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Alright, I may be biased. But, I have many reasons to believe that Budapest is one of the most romantic cities in the world. It could be because my other half is from Hungary. Or, that we annually travel to Budapest to escape the Scandinavian cold and to visit my boyfriend's relatives. But, that is neither here nor there. The city is full of life, amazing food and endless amounts of tasty wines. This guide is a love letter to the city of Budapest and outlines all our favourite places that we return to on every visit. Keep your eyes peeled for part 2, which will be on the best restaurants in the Jewish Quarter.
The night life is not solely for youngsters on their euro trip travel escapades looking to get drunk on €0.50 shots of Unicom and Pálinka (respectively, the Hungarian equivalent of Jägermeister and fruit brandy) then take a stroll to Szimpla Kert (the trendy dive bar with empty bathtubs to sip your beet in and ironically placed furniture hanging from the ceiling). Budapest is also for romantics and wine lovers. I reckon that you weren't aware that Hungary has the oldest classified wine region in the world, going back to the Middle Ages. Tokaj is located in Eastern Hungary and is home to much of the country's white sweet dessert wines.
Wine Tasting: Taste Hungary
Surprisingly for a Hungarian and a wine lover, neither of us knew about the length of Hungary's wine history before we went to a wine tasting at Taste Hungary. One reason for this is because Hungarian wine is not widely exported within Europe, let alone to the US. The World Wars left the vineyards distraught and unkept. Hungarian vineyards are mostly too small now to export heavily and Hungarians drink plenty of wine to keep these small wineries afloat. We learned all this from our delightful host and sommelier on one 2019 December afternoon when we travelled to Budapest for the holidays.
One summer afternoon at the Kőleves restaurant and outdoor bar, featuring Kreinbacher sparkling wine (Wearing an old favourite from Zara)
On a whim, we booked Taste Hungary's Wine, Cheese, & Charcuterie Tasting experience one early afternoon that featured five wines. The setting was intimate and relaxed in a wine tasting room located in District VIII. It was only us and one other person, a lovely American woman who was travelling alone. Sad to say (although not too sad because it was a blast) that I can't recall any of the specific wines that we tried or which ones were our favourites (all were amazing, including the food!). The cause being alcohol-induced dementia. Rookie move! To be fair, it was not a few splashes of wine that we were tasting, it was a full fleet of five full glasses of wine per person (two white, two red and one sweet white wines) to be consumed within just 120 short minutes. I do remember that we bought some sparkling white wine that I just adored and couldn't leave without, so there is that. I have to give credit to the other woman who was a wine tasting pro, she was completely unfazed.
Evening Walks Around the City: Pest to Buda
Taking stroll from Pest across the Chain Bridge to arrive at the Buda side, where one can stare at the other side of the sparkling Parliament, is the most romantic things to do in this city. You'll see others walking hand in hand, taking selfies, or some drinking with their friends. You can also promenade up to the castle to overlook the city lights.
Kollázs: Brasserie and Bar
Kollázs is an upscale restaurant and bar at the Four Seasons Hotel. This place is atmospheric and screams elegance. It always makes me want to play dress up. It has innovative cocktails (like this lavender gin & tonic that I'm waiting patiently to drink in the picture below). Its signature dessert, French Toast, is divine. We managed to recreate it at home for our glutenous brunches at home. It's menu changes seasonally so every time we visit its a whole new experience. The first time we came here they served a paprika cheese dip with homemade bread that we have been trying to replicate for years. We also have had traditional goulash soup from here, which is highly recommended.
At Kollázs featuring a lavender gin and tonic (Wearing Sézane)
Budapest has been hit hard with the pandemic, and as with many other cities, many of its restaurants and bars might not reopen. As soon as it's safe to travel, I hope you'll be inspired to take a trip to Budapest. These tips will definitely help make your trip enjoyable.