This post is long overdue. As I wrote in the post Veggie Raw Vegan Bistro (Budapest, Hungary), I travelled to Budapest in November of last year. It was an amazing trip with my best friend, in which we fell in love with the beauty of the city. Though there were a myriad of things I loved about Budapest, if you were to ask me to name the 5 things I enjoyed the most, these would be my answer:
- The jaw-dropping night views
Even though Budapest is beautiful during the day, I must say that when the sun sets down it is like the entire city gains a new life. The city slowly evolves as the day goes by and it has a special charm after dark that I can’t put into words. You have to see and experience it yourself.
All monuments become beautifully illuminated and the light gives them a whole new meaning. The Danube, the Buda Castle, the Chain Bridge, the Parliament get all lit by night. So in case you are planning to visit Budapest any time soon, I would highly encourage you to go for a walk at night time along the river banks. I can promise you that you will be left swoon at the stunning sight.
2. Its countless beautiful cafes/restaurants and characteristic ruin pubs
I think that a big deal of success of any coffee shop or restaurant is the atmosphere and culture created in it. When I visit a new spot for food or just for a cup of coffee, I want it to have a welcoming and comfortable environment. An inviting atmosphere where I lose track of time whilst having a good conversation with my friends/family/boyfriend . Because I am a huge fan of journaling or getting some work done at coffee shops, I love when I feel that the space is inspiring and builds creativity. This was definitely the case of this cafe we got to visit in Budapest.
Seriously guys..how beautiful and special does it look? We ended up here randomly and were so glad we did. We stopped by in order to recharge our batteries with a hot beverage and got positively surprised by the cozy atmosphere and amazing decor the moment we stepped in.
We also went to this ruin pub, Szimpla Kert, on our first evening in Budapest and it is one of the coolest places I have ever been! It is basically a giant pub that was set up in a crumbling and abandoned building; a place full of mysticism, where chaos, eclecticism and vintage design meet.
3. The dip-based dishes and Shakshouka
When my best friend and I get together we are all about chatting whilst nibbling on something. So if you, just like us, are all about it too and love warm flatbread paired with a good hearty and creamy dip… then Budapest is certainly the place to go to! We ate all the hummus, tahini, muhammara and baba ganoush we could possibly eat haha. I mean… you can never get enough, can you? We tried all sorts of dips in various places and we were not disappointed. They were all unbelievably creamy, super rich in flavour and oh-so-tasty. My friend has no dietary restrictions but I do not consume meat or dairy. We ate out nearly for every meal and this did not represent a problem. Even though traditional Hungarian cuisine is known to be heavy on meat and cheese, flatbread with dips and Shakshouka seemed to be part of every menu. So if you are vegetarian or vegan, fear not! You aren’t going to be missing out on the local cuisine 🙂
Despite following a diet that is mostly plant-based, I do eat eggs occasionally. For that reason I was able to have my very first shashouka and I loved every mouthful of it.Even though this is a dish originally from North Africa, it is very popular in Hungary. For those of you who do not know, Shakshouka is a dish of eggs poached/stewed in a fresh tomato sauce with chilli pepper and garlic. The one I ordered came topped with fresh coriander, roasted aubergine and a drizzle of tahini. It was absolutely heavenly.
Restaurant Mazel Tov
4. The thermal baths
Sadly, I got an ugly cold right on my second day in Budapest. Lucky me, hey? I woke up with a running nose, a sore throat and feeling a bit light headed. As you can imagine, the last thing I wanted was to fall sick and have the whole trip spoiled. As a good cup of lemon and ginger tea is my immunity-boosting natural remedy of choice, I made sure I drunk it first thing in the morning and last thing in the evening. Every single day. It did not seem to make my cold go away but at least it did not make it worse. Anyway, on our third evening in the city we decided to got to the thermal baths. Even though this was one of the things that I was super excited to do, I was also a little bit fearful that it would make my cold worse. Nevertheless, I just had to do it because, despite being a popular attraction for tourists, it still is a public comfort for the locals. So knowing myself as I do, I was sure that I would regret skipping this experience.
We chose to go to Rudas Baths as per advice of our Airbnb owner. Apparently this thermal bath is as just as good as the other ones but less touristy. We went there at around 7pm and we thoroughly enjoyed our time. It was just the perfect way to wind down after a cold day of touring the city.
There was this jaccuzzi on the roof terrace and it had an amazing view over the city. Priceless.
5. “Cooking and tasting at the farmers’ market” with a local
What I enjoy the most about travelling is the possibility of immersing myself into the destination and the locals. Even though I like to do some touristy things, such as visiting certain monuments/museums or going on a walking tour, what I truly seek when traveling is to discover hidden gems, mingle with the locals and dive into the local culture. Traveling really is about venturing into the new, the unknown, the unfamiliar. I love leaving the destination with enriching life experiences and new knowledge about the language, the people and their unique lifestyle habits.
As my best friend shares this same view when it comes to travelling, we decided to buy an “experience” through AirBnb! I don’t know if you know it already but this online platform not only offers short-term accommodation but also experiences that allow you to delve into the local culture. The experience was called “Cooking and tasting at the farmers’ market” . We booked it for Sunday morning, which was our last full day in Budapest. We were actually the only people who attended it on that specific day, which in my opinion just turned the whole experience more special. The Hungarian guide, Reka, was a self-proclaimed travel foodie and we learnt so much about the local cuisine in Hungary with her. She talked about its influences, the most popular dishes and what are ingredients and spices most commonly used. She was super friendly and we could really connect with her through the act of cooking and tasting delicious food. The entire experience lasted for about 2.5 hours and it was absolutely worth. It was about 10:30am when we arrived to the market and we had a shot of Pálinka, the national fruity firewater waiting for us haha. No objections allowed. Remember when I wrote that I got a sore throat on my second day in Budapest?… well not anymore after drinking the shot! haha
We actually messaged Reka before booking this cooking and tasting session and we asked her if this experience was still worth and appropriate for someone who does not eat meat or dairy products. She answered that the main dish could be cooked with no animal-derived products and that there were many vegan options for us to try at the farmers market. I really liked the fact that Reka was super flexible and did not pose any issues. We purchased the experience and we were so glad we did because it turned out to be so enjoyable and vegan-friendly.
The dish we cooked together was the Hungarian semolina dumpling soup (Grízgaluska leves). Its tradition version has pork liver dumplings but those were added separately to my friend’s plate. Funnily enough she did not really liked them and said that she would have preferred the soup made vegan like mine was.
While the soup was cooking, Reka took us on a tour around the market. We got to try food from every single stall. I skipped the stalls where cheese and sausages were being sold but I still got to eat so many things, such as vegan cheesecakes, raw cookies, granola, nuts, jams and chutneys. Everything was sourced locally, organic and homemade. The people selling these food items were so chatty, friendly and passionate about what their products. We had a great time!
After eating all sorts of foods, we were not sure if we had any room left for the soup… but when we noticed how yummy it looked and smelled, we changed our minds and agreed that we could certainly make room for it! haha
Anyway, here is the final result:
Directly from the farmers’ market to the table. So hearty and comforting. We paired it with homemade mulled wine, which totally warmed us up.
This really was the best way we could have experienced the local culture. The market (and Reka) gave us an experience that we have not experienced anywhere else. We had the chance of connecting with the locals, learn about the local cuisine and chow down delicious Hungarian food. We left the place feeling so happy, satisfied and full! 🙂
Our trip really was amazing and memorable. Travelling showed me once again that there is no one way to live life and that is just wonderful. ♥ Plus, Budapest is a pretty affordable city with such an unique charm and I definitely recommend it to any travellers. I hope you enjoyed to read this post and please let me know in the comment section bellow if you’ve ever been to Budapest or if it’s on your travel plans. If you have been to this city what did you enjoy the most?