Budapest is fast becoming a top European city break destination, and with so many unusual sightseeing spots, historic charm, and quirky things to do, it’s not surprising! There’s something around every corner that will amaze or surprise you, but to really feel like a local in Budapest, check out these hidden gems. You’ll quickly discover the best of Budapest and experience the city as the locals do with our guide to hidden gems in Budapest.
Photo credit: mno.com
Vártkert Bazár- Castle Garden
Since it was re-opened in 2014 after reconstruction, more and more people are visiting this garden, but still not as many as it deserves! Although it’s right under the Castle in District I, many visitors go straight up Castle Hill by bus or funicular, and miss the beautiful garden completely! I’d recommend you start your castle exploration in the gardens then take the escalator to the top, giving you stunning views of the Danube, Pest, and the Citadel. The garden has been designed so that art complements nature, and is a space where cultural events and exhibitions take place year-round. But my favorite times of the year to visit are spring and autumn, not only for the roses that are in bloom but for the concerts and outdoor cinema nights that take place here! Grab a beer, sip a glass of wine and enjoy the magical sunset views over the Danube.
Photo credit: dailynewshungary.com
Hauer Café and Confectionery
There are a dozen of places where you can get amazing pastries in Budapest, but not many have as long a history as Haeur. Founded in 1890 as a small, one-room shop, it began to grow rapidly and quickly evolved into the space you see today. I love their confectionary, as they make all of my favorite Hungarian pastries and cakes, made the traditional way without over-the-top glazes or modernized fillings. They’re open 8am until 8pm (and 10pm at weekends), so you can treat yourself to breakfast before starting to discover the city or after a long day exploring. I recommend trying their Isler and Dobos Cake! The Isler is a round-shaped pastry will a jam filling between the two layers and smothered in chocolate! The Dobos Cake is an elaborate seven layer sponge that’s filled with chocolate cream and covered with a caramel topping.
ÜTŐS- Minigolf and Pub
I recently stumbled across this gem which really is hidden! In years gone by you could find lots of public toilets that were built underground - many of them are now closed but some have been given a new lease of life, like this one! Escape rooms are popular at the moment in Budapest, but the guys at ÜTŐS wanted to try something new, so they combined an escape room with mini-golf! It’s certainly not a simple golfing experience - there are 7 differently themed golf courses, like the Skateboarder or the Concrete Mixer. Forget everything you know about golf, and start thinking another way! You’ll have to move objects to make a free path for the golf ball, or figure out how to get the ball into a washing machine! Show off your talents and then enjoy an ice-cold Czech beer at the bar. They don’t accept reservations for the game, but booking a table is recommended, and the best part is there’s no time limit!
Red Ruin Bar
Visiting a ruin bar while you’re in Budapest is a must, but how about a themed bar? If you’re interested in history or just would like to see something different, I recommend visiting Red Ruin which is a communist themed bar the city centre. Many students love to spend their nights here, especially since they get 20% off! Budapest was once part of the Soviet Bloc, like many other Eastern European cities. This bar makes fun of its political past, and is decorated with communist propoganda, red bricks and graffiti covering the walls and paintings. The first thing that will catch your eye is the wall painting of Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong wearing birthday hats and having a “communist party”. If the bar’s style has not convinced you yet, its wide craft beer and palinka selection will!
This is another real hidden gem of Budapest. Most visitors and even locals visit only one side of Gellért Hill, where after a short climb you can find the Citadel and the Cave Church. But on the other side of the hill, close to the Elizabeth Bridge, you can discover this big green area with a spectacular view of the city. The group of statues, where the Garden’s name comes from, features an inner circle composed by Nándor Wagner for “the better understanding of each other” of 5 religious figures: Jesus, Abraham, Buddha, Akhenaten, and Laozi. Near the sculptures, you’ll find Prince Buda who is separated from her Princess Pest, just as the Danube cuts the city in half also. A local tip, visit the garden on Saturday and just two minutes away you’ll find Czakó Kert, a bistro which organizes a farmers’ market every Saturday in their own garden.
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