For those after a holiday immersed in history, culture, goulash, and athletics, Budapest is a great place to be in the summer. This year you can schedule your visit around Hungary's biggest sports event, the World Athletics Championships 2023. So if you are curious to see legends and emerging superheroes compete while soaking up the multicultural buzz (visitors are expected from all around the world, including Chile and Japan), book your flight tickets between 19 and 27 August. This way, and with our city guide backing you up, you will score an eventful holiday in the Hungarian capital.
How to spend a buzzing week in Budapest during the World Athletics Championships
This year Budapest is celebrating its 150 anniversary, making it a symbolic time to host its biggest sports event ever. The city is a hot destination without any add-ons, but will be showered with even more attention in August. Here is why it is a good idea to schedule your holiday to Budapest during the World Athletics Championships 2023 and how to make the most of it.
World Athletics Championships 2023
The World Athletics Championships 2023 will bring a multicultural and highly charged atmosphere to the Hungarian capital, which would be a misfortune to miss out on. 2 000 athletes from more than 200 countries will flock to Budapest to celebrate the queen of sports. During the nine-day Championships, you can see marathonists run past World Heritage sites and support athletes during competitions such as discus throw, shot put, hammer throw, javelin throw, pole vault, or high jump at the brand new National Athletics Centre. And even if you are planning to see all the events at the Championships, you will have big chunks of spare time to fill (check the timetable here). So get ready to take some notes because we have some recommendations.
Where to stay
From quirky boutique hotels in the historical Castle District, such as Baltazár or Pest-Buda, to luxury hotels overlooking the river, such as Matild Palace or Párisi Udvar Hotel, and uniquely themed downtown accommodations such as Aria Hotel or the Hard Rock Hotel, you are spoiled with options when booking your stay. If you are looking for a location from where you can conveniently get to the National Athletics Centre, consider one of the 5-star hotels on the Danube Promenade, the Intercontinental Budapest or the Budapest Marriott Hotel. All you need to do is catch tram 2, then walk or take a boat from Müpa.
What to see
Summertime means massive strolls for us, and when it comes to the most stunning routes, it is impossible to pick favourites. However, Gellért Hill is definitely one of them: it is easy to access and rewarding to climb. To immerse in medieval history, head to the Várkert Bazár and walk up to the Castle District. Look up at the Zsolnay-tiled roof of the Matthias Church, then down from the Fisherman's Bastion. If you are in good shape, walk the stairs up to the dome of St Stephen's Basilica, which offers breathtaking views of downtown Budapest. One more tip for fans of lookout points: you can peek around from the top of Budapest's first skyscraper too. Then marvel at the Parliament, a building that Freddie Mercury put an offer on, or wander around on Margaret Island or the City Park, where you can even fly up in a hot-air balloon to check the view from a height of 150 metres.
What to do
Apart from the vistas, Budapest has other unique activities to offer. Take the escape rooms, which have become a phenomenon. They are creatively themed settings where you are challenged to solve mysteries and make your way out in 60 minutes. You can always opt for another Hungarian must-do: relaxing in one of the many thermal baths, even in the summer. The Art Nouveau details decorating indoor pools, parties in outdoor pools, or a rooftop jacuzzi work wonders any season. Visit museums such as the aesthetically pleasing Museum of Ethnography or the contemporary Ludwig. See Hungarian bands perform at the crowd-favourite open-air venue Budapest Park. Join an unusual sightseeing tour on a motorboat. Taste the Hungarian spirit Unicum at the Zwack Museum, and watch the fireworks celebrating Hungary's national holiday on August 20th.
Where to eat
When it comes to Hungarian cuisine, expect heavy meals made with lots of love and onions. Goulash, chicken paprikash, Weiner Schnitzel and stuffed cabbage are some of the most famous local dishes, but anything made with paprika will make a Hungarian proud. Try Somlói Sponge Cake for dessert and lángos (deep-fried sourdough bread) for a snack. You can explore Hungarian dishes at high-end restaurants such as Gundel or Stand25 Bistro. You can opt for a more laidback atmosphere and enjoy a hearty meal at Rosenstein (to follow in the footsteps of Timothée Chalamet), Retek Bisztró or Menza. You can also dive into the party district and try Gettó Gulyás or the food court Karaván. Or head to the 1st floor of the Great Market Hall and browse the stalls for delicacies.
Where to drink
In search for glamorous drinking spots, shoot for the moon and land on a rooftop. Sky bars are in vogue as much as ever, with new venues opening constantly. Pick The Duchess for fancy cocktails, head to 360 Bar for live DJ sets, and opt for the High Note SkyBar for eyeing up St Stephen's Basilica. To experience the locales that made Budapest the crown jewel of stag dos, dive deep into a ruin pub in the 7th district. The most famous and quirkiest one is Szimpla Kert, where you can toast with a shot of pálinka (Hungarian spirit) sitting in a bathtub. For sunset lovers, we recommend Bálna Terasz (easily accessible from the Athletics Centre by tram2). If you are on the hunt for craft beer, try Madhouse or the open-air Élesztő Terasz.
Save your seat at the World Athletics Championships 2023, and get tickets here.
The article was written in partnership with the World Athletics Championships 2023.