Polkadot Passport_0154Every time someone asks me what my favourite city is, I don’t even take a moment to hesitate. My eyes light up and the answer simply rolls off my tongue- it has to be the capital of Hungary, Budapest.  I’ve now visited this city twice, and the more I discover about it, the more I fall in love with it. The epitomy of European charm, this place is teeming with gorgeous architecture, delicious street food, a rich history and a uniqueness that other cities just can’t compare to. From its thermal baths to its buzzing ruin bars, underground caves to Neolithic castles, the capital of Hungary has a little something for everyone. I guarantee you’ll fall in love with the place, and here are 10 reasons why:

1.      It’s actually super affordable

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$1 for a slice of pizza? Yes please. Food, booze, and even accommodation is surprisingly affordable in Budapest, mostly thanks to a favourable exchange rate with the Hungarian Forint. You can have a really nice two-course meal with a glass of wine and barely pay $20… Now if that isn’t a reason to treat yourself, I don’t know what is!

2.      The Parliament building is just about the prettiest you’ll ever see

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Politics normally conjure up rather dull associations. Budapest’s parliament building is quite the exception. After sun down, it is most mesmerizing when viewed from the water. This is just one of the MANY dazzling structures that will delight your eyes if you take a cruise down the Danube River.

3.      The music festivals are actually insane

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It may not be all that known internationally, but Budapest’s music festival scene is booming. Throughout summer, the city comes alive as it hosts the world’s 7th largest music festival – Sziget. With over 400,000 attendees and some of the biggest acts around the world, attending this week-long festival be one of the best decisions of your life.

4.      There is rose-shaped gelato and it’s delicious

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Combining two of my favourite things in the world (flowers and gelato) can only end well. Gelarto Rosa is located right next to St Stephen’s Basilica, and its easy to spot because you’ll ALWAYS find a line spilling out the door. Once you’ve tasted the salted caramel or white chocolate lavender flavors, you’ll understand the crowds.

5.      It’s socially acceptable to spend all day at the baths

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It’s not called the City of Spas for no reason. With an abundance of natural warm spring waters underneath the city, there is no shortage of bathing locations to choose from in Budapest! For many centuries, thermal baths have been a big part of life for Hungarians.  Nowadays, there is a little something for everyone. You can visit traditional Turkish baths dating back to the 16th and 17th century or stay at health spa resorts to make the most of the thermal water’s healing qualities. For something a little less civilized, join in on one of the massive spa parties that are regularly held in summer. Don’t let the word ‘spa’ deceive you… There isn’t anything remotely subdued about these kinds of parties.

6.      You can hang out at some of the coolest bars in the world

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Budapest has become rather renowned for its unique nightlife, and more specifically, the phenomenon of the “ruin pubs” that have popped up all over the city. About a decade ago, many abandoned buildings in the city were taken over and converted in to distinct nightlife spots. Now, these places have become exceptionally popular with tourists. Each ruin pub overflows with character, thanks to artistic creativity transforming derelict spaces and objects in to works (and rooms) of art. Szimpla Kert is by far the most popular of the lot, and is best explored during daylight hours… At night, it can be very hard to find a place to sit!

7.     There is a cafe devoted to cats

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Yes, you can now go enjoy your decaf soy cappuccino surrounded by cute creatures that meow.  You can literally hang all day with a bunch of kitties. If you happen to be a cat person, I wouldn’t recommend visiting the so called Cat Café as you’ll probably never want to leave. Now wouldn’t that be a catastrophe?

8.      Your inner hipster will love all the vintage stores

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Budapest’s creative scene is thriving, and this even reflects in the type of stores you find around the place. It’s more common to find vintage and thrift stores then big department stores, so you’ll have no issues unleashing your inner hipster and scoring some timeless bargains.

9.      The locals are really lovely

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Take a moment out of your touristy schedule to really get to know some of the Hungarian locals. Most Hungarians living in Budapest will speak some English, particularly the younger generation. The best way to get to know a culture is always through its people, so invest some time in chatting to the shop-keepers or staff at restaurants. Plus, this is the best way to get the insider knowledge on Budapest.

10.  You find views like this:

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Climb to the top of the Citadella and drink in the ultimate view over Budapest. Does it get much better than this?

I think I’ve said enough. Now you’ve just got to go and fall in love with this city for yourself.