From spa parties to daring shooting ranges, Ranjit Shergill rounds up a few out of the ordinary things to do in Hungary's capital, Budapest.
The history of Budapest sits on both sides of the River Danube and believe it or not, it was once two cities. Separated by the Danube river, the two areas, Buda and Pest, resemble a crossroads between western and eastern Europe. On one side, Buda largely encompasses the historical elements of the city whilst Pest creates a more youthful and glamorous feel, making it an interesting and diverse place to visit. From dry bob sleighing to a child-run railway, Ranjit Shergill lists a few of his favourite things to do on both sides of the Danube.
1. Discover the Danube’s Vantage Points
Along the river there are several vantage points to explore, each with their own unique identity. Buda Castle Hill is virtually all pedestrian based with its cobblestone streets, and as such provides the perfect environment for walking tours. It has preserved its UNESCO status and is home to Baroque architecture with a historical Italian influence. Plan your visit to Buda Castle Hill during September so you can enjoy all types of wine and street food during the Budapest Wine Festival.
If you fancy going a little further afield to appreciate Budapest’s greenery, there’s the children-run railway that connects the most beautiful spots on the Buda Hills. On the train, the local kids are involved in on-board duties such as ticket distribution, so if you do get asked to show your ticket by a child-sized inspector, you better do as they say or you'll be kicked off. For those seeking a more romantic sightseeing experience, there’s the night river cruise dining experience where you pass by the glittering Chain Bridge that links Buda and Pest. And after all that, if you’re in need of a rest there are a number of great thermal spas offering cheap at the price scrub downs.
2. Dive into Budapest’s Discotheques
Budapest’s nightlife is far from boring. Whilst there are the standard pub and bar crawls that guarantee a great night, there are other out of the box ideas on offer. They come in the form of spa parties that are open in all months, seasons and weather conditions. During the summer months Szechenyi Spa takes precedence whilst Lukacs Baths keeps the heating consistent during the winter - even when it's snowing. You'll find great pyrotechnics, well-known DJs, visuals, thermal pools and pints in both, creating a social beehive in what the locals dub ‘SPArty’.
3. Take an Adventurous Diversion
If you fancy stepping off the beaten path, there are two activities on offer away from the city’s skyline. Popular with stag and hen parties, the Visegrádi Bobpálya offers dry bob sleighing that can be as reckless and riveting as one desires. You'll not be thirsty for long as packages include a bundle of beers après-slide. For the more adventurous, the Celeritas Shooting Club is a step-up from the virtual world of shoot ’em up games. The instructors at the shooting range are largely from ex-military and ex-police backgrounds so no need to fret, you’ll be in very safe hands.