Hungary’s stunning capital sits as a clear fusion of the past and present on the banks of the Danube River – where captivating neoclassical architecture house trendy cocktail bars packed with twenty-somethings, and an eerie history is often overshadowed by the plethora of decadent restaurants alongside a nightlife that cannot be rivalled. Whether you’re dancing the night away at the Jewish Quarter’s ruin bars on the Pest side of the river, or standing in awe of Buda Castle on the western bank of the river, here’s our pick of the best five things to do in a city that truly never sleeps.

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Catch an Incredible Sunset

Though there are many stunning spots to watch the flaming sun kiss the horizon of baroque castles, art nouveau architecture and stunning bridges, there aren’t enough evenings in one holiday. Perhaps the most popular among locals, however, is the Citadella – the striking fortress that sits atop Gellért Hill, towering over the city and providing an incredible vantage point at golden hour. All you need are some refreshments, good company and 20 minutes to walk to the hill’s peak and you have yourself an unforgettable evening.


Feast on Local Food

I’m sure the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of Hungarian food is goulash – a dish cooked well in almost any eatery in Budapest. Another beloved Hungarian dish—and equally as wholesome—is Chicken Paprikash: a hearty dish of succulent chicken in a fragrant creamy sauce that’s filled with tomatoes, sour cream, green peppers and of course paprika. We got a hot tip that Baltazár Budapest Grill & Boutique Hotel makes one of the best versions of the soulful dish outside of nagymama’s kitchen (yes, that’s grandma in Hungarian).


Explore the Art Scene

The majority of travellers head to the Jewish Quarter to discover the many art galleries and street murals. Though if you’d like to swap tourist traps for something a little more off the grid, a trip to Budapest’s Eighth District—also known as Józsefváros—is an up-and-coming area where laidback coffee shops adorn the old streets and chic galleries continue to pop up. Here you’ll find hipster cafes with interiors draped in artist’s wall painting and an emerging culture of contemporary art. Head to Lumen Gallery and Café to see regular exhibitions alongside music gigs.


Discover the Ruin Bars

A trip to Budapest wouldn’t be complete without visiting one (or five) of the many “ruin bars” that dot the Jewish Quarter. Located, as you might guess, within architectural ruins; you’ll discover anything from high-end cocktail glamour to grungy dive bars and everything in between. No matter where you go, it would be sacrilegious not to have a shot of Pálinka – a fruity brandy that’s local to Hungary and its surrounding countries.

Unwind at a Thermal Hot Spring

Whether an old-world Turkish bath or a contemporary version of a classic bathhouse, Budapest is sanctified with an abundance of underground thermal springs with medicinal properties. Although many of the baths are a pastime favourite by locals, they’re also easily accessible to travellers – day passes usually include a locker and use of all facilities, and many baths have co-ed pools where bathing suits are mandatory. So grab a towel and enjoy the revitalising elements of these world-famous springs.

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