I Recommend: Budapest.

The second instalment of my Budapest review, this is basically going to be a list of the cool places I found in Hungary. Let the jealousy within bubble up until you eventually just book tickets for yourself and go and see what all the damn fuss is about.

Szimpla Bar.

A trip to Budapest would not be complete without this place. It’s like a little wonderland- with bicycles hanging from the ceilings, old bath tubs for chairs, a flurry of different languages surrounding you in both the patrons chatter and the imaginative graffiti. These “Ruin Pubs” are often temporary affairs, but Szimpla has become so embedded in the hearts of travellers and locals that it’s practically become a rite of passage visiting the place for the first time. Prices are fairly cheap, the atmosphere is incredible. The artworks and ambience will keep you discovering new and priceless oddities every time you get lost and end up in a completely separate but equally enchanting area of the shabbily cool pub.

                                                      Castro Bisztro
A little rough round the edges, this is the best place to eat in the capital. Tucked away just off a main road, with the world’s most bizarre playlist to compliment your food. Go for the Spanish Chickpea thing, and just about anything else. You’ll be dining with a bunch of hipsters on Macs, possibly a family, a handful of other tourists, dozens of locals and at least one pet dog. The wine is sweet, and the beer is cheap. If you had to eat at only one place in all your stay, make it here. Four courses and four drinks rocks in at under £20, leaving plenty of small change for Szimpla Bar later on.

Szchenyi Baths

Beats Failsworth Swimming Pool, right?

On a walking tour, the guides recommended Szchenyi and one other baths in Budapest. Deciding between the two was fairly simple, seeing as the other was primarily a nude swimming baths- and the almost complete lack of Hungarian studs & a burning desire to hold onto our dignity- had us walking in the opposite direction to City Park, where Szchenyi lodges. After getting lost and walking in on several old ladies getting changed, we eventually found the gem of this place; the stunning outdoor pool. A little like a holiday resort in any Spanish town you care to think of, but much less tacky, we set up camp here for hours. The water is naturally heated and apparently is very healing, so we had a good old gossip in the pool while people watching and rating the swimwear choices of other pool dwellers. The whirlpool was dramatic (we slammed into oldies and created a bit of a scene more than once), the sauna had me feeling like I was going to die a horribly humid death, and we watched old men playing chess while sat in the coldest baths. One of the best day trips we did all week, easy.

House of Terror
Although significantly less cheerful and carefree as the rest of the places we visited, this is the best museum we graced while in Hungary. The building used to play host to Hungarian Nazis and later the Communists, and has an ugly and unfortunate history. Exhibits included harrowing videos of Hungarians who survived   the era recounting the horrors of these reigns, exhaustive information on how the two dictatorships influenced every area of life, from education to farming, and a chilling walk through the old chambers which housed victims of torture and execution. Incredibly moving and shockingly humbling, the museum’s goal of instilling the darker history of Hungary in our memories out of respect for the victims and as a reminder of the injustices it has faced is certainly achieved. 

Free Walking Tours

Our lovely guide showing us around one of Budapest’s parks

The easiest and cheapest way to discover Budapest- and perfect if you want to absorb as much information/culture/history as you possibly can in less than a day. This company are funded entirely by tips, and generally attract quite large crowds of people from all  over the world. The guides are entertaining, and all-knowing. Some tours have themes, such as the Communist History Tour we went on, and others are more general introductions to Hungary. The general tour takes you through the language, the important buildings, up and down hills, the history, the traditions, famous Hungarians and loads more that I’ve forgotten about. We were lucky with the weather, though the tours are still popular in damper weather. It was engaging and open, a brilliant introduction to the city, and I’d recommend it 100%. Especially if you want a cheap way to explore Budapest’s story. Visit their facebook page HERE.

There’s so much more to this amazing city- 400, Instant, Bazar Hostel, Hummus Bar, and the charming Easter markets- that I couldn’t write an exhaustive list of recommendations without basically handing you my daily itineraries. You could see the best of Budapest in about three days- if you were really dedicated  and armed with a map- so if you ever get the chance to visit just some of the places I’ve mentioned, then prioritise them. You can thank me later.

Farrah Kelly

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