Budapest? A major city in Central Europe, but also typical and unique experiences to live in the Hungarian capital. From goulash to ruin pubs, including the famous baths, here are some ideas for activities for a stay 100% made in Budapest, and nowhere else!
Read also our idea for a weekend Three days in Budapest
Relax in a bath
One of the musts of any stay in Budapest, the Hungarian capital, but also thermal. Summer or winter, you can take a bath in one of the 123 hot springs of hot water between 21 and 78 ° C, rich in minerals (magnesium, calcium, sodium…) and with therapeutic virtues. A tradition that dates back to Ottoman times, although some sources were discovered by the Romans.
No need to register for a thalassotherapy stay, the baths are open to everyone, every day and at a relatively low price (on average 2000-6000 forints, or € 7-20). They are places of relaxation and socialization, more than treatment centers. People come here to rest after a hard day, chat with friends, or even play chess, like the famous Szechenyi baths. Most are mixed (swimsuit compulsory and swimming cap), while some, like the Rudas baths, have non-mixed time slots (swimsuit unnecessary).
Equipment varies by establishment. In general, there are indoor or outdoor thermal pools, at varying temperatures, but also hammams, saunas and massage rooms. Several service options are possible and the prices are clearly indicated at the entrance. We advise you to bring a towel to dry yourself off (expensive rental).
Some establishments stand out for their sumptuous decor, such as the Gellért baths (in Buda), a masterpiece of Art Nouveau architecture from the beginning of the 20th century. Built at the same time, the Szechenyi baths (Pest) evoke a neo-Renaissance palace, with no less than a dozen thermal baths and a large outdoor swimming pool where you can splash around in winter in water at 38 ° C!
Another remarkable establishment, the Rudas baths (Buda), built in the 16th century, have retained their Ottoman architecture, with their octagonal basin under a dome-shaped dome pierced with oculi. In the same vein, the Kiraly baths (Buda) are reminiscent of Turkish baths, but they are rather dated (and less frequented by tourists).
Ruin pubs and sparties, until the end of the night
Söröző (beer bars) et borozó (wine bars) for local color, Trendy pubs or bars with contemporary design, open-air Biergarten-type bar in fine weather, musical bars, café-concerts, jazz clubs and clubs… Budapest is a festive city. The local nightlife, which draws young (and not so young) from all over Europe, is, in itself, a great reason to fly to the Hungarian capital.
Budapest owes its (good) reputation in particular to ruin pubs, which are the nightlife hotspots, mostly concentrated in the Jewish quarter (6th arrdt). Kinds of bar-squats that have grown in old disused warehouses, buildings from the Communist era, even courtyards of buildings (the kerts). Destroyed and alternative atmosphere on all floors, between trendy Berlin-style decadence and Erasmus relaxation. The ruins pubs are famous for their crazy decoration made up of a bric-a-brac of the most diverse objects of recovery.
Au Szimpla-kert (Kazinczy u.), We take, for example, a drink at a table at an old Trabant; to theAnker't (Paulay Ede u. 33), you can literally dance among the ruins of facades with gutted walls and in dilapidated rooms. There are about twenty ruin pubs in Budapest, where you can have a drink, listen to a live concert or dance to the sound of DJs. More info on http://ruinpubs.com/
Another typical nighttime experience is the Sparties, techno evenings that take place in the baths, where people dance in swimsuits all night long. Those of the Széchenyi baths are the most popular!
Architectural walks of all kinds
Much of Budapest was built at the turn of the 20th century (especially on the Pest side), following the Haussmannian model, in order to glorify the Hungarian identity. In 1896, the capital celebrated the millennium of the arrival of the Magyars with great pomp: it is from this period that, among other things, the imposing St. Stephen's Basilica Heroes Square and the superb Parlement, which evokes both Westminster and a Venetian palace.
Nicknamed the "Paris of the East", Budapest has an architectural heritage of breathtaking richness, but also of the most diverse. Mixture of various influences, this metropolis between East and West resembles a living conservatory of all the styles of Europe: the baroque in the streets of Buddha, the neoclassical in the administrative district of Belvaros, but also the Bauhaus or Art Nouveau, with the splendid Gresham Palace or the daring edifices of Odön Lechner (the Hungarian Gaudí) like the old one Savings Bank or Decorative Arts Museum. The tram line n ° 2 which runs along the Danube on the Pest side allows, for example, to have a good overview of the architectural diversity of the two banks of the river, without getting too tired.
Sort of Hungarian Champs-Élysées, Andrassy Avenue, lined with splendid 19th and 20th century mansions, is even listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site for the richness of its architectural heritage, with the Buda Castle district and the banks of the Danube. Nearby, the Jewish quarter also presents a concentrate of architecture from the end of the 19C, all styles combined, even if some buildings are dilapidated. Of Byzantine inspiration, the superb Great Synagogue is the 2nd largest in the world in terms of surface area.
In a completely different genre - much less attractive - Budapest has preserved vestiges of collectivist architecture from the Soviet era, notably in the Obuda district (3rd stop). Fans of history may appreciate ... Fans of contemporary architecture, for their part, will have nothing to eat, except for cultural centers Balna et Müpa, south of Pest.
Despite a difficult context, Budapest is demonstrating cultural dynamism, with many festivals, particularly devoted to music. The homeland of Bela Bartok, Georg Solti and Frantz Liszt is also well equipped with concert halls and musical venues.
THEBudapest Opera House, located on Andrassy Avenue, puts on display throughout the year lyrical shows and classical ballets (break in August) at lower prices than in Paris (tickets 500-15 forints, i.e. 000-1,5 €).
Other high places of music, the modern Müpa Palace of Arts (9e arrdt), which programs concerts of classical, contemporary and pop music, or Millenaris cultural space, Buda side (Kis Rokus u. 20). For its part, the Transformer (Lilion u. 41), in the 8th arrdt, is the reference room for ballets and contemporary dance. Finally, for blues or jazz, head for the Budapest Jazz Club (Hollán Ernő u. 7, 13th judgment) or Opus Jazz Club (Matys u. 8, 7th judgment).
Budapest also has several festivals for music lovers. Among the most important:
- the Spring Festival (in April) with a rich program of concerts, ballets, operas, operettas;
- the summer festival (July-August) on Margit Island;
- the Café Budapest contemporary arts festival (in October) with a daring and original program, mixing classics and current creations;
- and, of course, the unmissable Sziget (August) which brings together tens of thousands of young people on the island of Obuda for a kind of Woodstock on the Danube bringing together big names in pop music.
Taste Hungarian cuisine
A stay in Budapest allows you to learn about Hungarian gastronomy, a tasty and hearty cuisine, where paprika plays a major role. The city is full of restaurants, often cheaper than in Western Europe, which are generally served at any time of the day.
The portions are often generous, especially in popular restaurants. At noon, you can even have lunch, in some restaurants, for 1 forints (€ 000): who says better? As for the more chic establishments, they gladly present revisited Hungarian culinary classics, with original or fusion touches.
So now is the time to discover that the goulash is a soup made from meat, vegetables and paprika. A delicious prelude to other Hungarian specialties like the traditional pörkölt (meat stew with paprika and sour cream) accompanied by small gnocchi (galuskas), They Hortobagyi pancakes with mushrooms and meat, chicken with paprika, foie gras pan-fried, Budapest-style beef (with foie gras), duck, game or carp and pike-perch from Lake Balaton. And, finally, the famous Gundel pancake (a delight!) or a cottage cheese cake. What to perk up after a good walk!
Hungary is also a wine producer, to discover during a break in a borozo (wine bar), the most famous and the most expensive being the Tokaj, a dry or syrupy white with Sauternes accents. TheEger, the wines of Villány and Balaton are also famous.
Finally, a new trend in Budapest, New York-style coffee shops opened in the center of Pest. You can drink all kinds of coffees, lattes and teas, accompanied by muffins and other cheese-cakes in a designer decor. As for lovers of very old European pastries, they will not fail to take a look at Gerbeaud (Vörösmarty ter, 7-8), one of the institutions of its kind in Pest!
Hungarian Tourist Board
Official Budapest Tourism Site
How to get there ?
Direct flights Paris-Budapest with Air France, EasyJet, Transavia (Orly). Nice-Budapest with WizzAir and Lyon-Budapest with EasyJet. Find your plane ticket.
See the addresses in our ideal Three days in Budapest
Start your journey with music, listen to our Budapest Backpacker playlist.