On the feast day of lovers, it seems the right thing to do is to find a spot to enjoy the day with your partner (even if you're not completely behind the idea of Valentine's Day). It's worth considering places beyond the classical restaurant choices, for there are numerous spots around Budapest that area ideal for a romantic rendezvous. Here are a few tips that guarantee a success date with your Valentine (and don't require a bank loan).
Kőleves Barkas - the fun
Kőleves in Kazinczy Street has been known (amongst other things) for its great lunch menu, but it has more to offer for Valentine's Day than a cliché restaurant dinner. It so happens that Kőleves has a curious little venue that is unknown to many; the Barkas van parked outside on the street, which can be booked for private events. You can then drink and eat, for instance, a porcini polenta with veggies (2 250 HUF) or a wok-cooked duck breast with cashew and veggies (2 980 HUF) in this intimate and unique ambience. Just note that you'll have to order at the bar, since the waiters don't come out here, and you have to book in time.
Calgary Café - the private
Hidden in Frankel Leó Street on the Buda side of Margaret Bridge, you'll find the Calgary Antik Drinkbár ('Calgary Antique Drink Bar'). The bar named after a Canadian town is the perfect blend of an antique shop and a shell-proof rendezvous spot, where intimacy is guaranteed. You probably won't bump into acquaintances here, and the owner Viki néni will take good care of you if you want a sandwich or a glass of wine. Plus, the place opened exactly on Valentine's Day in 1993, as if it was predestined for this purpose. There's only on problem: the opening hours are somewhat whimsical. Officially, it should be open between 4pm and 4am, still, it is only open when it fancies to be open. It is worth the try, though.
Address: District II, Frankel Leó Street 24
Csendes - the safe bet
If you want to play it safe, head to Csendes. This spot is strong in both romance, mood-lighting and style, which you can enjoy while filling up on coffee, wine and/or hot sandwiches. It is advisable, though, to book a table, since it is sometimes difficult to find one in the evening hours. Csendes has a slightly more private section out the back, at a safe distance from the noisy university students that fill this place. Add a romantic stroll in the nearby Károlyi Garden to make the perfect impression.
Spíler Shanghai secret bar - the yakuza
By default, Gozsdu udvar, might not be the most suitable choice for a romantic meeting, but it has a nook that puts it back on the table. The real deal of Spíler Shanghai is its basement secret bar, which is just like a secret watering hole for the yakuza. The venue is usually hired for bigger parties, but there is an option for booking smaller sections if needed.
Valyo sauna - the sweaty
The lack of clothing and sweating together are obviously some of the best things this venue has to offer, but a memorable experience is probably one of the best things the Valyo sauna offers. After all, it's not often you get to enjoy a sauna on the Danube bank, in the heart of Budapest, inside a van with fogged up windows.You can rent the van with the wood-fuelled stove for 10 000 HUF/1.5 hrs.The wood for the stove is of course included in the price, just like the essential oils and even the towels. You can change inside the bus and there's a shower outside.
Address: 1051 Budapest, id. Antall József rakpart
Metro - the urban
Change your perception of Budapest's metros, since they might just be your perfect rendezvous spot, if you'd rather avoid restaurants or bars. The romantic journeys are ideal for more than one reason: a public place eliminates stress even in the case of the first date; there are always conversation triggers around; and you can hop off anytime. We think that the most suitable line is M3, for it's the longest; then again, M4 is the most beautiful and M1 is the most stylish. Pastries and coffee are available at most of the stops.
Gül Baba's türbe - the mysterious
Gül Baba's türbe, the tomb of the Muslim warrior monk aka the 'father of roses' and it's an excellent getaway for Valentine's Day. Why? Because it has a gorgeous view of Budapest, picturesque stairs, and very few visitors apart from the residents of the surrounding areas. You can bring a bottle of wine or hot tea in a thermos, and the pizza boy also gets here fast enough (been there, done that).
Füvészkert - the feminine
You'll find the botanical garden of the Eötvös University, commonly known as Füvészkert, in the jungle of the 8th District.The original purpose of the garden was to preserve and cultivate protected plant species, but it doubles quite well as a Valentine's Day spot. You can stroll around amid perfect scenery or enjoy the view from one of the benches. Food and drinks are allowed, but littering is strictly forbidden.
Vagon - the classic
The story of Vagon ('railway carriage') by the Museum of Transport and Technology began in 1965, when a dining carriage originally from the Orient Express was placed here. Today, a completely different carriage stands here, but it also works as buffet, and its unique ambience makes it perfect for dates. The selection focuses mostly on drinks, but they also serve various hot sandwiches (545 - 665 HUF). Note that there is another place called Vagon by the Vérmező park, which is also quite pleasant.
Address: XIV., Városligeti Ring Road 11.
Liebling's 'wardrobe' - the secret
Liebling is inside Fogasház, on the left side in an area which was closed off for a while. It is a pleasant place for warm-up drinks, and might be your idea of a Valentine's Day spot, since there is a tiny closet behind the stairs. This is a narrow room with a lockable door - like the wardrobe or the pantry at a house party. It is perfect for anything your morals allow. When you're finished, the party of the night will be just a few steps away.
Café Torino - the Italian
We recommend Café Torino in Bródy Sándor Street for the milk foam on the cappuccino, the day's pasta specials, the tiramisu and for the charming glass pavilion outside for Valentine's Day. Give the bruschetta a try, or go with the sweet or salty cakes, or try the paninis.
Japanese Garden - the passionate
Originally founded in the 1970s, the Japanese Garden on Margaret Island was re-opened after a renovation in 2014. The feature plants of the garden were preserved, while several new, special species were added. Of course the benches and walkways remain. Here, you can easily spend half a day strolling, drinking wine or eating, but early arrival is recommended, since even in winter, at Valentine's Day, the Island will be flooded with couples.