Budapest is a city full of historical and cultural heritage, architecture and thermal baths. A city which was once split in two (Buda and Pest) is now together and is comprised of the hilly Buda and flat Pest.
When Should I Go To Budapest?
May and June are when Budapest really starts to warm, with temperatures fluctuating between 15 - 24°C. There’s plenty going on, from spring festivals and outdoor concerts to the Danube Carnival, all before the busiest and hottest months. July and August is the time of year when the locals leave and the tourists flock to the city. There are more celebrations and festivals, though, so it depends how much you mind the crowds.
October is when the parks light on fire; autumn is a spectacular time of year in Budapest. You’ll most likely want to bring a coat but with fewer tourists and beautiful natural pockets of the city, this is a great time of year to visit.
Winter-lovers should visit in December, January and February. The Christmas markets are enough reason, but it’s also peak opera and theatre season in the new year. Plus, if you’re lucky enough to get a snowfall, Budapest is breathtaking under a white blanket.
Top 10 Things To Do
1. Relax at one of Budapest’s eleven famous thermal baths; the largest is called the Szechényi Bath, which has 15 indoor baths and 3 grand outdoor pools.
2. Spend the morning admiring Budapest’'s history and art at the Hungarian National Museum, the Budapest History Museum or the Hungarian National Gallery.
3. Have a coffee and try one of Budapest'’s local delicacies, dobos torte, at the oldest cafe in the city, Ruszwurm.
4. Visit one of the world’s most attractive streets, Váci Utica and see why it's famous for its cafes, beautiful buildings and fashionable stores.
5. Climb up Gellért Hill, which is situated in one of the most beautiful parks in the city. On the top of the hill is a lookout terrace with spectacular panoramic views.
6. Visit the Castle District of Buda and walk around Matthias Church, The Buda Royal Palace and enjoy one of the best views in the city from Fishermen’s Bastion or The Halászbástya.
7. Buy souvenirs at The Central Market Hall: there are stalls with fresh fruits, vegetables, meat and dairy as well as speciality Hungarian products.
8. Take a photograph in front of the St. Stephen’'s Basilica, a building dating back to 1905, its impressive 315ft (96m) black dome can be seen from all over the city.
9. Walk along the Danube river (which separates Buda and Pest), admire the beautiful bridges that connect the two halves of the city and stare in awe at the Castle district and the Hungarian Parliament building.
10. Although Budapest has so many stunning historical buildings and tourist attractions, the best way to experience Budapest is to take a walk around the city at night and experience the spectacle of the city's beautiful lights.
Delicacies in Budapest
1. Dobas Torta - A sponge cake layered with chocolate buttercream and topped with caramel, this delicious dessert can be found at Ruszwurm
2. Guluásleves - A goulash style soup filled with meat, vegetables and flavoured with paprika and other spices, this unique soup can be found at Belvárosi Disznótoros
3. Gundel Palacsinta - Pancakes stuffed with a sweet walnut paste filling and topped with chocolate rum sauce, this breakfast or dessert can be found at Dunacorso
If you want tips for the best places to eat, drink and hang out in Budapest, check out this blog by Whitney from the Blonde Atlas.
What Should I Know Before I Go?
- Know how to use the public transport
The buses and trams in Budapest are well worth using to get around because they’re so much cheaper than taxis and quicker than walking. Buy in advance to save money rather than buying on board. If you use the metro, make sure to validate your tickets otherwise you might have to pay a fine. Just find one of the orange machines in the station and slot your ticket in it. Wait until it beeps and you’re good to go!
- Don’t clink your beer or wine glasses
Up until 1999, there was a ban on this! Allegedly, Austrian generals clinked their beer glasses together in celebration when the 13 Martyrs of Arad (Hungarian rebel generals) were executed. The Hungarian people agreed not to cheers their glasses for 150 years after but some still find this offensive.
Did you know?
- The number 96 is significant in Hungary because
1) The Hungarian State officially began in 896 with the crowning of the first king of the Magyars.
2) No building in Budapest can be taller than 96 metres (which is 314.9ft). The two buildings in the city which reach this height are the Hungarian Parliament Building and St Stephen’s Basilica, representing the equal importance of religion and government.
3) The Hungarian national anthem, when sung at the right tempo, is 96 seconds long.
- Hungarians eat more than 500g of paprika powder per person, per year!
Want to explore Budapest for yourself? Head over to the marketplace to find the latest vacation deals.