So You Want To Go To Budapest: Here’s What To See And Do

Culture and a buzzing bar scene. What more could you want?

Before I went to Budapest I had myself all geared up for a cultured weekend crammed full of sightseeing. I’d planned to take a boat trip down the Danube, to lounge in the city’s ancient baths and to maybe squeeze in a cocktail or two. Truthfully, I did do all of those things, but I also ended up drinking more than my fair share of gin. Thanks to its popularity with hen and stag dos and party-hard backpackers, the city has a thriving nightlife scene and it’s totally normal to not finish your night until 6am. Thankfully the city also offers plenty of respite from all the debauchery. Here’s what to see and do…

Where to stay

If you can live without home comforts for a couple of nights I’d fully recommend staying in a hostel. The city is super popular with interrailers, so you can’t beat the atmosphere of staying somewhere budget. We stayed in the Big Fish Hostel, which is ideally situated in the Jewish Quarter of the city.

What to do

Visit the ancient baths

If you’re suffering from a killer hangover this has to be one of the best ways to spend your day. Blast off the cobwebs at Rudas baths situated on the Buda side of the city. Spend the day flitting between the icy cold plunge pool and the 42 degree thermal bath before heading up onto the rooftop. There you can relax in the domed bath with stunning views of the city.

See the sights on the Danube

Another great option for the hungover or the travel weary is to take one of the many cruises that depart from the bank of the Danube. Sit back and relax while you take in the historic chain bridge, the Hungarian parliament building and the Gresham Palace. Grab yourself a beer from the on-boat bar while you’re at it.

Climb Gellert Hill

If Panoramic views of the city are what you’re after, then a climb to the top of Gellert Hill is a must. Take in the city’s own Statue of Liberty, visit the Citadel when you reach the top and then take a shot for Instagram from the viewpoint. Feeling lazy? Jump on board a sight seeing bus that’ll take you right to the top.

Do the city by night

The beauty of Budapest is that, even just having a wander, you’ll take in some of the city’s most stunning must-sees and it’s a great idea to take a jaunt around the place at night as well. Better yet, if you didn’t do a Danube river cruise by day, consider taking one of the evening tours to see the city in all it’s twinkling post-dusk glory.

Check out the ruin bars

10 years ago, instead of simply demolishing the ruined abandoned buildings that littered the city, the resourceful Hungarians found another use for them and converted them into bars. Today, these ruin bars retain many of their original features (think dilapidated stone walls and concrete floors) with the addition of disco balls, beer taps and quirky furniture. Szimpla Kert is the original ruin bar. Start your night there around midnight and end it just down the road in Fogaz. It stays open until 6am so, y’know, pace yourself.

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