A summer or two ago I was invited on board to a one-last-gig journey to Sziget Festival. My close friends and I were travelling between a bunch of European cities motivated by some pretty awesome gigs.
Few years ago concerts became the reason why I started challenging myself, sleeping in foreign countries, risking making new choices. Budapest was one of the cities I came to know thanks to music.
Few other cities get me so excited when planning a new trip. I was lucky to enjoy many sides of the Hungary capital so I can now loudly say it is the place to spend a city vacancy.
Here are the reasons why.
Cheap high quality accommodations
Unlike other European capitals, Budapest is filled with high standard apartments and hostels for relatively much lower prices. Considering the public transport connection and the location of touristic points of interests, I found more convenient to stay in Pest (eastern part of the city). If you are not quite convinced, I can sincerely recommend The Post and Feodorm Apartments, tidy, clean and modern, very nice owners and both very close to the city centre. Important to say I’m not affiliated with them, I just really appreciated the stay 🙂
Plenty of unique restaurants, products and food
This is something you could say about a lot of other cities but in Budapest you will find dishes that are difficult to be reproduced in other countries (lack of proper ingredients and skills) and very creative solutions I sadly still don’t see often. A perfect foodie day would consist of:
Breakfast at Fruccola. Or lunch, if you woke up at midday, still hangover from the long voyage. The place is very green as that’s the main idea driving the bar.
Fruccola offers a big choice of cold and hot plates, products and drinks. Everyone including vegans, coffe allergic and lactose intolerant will find a healthy, bio or even an eco option for them.
There is also the option to sit outside near a fountain-like sculpture, or inside where there is lot of space (luckily for the business) never empty.
Snack/Lunch made of Kolbice. It’s a cone of baked bread with cabbage, sausages and optionally some vegetables. Something near a fast food (quick to get) but more tasty and obviously healthier. You can choose this option while near the Saint Stephen Basilic (Reinpold’s Kolbice) or in the Central Market. I personally think it’s a bit more difficult to find this product than the commonly known Langos which is a fried dough original from Serbia but very popular in Hungary.
Dinner at Blue Rose Restaurant (Kék Rózsa Étterem). An acclaimed and highly recommended restaurant with top traditional recipes. The place differentiates itself by looking very simple and old-styled comparing to the rest of fancy restaurants on the same street. Surprisingly this place offers many plates at very, very low prices.
Coffee at Vinyl & Wood. Apart from the colorful street art of the Jewish district, there is another proof of local creativity. In the little and cozy bar called Vinyl & Wood you can stare in disbelief at the pieces of art made out of vinyls while drinking a coffee or lemonade. A must see for a music fan.
Evening treat at Gelarto Rosa. You have probably seen on one of the social media sites rose shaped ice creams. Well, there is a place in Budapest where you can try them out, it’s called Gelarto Rosa and offers tastes like Lavenda, Basil Lemon and seasonally Brown Bread Whiskey. Pretty and well made ice cream.
Budapest is most commonly known for Sziget Festival, a 7 days festival of colors and creativity on the Óbuda Island in August. The festival was defined as the new European Glastonbury and brings every year top bands from every genre. The festival goers have plenty of other options on how to spend time: yoga, exhibitions, courses, carousels, a beach and lounge and so on. On the festival ground there are camp areas (flooded with tents) and mini-houses where to stay.
Last time I was there music fans were allowed to bring in drinks and food with them, an unusual practice and big plus for the organizers.
The festival is not the only attraction. Budapest is known for its terms which are often visited even with cold weather. There are many of them in the entire city. The two more astonishing and important are Szechenyi and Gellert. They are still on my bucket list so I won’t digress on their history and architecture yet.
Another way to enjoy a bit of water sparkles are cruises on the Danube. While walking along the coast, guides and promoters will offer you tours to Margaret Island or by-the-river monuments tours. Cruises are also a great way to photograph the entire Parliament from a close distance.
Amount of green areas
I haven’t seen many cities as green as Budapest. Margaret Island is just one of the many, there are parks, flower promenades trees squares. My absolutely favorite green area is the Gellert Hill. To get on the top takes enough time to appreciate the turns, cooling shadows form the trees and smooth lawn. Once on the top you will be rewarded with a breathtaking view, a Citadel and a colossal statue: The Liberty Statue height is mind blowing.
Fairy-tale like architecture…
…and the Fisherman’s Bastion. It looks like it’s been taken out of a Disney tale with its cupolas and pale white and grey stones. A part of the bastion is free to visit but the upper balcony is charged around 8 euros per person. Is equally astonishing to take a drink and admire the view from the lower balcony.
Just near the bastion is located the Saint Mathias Church which captures tourists eyes with a contrasting orange and brown roofs. If looked from the other side of the Danube, this area reminds a small medieval town.
Historic and cultural heritage
Budapest is rich in historic places. It would take pages and pages to describe the city past as it deserves to and I invite you to do a little research basing on how much you are interested in history. The city symbol is definitely the Parliament, the largest building in Hungary and one of the biggest in Europe. Just looking at it form Buda (western side of the river) it becomes clear how every feature aspect about it must be simply mind blowing.
The Parliament is also one of the two tallest buildings in Budapest. The second is St. Stephen Basilica.
St. Stephen’s Basilica.
My best memory of the city from the first Sziget trip. The tall and pale building is located at the center of a huge open square and gives a pleasant sense of space.
The entry costs around 1€ but it’s more of a donation than a fee. The interiors are filled with majesty, bright marmur and gold adornments. The square concentrates many popular pubs and restaurants and offers a lot of fun also for younger tourists.
Crowded and full of local products, crafts and food. Don’t get discouraged by the amount of tourist, it’s worth seeing.
The Church in the rock, Saint Ivan’s Cave.
One of the biggest surprises for me in Budapest. It is also refferred to as the Gellert Hill Cave.
At the entrance you can opt for an audio guide in your language and watch a documentary about the place. Inside you will find smooth white statues and many altars. The Church is strongly related to Poland, one of the altars displays Poland’s National symbol, a White crowned Eagle, the Black Madonna of Czestochowa and some verses.
The main altar has also Our Lady of Fátima Holy Rests.
We mentioned it before due to its creativity and variety but it demands and deserve some attention to its history. The best way to discover it is to walk through the internal street to arrive at the Dohány Street Synagogue, laso known as the Great Synagogue. If you are lucky enough to visit it, you will find a safe and beautiful complex which protects in its shell a Jewish Cementery, a Museum and a Heroes’ Temple. The atmosphere is dense, in a positive sense.
Budapest has everything you need to rest, make good memories and learn, for singles, couples and for families. It is a place I am happy to go back and I really think it deserves your attentions and Impressions: take as much pics as you can, this city is photogenic.
P.S.: bring binoculars with you to enjoy the view from the hills in the cheapest and easiest way!
A summer or two ago I was invited on board to a one-last-gig journey. Now few other cities get me so excited when planning a new trip. I was lucky to enjoy many sides of Budapest so I can now loudly say it is the best place to spend a city vacancy. Here are the reasons why.