I lived in Budapest for 2 months last year, and amongst all the adventures, countries and experiences I had during what I can call ‘the best and craziest year of my life’, this is the city that holds the deepest and most special place in my heart. It’s hard to express in words and explain how much this city grew on me for only 2 months, so much so that I can say, without a doubt, that I feel homesick from Budapest.
It was hard for me to pick a list of 7 reasons why I miss Budapest this much, simply because it’s a feeling that overcomes physical things, and something that only you can experience by yourself. And so, my mission is to make you feel like Budapest is something you CANNOT MISS in your life!
Budapest has one of the most impressive architectures I have ever witnessed in my life. You can find Art Nouveau in the Gellért Baths, Gothic Style in Buda Castle, Neo-Roman in Fisherman’s Bastion, and the list goes on and on. Even if you’re not an architecture nerd, the simple act of strolling through the city streets will let you staring at the buildings you pass by. Andrassy Utca, a Unesco World Heritage Site, is one of the main streets in Budapest, and one of the most beautiful in the world. Insiders tip: always look up when you walk in Andrassy. You’ll understand why.
Sorry, I got a bit too excited. For me, the sunday markets in Budapest are magical, and there’s no better way to spend a Sunday afternoon! Pick your poison: you have markets for almost anything. Fresh food, vintage items, clothing, you name it. This is a list of the ones you cannot miss:
- Ecseri Market
- Erzsébet tér Market
- Szimpla Farmers Market
Address: Nagykőrösi út 156, 1194 Budapest
Opening hours: 08:00-13:00
Address: Erzsébet tér, 1051 Budapest
Opening hours: 08:00-14:00
Address: Szimpla Kert, Budapest, VII. kerület, Kazinczy u. 14.
Opening hours: 09:00-14.00
Off-the-beaten path day trips
If you’re like me and you need a break from the big city time to time, Budapest is the perfect place for that. While many tourists visit Budapest and just stay in the city, there is an immense list of cities and small towns to visit very near the Hungarian Capital, and all of them are worthy of your time. These were my 2 favourite day trips from Budapest:
Distance from Budapest: 80 min by train
Why should you go there: You can visit Slovakia if you go to Esztergom- if you cross Maria Valéria Bridge you set foot in Štúrovo, in Slovakia. The third largest church in Europe,The Basilica of Esztergom, can be visited here. On my day trip I witnessed a wedding inside the Basilica, maybe you’ll be as lucky as I was!
Distance from Budapest: 40 min by train
Why you should go there: Viségrad has a castle that is only accessible by crossing the Danube on a ferry. This should be enough of a reason for you to visit! The unforgettable view of the mighty Danube, the green hills and the quiet villages you have from up there is worth the hike.
If you are a food lover, Budapest will win your heart very easily. Attention vegetarians: Hungarian Cuisine (or Magyar Cuisine, the original name) consist mostly of meat: stews, casseroles, steaks, roasted pork, beef, poultry, lamb, and I guess you heard enough. But don’t worry, here’s a list of traditional Hungarian food you can try without meat in it:
- Gombapaprikás – mushroom veggie stew
- Túrógombóc – cottage cheese dumplings
- Spätzle – egg dumplings
- Tarhonya – large couscous
For the meat lovers like me, you cannot miss trying these:
- Gulyás – chunks of beef, potatoes, and vegetables, plenty of paprika and spices.
- Pörkölt – meat stew with paprika and onions, usually served with a side of Hungarian noodles called nokedli.
- Halászlé – fisherman’s soup, made of paprika-spiced broth and thick cuts of river fish.
You don’t need to use public transportation
There’s a reason why Budapest is considered one of the 10 most walkable cities in Europe: because it really is. In my 2 months there, I never used the metro apart from 2 times when I decided to go out on the other side of the city. Walking from Castle Hill to Heroe’s Square covers most of the city center, and it doesn’t take more than 60 minutes. Plus, you will miss out on the beautiful architecture if you take public transportation!
You are in the center of Europe
It’s not by mistake they call Budapest the Heart of Europe. Living here gives you the opportunity to easily visit a wide number of European countries that are simply a train or bus ride away. Here is a list of the closest European cities you can visit:
- Bratislava – 2 hours and 30 minutes
- Vienna – 3 hours
- Sarajevo – 10 hours
- Krakow – 4 hours and 30 minutes
The unique nightlife
The nightlife in Budapest is something out of this world. There’s nothing I can compare it to, because I never experienced something like it. The truth is that every night is a party in Budapest. You don’t need to pick a certain day to go out, whether it’s Monday or Saturday, you can make sure you’re going to have a blast of a night! One of the unique things Budapest nightlife offers are the ruin bars: old buildings transformed into friendly, pleasingly chaotic bars, with furniture or old items hanging from the ceiling. You’ve never seen something like this, believe me! These are the 3 ruin bars you MUST visit while going out here:
- Szimpla Kert – one of the most popular ruin pubs in the city, it attracts both locals and international young travelers.
- Csendes Társ – home-like feeling, small, with outdoor picnic tables and chairs, the menu offers hundreds of wines and simple dishes.
- Anker’t – my favourite ruin pub in Budapest. It’s the largest garden bar in the city and is made up of huge, connecting courtyards.
The most important reason why Budapest is such an amazing city is a very simple one: the people. Who you meet is what you make of a city, and Budapest has a hidden magic when it comes to this: it helps people connect with each other in a way that no other city I’ve ever been in can. This is something that is hard for me to explain, but that you will understand once you make your way there!
I hope my list has helped you in picking out the best things to do and see in Budapest, and I’m sure it will steal your heart the same way it stole mine.