A beginner’s guide to Budapest
If you plan your vacations based purely on whether or not your chosen destination has a good LGBTQ scene, you might be inclined to give the capital of Hungary a miss.
However, if you love beautiful architecture, history, culture, and good food then Budapest should definitely be on your travel wish-list.
On a clear day, take the Funicular to Buda Castle and enjoy the breathtaking views of the Danube and the Pest side of the city from the grand terrace. From there, wander through the Castle district to Fishermans Bastion and the awe inspiring Matthias Church. A stone’s throw away, you’ll find a street full of small privately owned galleries showcasing local art and design talents.
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If your feet are up for it, take a stroll along the beautiful, tree-lined boulevard towards the imposing monuments at Heroes’ Square. Make sure to pop into Sugar! en-route to indulge in some weird and wonderful cakes followed up by a coffee in the decadent Alexandra book shop café.
This is also home to The House of Terror. The building, which was the main city’s headquarters for both the Nazi and Communist parties, gives a chilling insight into Budapest’s troubled past.
Budapest is not really a major shopping destination, but if you’re looking for something quirky to bring home - and can handle a bit of bargaining – make a visit to the Ecseri flea market for Soviet relics, World War Two artefacts, and random treasures.
For an authentic taste of Hungary, head to one of the many no-frills canteens across the city that serve local staples such as goulash for a reasonable price. The local markets such as the one held in The Great Market Hall also offer up some tasty treats, including Mangalica - a special breed of Hungarian pig.
On a night out, the first thing you should do to initiate yourself into Hungarian culture is have a shot of Pálinka. There’s no better place to try it than at the Rézangyal Bistro. Order the mézes barack – honey and apricot – flavour to start, before moving on to something a little stronger.
The queer-friendly Café Eklektika is a great little place to spend the evening, as is the lively Alterego. House parties are popular, but you’ll need to befriend some of the locals for access.
If you’ve indulged in a few too many shots of Pálinka, you can detox in one of Budapest’s legendary thermal baths, such as the Király Baths.