A Berliner might be interested in visiting nearby abroad destinations, which are in a close proximity to the German capital. As Budapest, the heart of Hungarian Republic is quite reachable for the weekend, I would like to share what one can do in Budapest.
We still intend on posting a separate article about the main tourist attractions in Budapest, but we consider that you might be interested in some activities that are not that popular among the tourists (however you may encounter some on the way).
Get prepared to get an impression about a saturated and fast-pacing day in the Hungarian capital.
Great Market Hall in Budapest is the largest and oldest indoor market in Budapest, the construction of which finished in 1896. The building in completed in neo gothic style and is located at the end of the famous pedestrian shopping street Váci utca and close to Liberty Bridge at Fővám square. The area of the building is 10 000 sq. meters and the stalls are located in the basement (mostly butcher shops, fishmonger’s stalls), ground floor (meat, pastries, spirits, spices) and second floor with mostly souvenirs.
The market is operating from 6 a.m. till 3 p.m. on Saturday, 6 p.m. (Tuesday-Friday), 5 p.m. on Monday and is closed on Sunday.
A lot of cities are now adopting the tradition of setting up a food market. You can find some food stalls pretty much everywhere in the city; the Hungarian food is a separate topic which one should digest properly. We encountered a small pavilion in the Jewish quarter, where the famous langosh snacks were served. Hungarians are famous for their langosh – deep-fried pizza-like dough with a traditional filling of garlic, sour creme and cheese. Goulash – a stew with meat, paprika and vegetables and a wide variety of pastries. Kürtőskalács – a pastry with has a spiral form and wrapped on a wooden rolling pin to be backed; afterwards is being rolled in granulated sugar or other sweet things. (Beware that the average price for it is 300 HUF, however in the centre one may find mostly for 1000 HUF)
Mingling with the crowd
On 15th of March Hungarians were celebrating their National Day – Memorial Day of the 1848 Revolution. On this day brave Hungarians started a revolution to counter Austrian Empire and become an independent country. People wear a cockade with the national colors (red, white and green) and speeches and parades are usually being held on this day. This day did not pass without the protests and demands to the Hungarian current authorities, however most of the Hungarians believe it is not the day to kindle political debates.
Wandering Heroes Square and Vajdahunyad castle
One can take a long walk to the Heroes square and a great City Park by which it is surrounded from behind. The square hosts the Museum of Fine Arts and the Műcsarnok (Hall of art of Budapest). The square has a significant meaning in Hungarian history.
One of the landmarks in the City Park is Vajdahunyad castle, which now however houses a Museum of Hungarian Agriculture. The beautiful surrounding will enable you to go for a lovely walk, have a snack and relax under sun rays at the bench in a park and feed lovely ducks and seagulls.
Biking to Margit Island
Just on leaving the Heroes square one can find a bike renting station. The price for a day is approximately 2500 HUF, with a deposit of 25 000 HUF which would be blocked on your credit card for one bike. The city has all the preconditions for safely biking and separated bike lanes, so we highly advice to take a ride in the city.
Photo credit/bebudapest.hu blog
The Margit Island is a beautiful piece of land located on the Danube river. It is great place of all kind of activities. Some ruins for kids to play hide-and-seek, football fields, a chapel, a big water pumping tower on which one supposedly can get atop and vast place for jogging or riding a bike or just having a picnic.
As a highlight a park has a small zoo, which is almost always wide open to the visitors. It hosts deer, ponies, a variety of ducks and chicken, as well as some other bigger poultry. A great place to take a kid with you and let them feed the ducklings.
Visiting stalls with traditional Hungarian products
The Hungarians are excellent craftsmen for practically everything. Some stalls with traditional goods were demonstrated in the city centre. One could choose from wide variety of porcelain, wooden wares, sweets, leather wares, chocolate, pepper, and of course, traditional food and drinks. We shall get to the drinks a bit more later.
Pubbing in Budapest
Budapest offers a great opportunity for admirers of alcoholic beverages. It is not only about good Hungarian beer, but also is about special tinctures that are produced only in Hungary. Let’s have a short introduction to this. Palinka – is a traditional fruit brandy that can be produced from practically any sweet fruit – strawberry, plum, peach, apricot, apple, cherries. The alcohol content is ranging from 40 to 70 percent Alcohol By Volume.
The bars which are recommendable in Budapest:
The bar that is rapidly becoming a tourist attraction and serves relatively cheap drinks due to its poor interior is a Szimpla bar in the Jewish quarter. One can kick back in a bathtub seat and it is hard to find a pair of the same chair there. There is always something going on there and the best time is definitely to go there in the evening to be enchanted by its atmosphere. One’s again, the folks from Free Walking Tour Budapest
are carrying a pub tour on 8/00 p.m. and they can take you there.
Another interesting place to hit is a Ellato Kert & Taqueria bar. The owner is a Mexican guy, who according to our guide spends half of year here and half of year in Mexico. Great drinks and cocktails with a drip of Mexican passion are awaiting for you there.
A vast space, dimmed lights create more cozy and intimate atmosphere. Finish your evening with a fancy Piña colada over a friendly chat.
Budapest – the city of thermal bathing
The city is famous for its thermal bathing. Budapest indeed has a lot of spots to do some bathing, but one small detail that tourist might not know is that some of baths are operating at night. Cut yourself a slack and relax in a thermal pool with 42 °C, or visit sauna or a steam chamber.
One of the biggest baths are probably Szechenyi Spa with a total surface of the spa of 2 711 square meters. As for us, we visited one of the oldest Turkish baths in the city, which were constructed in the 16th century, during the Turkish occupation.
Rudas baths offer 5 thermal water indoor pools which are located under the old dome with a temperature ranging from 28 °C to 42 °C. They also have a steam chamber, sauna and a big swimming pool. Night bathing is available from 10 p.m. till 4 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
So, we tried to guide you though the activities one can do in the Hungarian capital. Make sure you take the most of that city can offer to you.
In next article we shall cover more about the traditional places of interest, stay tuned!