If you only make it as far as Budapest on your first trip to Hungary you will be spending the rest of your life trying to figure out how to get back to this beautiful country! I have had the opportunity to spend time in Budapest on numerous occasions and I am never disappointed. The majesty of the architecture, the battle scars, the incredible folk art embroidery, the delicious food, and the rich history cannot be beat.
With all of the available options it is often difficult for a first time visitor to decide what opportunities to take advantage of but here are a few suggestions:
- Research Hungary’s history. Budapest has many museums and statues throughout the city and knowing something before you go will help get you oriented. If you really love history, you can start back in the 800’s but at least survey the more important events and people of the last 200 years: Lajos Kossuth, István Széchenyi, Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, the Treaty of Trianon, the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, and the collapse of communism in 1989.
- Allow yourself time to absorb the city. If you schedule every moment with something to see and do you will miss the opportunity to take advantage of stumbling upon a small family bakery or a shop tucked away in a corner with unusual offerings.
- Travel on foot! Even though Budapest has a wonderful transportation system, nothing beats traveling in the city as a pedestrian! Allow yourself time to enjoy the walk…and be sure to look up and down and all around. The photo opportunities are endless!
- When it comes to coffee, don’t spend your time looking for the exact style you are accustomed to at home! Embrace where you are and explore the tastes of Europe! Don’t be afraid to branch out and try something new – you might discover a new favorite style!
- Drink what the locals drink—in Hungary, there are a couple of unique adult beverages that you don’t want to miss! Pálinka: a fruit brandy that many families make at home and is often considered a “welcome” drink for guests. After a shot or two of pálinka my Hungarian speaking skills actually improve because I get over the fear of making a mistake. And for those who can handle something with a bolder bouquet, Zwack’s Unicum: a bitter herbal liquor that is available in several varieties.
- Explore Budapest at night – my all time favorite view in Budapest is overlooking the city from Gellert Hill at night on a clear evening. The panoramic view of the city is overwhelmingly beautiful! Don’t miss it!
While Budapest provides a lot to see, if your time is spent only in Budapest you will miss much of the beauty of Hungary. Smaller cities and villages have
beautiful churches, quiet cobblestone streets, interesting museums, wonderful shops, castles and palaces, folk artisans, and musicians. I will explore these areas in future articles.
Elizabeth Szabó Vos is the owner of Magyar Marketing, a second-generation family business that provides opportunities to connect with Hungary and Hungarian food and culture. Join us on one of our affordable, family-sized tours and see what makes Hungary such a wonderful destination! For more information contact email@example.com or on Facebook at Magyar Marketing.
November 11, 2016