10 tips for SZIGET-dwellers


08/08/2011 2.00am

That’s right man! You’re at Budapest, at SZIGET, the biggest festival of Central Europe, a week-long feast of music and partying. Don’t get too wasted though, as over the fence you find one of the coolest and trendiest capitals of the continent with tons of attractions for young travelers. Just drop your backpack, get a free map and start discovering the city with us! Maybe you’ll come back with your other friends later…
Photo: Péter Kálló

Photo: Bódis Krisztián - We Love Budapest

1. Start with the basics


OK, another European capital with history, architecture and stuff… Don’t bother with too much Lonely Planet browsing, just spend one day walking around the city. It will show itself anyways. Start with the Castle District, take some cool pics from the Fisherman’s Bastion and the Palace. If you feel the force, climb up to the Citadell, otherwise cross one of the bridges. You will get to the shopping district, it will be obvious. Head for Andrássy Avenue and walk till the Hero’s Sq, than go around the City Park and you’re all done. You’ve seen the basics, let’s do some more!

2. Alternative tours


If you’re fed up with ordinary tour guides, but would prefer some company during your sightseeing visit the website of Yellow Zebra and Absolute Walking Tours! The former organizes day and night bike tours, the latter walking tours (also day and night), pub crawls and a communist retro-tour. Sounds more fun than the ordinary sightseeing bus right?

Photo: Balkányi László - We Love Budapest

3. Ruin pubs


If you’ll remember Budapest for one reason (though we hope not only for this one) it should be the vibrant, world-class underground nightlife of the city. The downtown is scattered with rundown houses conquered by artists, pub owners and local youth. If you walk down Kazinczy St you’ll find Szimpla Kert, Kőleves Kert, Ellátó Kert among others. Fogasház, Instant and Csendes are also must sees! You can read more about these surrealistic pubs in our special, two-part article.

4. Dine well, eat cheap!


For a Western-European, Budapest is still a cheap city. OK, not very cheap, but it comes with a great value. Here we give some tips, where to eat out. None of them are too fancy, but you’ll get first class food for a very reasonable price. Borkonyhaand Laci!Pecsenye? introduces you to Hungarian flavors, Iguana is a good Mexican, Klassz is there with all the wines, Menza a trendy lunch place, and the best fast food in town, Vapiano. If you prefer the underground line, try the ruin pub-style Most! and Jelen or the best buffets: El Rapido, Manga Cowboy and Montenegroi Gurman.

Photo: Bódis Krisztián - We Love Budapest

5. Plunge in the baths


After a week of sleeping in a tent and dancing all night long, your feet are in quite a state! Maybe you have even exacerbated the situation with a long day of sightseeing… If it’s an emergency, head to the closest thermal bath in the city! Luckily you wouldn’t have to search for too long. The best choices are Széchenyi, Gellért and Rudas. You can spend a whole day in the healing water, you’ll see: it does magic!

6. Buy some really cool souvenirs


If you’re about to leave, you should consider taking something home from Budapest. Souvenir shopping is often a hard one, as it’s difficult to find something cool among tons of trumpery. Yeah sure, your mom would love some porcelain from Herendi or a local embroidery, but come on! You better buy a bottle of good Pálinka, the brand Gyulai comes with really cool packaging or buy a pair of Tisza shoes, the most successful and still best selling ex-Eastern-bloc brand. While others hang around in their Lacoste sneakers, you should wear a Tisza. It is unique, cool and has an attitude!

Photo: Bódis Krisztián - We Love Budapest

7. Some exhibitions


For those who love culture, or don’t mind spending an afternoon in museums we would recommend some of the best ongoing exhibitions in the city. The most popular among young tourists is the House of Terror which presents the merciless oppression of the 20th century dictatorships. It will get you down, but sadly it is a very important part of Hungarian history. At the Museum of Fine Arts you can visit the exhibition of the “Nyolcak”, the works of eight Hungarian painters from the beginning of the 20th century. And another highlight of the art scene is the exhibition of one of the most famous Hungarian photographers, Moholy-Nagy at Ludwig Museum.

8. Chill in the hills


If you have a little more time, just leave the insomniac downtown and visit the green Buda Hills. Life is slower, streets are neater and the air is cleaner, no wonder most Budapesters aspire living here. You can find an array of scenic lookouts. Visit the János Hill, which is accessible with a lovely chairlift or the Hármashatár Hill at northern Buda. Hiking and mountain biking is very pleasant here and the center is still just 20 minutes away!

Photo: Bódis Krisztián - We Love Budapest

9. Make local friends


If you spend a night in the downtown, don’t miss the chance to make Hungarian friends. Ruin pubs attract young, trendy, liberal thinking individuals like magnets and if you engage in a conversation with them you’ll see that you have so much in common! Don’t be surprised if you end up in a crazy house party at one of their friends’ rented apartment somewhere in the Jewish district, that can be the starting point of something new. Chicks are hot, guys are cool and most of them speak good English. What can you lose?

10. Just drift with the wind!


You may arrive with a detailed schedule, but always be flexible! You may wake up at the tower suite of the Gresham Palace or on a couch at Fogasház, you never know before the night. There might be a rain shower, strong wind, some ice and hot sunshine within an hour. It is a very lively city with real adventures and lots of fun! Unleash yourself, enjoy it and don’t be upset if you have to go around a subway construction. Just drift with the wind and have fun in the jungle!

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