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Zebee Travel Diary Series: Budapest, Hungary

GETTING THERE


If booking well in advance, you can easily scoop up a return flight from London to Budapest for as little as £35! The flight lasts an easy 2 ½ hours, and the airport is located a convenient 30-minute bus ride from the buzzing city centre.


On arrival at the airport, bus tickets can be purchased from the machines directly outside the entrance. Be sure to purchase the ‘Airport Transfer’ ticket rather than just a standard single, as this won’t be valid on the ‘100E’ airport buses (we found out the hard way!). For only 900 HUF (£3), it’s a far cheaper alternative than a taxi or Uber. The third stop on the bus will be ‘Deak Ferenc Ter’ - one of the main intersections in the city and where most travellers accommodation can be found!


WHERE TO STAY?


We advise staying within or close to the Jewish Quarter of the city, also known as District VII. The home of Europe’s second largest Synagogue, this vibrant area is renowned for its fantastic eateries, gothic and soviet style architecture and wonderfully renovated ‘Ruin Bars’. The perfect hub for tourists, we guarantee this location won’t disappoint and is also a casual stroll away from some of Budapest’s iconic landmarks.


Whilst ‘backpacking hostels’ are abundant in the city, the Zebee team recommend immersing yourself into the architectural magnificence of the city and booking a gothic-style apartment. Unlike anything in London, these imposing buildings showcase high ceilings and exposed brickwork that make for a truly different experience!


WHAT TO DO?


Budapest attracts a mix of international tourists and backpackers and provides a great array of accommodation and activities to suit all. Whether it be smashing Sambucas in an underground bar, sipping on the local Aperol Spritz at sunset or taking leisurely strolls along the Danube riverbank, you won’t be disappointed!


We advise starting the day early at one of the many corner cafes littered around the city, to enjoy a strong coffee and bagel. Strolling from District VII to the bank of the Danube, past the Dohany Street Synagogue will take around twenty minutes and allow you to soak up the Eastern European architecture. Although it’s easy enough to jump on an open-roof bus tour around the city, we recommend to Petofi Ter dock on the riverbank and boarding the D12 public ferry for the price of 700 HUF (£1.90). This leisurely ferry will take you downstream, past some of Budapest’s most iconic buildings including Buda Castle, Fisherman’s Bastion, the Hungarian Parliament and the Great Market Hall. If you’ve got the time on hand, we recommend stopping off at each spot and admiring each of these awesome landmarks. (The ferries also have bars inside that serve up a refreshing glass of bubbly for around 50p...it would be rude not to!)


Tired yet? Treat yourself a relaxing few hours at the Szechenyi Thermal Baths (about 20-minute metro ride from the city centre). These historic Roman Baths contain 21 pools including saunas and steam rooms. An awesome way to spend a sunny afternoon, with cheap beers available from the numerous bars flanking the pool sides. If you’re there on a Saturday, then be prepared for the infamous Spa Party that kicks off from 7 pm till the early hours. 


Depending on what sort of mood you’re in, the Budapest nightlife provides for all! Fancy a chilled one? Then head to Kadarka wine bar in district VII. A hidden gem nestled away in the backstreets, this bar serves up over 100 different Hungarian wines and awesome sharing platters of food. Take a book, sit back and relax. If you do go, be sure to try the local Nagyfröccs - Rose, Soda Water and Lavender Honey Syrup. Our co-founder, Hui, gives this her ‘seal of approval’ and is determined to get this drink circulating in the UK! Top this off with an hour sat in a local Jazz bar with a shot of Palinka (local spirit not for the faint-hearted!).


If you’re after a more booze-centric night, then sign up to one of the many Ruin Bar pub crawls, that attract the international backpacking scene. Check out the cool interior of the legendary Szimpla bar, including many others, and finish with a ‘Power Hour’ all-you-can-drink frenzy with the remaining stragglers. Ensure to have paracetamol at hand for the following day.




WHAT TO EAT?


Like much of Europe, it’s easy to find any cuisine imaginable in Budapest, including fast-food chains and international dishes. If you really want to immerse yourself in the local experience however, we advise trying the following at least once!...


Lángos - Think pizza... but not quite pizza. A deep-fried dough topped with sour cream and grated cheese. If you’re thinking that this sounds carb heavy, then you’re right, but by God, is it good. We recommend you try out the other toppings including garlic butter, meat and onions!


Goulash - Either served in an actual load of bread, or by itself, Hungarian Goulash is essentially meat stew seasoned with paprika and other spices. It’s a simple dish but possibly one of the tastiest meals the Zebee team enjoyed in Budapest.


Gyros - For the heavy drinkers amongst you, you’ll be happy to hear that the city hosts numerous gyros stalls, open until the early hours. Essentially a kebab wrapped in pita, stuffed with chips. Don’t expect to pay any more than the equivalent of £1.50. What more could you ask for?


Waffles - If you’re on the hunt for something sweet then we recommend the waffles. You’ll spot lots of waffle shops throughout the city, including street vendors, that will top the deserts off with a plethora of chocolatey treats. Delish!!



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