Budapest had been on my travel bucket list for a very long while, and when I finally got there, it did not disappoint! The city wooed me with its quirky and complex history, beautiful architecture, affordability, a plethora of thermal baths, and the natural allure of the great river Danube. All of this I expected, but there were a few surprises too.
Here are 5 Random Things You’ll Find in Budapest
Bronze Statue of Ronald Reagan
You can stumble upon this not-quite-lifesize rendition of the former U.S. President in the middle of Liberty Square. Americans may thank him, or curse him, for his famous trickle-down economics legacy. But Hungarians raised this statue in appreciation of Reagan’s efforts in ending the Cold War, which in turn led to the downfall of the Soviet rule in Hungary.
Ruin Bar Szimpla Kert
Budapest has gained a reputation for its “ruin bar” scene – which takes old abandoned buildings and gives them a new life as watering holes. The original ruin bar Szimpla Kert is without a doubt the best and, arguably, the only one worth visiting. Reclaimed and vintage kitsch items are slathered liberally throughout the bar’s many rooms. With a kitchen, separate walk-up bars for wine, cocktails, and beer, plus a hookah room and music venue inside, there are plenty of reasons to keep coming back night after night.
Paris, Texas Kávéház
Ok, maybe this is only random if you’re a Texan. Paris, Texas is an actual, albeit tiny, town in the great Lone Star state, and is by far less well known than the other Paris. Therefore, it was a surprise to see a cafe by this name. Situated on Ráday utca, a street with lots of restaurants and hostels, Paris, Texas Kávéház (coffeehouse) looked inviting enough with tables and chairs outside and a pretty blue awning. Are the owners from Texas? Do they serve Texas-style food? Doubtful … but you’ll have to go there to find out!
Michael Jackson Memorial Tree
Love him or loathe him, the King of Pop lives on. When MJ died in 2009, fans made the tree into a memorial covered with flowers, pics and concert posters. The tree stands in Erzsébet térv (Elizabeth Platz) near the Budapest Eye Ferris wheel and the Kempinski Hotel. Apparently, in his touring days, the Kempinski was where Jackson consistently stayed when in Budapest, making it the perfect place for a DIY monument. Even the occasional flash mob performance of “Thriller” has been known to happen at this spot.
A Burger Bar on Every Corner
In a place known for Goulash soup and endless paprika based dishes, you may not expect to see so many burger places. But, lo and behold, they’re everywhere! The burger trend in Budapest has risen to epic heights, with craft burgers and sides served up by trained chefs. Local ingredients, extravagant toppings, and homemade minced meat fired in Josper charcoal ovens are all at your fingertips. There was hardly time to try them all, but this list should get you off to a good start.