Budapest Half Marathon: Top 5 reasons to make it a vacation
Katie here! Founder at Live, Run, Travel. I put this post together to convince you that the Budapest Half Marathon is a perfect race to add to your travel itinerary this fall.
If you’re thinking about taking a trip to Europe, consider adding on Budapest during the race, you will not regret it. Budapest can easily be done in 2-3 days, making it an excellent addition to a longer European adventure. As always, we can create a custom itinerary for you but here is some wanderlust to get you started.
Top 5 reasons the Budapest Half Marathon is worth the trip:)
1. The race itself:
Wizz Air Budapest Half Marathon
The best part about running a race in a new city is being able to experience running through some of the most popular places in town… with all of the roads shut down! The fall half marathon in Budapest is the perfect example. You essentially get to run down the Danube on a sightseeing tour of Budapest. The race passes views of the famous Parliament building, Buda Castle, and the most beautiful bridges in the city.
When I ran the half last year (2018) there were participants from 82 different countries. There was such a feeling of community and a multicultural love for running! The start and finish line was lined with flags representing the countries of all of the runners participating in the race.
ACTIVE BONUS: Budapest is a great city for runners. Be sure to check out Margaret Island for a shake out run. Whether you walk, run or dance: start one of your days with a trip over to Margaret Island to get active. The island is in the middle of the Danube and not far from the Parliament building. You’ll find gorgeous views over the Danube plus a padded track around the island that is about 5k in distance. You’ll also find restaurants, and other park amenities including an outdoor bodyweight “gym.”
2. Indulge after the race:
A dream trip for me includes running –then eating my way through a city. I could easy spend a month in Budapest doing just that.
If you’re part of the “Will run for Donuts” type of crowd, you will only need to learn one word: LANGOS.
Heaven. On. Earth.
It truly blew my mind when I tried this dish made completely of ingredients that I’ve had before, but somehow never together. Seriously –why have I never had fried bread, sour cream, and cheese together??
I saw people eating Langos as meals, but I’m calling these magical creations a snack. If I call them a meal that would mean I was eating meals as snacks for 4 days straight.
There are plenty of places to find Langos, also known as Hungarian Fair Food. Whenever you see a stand, STOP! My two favorite places to get Langos are Karavan, which is a gathering of food trucks, and a stand at the base of Buda Castle.
I’ve long had a love affair with sour cream, and I think that’s partially why I loved the food in Budapest so much. Another dish you can’t leave without having is Chicken Paprikas (Paprikás csirke) A deliciously creamy dish with lots of paprika and of course finished with sour cream.
I would come back to Budapest strictly for the food, but let’s move on to everything else you can do in between each Langos!
3. Thermal Baths
Budapest is known for its thermal baths, and there are countless options to choose from- but if you’re only there for 2 days I recommend checking out the largest bath, Szechenyi.
I had a blast spending a few hours at Szechenyi Baths. Prices vary by the seasons but it’s not expensive. I spent the equivalent of about $15 USD with my entry and a storage locker.
Another options inside of Szechenyi Baths —The Beer Spa. This is exactly what it sounds like, a chance to bathe in beer. More specifically the ingredients of beer. Your bath is mixed with hops, malt, yeast, etc. They claim the hops help your muscles relax, so I’m chalking this up to mandatory post half marathon recovery.
Ladies: A lot of you asked me about the yeast (self explanatory inquiry). I was horrified when I got the first message because that potential problem did not occur to me before the bath. I’m happy to report there were no problems.
While you’re in your “spa” you have access to unlimited beer on tap. What a time to be alive: Drinking beer, while bathing in beer.My honest opinion of the beer spa is that it’s incredibly gimmicky, yet worth every penny. It was about $40 USD for the hour of bathing and unlimited beer, but you can get a cheaper price if you bundle it with a ticket into Szechenyi Baths.
4. History & Architecture
Walk the Chain Bridge
Grab a quick breakfast from one of the countless cafes in the Old Jewish Quarter, and take a coffee to go. You’ll enjoy it on a walk across the iconic Chain Bridge.
When you get to the other side you’ll find yourself at the base of Buda Castle.
Good opportunity to grab a Langos, you’ll see a stand in this area.
Buda Castle, Matthias Church, Fisherman’s Bastion
Since we’re tight on time I recommend getting a ticket for the “hop on hop off golf cart.” They call it a bus, but the options are more like golf carts, open air and very comfortable for the short distance you’ll be covering between Buda Castle, Matthias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion.
There were a few companies selling tickets in this area with varying prices, I paid about $10 USD and spent about 3.5 hours in this area.
New York Café
Try to make a late afternoon reservation at New York Cafe, known as the “Most Beautiful Café in the World.” The afternoon tea package is very popular, but I recommend going with the “chocolate choice,” a decadent piece of chocolate cake with their hot chocolate.
Old Jewish District, Ruin Bars
In the evening, go for a walk through the Old Jewish Quarter and you’re bound to stumble into one of the many Hungarian restaurants lit by candlelight and bustling with people.
Another option for dinner would be “Karavan,” a gathering of food trucks. (Another great opportunity to get a Langos).
Have a nightcap at the oldest ruin bar in Budapest, Szimpla Kert. As an American, this gave me vibes of an Applebees on steroids. Random tchotchkes all over the walls. This place is massive, and worth checking out every nook. I ordered a local red wine and spent about an hour walking around.
5. River Cruises
The quintessential Budapest experience is a sunset cruise down the Danube. There are a variety of options from dinner cruises, wine cruises, even concert cruises.
You will have no problem booking any of these because there are stands set up around the city selling tickets.
If you know me, you know I picked the wine tasting cruise. Of course I loved the wine, but you can’t beat the views and entertainment aboard the ship. I was lucky to be serenaded by “My Heart Will Go On,” maybe not the best time to reminisce about Titanic, but for a few minutes I got to live my fantasy of becoming Rose.
The next Wizz Air Budapest Half Marathon is September 9th, 2019. If you’re interested in running the race, or simply taking an active trip to Budapest, let’s get in touch! I would love to help you plan your trip.
Email me here: [email protected]