Pedestrian’s Guide To Budapest

Budapest, Hungary is a blend of ornate and modern, classic and retro, historic and forward-thinking. It’s that old vs. new thing that, let’s face it, breeds descriptors such as ‘eclectic’ and ‘hmm, interesting’. Get right into both sides of the coin, for you are a neo-Huckleberry Finn: open-minded with an irrepressible sense of adventure. And if you’re low on time, here’s what we, together with our chums @ Contiki recommend..


Here we’ve made a conscious decision to withhold ingenious puns pertaining to popular band, Hungry Kids of Hungary. It is worth noting, however, that being hungry in Budapest is not to nil avail, with Hungarians being avid backers of hearty comfort food. If you’re carnivorous, great news, pal. But herbivores needn’t fret, with vegetarian cuisine delivering on fronts of both hi-nrg flavour and satiation. Let’s get stern for a sec and talk about taxes. Hungary is a land of tipping, and 10% is standard (directly proportionate, of course, to satisfaction and merry intoxication levels)
Address: 2 Liszt Ferenc ter, Budapest 1061, Hungary 
Opening hours: 10am-12am daily
A cafe-bar with a sort of refined elegance, minus pretension. Menza is mostly about retaining the wholesome, traditional cooking sensibilities of Hungary while getting patrons as plastered as possible. Although the latter is not even true, we had no choice but to draw such conclusions based on the absolutely bullshit cocktail list. Click on it, feast your eyes on the contenders and good fucking luck with that composure. Visit for dinner, where ordering the oven baked pork knuckle with onion potatoes will get you everywhere. At 2490HUF (around 10AUD) that’s cheaper than your average pub meal and without the gratuitous side of over-steamed vegetables. A pitfall might only be relevant to vegetarians- meat (all meat: duck, deer, beef, chicken, fish, pork, goose) is a big deal here. 

Menza’s Facebook page tell us this is the Menza burger with a homemade beer. (Aside from the vegetarianism thing) there shouldn’t be any reason you’re not on board with this.

L-R; beef ragout with ransom garlic and gröstle potatoes, pike perch filet with fennel and bacon

Gelarto Rosa
Address: Szent Istvan ter 3, Budapest 1051, Hungary
Blindingly positive acclaim for this gelato-art haunt could not be ignored. Owner Niki Szokron got deep with her family’s recipes and traversed some borders from Italy to set up shop in Hungary. Fundamentals here are raw, fresh ingredients and a uniquely cultivated technique (check out this video if you’re not sold). If you’re one for #cleaneating, be joyous about the fact that this gelato is free from emulsifiers and hydrogenated vegetable fat. Frozen confectionery c/o nature, you guys. Standard gelato flavours for the creatures of habit, lemon & basil or chilli & chocolate if born to be wild. 500HUF (like, 2 bux) for 3 flavours, sculpted as pretty little roses. I cannot haz Messina whut?



Bar Domby
Address: Anker köz 3., Budapest, 1061
Phone: +36 30 254 5704
Opening Hours:
Mon- Sat 7pm-3am

If you’re the type to hold sleek interiors and textured golden walls in handsome and not gaudy regard, you might be psyched on the vibes to be found here. “Vibes,” you say? What kind of outdated, flimsy pluralistic noun is that anyway? Well its comparable to New York, it’s svelte and will position you as “fancy but not fancy” and the mixologists are charming and cater to your every drinkable whim.
Address: Kazinczy utca 14, Budapest 1075, Hungary (Erzsébetváros)
Phone: +36 1 352 4198

A disused space cum bar of epic DIY styling is Szimpla Kert. Kitchy and comfortable in feels, the towering warehouse ceiling is raw and the lighting crafted from discarded electricals and strings of neon bulbs. Scrapheap furnishings are in abundance with operative words being converted and junk – junk converted into decorations, junk converted into visual displays, junk converted into things on which to sit and to place drinks. The crowd is a mix of foreign types (that’s you!) and locals, perhaps skewed toward the young and hip, if you know what I mean?



Address: 1085 Maria utca 19, Budapest
Phone: +36 30 709 1262
A little off the beaten track we suppose in terms of holiday activities, but who likes games? Not me, say lameass wet blanket types who should cease reading. If you’re still with us, this spot on the itinerary doesn’t promise to render you a pixelated hero with superhuman abilities, but it’s a great excuse for maintaining your arrested adolescence in the absence of the video games you left at home. What it does promise – and I quote the website here – is “an hour of pure fun, nothing else. Not even you coming out alive. That’s your job.” Ooooh, everybody! It works like a sort of treasure hunt, but with more of a badass appeal, for big kids. Moving through one of the ‘traps’, you and your team members (minimum of 2/maximum of 4 per team) will solve a series of puzzles that lead onto the ultimate mission: deactivating a BOMB. While this description is coming off superbly lame and probably planting irreversible seeds of doubt, the clues are actually, legitimately quite difficult. Vibes are dank, urgent, spooky…. cue raging adrenalin! Check out the Blair-Witch style intro video here for better insights.
Pálvölgyi Cave
: 162 Szepvolgyi Street 2, Budapest, Hungary (Várkerület)
Phone Number: +36-1-325-9505
Throw down a fee of 1200 HUF/person ($5.50) and you’re all up in this dripstone-heavy cave, “the longest one in the Buda Hills and the third longest in the country”. For all yee boring twats guys who revel in routine, the temperature is perpetually 11 degrees Celsius so you know to dress warm, whenever it is that you plan to go. The length of this shiny, stalactite-laden cave spans over seven kilometers. Here are some visual testaments to the wonderment, gaze and gush at your leisure:


Széchenyi thermal bath
Address: H-1146 Budapest, Állatkerti krt. 11
Telephone: (36-1) 363-3210
Opening Hours: 6am-10pm daily. The steam area closes at 7pm.
Lord knows a vaycay of exploration can be taxing on the body, so here’s your ticket for a few hours of R&R. The first thermal bath on the Pest side, the hot spring apparently ‘contains a significant amount of fluoride and metabolic acid, along with calcium, magnesium, hydro-carbonate, sodium and sulphate’. If this isn’t a heavenly cure for your achy, overworked, ‘earnest tourist’ muscles, we’ll eat our hats. Locals can meet with trained instructors for aqua-exercises in fat burning, weight- and body-toning gymnastics, and aqua aerobics. This is likely too strenuous for the like of your holiday mentality. Your needs might be better met with infra sauna, an underwater jet massage (20 min/ 2310HUF) or an aroma relax massage (20 min/3150HUF). Would you have a look at the lushness to be found here please?
Ecseri Flea Market
Address: Nagykörösi út 156, Budapest, Pest, District 19
Opening hours: weekdays 8am-4pm, Sat 6am-3pm, Sun 8am-1pm.
Vendors are hustling the regular categories of product you’d expect to find at any flea market – except you’re in Hungary, jerk, lap up the cultural paraphernalia pls. Clothes, furniture, jewellery, homewares, records, miscellaneous bits and bobs. If you’re like us and could trawl for days (EMG SHINY THINGS), perhaps you won’t be deterred by the organised chaos to be found at a lot of the stalls. So be prepared for some rummaging – this is us hereby repeating; disarray. However, prices are very decent and vendors DTH (down to haggle) if you’re with someone who speaks the native tongue. Rest assured, your level of commitment to the task shall reap the deserved spoils. Side note: no need to arrive early during the week as some stallholders were still setting up as midday was encroaching. Lax, but bountiful.
We couldn’t very well ignore the brimming culture bucket that is Budapest, and three of the uppermost classic sights. 
Matthias Church
Address: 1014 Budapest, Szentháromság tér 2, Hungary
Phone: +36 1 355 5657
Opening hours: weekdays 9am – 5pm, Sat 9am-1pm, Sun 1pm-5pm.
On the Buda bank of the Danube, atop the Castle hill, this church is a sight for sore eyes whether you’re a history guy or not. Over 700 years old, this church has housed an array of extracurricular activities over the years, including some coronations, namely Charles IV’s in 1916, and the multiple weddings of namesake Hungarian King Matthias. Aesthetically, we’re at ends with some fairly beautiful shit. Having undergone tumultuous instances of restoration following some tumultuous invasion and war, architect Frigyes Schulek completed a larger restoration in 1873-96. As it stands now, the country’s arguably most ecclesiastical structure is fashioned in a neo-gothic style, complete with slender, intricate accents, marvelous stained glass and a kaleidoscopic roof comprising Hungarian’s unique Zsolnay tiles. 
Fisherman’s Bastion
Address: 1014 Budapest, Szentháromság tér 5, Hungary
Phone: +36-1-458-3000
From Matthias Church, traipse over to the neighbouring Fisherman’s Bastion. Our architect mate from earlier, Frigyes Schulek, is the brains behind this monument as well, rebuilding the near irreparable structures following WW2. Comprising seven towers, each represent one of the Magyar tribes that settled in the Carpathian Basin in 896. Named for the fishermen who defended this locality in the Middle Ages, the Bastion now serves as a series of quasi-viewing towers with winding stairs and walking paths. Like a maze! Tourists love mazes. So do contestants on holistically challenging game shows like US The Amazing Race.
Chain Bridge
Address: Over the Danube, Between Clark Adam ter and Roosevelt ter, Budapest 1013
Phone: +36 1 266 7477 
Opening Hours: weekdays 11am-1am, Sat 11am-1am, Sun 11am-12am
Budapest’s equivalent of New York’s Brooklyn Bridge, The Chain Bridge is another landmark of vital historical stature. The first permanent stone-bridge connecting Pest and Buda over the River Danube also copped a load of destruction in the events of WW2, having been restored to its current interwoven cast iron glory. This city has a worth of pretty looking bridges, particularly viewed by night (take your boo, because romance) but the Chain Bridge denotes a profound background and is symbolic of the link between East and West. Spanning 375 metres and standing strong since 1845, some lush views over the city are to be had. Reiteration: nite time is the rite time.
[3] The bridge is featured in the opening of Katy Perry’s video for irritating modern day classic, Firework.
Oh, FYI. Day 10 of the Contiki Berlin to Budapest Tour will take you to Fisherman’s Bastion, Matthias Church and Chain Bridge so that you can smash this all together now.

If Budapest sounds like something you might be interested in conquering, the guys over at Contiki Holidays have a bunch of tours to choose from. ‘Vienna and Budapest’ (5 days) or ‘Berlin to Budapest’ (11 days) are some tidy options that place you in the proximity of most of the above stuff.

Title image by Ferenc Isza via Getty
[1] by these guys
[2] [3] [4] by Attila Kisbenedek via Getty