When it comes to landmarks, Budapest certainly has plenty. The true charm of the city, however, is hidden in the pockets of secret places that most first-time visitors miss.
Attila, our local Budapest ambassador and founder of Budapest Flow, a cool local tour company, recommends 10+1 unique things to do in his home city. Next time you’re in Budapest and want to try something different, opt for some of these more off-the-wall activities!
1. Go caving in the Buda Hills
There are around 200 caves on the Buda side alone, carved out by the thermal springs that course under the Hungarian capital. Budapest is one of the very few capitals where you can get involved in a spot of spelunking right underneath a residential part of the city.
Photo credit: Funmilayo
2. Visit the Electrotechnical Museum
There are some curious museums in Budapest, the Electrotechnical Museum being one of them. It’s worth visiting if you’re interested in physics or are travelling with kids. Besides seeing some cool Hungarian inventions and learning about the history of electrical engineering, you can participate in different experiments. This museum is located in the heart of the seventh district near some of the city’s most famous ruin bars.
Photo credit: wikitech.hu
3. Drink on a Ukrainian stone-carrier ship
A38 is an old Ukrainian stone-carrier ship, built in 1968, moored just off the banks of the Danube. Today, it’s a cultural and social hotspot that hosts concerts and events, and houses one of the city’s most interesting bars. Have a drink on the deck and enjoy the view or stop by for some live music.
Photo credit: Mark Somay
4. Hike up to a Turkish tomb
Budapest was under Ottoman occupation for over a century and you can still find Turkish relics across the city, for example the famous Turkish baths. Up on the Buda side of the river, close to the Lukács Baths, lies the 16th-century tomb of Sufi poet Gül Baba. It’s a curious and distinctly Ottoman mausoleum offering amazing views over Budapest.
Photo credit: Zoltán Balogh
5. Play vintage pinball machines
This might sound like an unusual attraction, but thousands come the world over to play at the Budapest Pinball Museum – Europe’s largest interactive pinball museum. There are 130 machines, some dating as far back as the 1940s!
Photo credit: Budapest Pinball Museum
6. Go to a farmers market in a ruin bar
Budapest’s ruin bars are a main feature of the city’s nightlife, but on Sundays you might want to head to Szimpla Kert for a different reason – the farmers market! Here you’ll find artisanal cheeses, organic sprouts, homemade jams and other tasty produce, along with live music and a buzzing atmosphere.
If you want to discover the hidden secrets of the seventh district on a Sunday morning, then join a Sunday market tour!
Photo credit: Budapest Flow
7. Watch a film in Europe’s smallest cinema
Cirkó Gejzír is Europe’s smallest cinema. It screens international art films and documentaries, and hosts film festivals, exhibitions and events.
Photo credit: MoziNéző
8. See where communist statues come to die
Memento Park might be outside the city centre, but if you’re interested in communist relics, it will be heaven for you. It’s an open-air museum full of monumental statues and placards from the country’s communist period. You’ll not only find statues of Marx, Engels and Lenin, but also of Hungarian communist leaders.
Photo credit: Ferran Cornellà
9. Explore an underground hospital and former nuclear bunker
The Hospital in the Rock is located in the network of caves beneath Buda Castle Hill. This subterranean hospital saw action in WWII and during the 1956 uprising. The interactive museum recreates the scenes of these tough times when the hospital was overcrowded with casualties.
Part of the hospital was repurposed as a secret nuclear bunker during the Cold War and was actually a top secret-place until recent years when it reopened as a museum.
Photo credit: varosom.hu
10. Go diving in a submerged beer factory and stone mine
If you’re a qualified diver, you can explore a truly unique part of Budapest – the submerged beer factory and stone mine in the Kőbánya neighbourhood. Groups such as Paprika Divers organise dives for those qualified to take the plunge.
Photo credit: Paprika Divers
11. Chill out at a bar in an empty swimming pool
In the summer, you’ll want to drop by Pagony Kert, an empty outdoor swimming pool that has been converted into an open-air bar. Although it follows the usual ruin bar tradition of repurposing old spaces, this place is a world away from bars such as Szimpla and is the ideal spot for a night out.
Photo credit: Pagony
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