10 Cool Things To Do In Budapest You Didn´t Know Exist!
A very long time ago, I visited Budapest with my parents. I was a child, maybe six or seven years old. At that time we were on vacation in Hungary or other Eastern European countries a lot. Unfortunately, when I think about that time, I have only a few glimpses of memories. Mostly pieces of pictures in my head or a feeling which I had when I try to remember.
Lucky me, I had the chance to visit Budapest once again recently.
Before this trip, I was quite excited about how it feels now, that I have grown up! Here are a few things, which I discovered, experienced during my weekend in Budapest, and which have found their way on my list of favorite things to do in Budapest!
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Things To Do In Budapest
I had a long weekend, and a few things on my list, which I wanted to do but mostly I wanted to go with the flow and find out which cool things to do I would find in Budapest! Below you´ll find a list of the 10 coolest things to do in Budapest!
Karaván Street Food
Just in case I haven´t mentioned it yet, but I love food, and I love to try all kind of different local dishes! When I wandered through the Jewish quarter in Budapest, trying to find a place to have breakfast (by the way, I highly recommend the traditional Hungarian Breakfast at Platós, Dohány u. 30, 1074 Budapest. But also the more healthy dishes or waffles looked delicious!), I went by this street food places. Karaván Street Food is a small place, nestled between buildings and looks like as if a building stood there before which was torn down and never restored.
You´ll find a couple of food trucks with more or less traditional Hungarian food, mostly new interpreted from Langosh to Thai Food over ice-cream and vegan burgers. In the back is a bar where you can get all kind of cocktails, as well as a seating area, where you can enjoy a delicious meal.
If you´re not a cocktail girl, try one of the smoothies. All out of fresh fruit and vegetables and no added sugar at all! Mmmmh!!! Yummy!!
Short facts: Street Food Karavan Budapest, Kazinczy u. 18, 1075 Budapest
One of the best things to do in Budapest is enjoying the nightlife. As soon as the sun is about to set people are coming out of their homes or workspaces where they hide from the heat of the day and promenade at the Danube river or enjoy drinks and snacks at bars or restaurants.
Ruin bars are one of the most popular spots in Budapest´s vibrant nightlife scene. All over the city, abandoned buildings were turned into the hip, mostly open-air, bars. Each of these bars has a unique personality. They usually are filled with more or less old or new, not necessarily matching furniture, the walls are filled with paintings, graffitis, or other marks of artists, and often have an open-air character.
Most of the ruin bars you can find in District 7, which is probably better known as the Jewish Quarter. You can explore this bar scene on your own, or you can attend a tour of these unique, quite hidden, open-air spots*.
Fortunately, on the last evening of my Budapest visit, I found at least one of them. So cool, that I had that experience! On that last day, I was too tired from my day at the Szechenyi Thermal Bath. I only wanted to have a drink or two but didn´t want to walk a lot anymore. That´s why I skipped the most popular and also oldest ruin bar, Szimpla Kert, and was happy that I found UdvarRom.
I believe that when I revisit Budapest, exploring more of those ruin bars, is the one activity which is already on my list!
Of course, no journey to Budapest is complete without visiting one of the Thermal Baths. Budapest is full of natural thermal springs, which are known for its healing powers. Those springs were the reason why the Romans came here and founded the city. There are still ruins of the Roman baths visible today.
Most of the active baths date back to the 16th and 17th century. Other bathhouses were built during the 20th century when Budapest was the co-capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Today, you can relax in the warm waters, release any stress with having a massage in the spa areas, or have fun in whirlpools or at pool parties at nighttime.
The largest and most popular one is Széchenyi Thermal Bath* and was built in 1913. Beautiful neo-baroque architecture and distinctive yellow walls stand out against the blue waters of its outside pools. In total, 21 thermal pools, as well as saunas, steam rooms, and a spa area wait for you!
Short facts: Széchenyi Thermal Bath, Budapest, Állatkerti krt. 9-11, 1146 Hungary
Great Market Hall
Visiting the Great Market Hall is the one thing to do in Budapest, which I didn´t want to miss. I love food, and I love to taste various flavors which are typical for a country. When I arrived on Saturday and finally got into the city, it was already too late for the Great Market Hall! It was closed for the day and wouldn´t open its doors again on Monday! Good that my flight back was on Tuesday!
It was the first thing on Monday morning what was on my list for my last day! There was just one thing only on my list for that day; staying at the Széchenyi Thermal Bath, but when I checked the route and how I can go there, I saw that the Great Market Hall was on that way!
Guess how happy I was that I would have a chance to visit! So said, so done! I made a stop there for having breakfast hoping for a Langos, a Hungarian pancake, or any other traditional food. In the end, I got myself a poppy seed strudel with the most amount of poppy seed; I haven´t seen for a long time! And it was so delicious that I would go back to Budapest just for one of those pieces!
The Great Market Hall is the most beautiful and also largest market hall in Budapest. There are several other ones, and if I stayed a few days longer, I would´ve loved to explore those as well. The building itself is more than a hundred years old (built in 1897). On three floors you can find a wide range of fruits and vegetables, dairy and meat products, pickles, fresh fish, wines, souvenirs, bags, and clothes, pans and pots, and other Hungarian products, also restaurants, grills, and more homestyle-like food stations.
You can even book a food tour through the Great Market Hall* including several food tastings!
Short facts: Vámház krt. 1-3, 1093 Hungary, opening hours: Monday: 6 am – 5 pm, Tuesday-Friday: 6 am – 6 pm, Saturday: 6 am – 3 pm
Cat Café Budapest
It was coincident on the first evening of my Budapest trip! The sightseeing bus “through us out of the street” as it was the last stop and also the final round of the day!
When I checked the offline map, I suddenly saw something which was called “Cat Café”! A closer look and it was for real; the Cat Café Budapest – The PURRfect Place To Be!
I couldn´t believe it, I heart a lot about such kinds of restaurants, or cafés, mainly in countries like Japan. There you could eat, drink café, accompanied by several cats who live there. You can pet and play with them, while eating and have a drink! Crazy, that there is one in Budapest as well! Of course, I had to go there!! And I loved it! I´m just such a cats-person!
Fifteen cats live there, and I saw a couple of them! A few slept on chairs or even tables, other ones just sat somewhere in a corner, or the window and watched us, people! Probably, people are the most fascinating and strange thing they have seen and feel very grateful that they have the chance to get as close as possible to observe our weird behavior!
By the way, they offer a very delicious chocolate cake!
Short Facts: Révay street 3., Budapest, Monday – Sunday: 10:00 – 21:00,
Sunset At Danube River Embankment
What is a journey to Budapest without a stroll alongside the river and watching the sunset? Especially in summer more people come out of their houses when it´s getting dark and promenade at the Danube. They visit the Shoes of the Danube, sit on the edge and have a drink, or have a chat with their friends. They watch the sunset and enjoy the fresh summer breeze when the air cools down from the hot summer temperature at daytime.
As soon as it gets dark in Budapest, the most famous sights will be lit up and provide even more romantic mood. The perfect place for a first, second, or any number of date! And afterward, you can walk back to the chain bridge and have a drink at that popup bar under the bridge. Have a seat in one of the sunchairs and listen to the live lounge music by DJs.
It´s amazing what you find when you wander around!
Always busy, always booked out, but soooo worth it to visit and eat at this Hungarian restaurant! The Hungarikum Bisztro offers traditional Hungarian cuisine, which you would think is cooked by the Hungarian Granny, which you would wish you had yourself. It was a recommendation of a friend of mine who ate here before, and she told me that it´s better to make a reservation.
Once again, I was lucky! While I was walking through the city center, I realized that I was close to it, so I thought I give it a try and check if they have a free table for me. Fortunately, they had one. A good hour and a half until the next guests arrive who reserved that table, I could enjoy the Hungarian Menu! It was a three-course menu with a Goulash Soup, duck leg, with mashed potatoes and red slaw, and Hungarian pancakes! Additionally, I got home-made bread, as an appetizer and Palínka, a traditional Hungarian Schnaps.
The restaurant is hidden in one of the side streets; it´s still quite centrally located. Only a few meters to the river, a few more to the parliament building, and also the chain bridge is in walking distance. When you enter, you´ll find yourself in a cozy, not too big, but comfortable room with forty covers and a team, which welcomes you as if you were a life-long friend.
Some short facts in case you want to try to get a reservation: Hungarikum Bisztró – 1051 Budapest, Steindl Imre u. 13. Tel.: +36-30-661-6244, opening hours: 11.30-14.30 és 18.00-22.00, www.hungarikumbisztro.hu, firstname.lastname@example.org
Me, as a huge fan of the old “Sissi” movies, starring Romy Schneider (My Mom and I, we still watch them every time at Christmas, and it never gets boring! Similar to Dirty Dancing; you can watch it a hundred times, and don´t get tired of it).
Because of that, it was a pleasant surprise when I suddenly stand in front of the statue of, the Empress of Austria, and Queen of Hungary, Sisi! So cool! You can find this one near the arch at Madách Imre ter.
But don´t think that this is the only statue of Queen Elizabeth. She loved Hungary and its people, and the people loved her, so it´s no wonder that there are a few statues, a bridge, and districts, which are named after her.
Airport Observation Terrace
A very cool thing to kill some time, while you´re waiting for your flight is visiting the observation terrace at the airport! On the day, when I had to get back to Germany, I had quite a long time to wait. Lucky me the ticket machines for the observation terrace were out of order on that day. That´s why access was free for everyone.
Quite a bunch of people used that opportunity to wait outside with more or less fresh air (sometimes it smelled as if the air was fueled with cerosin, too). You can watch how aircraft’s land and take-off, or how people enter and leave the planes.
I love all that (nerdy) stuff!
No matter which other cool things you might find in this incredible city, what still is a must-do is, of course, doing some sightseeing! Hop on of one of those sightseeing buses, or get around by walking or public transport. Whatever you prefer, if self-guided, or get some more detailed information from guides, or tours.
Sights, which you should explore are places like the castle district with the Buda Castle, The Fisherman´s Bastion, or the Buda Tower; the Hospital in the Rocks, or the Castle Gardens.
The Gellért Hill, with the Citadel and the Liberty Statue, is also famous as an excellent location to catch one of the most breathtaking views of the city and the Danube River!
And don´t forget about the Shoes of the Danube River, and the Parliament! Or St. Peters Basilica, or the city center itself with its fashion street and restaurants!
There is still so much to see and do! I can tell you; one weekend is not enough to discover everything! Have you been to Hungary´s Capital yourself? Leave me a comment below and tell me which are your favorite things to do in Budapest!