Budapest mini guide

August 31, 2018

Budapest is one of those places that’s so much more than you’d expect. It is magical with historic architecture, full of gorgeous sights, buildings and parks and with a whole heap of spots that are too darn amazing to miss.

To be honest, the thing I love most about Budapest is how diverse it is and relaxed at the same time. It is the city with the soul and cool vibe, filled with incredible restaurants, ruin bars, coffee places and shopping streets. Not that I need to tell you what to do but when in doubt, here are my few suggestions what to do:

Take a swim in a thermal bath
Budapest is known for it's indoor and outdoor thermal baths. It was hard to decide which one to visit but in the end we choose the Széchenyi Baths. The water is so hot that you can visit them all year round, even in the snow (so next time I will have to come here in January). Each room is different but gorgeous with pools and saunas.

Venture inside a ruin bar
Be sure to have a proper night out in town. The city is known for its ruin pubs, which are essentially abandoned buildings that have been renovated into bars and clubs. Most of them have affordable drinks, eclectic interiors and walls of street art. Hint: I highly recommend you to try traditional Pálinka, the authentic Hungarian drink.

Eat Gelarto Rosa
I was sceptic at first about ice cream that is just beautiful but looks tasteless. I was completely wrong. Gelarto Rosa is an Instagram-worthy rose-shaped gelato and it is delicious. Everything is handmade, organic ingredients give you that guilt-free indulgence. Hint: Be sure to snap a picture before taking a bite out of the beautiful rose creation.

Visit one of Budapest's top attractions, the Fisherman's Bastion
If you visit Budapest you have to check it out. It is like visiting Paris and skipping the Eifell tower altogether. The Bastion was built in the 19th century as an observatory with fairytale-like towers. It's the perfect place to begin your exploration of the city with an incredible view, including the Danube River and Parlament. In front of the Fisherman's Bastion is Matthias Church which is also well worthy of visiting. Hint: Nearby is a great Hungarian restaurant called Pest-Buda Bistro.

Venture on a hike all the way up to Gellért Hill
Aside from its breathtaking views the rocky hillside holds historical significance for the city and is now under UNESCO world heritage. The best way to experience the area is by foot. You can get there by bus but at least you can walk down. Follow steep stairs down by the statues and a winding path that leads to the Gellért Hotel. Hint: You can bring some wine and snacks and just relax and enjoy the view.

Don’t miss the Synagogue
It is the biggest one in Europe and it has a very peculiar structure whose design was inspired by Christian churches with an interior decorated by frescoes in geometric patterns with Moorish inspirations. When you buy the ticket they offer you "free" guided tour. We took it and that was a great decision. The guide was funny and very informative about historical facts.

Eat some local street food
Everywhere you go around the city this nice smell follows you and you feel the need to eat all the time. I'm talking about the Kürtőskalács. It looks like a chimney cake made from sweet yeast which is spun and wrapped around a truncated cone-shaped baking spit and rolled in granulated sugar. They eat it warm and it is so delicious. When you are hungry, perhaps after a few drinks in the evening you must also try Lángos, which is fried bread dough often served with sour cream, garlic and cheese. We also tried delicious Kolbice, grilled Kolbász sausages all in cone-shaped bread.

Take time for history
In the caverns, under Buda Castle, you can find the Hospital in the rocks. Tour takes about 1 hour in English but after it you feel very knowledgeable about the Hungarian history during I, II and the Cold War. It’s one of those places that really give you a good insight into history. Amazing stories of brave doctors and nurses working in such hard conditions. Our tour guide was brilliant and really brought it to life with the help of well-done displays. The part where it was demonstrated how refuges found shelter against atomic attack and the displays from Hiroshima were both thought-provoking. I would really recommend to see it.

Places to brunch:

Szimply is a tiny breakfast-all-day restaurant in the cobble-stoned courtyard and it has become our favourite place. I still dream about this place, it was that good. They use fresh local ingredients and the dishes are everything you’d want to eat. The menu is changing every month and each dish is a result of testing to find the perfect match of ingredients they want to present, so they don't make variations of dishes. Coffee is delivered from Kontakt, a special coffee shop located just across the alley and run by the same owners. I highly recommend ordering a savoury and sweet dish, because is so good that you must try multiples.

A little fancier but classical with the inspirational atmosphere. The food is an interesting combination of trendy international staples and Hungarian culinary essentials. I ordered french toast with cinnamon cream and it was so good. Also, homemade granola was fresh and really tasty. We also enjoyed the quality of the coffee.

Budapest Baristas
A simple little breakfast spot with tasty and simple dishes. The inside was so cute with big windows looking down the street and a cosy balcony where there are small tables for couples. We tied some bagels and pancakes and I must say that everything was delicious, perfect for starting the day.

London Coffee Society
The little brunch place has such a good vibe with lots of attention to details to keep the environment juvenile and British. Breakfast was delicious I had smashed avocado with poached eggs and homemade cake. Yum.

Best place for coffee:

Coffee shop with amazing and delicious coffee. The interior is radically minimalist and their policy is not to add any sugar to the coffees nor any milk to the drip coffees. Hint: If you're looking to eat something check Szimply.

Madal Cafe
They make excellent coffee (espresso-based, filter, and cold brews), have a friendly staff and sleek wood interiors. A selection of delicious cakes and pastries can accompany your coffee.

Where to eat:

Getto Gulyas
This place is a fantastic little gem in the Jewish Quarter with the pretty nice decor with everyday dining destinations, specializing in stews using old recipes and ordinary regional ingredients. Here we found the homiest and authentic Hungarian flavours: paprikash, homemade bread, cracklings, onions ... The design is surprising and different, the walls are covered with corrugated-metal sheets creating a nice contrast with the wooden vintage furniture.

The walls of this place on the corner of Madách Square are all huge windows. It has a simple and cosy design with a cool, young and casual vibe. The menu is brief but the quality of food and the way our dishes were cooked were incredible. The meals were very creative and unique but also taste divine. We also have to thank to the staff for making our afternoon perfect.

Pest-Buda Bistro
This is a great place to stop and try the traditional Hungarian food with the modern twist provided by high-quality ingredients. We tried goulash and stuffed cabbage that was totally worth the stop. The staff were all warm, friendly and welcoming, And I’m not joking when I say that they had some of the best pastries I’ve ever tasted. The bistro is close to one of the most popular attractions the Fisherman's Bastion.

Hadik Café
Hadik Café is a real Hungarian institution. Established over 100 years ago it has been the frequent place of famous Hungarian writers. The interior is full of period pieces of furniture which add appealing decorations and lively atmosphere. We enjoyed an amazingly tasty food with a nice presentation. I got to try its homemade lemonades which were very tasty.

Mazel Tov
Mazel Tov is one of the upscale ruins bar, an open-hearted cultural space in the city's centre in the middle of the historically Jewish quarter. The cuisine is Middle Eastern which means they have a lot of hummus, falafel and couscous and a selection of food in a pita and a lot of salads. All the interior decoration in Mazel Tov is well thought out which gives a very trendy and cool vibe. I found the interior very Instagram friendly.

These are my suggestions, in the comments below you can leave me your best places in Budapest because I'm definitely going back.

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