Prior to our Budapest excursion, the knowledge my mates and I possessed of the city was pretty sparse. We had heard rave reviews from friends that it was a hidden gem among the chaos of countries like Croatia, whilst uncompromising it’s aesthetic to the trend of commercialisation in other European destinations. With the confirmation of cheap pints, and the knowledge of Hungary’s 6-3 defeat of England in 1953 (our nation’s first ever international defeat on home soil), we headed for the ex-satellite state of the Soviet Union.
Bolting from the airport to our Air BnB, the alternative Uber service proving to be a real get out of jail free card when wondering aimlessly in the city, it was impossible to avoid noticing the Capital’s night-time drinking culture. Locals sprawled out from bars, filling the rubbly streets with an infectious happiness, which we found was, unsurprisingly, down to the 340 forint (95p) pints that could be obtained at a number of pubs.
In comparison to the astronomical prices of Cambridge and London, where you are singing praise if you attain a drink for under £5.00, this was incredible; it made buying 9 person rounds completely acceptable, and being adventurous with alcohol consumption equally so, although the Hungarian spirit ‘Unicom’ is definitely not for the feint hearted. The liquor takes some getting used to. However, can you really go wrong with those prices? As we all found out on separate occasions, you really can. Unicom certainly makes the night a particularly interesting one, and don’t be deceived by the dreadfully poured European pints, which vanish astonishingly fast due their ridiculously cheap nature.
There is absolutely no excuse to be pre-drinking at your accommodation in Budapest. With such a variety of locations to buy alcohol, the ruin bars being a particularly unique option, you have the god given right to stay out on the beverages all night. After 9, the ruin pubs are absolutely rammed; finding a table for your entourage may prove difficult, but they’re worth a visit to get lost in the hidden annexes.
Club wise, the infamous ‘Instant’ is the choice favourite of tourists, boasting over 13 rooms of various DJs and genres makes it impossible to ignore whilst you are in the Capital. If you don’t find yourself lost at some point visiting here, then you have a Christopher Columbus sense of direction; don’t go off to the Pizza bar on your own, there will be absolutely no way of finding your mates again. Alternatively, Tesla is very close by, and definitely a more classy affair for raving. Don’t get in the way of any horny Hungarians though, who think It’s your fault that half a pint of Asahi has gone on them, even if they were the ones passionately getting off on the dance-floor to some Soulja Boy.
If your visit to Budapest is going to be heavily influenced by the nightlife, then you have to visit the Roman-esque heated baths. They are a great way to replenish oneself after a night of tequila slammers and Dreher – the choice beer of the locals. Soaking up the scenery near the ‘Szechenyi Baths’ definitely helps a hangover too; we were in awe of the street art on route. The paintings were pretty breathtaking, and exemplified the authentic prowess Budapest naturally promotes. With saunas, steam rooms, ice bowls and cold baths; you can easily spend the day at Szechenyi. Try the sensation of jumping from a sauna, straight into the cold baths, if you are feeling brave; it’s quite an experience.
The introduction of lime scooters to European Capitals has been a controversial topic of conversation lately, with Ex-YouTuber Emily Hartridge dying when using one in South-West London. Despite all the paper talk, the electric 2 wheelers are the best way to get around Budapest. Everyone floats around so elegantly on them, like a swan on water some would say, however, we looked more like 1 legged geese struggling to make it out of their pond. In true brits abroad fashion, we rattled and wobbled through the streets of Buda - thinking we looked like a biker gang from Harlem. Whilst we definitely didn't look like extras from A$AP Ferg's new Floor Seats video, we did persist on chanting the New York rapper's adlibs throughout our journey on the Limes - they just have that sort of effect on you.
The scenery on the river is quite remarkable though, and seem even more amazing when you are whizzing past it all on an electric scooter. The views are stunning too, especially up Gellért Hill, which is well worth the tedious climb when you find yourself at the top with a cold, and still relatively cheap beer. Buda Castle and the impressive national parliaments are so striking, but seem also slightly obsolete considering just how overwhelming the landscape on the river bank is.
Whatever your budget for Budapest, it is impossible to have a bad time in this city, which cannot be said for everywhere in Europe. We booked our trip only a month or so in advance, but still managed to find somewhere in a prime location on Air BnB, and for 9 lads, this would normally be ridiculously difficult to pull off. Get over to Hungary now whilst it is still mildly understated.