After traveling a good portion of Europe, I found Budapest to be one of the most aesthetically attractive cities around. Budapest is filled with energy and excitement, but I did have some serious qualms with the taxi drivers and the quality of the food. The taxi drivers are definitely the worst in Europe, and if you don’t research online on where to dine out, you will most definitely strike out with some very horrible and overpriced food, especially in the long, pedestrian walkways in the heart of the city.
What I love most about Budapest is the architecture and how active the city is. There was so much going on in this city every day and so much to learn on one of the many educating tours; and if you like to party, well you can do a lot of that here too.
There are bars and parties that cater to the traveling-tourists, which can be a lot of fun, but most likely you will not connect with locals at those big events. One of the coolest bars I went to was Szimpla – although it was jam packed with travelers, it had an amazing open-air ambiance with creative decor.
Every Thursday there is a party boat that sails along the Danube. It is a very young crowd and will be all tourists.
Every Saturday there is the Thermal Bathhouse Party at Szechenyi Bathhouse. You will find very young crowds there eager to frolic with one another. One of the best things to do during the day is relax at one of the many bathhouses in Budapest – they are massive and elegantly decorated with marble architecture, providing a wide variety of thermal pools, steam rooms, saunas, spa services and medicine baths – indoor and outdoor.
Szechenyi Bathhouse has a fitness center and Gellert Bathhouse has a wave pool – not for surfing but just for fun water movement. Szechenyi Bathhouse turns into a massive party on Saturday night, and there aren’t many rules at this party. You will see many people kissing amongst floating beer cans. Epic.
A live DJ blasts music for the young tourists to frolic and dance in the water.
There is so much wonderful history in Budapest and an abundance of local tours available to teach you the history of this beautiful city.
There are a lot of great hostels to choose from if you want to keep it cheap. The Mavericks hostel is located in a gigantic mansion with wide, winding staircases and comfortable rooms, providing a very helpful, friendly staff and a mellow setting for laid-back travelers.
The California Hostel feels like a cozy apartment and is much smaller. And if you want an endless party, then join the wild party-staff at the Grandio hostel where they are constantly drinking in the courtyard, playing beer pong, and sticking together in groups, attending the daily, wild parties in Budapest.
If you avoid getting a taxi off the street and research where to eat, Budapest will warm your heart. But if you don’t take caution, you might have a very horrible stay. I had a muscular taxi driver blatantly rob me in money exchange. He said I gave him 2000 forint when I gave him 20,000 forint – which is about 100 US dollars. There wasn’t much I could do about it as it was my word against his. And to top it off, he also overcharged me for the ride. I should have listened to the locals who warned me to always call for a radio taxi as they are always honest. Never, ever get a taxi off the street here as the taxi drivers are borderline thugs. Many of us consistently had problems here – a fellow traveler and I had a bad standoff with a taxi driver who wildly drove us past our stop and around town after we protested the unfair charge. It ended up with him screaming, me getting out of his taxi in some random place when he finally slammed the brakes in the middle of the street, and me posing in my best boxing stance and standing my ground against him in the street when he charged after me. It was not a good scene.
Unfortunately, I also got pick-pocketed late at night and as a result, I have been traveling Europe with only my American Express card that I fortunately left behind at my hostel. The theft and taxi driving experiences really put a bad taste in my mouth with Budapest, but I still want to love this city, I just need to learn how to have a better head on my shoulders when I visit again. Getting your wallet stolen really puts a damper on traveling overseas; two months on the road and I finally got burnt in Budapest. And I thought I had a good head on my shoulders! I guess that’s what I get for storming around late at night at wild parties. At times I think I’m getting too old for my late night shenanigans. Traveling with just your American Express in Europe is very challenging, but I have made sure that the road will continue.
Heroes square is near city park and Szechenyi Bathhouse. This is a great part of the city to check out and walk around.
At sunset locals would sit on one of the many bridges and drink beers. So cool!
When you visit Budapest, make sure you go to Margaret Island. It has a wonderful wonderful waterpark and lots of great outdoor activities. There are also some cool parties there that will be mostly all locals.