Hidden Gems of Budapest
Discover some of the hidden wonders of the Hungarian Capital
Being a relatively common tourist destination, Budapest fulfilled all the expectations I had for the incredibly scenic Eastern European city. Full of baroque architecture, heartwarming Christmas markets, stunning churches, delicious food, and elaborate castles, the Hungarian capital did not disappoint when it came to captivating scenery and a sense of history.
Famous attractions including the view from Gellert Hill, the walk across the Chain Bridge, the vast grandeur of Heroes Square, and the unparalleled sight of the glowing Parliament Building all turned out to be just as rewarding as photographs suggest, and despite the bitter cold weather, I am overall in awe of the beauty and culture of Budapest. Aside from the charm of the city’s major landmarks, the experiences I had in Budapest greatly enhanced the vacation. Alongside two of my good friends from school in London, we found some unbelievable places that I was not at all expecting before the journey.
Rudas Thermal Bath Though we booked a trip to the massive Szechenyi Bath due to its reputation as a must-see tourist destination, it was the spontaneous visit to the smaller, less popular Rudas Thermal Bath that truly amazed us. One thing I’ve learned in my travels: never turn down a bath. On Tuesdays the Rudas thermal baths are exclusively for women, so we had the liberating privilege of being naked. These baths, originally built in 1550, had a more traditional atmosphere with the rustic stone decor and spacious, domed ceiling. With one large pool in the center of the hall and four smaller pools lining the corners of the room, the baths differed slightly in temperature, ranging from 32 degrees Celsius to 42. The exceptionally warm water combined with steam rooms and saunas contributed to the physically and mentally soothing nature of the afternoon.
Szimpla Ruin Bar Another hidden wonder of Budapest lies in Szimpla, one of the city’s many ruin bars. After admiring the delicate and dilapidated exterior of the old building, we entered to find ourselves consumed in a maze of dark, shadowy rooms illuminated by colorful lights and hypnotic decorations. Despite the dusty brick walls and rustic piping that revealed the obvious age of the place, the ruin was brought to life with graffiti, odd statues and figurines, and vibrant wall art.
The area we eventually settled into to drink our delicious mulled wine was a small room where old televisions hung overhead and ignited the darkness with mesmerizing digital art and numerous cables and wires strung themselves around the room like vines. The relaxing atmosphere and the enticing decor made for a surreal experience. Siruis Teaház While it’s usually impossible to highlight a single aspect of a trip as the best, I have to say my favorite part of Budapest was the Sirius Teaház. I think the most accurate way to describe this discrete little hideaway is a cozy playhouse for tea-lovers. Considering my undying love for tea and my childish love for climbing things, this place was heaven. The first section of the Teahouse consists of an adorable dining room full of plants and trinkets, but the real magic appears once you venture to the back of the teahouse, remove your shoes, and begin to explore the many areas of relaxation. Soft, Persian rugs blanketed the floors and and tiny tables sat surrounded by cushions.
The edges of the room held tunnels and ladders that led to secret alcoves at different elevations, the ceiling was painted a rich green with bright paintings of flowers, and beautiful tapestries hung from the walls. There was even a wooden wardrobe which you could enter to find a small stairway covered with a mosaic of mirrors, then ascend the stairs to find another hidden room with comfy pillows and an elaborate dragon painting on the ceiling. After climbing around the rooms like cats and absorbing all the beauty of the decoration, we ordered our drinks from the extensive menu of amazing tea selections and spent the afternoon lounging on the cozy pillows and soaking up the zen atmosphere. The Sirius Teaház acted as a heartwarming escape from the freezing city, and I’m so happy we were able to find this little oasis of bliss.