If you haven’t visited Budapest before, then pack your bags and fasten your seatbelts: the Hungarian Grand Prix takes place just 20km away each summer and it makes for a great excuse to visit Hungary’s capital city.
If you’re Budapest-bound for race day, on Sunday 4th August this year, then you can combine the speed, engineering and glamour of Formula 1 with a couple of days of sightseeing.
In fact, even if fast cars don’t interest you at all, you should still find an excuse to spend a weekend in the Pearl of the Danube.
Either way, here’s some of the best Budapest has to offer for a short stay.
We’ll start with the Grand Prix, which is held at the Hungaroring circuit outside of Budapest. The track is known for its tight and twisty corners and draws fans from all over Europe; last year, they watched Lewis Hamilton motor to victory, helping the Brit towards that historic fifth world championship.
The circuit can be reached fairly easily from Budapest by train, bus or taxi. It promises an electric atmosphere – but do be warned it can be stifling hot in August.
We put a shout-out on social media to see what our followers would do on a short stay in Budapest and we weren’t in short supply of recommendations!
One recurring suggestion was the Széchenyi Baths, which has no fewer than 15 thermal baths and three outdoor swimming pools, with one being heated for you to enjoy come rain or shine.
The baths are worth trying any time of year, but if you’re in the mood for a party, try one of its summer night spa events, or ‘sparties’.
Just a couple of minutes across the Városliget (City Park) from Széchenyi Baths is Budapest’s expansive zoo and botanical gardens. At more than 150 years old, its Art Nouveau buildings are almost as much of a draw as the animals.
After you’ve visited City Park for the zoo, meander south, to the edge of City Park, to see Heroes’ Square, another recommendation from our Facebook follower Majella.
This is Budapest’s largest and most impressive square, which gets its heroic name because it memorialises leaders and important figures from Hungary’s history.
Take a free walking tour
As you may have gathered, many of Budapest’s main attractions are situated close by in its compact core. So, it’s perfect for a guided walking tour. Even better, you can do one for free, which might be particularly appealing if you’ve just splashed all your cash on pricey Grand Prix tickets.
The daily tours last a couple of hours and require no booking. You can choose from a standard tour or try something more tailored, such as a Communism Walking Tour, where you’ll find out what life in Hungary was like under communism.
A floating lunch
For some of the best views in town, and a chance to try Hungarian specialities, try the enormous Spoon floating restaurant.
On this 75-meter-long boat, permanently moored just in front of the Buda Castle, you’ll find terraces, restaurants and bars.
If fine dining isn’t your thing, or you simply don’t have the time, you could instead head to one of Budapest’s market halls. Try the Great Market Hall for local specialities such as langos, deep fried bread topped with cheese and sour cream.
If you’re heading to Hungary don’t forget to order or top-up your FairFX Everywhere Card. Load pounds and automatically spend in forint. Feel at home anywhere in the world.