beyond we go!
Now Budapest should be really getting under your skin, congratulations!
Go see the Gozsdu passage with bars where locals hang out in huge numbers.
If your budget allows, make a reservation at one of Budapest’s many Michelin restaurants!
To get back to Earth, take the metro line no. 1 – the oldest kind in town.
Catch a tram right by the river on Pest side and let it carry you further from the city center – great for people watching!
And what to do after that? Just pick any direction and stroll that way! Even if you’ll keep bumping into things you’ve seen before, Budapest is not going to become boring.
Plans for the next trip
I’m already making plans for my next visit and here’s my list of things to see in Budapest next:
- Margaret Island: a beautiful park right on the Danube
- Gellert Hill: a nice green hill with a Citadel on top
- The Eye: Ferris wheel
- Budapest Whale: new architectonic masterpiece
- Fungarian: little intro to Hungarian language
If you make it to Budapest before me, make sure you try some of them out and let me know if it’s been as awesome as I expect it to be! Thanks and enjoy your time in Budapest! 🙂
Btw. if you love museums, I’m sorry that I’ve excluded them – I’m not too much of a museumgoer. But feel free to share your experience and try to convince me to visit any of the awesome museums of Budapest 😉
Have you fallen for Budapest’s charm like I did? What do you like most about it?
PS: Let’s keep the slight rivalry between Prague and Budapest alive – check out this article about Prague! Especially if you’re deciding where to visit first 😉
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