They told me I could visit Budapest in only 3 days, but I gave myself an extra day to go beyond the touristic sites and discover interesting spots not highlited in the Guides. Here are my findings. This, is my Budapest.
Király Baths is one of the smallest and oldest Turkish Baths in Budapest. Located near the Castle, these baths date back to the Turkish times when bathing and steem rooms became part of hungarian culture. The most characteristic element of the building is the cupola above the steam baths, several small windows of which result in a unique play of light. Although Király Baths are in the touristic area below the Cittadel, few tourists venture here and prefer the newest Baths or the #Széchenyi Baths. I spent 2 long and relaxing hours here, switching from the main 38°C pool to the 20°C and the 40°C ones. A real treat for a tired traveller, at the cost of barely 10€ including a private cabin.
Széchenyi Gyógyfürdő, are among the most renowed baths in Budapest. They are located in the heart of the #Városliget park, near the famous Hosök tere, (Heroes Square). The structure of the Szechenyi thermal baths dates back to 1881 and was designed by Hungarian architect Gyozo Czigler; in 1927 works were carried out and the baths were enlarged by adding various spa areas, which led to the Széchenyi to become among the largest and most popular Baths in Europe. Shortly after the middle of 1960 Széchenyi were extended once more, by creating a spa building and a hospital which includes a clinic for physiotherapy.
To avoid the crowd try to be here around 8am (opening times 6am-19pm). In Spring and Summer the outdoor pools are warm enough to swim in the early hours and locals visitors are indeed more relaxed and civil than the hordes of tourists that flock here after 11am.
Tickets including private Locker or Cabins vary from16€ to 20€, bring your own swimsuits, swimming caps and flipflops: there is nowhere you can rent them in the baths!
Drink in a Ruin Bars
Set in the urban decay of the Jewish District of Budapest, the Ruin Bars are the new trend: the new trend: laboratories of the latest entertainment and culture. Dozens of ultra creative spaces born in the rubble of warehouses and abandoned historic buildings, unused parking lots and gardens left unattended, Ruin Bars give Hungarian Capital City a new life. Especially in the evening when all the city youth seems to gather here.
The run-down look is the trademark of each local. Every place is literally furnished and renovated keeping the old structure intact. Huge large rooms, sprawling corridors, precarious- looking courtyards are repainted in garish colours, enlightened enough to see if what has been ordered and furnished with just the right vintage style that fits all environment like a bathtub, a dentists chair, or a row of old theatre seats. Szimpla Kert is the “father” of them all. This was one of the first to open in the Seventh District in an old warehouse and to launch this trend even outside the neighborhood. It is big, massive…endless, my very favourite spot in Budapest. The large decorated garden and art installations are totally worth a visit even during daytime.
Eat at Kàdàr Etkezde
A modest restaurant that reminds diners of the Soviet period in the heart of the Jewish District: Klauzál tér 9. The restaurant is family run and neither the owner nor his staff speak any English, but the menu is pretty well translated. The dishes are simple so is the furniture, and the “presentation” of the dishes is pretty basic. On the walls are hung photos of famous Hungarian actors, sport and famous people. Environment typical of the tavern: the food is simple but genuine and cheap: I spent only 6€ including a CoaCola Zero™. The atmosphere is really authentic. It’s opened for lunch only 12-30 – 15.30.
This old movie theatre was recently restored and hosts movied in original language. The construction of the Uránia’s building was finished in the mid-1890s on today’s Rákóczi avenue. The architect was originally commissioned to create a music and dance hall, but the place finally opened as a cabaret. At the turn of the century the Hungarian Academy of Sciences initiated a search for a theatre where the Uránia Scientific Society could hold presentations illustrated by moving pictures. Hence the building was rented from 1899 by the Uránia Society and was given the strange name Uránia Hungarian Scientific Theatre. Later on the function of the building changed, but the name Uránia has remained ever since. In 2002, the authorities responsible for culture restored the more than 100 year old building to its original beauty and in 2006, the Uránia National Film Theatre was awarded the European Union’s monument protection prize, Europa Nostra, for outstanding monument restoration. The building it’s worth visiting it and maybe enjoy a good movie too! Check the program here: URANIA PROGRAM.
Shop at Vàsàrcsarnòk Central Market
Vàsàarcsarnòk is Budapest’s Central Market, located in District IX in Viale Vámház körút 1-3. Its construction began in 1884, but due to a fire – broke out a few days before delivery – the market opening was made only on 15 February 1897. At the market you will find everything that can be called “typical Hungarian.” From paprika (typical hot pepper spice) to the liver goose, and all kinds of Hungarian salami, liqueurs etc. The ground floor stalls are mainly food and deli, while on the first floor you will find a lot of souvenir production, from the lace and embroidery to the ceramics and crystals. Eating or souvenir-shopping, this is the palce you can well spend a couple of hours learning about the Hungarian culture.
Murales tour in the Jewish Disctrict
If you’re into street art, this is the place to go! The old decay building and abaundoned parking lot had been decorated with huge birllant firewalls. Get lost in the small roads between Dob Utcà and Wesselenyi Utcà and you will find plenty. Urban art group NeoPaint Works were commissioned to brighten up the district, and you can find their art work or work from other groups like Colorful City, or artists such as Obie Platon, Lukas Berge, Richárd Orosz on a variety of firewalls depicting the Rubik’s Cube, the Polish-Hungarian Friendship Tree, murals dedicated to to the “Match of the Century”, when Hungary defeated England in Wembley Stadium in 1953.
Metropolitan Ervin Szabó Library
The main building of the Metropolitan Ervin Szabó Library is the one-time Wenckheim Palace. It was built by Count Frigyes Wenckheim (1842 – 1912), a well-known aristocrat of the end of the 19th century, the owner of a vast estate with the membership of the Parliament. The Library is gorgeous and if you are into architecture, it’s definitively worth visiting. The membership only costs 200Ft and will allow you to come as you please to visit all the rooms. The children section is adorable and the light which comes from the big windows gives every room a warm athmosphere. Don’t miss it: 1088 Budapest, Szabó Ervin tér 1.
Cake time in a Classic Cafè
Indulge in one of the most famous hungarian cafè still up and running in Budapest. My favourite was the elegant New York Cafe, in the Boscolo Hotel . It is part of the history of Budapest and Hungarian literary life, once the official offices of the “Nyugat” magazine. The New York Café is the throbbing heart of the Hotel: just like a valuable chest of treasures distributed across four levels, it has preserved the original decorations that earned its fame throughout the world. The ceiling hosts the frescoes of Gusztav Mannheimer and Ferenc Eisenhut, dating back to the mid 1800s. Precious Venetian lamp shades diffuse a soft light that reflects off the gold plated stuccoes of the tortile columns, creating a myriad of colours.
Stepping foot in the New York Café means taking a step back in time: magnificence and sophistication welcome visitors, enveloping them with the charm of the Belle Époque.
Among the many desserts of the Austro-Hungarian tradition, try the famous Dobos Cake, a cake made up of five layers of sponge cake and chocolate with a crunchy topping caramel. Yummy!I had a slice at the Astoria Cafe (Metro Astoria) , this hotel built in the late 800, had his golden age during the ’30s. Its French Empire and Directoire styles, was an attraction in the downtown of the old Pest. Although the Second World War left its mark on the hotel, the artworks were preserved and the Astoria was one of the first hotels in Budapest that reopened after the War in 1946.
SHARE THIS ARTICLE if you liked it!