Let’s count the ways we love Budapest, the things that make us happy
1. Wandering around the castle district
It’s a no brainer. Everybody loves strolling the cobblestoned streets of the Castle District. Young couples holding hands, elderly couples sunbathing on a bench, little kids racing on Tóth Árpád promenade on their tricycles, tourists marveling the view from the castle walls.
2. Attending summer night concerts, wine and beer festivals in the court of the Royal Palace
3. Walking along the Danube promenade
The riverfront is iconic. UNESCO designated the entire section as a world heritage site, protecting such attractions as the Parliament, Buda Castle … and Marriott hotel, making it the ugliest UNESCO protected building in the world. The promenade has always been the place to show off, to be seen and to see. In 1874 chairs were set up here and were available for a fee.
4. People watching
A favorite hobby for many and not only for pensioners. The chairs and benches of the promenade are great examples of perfect spots to enjoy this hobby.
5. The sunsets
6. Photographing architecture
Charge your camera and phone before leaving your accommodation, this city is full of beauty, and one of its sources is architecture. I wish I was better at architecture photography.
7. Discovering the ruin bars
8. Drink pálinka
The cure of all ails. “Pálinka in small amounts is a medicine. In large amounts, a remedy.”
Hungarian grandpas and grandmas swear by its healing powers. Stomach problem? Pálinka. Nervousness? Pálinka. Sore throat? Pálinka. So be sure not to refuse a shot when offered with this fruit brandy. It is a great insult and confuses every Hungarian party.
9. Thermal waters
We love our waters. We use our waters: we drink them, bath in them, inhale them. Every water has its characteristics depending on its source. Actually, Budapest has more thermal water springs than any other capitals in the world.
10. Relaxing in thermal baths
The colder the weather, the more unique it is. Especially in one of the outside pools. Visit Széchenyi Bath for a quirky experience: you can sit in the thermal water while snow falls on top of your head (or hat). Interested? Follow the dots …
11. Duck feeding in City Park
Just don’t give them bread. Buy them special food from one of the machines around the lake.
12. Romantic boat ride in City Park Lake
Because boating in shallow waters in parks is universally considered to be romantic. And Budapest offers you a place to tick it on your romantic bucket list. Budapest has it alllll!
13. Befriending cute dogs on the slopes of Gellért Hill
If you don’t have a dog of your own or had to leave it at home while on you are on vacation and miss him/her already so much, do what we do: creep up to Gellért Hill and play with the cutest dogs of Budapest while one of you distracts the owner.
14. Stuffing our face with strudels, lángos or fresh veggies in Great Market Hall
15. Eating traditional Hungarian dishes with paprika
Strongly connected to the previous: try as many hot foods with paprika as you possibly can: goulash, ‘pörkölt’, chicken paprikas, just to name a few. Eat ‘tejföl’ with them, dunk fresh bread in them and thank me later.
16. Eating a hot chimney cake
Just avoid the tourist traps: a good chimney cake does not need any filling. No Nutella, no ice cream or whipping cream. Nothing. If you would like to taste a newer version, try the one with raspberry flakes. It is hipster enough.
17. Eating lángos
But again: no Nutella and other crap. The more simple, the better: with garlic sauce, or cheese and tejföl. Again, if you would like to try something more new wave, try the ones with salami and onions. But nothing sweet, please. Seeing that hurts our soul, mind, and brain.
18. Drinking Hungarian wine
Hungary has several wine regions and our wines are good. Actually, Hungary is home to the first official wine region in the world. King Károly made our Tokaj region the first one. Wine has been produced there since the 5th century.
I am not a wine expert, but I recommend Tokaj wines (sweet white), the red Bikavár (Bull’s Blood) from Eger and the dry whites produced around Lake Balaton. If in Hungary, try Hungarian stuff.
19. Discovering the cute guerrilla statues all across the city
It will teach you to pay attention to the details and not to hurry from spots to spots.
Mihajlo Kolodko, Ukrainian sculptor began hiding miniature bronze statues all over the city in 2016.
20. Riding a pedal car all along Margaret Island
21. Relaxing in small pocket parks...
… and picnicking on one of the benches or in the grass eating a “chocolate snail”.
22. Traveling by the cutes metro line (m1)
Just be very quick! This grumpy lady opens and closes its doors in about 5 seconds not paying attention to anything on earth.
23. Tram 2
This line is the best way to take in scenic views of Budapest, it is a public transportation method that is also the best sightseeing line in one.
24. Dangling our legs sitting in the Chairlift
The panorama is wonderful, especially downwards
25. Gerbaud café
It’s fancy, it is ridiculously expensive and I have never understood the hype around it, but if you can find a free table on its right side close to the windows, you can feel the previously mentioned cute metro passing under you. It’s strange and cool in one. If we happen to visit this confectionery we love to watch people if they feel it and if they think it is a small earthquake.
26. Guessing the meaning of street art murals
27. Shipcruising along the Danube with public boats
Use them as fun and cheap transportation method
28. … or have dinner on a sightseeing boat at night
this option is much more sophisticated for sure. Candlelight, soft music… you know what I mean.
29. Marvel the beauty of the city while sitting on Liberty Bridge
I really do not want to assist you breaking the rules (written on the bridge) but it is fun and clearly not as not as dangerous as the dance Will Smith performed on top of Chain Bridge before.
30. Walk through Chain Bridge
have a look at the views of the city, guess if the lions have tongue or not but do not imitate aforementioned Will.
31. Drinking Uniqum
32. Skating in front of St. Stephen’s Basilica in the middle of the Christmas Market
– because it is truly magical (you can rent skates on spot)
33. Have a drink at Pontoon and have a chat during sunset
You will not be alone, though
34. Add Your Splash your feet into the pool of Akvárium club while drinking a 'fröccs'
Just do not attempt to stand in the pool, it would smash in, get loose and everyone would hate you. Also, you could die.
35. Adoring the sights from rooftop bars
They are rather expensive, very trendy, full of people who are even more trendy. Tell me more about them after trying one. Please.
36. Discover Hungarian designers and contemporary art
37. Toning our muscles while climbing up and down on the stairs of the Castle District
Every stairway that leads up to the Castle is unique and photogenic. They really deserve their own post, so I will soon write one about them, for sure. I am just waiting for autumn because cardio activities are not my thing during the summer heat.
38. Panicking in a panic room
There are a bunch of so-called ‘panic’ or ‘escape’ rooms in Budapest. Actually, they originate from here. There are rooms with all kinds of themes, one is more frightening than the other. Usually, you can get out using your logic and wit. If you can use them while terrified. I am claustrophobic and I always freeze when frightened so its not my thing for sure.
Speaking about escape:
The grandmaster of escapology, the greatest escape artist of all time, Harry Houdini was born in Budapest in 1874. House of Houdini in the Castle District is ‘the meeting point for magicians and lovers of the art of magic from all over the world’.
40. Stuffing our stomach in Szimpla Farmer’s Market on a Sunday morning
– well, this is much more my cup of tea.
41. Sleep in and have a brunch
Who doesn’t enjoy this laziness? No explanation needed. Downtown Budapest is full of fancy brunch places. Just pick one. We are planning to try À la Maison Grand. We are still saving up our changes in a piggy bank.
42. Grab a book and read while laying down on the grass...
…or plan your next stop during sightseeing in Budapest reading my blog posts.
43. Attending a sparty...
44. Listening to Budapest inspired music
45. Historic relics are everywhere
You never know when you’ll turn a corner and stumble upon one of the oldest buildings in the city
47. Seeing Budapest on the big screen
there are a bunch of movies that were shot in Budapest. It has already played Moscow, Paris and about any other city when the film needed some added Eastern European touch. We have already got used to it and also used to see our city destroyed partly or completely. One of the recent movies that were set in Budapest and that shows a lot from the city is the ‘Spy’ with Melissa Mccarthy, Jude Law and Jason Statham.
48. Sunrises from the upper terraces of Fisherman’s Bastion
49. Treasure hunting in the Buda Castle
Jewish District has its graffitis, murals, wall stickers, Castle District has medieval relics.
50. The ceiling at Lotz Café
Its frescoes were painted during Budapest’s “belle époque”, the ceiling is something worths to twist your neck for.
51. New York café
Another unmissable café (and not only for coffee addicts like me and 99% of adults on earth). It is considered to be one of the most beautiful cafés in the world. Just do not go down to the underpass of Blaha Lujza square on the corner. The difference between the two lifestyles is extreme.
52. Running into celebrities
As more and more Hollywood movies are made here, there is some chance to bump into one.
53. The subway
It takes us quickly almost anywhere. M1 is the oldest subway in continental Europe, M2 and M3 are also quite old and M4 is a new line. Some of the subway stations are like art galleries – just look carefully.
54. The weather
Situated in central Europe, Hungary really has four distinct seasons with all their beauty.
55. … and bitching about the weather
Because nothing unites Budapesters better than crying about winter being cold and summer being hot.
But we have every reason to do so: You might be able to experience a 60 °C difference between January (-20) and July (+40). How cool (and how hot) is that? Well, if you are prone to migraines it might not be that fun to you (and me).
56. The abundance of extremely cheap eats
There are plenty of places to fill up your stomach for just some pocket change – sample a little bit of everything at Karaván food court or grab a pizza, chimney cake or lángos.
57. Getting lost in the narrow streets of the Jewish District
this bustling neighborhood has its own distinct atmosphere
58. Waddling up to Buda hills with cogwheel railway
… to enjoy the panorama with strudels and mulled wine or tea in your hands
59. Climbing up to the panorama terrace of Basilica
… and marvel at the views after fantasizing about the church hiding aliens and their UFO inside the dome. Visit it and you will know what I mean. 😉
60. The panoramic view from the top of Budapest Eye
Basilica’s lookout terrace is closing before dark but you can still enjoy the sight of the illuminated city from the top of the Ferris Wheel.
61. Taking the public ferry to Római fürdő on a summer weekend afternoon
The most chill place of all the chill places in Budapest.
62. Cat cafés
Visit these over adorned hairballs in one of the cat cafés
63. Szabó Ervin Library Reading Room
Even if you don’t have any intention to read a single line. You can visit the most beautiful rooms of the library on its 4th floor.
64. Creatures on the buildings
Naked women and men, dragons, chubby angels and other monsters look at you while you roam the streets of Budapest. Be sure to look back at them.
65. Hidden courtyards
Because of Christmas markets, steaming thermal waters, lots of sweets and great coffees, mulled wines and skating. And because its magical, dammit.
67. Watching pensioners playing chess sitting in the pool of Széchenyi Bath
… and wishing they leave the table regularly
68. Art Nouveau architecture
One of the architectural styles that can be adorned throughout Budapest. Best examples include: Gellért Hotel and Spa, Gresham Palace, Paris Department Store, Geological Institute
69. Street trees along Andrássy Avenue
70. Blooming cherry trees along Tóth Árpád promenade
… meaning the spring has finally arrived
71. Watching movies outdoors while the sun sets
Who doesn’t like the fusion of classic open-air cinemas, stylish rooftop bars and evergreen movie classics (and been eaten alive by mosquitoes)?
72. Summer concerts at Margaret Island
We make good use of the Island on hot summer nights for sure!
73. Finding nature where you wouldn't expect, like green plants in the cracks of walls
because “Life will not be contained. Life breaks free. It expands to new territories, crashes through barriers, painfully, maybe even dangerously.” Dr. Ian Malcolm
74. The diversity of residential architecture
Different buildings built in different eras standing right next to each other without competing.
75. "Arriving in Western Europe from the East, it is in Budapest where the traveler first feels the winds of the West. But traveling from the West, this is where one first feels the breath of the East.”
A quote from an unknown person who was right.
76. Eating in old, retro eateries
like Frici papa.
There is a running path around the riverbank of Margaret Island and also the promenades on both sides of the Danube are perfect running paths.
78. Superior tap water
Budapest’s tap water is tastier, cleaner than any water in other cities. There are also drinking taps on our fire hydrants so you can enjoy the refreshing water anytime.
79. Dog-friendly cafes
because nothing is better than chillin’ together with our best friend. Or if you are not lucky enough to have one – just like us – then with your friends’ best friends.
80. Running with our kite
… at the semi-secret park of Philosophers Garden
81. Getting lost in the inside labyrinth of Széchenyi Bath
– just remind yourself that you are a wandered not lost.
82. Koller Gallery
83. Palace Quarter
A hidden gem again. A decade ago this area was taboo for tourists; a slum with crime. Today it is one of the neighborhoods that I frequently recommend visiting. Renovated palaces, pedestrian streets, and cool cafés all around.
84. Király baths
Some of our baths were built during the Ottoman occupation. Király Bath is one of them. Its atmosphere is very different from the others that were built around the turn of the 20th century.
85. Memento park
86. Bartók Béla Boulevard
‘BBB’ has always been the cradle of poems and artist. Recently the area started to gain new life with cafés, art galleries popping up. Start your stroll at Feneketlen tó (Bottomless Lake) and walk all the way to Gellért Square.
When you are ready to leave us, Budapest has one more surprise for you. A theme park with airplanes. You can get inside, sit in the pilot’s chair and also you can hear the anecdotes of former staff of Malév, former Hungarian airline.
88. Children's railway
This railway, racing through the woods in Buda hills is actually managed by kids.
89. Contra Aquincum
Artifacts from the Roman times right in the middle of downtown, right under your feet. Have a look at the engraved patterns and quotes, too.
90. Mansfeld park
The park, named after Péter Mansfeld, one of the most tragic heroes of the Hungarian Revolution and Freedom Fight of 1956, is a perfect spot to relax and watch the city under us.
91. Tomb of Gül Baba
Buda was under Ottoman rules from 1541 and became the center of the newly established province. Within just a few decades it gained an eastern appearance. The chapel was built in 1543-48 and it is also the northernmost Islam sacred place.
(Mansfeld Park and the Tomb are very close to each other so it is a “two birds with one stone” thing.)
92. Sas-hegy Nature Reserve
Climbing this hill we are very close to the city center but also far from the buzz
93. Bullet hole marks on the buildings
Remnants of time we should not forget. During the nationwide revolution in 1956, the streets became fighting scenes. Lot of buildings such as the building of the Ministry of Agriculture bare the scars from that time and they are purposely not covered, some is on the contrary: the holes are marked, enhanced.
94. Caves of Buda
Several underground caves were formed by thermal waters. Szemlő-hegyi Cave and Pál-völgyi Cave are two examples and they can be visited anytime. Also, there is a hidden gem in the cave systems of Buda: the Hospital in the Rock Nuclear Bunker Museum
95. Drinking fresh, spring water
Healing water from the depths of the city can be drunk and available for purchase at the thermal baths and spring fountains.
96. Get soaked in beer
Yes, Széchenyi Bath has this strange and unique offer.
97. Budapest, the city of WTF
There is a Michael Jackson memorial tree in the city center, full of photos, drawings of him and Elvis Presley is an honorary citizen of Budapest.
At least he did something for us to gain this honor: after his performance of “Peace in the Valley”
on American television, he brought attention to our anti-Soviet Freedom Fight and Revolution in 1956. There is even a small park (with its playground) named after him.
98. Rubik cube
In Hungary, almost everyone has one or more. I am sure that Hungary has the largest amount of Rubik cubes per capita in the world. We have 3.
99. Castle Garden
A beautiful jewel at the foot of the Buda Palace. Great to relax and sunbathe a bit or have a bite into your sandwich
100. Sziget festival
One of the largest music festivals in the world, attracting thousands and thousands from all over the globe. Unfortunately, as it gained popularity, it became almost too expensive for Hungarian youngsters.
101. No building in Budapest is taller than 96 meters
The two tallest buildings in Budapest, the Hungarian Parliament and St. Stephen’s Basilica are both this height, and it is not coincidental: it symbolizes that government and religion has equal importance in Hungary. (Or at least, had.)
The number 96 represents the year when the Magyar tribes settled in the Carpathian Basin.
102. We have a statue that makes you a better writer
If you touch the pen of Anonymous in City Park, it will bless you with great writing abilities.
103. Our language is very difficult and tricky
It is said to be one of the most difficult languages to learn and English has more in common with Russian than Hungarian.