‘They said that, of course, Budapest is beautiful. But it is in fact almost ludicrously beautiful.’Anthony Bourdain
In all its rustic, medieval, fairytale splendor, Budapest, the capital of Hungary is indeed outrageously beautiful. It always has been. But it seems that people are only just waking up to this realisation.
Enchanted writers, thinkers, creative souls, and philosophers throughout the ages have all been seduced by its charm. Now, It may not have the notoriety of a Paris,or Rome, but she is their equal in every single way.
The Atlantic Dispatch spoke with Budapest born Digital Creator Boglárka Muszay to find out more about the city she calls home.
Why You Should Visit Budapest
“In many ways, Budapest is similar to other big cities in Europe. You can find places where the time stays still and you can experience the history. On the other hand, many innovative and unique places can be found here.
If you love history, culture, food, wine, shopping, night life… and the list can go on and on, you will love Budapest. Beside the fact, that the city is filled with extraordinary buildings, the Danube River, castles and churches, you can also try out some of the best dishes and wines, and the nightlife (especially summer time, when we have huge festivals) is unstoppable.”
When Boglárka describes Budapest it makes you want to see the city for yourself. To savour every moment it offers. And if you’re still not convinced, then, I plead with you to visit it and realise she wasn’t wrong. I swear you will want to devour every last drop of it.
Where to Eat?
“To try our Hungarian specialties, I would recommend: KIOSK, Náncsi Néni and Kehli. We also have a selection of beautiful rooftop bars and restaurants such as, High Note Sky Bar, LEO rooftop, The Duchess, 360 bar, The White Raven, and Aranybástya.
I would also recommend visiting our city in the winter time to try out the food and mulled wine at the Christmas market. So much to eat, drink and the atmosphere is incomparable.”
Now, it would be remiss of us not to mention the much heralded and famous New York Cafe, which has been welcoming visitors for over 125 years.
Built-in neo-renaissance style, with marble columns, sparkling chandeliers and stunning frescoes, the cafe literally takes your breath away. Beyond the beauty, there is live Gipsy music from 11 am, which provides a certain ambience that is unmatched anywhere else in Budapest.
There is no literature without a Café’ – stated Sándor Márai, a Hungarian writer from the 20th century, who himself frequently visited the historical building of the New York Café.
He was quite right of course, and it would be hard for any writer not to be inspired by the surroundings of a place so outrageously alluring.
What to do in Budapest?
“I really love the Buda Castle and the Fisherman’s Bastion. It is always nice to walk around there, the view is amazing and the architecture is a masterpiece. Especially in the spring time, when the cherry trees are in full blossom.
Budapest has many thermal baths, my favourite is the Szechenyi Spa. Daytime is a perfect place to relax but we have parties there at night, called the Sparty.”
Boglárka isn’t wrong in her recommendations. The majestic Buda Castle is quite simply one the finest examples of architecture not just in Budapest, but across Europe. It is one the many reasons why the city can easily compare with more world renowned cities. The Castle rises above the city of Várhegy, the hill of Budapest and its history is both fascinating and turbulent and reflects the ups and downs of not just the city, but the country.
Today the Castle, which is often called the Royal Palace, is home to a number of cultural institutes, including two museums: the Hungarian National Gallery and the Budapest Historical Museum.
Without a doubt the Fisherman’s Bastion is one of the top Budapest attractions. The present day lookout towers / decorative fortification of Fisherman’s Bastion were built in the 19th century to serve as a lookout tower for the best panoramic views in Budapest. And they are views which certainly do not dissapoint.
The Szechenyi Spa Baths in Budapest is one of the most reconisible sights in Budapest. For those who have never been to the city, or know next to nothing about it, there is a good chance you will have seen the iconic images of the best and largest spa baths in Europe. With its 15 indoor baths and 3 grand outdoor pools it really is quite something to behold.
It is also well worth visiting Józsefváros, Budapest’s Hipster District 8. Charmingly run-down in some parts, a little rough around the edges in others, the eclectic streets of this part of town are starting to burst with new life and a cool, creative vibe.
Home to some of Budapest’s finest Baroque streets and boulevards, the surprisingly good Hungarian National Museum, hipster cafes, a lively, local party scene, and perhaps the best hotel in Budapest, The Brody House. This once dilapidated district is seriously underrated by visitors to the city.
Where to stay in Budapest?
“We have many great hotel brands here, like Ritz, Hilton, Marriot. We have so many nice Airbnb’s and hotels to choose from, but the most important thing is to stay in the city centre, so you can easily access all the important landmarks. I would skip the long bus rides from the outer districts.”
Budapest is not in short supply when it comes to accommodation. There really is something for everyone. If you plan on taking Boglárka’s advice and sticking to the city centre then you cant go wrong with Brody House. One of Budapest’s first boutique hotels, and still one of its best, Brody House is one of the most characterful places to stay in the city. Occupying a 19th-century townhouse on a leafy square, the hotel makes superb use of the fine bones of the building by using upcycled materials, antiques and artefacts and distressed plaster on the walls.
The Hotel Clark Budapest Situated in a prime position near the funicular station taking people up the hill to the Castle District, adults-only Hotel Clark is a great bet for a stay on the Buda side of the river.
Hotel Pest-Buda is just moments from Buda Castle, Fisherman’s Bastion and Mattias Church. The Pest-Buda is a wildly atmospheric place to stay in the castle district. Occupying a building that operated as an inn as far back as the late-17th century, the boutique hotel successfully blends its original features (old stone walls, wooden beams, arched ceilings) with a whole load of retro urban design: Roberts radios, Smeg fridges, rainfall showers and industrial lighting.
What does the perfect day in Budapest involve?
“On the weekends, I really like to go into the city for a brunch, as we have so many amazing brunch places. If the weather is nice, we like to grab a coffee and walk along the Danube, or go to Margaret Island to bike. But a nice cruise on the Danube river also feels pretty amazing.
Boglárka is not wrong. Not many places do brunch quite like Budapest.
Located right in the heart of the city, Portobello Coffee and Wine is unassuming from the outside. However once through its doors you will find the interior is inviting, gorgeous and warm, like a light and airy wine cellar with high ceilings and a modern, scandi-vibe.
The menu is simple yet creative, using seasonal produce and well-thought ingredients to create effortlessly good food.
Double Shot Partisan Coffee is hidden off the bustling inner-city tourist street of Vaci Utca. Double Shot feels like a secret Budapest brunch location only locals know about.
Step inside and you’ll feel like you’re in a place that knows what they’re doing – the interior is minimalist and homely, juxtaposed with the loud branding that reads “just fckn double”, in reference to their coffee, which is always a double shot (hence the name).
Szimply Budapest is tucked away in a stereotypical Budapest courtyard. It is place you’d never knew existed if not for Google, or word of mouth. Yet, Szimply is always packed, a testament to the incredible brunch and coffee supplied next door by Kontakt.
The breakfast menu is simple, small, yet finely crafted and delicious – there’s something for everyone, from bagels to buddha bowls.