From its Communist Roots to Becoming The "Paris of the East," This is the Budapest of Today

As soon as I read that Budapest’s nicknames were either the “Queen of the Danube” or "the Paris of the East," I knew it had the makings of a fabulous getaway. So I was thrilled when I found out that my upcoming Viking Danube Waltz River Cruise would be departing from there. Unfortunately I only had 24 hours to explore Budapest’s burgeoning food and cultural scene. If I had only known how much fun this captivating Hungarian capital was (light years removed from the cold war Communist city it once was), I would have planned a whole week to cover this eminently-walkable city. Clean, safe, hip, easy, and breathtakingly beautiful, this break-out destination has done an admirable spring-cleaning job of meshing together all the good stuff from its yesteryear with its revitalizations of today.

While strolling through Pest’s unique neighborhoods you’ll find palatial Ottoman-era hotels, Neo-Baroque palaces and historical beauties such as the Szechenyi Spa (a popular thermal bath that recently celebrated its 100th birthday), and an abundance of elegant historical coffee houses rubbing elbows with so-called ruin bars. About 15 years ago Budapest’s ruin bar phenomenon began springing up as hipsters reclaimed derelict old factories and turned them into post-Communism cultural hangouts. The first ruin pub that is still wildly popular is Szimpla Kert (Simple Garden), an old stove factory that was converted into a huge open-air cinema, with pub, outdoor eateries and exciting recycled art like the table made from an old Trabant car.  

Janice Nieder

Janice Nieder could be the love child of Indiana Jones and Julia Child. She was a specialty food consultant for 12 years in New York, with a client list that included Tavern on the Green, Dean & Deluca and Sign of the Dove. After being bitten by the travel bug, her culinary adventures took her to over 90 countries, where she shared a smoked monkey dinner with a generous Shuar Indian family deep...(Read More)

Related Articles

Around the web