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This is part of our ongoing series called The Local View – travel writers on their home towns. We often overlook the places closest to us, but here travel writers share their local pride. We asked Barbara Wagner to write this Budapest guide of less touristy things to do in the Hungarian capital.
Budapest, the capital of Hungary, is a charming city in Central-Eastern Europe with a rich history. The country offers an incredible cuisine, vibrant nightlife, fantastic culture and many interesting places to visit its tourists. The capital city, Budapest is perfectly safe for solo travelers, who want to experience this beautiful, historic city. Most tourists, who visit Hungary, go and see the Heroes Square, the Buda Castle, the Matthias Church and the Fisherman’s Bastion and leave after a few days. However, Budapest has much more things to see than these very touristy sites.
Visit The Great Market Hall
The Central Market Hall was built in the end of 19th century. It is one of the most beautiful market halls of Europe. Here, visitors can have a delicious lunch at one of the food stalls or they can shop for souvenirs. It is not only the best place to shop for fresh produce, but also a remarkable historical building.
Visit One of the Less Touristy Baths
Most tourists visit the Rudas, Gellert or Szechenyi baths to enjoy the thermal water of Budapest, a massage, sauna and other spa treatments. These spas are overly touristy and somewhat overpriced.
Budget travelers will like Veli Bej Baths, which was recently refurbished and has a traditional Turkish pool. Kiraly Bath is an odd looking Turkish bath. It is slightly outdated and cheap. It is frequented by the locals. Lukacs Bath is another one of the locals’ favorite. It has large pools, and it is a great place to mingle with locals.
Attend one of the Bath Parties in Budapest
These SPArties take place at the Szechenyi Baths every Saturday. If you like electronic music and want to hang out in a thermal bath while watching a light show, head over to one of the spas to enjoy a fun filled evening.
These parties are fantastic, the music and the performances are incredible. They often have aerial dancers performing above the pools. It is a very memorable experience to take part in one of these parties.
Visit the Vajdahunyad Castle
Most people, who visit Budapest, only visit the Castle in Buda. My favorite castle is behind the Hero’s Square. It is an enchanting castle with a beautiful park behind it. It is very relaxing to walk around there and to enjoy nature. A couple of times a year, they organize food festivals here, where you can taste delicious Hungarian delicacies.
Hike Up To The Top of Budapest
If you want to take some stunning sunrise photos of Budapest, you should walk up to the Citadel to get the best views of the city. On the Buda side of the Freedom Bridge, you can ascent to the top of the Gellert Hill to reach the Citadel. It takes about 15-20 minutes to reach the top. It is not a difficult hike, but you should be reasonably fit to be able to make it up there. Once you reach the summit, you will see the entire city below you, and you will be able to take the most beautiful photos.
Cruise Down the River Danube
Hop on a boat on the Pest side and take the ship down the river. The boat ride will allow you to enjoy the scenery of the beautiful surroundings. You can even take a boat to Vienna if you want to visit another big capital city.
Visit the National Museum
You will learn much about Hungary’s history by visiting this museum. It is an important landmark because the revolution of 1848 started in front of the museum. Behind the museum, you can visit the Hungarian Radio where the revolution in 1956 took place when Hungarians revolted against the Russian oppression. The museum will guide you through Hungary’s fascinating history. It is a fascinating museum that portrays the history of Hungary in an interesting way.
Go for a run or a walk around Margaret Island
Take the tram 4-6 to cross the Margaret Bridge, get off in the middle and take the stairs down to the island. There is a 5.5 km long running track around the island.
You can see a giant singing fountain near the entrance of the isle. At every hour the fountain plays music and a water show. There are a zoo and a Japanese garden on the island, as well as one of the most famous spa hotels in Hungary. It is an ideal place to relax on a Sunday afternoon with the family.
See a Performance at the Opera
You can see performances from September to June in this beautiful neo-classical building that was built in the 19th century. The opera house is situated on Andrassy Ut, which is also known as the Champs-Élysées of Budapest. World-class opera and ballet performances are performed in this beautiful building. Watching a performance here will surely be a very memorable experience for any visitors.
Take a Tour in the Dohany Street Synagogue
The Great Synagogue of Budapest is the largest synagogue in Europe and the second biggest in the World. It seats 3000 people. In the past, Hungary had a thriving Jewish Quarter and a vast Jewish population who built a large, beautifully decorated synagogue in the middle of the 19th century. The building was built in Moorish Revival style, mirroring Islamic architecture of medieval Spain. The synagogue complex consists of the Great Synagogue, the Heroes’ Temple, the graveyard of people who were killed here during WWII, the Holocaust memorial and a Jewish Museum.
Budapest is an amazing city that has a lot to offer to its visitors. Whether you are nature, history or food lover or looking for a city with an exciting nightlife or fascinating culture, you will enjoy this diverse, fun city. Make sure to spend more than a long weekend in the Hungarian capital to discover the different faces of Budapest and go beyond the touristy things.
The Budapest Guide: 10 Less Touristy Things to Do in Budapest is part of our Local View series. Check out other articles in the series.