Buda Fest

Budapest, country number one of mine and James' Eastern Europe trip and a place I’d highly recommend and go back to. Cheap beer, hammock chairs, awesome bars and amazing people. What’s not to love?

Budapest is a really pretty city, which reminded me of Prague in the way that it has the culture and look of Western Europe but cheap prices and slightly grungy feel of Eastern European. The city is fairly small, so it's really easy to get around and there is plenty to do for the culture vulture or the average drunken backpacker. Budapest has really grown in recent years to be ‘a must see city’ in Europe and is challenging the likes of other cities on the continent for popularity with worldwide backpackers as well as just Europeans.

Getting to Budapest is simple and accessible. The flight is about a 4 hour trip from the UK, or you can rail it from neighbouring cities. Our accommodation of choice was another pick from the trusty hostelworld.com, the Casa de la Musica. Easy to bus to from the airport and near to the main sights, plus a great place to meet fellow backpackers thanks to the hostel’s own bar in the courtyard which is surrounded by the rooms. The only downside is that the website stated it had a pool. Maybe my expectations are too high but I wouldn’t say a child’s paddling pool is exactly what I had in mind for a quick dip...

What to do?
You won’t be bored in Budapest. First sight to visit and the most popular attraction is the Szechenyi Baths. I didn’t visit any other baths to compare but these seemed the biggest and the number one suggestion by locals and backpackers alike. Around £12 for 4 hours gets you access to all of the baths. Expect make-out central in the open warm bath outside, and expect big burly Hungarians in the boiling hot baths inside... sexy… Word of warning, we went to the bath ‘party’ hosted on Saturday nights. Cutting a long story short we got our bag stolen due to a confusion with the lockers, but don’t let that put you off, just keep your valuables at home as well as your dignity as I got escorted from the men’s changing room twice due to language confusion (any excuse).

Not into baths with big sexy hairy Hungarian men? Then there is still plenty to do in Budapest. Try a free walking tour. We found 'Free Budapest Tours', they expect a few pounds for a tip, but it is worth it for a laid back introduction to city sights such as the Basilica of St Stephen, Castle Hill and Parliament. There are plenty more cultural buildings to visit and you could easily spend a week trawling around them all. We met a few guys who even took a trip to some local villages which looked beautiful, so if you do get bored of central Budapest (although unlikely to happen) then hop on a river boat and see the outskirts of the city.

Eat and drink?
Plenty of restaurants to eat like a Hungarian or a typical tourist. As a vegetarian I didn't try any of the famous goulash, but I heard it’s a must try. Towards the south of the city there is a huge food market which is worth wandering round. Drink-wise, you’re in heaven. For backpackers, head to the ruin bars. They are exactly what they say on the tin, bars that are in ‘ruined’ spots. Amongst the main streets in the city you’ll come across the hotspots of ‘Szimpla’ and ‘Instant’ which are bars left over from ruins of the war. Not sure if they are made to look this way or if they are actually still ‘ruined’ from the 1940's but either way, they're pretty cool and unique to Budapest. ‘Szimpla’ is just off the main street in the centre of Budapest, with hanging chairs from the ceiling, a variety of music, open decks and great cocktails. Drinks start from around £2, need I say more? ‘Instant’ is a similar bar except with hanging rabbits and deer on the ceiling… taxidermy of course, not just any old hung up dead rabbit. Apart from these two bars you’ll find cool places with hammock chairs, rooftop dance floors and generally cheap local beer.

Overall a must see city for Europe. It won’t stretch your budget but it will live up to 
expectations of European culture, and if it doesn’t then find some Hungarian beer and bathe in a Hungarian bath with some hairy locals.

By Becky on
About Budapest
Tagged with Hungary, Casa De La Musica, Szimpla, Instant, Europe and Hostelworld.Com