I feel quite fortunate in being able to say that I’ve visited this fabulous city numerous times over the past decade. A decade is quite a bit of time so as you might imagine each of my experiences were quite different. On my first visit I remember that the city seemed a bit more rough around the edges but I was also staying with my friend on the outskirts. She was a DJ and had some gigs during my stay so I vaguely remember us dancing into the night and coming to when the sun was rising. It’s all really a blur now. On my second visit I stayed with another friend from Budapest who still lived with her family. The thing I remember most fondly about this was that her Granddad was eighty-something years old but still fit as a fiddle. He’d come home every night excited to pour me some of his homemade palinka and tell me stories which my friend of course had to translate. Palinka is a fruit brandy with origins from the Hungarian Carpathian Basin so you should definititely give it a shot if you’re in Hungary – both figuratively and literally.
As I said, I’ve visited numerous times, so I’ll spare you the gritty details from each and every trip. On my recent visit I was more focused on exploring the vegan food, craft beer, and bath houses. So now I’ll tell you about my favorite places to eat, drink, and soak my bones after a night out.
Vega City – Address: Budapest, 1053, Múzeum krt. 23, 1053 Hungary
At first, I’ll admit, I didn’t understand the hype. There was this long line for what seemed to be mostly pre-made food. Maybe they had to prepare things ahead of time because of the demand? I scoped out their menu, made my choice, and hopped in line to experience some of their grub first hand. The line moved fast and I got a Thai burger which did not disappoint. I’d end up coming back here a few times during my stay to try some other items on their revolving weekly menu. In fact, I’d call it my go to spot for vegan food in Budapest. Their prices were also extremely fair compared to a lot of other restaurants – my burger came out to be something around $3.50.
Vegan Love – Address: Budapest, Bartók Béla út 9, 1114 Hungary
Vegan Love was probably the most recommended place to me when I’d ask about vegan food in Budapest. It’s located on the Buda side of Budapest which probably isn’t where you’re staying since Pest is where most of the nightlife and attractions are located. Still, it’s not a bad walk across a beautiful bridge or tram ride and you’ll surely want to soak in the beautiful views from Buda. Vegan love is right next to Gellert Bath which was the inspiration for Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel. The interior and architecture of Gellert bath is something I’d recommend although it’s on the pricier side for baths in Budapest at a $20 entrance.
I had the Mexican burger here which was delicious but my wife had the sweet potato burger which I liked even more. Fries don’t come with the burger and sauce is extra but that seems to be pretty common for Europe – I actually started carrying my own hot sauce around in a little travel container. While I’d recommend checking Vegan Love out if you’re in Budapest it was a little much with my meal coming in around $8 to be one of my everyday spots.
I love Markets. Absolutely love them. In fact, when I get to a city I like to roam around to the most common markets and see which store has the best deals on what. Especially when I’m somewhere longer I like to do my grocery shopping as I would anywhere else so that I can enjoy mostly cooking at my AirBnB to save a bit. Budapest has the standard Lidl, Aldi, and Penny Markt stores which are the best places to go for the majority of your shopping needs. You may also be surprised that you’ll find fruits/veggies to be cheaper at actual farmers markets most of the time.
However, the two stores listed above are my favorite specialty markets. BIO ABC has some really nice things like all natural deodorant and some traditional Hungarian foods made vegan! Dubai market was a great find for decently priced middle eastern food, beans, spices, and even some all natural soap. I’m always in need of curry powder and hot sauce so this was the place for those. Never leave home without them.
Budapest’s bustling craft beer scene
The craft beer scene in Budapest is an amazing one but you may have to search around to find some your able to take home. I love bottle shops for the reason that I can usually get a lot more for less to take home and sample. However, I found that in Budapest it was usually cheaper or the same price to go have a pint at the brewery itself. But to be honest I found myself drinking the Soproni IPA a fair amount of the time during my stay here. I didn’t find it half bad, nothing spectacular either, but it was a cheap IPA that was available almost everywhere.
Jonas Craft Beer House definitely wins for having the most spectacular view over the Danube. I’d have to say they also served me up the best double IPA I had while in Budapest.
Beer to Go has a super good thing going in supporting only the local breweries. I asked where the local section was when I first walked in and they told me it was all local. There’s so much beer when first walking you wonder where to start. Everything was arranged well so it wasn’t hard to find the style you wanted at the price you’re willing to pay. As the name says, it’s all beer to go.
Csakajósör Kft. has a nice homey vibe with tons of beer on the shelves, a good few many on draft, and a fair amount of bottles in the fridge.
Szimpla Kert. isn’t a craft brewery or beer store but it’s probably my favorite ruin pub in Budapest. Runner up is Instant Pub but Szimpla has a better vibe to me. It’s fun having a beer surrounded by all the interesting lighting and mismatched decor. I prefer either in the afternoon as they tend to turn into big party zones later in the night.
Kiraly Bath is perhaps my favorite bath in Budapest.
Address : Budapest, Fő u. 84, 1027 Hungary
It’s not necessarily because it’s the most elaborate one but I think it’s the best value for the price at around $9 for a day pass. If you really want to soak in something that makes you feel like you’re inside a wedding cake I’d recommend Gellert Spa and Bath. Here you get everything you need: A few medicinal baths, a couple of saunas, and the basic facilities.