10 Practical things to know about Budapest

Heroes’ Square

I am currently on a short study abroad program in Budapest, Hungary. Through my observations and with a bit of local help, we have compiled a list of need to know information about this magical city.

1. Can you drink the tap water without fear of becoming violently ill? Yes. Tap water is safe. It is cliche but it is embarrassing to ask… I did this for YOU! Go ahead, drink gallons upon gallons, all is tasty! :)

2. Buda and Pest are two cities divided by the river Danube. Buda is a lot more green and mountainous. Where as Pest if the “downtown” center with a dynamic atmosphere.

3. Public transportation is wonderful, easy and safe to use any time of the day. But note that the metro and some trams close at midnight, but buses go 24/7, so don’t fear not being able to get home.

4. The Jewish quarter is the party quarter. If that is your thing, I would suggest starting down Kiraly Utca and see where people go. The tram, bus or metro stop for this section of town is DEAK FERENC.

5. The touristy “Hungarian” food street is Raday utca. Here is where you’ll find overpriced food, be it delicious or not. The stop for this on tram, bus or metro is KALVIN TER. Know that food in Budapest is often amazing and Hungarians like their kabobs, pizza and burgers like most international cities. What you will struggle to find is seafood. It exists, but they aren’t to keen on it, being a landlocked nation, I don’t blame either!

6. Littered throughout the city you will find beautiful gardens. These gardens are small gravel plots with picnic tables and about 3 to 5 different ethnic food stands. I assume they are trying to hearken back to a beer garden of sorts. In one of these, I had mean Thai food, so you will want to check them out.

7. Wine. It’s is a big deal. Tokaji, a sweet delight, is my favorite. Don’t worry there is a wine for every palate with the vast variety. Try them all, they will not disappoint. If feeling particularly adventurous, it’s a must to try Palinka, the local liquor. Like the wine, there is a great deal of flavors to try. The plum based palinka, is my personal choice. Again, go on, try around and see which you prefer!

8. IF alcohol isn’t your thing, and there is no judgement here, feel free to try Hungarian lemonade! Every bar has their own version and they always non-alcoholic, unless you ask for it otherwise! Imagine sprite with fresh crushed lemons, limes, oranges and other nearby fruits served over ice. It’s the ultimate hot day cure.

9. This city has many pleasures to offer visitors. There is no shortage of places to visit if you like museums and history. Visit the old Austro-Hungarian empire Opera or head over to the Parliament building and Buda castle. There is a strong inline skater culture and they have parks for skateboarders and the like as well. I sought out a bow maker and an archery range and could not be happier with what I found. Festivals occur almost every weekend with internationally recognized DJs and artists. There is a bit of a darker side to this wonderland. Budapest is one of the main destinations for British people on their bachelor or bachelorette parties. This includes exotic establishments catering to those needs. The good news is that if this isn’t for you, they tend to be well out of the way of the general bar scene of Budapest.

Parliament Building

10. Let it be known that I believe the Hungarians are the craftiest people in all the world! The evidence I bring forth are their “ruin” bars. Szimpla, Kuplung, Anker’t, Mozel Tov, these are but a few of the inspiring bars that make the nightlife in Budapest unique. They manage to repurpose what in the USA would be known as garage junk into beautiful decorations. An abandoned building in the states here had aesthetic value. People hang wires from the ceiling with lightbulbs and origami ornaments. Or they build beautiful wooden bars on top of crumbling concrete. To create beauty out of the condemned speaks to the spirit of the Hungarian people.

Think I left something super important off the list? feel free to comment and let me know! Thank you for reading!