There are a couple of places in Europe where, whenever I hear someone’s about to visit, I go hurtling into my Apple notes, my hard drive or previous emails to find some suggestions for them. One of these cities is Budapest, so here – in order to keep everything in one place – are my top tips.
Things to do:
Beyond the usual touristy things – Danube cruises, the castle, etc here are a couple of my favourites.
The rather sobering House of Terror (about the dark years in Budapest after the revolution) – http://www.terrorhaza.hu/en
Szechenyi Baths – near the Hero Square and the big park there: http://www.bathsbudapest.com/szechenyi-bath
Walk along the river (on the opposite side to the castle) to the Great market Hall to see paprika, sauerkraut and all kinds of Hungarian specialities: https://www.budapestbylocals.com/great-market-hall.html
Walking back along the river towards the Parliament, don’t miss the poignant and though-provoking shoe installation on the side of the Danube, commemorating the murder of hundreds of Jews in WW2.
Coffee and cake:
Espresso Embassy – great artisan coffee just near the Parliament: https://www.facebook.com/EspressoEmbassy/
Classic Hungarian café is http://www.newyorkcafe.hu/main-page.html?lang=en Grand, ornate and amazing cakes, dating from 1894. The café, not the cakes. Don’t miss it – or indeed Gerbeaud, the other grand old lady of Austro-Hungarian café society – http://www.gerbeaud.hu/
I can’t really see past my all-time favourite, Ket Szerescen, just off Andrassy and one block down from the big square full of restaurants, Lizst Ferenc Ter – http://www.ketszerecsen.hu/ This is my go-to recommendation and everyone I’ve sent has liked it! (No pressure…)
The Franz Lizst square (as mentioned in Hungarian above) is very touristy but, if you must eat there, try Menza, which isn’t bad: http://www.menzaetterem.hu/ (apart from its annoying instant-play music on the website)
Want Strudel? Then the First Strudel House of Pest is where you need to go! https://www.reteshaz.com/home
Gerloczy café (along with its small boutique hotel), in a cute little square in the Jewish quarter and is reminscent of a French bistro – http://www.gerloczy.hu/
Finally, for all your authentic Hungarian food needs in one place: http://hungarikumbisztro.hu/#prettyPhoto/0/
The ruin bars are unique to Budapest. One of the oldest and best is Szimpla – http://szimpla.eu/ But there loads to chose from: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/travel/article/budapests-top-five-ruin-bars/ and http://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/budapest-ruin-bars/index.html
If it’s sunny, try this one which is in an old courtyard: http://koleves.com/en Actually it might not be a ruin bar but I’m putting it in this category as it’s old.
Enjoy your visit!