Budapest: Five non-mainstream things to do in the heart of Europe
January 1, 1970
Budapest, the capital of Hungary is a huge and lovely city – probably not as big as Paris, but yet, it could take at least three-four days to visit the mainstream touristic sights one by one. I know, I have lived there, I have wandered around the streets and seen many things touristic eyes cannot see – so here I would like to give you guidance to go a bit deeper and see the side of Budapest many foreigners do not see.
Square of Roses
Most of the people have no idea about it, but there is a beautiful and peaceful park hidden just a few minutes away from Keleti Railway Station. The square called Square of Roses or Rózsák tere in Hungarian is reachable on foot from Keleti, or by trolley 73 and 76 as well; where you can find a small park surrounded by houses remaining from the old, pre-war Budapest. This park is never crowded, and a perfect place for staying a bit away from the noise of the city, resting a bit on our sightseeing tour. Small benches and stone tables surround the Elizabeth Church, an amazing old lady, a Gothic church just as beautiful as the well-known Matthias Church of the Castle area – though this one is forgotten by many. From here on you can wander around the VIth district , one of the nicest ones, or make your way to the River Danube, which will be our next stop now.
Another thing many people do not realize is that you can do a sightseeing tour not only ont he expensive tourist buses, but also by tram number 2. While tourist buses and sightseeing tours mostly cost hundreds of Euros, this is a trip you can do for only about 300 HUF, a rough sum of 1€. You can buy tickets at any tram station basically, and you can catch the tram anywhere ont he east side of the river. I would siggest to start the trip on Fővám tér, at the Great Market Hall, as this way you will get a sight of the Gellért Hill with the Statue of Liberty on it, and the Castle Hill with the freshly renewed Várkert Bazár (currently cultural centre), the Buda Castle, the Matthias Church and the Fishermen’s Bastion on the western side of the river; the Chain Bridge, one of the most beautiful bridges connecting the two parts of the city; plus you will go around the Houses of Parliament, the main attraction of the eastern riverside as well. Your trip will end just at the entry of the Margaret Island, another nice place to take a rest on your trip. If you do the tram-ride by nighttime, you will also see the real beauty of the city, highlighted with millions of lights, and getting off for the way between the Chain Bridge and the Elizabeth Bridge you will have the nicest walk of your life!
Once you are done with the tram-sightseeing, you can climb up the Gellért Hill
to get the most beautiful panorama of the Heart of Europe. It does not cost anything, but a couple of minutes of climbing and a little bit of sweat. On the meanders small passageways you can catch a different glimpse of Budapest each time, and take a seat at the little benches, rocks and panorama seats placed here and there. The Gellért Hill does also have some hilarious slides – probably more suitable for children, but I had fun on them too! Arriving to the top you can meet our lady, the Statue of Liberty – in some memes often appearing as a beer opener because of its’ shape. Having a rest up there you can
buy a lot of things or have a meal – all on a touristic price of course – or walk on to have a bit more peaceful atmosphere in the Philosopher’s Garden. Out there you can meet the most important philosophers of the ages carved into stone, see the Buda Castle from a different angle and watch an interesting sculpture of the unification of the two sides, Buda and Pest.
Visit Marika néni at the end of the day
Walking around all Budapest, you will get hungry by the evening – but instead of picking a famous restaurant, I can suggest you better! Somewhere, hidden between the huge block of houses, offices and shopping malls, there is a tiny little place called Marika Néni Kávézója (Café of Aunt Mary). These little place is famous for its “Béke Burger” (this is the key word you have to tell her), a huge burger, three times the size of a normal one, made of 100% fresh ingredients by Marika néni herself. She is a very sociable old lady, who moved to the city years ago and sells hundreds of enormous burgers each day for only a little bit more than 3€! The motto of Marika néni is “If you do not like it, you don’t have to pay it!” and she determined that if there are as much as ten complaints, she will close forever. Well, she is still operating after many decades, serving students of all ages and countries.
Photo credits: Marika Néni Kávézója
The sweetest side of Budapest
After the burgers it definitely won’t fir any more, but at any other day it is worth to try Rengeteg Romkafé! Just one corner away from Marika néni, there is another not so well-known, but yet famous person, Tibor, who is the best magician of hot chocolates – if not even in the world. Just like Marika néni, he also does his job from passion, and people just love it! Imagine a small dungeon full of Teddy bears (you can also bring your own, if you would like to leave him at a good new home), and you can sit at various kinds of all tables full of antiquities, on one of the hundred types of chairs. There are some antique games, tools and books in the tiny and cozy place – however, no menu is available at all. You can ask for literally and kind of hot chocolate starting from the traditional flavors such as coconut, peanut, strawberry or so, but all kinds of fruits and spices are available, so chili is still kind of normal; but you can have your most daring dreams come true by having a hot chocolate with bacon, popcorn or even black pepper! If you allow another tip, do not go for any flavor, but say ‘I would like a surprise‘ instead. Unique experience is guaranteed!