You don’t speak the language and your only place to rest is either a bench or the pavement. And you do desperately need some rest. Sounds fun, does it?
Imagine yourself stranded in a big, foreign city after a long day of sightseeing. You don’t speak the language and your only place to rest is either a bench or the pavement. And you do desperately need some rest. It doesn’t sound like much fun, does it? It’s not a very pleasant thought, even if you’re in the city as beautiful and as charming as Budapest. In order to avoid this, you need to know where you can take a break from holiday and where you can rest from your vacation.
Yes, it does sound a bit contradictory, but every holiday deserves a time to chill out. At this point, you will relax from all the sightseeing by taking a pleasant meal, a nice spa treatment, or at least a simple picnic in the park. You won’t be thinking about tours, about guides or about history or art. Actually, you won’t be thinking at all; you will simply unwind and rest.
Where to eat or drink
If you’re up for some cooking, you can head out to the Great Market Hall. It’s been there for the last 100 years or so, and it’s a place where you can find everything, from vegetables to meat and from fruit to cheese. If you want to try something new, you can always find more exotic items, such as truffles, or even domestic delicacies like lángos, a piece of deep-fried flatbread, usually covered with sour cream or cheese.
If this sounds like too much of a hustle for you, and you don’t want to spend the whole day cooking or in the crowd, fighting for lángos, maybe you should try with some of the Budapest restaurants. There are some four Michelin-starred restaurants in Budapest, which is more than enough for you to have a taste of a true luxury and indulgence. One of the most praised ones is Borkonyha, a restaurant which was opened only a couple years ago.
Restaurants menus tend to be short so you won’t spend too much time in choosing the correct meal for yourself, while the ingredients are usually very fresh, especially in the more luxurious and acclaimed restaurants. Of course, this doesn’t come in cheap, as a main course can cost you well more than 5000 HUF, which is approximately 18 USD or 16 EUR. On the other hand, there are places that charge you far less, like Serpenyős Vendéglő, where you can score a two-coarse meal for around 1200 HUF, which is approximately 4.5 USD or less than 3 EUR.
If eating doesn’t float your boat, maybe drinking will. Even though Hungary isn’t as famous for wines as some other countries are, it still has some of the best wines in the region. There are many wine bars throughout the city, offering a wide range of wines. Winetasting is a regular thing, while there are also places where you can score an affordable meal with a glass of nice wine.
Where to relax
Among its many nicknames, Budapest is also known as the City of Spas. The citizens, just like the tourists, have Romans and Turks to thank for many baths, although several baths are not such a good compensation for many years of control. Nevertheless, there are countless of thermal and medicinal springs beneath the city, which have been there even before the first Celtic settlers in the region.
Water emerging in the spas around Budapest is thought to have therapeutic properties, and while some might question that, there is no questioning about the relaxing nature of this water. Like this isn’t enough, you can book yourself a special treatment, a massage, or a private bath. However, if you plan on going with a person of the opposite sex, be careful as there are only male, only female or mixed days in some spas.
Some of the more popular baths in Budapest are Kiraly – one of the oldest still in use, and one of the smallest, Rudas – with the best view a spa can have, right next to the Danube River, overlooking the city and its beautiful architecture, and Szechenyi – placed in the center of the city’s main park, with compulsory swimming caps in the main pool, but also with mixed sex all the time and even with occasional chess duels. Don’t forget to bring your chess set.
If eating, drinking or swimming aren’t your definition of relaxing, then I don’t know what is. I must say, you are a very tough reader. However, there is still another option, and that is a relaxing walk in the park, and not just any park – an island covered in parks. That’s exactly what Margaret Island is – a small island in the center of Budapest and in the middle of the Danube, covered in green surfaces.
The island is named after Saint Margaret, the daughter of Béla IV of Hungary, and today it’s one of the best outdoor places for rest in the whole Budapest. It has plenty of grass surface, many small paths for strolling or jogging and even a rubber-coated running track, more than 5km long (longer than 3 miles). The island also has a water park, a tennis stadium and an athletics center.
Other than this, Margaret Island has many things to see, like the ‘Music Fountain’ where water dances alongside the music, or Art Nouveau water tower which is 57m tall and built in the early 20th century. Margaret Island is definitely one of the best places for relaxation, even outside Budapest, and even if you just want to sit down on a soft surface and relax for a few hours, you can always have a picnic somewhere in the park.