For years travellers of all ages have been going to the same European destinations such as Barcelona, Paris, Amsterdam and Rome. These cities have treated us well over the years with consistent sunshine, sights and vast culture. But it seems these hot spots need to move over because Budapest has just been appointed the new sheriff in town.
With many travellers opting out of popular destinations, cities all over Europe are shaking in their boots at the mention of their new rival.
So what does Budapest have to offer? Here are 10 reasons why Budapest should be top of your travel plans this year.
1. It’s super affordable!
Budapest is one of the more affordable spots in Europe at the moment. The currency, Hungary Forint, will probably never be understood by any non-Hungarian person but one thing that can be understood is that EVERYTHING is cheap. Where else can you get a whole pizza for €3 (1000HUF) and a pint of beer for €1 (360HUF)?
2. Seeing the famous sights won’t cost a thing
No matter who you are or your circumstances, making the most out of the city is well within your reach, because all the must-see tourist locations in Budapest are free. Walking along the Danube River, marvelling at Budapest Castle and looking over the city from the Fisherman’s Bastion are just a few of the city’s main attractions you can enjoy without forking out a cent!
3. Oozing with history Budapest has a story to tell for anyone that’s willing to listen
Great news for history buffs too as Budapest is a historian’s playground. The city is practically an open air museum rich in culture and history. Whilst walking along the Danube be sure to spot Shoes on the Danube sculptures. Each sculpted shoe pays tribute to Hungarian Jews who were killed at the hands of Hungary’s notorious fascist Arrow Cross Party. Make sure you spot the Hungarian Parliament building. Being the third largest parliament building in the world it’s hard to miss. Continue filling your culture needs by walking along the Szechenyi Chain Bridge which was the first permanent bridge to connect the Buda and Pest sides of Budapest. An old legend states the Golden Lion’s don’t have tongues – can you spot them?
4. Budapest has earned its title as a food capital
After soaking in all that culture and history, you’re probably going to need a drink and something to eat. You’re in luck, The Great Market Hall, one of the oldest and largest indoor markets in Budapest (Hungarian “Nagyvásárcsarnok”) has an impressive three floors full of food. Some of the must-try Hungarian dishes include goulash soup, stuffed cabbage, Lángos (fried bread) and of course Palinka (fruit brandy).
5. And then there’s Hungarian wine…..
No question about it, Hungary’s wine scene is coming into it’s own and while in Budapest, you should make time to visit Faust Wine Cellar, a historic wine cellar located in the vast labyrinth system winding beneath Buda Castle. This is the place to be if you’re looking to sample wines from 22 of the country’s best wine growing regions, some of which include Szekszárd, and Villány in southern Hungary, Eger and Tokaj in North Hungary. Here is also where you’ll get to try the aforementioned traditional fruit brandies, aka Palinka.
6. You get to party in ruin bars!
In true holiday mode one drink at dinner probably isn’t enough. As if the city couldn’t get any cooler, Budapest is the home of the ‘ruin bar’. Ruin bars are essentially decayed buildings that have been revamped into beautiful cheap bars. If you’re thinking of checking them out, Szimpler, (known to be Budapest’s most popular ruin bar) Mazel Tov and Fogas Ház are a just a few of the best places to start.
7. The city has the coolest hangover cure yet
One drink turned into two and two drinks turned into five… and now its 10 am and you’re in need of a cure. Being a mainland city unfortunately does mean that Budapest does not have a beach. However, what Budapest does lack in sand the city does make up in water. Budapest has more hot springs than any other capital in the world. Is there a better cure for that hangover than taking a dip in Szechenyi thermal baths?
8. There’s always an exciting festival to attend all year round
Regardless of when you choose to visit Budapest there’s always something happening year-round on the city’s festival circuit. There’s the Mangalica Festival in February, the Budapest Spring Festival in April and Sziget Festival in the summer, the 7th largest music festival in the world which draws over 400,000 people! Whatever your choice of entertainment, you’re bound to find something to your linking in Budapest.
9. Easy to navigate
Transport in and around the city is convenient. The easiest way to get around is by metro but taxi’s and hop on hop off buses are very cheap. Of course, if you’re looking to see the city Budapest style, you can always opt to take the Budapest trams which are equal parts affordable and efficient. If you’d like an almost free tour of the city, hop on to Tram #2, which goes almost everywhere along the Danue, offering breathtaking views of the city.
10. There’s no bad time to visit
Trust when we say the weather in Budapest is never boring! It has all the wonders of the four seasons without veering towards any extreme. Since the country lies in the Carpathian Basin, it is protected by mountains and though Budapest can get hot in the summers, it is never unbearable! That being said, most visitors to the country favour the months of March through May (spring) and September to October (autumn) as that’s when the weather is mild and the city isn’t overrun with tourists.