If you’re looking to travel to Europe on the cheap while not missing out on any of the stereotypical famed architecture or fascinatingly beautiful walking streets, the capital of Hungary is just the place for you. A small country situated right in the middle of the continent, Hungary has been involved in every war in the history of Europe, each one diminishing it in size. Though the country has been through every fathomable war and tribulation, the Hungarian people, ever filled with pride and happiness, have kept their own culture intact, something very apparent while walking down the cobblestone sidewalks of Budapest. From the fresh paprika stalls to the thermal baths that the locals visit every morning before work, here is your (cheap) guide to Budapest, Hungary.
1. Visit Széchenyi thermal baths
A true highlight of any trip to Budapest, the Széchenyi (pronounced say-cheh-nee) baths are housed in a yellow building from 1913 are are fed from underground thermal springs. There are 21 pools in total, ranging from ice-cold temperatures of 18 degrees Celcius (about 64.4 degrees Fahrenheit) to the practically steaming 40 degrees Celcius (about 104 degrees Fahrenheit)– the locals go there before work and switch between the hottest and coldest bath to help with blood circulation!
2. Eat Lángos
Sure, we have fried dough here in the States, but in Hungary, it’s turned into a pizza/open-faced sandwich hybrid. Lángos (pronounced lahn-gohsh) has been around since at least the early 15th century and has delectably satisfied many locals and tourists alike.
3. Fisherman’s Bastion
A remarkable castle built as the turn of of the last century that is very reminiscent of one you’d see in a Disney movie.The view overlooking the city is stunning.
4. Art museum
If you’re looking for a dash of artistic culture, the Budapest Fine Arts Museum has got your back. From exhibits displaying Egyptian art to temporary ones (one of which was Van Gogh!), this art museum has you covered.
5. Gellért Hill
A hill overlooking the Danube and Pest (metropolitan) part of the city, Gellért Hill is a beautiful and easily walkable reminder of the fact that Budapest is truly a sight to behold, views from the top and all.
6. Hero’s Square
Hero’s Square is one of the major squares in Budapest with large statues of the 7 Magyar chieftains– the leaders of the first Hungarian people. Under the communist regime, large parades with military tanks and the communist leaders rolled past this square. Nowadays, the square serves as a reminder of Hungarian resilience and traditional culture.
7. Central Market Hall
If food is what you’re looking for, Central Market hall is the perfect place for you. A large multi-story building with indoor sprawling food and tchotchke vendors, the aromatic euphoria sets in the moment you walk through the front doors. The locals sell everything from fresh meat to the most colorful paprika and local dishes to local handicrafts.
8. Eat Nokedli, Gulyas, (Chicken) Paprikash
Many people say that in order to truly gain an understanding of a culture, you need to eat the local food. In that case, Hungarian culture is decadent, savory, and absolutely delicious. Nokedli is a kind of Hungarian egg noodle dumpling filled with itself. It serves as a perfect companion to Chicken Paprikash– chicken well seasoned with paprika. Gulyas, more commonly known as goulash, is a stew of meat, vegetables, and paprika. The best way, from personal experience, to make gulyas is over an open fire with family and/or friends.
9. City Park
City Park is a sprawling park with many major destinations either in or right by it: Széchenyi, the zoo, the circus, the museum of fine arts, and more! Enjoy a picnic of lángos (from the stand right next to Széchenyi) and fresh fruit while people-watching for a cheap and memorable way to spend a few hours.
10. Hungarian State Opera
The State Opera House may be beautiful on the outside, but the inside is even more so. Gold accents against red velvet line almost every inch inside the theater itself, but even something as simple as the coat room can capture and melt the hearts of all who enter. Catch a show here (in the nosebleed seats) for as little as 500 forint (about $1.80 USD) or just tour– either way will leave you breathless.
By: Allison Sickles