Budapest is, without a doubt, one of the coolest destinations in Europe. A lot of people compare it to Prague – another city that’s got post-Communism appeal, rapidly gentrifying neighbourhoods, trendy lounges housed in derelict buildings, and boutiques that feature cutting edge fashion and art. As soon as your flight to Budapest touches down, you'll know you've arrived in a city that's constantly evolving from historic destination to hip hangout for the young and stylish.
For anyone with even a passing interest in architecture, the Hungarian capital is a delight, full of beautiful buildings ranging in styles from Baroque to Art Nouveau to neoclassical to super modern. Strolling the banks of the Danube River, with Castle Hill in the distance, you can get a fantastic sense of the history that Budapest has experienced. Its golden age was at the turn of the 20th century, when many of the city’s most gorgeous edifices were constructed.
It’s not all history, though. New neighbourhoods that should be on your ‘to visit’ list include Józsefváros, the Eighth District, which has been regentrified into a cultural focal point for the city, packed with galleries and restaurants.
Eating in Budapest is an eye-opening yet leisurely experience. Restaurants run the gamut from self-service cafeterias to high-end splurges, and Hungarian food is varied and rich. The city has received a growing number of Michelin stars, and new restaurants are opening all the time. Desserts, particularly the classic Hungarian treats, are world-class, and the locals spend plenty of time in cafes, appreciating them with gusto.
The best hotels in Budapest are a varied lot: some small, some big, some pricey, some cheap. Location is important – try to find somewhere close to public transportation if you’re opting to stay outside the city centre. A couple of the newest hotels have an art focus, with their own galleries and eye-catching designs. Older places have a more demure look but can be surprisingly luxurious. And hostels, which are plentiful, are generally of a high standard.
In essence, to experience Budapest's emergence as a top world destination is truly a fascinating journey. Come to Budapest and immerse yourself in the up-and-coming.