10/24/2022     by Justin Gibson

Budapest’s Best Surreal Discoveries

The key to memorable travel isn’t hitting all the biggest destinations and sites like a grocery list, checking them off one by one with a snapshot at each as if you were on an errand across the ocean. No, the key to memorable travel is living an experience entirely out of your everyday ordinary — reveling in the moments that don’t translate culturally. Stumbling into something unique, strange, surreal and hopefully eye-opening.


Take, for example, the city of Budapest. Sure, it has historically significant structures galore — but so do most cities and towns. The Great Synagogue, Parliament House and the Fisherman’s Bastion are equal parts regal and picturesque, but if they’re all you’re looking forward to discovering, you’re doing Budapest wrong. Consider pairing some of the above with some of the following.

Széchenyi Thermal Bath and Swimming Pool

Thermal Baths

Few countries can match the luxe public soaking offered by the city of Budapest. Whether or not you believe in the medicinal benefits of the historic thermal waters, a dip in one of the modern-day pools makes for a memorable moment unmatched in other worldly travels. The go-to spot for most visitors is the outdoor Széchenyi Baths, but be warned: It is crowded. For a quieter soak, try the Rudas Baths. Built in the 16th century by the command of Ottoman pasha Sokollu Mustafa, the bath chamber today feels like a time machine that transports bathers back to the bygone era — the interior is that exquisite. The hot tub on the roof of the establishment is a newer addition that feels significantly more modern in concept, but the view is equally enchanting.


Szimpla Kert

Ruin Pubs

While just about anywhere else in the world you would steer clear of ruin, in Hungary, you seek it out. Ruin pubs are drinking establishments that have blossomed in ruins of dilapidated buildings, peculiar hubs of livelihood in otherwise forgotten settings. Szimpla Kert is the king of ruin pubs, having started the trend in 2001 with a hodgepodge of thrift-store furniture and DIY decorations among a maze-like structure — but is frequented predominately by tourists these days. For more authentic ruin pub crawls, consider heading to Szatyor Bar or Instant-Fogas. The former is a favorite locals’ haunt, with duck confit and craft beers served in a quiet ambiance, while the latter is an entire apartment complex turned into a mega-dance club.





Whether you’re an appreciator of the popular pastime, or just looking to spend a few hours somewhere novel, it’s likely that you won’t find a more thorough collection of pinball machines in all your travels. Discretely located in the basement of a residential building, the Flippermúzeum is home to 150 pinball machines, some dating all the way back to the 1800s. The best part? The entire museum is interactive — for the cost of admission, you can play pinball until the museum closes at midnight.


Christmas Markets

Christmas Markets

Should your travels to Budapest coincide with the holiday season, the city’s Christmas markets make for an utterly magical discovery. Popping up in the city’s squares, rows upon rows of stalls offer all sorts of traditional Hungarian staples and fares — be it everything from blown glass to homemade candles. Couple your shopping with the warm glow of Christmas lights and the delectable treats of mulled wine and chimney cake, and you can easily spend a day savoring the festive atmosphere. 



Ready to explore Budapest for yourself? Reach out and connect with one of our travel agents. Not only do they have even more hidden gems to recommend, but they also have close working relationships with the premier names in travel. Consider discovering all the above as part of a Viking cruise, and it’s only one day of your vacation. Sailing on Europe’s storied rivers, you’ll stop in ports of interest for guided (or unguided) exploration. And in between each port, you can count on Viking’s signature onboard enrichment, elegant Scandinavian design and thoughtful service that has cemented Viking’s legacy as one of the best cruise lines around.



Contact our Travel Agency today to get started planning your dream European river cruise.



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