Can you guess which one I am talking about?
Since the first time I set foot in this city, this has been the word I use the most to describe it: cool. So cool that I visited once, I visited twice, and then I moved here.
It is beautiful everywhere you look. There is a vibrant atmosphere. There are plenty of interesting activities to do.
Welcome to Budapest!
The City Has The Perfect Size
Once, I went to a cheese festival in London but didn’t see any cheese, only people… London is just too big. But Budapest has the perfect size. It is big enough to offer everything you can hope for in a European capital, but small enough just so life does not get tiring and overwhelming.
Public transport is one of the best I ever experienced and if you are somewhere around the city center you can get everywhere very quickly. 20 minutes will be enough for almost all your moves within Budapest, by transport or on foot.
It Is The Party Capital of Europe
There are some other strong contesters here, it’s true (hi Berlin, Belgrade, Barcelona!) but my title of “Party Capital of Europe” goes to Budapest.
The ruin bars are unique and contribute immensely to the character of Budapest’s nightlife. The ruin bars are old buildings that were left empty and abandoned but, in the past decades have been taken to serve as bars and pubs. The decoration is as random as random can be, and the atmosphere is unusual in a very nice way.
If you add in the cheap alcohol, the fact that you probably can get back home walking at the end of the night (the city center is small) and the diverse crowd that attends these places, you can begin to understand why people from all over Europe fly to Budapest just for a weekend of fun.
It Is Affordable
Compared to most European capitals, Budapest is cheap. Locals complain about how everything got more expensive in the past few years, and that is correct. But it is still an affordable place to visit or to live.
If you have a decent enough salary, you can manage to live on your own in the city center — I don’t know many European capitals where this happens.
Eating out also falls on the cheap side. It can be very expensive if you wish. But if you know where to look, there are plenty of affordable alternatives.
Because things are not so expensive, filling your life with activities and outings doesn’t necessarily break your budget, which allows you to have a better quality of life. Or, in case you’re visiting, to have more value for money in the experiences you chose to have.
The Thermal Baths Are Amazing
The Hungarian capital offers 15 medicinal and thermal spas, more than any other city in the world. The country’s location in the Carpathian Basin makes it extremely rich in thermal springs. The Turkish occupation, in the 16th century, developed the thermal bath culture, and this has remained until today. The locals enjoy the baths often, but the tourists also make sure to not miss out on an extraordinary, fun, and relaxing experience.
It Is The Perfect Mixture of Eastern and Western Europe
I usually say that…
Budapest is as cool as Paris or London without being as arrogant as those cities are.
No offense, I lived in the three cities and they are all very dear to my heart. But I find that in most cities in Western Europe, life can get too artificial. There is an app for everything, people have all the latest gadgets, everything has to be politically correct.
In Budapest, and in Hungary in general, life is real. Sometimes, it is messy. Sometimes, it is rough. Sometimes, it is dirty. And sometimes, it is all that at the same time. And yet, we are still talking about a European city, with all the amazing privileges that brings along.
It Has a Great Location To Travel Around
In the US, going abroad is a big deal. If you drive for hours, you are still in the same country, maybe in a different state. In Europe, it is different. Countries are much smaller and you can get abroad in a matter of hours. While this is true for many European countries, it is not the case for ALL of them. I am from Portugal. If we want to get anywhere, we always have to cross Spain and France.
But Budapest has a great location to serve as a base to explore the countries around Hungary, whether by bus, train, or plane. There are low-cost flights to dozens of interesting destinations and most of them are only a couple of hours away. You can watch a fancy opera in Vienna after only 3 hours on a bus, experience the wilderness of the Balkans in Belgrade after a 5-hour train ride, or take a 2-hour flight and land in exotic Istanbul.
Visit! You Might End Up Moving Here…
I feel that Budapest is the perfect city to visit in Europe. It has something amazing to offer everybody: the backpacker looking for adventure, the young parents hoping for quality family time, the old couple in search of beautiful architecture.
But, out of experience, I can also attest that it is a unique place to live, that provides a good quality of life, and everything a city lover can hope for.
As a traveler or in a more permanent way, one thing is certain: you should not miss out on the experience of Budapest, the coolest city in Europe!