This is one of the most magical cities in Eastern Europe that has thrown open its doors to tourists. Budapest is a city that is a melange of history, culture, art, food and more. The people here are very friendly and speak fluent English that gives an opportunity to make some new friends as well. The Hungarian capital is a great place to explore on foot, so arm yourself with a good, comfortable pair of walking shoes. Here are some of the must-do things if you’re on a trip to the capital of Hungary.
This 235-metre hill overlooks the beautiful city of Budapest and is home to the Liberty Statue. The entry is free and the winding path up the hill gives you glorious views of the Danube and numerous important buildings in the city like the Parliament and Budapest Whale. The 14 m tall bronze Liberty Statue overlooks Buda and Pest and you can unwind at the top with a hot cuppa as well. It is the perfect place to click panoramic pics of the city.
Walk along the Danube
The Danube runs between Buda and Pest (pronounced Pesht) and you must walk along the banks to experience the city and its sights. Start off at the Parliament and come down to the Shoes On The Danube and walk alongside the river right down to the Budapest Whale. The leisurely walk crosses numerous monuments and also the famous bridges like Chain Bridge and Liberty Bridge that connect the two cities. Evening time is perfect for this leisurely walk.
Climb to the cupola at St. Stephen’s Basilica
This is the second largest church in Hungary and stands tall at 96 metres. But to experience the city, you must climb to the cupola at St. Stephen’s Basilica. The narrow, winding spiral staircase to the dome may seem claustrophobic but it’s worth it. Magnificent 360-degree views of the city from the cupola will leave you breathless. The cathedral, which took five decades from 1851 to build, has some beautiful architecture, stained glass windows, frescoes and mosaics.
Catch an opera or ballet performance
Music and art are entwined with the local heritage and culture and watching a musical or dance performance in Budapest is a must. There are Hungarian fold performances that most tourists go to but classical music and dance is a better and unforgettable experience in this city.
The Budapest Eye
Everyone knows the London Eye but Budapest also has a Budapest Eye. The ferris wheel ride is really fun – especially if you travelling with kids – and it’s a great way to catch a glimpse of the city as well. It’s open till 11 pm at night so taking a spin post 8 pm gives you great views of the city by night.
No other city in Europe has this unique facility – a chairlift! The chairlift in Budapest takes you between Zugliget and the lookout tower on János Hill in about 15 minutes. But its operation depends on weather conditions so don’t forget to check on that.
The Ruin Bars
Though called ‘Ruin Bars’, this is nothing as the name connotes. This is a cultural phenomenon unique to Budapest where old derelict buildings have been converted to pocket-friendly bars. These are great places to grab a quick beer or hang out with friends.
Afternoon tea at Café Gerbeaud
While people might talk about Goulash and Chicken Paprika as being famous Hungarian dishes, there are some desserts that you must have. And it’s Café Gerbeaud that you must head for this. Started in 1858, Café Gerbeaud is a confectionery and a café now which is known for its Gerbeaud Slice and Dobos Cake. You can also pack some macarons for later.
Feast on the Chimney Cake
During Christmas time, the markets are filled with stalls selling you fresh, hot ‘Kürtőskalács’ or chimney cake. The sugar and cinnamon coated funnel-like cake is a hot seller and there are often people lined up waiting to grab one. They can also be filled with chocolate or cream but eating them plain is delicious as well.
As the name suggests, this street is all about brands and fashion. The Deák Ferenc Street doesn’t just have shops for you to indulge in but also some lip-smacking eateries and cafes. You can just watch the world pass by as you relax and enjoy a delicious meal or drink here.