Budapest is not as international as say London is, so meeting locals shouldn’t cause too much of a problem. That isn’t to say that staying on the beaten path of tourist attractions isn’t going to result in hearing more English or French than Hungarian. Getting to know a city is more than that: seeing, and maybe even experiencing how locals spend their everyday lives. Below are listed – in no particular order – the top ten locations where local life can be seen in full swing.
1. Gödör Club
Located on Elizabeth Square, the central park of Budapest, the Gödör Club and the park surrounding it is the social hotspot of the city. This is the place locals unwind after a long day’s work, have pick-nicks on warm summer afternoons or do their drinking before hitting the clubs.
Even though it has recently become somewhat of a tourist attraction, it doesn’t mean locals have abandoned the place. On the contrary, being the first ever ruin bar to open in Budapest, it is a cultic place and as popular as ever. Best time to meet locals is around 6, as university students after lectures and people after work pop in for a quick drink even on weekdays.
3. Kádár Étkezde
The so-called „kifőzde’s” – little canteens serving home cooked style food at affordable prises – like the Kádár Étkezde, are the place to meet locals between midday and 3pm. Working men and women with no time on their hands to cook, or anyone who fancies a warm nutritious meal as opposed to just grabbing a sandwich enjoys their lunch breaks at these kifőzdes day after day.
4. Central Market Hall
Experience a slice of local life so typical of Budapest at markets halls – like the Central Market Hall – from 6 to 8 am, cram-packed with locals doing their daily grocery shopping before rushing off to work.
5. Bath Houses
Though bath houses are one of Budapest’s main tourist attractions, they are also the favourite pass-time of locals old and young alike, though elderly ladies and gents soaking themselves all day long have become an inseparable part of the scene.
6. Corner Shops
There’s a small 24 shop on practically every corner in Budapest, and these are, just like market halls, the perfect places to catch a glimpse of everyday local life.
7. Szabó Ervin Library Café
The Central Szabó Ervin Library’s café is not only where students go to have their hourly dose of caffeine to keep themselves awake during a ten hour study session, but where any local passer-by pops in for a cake or coffee, attracting such a crowd with its affordable prices a wide selection of sweet and savoury treats.
8. Puskin Cinema
Because most of the films at Puskin Cinema are screened in Hungarian with English subtitles, it is highly favoured by locals.
9. Shopping Malls
Like in the USA, shopping malls have become a part of our everyday lives here in Budapest. Food courts are now a popular place to have a quick bite to eat, or a coffee while takeing a rest from a shopping long spree. With everything to be found in one place, from hair dressers to mobile phone shops, they are the most convenient place to take care of business and relax.
10. Lángos Bars
The Hungarian equivalent of hamburger stalls play a decisive role in Budapester’s lives. We eat lángos before going out, after parties and even during the day as a quick snack.