Who knew that Budapest had so much more to offer other than premium dental care? Spending a week in Budapest was probably one of the most random vacations I’ve had; I went with no plans and no expectations, which is a first. After arriving I began doing some research and it didn’t take long to figure out why some people described Budapest as the Paris of Eastern Europe. I truly believe there is something for everyone, especially foodies! (Just don’t let your sister book a dinner cruise on a bubble boat and you can’t go wrong). During the day there’s tourist sights to see, if that’s your thing, or you can vacation like me and eat, drink and eat again. I have compiled a list of some things I think you must do, if you are visiting Budapest and a few things I wish I had known before I went.
Places to Eat
- Costes Downtown, Budapest, Vigyázó Ferenc u. 5, 1051 Hungary. costesdowntown.hu/en
“Perfect restaurant is not likely to be – given the taste is subjective – however we shall strive for excellence, without compromise.”
This has to be one of my best dining experiences ever. Each element – food, service and atmosphere – was as close to perfection as one can get. I opted for the tasting menu along with wine pairing and the chef had me from the amuse bouche, a beef tartare. I’m not as crazy about scallops as my sister but these were definitely worth traveling for. Our waitress recommended I have the steak and I am glad I took her advice. Honestly if you can get a table here you don’t want to miss out on what I called comfortable fine dining; Michelin star food accompanied by warm service in an environment that doesn’t make you feel guilty for laughing too loud.
2. Zona, Budapest, Lánchíd u. 7, 1013 Hungary. www.zonabudapest.com
I chose this place for our last supper before we had to run down taxis in the streets of Budapest in order to get to the airport. Again I went for the tasting menu, which started with a foie gras mousse, one of my favourite foie gras dishes of the trip and I ate foie gras every day, multiple times a day as Hungarians clearly were trying to speak to my soul by offering one of my favourite ingredients on every single menu. This restaurant felt like I could have been in the Meatpacking District in New York, just minus the air pollution and the abundance of yellow cabs.
3. Déryné, Budapest, Krisztina tér 3, 1013 Hungary. bistroderyne.com
This French bistro has a simple menu executed well, i.e. my kind of place. I will ignore the fact that they did not have foie gras benedict available the morning I went for breakfast because their take on English Breakfast was super duper delicious. Before you roll your eyes at the thought of being a stereotypical tourist by having an English breakfast abroad, you just stop right there because I know what you are thinking and trust me Hungarian English Breakfast is WAY better. The beans were seasoned well, the sausage was made from real meat and the mushrooms were juicy cooked in exactly the right amount of butter.
4. Ruszwurm Cukrászda Budavár, Budapest, Szentháromság u. 7, 1014 Hungary.
I was impressed when I read this family-run cafe had a 200 year old cherry wood counter serving homemade cakes, strudel and coffee. When my sister and I arrived we weren’t sure where this counter was or if there was even anyone who was going to serve us. Good thing we gave this place a chance because as we were going to leave staff appeared out of no where, equipped with great humour and served up deliciousness. Do yourself a favour and order the apple strudel and cremsnit (NOT pronounced Crème-shit), eat them together while you sip your coffee as you sit outside, bask in the sunshine and people watch.
5. My Little Melbourne, Budapest, Madách Imre út 3, 1075 Hungary. mylittlemelbourne.hu/
Menu too limited for breakfast but good coffee and perfect stop for some Wifi.
6. Vintage Garden, Budapest, Dob u. 21, 1074 Hungary.
Nice food and cocktails with homely decor. Worth more than one visit.
Things to do
1. Invisible Exhibition Budapest, Budapest, Kis Rókus u. 16-20, 1024 Hungary. www.lathatatlan.hu/en
Have you ever wondered what it is like to be blind? This exhibition pairs you up with someone who is blind and gives you a tiny insight into his or her life by allowing you to experience a world in complete darkness. This may sound strange but I think everyone should visit this exhibition, to have an appreciation and awareness of what is like for those who are visually impaired and how we can help them if necessary.
2. Spa Day
There are so many spas and baths to choose from in Budapest but I chose Royal Spa at Corinthia Hotel, Budapest, Erzsébet krt. 43-49, 1073 Hungary. Chill out for the day, get an 80 minute therapy and a pedicure, you won’t regret it!
3. Hungarian Parliament Building
This building is beautiful, especially at night, and whilst I’m not one for tourist attractions, this building is definitely worth seeing. It is one of Europe’s oldest legislative buildings and the largest building in Hungary and the tallest building in Budapest.
4. Central Market Hall (Great Market Hall)
Don’t believe the hype about this place, even though I still think its worth the visit as someone who loves food markets, it isn’t spectacular but it’s a nice introduction into food culture in Budapest with fresh produce and a range of stalls.
5. Jazz at Opus, Budapest, Mátyás u. 8, 1093 Hungary. opusjazzclub.hu/
I didn’t know that Hungarians were into their jazz music but check the schedule and book your seat.
1. BOB (Bacardi Original Bar) Budapest, 1051, Széchenyi István tér 7, 1051 Hungary.
Don’t get turned off by the name, this place is unpretentious and has a great vibe. We met people from all over Europe and the music is surprisingly good.
Why visit Budapest?
- Great food
- Impressive local wine
- Lovely People
- Unexpected nightlife
Things I wish I knew before travelling
- Hungarians have their own currency, lots of places do not use Euros (especially taxis) change your money into Hungarian Forint
- At night taxi rates increase
- Pack swimwear (for the spa)
- Goulash is a thin soup and not that impressive.
- Book Thursdays at The Tasting Table in advance (I couldn’t go because they were full but it sounds great)
- Late September (Autumn), July (Summer) are good times to travel, weather is nice.
- Check out We Love Budapest to help create your itinerary.
Live, Love, Eat!