Midsummer is a special time in the Nordics. It’s a national holiday to celebrate the longest day of the summer and the midnight sun. For those who have not been in the Nordics this time of the year, it might sound a bit absurd, but it is light clock round (or at least almost). The Finns, Swedes, Norwegians and Danes celebrate Midsummer usually at their cottage, with barbecue and too much wine. Nothing is open and even the food stores are half empty after people of their way to the countryside have ransacked the shelf’s to stock up for the long weekend. We don’t have a cottage, and usually do not enjoy visiting one, so every year, we escape Midsummer to somewhere it is not celebrated. Last year, we were in Krakow (which was wonderful), and this year, we decided to continue with Eastern-Europe, in Budapest.
Why Budapest? It has been over 20 years since I last visited the Hungarian capital, so I basically remembered nothing. The only thing I vividly remember from that class trip in 1997 is having my first ever cocktail in a bar (they did not check id’s). It was a Tequila Sunrise. I also vaguely remember the castle, as well as the poverty on the streets at that time. Today, the city looks much healthier. A bit rugged, but in a hipster-kind-of way Another, and perhaps the main reason to visit, was the blooming wine scene. I have fallen in love with Hungarian wines: Tokaj, Furmint and Harslevelu, and what better place to discover them than the motherland its self.
If you want to try out local wines, there are a few great restaurants for that. One is called Borbirosag. It’s located behind the Great Market Hall. They have a lovely big terrace and inside two stories of restaurant space. The food is modern European (delicious), and the wine list is 100% local. Prices by the glass start from a few Euros, and even the most expensive glass of the whole list is affordable. For some finer wines, we opted for Borkhonya Winekitchen, which has one Michelin Star. Borkhonya is more of a fine dining place, however, with decent sized portions of food. The wine-list is local, and there is a possibility also to take a small, 1dl glass of wine, which is great when you want to try as many as possible. We had a really great sparkling Furmint there, Kreinbacher Prestige made with the champagne method.
Another warm recommendation for food is Kiosk Budapest. The look of the restaurant is very nice, and they make some traditional dishes, like Goulash, very well. The look and feel of this place screams for cocktails, however, their wine list is not at all half bad. Go for the Mád Furmint if you want a solid white with your food. For dessert, take a walk to St. Stephen’s Basilica for the most instagrammable ice cream I have ever seen at Gelarto Rosa.
For local food and tastes, you can also go to the Great Market Hall. The second floor is full of restaurants serving Langós, deep-fried bread topped with sour cream and cheese. If you are vegetarian, try the Töltött Kaposzta stuffed cabbage. We didn’t actually eat here, just looked around, as it was so full of people. There are massive tourist groups pushing their way through the narrow paths of the second floor. So I am not sure it is that enjoyable to eat there. However, you can take some food with you and head to one of Budapests many parks.
The food on our trip was awesome, and I would say it was around half price compared to Sweden. Definitely value for every Forint spent. There is also a blooming coffee scene, and for a photographer, probably hundreds of full wall murals that contribute to awesome street photography. For those travelling with children, Budapest is full of nice playgrounds and parks. Something for every family member – perfect!