It’s the hot ticket on everyone’s travel wishlist right now. From the incredible sights and buildings, through to the fact that everyone’s Instagram game is on fire after a visit… the new place to travel to is Eastern Europe. The pricing is relatively cheaper (we scored an incredible hotel) and the cost for meals out makes the flight time worth it.
Our first foray into exploring Eastern Europe started with a trip to Budapest. With a Hungarian family history, and knowing that my relatives before moving to the states lived on the outskirts of Budapest definitely helped in our decision to visit. So what did I learn? Where did we go? While I would have loved even more time exploring in the city and visiting the museums, we opted for a relaxing trip filled with food, wine and sights instead. Next time, I’ll hit up the museums. Until then, here are the 5 things you need to do in Budapest.
1. Szimpla Kert
I didn’t go into Szimpla Kert expecting much. Maybe a drink or two. I didn’t realize that after three hours I’d find myself jamming to beats with a drink in hand, sitting in a bathtub.
It’s without a shadow of a doubt, one of the most fun experiences – and we went in the winter. Summertime here would be a dream as they have their adjoining food market that opens up. If you’ve ever been to one of Street Feast’s locations in London, then you’ll have a slight inclination as to what you’re about to experience. This is taking it to another level. Born from the city’s ruins, Szimpla Kert has turned each decrepit area and transformed it into a junkyard-drinking den. From a wine bar section through to craft beers and a designated spot for smoking Shisha, there’s really something to suit everyone. They also do a spot of food as well while the outdoor food market isn’t open in the winter. We were starving and ordered a sandwich and classic Hungarian chicken dish that I can’t remember because of well, all the craft beer. Sorry, not sorry.
2. Thermal Spas
All I can say is… wow. Don’t let any negative body hang-ups or fears hold you back from throwing on a bathing suit and getting stuck in with this experience at the Széchenyi Medicinal Bath in Budapest. It’s a little bit confusing if you haven’t been before, so I’m going to write up a full post on our experience here. Whether you have 40 minutes or 3 hours, this spot is worth a visit. Located in their National Park, and close by to a castle resembling where Dracula might have lived, it’s a must on the list.
3. Great Market Hall
Can you tell that we’re totally focused on planning our trip around food? We stopped off at the Central Market to grab some of the local grub and take a look around. On the second level of the market, you’ll find the street food vendors. We ordered a plate of traditional sausage and sauerkraut before getting stuck into the Lángos. The Lángos tastes like a mixture between a doughnut and pizza bread. It’s a strange combination, but it 100% works. They smother the rounded dough with sour cream and then add on the toppings. We chose rocket, cheese and prosciutto. Delicious.
4. Crossing the Chain Bridge
If you’ve been planning your trip according to Instagram, there’s one place you must keep on your list. Crossing the Chain Bridge is like a right of passage visiting Budapest. You’ll walk across amongst the locals and the tour groups alike. It gives you the unique opportunity to take photographs of both the Buda and the Pest sides. Once you cross to the Buda side, you can hike up the hill towards the Castle or get the incline. We decided to add more steps to our repertoire for the day and walked up (heeled boots and all!)
5. Goulash, a classic Hungarian meal
This is an important one, because you can get this dish in plenty of locations. You must try the Goulash. Growing up, I always ate goulash. The stew dish is traditionally Hungarian and contains meat, veg and plenty of paprika. Usually, there’s grains as well such as noodles. When we went up to the castle, we stumbled upon the Pest-Buda Bistro & Hotel and eerrrmaghhad. Our meal was incredible and I can’t recommend a visit there enough.
What do you think? Is food the most important part of travelling? Or is it all about soaking up every inch of history? Let me know what your travel priorities are in the comments.