I found the best of the ‘pes(h)t to be the ruin bars and food. The city itself is a bit difficult to comprehend, comprised of buildings mostly built with a drab yellow-brownish stone, where one block’s buildings has broken windows and rubble visible inside; the next block has busy, well-kempt restaurants and bars.
The “ruin bars” popped up about 15 years ago, and are simply makeshift bars housed in buildings damaged in World War II. After these buildings had gone unused for decades, people started to use them as a place to hang out and drink at night, which eventually evolved into fully operational bars. They have a real post-apocalyptic vibe: damaged buildings (some without roofs), decorated with mismatched, flea market furniture, surrounded by painted murals and colorful, hanging lights. I felt as though I was at an end of the world party (more specifically, that scene from the Matrix Reloaded in the underground Zion). If the unique setting isn’t enough, a beer will set you back less than $1 (or 300 Hungarian Forints).
Through most of my travels, I’ve been trying to stick to the local cuisine, foregoing the American-style options. This has been a bit difficult, as deep down, I’m a burger-and-fries guy. I soon discovered that Budapest was the place to feed my cravings of greasy, American goodness. Walking down the streets of District 7, you’re bombarded with restaurants and food trucks advertising bar-b-que, fried foods, burgers, and other familiar fare. I indulged a few times and had one of the best burgers and philly cheesesteak sandwiches I may have ever had.
There are some beautiful views in the city: along the river (especially at night), the hill on the Buda side, Margaret Island, and Varosliget Park. In the middle of the park is one of many Thermal Bath Houses of Budapest, which was packed with hundreds of people moving from one pool to the next of varying degrees. If you know where to go in Budapest, you’ll find delicious food, unique (and cheap) nightlife, and relaxing vantage points to waste away the day.