Whether you travel or live there, there is nothing more depressing than a rainy day. When you’re in Budapest and you’re eager to get a taste for the city, but the weather has other ideas, check out our special local tips for making the most of the Hungarian capital.
Go to a Bath
It’s no coincidence that Budapest is dubbed the City of Spas. There are over 80 geothermal springs and around 10 thermal water spas. While the picture postcards you’ll see involve people bathing al fresco beside the colonnades in the Széchenyi Bath, there are plenty of indoor alternatives. In fact, all of the thermal spas have an indoor complex. But the most spectacular indoor baths are the ones dating back to the Ottoman era, such as the Rudas, Király or Veli Bej Baths. You get a spot of history with your warming soak, and under the domed cupola amidst the steam you’ll forget all about the rain outside in moments. Have some questions about the Budapest baths? Check out our FAQ.
The central pool at Veli Bej Bath. Photo: epiteszforum.hu
Take in Some Culture
Budapest is a city where you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to concerts and cultural activities. You can explore the Hungarian National Gallery and learn all about the history of Hungarian art inside Buda Castle, take in an opera at the Hungarian State Opera or try something more local like a Hungarian operetta at the Operetta Theatre. And if you’re more of a non-traditionalist, there are also some alternative museums, like the Pinball Museum, the House of Houdini or the Palace of Wonders, an interactive experience all about science, or the really curious Invisible Exhibition.
Photo: Pinball Museum
Do a Cooking Course
One of the best ways to learn about a country’s culture is through its cuisine. It’s one thing to simply eat it, but it’s another thing to cook it! Sign up to a cooking class or a baking class to learn all about how to cook some key Hungarian dishes and how to make some signature cakes. Or if you want to learn about the ingredients you can also tack on a market walk and vineyard tour or a culinary walk. The taste and smell of paprika in the kitchen and market hall may help warm you up from the rain.
Taste Hungary’s wonderful cooking class. Photo: Taste Hungary
Sign Up For a Wine or Beer Tasting
Hungary has recently gained a reputation for its wine and more recently its craft beer scene has also been on the rise. If the grey and depressing weather gets you down, you can take cover at a wine or beer tasting. Learn all about the Hungarian wine regions and the different wines so you can tell your Bikavér from your Tokaj. Or learn about Hungarian beers and sample a tipple of IPAs or local wheat beers and ales.
Photo: Taste Hungary
Learn About Unicum
Unicum is Hungary’s flagship herbal liquor and it’s very much a love it or hate it drink. Nonetheless, its history is a fascinating one, going all the way to the Austro-Hungarian and surviving production through two world wars and communism. Today its recipe involving 40 herbs and spices is a family secret, but you can get a taster for it on the factory tour through the cellars, give this famous liqueur a taste and learn all about its curious history.
Photo: Zoltán Perényi / Budapest Local
Did you know there are around 200 caves in Budapest alone? If you want to escape the rain then head underground. You can explore the caves in the Buda Hills, from the showcaves of the Pálvögyi Caves or the Szemlöhegyi Caves, or go on a spelunking expedition under the city in the labyrinthine Mátyás Hegy caves. If you want to get some history included in your subterranean experience then you might want to pay a visit to the Hospital in the Rock under the Buda Castle or even the Buda Labyrinth.
Photo: Hospital in the Rock
Escape from a Room
You may want to stay indoors, but spending an hour trying to break out a room is a definite way to get the adrenaline pumping while staying dry. Budapest is home to the world’s first room escape game, so where better to try it? And you’re certainly spoiled for choice, since there are over 50 escape rooms in Budapest alone. All you need to do is pick the kind of theme you’re interested in, how many of you there are and pick your game! An hour locked in a room with a series of logic puzzles to solve is the perfect way to keep your mind off the weather.
Drink Some Coffee
There are some beautiful cafés in Budapest, so if you get caught in a storm you can pop in and drink some coffee and wait for it to blow over. The most famous is the New York Café, said to be the most beautiful café in Europe. Or you can check out some more hidden places, like the neo-oriental style café in the Urania cinema or one of the many New Wave Cafés like My Little Melbourne, Fekete or Kontakt. To learn more about the best cafés and coffeehouses in the city, make sure you download our free Coffee Culture in Budapest guide or sign up for a Sweet and Coffeehouse Walk!
Photo: Taste Hungary
About the author: Jennifer Walker is an Anglo-Hungarian former nuclear physicist turned writer based in Budapest, Hungary. She’s passionate about discovering Budapest’s hidden places, architecture and art.