How to stay off the beaten track and have a relaxed weekend in Budapest?

After spending some hours walking around the streets in Budapest I started having mixed feelings that I couldn’t manage to shake away. It’s a strange sensation of wanting to love something that doesn’t want to be loved. Like when you meet someone and develop this breathtaking passion that you know will end up hurting you, regardless of what you do.

It started to become more clear at every step why so many writers and other artists fell in love with this city over the years and it inspired so many passions. The walls carry a very heavy past full of pride and sorrow that seem to have learned the hard way how to hide. It was either this or indeed I had too much wine before writing my notes!

Let me share with you some of the spots that made this an amazing weekend and save you the trouble of crawling TripAdvisor and get lost in tourist traps. Special thanks goes to technobeast for showing me the hidden wonders of this city.

Go for a long walk or a bike ride by the Danube

Danube river sunset

The majestic Danube, the second largest river in Europe — spreading for an extension of almost 3000km along 10 different countries —is completely breathtaking. There are not enough hours in a day to enjoy the different light reflections as the evening approaches. Doesn’t matter if you come back the next day or one year after, it will still surprise you. True story.

Enjoy a long brunch in Buda!

Kelet Café bookshelves

Choose a week day when everyone else is rushing to work and on your way to the Gellért Hill Citadella stop at the Kelet Café for a long and rewarding brunch. This was the best cup of coffee I’ve drank in a very long time, followed by muesli, incredible humus, omelet and a king size ginger lemonade! The incredible atmosphere and sympathy of the staff makes this experience unique and the ideal start of a relaxed day in Budapest.

Go for a hike from Gellért Hill to Buda Castle

Now with the energies recharged you’re ready for a short hike to the top of the Gellért Hill and visit the Citadella, a fortification from the Austro-Hungarian empire, while enjoying the breathtaking views over the Danube.

After catching your breath take one of the many trails going down the mountain and end the morning with a visit to Buda Castle, one of the mandatory stops and full of stories to discover.

Take a break from the heat with a Japanese tea

Marumoto Tea House

Head down Hercegprímás street and you’ll find Marumoto, a traditional Japanese tea house with a lovely atmosphere. Now you’re probably wondering “Why should I go to a Japanese tea house in the middle of a visit to Hungary?” Because, why not? The tea is imported directly from Kyoto and is introduced to each customer following the most traditional arts of the Japanese tea culture. Ah! The fun fact of this visit to Marumoto was also the fact that the employees follow the same rules from Japan of not accepting tips from customers. After so many years crawling European streets this was a first!

Visit Borssó Bistro for dinner

Get the perfect summer evening and try a fusion of Hungarian and French cuisine at Borssó Bistro, in the heart of the reconstructed Budapest city center. The amazing atmosphere created by heart-warming Hungarian live guitar melodies is the perfect combination for the multiple meat dishes and the outstanding Hungarian wines that you can find at this restaurant. Highly recommend it!

End the evening at a local wine bar

Hadik Cafe in Budapest

Right in front of the Gárdonyi square you’ll find Hadik Cafe that in the evenings transforms in the ideal place to grab a bite and a glass of wine (or 3, or 4!). One of the legendary grand cafés in the city, originally opened in 1911 and it became quite popular very quickly. Famous writers and journalists frequented the place and some of them like Karinthy, Móricz and Kosztolányi became regulars here. Very worth the visit and make sure you book in advance!

Hope one day you find this guide useful and feel free to share your experience, would love to hear about it!

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