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Since summer in Blighty is almost over before it’s begun, we’re already day-dreaming about our next jaunt. So if you’re looking for some #PowderPassport inspiration, here are our top five things to explore in Budapest:
- Take a bath: don’t take offence but you will be actively encouraged to wash on entering the city. Budapest is fanatical about its bathing culture – mainly because the city sits atop of thermal natural water springs and so there are tonnes of beautiful bathhouses to soak in. The biggest (and most famous) is the Széchenyi Bath where they have 18 different pools and saunas (three outdoor), all at slightly different temperatures to work your way through and, if you’re feeling brave, finish with a dip in the freezing plunge pool to really get your circulation going.
- Eat like a local: we know it’s terribly British to go abroad and order a ham sandwich but now's the time to be brave. It’s impossible to miss Hungary’s most famous dish – goulash (it’s on almost every corner). The authentic Hungarian version is more of a thinner soup than a stew, and you can order it as a starter or opt for a massive bowl as a main course. Skip the tourist traps and head to Kék Rózsa (Blue Rose) in the city's Jewish Quarter. It’s filled with Budapest locals – don’t be surprised if you’re the only tourist there. The interior is basic and it’s a no frills kind of place but the delicious (and extremely affordable) food is outstanding.
- On the rocks: or, more accurately, in the rocks there is the fascinating Hospital in the Rocks Nuclear Bunker Museum. There’s plenty of history to soak up in Budapest and the main sites like Buda Castle, St Stephen’s Basilica and the Chain Bridge will all be pretty obvious to see, but hidden deep inside the mountain underneath Buda Castle is this former secret hospital and nuclear bunker. Join the hourly-guided tour that will take you through the hospital’s remarkable history.
- Go to market: wandering the massive Great Market Hall is one of the nicest ways you could spend a morning. Not only is there stall after stall of fresh fruit, veg, cheese, pastries and meats but the building itself it beautiful. Pick up presents from the (non-tacky) souvenir stalls (some local paprika is a good bet). Before you go, order a yummy lángos to takeaway for breakfast – it’s a deep fried flat bread that you can choose to top with either sweet or savoury toppings, we recommend Nutella although the more authentic option is sour cream, garlic and grated cheese.
- Cocktails o’clock: our favourite place to go for drinks in Budapest was to the totally unique Szimpla Kert, one of the city’s many ‘ruin’ bars. It’s a giant rabbit warren of crumbling walls, miss-matched seating and bars each serving a different drink, all lit up by twinkling fairy lights and decorated with bric-a-brac. The place is quite literally buzzing and is always packed no matter what night of the week you visit.
Race you to the airport...