Often referred to as the Pearl of the Danube, or The Heart of Europe, these warm and rich labels sit at the core of Budapest. It’s rich in history and heritage, yet full of a youthful energy and vibrancy. A fizzing nightlife, great restaurants and a diversity of activities that include relaxing river cruises and thermal baths, ice skating, exploring cave systems and live action games.
Here are the 5 experiences you cannot miss during your stay in Budapest:
1. Budapest’s best view
The guide books of Budapest usually write about the views from the top of the Citadel, from the castle hill and from the top of the Saint Stephan’s Basilica. But you don’t need to climb up so high for an eye-catching view! Just walk to the middle of Margaret Bridge and be astonished by this gorgeous city! Another great spot is on the Buda side at Batthyány square – looking back at The Parliament house over the river is a sight you’ll never forget!
2. Ship ride and walk at Rómaifürdő
A ship ride on the Danube river to Rómaifürdő is a must. Ask a friendly local on the ship to show you the tourist attractions on your way. In summer time take a leisurely stroll at Rómaifürdő. It’s where the locals hang out, escaping from the city for a few hours rest under the shady river bank trees. There are many restaurants and bars but, if you’d like to taste something typically local, buy a lángos at one of the buffets!
3. Special vehicles tour in the Buda Hills
Start your tour at Széll Kálmán tér and take a short ride on tram no. 61 to Városmajor. From here take the Cogwheel Railway train to Széchenyi-hegy (Széchenyi Hill). Then take the Children’s Railway to János-hegy (János Hill), the highest peak in Budapest. The Erzsébet lookout tower offers panoramic views of the city and the Buda Hills. Finally, take the two-way Chairlift (Libegő) system, which offers a beautiful panorama along the way from János-hegy down to Zugliget.
4. Live action games
Live action games inspired by computer games and horror movies are mushrooming in Budapest. The mystic atmosphere is spooky but not frightening. The games combine riddles and physical tasks with the aim to escape from a room. To find your way out you need to solve various puzzles using creativity and common sense. The adrenaline kicks in as soon as the time starts. Few succeed but it’s real fun and an unusual way to spend an hour!
5. Vibrant club and pub life
Kazinczy Street is not to be missed… beer gardens in inner atmospheric courtyards, tiny bars, and ruin pubs (which are unused, deserted buildings that have been turned into pubs). Don’t be afraid of the shabby exteriors… Lonely Planet voted Szimpla Kert the third best bar in the world! Also pop in to Kőleves, Mika Tivadar, Ellátó Kert and Bobek. And don’t miss Gozsdu Udvar’s trendy scene that’s bustling with life.
Now those are some pretty awesome and unique experiences! And, if you have time, there are many more. The outdoor ice rink at Heroes’ Square? One of the many thermal baths? Or the Christmas markets which run from mid-November to get you in the festive mood? Have fun and fall in love!
Andy McNulty is the Co-Founder of Vacation Insiders.