As Valentine’s Day approaches, singles seeking to schmooze face a paucity of options. With no bars, cafés, restaurants or nightspots open, where doth the prospective lover woo in Budapest? Here are our suggestions, from city lights to hilly walks.
nothing like getting to know one another while floating above the Buda hills on
the Chairlift. You’ll get plenty of time to make a first impression on
the way up, combined with fresh air and wonderful views of Budapest. You
can follow it up with a hike up János Hill or a stroll around Normafa.
It’s open from 10am until 4pm in February, the hours extended each
month as the weather gets warmer.
With winter still upon us, we
can still enjoy a few hours of free time after work until eight in the evening.
Thankfully, Budapest lights up a treat whatever the season. If you’re meeting
after dark, you can enjoy a stroll around the city’s stunning vantage points, the
perfect architectural backdrop to romance. Buda Castle,
Gellért Hill, the bridges and embankments,
Rózsadomb and Fátra tér, even Farkasréti cemetery, all have their twinkling charms.
Most culture-focused rendezvous locations such as cinemas, theatres and
museums are all closed at the moment, but there is one loophole – open art
Viewing exhibitions doesn’t have to take too long – perhaps convenient on a
first date – but can be great for exploring each other’s views, opinions and
cultural preferences. To mention but a few, there’s currently a display of
abstract art by Tamás Konok at the Molnár Ani Gallery,
an exhibition by painter Konrád Kaszás and sculptor Antal Plank at the Godot
Gallery, a series created
in Barcelona by Ákos Bánki at the K.A.S. Gallery,
and abstract expressionist François Fiedler’s centenary exhibition (registration required) and works by psychiatric patients at the Art Brut
to spend part of their weekends browsing one of Budapest’s many markets.
This can be a high-sensory experience as you both find out what you like to
taste, drink or eat – and what not. While it’s not set in stone that this topic
can strike someone off your dance card, a first date at the market can avoid any
subsequent issues or conflicts of interest. A familial atmosphere and, given
the outdoor location, safety during the pandemic, are best found at small
producers’ markets, such as the Pancs Gastroplacc, Czakó Piac above Tabán (with
lángos on the menu for Valentine’s) Csörsz utca and the market by the Danube at
Római-part. You can also test your prospective partner’s eco credentials at Fény
utca, Lehel tér and Fehérvári út, or head to one of the growing number of package-free
stores, such as the ones suggested here.
Despite the pandemic,
new street-food places are constantly popping up, offering takeaway and home-delivery
options. There’s artisanal bakery Bageri near Parliament, the Alaplé Bár with delicious warm soups on Lövőház utca, rustic bakery Chez
Matild on Gellért Hill, sausage eatery Pesti Kolbászda on Fény utca, bakery and breakfast place VAJ in District VIII, Jimmy’Z
Vegan Burger at Nyugati and IDE Pizza on Pozsonyi út, all satisfying eateries. What could be
more romantic than sitting together on a public bench – provided no-one
drips sauce on the other person’s jacket.
Villas & houses
Exploring urban architecture
is another great way of connecting and having fun together, and you can learn
more about your partner’s sense of beauty and preferences when it comes to
housing and design solutions – although we may be getting a little ahead of
ourselves in terms of possible outcomes from the rendezvous. Stunning villas
can be found on Sváb Hill,
magnificent Art-Nouveau and weekend houses around Mátyásföld, Bauhaus
wonders on Napraforgó utca in Pasarét and fairy-tale homes in the Wekerle
Rózsadomb would also be a great destination, where you can admire the Tomb of Gül Baba, Mansfeld Péter Park and the József
Hill lookout one after the other, stumbling upon several beautiful
buildings on the way.
Walks & strolls
At weekends, you can clear your
diary for daytime strollling. Budapest is full of excursion possibilities that
can be reached in well under an hour.
This is just the right amount of time to spark up a decent conversation or two
without either party feeling the need for small talk. Excursions include Róka
Hill, the Kis- and Nagy-Hárs Hill, the Fazekas Hill Bunker 1km from Hűvösvölgy,
romantic Apáthy Rock and the nearby Árpád lookout tower (if the going’s good, you
can continue the hike to the top of Hármashatár Hill), Hermit’s Gorge (Hungarians
in the party might like to listen to Örkény’s One Minute Stories by forest
telephone), Ördög-orom, Ferenc Hill, Kamaraerdő, Kiscelli Park Forest and, of
course, everyone’s favourite, Normafa.