Delight in multiple visits to the gourmet buffets of diverse delicacies at any of the many exquisite brunches offered across Budapest every Sunday, including several served at terrace tables with panoramic views over the city’s most magnificent sights, and accompanied by live entertainment for all ages.
Within Budapest’s grandest Art Nouveau building, the Gresham Restaurant offers Sunday brunches of Italian specialties like octopus salad, fresh-baked focaccia, beef carpaccio, homemade pastas, and panna cotta between noon and 3pm. For a French take on refined feasting, visit Paris Budapest overlooking the Chain Bridge, featuring over 50 foodstuffs prepared fresh from 11am to 3pm, while children's activities offer parents a little peace with their repast.
The city-center Le Bourbon offers more Gallic flavors every Sunday with their brunch presenting a premium assortment of French cheeses, crepes cooked to order, and unlimited glassfuls of quality wines from noon to 3pm, all while live jazz fills the air. Meanwhile, the huge terrace at Panoráma is a sunny spot for devouring platefuls of Hungarian delicacies and carved roasted meats amid stunning riverfront vistas, also from noon to 3pm each Sunday.
Up atop Castle Hill, cityscape views stretch even further from the elegant Icon beside Fishermen’s Bastion – the weekly brunch offer here focuses on regional favorites, with specialties including lamb ragout with fine herbs and veal stuffed with smoked ham and forest mushrooms, available from noon to 3pm.
Back across the Danube, panoramic scenery of the Royal Palace is the backdrop for brunch at Peppers! with a Mediterranean smorgasbord highlighting springtime specialties – like asparagus soup and grilled trout with almonds – from noon to 3pm. And to savor more exotic flavors, Buddha-Bar offers Budapest’s first Asian brunch, featuring freshly prepared sushi, spring rolls, and seared foie gras with truffle and teriyaki sauce every Sunday from noon to 4pm.
The diversely fertile soils of Hungary—acclaimed across Europe for producing excellent grapes since the Middle Ages—continually nourish fruitful vines that provide varied berries to be refined into a broad selection of wines, from Eger’s robustly red Bikavér (meaning “Bull’s Blood” in Hungarian) to the honey-golden Aszú Essencia of Tokaj, a preferred beverage of King Louis XV and Beethoven. The tasteful mélange of Hungarian wines offers something for the palate of every oenophile, and Budapest visitors can sample the country’s entire vinicultural spectrum at these welcoming wine bars found throughout the city center.
Drop Shop—Located beside the Pest riverfront a short distance from Hungary’s Parliament House, Drop Shop is a contemporary lounge designed with sleek furnishings, yet the friendly staff here maintains a laid-back vibe appealing for connoisseurs and casual sippers alike. Here many impressive artisanal Hungarian wines and international favorites are available by the glass (the chalkboard of options is often updated during the course of each day), while a world-class array of bottles from Mediterranean regions and far beyond can be enjoyed on-site or taken home. Pest V, Balassi Bálint u. 27. T: +36.30.345.3739
Innio—Exposed brickwork and lively tunes surround imbibers at Innio, a hip hangout for Budapest’s young professionals and future wine aficionados. Located a short stroll away from St. Stephen’s Basilica, Innio is as popular for its fun-loving atmosphere—frequently scored by live DJs, with theme nights like “USA Fest” and a Ray Charles tribute—as it is for its fine Hungarian and global wine selection, along with gourmet tapas and hearty meals. During summer months, the sidewalk seating buzzes with conversations; this is one of Budapest’s best date destinations. Pest V, Október 6 u. 9. T: +36.70.311.1010
L’Enoteca—Perched alongside the Danube with panoramic views over Gellért Hill and the iconic Liberation Monument atop it, L’Enoteca is unmistakably sited in central Budapest, yet the interior looks just like a rustic ristorante of Italy’s countryside. As the sister establishment of Trattoria Toscana next door—one of Hungary’s most superb Italian eateries—L’Enoteca offers an unparalleled variety of vino from the cherished terroirs of Tuscany along with a splendid assortment of Hungarian wines, all of which can be paired with any dish from the Trattoria Toscana menu. Pest V, Belgrád rkp. 13. T: +36.1.486.1665
This relative newcomer to the wine-bar scene provides bibulous guests with an absolutely modern locale for enjoying fine wines and good times, all in an elegant position beside the Buda riverbank. Palack provides a spacious patio for tippling alfresco at candlelit tables, while the stylishly minimalistic interior houses a spectacular variety of Magyar-made nectars from myriad acclaimed wineries, including Takler Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir by St. Andrea, Weninger Kékfrankos, and many more, served with various tapas featuring Hungarian delicacies. Buda XI, Szt. Gellért tér 3. T: +36.30.997.1902
Budapest is blessed with vast swaths of open spaces, from the very center of the city (where the broad Danube River runs right through it) to the forested peaks of Buda’s hilltops. Contributing to this airy layout, varied Budapest parks provide ample urban oases that not only welcome everyone for respite from the metropolitan bustle, but also contain diverse monuments, museums, restaurants, thermal baths, performance venues and much more, often lying just a few steps beyond the beaten path. Here are a few of our favorite Budapest parklands for serene sightseeing:
City Park—The postcard superstar of Budapest’s biggest park is Heroes’ Square, flanked by the Museum of Fine Arts and the Műcsarnok contemporary-art hall, but these are not the only attractions here—a short stoll away, soakers delight in the medicinal waters of Széchenyi Baths; the fanciful Vajdahunyad Castle is designed with numerous historical styles; the Transport Museum offers an impressive array of Europe’s vintage vehicles; PeCsa Music Hall hosts cool concerts on indoor and outdoor stages; and the show goes on year-round in the permanent big top of Capital Circus. Meanwhile, diverse restaurants here include the legendary Gundel, the communist-era-holdover Pántlika bistro and the romantic Robinson by the lake.
Margaret Island—Enveloped by the Danube just north of Budapest’s city center, Margaret Island is a cherished nature preserve for centuries now, and its expansive meadows and family-friendly destinations still draw Magyar merrimakers every day. Entering the isle from its southern end at Margaret Bridge, visitors soon find the recently refurbished Music Fountain, the Petting Zoo, the Palatinus Water Park and the luxurious Danubius Health Spa Resort, featuring multiple pools of hot thermal water bubbling up from deep below the island. This is also the location of Budapest’s most majestic amphitheater, the Margaret Island Open-air Stage beneath an Art Nouveau-styled water tower, serving as a primary venue for the Budapest Summer Festival.
Millenáris Park—This parcel of downtown Buda was once a wasteland of industrial ruins, but after a major urban renovation the space was transformed into Millenáris Park, one of the city’s most innovative cultural venues. Centered by a large koi pond, the verdant lawns here are perfect for hosting celebrations such as Budapest’s annual Gourmet Festival. The extensively modernized buildings that surround the grounds now house a performance center with indoor and outdoor stages, an expo hall that hosts the yearly Art Market Budapest gallery showcase and intriguing long-term displays like the Invisible Exhibition, providing first-hand experiences of blindness by challenging visitors to complete everyday activities in total darkness.
Kopaszi Dam—Buda’s newest park envelops beautiful Lágymányosi Bay beside the Danube just south of downtown, where manicured meadows beckon frolicking children, sandy shores cradle smiling sunbathers, panoramic pathways make jogging a breeze, and romantic viewpoints are everywhere. Several waterfront restaurants and bars make this a pleasant destination for afternoons and evenings out, such as the playfully decorated Fruska Bistro (offering an excellent selection of Hungarian wines), the sleek lounge and party hotspot Le Bistro, and the laid-back casual-dining haven of Vakvarjú Beach. The bay itself serves as the primary venue for Budapest’s annual Dragon-boat Festival, along with several other gatherings happening all year long.
Erzsébet Square—Pest’s most central park isn’t exactly spacious, but a wildly diverse assortment of attractions can be found here in close proximity. Towering over the center of the grassy lawns, the stately Danubius Fountain lies just steps away from a popular skate park, which is located right next to the Design Terminál contemporary art gallery, an erstwhile bus depot repurposed and renovated to become Budapest’s hippest expo site; this is the main venue for Budapest Design Week. The adjacent pathway doubles as the outdoor site of Budapest’s summertime WAMP Fair proffering contemporary crafts, and right next door the cavernous Akvárium cultural center and nightclub is one of the city’s most popular places for concerts and carousing.
During July, Hungary’s music-festival season is in full swing all across the country–here are some of the most popular annual extravaganzas happening this month outside of Budapest.
This premier electronic-music party by Central Europe’s biggest lake hosts the Wu-Tang Clan, Armin van Buuren, Steve Aoki, and the Prodigy. July 11-14: Zamárdi. www.balatonsound.hu
The charming town square here becomes the venue for world-class artists like American jazzman Marcus Miller and Spanish flamenco legend Paco de Lucía. July 16-20: Veszprém. www.veszpremfest.hu
A forested hillside campground welcomes diverse international acts–including Queens of the Stone Age, Martin Solveig, and Parov Stelar–along with great Magyar bands. July 3-6: sopron. www.volt.hu
Sip assorted varieties of Hungary’s finest spirits at the annual Budapest Pálinka Festival, happening this month in a grassy park of central Pest. Along with ample samples of the celebrated Magyar-made brandy distilled from regional fruits, traditional Hungarian delicacies and meals are dished up generously, while concerts by local rockers enliven every evening.
May 16-19: Erzsébet tér–Pest V. www.budapestipalinkafesztival.hu
Modern movement artistry takes center stage during the Budapest Dance Festival happening this month to feature illustrious international troupes, like Germany’s Company Fabrik Potsdam performing “Pandora 88” on April 19th at 7 pm and on the 20th at 3 pm. Hungarian shows include the Budapest Dance Theater premiering “Stravinsky Inspirations” on April 22nd at 7 pm, and the Szeged Contemporary Dance Company presenting “Stabat Mater” (pictured) on April 26th at 7 pm.
April 19-29: multiple venues; selected shows take place at the National Dance Theater. www.budapestdancefestival.hu