It has become a tradition at visitBudapest.travel to share our top list for the year. Here are some of the best reasons to plan your trip to Budapest in 2014. New attractions along with old time favorites make this year's list. Get ready for another exciting year to visit Hungary!
New year, new reasons to visit
1. New must-see: Várkert Bazár
Budapest's new attraction for 2014 is an old one. The historic building on the Danube waterfront in Buda, known as Várkert Bazár (Royal Gardens Bazaar), will reopen after being closed for 30 years. The beautiful complex of arcades and staircases by the feet of the Royal Palace was built between 1875 and 1888. Recent renovations aim to bring back the old glamour as well as to create a new cultural and commercial public space. Cafés, restaurants and shops are coming soon, along with an escalator going up to Castle Hill. Budapest's old-new sight is set to open in spring 2014.
2. New must-ride: Bubi
The Budapest public bike system is here! Bubi, the bike-sharing program is set to launch in April 2014. With 75 bike stations and over 1,000 bicycles, the system will allow cyclists to pick up a bike at a station in one area of the city and drop it off at another. The first 30 minutes will be free and the first hour will cost the same as one single transit ticket. Each additional hour will cost two single transit tickets.
3. New must-try: craft beer
While Hungary isn't particularly well known for its beer, the Hungarian craft beer scene keeps getting better with more and more local microbreweries offering a variety of artisan beers to try. A good place to start is Élesztő, the first pub in Budapest dedicated to craft beer only. Another great place to sample some homegrown brews is Főzdefeszt, the semi-annual craft-beer festival held in Budapest. Beer lovers should try a Craft Beer Walk.
4. New must-visit: Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music
Following two years of renovations, the Academy of Music reopened its doors in October 2013. The Academy, founded by Ferenc Liszt, has been restored to its beautiful early 20th-century Art Nouveau style. Go for a concert or just take a look inside as this landmark of many famous Hungarian musicians is well worth a visit. Art Nouveau is mastered here in every aspect down to the finest detail.
5. New must-celebrate: New York Café
New York Café (New York Kávéház) turns 120 years old this year. Budapest's most beloved turn-of-the-20th-century coffee house celebrates a yearlong anniversary with various cultural programs and delicious pastry specialties. The biggest festivity, the New York Ball, is planned for October 23rd, exactly 120 years after the building opened. Cafés have a long tradition in Budapest and the city's legendary grand cafés usually make everyone's itinerary. This year, be sure to add the New York Café to the list. Coffee lovers should check out our Caffeine Tour.
6. New in arts and culture
2014 promises to be a great year for art and culture in Budapest with exciting exhibitions, concerts and performances. 'The World of Toulouse-Lautrec' (Apr 10 - Aug 10) at the Museum of Fine Arts celebrates the 150th anniversary of the artist’s birth. A new permanent exhibition at the Hungarian National Gallery, called 'Shifts', features the history of Hungarian visual arts after 1945. The Hungarian House of Photography exhibits 'Survivors' by Dutch artist Jutka Rona (Feb 7 - Mar 30). Ennio Morricone, Deep Purple, Robbie Williams, Peter Gabriel and André Rieu will all come to Budapest this year to perform at the Papp László Budapest Sports Arena.
Old time favorites
7. Historic baths
Thanks to a unique geological feature, Budapest 'sits' on abundant thermal springs. Whether you are an experienced spa enthusiast or a first timer you will be impressed by Budapest's historic baths. With a bathing culture dating back to Roman times, there's a lot to discover from original Turkish bathhouses (Rudas or Veli Bej) to Neo-Baroque (Széchenyi) and Art Nouveau masterpieces (Gellért). Plus, thermal baths are a great way to relax after a day of touring the city.
8. Ruin Pubs
The always popular Ruin Pubs remain a must on every visitor's to-do list. Unique to Budapest's entertainment scene, Ruin Pubs remain immensely popular with tourists and locals alike. The trend started over a decade ago and although some places come and go, you can never go wrong with Szimpla, Instant or Fogasház. For a fun way to explore Budapest's famous Ruin Pubs join a Tipsy Budapest Tour.
9. Budapest's architecture
Striking bridges, a majestic Parliament building, spectacular Art Nouveau palaces, a picturesque castle - Budapest is full of sights to see. Known for its beautiful architecture and long history, you'll find everything from Roman ruins to Gothic arches and Turkish bathhouses to late 19th century mansions. For a behind the scenes look at historic buildings take one of these popular walking tours: Art Nouveau, Eclectic & Culture Tour, Villas and Urban Mansions Tour, and Art Nouveau Tours.
10. Hungarian cuisine
Hungary is famous for its cuisine and Budapest is a great foodie destination. Whether it's street food, market visits, local eateries, award winning restaurants, cooking classes or culinary tours, there is something for everyone. Budapest's vibrant restaurant scene is also recognized by the prestigious Michelin Guide with stars and Bib Gourmand's year after year. Must-try Hungarian dishes include Halászlé (Fisherman’s soup), Gulyás (Goulash soup), Töltött káposzta (Stuffed cabbage), Sült kolbász (Fried sausage), Lángos (fried bread), and so much more.
11. A 'walking city'
Budapest is a great walking city with compact little neighborhoods and attractions that can be easily reached on foot. The main sights in Buda are located in and around Castle District and most of the attractions in Pest can be found between the Danube and the Grand Boulevard. Visiting Castle Hill, taking a stroll on Andrássy Avenue, promenading along the Danube, climbing up on Gellért Hill, walking across Chain Bridge and wandering around the Jewish Quarter are some of our favorite things to do. To see the most of Budapest check out our free walking tours.
12. Festivals abound
It almost seems like there's a festival for everything in Hungary. Whether it's wine, pálinka, beer, food, cheese, chocolate, contemporary art, music, dance, jazz, there's something for everyone. Festivals are a fun way to mingle with the locals, sample some Hungarian food and learn about local traditions. There will be plenty of great events to choose from in 2014.
13. Christmas markets
When it comes to Christmas celebrations, Budapest is full of magical places to visit. The holiday season starts as early as mid November when the city's traditional Christmas market, the longest in Europe, opens. Soon after Christmas fairs pop up everywhere in Budapest and visitors can browse a huge selection of authentic arts and crafts, Christmas decorations and foodie gifts. Christmas trams light up the evening sky and mulled wine keeps visitors warm - the holiday season is a wonderful time to visit Budapest.
14. Most welcoming European city
Did you know that Budapest was recently named the most welcoming European city? Budapest received extensive media coverage in 2013, on how it's still a bargain destination compared to many other European cities. In addition, 'Europe's Most Welcoming Cities' survey analyzed over 130,000 customer reviews and the city most often given a five-star rating by travelers was Budapest! While Budapest is still affordable, as Hungary does not use the Euro as its currency, it's also one of the friendliest and most welcoming cities on the continent.
Your reasons to visit Budapest in 2014?
Photo by Márk Mervai