With its art-nouveau spas, picture-perfect architecture, and mouthwatering restaurant scene, it’s easy to see why Budapest has emerged as one of Europe’s most unmissable destinations. To find out how to explore Hungary’s capital like a local, we chatted with Hidasi Kata Lídia of budapestUNDERGUIDE, who’s been helping visitors discover everything her home city has to offer for over a decade.
So, Kata, what’s your favorite place in Budapest that tourists rarely visit? I have a few! I do love places connected to nature, like Római Part, which is a riverbank in the northern part of Buda. It’s a very charming area with plenty of nice cafes, bars, kiosks, and restaurants. Veli-Bej Turkish baths are a bit harder to find because it’s surrounded by an old hospital, but is well worth a visit as it’s not very busy because they limit how many people can enter. Just be sure to check the opening times before you go as it closes for a for few hours during lunch time.
What are your favorite restaurants and bars that only locals visit? Fellini at Római Part is a real favorite of mine as is Manó Büfé, which is a very old bar with a terrace located in Zugló. It’s located literally in between two train tracks, and on Saturdays, they cook open-air ‘gulyás’ and other cauldron meals. I also love the authentic Hungarian-Jewish food and atmosphere at Rosenstein in District 8. Elsewhere, Pagony is a quirky open-air bar with an outdoor cinema. It used to be part of the Gellért Baths’ garden, and the old outdoor pools have been turned into (dry!) seating.
Where are the best places to eat in Budapest? Budapest has many great brunch places: Stika in the Jewish district, Zoska next to the Károlyi Garden, Csiga in the bohemian District 8, Villa Bagatelle on the Buda side (away from touristy Pest), and Coyote in front of the Parliament at Batthyány tér are some of my favorites. For lunch, head to Hellohal if you’re a fish lover. Csiga has a cheap and delicious lunch menu, and Gettó Gulyás has a lovely atmosphere and great food. My favorite dinner spots include Zeller Bistro, Rosenstein, BorsSó, and, of course, the Michelin-starred (but not very expensive) Borkonyha.
What are the most Instagram-worthy places in Budapest? The Castle District of Buda (especially near Matthias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion) is particularly beautiful. Margaret Bridge provides you with perfect views of some major sights, including Parliament, the Chain Bridge, the Castle District, and Gellért Hill. A secret spot for you is atop the Bálna (Whale) Cultural Center. A tiny rooftop garden awaits those who walk to the top. It may be closed when raining, though.
Where are the best locations to see the sunrise and sunset in Budapest? For sunrise, make sure you’re on the Buda’s riverbank. You’ll get a great view of the sunrise from Margaret Bridge and Margaret Island, Gellért Hill’s Garden of Philosophers, and the Castle District. For a picturesque sunset, head to the western side of the Castle District or Gellért Hill. The rooftop bars of Hotel President (360 Bar) or Aria Hotel (Skybar) are also great locations.
What’s the best activity to do on a rainy day? Go to a bathhouse! Budapest is famous for its magical thermal water, which is great for both your body and soul.
When’s the best time to visit Budapest? Spring, especially between late April and early May as this is when the city is full of love and flowers! Each season has its advantages, but spring is my favorite as it’s not as busy as in June, July, and August.
What is the most exciting event to happen in Budapest this year? Well, it depends on what excites you! The Night of the Museums on the shortest day of the year is always an exciting program as is the 100-year-old building celebration and Budapest Spring Festival. If you prefer pop concerts, then Sziget Festival in August is the event for you! To mark our biggest bank holiday on August 20th, Budapest holds a firework show along the river bank as well as hosting lots of programs throughout the day.
Where are the best places to shop in Budapest? Head to the Jewish district for both vintage and designer clothes and jewelry. For great wine, check out Cultivini where you can both taste and buy.
What gift should visitors take home? Take your pick from Hungarian wine, a Rubik’s cube (as it’s a Hungarian invention), or a Folka figurine (not only are they cute but they also represent Hungarian folklore).
What’s your favorite thing about being a tour guide? I’m definitely not an office-person, so it’s great to be on the run all the time. I love architecture, history, urban legends, food, and wine, so my job is basically my hobby and passion, which makes me very lucky. I love my city and country, and it’s great to introduce it to everyone.
What can people expect from your tours? We design unique, tailor-made experiences, tours and private events for our clients, including our “goLOCAL!” tours. We have a huge variety of tours focusing on different topics, covering general sightseeing to specific ones, like food tours, Jewish district tours, photo tours, and child-friendly Buda castle tours to name just a few. We also organize countryside trips, for example to Szentendre and Lake Balaton.
Valentine’s Day is hard: there is so much expectation and hype around the perfect romantic experience. But the truth is, it should be about you and your partner. That’s why we put together these 9 surefire ideas for Valentine’s Day to help some wayward Romeo’s.
Give yourself some peace and quiet, for Christ’s sake! Hit the road together and get away from the hectic city. Dramatic landscapes and tranquility are a must for any romantic getaway. It’s a great way to spark that sense of adventure that every romance needs. Driving too stressful? Hire someone to do it for you.
Teamwork builds trust and if you can trust your partner with sharp kitchen appliances: your relationship is on sound footing. Take a trip to the store together, pick out the ingredients, bump into each other in the kitchen, and learn something new. Grab some wine and put on some music and you’re cooking with fire.
Discover new flavors you never knew existed. You can book a tour, or meander about in your favorite picturesque neighborhood, stopping in at all the cafes. Feed each other and indulge your senses. Fun tip: make it a competition to see who can eat the most. Winner gets a free massage.
Or let someone else do the massaging. The stress will melt off and you can enjoy each other’s company. The best way to do so is with an ice-cold bottle of champagne while soaking in a thermal bath. Order some fruit and spoil each other with sweets.
Everyone wants to be swept off their feet (admit it, men!). But, let’s just say not everyone has the ability to do so. Nothing embodies passion quite like dancing and undertaking something new together. The experience bonds: physically and mentally!
Sprawling cityscapes framed by a colorful sunset. Enjoy the seclusion and the view together. Make sure you ask the waiter for some candles and don’t skimp on the special requests. Request a favorite song or a “surprise” in the ice bucket (maybe a little box with something special inside?).
Ready to take the plunge? An extreme experience – like skydiving – will get your heart racing. The thrill of holding on for dear life makes anything seem possible. Once survival mode kicks in, it’s straight into each other’s arms. Netflix and chill can wait. We promise.
Let the waves take you away. It is liberating floating on the open ocean, with the wind in your hair and nothing but the horizon in front of you. Set the atmosphere with some romantic music and wine or go for a dip together.
Mike West, 30, is a passionate music fan from England, who has been living in Berlin since 2010. Following a super popular Bowie Night at his club night Feeling Gloomy, he began running his incredibly successful David Bowie Walking Tour. Having recently signed up to GetYourGuide, and instantly selling out, we thought we’d pester him for a few insights into his success. Here are his top tips!
1. Find Your Niche “I was shocked to find that there wasn’t a walk dedicated solely to Bowie in Berlin. There are so many great things to do and see in this city that we can show visitors and fellow residents. I can imagine it is hard for new tour operators to get started and really stand out from the already packed crowd, but if you love something about your city then go out tell everyone!”
Leading the tour
2. Find Your Inspiration “Meeting a variety of people and hearing their Bowie stories makes it very worthwhile. It’s amazing the amount of Bowie facts people have to share! I’ve met some great people who I’m still in contact with. Plus, let’s not forget- I bloody love Bowie! I love his many facets from the music to the movies, to the myths and legends that surround his career. It’s easier to keep something going when you have a genuine passion for it.”
3. Find the Time “Find out how you can make your tour fit into your schedule. Personally, I only do the tour once a fortnight on a Saturday afternoon. That’s because I also have a day job at a media publishing company and run a nightclub, so this is what works for me.”
Mike at the famous Hansa Studios
4. Recognize Your Challenges and Address Them “My ongoing challenge though is that my tour is a pretty small walk, which is also fairly informal. I am always trying to maintain that low-key charm, but keep it popular. I also wanted to broaden the Bowie Walk’s clientele, which is why I joined GetYourGuide.
Mike on tour
Interested in joining Mike on his tour? The next one is 29th June.
Interested in sharing your stories with GetYourGuide? Send us an email – we’d love to hear from you!