With a significant uptick in foreign visitors and a record summer for domestic tourism, 2021 can be seen in a positive light despite the fact that we’re still riding the metro in masks. It’s been another busy year for Budapest, major hotel, museum and restaurant openings following one after the other. A major international football finals took place here in June, the Euro Handball Championship are due here soon and a Sziget Festival is planned for 2022, three years after the last one. With plenty to look forward to, we take a quick look back with this highlights package of 2021.
Hungary locked down from November 2020, many were delighted to see
vaccines on the horizon. In
early January, we reported on the
roll-out plan for all carrying a Hungarian TAJ
health card. By April, Immunity Certificates were in place,
required for entry at restaurants and cultural attractions. At the
same time, foreigners here without TAJ cards could also register for
vaccination and interlink with the EU Covid green card.
UK expats get hit by Brexit
January saw Brexit come into effect for UK citizens living across
the EU, forcing all of them to go through some kind of registration
process in order to be legal here or only be allowed short stays.
Here in Hungary, the scheme was free and relatively straightforward – although not without its hiccups as the deadline of 31 December
Drone photography takes off
crowds gathering in town and less traffic around the Buda hills,
drone photographers had a field day capturing stunning images. This
series by Sándor Csudai around Hármashatár-hegy was one good example.
Everyone takes to two wheels
Renovating Chain Bridge
years of delay and debate, the renovation of Chain Bridge began at
last – Budapest’s iconic crossing isn’t expected to reopen until
2023. Just before it was closed, photographer Tamás Drágon shot
these last poignant images.
Videos showcase each district
pioneering series of videos showcased each of the city’s main
highlighting the main sights and documenting daily life.
Revamping the embankment
Budapest more cycle- and pedestrian-friendly is the main aim of the
revamping of the Danube embankment in town, starting with the stretch
between Parliament and Margaret Bridge.
As in 2020, the embankment was closed off to motor vehicles during
spring and summer weekends
to become a public entertainment zone.
Transforming Buda Castle
rebuilt after war-time devastation, Buda Castle is now being given
the expert attention it deserves as part of the current Hauszmann
Programme for its regeneration. Of the many features and attractions since reopened to the
public, the most spectacular were St Stephen’s Hall,
designed by Hauszmann himself, and the Főőrség Palace,
designed by Miklós Ybl of Opera House fame.
Reviving the Margit Quarter
the successful example of Bartók Béla út, the Buda boulevard now lined with
cafés and galleries, the shabby stretch of the Nagykörút on the
Buda side of Margaret Bridge is next line for regeneration – as
we reported in March.
The first major opening, the képező gallery, took place in early
Package-free shops abound
of many now operating around the capital, Kegyes Vegyes opened in
distant District XVII,
without the need for boxes or, God forbid, plastic.
a repeat of scenes the previous June, café and restaurant terraces
reopened across Budapest in April,
after vaccination numbers cleared 3.5 million.
Welcome, Wolfgang Puck!
Spago a culinary and social phenomenon in Beverly Hills, stellar
Austrian chef Wolfgang Puck brought his pioneering cuisine to
by setting up Spago by Wolfgang Puck at the spectacular Matild Palace
hotel, another stellar opening of the summer.
Its panoramic cocktail bar, The Duchess, soon provided further reason for to visit.
Rác Baths await unveiling
Dürer Kert moves to Buda
Budapest hosts the Euros
were there to film the crazy scenes as Hungarian football fans were able to follow their team at a major
finals in Budapest. World Cup holders France and European champions
Portugal were both in town to play Hungary at the Euro championships,
held over from 2020. The award-winning Puskás Aréna was all a-frenzy as the Magyars went 1-0 up against France – not to mention the celebrations across the city.
MONYO rocks the house
own beer Disneyland was unveiled by local craft brewers MONYO down in
Kőbánya – a live music venue, outdoor bar and eatery in one.
We were there to film on the opening night!
Citadella cable car set for take off
will soon go ahead on a cable car linking the Rác Baths in the Tabán with Citadella atop
Gellért Hill, a major city landmark and wedding-photo vantage point.
Pest gets a new culture centre
away off Baross utca where in-the-know underground bars once lurked
in the early 1990s, the Turbina Cultural Centre opened in October
with a gig by popular alt-rock band Fran Palermo,
followed by an exhibition, aerobics and a market – and has pretty much
stuck to the script ever since.
Speed dating in Budapest
had to happen – speed dating in English! Budapest residents
Radmila Matković and Olja Radlović figured out that post-pandemic pining among expats was an itch that
needed to be scratched, and so set up a series of successful
The mummy awakes
Museum of Fine Arts staged the big-hitting exhibition of the year,
The Discovery of the Pharaoh’s Tomb, which focused on the both the
tomb of Pharaoh Amenhotep II from around 1400 BC, and its discovery
by French archaeologist Victor Loret.
Hotel Gellért closes – for now
the last one please turn off the lights? Her
façade as elegant as ever, her interior
long in need of renovation, the storied Hotel Gellért closed in
December for a major overhaul under a change of ownership – but not
before a series of special events and guided tours were laid on in
Recirquel revive winter show
of the great Hungarian success stories of the last five years, cirque
danse troupe Recirquel embarked on a huge tour of France – talk
about coals to Newcastle! – and revived its family-friendly
Christmas show, Kristály, performed at a special tent by the
seasonal ice rink at Müpa. We spent an enlightening hour in the
company of founder/director Bence Vági to find out what lay behind this pioneering cultural phenomenon.
Prince launches luxury perfume
the prince, cometh the perfume. Prince Paul-Anton Esterházy launched
luxury perfume Estoras, inspired by a Sahara adventure taken by his
grandfather and motivated by the desire to bolster the family’s
good name in Hungary. We listened agog while the scion described the
heritage of a unique aroma.
We wish you a Merry Christmas!
part of our Everyday Hungarian series, we revealed why the word for
Christmas in Hungarian gets a mysterious extra t when locals wish each other Boldog
karácsonyt!. Boldog új évet!