When you think of Europe, cities like London and Paris may come to mind. However, you are truly missing out on a hidden gem that is as fun as it is unique in Budapest, located in the country of Hungary.
While a “lack” of money has prevented the popular modernization machine to roll through the city and give it a makeover, the way it has recently glitzed up so many other cities on the continent. As a result, some buildings are run-down, plaster is peeling and roads are bumpy, but the beautiful reward for any traveler is a genuine city filled with real character.
1) Budapest’s Thermal Baths
Budapest sits on a massive collection of over 120 thermal hot springs, and “taking the waters” has been a part of the every day life for centuries. Which bath you decide on is a matter of taste and what exactly you’re looking for – be it a fun way to spend a morning, a pick-me-up for a hangover, or even relief for health related issues.
The layout of most of Budapest’s baths is similar: a series of indoor thermal pools, where temperatures will usually range from warm to hot, optional steam rooms and saunas, an ice-cold plunge pool and a few rooms for massages. A few even have outdoor pools with fountains, sprays and whirlpools. Being thermal, some are operational year-round.
Budapest even has a total of nine medicinal baths. While the water’s mineral content is similar, each bath has its own unique qualities in terms of architecture, number of pools, amenities, and crowds. Packs of tourists flock to the three most popular ones (Széchenyi, Gellért, and Rudas), which in turn is gradually driving locals away to quieter baths with lower admission fees. Do yourself a favor and follow the local’s lead. You’ll save some money and have a much more authentic experience.
2) A “Real” Walking Tour around Budapest
We know you want to make sure you get the best from your time in Budapest, that’s why when it comes to Budapest city tours you’re in the best hands to delve into our city and experience authentic local culture with with a walking tour. While this may sound like the pinnacle in tourist activity, there’s no better advantage than a walking tour in Budapest, because some of them are totally free.
Operating on tips given from travelers, get the best information from those who live there with their knowledge and passion, giving you an unbeatable tour experience, regardless of your budget. More than just walking tours, these young professional freelance Budapest tour guides give you an unrivaled local perspective to their city, culture, history and heritage while revealing the remarkable stories & legends, the social spots and fun oddities.
A Free Walking Tour will reveal the old stories of today’s beautiful streets and you’ll also get great insider local advise & recommendations on things to do and see in Budapest, and how to really embrace the fantastic atmosphere and vibrant nightlife like a local.
While you will definitely spend some time walking to get information, you can get insight on the best places to visit, ask questions related to the city, and have more information on what to do in the city than any review or google search could give you. Plus, you might even make friends with other travelers on the tour with you.
3) Great Market Hall of Budapest
Budapest’s Great Market Hall, also referred to as Central Market Hall or “Nagycsarnok” in Hungarian, is located on the Pest side of the Liberty Bridge in Fővám Square. The market’s success can be credited to its status as a multi-use destination for visitors. On the ground floor, airy stalls sell a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, famous Hungarian paprika, and other fresh and dried foods.
You can make plans for a guided tour of Great Market Hall to better navigate its stalls, food, and history. Open year-round and easily accessible by tram, bus, or metro, the market is an equally reliable venue for tourists to get a taste for the city’s culture as it is for locals to spend time with friends or pick up a forgotten ingredient on their way home from work.
When you visit the Great Market Hall, you’ll find three stories of stalls selling a variety of wares. On the busy ground level, there are lots of fruit and vegetable vendors. In the basement, there’s a supermarket, a number of fishmongers, and vendors selling game meat. On the upper floor, beautiful Hungarian arts and crafts are the most common fare and you’ll even find some fast food stands there as well.
4) The Chain Bridge
The Chain Bridge (Szechenyi Lanchid) is not only the icon of Budapest, it’s a national symbol that shows the city divided and connected by the river Danube. One of the most photographed attractions in Budapest, it’s quite often shot after sunset with the beautiful night lights of all the top Budapest attractions lit up along the river.
You can take in so much beauty of Budapest by standing on the Chain Bridge: the lights in the river, the sky over Budapest, the Hungarian Parliament, the Buda Castle, the Gresham Palace, churches and 19th century residential buildings.
Walk across the bridge with your camera or phone ready, and be sure to snap pictures as you see the beautiful skyline of the city!
5) Ruin Pubs
Ruin pubs, or “Romkocsma” as they’re called locally, are massive abandoned buildings that have been converted into bars and offbeat hangouts. These are old factories, abandoned department stores, and former apartment complexes that have all been converted into bars or clubs. Ruin pubs offer cheap drinks, mazes of rooms, street art, and communist relics.
Look for the classic signs of a ruin pub: furniture that doesn’t match, and is surely beyond its prime, art and collections of photos that some visitors have an annoying habit moving around, and in the summer, a garden to sit out in and catch the sun.
These are more than just bars; they represent the evolving culture and history of the city. While in Budapest, be sure to work the ruin pubs into your travel plans. They fit in easily with the nightlife of the city. If you have a bit too much fun in one, you can always head back to the thermal baths to heal up and get back to enjoying your vacation.
Budapest has to be at the top of anyone’s list who wants an authentic experience in a not-so-expensive city in Europe. With its rich history, local activities, and walkable nature, any traveler would be lucky to spend some time in this city. Contact out travel agent on more details about visiting the city, and find out just how easy it is!