Thank goodness the world survived the end of the Mayan calendar, because 2013 is shaping up to be a great year to visit Budapest. The city that blends old world charm with a vibrant cultural and culinary scene offers plenty to discover in 2013. In case you need some inspiration, here are 13 reasons to add Budapest to your must-visit list in 2013.
1. Historic Budapest Baths
Open year-round, the historic thermal baths are one of Budapest's best features. Whether it's an original Turkish bathhouse (Rudas), a Neo-Baroque Palace (Széchenyi) or an Art Deco masterpiece (Gellért), there is nothing better than relaxing in the healing waters.
2. Wine & Cuisine
Wine lovers will be happy to know that Hungary produces award winning reds and whites in its 22 wine regions. Hip wine bars are popping up everywhere in the city offering the best local vintages by the glass. Putting Budapest on the foodie map is Hungary's delicious cuisine along with some great Michelin star and Bib Gourmand awarded restaurants and local gems serving classic Hungarian dishes with a twist.
3. Budapest's Ruin Pubs
The always-popular Ruin Pubs remain the most unique part of Budapest's entertainment scene. A must on every visitor's to-do list, these pubs, located in formerly abandoned buildings, have a great atmosphere any time of the day. A good place to start your ruin-pub-hopping is Szimpla Kert.
4. Sziget 2013
Hungary's biggest party enters into adulthood, as 2013 marks the 21st Sziget Festival. Music lovers can get ready to sing and dance the night away during this week-long event, which by the way is one of the largest music festivals in Europe. In 2012 Sziget attracted almost 400,000 fans and featured artists like Snoop Dogg and The Killers.
5. Award Winning Nightlife
Planning a night out? Budapest's vibrant clubbing scene is making the headlines. Be sure to visit A38, voted #1 on Lonely Planet's '100 great bars of the world' in 2012, or Boutiq Bar, listed among the 'World's 50 Best Bars' by Drinks International.
6. Historic Buildings
With over a thousand years of history, Budapest's architecture ranges from Roman ruins to Art Nouveau palaces. Noted for its beautiful late 19th and early 20th century Eclectic-style buildings, the city is full of sights to see. For architecture buffs, 'Budapest 100' is an annual event that offers a unique behind the scenes look at historic buildings built exactly 100 years ago in 1913.
7. Exciting Events
The International Wine Festival, the Buda Castle Beer Festival, the Budapest Summer Festival, the Budapest Pálinka Festival, Formula 1 and one of the longest Christmas Markets in Europe are just a sampling of the best Budapest events lined up for 2013. No matter when you visit Budapest, there's a fun event for every month of the year.
8. Local Fashion
If you love unique style and want to avoid shopping malls, Budapest features several stores selling hip, homegrown fashion designed by young, up-and-coming artists. Inspired by Hungary's vibrant culture and rich folk art Budapest's fashion scene is better than ever. For a new take on traditional design check out Lokalwear, Printa, Matyodesign, Tisza or the Instant Hungary line.
9. Budapest Markets
Markets in Budapest are bustling with fresh, homegrown produce from local farmers. The famous Central Market Hall and the Farmer's Market at Szimpla Kert should be on every foodie’s itinerary. One of the best ways to learn about the local culture is by taking a unique market tour.
10. Sweet Budapest
If you have a sweet tooth you'll love Budapest. Home to savory cakes, delicious pastries, great confectioner dynasties and legendary grand cafés, Budapest is a sweet lover's paradise. Dobos cake, krémes, chestnut purée, Szamos marzipan, kürtőskalács, pancakes and strudels are just some of the local delicacies to try when visiting Budapest. To get to know the world of delicious Hungarian cakes, true aficionados can take a Sweet Tour or learn the art of chocolate making.
11. A Side Trip to Pécs
The charming city of Pécs made it onto The New York Times' '46 Places to Go in 2013' list and I couldn't agree more. Ok, I might be a little biased as I was born in Pécs, but it's easy to fall in love with the city's rich history, Mediterranean atmosphere and cobbled stone streets and squares. For a memorable side trip from Budapest, visit Pécs and the famous Villány wine region nearby.
12. Some of the World's Best Hotels
Did you know that Budapest is home to some of the world's best hotels? The luxurious Four Seasons Gresham Palace was ranked #23 by travelers around the globe on TripAdvisor's 'Travelers’ Choice 2013 - Top Hotel in the World'. The prestigious Grand Hotel Corinthia made the Condé Nast Traveler 'Gold List 2013', which lists the best hotels and resorts worldwide.
13. Budapest is Affordable
Budapest is still relatively affordable compared to many of its European counterparts, as Hungary does not use the Euro as its currency. Often mentioned in international media as a bargain destination, eating out in Budapest is reasonable and entrance fees to museums, thermal baths, and the opera are inexpensive. Great deals can be found on everything from hotels and restaurants to local tours. If you are traveling on a budget there are plenty of cheap hotels along with a big selection of apartments for rent on sites like airbnb.
Your reasons to visit Budapest in 2013?