Business trips to Budapest needn’t be all work and no play. If you have an hour or two to spare at lunch or between meetings, there’s lots to see and do that won’t take up much time. Most of the city’s main cultural and historic districts can be explored on foot, while getting from A to B is quick and easy thanks to Budapest’s great subway, streetcar, taxi and bus systems – essential when you’re racing against the clock. From climbing St Stephen’s Basilica and sampling Hungarian wine to an after-work soak at Széchenyi Baths, here are the best things to do while on business in Budapest.
St Stephen’s Basilica is the largest church in Budapest and one of the city’s most recognisable buildings. While the grandiose historical architecture is a sight in itself, the views from the top of the dome are even more impressive. Break your day up with a bit of exercise and climb the 364 steps to reach the observation deck, or take the lift if you’re pressed for time. You won’t be disappointed.
If you’re working in the city centre, take your lunch break in the lush gardens of the nearby City Park (Városliget). On your way out of the park, stop by Heroes’ Square, one of Hungary’s World Heritage Sites and dominated by a towering Millennium Monument dedicated to the Magyars.
If you find yourself with a couple of hours to spare, head to Budapest’s famous Castle Hill. Join a guided walking tour or explore by yourself and take in historic sights such as Buda Castle, Matthias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion – a striking former defence structure with seven distinctive white towers representing the Magyar tribes that settled in the area many centuries ago.
In Budapest, coffee is almost as popular as wine and the last decade has seen an influx of speciality coffee shops. If you have limited time, select one with a view, such as Művész Kávéház(meaning Artist Coffeehouse). Overlooking the magnificent Hungarian State Opera House, the café’s terrace offers perfect people watching, while its location enables visitors to pop easily into the theatre and buy tickets to a show, should they suddenly find themselves with a free evening.
If you don’t have time to book a walking tour but wish to see as much of the city as possible, join a sightseeing boat trip. The river Danube runs adjacent to the city and from its waters visitors receive unparalleled panoramic views of key sights such as Castle Hill.
If you’re one of those people who like to pick up edible souvenirs on every business trip, stop by Budapest’s largest indoor market, Great Market Hall. It’s always fully stocked with local produce such as meats, cheeses and wine, and its food stands serve delicious Hungarian delicacies – ideal for a quick lunch on the go.
At the end of a busy day, soothe your muscles and calm your mind with a soak in a thermal bath. Széchenyi Baths is one of the city’s best bathhouses and has a number of pools to choose from.While the indoor pools close at 7pm, the outdoor thermal baths remain open until 10pm, so you can easily stop by on your way back to the hotel.
When the demands of the day have been completed, relax with a glass of Hungarian wine. Hungary has been producing wine since the Roman times; its best-known red wine is Egri Bikavér (meaning, Bull’s Blood) and its dessert wine, Tokaji, is world famous. Visitors can sample local producers’ blends at the city’s best wine bars, such as Doblo Wine Bar, DiVino and Szalonspicc.