09 January 2015
A long week end between Buda and Pest
Labelled the Pearl of the Danube, this nickname may be a surprise to many.
Undoubtedly more arty than Vienna, the city offers a perfect balance of patrimony, culture, partying and a change of scene.
Divided between two very distinct worlds, this spot knows how to entice you to come back…
On a Practical Note
For more information about the city, visit: www.hongrietourisme.com
Direct flights from Paris-Orly South, with three flights per week with Transavia: every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, from 45€ one-way (85€ return). www.transavia.com
It is quite extraordinary in its own right. But that is just part of the business! Forget your hotel bar, and take a stroll around the Jewish quarter (the coolest part of town) in search of a speakeasy atmosphere. Here the bars come and go as part of a reclamation of ancient squats, boutiques and warehouses, brought back to life by party-troublemakers. And these invest in these places for a year or more…creating ambiances straight out of a movie or a crazy imaginary location, relegating our illegal bars (the new craze) to gentle, humming smoking rooms. The Ruins pubs are reputedly the best bars in the world. Amongst our favourites: the Instant (a delirious scene covers two floors, buzzing from 11pm onwards), the Szimplat kert, considered one of the world’s hottest spots (with an equally amazing decor, with multiple rooms over two floors) and the Szilvuplé (a more underground vibe, with sculptures in the walls).
Visiting Budapest without making a trip to the baths is a little like going to Paris without having a coffee in a café: you have missed out, because you can splash around at 39 degrees when its freezing outside. Relax by gossiping away, playing chequers or sharing memorable clubbing stories. These baths are a social hub, whilst being neither old-fashioned nor clichéd. The most beautiful include: the Széchenyi, in the Varosliget area. Built in 1909, in a neo-renaissance style, the setting presents Hungary as a mini-Europe. As well as the outdoor baths, which are postcard pictures in themselves, navigate your way inside between pools at various temperatures, hammams, saunas and aqua-gym lessons…the water comes from the deepest pure water source in Budapest. Unmissable. Plan ahead, and go in the morning.
Every local knows this spot in the Jewish quarter. The original tables still stand, as do the chequered tablecloths and the proprietor, who have not changed over the years. Whilst he sits at his corner table, taking the inventory, his staff rushes around this truly homely kitchen environment. And this place is nothing but local, the walls covered with wise words, immortalised by local stars of the 1970s. We promise you that the kosher goulash, and everything else, is worth its weight in gold; simply delicious.
1072, Budapest, Klauzal ter 9.
This bar, set in one of the most beautiful hotels in the city, resides in a 19th century building, near to the Opera House and Boulevard Andrassy. The New York Café embodies the splendour and opulence of the intellectual past of the city. Today, it is still considered as one of the world’s most spectacular cafes, designed in line with traditional Hungarian architecture, with frescos by Gusztav Mannheimer and de Ferenc Heisenhut, Venician lights, columns and golden stuccos…Come here at cocktail hour or later, to try their tempting selection of grappas.
We love it. Love it. A beautiful, entirely Hungarian style apartment – from the floors, casting and bow window – established as a bourgeoisie-bohemian, truly inspired bed-and-breakfast. The furniture is flecked, paintings jazz up the room and the atmosphere promises an arty and cosy stay. You will want to curl up with a book on the sofa like at home, have breakfast in the lounge…plus, a passageway runs alongside the canopy, giving a chic light to the room, taking you far away from a disembodied hotel atmosphere and design. Rooms start at 70€.
Experience a mix of atmosphere with the locked-down loft style of Kisok, a sprawling, festive restaurant on the edge of the Danube, where you can have a carefree drink and more, with the popular and very successful ambiance of Menza, in the heart of the city (of Pest), which incorporates Hungarian specialities into its menu. At the centre: the Terminal, an excellent, ultra modern, bistro, which has been recently renovated, replacing a former bus terminal. Three styles, three big hits…and rightly so!
It is THE perfect old city. Climb aboard a local tuk tuk and stop off at the Matyas church, a superb edifice with an orange roof. And from there, your historic journey begins: from the Palais Royal, Hungarian National Gallery, the Fisherman’s Bastion…Take the time to also stroll along the medieval streets, writing back to world patrimony. Where can you find a contemporary art gallery? The Galerie Varfolk of course! Follow the Fortuna Utca all the way up to the National Archives to catch a glimpse of this period building.
This is one of the iconic symbols of Budapest. Reaching the summit at 235m, level with the Statue of Liberty, is worth the climb, for a stunning view across the whole city. It is also a great way to learn about the topography of the city from the Danube, Pest – the other flat, modern and vibrant city -, and Buda itself – this ‘historic’ hill is a museum and a home. As night falls, glimpse it between the Parliament, the bridges and the lights of Pest, for a sublime panoramic view.