My spree of marathons and food exploration has taken me to Budapest to run the fall marathon and discover local dishes –find out how I spent this trip and why Budapest is heaven for foodies.
Budapest Fall Marathon
I took my first trip to Budapest this month (10/2018) for the fall half marathon and I was blown away at the caliber of this race!
The start and finish line was lined with flags representing the countries of all of the runners participating in the race. There was such a feeling of community and multicultural love for running! Plus you really can’t beat a long run down the Danube with views of the Parliament building, castles and just simply stunning architecture.
Frankly, Budapest was always a place I wanted to visit, but it wasn’t too high up on my list. I’m so glad I decided to sign up for the race because Budapest quickly became one of my favorite cities in Europe.
A dream trip for me includes running –then eating my way through a city. I could easy spend a month in Budapest doing just that.
Will Run for Langos
If you’re part of the “Will run for Donuts” type of crowd, I’ve got breaking news for you: Go to Budapest and you will only need to learn one word: LANGOS.
HEAVEN. ON. EARTH.
It truly blew my mind when I tried this dish made completely of ingredients that I’ve had before, but somehow never together. Seriously –why have I never had fried bread, sour cream, and cheese together??
I saw people eating Langos as meals, but I’m calling these magical creations a snack. If I call them a meal that would mean I was eating meals as snacks for 4 days straight.
There are plenty of places to find Langos, also known as Hungarian Fair Food. Whenever you see a stand, STOP! My two favorite Langos (what is the plural of Langos? Langoses? I have no idea, but you will want more than one).
Anyway –my favorites were from Karavan, which is a gathering of food trucks, and a stand at the base of Buda Castle.
I’ve long had a love affair with sour cream, and I think that’s partially why I loved the food in Budapest so much. You can’t leave without having Chicken Paprikas (Paprikás csirke) A deliciously creamy dish with lots of paprika and of course finished with sour cream.
I would literally come back to Budapest strictly for the food, but let’s move on to everything else you can do in between each Langos!
Like I said, I could easy spend a month here –but the great thing about Budapest is that you can have a wonderful time in just 48 hours, making it easy to tack on to any European trip you’re planning.
First, where should you stay? I recommend staying in or near the Old Jewish Quarter. It’s walking distance from most major attractions and a stunning are of town. Click here to find the best deals in the Old Jewish Quarter.
DAY 1: History, Architecture, Food & Wine
Walk the Chain Bridge
Grab a quick breakfast from one of the countless cafes in the Old Jewish Quarter, and take a coffee to go. You’ll enjoy it on a walk across the iconic Chain Bridge.
When you get to the other side you’ll find yourself at the base of Buda Castle.
Good opportunity to grab a Langos, you’ll see a stand in this area.
Buda Castle, Matthias Church, Fisherman’s Bastion
Since we’re tight on time I recommend getting a ticket for the “hop on hop off golf cart.” They call it a bus, but the options are more like golf carts, open air and very comfortable for the short distance you’ll be covering between Buda Castle, Matthias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion.
There were a few companies selling tickets in this area with varying prices, I paid about $10 USD and spent about 3.5 hours in this area.
New York Café
Try to make a late afternoon reservation at New York Cafe, known as the “Most Beautiful Café in the World.” The afternoon tea package is very popular, but I recommend going with the “chocolate choice,” a decadent piece of chocolate cake with their hot chocolate.
Old Jewish District, Ruin Bars
In the evening, go for a walk through the Old Jewish Quarter and you’re bound to stumble into one of the many Hungarian restaurants lit by candlelight and bustling with people.
Another option for dinner would be “Karavan,” a gathering of food trucks. (Another great opportunity to get a Langos).
Have a nightcap at the oldest ruin bar in Budapest, Szimpla Kert. As an American, this gave me vibes of an Applebees on steroids. Random shit all over the walls. Random shit everywhere. This place is massive, and worth checking out every nook. I ordered a local red wine and spent about an hour walking around.
DAY 2: Margaret Island, Thermal Baths, River Cruise
Wake up and get active! Whether you walk, run or dance: start your day with a trip over to Margaret Island.
The island is in the middle of the Danube and not far from the Parliament building. You’ll find gorgeous views over the Danube plus a padded track around the island that is about 5k in distance. You’ll also find restaurants, and other park amenities including an outdoor bodyweight “gym.”
I went to Laza Plaza on the island to try their Hungarian Beach food. I had the “kézműves kolbász,” a bratwurst with onion and mustard. (And even more mustard) Seriously only get this if you like mustard.
For me, I can’t get enough!
Szechenyi Thermal Bath
Next –make sure you have a bathing suit and towel with you.
We’re heading to the spa! Budapest is known for its thermal baths, and there are countless options to choose from- but if you’re only there for 2 days I recommend checking out the largest bath, Szechenyi.
I had a blast spending a few hours at Szechenyi Baths. Prices vary by the seasons but it’s not expensive. I spent the equivalent of about $15 USD with my entry and locker storage.
Another options inside of Szechenyi Baths —The Beer Spa.
This is exactly what it sounds like, a chance to bathe in beer. More specifically the ingredients of beer. Your bath is mixed with hops, malt, yeast, etc. They claim the hops help your muscles relax, so I’m chalking this up to mandatory post half marathon recovery.
Ladies: A lot of you asked me about the yeast (self explanatory inquiry). I was horrified when I got the first message because that potential problem did not occur to me before the bath. I’m happy to report there were no problems, but who the F knows what you’re actually bathing in.
While you’re in your “spa” you have access to unlimited beer on tap. What a time to be alive: Drinking beer, while bathing in beer.
My honest opinion of the beer spa is that it’s incredibly gimmicky, yet worth every penny. It was about $40 USD for the hour of bathing and unlimited beer, but you can get a cheaper price if you bundle it with a ticket into Szechenyi Baths.
Before you leave the area, walk over to Heroes Square (Hősök tere.) There are statues for various Hungarian leaders plus you’ll see the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Evening River Cruise
The quintessential Budapest experience is a sunset cruise down the Danube. There are a variety of options from dinner cruises, wine cruises, even concert cruises.
You will have no problem booking any of these because there are stand set up around the city selling tickets.
If you know me, you know I picked the wine tasting cruise. Of course I loved the wine, but you can’t beat the views and entertainment aboard the ship. I was lucky to be serenaded by “My Heart Will Go On,” maybe not the best time to reminisce about Titanic, but for a few minutes I got to live my fantasy of becoming Rose.
That’s It! What Did You Think?
I assume you found my site because you’re either a runner or a foodie –likely both.
If you can fit it in, I HIGHLY recommend this food tour, lovingly titled “Fat Boy Foodies Walk.” The tour is led by Matte, a local food writer. You can read more about it here.
Did I miss your favorite spot in Budapest? Comment below and let me know!
Long Live Langos.