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Farsang, the Hungarian equivalent of the carnival season, stretches from January 6th until February 14th this year. Here is how to celebrate it.
To reach the highest building on showcase boulevard Andrássy út, take the lift alongside the once stylish department store, Párisi Nagy Áruház. You arrive to find a unique, 360-degree view of the city, hence the name. The 360 Bar was a pioneer, in that it offered a special atmosphere and refreshing drinks back when rooftop bars were few and far between. Time your visit for twilight and the sun sinking over the top of Parliament, bathing the city in pink light. No wonder the 360 Bar is the drinking destination many first-time visitors head for. While enjoying the view, you can sample a homemade lemonade, a signature or classic cocktail and a tasty burger.
To find this hidden cocktail bar on top of the Matild Palace, follow the key logo, enter through a side door, taking a sneak peek at the cakes being made in the kitchen as you do so. Then head up to the roof in Budapest’s first ever lift, and come out to a bar with a buzzing atmosphere, done out in Art Deco style, before you set eyes on an unparalleled panorama. It’s as if you’re floating above Elizabeth Bridge, watching the boats gliding way below on the Danube, and the wonderful view of Gellért Hill beyond. A top team mixes superb cocktails, and the bar food has been conceived by star Hollywood chef Wolfgang Puck. At some point, you’ll have to head back down via the same historic elevator – but not just yet.
Above the music-themed Aria Hotel, the High Note Skybar is where savvy mixologist Marcell Sárközi and team scour the globe to come up with their seasonal creations, accompanied by jaw-dropping views at eye level with the clock atop St Stephen’s Basilica. You can even book at table on an elevated terrace so you’re almost touching distance from the equal highest building in downtown Budapest. But the panorama of the Buda hills will soon draw your attention away from the Habsburg-era landmark alongside, as your friendly waiter brings you your mixed drink and an enticing platter of cold cuts or main dish of equal quality.
Above the Hotel Clark at the foot of Chain Bridge, the Leo Rooftop basks in a magnificent view of Budapest’s most revered landmark, with the Danube below, the embankments either side and Buda Castle aloft. Also in the mix are exciting drinks and excellent bar food, although you can also tuck into international dishes in the bistro below. The focus up here on the roof is on excellent cocktails and premium spirits. There’s plenty of opportunity to take in the wonderful surroundings, as they open at noon, when you can cool off with a long drink under welcome shade. Perhaps the best time, though, is twilight, the so-called blue hour often seized upon by top photographers, when the sky turns sapphire.
Since 2017, this elegant bar stretching over focal square Vörösmarty tér has offered an unparalleled view of Gellért Hill and the Basilica. Open year-round, this is a real idyll for lovers of quality bar culture and, of course, wine. In addition to the family’s own famed label from Eger, you can choose from a number of international ones and creative cocktails, accompanied by sophisticated gourmet snacks. Many visit for romantic rendezvous and anniversaries, but any special occasion can be made even more memorable by the experienced hospitality, excellent wine and the panorama. It’s a bit more upscale than others in this selection, so ditch the shorts and sandals for something a little more elegant.