Five Experiences for the First-Time Visitor to Budapest

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Budapest has been hailed as the most beautiful city in Central Europe. With its abundance of Baroque, Neo-Classical and Art Nouveau buildings, and its enviable position on the shores of the scenic Danube, it’s easy to see why.
Today we’re joined by our Budapest guide Melinda, who has suggestions for five experiences we should seek out while in her city.

1. Soak in Szechenyi Thermal Bath

Szechenyi Thermal Bath - or as the locals call it, the “Szecska” - is no doubt a favourite for tourists and locals alike. One of Europe's biggest bath houses, visited by two million people annually, the building looks more like a palace than a bath, with precious art nouveau mosaics inside. You will find several pools indoors and outdoors, as well as saunas and massage, everything which is designed to make you feel good. But be warned: once you get in the pleasantly warm, healing water you may never want to get out...

2. Take a romantic dinner cruise on the Danube

After a day of sight-seeing, the icing on the cake can be an evening cruise on the Danube. You can see all the illuminated buildings and bridges of the city from a different perspective. Smooth piano music is played and the warm spring breeze brings the scent of flowers from the shore. Is there a more romantic venue for popping the question?!

3. Eat 'Langos' in the Central Market Hall

Once upon a time, at the end of the 19th century, five large covered market halls were opened in the city, all on the same day. They are still standing, and this one is the biggest, most stunning and the most interesting. Recently it has been voted the best market in all of Europe! It is a perfect place for tasting salami, strudel, pickles, langos, palinka and many more Hungarian specialties. It is always bustling with people, locals who do the daily shopping here, smallholders from the country selling their own produce, funny butchers and of course wandering tourists. And the Langos? Well, you should find out about these yourself when you’re there!

4. Take photos on top of the Citadel

Budapest has an outstanding location. The river Danube divides the city into two parts: the always busy, lively Pest and the aristocratic, hilly Buda. Rising above the city on the top of Gellert Hill stands the Citadel, the one-time stronghold, with our own Statue of Liberty. You can see the whole city from this vantage point and take your best shots to show friends back home on Facebook :-) Definitely a must see!

5. Have a glass of wine at Szimpla Kert ruin bar

This is one of the coolest and most unique bars in the world. The term 'ruin pub' means partly open-air bars, which are located in the inner courtyards of temporarily unused buildings - we can find many of them in the Jewish district of Budapest. There is a quirky atmosphere at Szimpla; anything can happen here! You can sit in an old Trabant car cut into half, chat to the locals (residents, students, barmen, other tourists, etc.), get a few drinks and contemplate the variety of the perfectly random decorations. Fun is guaranteed!

Are you sold on a visit to Budapest yet? If 2014 is your year to visit the Hungarian capital, consider getting in touch with Melinda for your own locally-led tour around this fascinating city.
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