Budapest perfectly incarnates the merging between eastern and western Europe. While some parts of the city are slightly reminiscent of Europe’s most visited cities, such as Paris and Rome, some others have maintained the original eastern spirit in which the country of Hungary is embedded. By visiting Budapest you’ll admire some of Europe’s finest Catholic and Jewish temples, you’ll enjoy authentic gypsy music while savoring the local food and drinks and you’ll behold a magnificent view: that of the Danube separating, or rather joining, the cities of Buda and Pest.
An artistic heritage worthy of a major European capital
One of Budapest’s main attractions is its architecture. The economic power that the city has enjoyed throughout its history is reflected onto its buildings. It’s hard to choose between the Hungarian Parliament, a neo-gothic jewel that sits next to the Danube and can be photographed from the fishermen’s bastion; the Synagogue, the second largest in the world after New York’s, and with a jaw-dropping interior decoration; the Basilica, with its magnificent dome, under which the nation’s most significative relics are preciously exhibited or the Mathias Church, located at the top of the Castle Hill, where you can contemplate arguably Budapest’s most stunning views. The Nagycsarnok, the Big Market; the bucolic Gellért hill; the green and sport-friendly Margaret Island and every one of the bridges that cross the Danube are also spots that shouldn’t be missed.
Try the tasty and filling Hungarian cuisine
One of Budapest’s main attractions is the Nagycsarnok, the Big Market, which gets filled daily with tourists and locals alike who look for the freshest ingredients and dishes. Hungarian cuisine is widely considered the most interesting cuisine in eastern Europe. Regardless of the season you choose to visit Budapest, you’re likely to start every one of your meals with some leves, or soup. The most famous soup is the gulyásleves, known everywhere else as “goulash”, a dense soup made of beef, onion, potatoes and Hungary’s favorite ingredient: paprika, which gives it its particular red color and slightly spicy flavor.
Hungarians say that a meal is not complete without a shot of pálinka, the local spirit, a drink that can be made out of different fruits and with a high alcoholic volume: it usually exceeds 40%. Although most tourists can’t handle more than a couple of shots, it is mandatory to try pálinka at least once, especially if you’re eating with a local at literally any restaurant. If you’re more into softer drinks, trying the local beer is a must. You should known that beer is ordered either by a pohár (which is 0,3 l, or 10 fl oz) or a korsó (which is 0,5 l, or 17 fl oz). Both the food and drinks are very cheap in Budapest compared to other European capitals and you can have a filling meal and drinks for less than 10 EUR (11 USD). These low prices are one of the main reasons why so many people come to visit Budapest.
Let the Budapest music scene blow your mind!
Hungary has been home to a big gypsy community for a lot of years and gypsy music, usually performed by virtuosi violinists and cymbalists, is considered to be the national musical style. Gypsy music is usually played in local restaurants while the clients eat. If you’re keen on this kind of music you should spend at least an afternoon in one of these restaurants listening to this hypnotizing music while drinking some beer (or, if you wanna go all out, some pálinka). Budapest is doubtlessly the eastern Europe nightlife capital. The city is filled with enormous clubs where you can listen to local and international DJs, underground bars where rock bands will make you dance until you can’t take it any more and crowded pubs where you’ll be astonished by the talent of Hungarian’s youngest jazz performers. If you are just looking for a quiet place to have some drinks and talk with locals and tourists alike, the ruin pubs are what you’re looking for. Some 10 years ago, a bunch of Budapest natives decided to turn old and abandoned buildings into bars and pubs. Most of them are open all year round, some providing huge outdoor terraces and live music, which make them the perfect spot during summertime.
Relax in any of Budapest’s multiple thermal baths
Budapest is built on top of over 100 thermal springs, where hot water emanates to the surface, and going to have a bath is almost a tradition here. There’s a lot of different options regarding where to go for a bath; you can find thermal baths that were built when the Turks dominated over Hungary, way back in the sixteenth century, others are Art Nouveau jewels and, of course, you can also find more modern establishments where you can even watch films at certain times of the month. Maybe the most well known of them all are the Rudas baths and the Gellért baths, but all of them provide the perfect counterpoint to an exhausting day walking around the city.
Budapest, a great destination all day long!
Overall, Budapest has everything you could ever want from a city: a stunning architectural heritage, some of Europe’s most tasty dishes and drinks, as well as a wide range of clubs and pubs, all seasoned with the local music that will stay in your mind for weeks after you’ve left the city. It is no wonder that Budapest has been called “the eastern Paris”, but Budapest doesn’t need any Paris to compare itself to: it is a truly wonderful city in its own right.
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