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5 Best Ways to Discover the Real Budapest
July 16, 2020 | By: Matthew Williams
If you are looking for a fun weekend break or a short city break, then Budapest is a great option. It is a lively and fascinating city to explore with history galore, striking architecture, bath culture and a vibrant nightlife. Budapest gives you the choice to be on the go all day with plenty to explore or take the opportunity to relax in one of its historic baths and chill in one if its scenic green areas. You will not be at a loss for things to do in Budapest and below we will help you find some of the best!
#1 Join a Tour
One of the best ways to explore a city is with a local expert who knows it well and Budapest with its complex history and culture is no exception. For instance, did you know that Budapest only became a city in 1873. Before that there were two separate cities, Buda on one side of the Danube and Pest on the other. With local guide Andrea Makkay at Private Guide Budapest you can find out all about this period of the city’s history and much, much more. Andrea offers tours that are flexible and tailor-made to your interests, ensuring that you get to see the side of the city that most appeals to you. Tours are either offered on foot or by minibus, so cater for all abilities. You can also join one of her other tours that focus on specific areas of the city or its past, such as the Pest tour, Buda tour, Communist Past tour, Jewish tour and even a wine tour. Discover the stories behind some of Budapest’s best known and some little-known monuments and buildings, enjoy some of the city’s most scenic spots and encounter authentic Hungarian culture.
#2 Explore the Great Market Hall
Whether you are looking for a culinary adventure, the chance to marvel at some spectacular architecture or just some fun knickknacks to take home, make sure you pay a visit to the Great Market Hall. This cavernous building is home to a great selection of different stalls across three floors and is popular with locals and tourists alike. At the market you will encounter some traditional Hungarian produce, such as Tokaji Aszú, a local golden wine, pickles, fun pastries and several different varieties of the country’s favourite spice, paprika. Alongside the artisanal foods and drinks you will also discover some lovely hand-crafted souvenirs and the usual quirky tourist t-shirts and tea towels. It is a wonderful place to head for lunch or a snack, where you can mingle with the locals and get a taste of day to day life of the city.
#3 Check out the Ruin Bars
Budapest has become world renowned for its lively nightlife in some truly unique settings – ruin bars. Clustered around the Seventh District, the former Jewish District near the Great Synagogue, these atmospheric venues attract tourist and locals alike. Each ruin bar has its own vibe from high energy dance venues to more cosy and relaxed bars, but they are share a similar shabby-chique aesthetic. All these bars were created from dilapidated and abandoned buildings and retain their crumbling walls, exposed brickwork and graffiti in combination with quirky furniture, interesting artwork and atmospheric lighting. Some have unexpected courtyards open to the elements (great spots during the summer) and others have rooftop terraces where you can appreciate views of the city at night. If you are looking for a memorable night out, take a wander around the Seventh District and try out a few of the different bars. You can even try out one of several dedicated bar tours that also visit ruin bars outside the district. Some notable ones to visit are Gozsdu Udvar and Szimpla.
#4 Take a Cruise on the Danube
Splitting the city in two is the mighty Danube River, overlooked by the imposing Buda Castle on one side and the striking Parliament building on the other and crossed by picturesque bridges. A great way to see the city from a different perspective is to take a cruise on the river. There are plenty of different options to choose from with some simply offering a sightseeing cruise of a couple of hours and others offering you a hop-on-hop-off service. It also gives you the opportunity to explore a bit beyond the city centre and relax on the water as the sights go by. You can even combine the cruise with a wine tasting or opt for a dinner cruise to see the city lit up at night.
#5 Relax in the Baths
Due to the many natural hotsprings, Budapest is home to some fantastic thermal baths that make the perfect spot to relax after a day of sightseeing. There are a variety of different ones to choose from. If you are looking for elegance, then head to the Gellért Baths, which are located at the iconic Gellért Hotel. It offers thermal baths, spa rooms and even a wave pool! For a more traditional Turkish bath experience head to the Rudas Baths with its 500-year-old Turkish Ottoman dome. The main pool lies under the dome and there are also massage pools and hot tub on the roof with some unforgettable views of the city. Another option is the ever popular Széchenyi Thermal Baths, which is the largest medicinal bath complex in Europe. Hot spring waters fill 18 pools and are used for 10 saunas, so there is plenty of space! Whichever you choose, make sure to familiarise yourself with the different rules. At the Rudas Baths for example, during the week the baths are separated by gender and you cannot wear swimwear, whereas at Széchenyi all pools are for open to everyone and you must wear swimwear. Whichever you choose, you will have a relaxing and unique experience!
These ideas are just the tip of the iceberg, there are many more ways to explore beautiful Budapest, so start planning your trip to the Hungarian capital!
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