We asked Péter Buday, Chef Concierge at Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace Budapest, to gather the savviest sight-seeing suggestions she could find—not just her own, but also those of the local connoisseurs, including some she works with every day at the Hotel. Budapest, often regarded as one of Europe’s most beautiful cities, stands guard over the lovely Danube River and boasts a past that reaches back to before the time of the Roman Empire.
Guests at the Hotel have a wide variety of restaurants within a five- to 10-minutes’ walk. The ever-popular bistro Café Kör serves Hungarian dishes with an international twist. Rézkakas Bistro, Onyx, The Wine Kitchen, Bock Bistro and Pomo D’oro are beautiful bistro/cafés offering a smart ambience and savoury cuisine for any occasion. Tucked away in a bookshop and decorated with early 20th-century ceiling frescos, the Book Café in the Parisian Department Store’s Alexandra bookstore is a unique treasure.
There’s more to Hungarian wine than Tokaji. For a sense of the range of varieties grown here, it’s worth visiting the Haraszthy Vallejo Winery in Etyek, founded in 1998, which offers tastings; after which you can have lunch in its Cinnamon restaurant. Or head to Villány, a region famous for its reds, where the Attila Gere Winery or Wunderlich Valley Wine Cellars are good places to taste. Sweet dessert Tokaji wines remain Hungary’s greatest vinous export, however, so the Oremus Winery and Disznókő Winery are well worth checking out.
For antiques, the place to go is Falk Miksa utca, a street full of antique and curio shops a 15-minute walk from the Hotel in Pest. Here you’ll find Art Nouveau, Art Deco and other antiques, as well as a great source of Hungary’s famous Herend porcelain.
Paprika is another good souvenir, and the place to buy it is the always-bustling Great Market Hall on Fővam Tér, the largest covered market in Central Europe and a very fine building.
A Perfect Day
Have breakfast at Kollázs Brasserie & Bar amid its beautifully restored Secessionist interior: The coffee and blintzes in particular are superb. Then stroll over the Chain Bridge to explore Buda and the Castle District, the oldest, most atmospheric part of the city with its winding streets of medieval and Baroque architecture. Cross back into Pest on the opposite side of the Danube, and after a leisurely lunch at Café Gerlóczy, a classic Central European grand café with a faintly French menu (though the goulash is great too), stroll through the Jewish Quarter and visit the extensively renovated and architecturally fascinating Gozsdu Courtyard.
Trek this city on foot, bike, Segway or Trikke. Private or group biking tours with professional guides come highly recommended and offer a more intimate visit.
If all this transporting has put you in the mood for a refreshing dip, visit the Széchenyi Bath and Spa, where you can play chess on floating chequerboards.
Round off the day with a night at the opera, followed by a late supper at Onyx Restaurant, noted for its extensive wine list. Or make an evening of it by indulging in one of the restaurant’s superb tasting menus.