I was in Budapest a few days this spring. I don’t know exactly what I was expecting, but I ended up loving the city and the feel of it. I could very easily go back and spend more time there. However, it’s good to know that you can get a full experience while only staying there four or five days—even when you are planning on seeing both the old cities of Buda and Pest. Here are some things I’ve found helpful while I was there.
Ask someone about the highlights.
There are some pretty obvious reasons to visit Budapest—the baths, the food, the underground culture. But the best way to really get to know it is to ask someone who has lived there a while and who knows the local hotspots. One of the coolest part of Budapest is actually how cool is it. Between the historical sights and the current culture, it’s good to have a guide that can help you navigate through all there is to see.
Don’t be shy about the food.
Hungary has so many different influences after being occupied by multiple different cultures, and what has resulted is a mixture of tastes—both in food and drink. You might be tempted to skimp out and go for dishes you recognize, but you won’t find a place with high-quality menu items for a cheap price. I had well-cooked duck, an appetizer, dessert, and their local lemonade for less than twenty USD.
Beware of the Budapest Metro!
Feel free to use it, but know that it’s not like most of the metro systems you will find in Europe or in America. There are ticket takers there to make sure that you’re not skipping out on fare, and you can be punished pretty severely for taking the system without paying. You might want to consider getting a pass that will last you during your stay. You can get ones that allow you access to all the forms of transportation, not only just the metro.
Try the baths.
Nothing is more luxurious and expected than slipping into some of the Turkish baths available here. The main problem is finding which one to use since there are several in the city worth checking out. For a bit more expense, the Gellart Baths are breathtaking, and you’ll find a range of ages and nationalities here. For partiers and those up for going a little bit outside the city center, the Szechenyi Thermal Baths offers an outdoor setting and multiple pools to try.
Have you ever been to Budapest? What was your favorite thing to do there?