Budapest is the Budabest, and everyone makes that pun for a reason. This historic and beautiful city on the Danube is one of the unassumingly dopest cities in the world. It’s overshadowed by other popular European destinations, and not many Americans travel east enough to stumble upon Budapest.
To be honest, I only went to Budapest because my vote to go to Copenhagen was defeated in an overwhelming landslide by the rest of my friends. All I can say is I’m glad my vote was vetoed. Budapest is one of the most incredible cities I have ever been to, and I felt Buda-blessed to be there. After arriving in Budapest around midnight, getting lost on our way to the hostel, and then binge drinking until our aptly named Infinity Party Hostel stopped playing music (about 10 AM), we were ready to take on our first day in Budapest.
Or not. No one really had a clue what they were doing, so we just wandered. With every turn and step, Budapest had something to amaze us. We accidentally stumbled upon the Hungarian Parliament Building, which is one of the most impressive and beautiful works of architecture I have ever seen. Similar things can be said about a multitude of Budapest’s other landmarks. From the castles to cathedrals to bridges and even the smallest sculptures, impeccable detail was put into each one to make for one ridiculously good-looking city.
What’s to love?
3. The Architecture
Yeah, I love architecture and staring at buildings as much as the next guy, (there’s a reason this blog is called The Partying Traveler and not something like The Intellectual Vagabond With An Astute Eye for Aesthetics) but Budapest’s magnificent buildings will make you fall in love with the architecture. It’s nuts.
The Hungarian Parliament Building, Hungarian State Opera House, St. Stephen’s Basilica, Vajdahunyad Castle, and Dohany Street Synagogue are some that you need to see. And I mean see. As in go inside, spend an hour admiring the freakin’ beauty of it all and then look at all the pictures you took and keep admiring them for the rest of your life. The only issue you’ll have is trying to find the perfect angle for your Instagram pics and Snap stories.
2. The Nightlife
Budapest’s nightlife was fucking outrageous. It was one of the most unexpectedly crazy, ridiculous, rage-your-face-off cities I have ever been to. My first night was spent at this hybrid hostel/nightclub Infinity Party Hostel and it was… wow. People were expected to sleep at this place while a never-ending rager occurred just down the stairs. Someone legitimately thought that combining a never-ending nightclub with a place people go to for rest was a good idea but it works because Budapest.
The next night, we hit up the bath parties that people rave so much about. I went from being disgusted by the idea of a giant orgy in a giant Jacuzzi to almost drowning several times within minutes. It was the most savage, barbaric, un-American thing I have ever taken part in and I cherished every moment of it.
You also can’t miss the Budapest Pub Crawl. It takes you to the best nightlife spots, including the famed ruin bars. The party in Budapest feels like it never stops, mostly because it never does. Don’t expect to get any Buda-rest while you’re here.
1. The People
Out of all the places in Europe I’ve been to, Budapest was the one place where I didn’t encounter any dicks. First night there, almost no cash, huge group of Americans stumbling through traffic with their luggage, bumbling through crowds yet not once did anyone yell at us or bitch us out. Absolutely crazy. In Prague we’d get yelled at for literally just being on a train. Here? People were offering to give us directions, complimenting us, and some of the girls we were with couldn’t go a step without someone begging to take them on a date. You could be completely hammered, incoherent, and belligerent and they would still be nice to you. What? It was normal for strangers to just strike a conversation with you at any time, and it was a pleasant change from being told that most people in Europe are cold and keep to themselves.
Three Biggest Takeaways
3. Talk to everyone, they’re probably cool as hell and have some awesome stories to tell
While in Budapest, I met some of the coolest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting, from California to Australia to the Philippines to everywhere in Europe. It’s a hugely popular destination, which means you’re bound to find someone who speaks the same language as you. Let’s face it. Everyone you meet abroad is 50 times cooler than your friends back home, and will always give you those Instagram likes you crave so bad. Budapest is a perfect mix of touristy but also not touristy, if you get what I’m saying. It attracts adventurers, risk-takers, and people who like to live. You’ll meet more cool, care-free travelers here than you will in, say, London or Paris. Talk to locals, talk to waiters, talk to cab drivers, talk to bartenders, literally talk to everyone. Budapest has some of the friendlier people in Europe, take advantage of it.
2. Take a shit ton of pictures, seriously
For most people, Budapest is just a quick stop on their Euro-trip. This is unfortunate because there is so much to see, and definitely not enough time to see all of it. From the views around the Danube, to the castles and cathedrals and gardens, you’re not going to want to forget a thing. I find myself looking back through my pictures of Budapest more than any other place I’ve been to, listening to George Ezra’s Budapest and just reminiscing on those good old days.
1. Party your face off, then get kebabs drunk
Even if it isn’t your thing, do it. Even the most responsible, worrisome person of your group will have a blast. This girl who I was convinced had never even thought about a guy before was sucking face with Hungarians by the end of our first night night. Go to a bath party. Go to any club. Day drink. Whatever. Budapest is where the magic happens.
I mean honestly, if I haven’t convinced you to go to Budapest by now, I don’t think anything will. If you’re planning a Euro-trip with friends, suggest Budapest. Budapest over Paris, over London, Berlin, whatever. Go to all those places too, but do not leave Europe without spending a few nights in Budapest. You won’t know the language. You won’t know your way around. You won’t know anything, but by the end of your time in Budapest, you’ll already know you’ll be going back sometime soon.