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9 Fun Things to do in Budapest
So you are in Budapest and have already visited the Parliament, took photos at Heroes' Square and have tried Goulash soup... What's next?
In this article you will find 9 ideas to enjoy the Budapest vibe and have fun.
About the City in a Nutshell
Budapest is the capital of Hungary and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Central Europe. The city has nearly 2 million residents or 3.3 million people if we include the commuter areas as well.
Budapest is famous for its beautiful Danube panorama and Buda Castle district (it's also a World Heritage Sight), the cultural buzz with museums, concert halls, threatres, exhibitions and great nightlife. In fact, there's so much this city can offer to visitors and locals alike that it may cause a big dilemma what to choose from the various programs available.
Here are 9 fun things to do whilst in the city...
1) Rent a Bringóhintó on Margaret island
Margaret Island, also known as the Island of Rabbits, is a 2.5km/1.6mi park in the heart of Budapest surrounded by the River Danube. Legend says that the island was once the home for wild animals including small furry rabbits. On this green land stood a Dominican convent, where the daughter of IV. Béla King, Saint Margit spent her life as a nun. Today the ruins of the monestry are still there and the island was renamed after her to Margit Sziget (Margaret Island).
Though the rabbits now reside only in the mini-zoo of the park, it's green grass fields, rose-garden, sport facilities make this park the local's favourite to visit after work and on weekends.
This little red car, called bringóhintó, has been a familiar sight on the island since 1985 and a fun way to explore where Margit had lived once. Bringóhintó moves by manpower meaning that travellers must pedal in order to move, similarly to the Flintstones family, and can be rented near the entrance of the park.
2) Take a Break at Erzsébet Square with a Lemonade or Fröccs
Deák square is the busiest underground metro station of the city as all three lines meet here along with several bus and tram lines. Located right next to Deák lies Erzsébet square, a green park with a large outdoor café for those wanting to take a break from their busy days.
On a hot summer day, locals often meet friends for a drink here to enjoy the light evening breeze and a refreshing lemonade or fröccs.
A glass of lemonade made from freshly squeezed oranges, lemons and limes and topped with soda water and a drop of sugar syrup for the sweetness can put a smile on anyone's face. If you try it at Erzsébet square's café, you may also choose other tasty flavours, such as green apple, passion fruit, strawberry...
Another popular choice is fröccs, the Hungarian wine spritzer. It is available in most bars, cafés, festivals and basically any big event in the summer. Depending on the ratio of wine and soda water in the mix, there are various names identified with fröccs and comes handy when ordering at the bar:
- nagyfröccs also called hajtás, húzás (large spritzer or shoot, hitch) is 2dl wine + 1dl soda water
- kisfröccs also called fütty, tréfa, rövidlépés (small spritzer or whistle, joke, short step) is 1dl wine + 1dl soda water
- hosszúlépés also called fordított (long step or the-other-way-around) is 1dl wine + 2dl soda water
- házmester (janitor) is 3dl wine + 2dl soda water
- viceházmester (assistant janitor) is 4dl wine + 1dl soda water
- polgármester (major) is 6dl wine + 4dl soda
- Puskás-fröccs (named after a famous Hungarian football player) is 6dl wine + 3dl soda water
- lakó-fröccs (tenant) is 1dl wine + 4dl soda water
..... and the list goes on.
3) Cycle Around the City
In the last 10 years Budapest has transformed into a bicycle-friendly city. Some of the driving forces of this was a year when the public transportation teams held several strikes and people dusted off their two-wheel vehicles in order to get to work on time. Other enablers are the Hungarian Cycling Club and community who engaged in conversation with the City Council and encouraged the building of new bike lanes and facilities, for example bicycle parking, and establishing cycling repair services at gas stations.
Today thousands use this way of transportation to get to work, school or elsewhere. This change has also helped to lower traffic in rush hour, supported environmental friendly causes, meant health benefits for the individuals and sparked new fashion trends for bikers.
The city has several new bike lanes and the public cycling rental system - called BuBi - is planned to be launched in 2014. Until then there are several renting companies that offer bicycles for the visitors - just search rent bicycle in Budapest in Google.
Discovering the city on two wheels has great advantages - some are: you get to see more of the surroundings than when traveling on the underground metro; cycling is easy and fun; you can stop easily if you see something of interest and continue your journey as you wish; you can also reward yourself with a delicious ice cream at the end of your trip to a job well-done.
4) Relax in Széchenyi Thermal Bath and Play Chess by the Pool
The area of Budapest is rich in thermal springs that has health benefits (even doctors prescribe visits to the thermal bath for those suffering from joint pain!) and a fun way to spend a Sunday morning.
Széchenyi Bath is the largest medicinal bath in Europe and its Neo-baroque buildings are pleasant to the eyes. The bath is also a popular destination for locals who enjoy battling on the chess boards. If you are up for the challenge, join them by the pool-side and put your chess knowledge to the test. If you prefer a quiet session then I suggest to try Swedish massage in the spa after the pool.
For the remaining 5 fun ideas in Budapest, please read Part 2 of this article.
© 2013 Zsuzsi @ hubpages.com
© 2013 Zsuzsi