Budapest ‘Paris of the East’: September 2017
Posted on 30 September 2017
Known as the ‘Paris of the East’, Budapest is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, ranked as "the world's second-best city" by Condé Nast Traveler, and "Europe's 7th most idyllic place to live" by Forbes. The central area of the city along the Danube River is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has many notable monuments, including the Hungarian Parliament, Buda Castle, and Fisherman's Bastion.
You might not realise that Budapest is actually formed from two cities: Buda and Pest, which, together with Óbuda, united in 1873. The city is also famous for its thermal water and spas.
But while the city is beautiful, what I loved most was the bars and vibes of the Jewish quarter. It has great food (amazing restaurants!) and a fantastic design and fashion scene.
My tips for Budapest:
Walk through the Jewish quarter in the afternoon or evening, especially Kiraly Street and the passage to Dob Street, and have a drink in one of the many cool bars there. The famous ruin bars, such as Szimpla Kert, are especially worth a visit. Ruin bars are built in Budapest’s old District VII neighborhood (the old Jewish quarter) in the ruins of abandoned buildings, stores, or lots. From outside they look like normal buildings, but inside you find yourself in the middle of a hip, artsy, and funky bar, bustling with crowds talking, dancing, and enjoying the laid-back atmosphere.
Visit some of the local up-and-coming designer shops and showrooms. The best way to start is by looking at the Stylewalker map at http://www.stylewalker.hu. My favorite shops were: Aeron (http://aeron.hu/en), which is difficult to find as it’s only a showroom on the second floor of a normal building, but it has stylish and high-quality clothes; Blow Hair & Clothes, which is very funky and interesting; Eva’s Room, which is also a showroom, with cool designers (and a nice dog!); Mono Fashion/ Art & Design; Wonderlab; and Rododendron (for gifts and art). Unfortunately, some of the shops on the list did not exist anymore even though the map was for 2017. Just go to any of these shops, get a map and visit others. You’ll have a really cool experience and there’s lots of nice finds! There is also another map for the Jewish district, with a few more hip and vintage stores, which are also interesting to explore, especially Sputnik and Lolipop. What is especially cool is that most of the shops in this area are open until very late at night.
Another good tip I got from a friend is to go for a free walking tour organized by http://www.triptobudapest.hu. It lasts approximately 3 hours and starts every day at 10:30am and 14:30am. It’s highly entertaining and gives you a good overview of the city.
Go to a lookout point on the Pest side, especially Citadel and Castle (where you should also visit the beautiful garden) and, of course, Fishermen’s Bastion.
If you like baths, go to the thermal baths. One of the most famous (and most beautiful) is Szechenyi Bath, but it gets rather crowded on the weekend, especially if the weather is nice, as some pools are outside. There are heated pools outside, though, so you can visit even in winter!
Take a boat on Danube. The best time is in the evening or at night, when all the buildings, especially Parliament, are floodlit.
I went to a few excellent restaurants. Try Konyv Bar & Restaurant, which has a really cool concept – it’s a library restaurant with a thematic menu based on different books. I loved the concept, service and food. For some fast food, there are amazing gourmet burgers in Tuning Bar & Burger in Jewish quarter. Kollazs is more on the expensive side but has great food (it’s very close to St Stephen Basilica and Aeron showroom), while Getto Gulyas is very good place to try Hungarian food. Avoid restaurants next to Vaci street – they are almost all only tourist traps.
And last, here are some practical tips. Take a taxi from the airport, and don’t use shuttle services (Minibuds), which are very unreliable and slow. You can drink tap water and fill your water bottles in the city’s fountains. Do not convert currency at ATMs, because approximately 90% do not belong to the official banks and their exchange rate is terrible.
Enjoy Budapest! I loved it :) I visited for a half-marathon, which was actually a really beautiful run. Highly recommended!
What to wear in Budapest:
Our Budapest set perfectly suits the beautiful style of the buildings. Wear it for your promenade beside the Danube, on a boat trip, or while enjoying one of the many amazing restaurants in town.