6 Quirky Things To Do in Budapest
A city that once was once two, bisected by the Danube river – Budapest is still very much a tale of two halves. Whilst Pest buzzes and whirrs with city life, Buda basks in the late-afternoon sunshine; unpretentious, leafy and understated.
Once upon a time, Budapest might have been overlooked, shadowed by its major European neighbors, but those days are long gone. These days Budapest rests firmly on the map; beautiful sprawling architecture frames picturesque views of the Danube twinkling at sunset, whilst the world’s largest collection of thermal baths keeps tourists flocking to the city, not to mention the cheap, flowing beer and eccentric ruin bars that keep Budapest rocking every night of the week. Yes, the secrets out on Budapest! But, lucky for us, there are still some extremely cool and unusual activities still to sample in this once Soviet city.
- Party in a Pool –
You won’t spend long in Budapest before you hear hushed whispers of the infamous “Sparty” (spa-party) that descends on Budapest’s largest thermal bath complex – Széchenyi Thermal Bath – every Saturday night of the summer. Lasers, lights, DJ’s and impromptu orgies are all on the menu for those who dare! Fancy something a little tamer? Try partying the night away at Budapest’s biggest indoor waterpark – Aquapark – which hosts occasional party events complete with dance floor and fire-jugglers. You can also check out Rudas Baths late night opening hours every Fri and Saturday from 10pm-3am for a beautiful view of the city from their rooftop hot tub. In the daytime visit Palatinus Bath on Marget Island, where you can soak up some sun alongside a full bar. If you’re feeling extra fancy splurge at Rudas Baths with an exclusive red wine bath soak, or how about an hour free-flow bath-side beer whilst soaking in a tub of hops at Széchenyi Thermal Bath’s Beer Spa.
- Picnic with a view –
Time to get out of the city and ride the children’s railway (yes, a railway service run by children – with adult supervision, of course) up through the Buda hills. A throw back to Budapest’s Soviet past, the Children’s Railway is a cute, noisy 30 min ride through the green hills. Hop off at Normafa Station and walk to Anna’s meadow for a picnic with a spectacular view of the city, before riding the kitsch Zugliget Chairlift back down. Expect breathtaking views of the city with a charming Wes Anderson vibe.
- Novelty Pubs –
Why get drunk in a regular boring bar when you could be sat straddling a giant hamster at Szimpla Kert. Or petting some adorable kitties at Cat Pub, whilst you prop up a bar stool. These are just a few of the options on offer courtesy of Budapest’s vast collection of eccentric watering holes. Lounge on the deck at Pontoon, feel the sand beneath your feet at Ocean Beach Budapest, try a few rounds of Scrabble at Game Up Pub, some air hockey at Füge Udvar and even improve your meme game at Sólyom Pub For Memes.
- Niche Museums –
Skip the crowds at major city museums by going underground figuratively, and literally – in some cases – at Budapest’s collection of niche interest museums. Try Hospital in The Rock for a museum based in an old nuclear bunker. Try your hand at some antique pinball courtesy the Flipper Museum, or even throw down on some retro classics such as Atari, Nintendo, and SEGA at Game Over arcade museum. Alternatively, for something a bit more educational head to Budapest Agriculture Museum to feast your eyes on a ball room of antlers, Kelenföld Power Station for crumbling industrial chic, or The Golden Eagle Pharmacy Museum for some seriously weird artifacts such as ground up mummy powder, taxidermy-aplenty and the occasional severed head.
- Visit the Michael Jackson Tree –
Admit it, life has never really quite been the same without him. Thankfully, in Budapest you can pay your respects to the late, great MJ at an unofficial – although somehow now a recognised locstion on Google Maps – tree shrine that has appeared in the city opposite the Kempinski Hotel; Micheal’s go-to spot in Budapest. Just a nice idea which was thrown together by some fans, which has somehow stuck. All hail The King of Pop.
- Pee in Budapest’s Nicest Toilet –
And finally, no alt-trip to Budapest would not be complete without a tinkle in its most decadent of toilets – located inside the Boscolo Budapest Hotel. One way to gain access is to dine at the very beautiful, although wildly overpriced, New York Cafe which is adjoined to the hotel. Another way is to wander in looking like you belong there and hope for the best. I would recommend the latter. If all else fails, run.