This week, Euroventure’s main man Phil got in touch with Veronika at Budapest City Wombats to chat about the best ways to spend your time and money in Hungary’s buzzing capital. If you’re only there for a couple of nights during your inter-rail trip you’ll want to spend them wisely, so we asked Veronika for her top tips…
Hi Veronika, great to speak to you – rumour has it you’re the best person to speak to about Budapest nightlife! So where should we head to once we’ve dumped our bags off in the hostel?
For the best Budapest nightlife you need to be heading to Pest (Budapest is split into these two areas by the river Danube) – it’s the side full of places to go out in the evenings with hundreds of bars and clubs, cafes and restaurants. Buda can be a bit boring on the evening, and is definitely more expensive for a drink.
So how much are we talking for the average cost of drinks in Pest?
A large beer will be 4/500FT so around €1.50! But everyone here at the moment is drinking Fröccs, which is soda water mixed with white or rose wine. It’s perfect because it’s so refreshing in the heat, you don’t get drunk too fast, and also it’s really tasty. The most popular versions are called NAGYRÖCCS or VICEHÁZMESTER. And while you’re here you should also try a kind of bitter herbal liqeur called Unicum, it’s a Hungarian delicacy – we usually drink it before dinner, and also use it as a medicine! Or if you’re after something stronger get some Pálinka which is more intense – you won’t find a bar which doesn’t serve it.
Cool, and where exactly should we be drinking these?
Round the hostel there are about 50/60 bars and clubs which are a little bit touristy but still worthwhile – loads of them have little gardens to sit in which are cool and relaxing, plus the drinks are cheap. During the whole summer it’s best to head to Erzsébet square which becomes an open air free “festival” of sorts. You can chill out drinking Fröccs with lots of locals.
The Ruin bars are also really cool to hang out in, but some are hard to find. Basically, we can make a ruin bar from every ruined building, the recipe: take an old building, don’t renovate it, decorate it with loads of old stuff. It really creates a special atmosphere. There are a lot of locals there and it’s great to see the locals mixing with the tourists. They play all kinds of music and sometimes have live bands on. These are all in Pest rather than Buda. Szimpla is the mother of the ruin bars but Ellátó kert and Mika Tivadar Mulató are also a MUST. You can also head to the famous Kazinczy Street and the Gozsdu Yard to go out, and to party till the early hours head to INSTANT.
Throughout summer there are festivals to go to as well. Sziget festival and Balaton Sound are both really cool and you can easily travel from the hostel by train to get there. Both are getting more and more popular each year – the city gets pretty crazy while Sziget is on, it’s just so busy!
Also, if you’re here on a Saturday night then you can head to the Thermal Spa party at Szechenyi Baths from 10pm to 3am. Obviously that’s lots of fun with everyone in the pools outside.
Awesome, so we’ll probably be feeling rough the next day with all those options! Where should we go to chill out and recover?
Firstly to grab some breakfast there are lots of good cafes near the hostel, if you just head towards parliament you’ll come across them all. Then head to Buda to chill out, and see the castle which is so scenic. It’s worth being part of a walking tour which departs from the city centre near the Erzebert square. That gives you a really good idea of the history. If you’re not up to the walking yet maybe get back to the Spa first, where you can have a massage. You could also head to Margaret Island on the Danube which has a beach to lie on.
When you’re feeling hungry again, I’d recommend going to the Market hall which has so many different foods to try, from fried bread with sour cream to goulash soup. There are always lots of locals walking round getting ingredients for a Sunday lunch.
Sounds amazing Veronika! And on that note we let her get back to the party…