Off the beaten path. Budapest in an unusual way
There are a great many world-famous things to see and do in Budapest, but if you’re ready to step off the beaten path and discover the lesser explored side to Hungary‘s capital city, you have found the right person. 🙂
Every country and town is unique. So is Hungary. Guidebooks make amazing places popular, list several natural and man-made wonders. I, however, show you, tell you, take you there and turn unusual and unique things into an experience.
Eye-opening tours, trips to the Ottoman tombs and the Communist statues, taking part in the secret parties and unparalleled nightlife of the Party District, sitting, drinking and chatting in the so-called ruin-pubs, taking delight in the numerous museums, libraries, churches that are not mentioned in the guidebooks…: there is no shortage of things to do in Budapest off the beaten path.
I have a few Budapest secret tips for you. For a glimpse of a hidden Budapest, here are some offbeat things to do in Budapest that you shouldn’t miss.
Visiting the tomb of Gül Baba.
The Ottoman Empire ruled over Hungary for over 100 years between the 16th-17th centuries, and traces from that period in its history can be found across the country. The Tomb of Gül Baba in Budapest is one such example: built in the mid-1500s for the Ottoman dervish Gül Baba, It has survived throughout the years and today is a popular pilgrimage site, and an interesting insight into Hungary’s Ottoman history. The tomb is located on Mecset (mosque) Street, Budapest, a short but steep walk from the Margaret Bridge in the district of Rózsadomb. The street near the old ottomans tomb is one of the oldest and steepest in Budapest, great view from the top. Gul Baba was a kind of a wanderer (dervish) and played an important role in the history of the most successful Turkish football club, Galatasaray. For the fans of the team, it is a must to visit this place.
Seeing the Szabo Ervin Library
A grand library housed in the neo-baroque Wenckheim Palace, the Szabó Ervin Library is popular with students thanks to its location nearby a number of the city’s universities. Visitors can buy a pass to enter the building, whose interior is beautifully decorated with chandeliers, wooden carvings and old fireplaces. It is one of the most beautiful libraries in the world, to my mind, it is the most beautiful… :). It’s like a mini Versailles. You will never know how beautiful a library can be until you see this. When you see it, you can’t believe that people actually sit and read amidst the carved wood panelling, ceiling chandeliers, ornate wood spiral staircases, antique heaters, and huge marble fireplaces. In 2018 the Metropolitan Ervin Szabó Library was awarded Qualified Library title for outstanding professional achievements.
Being in the For Sale pub
This Budapest bar located right across from the famous Central Market Hall allows drinkers to leave their mark on the walls, floor, and even ceiling. The For Sale pub is decorated by guest’s artwork, receipts, pictures, and just about any other form of paper you can think of hanging from the ceiling. Add in a brick fireplace, worn wood floors with straw on them, and dark lighting, and you have the makings of a beautiful place to grab a drink or a bite to eat.
Drinking in Red Ruin Bar
Red Ruin Bar is somewhat of a hidden gem, lots of locals inside, and surely like no bar you have visited before 🙂
Very small inside and not much seating, but a good range of drinks available. Anti- communist/ sarcastic humour. This bar has a great theme and is very consistent. The first thing you see when you walk into Red Ruin is a mural of Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong in birthday hats, having an enthusiastic “communist party.”
It is really popular with locals and tourists featuring kitschy attractions like fluorescent red lighting, a cardboard poster of Marx and Lenin that you can put your face through, and pop art stencils of Stalin with the caption “Joseph Stylin.” The bar’s labyrinthine, redbrick basement features even more wall art and communism jokes.
Visiting the Memento Park
Budapest’s Communist-era statues expelled to the suburbs. When Communism collapsed in Hungary in 1989, Budapest was left with many public works of art that celebrated that era. In 1993, the city government decided to save the statues rather than destroy them and the idea for the Memento Park was born.
Twenty minutes from Budapest’s city centre, the open-air Memento Park displays more than 40 Communist-era statues in a neutral setting, neither making a mockery of them nor honouring them. Perhaps the most curious item in the park is a 1:1 replica of Stalin’s giant boots. A huge eight-meter statue of Stalin once stood in central Budapest serving as a rallying point and parade route for the communist regime. On the 23rd of October 1956, the Hungarians revolted against the communist regime and pulled down the huge statue leaving only Stalin’s giant boots behind. Though the revolution was brutally crushed by Communist forces, the replica of the boots serves as a reminder of those lost in the Hungarian uprising.
Playing in the Flipper Muzeum (Pinball Museum)
Sitting beneath an unremarkable residential building close to the Nyugati Railway Station is a museum devoted to classic Pinball. This pinball museum has everything a pinball fanatic would wish for. The majority of the machines also work so you can spend hours playing. There’s a bar which sells all sorts of strange flavours of soft drinks. It costs 3000 forints (about 8 Euro) for unlimited play. The small museum is packed with rows of classic pinball machines, all in working order.
Among the dozens of machines on display in the museum, one of the standouts is the rare Mesovonat machine, which stands as the only known Hungarian-made pinball machine. Purchasing a ticket gives visitors the opportunity to play the games as much as they would like for the entire day, ensuring that there will be more pinball drams for generations to follow. Open from 4pm-midnight on weekdays. Closed on Monday and Tuesday.
Enjoying the Ruin Pubs
The Budapest ruin pubs originated only a decade ago in the diverse and historically interesting Jewish Quarter. Go forward ten years they have completely reshaped the city’s cultural and nightlife landscape. Ruin pubs are a characteristically Hungarian breed of bar that began opening a little more than a decade ago in abandoned factory buildings, car garages or homes. I would like to introduce my tourists the main treasure-boxes of the old Jewish District (also known as the District 7) and provide an unforgettable night with lots of fun. I am really fond of these pubs 🙂 I know all of them 🙂 I take my tourists to 4-5 vibrant nocturnal scenes where I introduce the local drinking culture through tasting local drinks and providing freshly made pub tour snacks. Each tourist of mine gets a map with directions to help them home and further insider tips about Budapest nightlife.
Nyócker – THE 8th DISTRICT
A decade ago, the streets of Budapest’s Eighth District as locals say “nyócker” – also known as Józsefváros – were best avoided. Beneath the shadows of the grand aristocratic homes and ornate residences prostitutes, drug users and homeless people walked.
The area was said to be dangerous, slummy and strongly advised to avoid. Over the past few years, however, the district has changed its reputation: easygoing cafés and art spaces are filling the gaps in an area laden with faded glamour. This is the place to head if you want to swap traditional sites and rowdy bars in favour of crumbling balconies and local haunts.
Although the 8th district is continuously developing, the changes remained unnoticed and the strong negative stereotypes against the 8th district remained.
I introduce this very special and contradictory district to break stereotypes, to show a real, special and happy face of Budapest. I know the nyócker (8th district) very well. My sister lives there and I stay in her home regularly. It is my second home :). Honestly, it is something of Budapest. Special and unique.
Culinary tours are the best kind of tours! Not only do you get to taste delicious local dishes, but you get another taste of the culture. Both Hungary and Budapest have a remarkable delicious traditional cuisine. Culinary tours are indeed a great learning experience while drinking and savouring delicious recipes throughout the tour!
I myself love cooking and I am really very good at making delicious meals. I can give you good recipes 🙂 and some secrets of Hungarian cuisine. I know really good restaurants where you can taste different types of dishes. If you have enough time and you feel like tasting my cooking I invite you to my home and I prepare something for you. 🙂
Budapest at night as you want
Take an evening and night tour to explore the lights of the fascinating city. The tour organized by car, brings you to the highlights of Budapest: Castle district with its romantic old houses, view to the river Danube from Fisherman’s Bastion, the old Chain Bridge lights, Gresham Four Season luxury hotel (outside), the Parliament area and Liberty Square, St. Stephen Basilica, pedestrian roads, view the evening life on the promenade of the river bank, Andrássy Blvd with its elegant buildings, Hero’s Square statues, the Vajdahunyad Castle in the City Park. The tour ends at a typical Hungarian Restaurant with folklore program and gipsy music, or if you prefer at a nightclub.
Of course, these are just suggestions. There are plenty of other special places in Budapest and all over the country that I know and can show. Just tell me what you are interested in, what you want to see, what kind of things you are interested in, and I tailor the program to you personally, but if you have any special ask during the program we can improvise….:)