We recently spent 9 days on a mini travel of Europe flying to Budapest for 3 nights, then moving on to Vienna for 2 nights, and finally to Prague for 3 nights before flying home… super easy to travel by train in between – a fantastic way to visit 3 amazing cities, all of which I had never visited before and would recommend and hope to return to! We do love our travel as well as our food, and even more so trying a country’s local and traditional food whilst visiting! From Goulash to Wiener Schnitzel and Chimney Cakes, we enjoyed some amazing cuisines, so here’s a little blog about the highlights of our trip and some recommendations.
Budapest is a “grand” city with some amazing architecture and something eye-catching around every street corner, I loved it! 3 days wasn’t enough to see every thing, I think you could spend a week here, but we absolutely made the most of our short trip. We visited the palace and the parliament building and discovered the streets of the Jewish Quarter, as well as bathed in the thermal baths, this city has something for everyone, and if you’re a foodie here’s a few things you can’t miss out on….
Karavan Street Food based in the Jewish quarter (Kazinczy Utca 18) is a lovely little courtyard (based in an old ghetto camp) hosting around 6-8 catering vans and a bar with an outside dining area, where you can sample some great modern street food as well as traditional Hungarian cuisine. We kind of stumbled across this as we were staying in the Jewish Quarter and wandering the streets heading in and out of the local bars. There were burger vans, Mexican food, vegan food, traditional Hungarian caterers serving Goulash and another van that caught my eye and seemed very popular, serving something I’d not heard of before – Lángos. Lángos is a typical Hungarian street food. Today it is a deep fried flatbread, but in the past it was made of the last bits of the bread-dough and baked at the front of the brick or clay oven, to be served hot as the breakfast of the bread-baking day. Traditionally it is topped with sour cream and grated cheese, however now it is served more like a pizza with variations of toppings including sausage or bacon and onions. We had burger versions of this flatbread and they were SO GOOD! Messy, a little greasy, very stodgy, but superb. We tried the Beef which came with paprika peppers, rocket and sour cream, and the Pork that came with fried onions, sheeps cheese, grated cheese and sour cream. Delish!
After eating at the Karavan Street Food, we went for a few drinks around the corner at a “ruin bar” that is definitely worth visiting, called Szimpla Kert. This is one of Budapest’s first ruin pubs and is a large complex with nooks filled with all sorts of art, graffiti and unexpected items. There are a number of bars within this complex and an open-air courtyard. It’s really a site to see and a must to visit for a few drinks.
District VII in the Jewish Quarter is an area to mention for nightlife, with a variety of backstreet bars, ruin pubs and complexes of restaurants, bars and clubs including karaoke rooms and arcades.
Whilst we were in Budapest, we had to get involved in a little evening Boat Cruise, and what better one to choose than the Hungarian one where you had the chance to eat unlimited Goulash (a soup or stew of meat and vegetables seasoned with paprika and other spices) and Chicken Paprikash (a Hungarian recipe made with chicken browned in butter and cooked with onions and paprika, then finished with a little sour cream mixed in. Served over dumplings or noodles.) and different flavours of Strudel whilst a string quartet plays music to you as you cruise the Danube at sunset, seeing some of the city’s amazing buildings lit up. This is something you must do when visiting Budapest.
Another recommendation we have is that you plan a few hours at one of the thermal baths in Budapest. A relaxing experience whilst on a city break. We really enjoyed our time at Szechenyi Baths in City Park, held at a large, grand building housing a dozen thermal baths and 5 swimming pools.
In Vienna we stayed just outside of the city centre and tourist area, about a 10 minute tram away in an area called Hernals. Around the corner form our hotel were a handful of local cafes and bars and a massive street market housing so mush fresh produce! We took our hotel staff’s suggestion and dined at a local Steakhouse called Saloon. Although they had a number of steaks on offer, we just wanted to crack on and try the Wiener Schnitzel – a cutlet of veal, breaded and fried, and oh my… I wish they’d have advised us how big they were going to be as we could have easily had one between us and still been full, but it was sooooo good! Real comfort food, a thick piece of veal and the coating not greasy at all but so crisp. There was also a big portion of fries hiding under our Schnitzels. You have to try this dish when in Austria/Vienna – but maybe have one to share between two of you haha, and make sure you have a squeeze of lemon juice drizzled over as this really adds to the fresh taste.
The second evening in Vienna we actually ended up in a little Hungarian Restaurant based just off one of the main streets in the heart of Vienna; Ilona Stueberl. Founded in 1957 as a family enterprise by Ilona and Michael Somlai, with its unspoiled Hungarian cuisine and traditional atmosphere this is a great little down to earth restaurant to visit. We had learnt from the previous night with ordering the Schnitzel (but we wanted another), so we decided to share a starter and Schnitzel between us which was perfect. We enjoyed Lecso with Sausage – which was a portion of local sausage served with tomatoes, paprika peppers and onions. This was really rich, comforting and very tasty. To mix it up a little we decided to get the Pork Escalope instead of the usual veal version, which was with fried potatoes/chips and a small salad. Everything was cooked perfectly and we ate every last bit.
Now Prague is visited more for the beers made and offered there than it’s food BUT I can’t not tell you about the famous Chimney Cakes they serve on pretty much every street there! I had not heard of these before a friend of mine told me about them just before our trip, and I can see why they were memorable. These are made by depositing layers and layers of dough on a cylindrical spit. It is then covered in sugar and baked on an open fire. You can eat these plain or filled with cream or ice cream with various toppings. I obviously had to go extreme and get mine filled with Nutella and mixed (vanilla and chocolate whip) ice cream, topped with more Nutella and strawberries. Wow this blew my mind. As a well-known chocolate addict and “sweet-tooth”, this was right up my street! All dessert lovers should give these a try when visiting Prague.
If you love beer and a traditional pub, then you have to seek out one of Prague’s original taverns U Zlateho Tygra, tucked away in the Old Town. Get yourself sat down at a bench here, most likely sharing tables with strangers so don’t be shy to get stuck in! Pilsner Urquell is constantly being poured from the tap into large glasses and served straight to your table, with the waiter marking off on a piece of paper how many beers you have, and at reasonable prices. A real traditional place to visit. They also serve food here but we didn’t try any unfortunately.
A “chain” of pubs that you will find dotted around Prague each with traditional style décor and large beer garden/courtyards are the “Original Pilsner Urquell Restaurants & Pubs“, serving up lots of the Pilsner and traditional “Snacks to enjoy with Beer”. Make sure to visit one of these.
We went out for a meal one evening on Wenceslas Square at a large, traditional Czech Restaurant called Cafe Svateho Vaclava and got involved with the local and traditional cuisine which is mainly a lot of meat – mostly different cuts of pork. I had a Czech Goulash served with an assortment of dumplings. The goulash was served in a metal pot over a tealight with a ladle for me to pour over the dumplings. The meat just melted in the mouth, it was really good. Ben went for the Pork Neck which came with crispy fried onions and served in a gravy, with a side salad and this was delicious. We would recommend giving this restaurant a try.
Last but not least we have to give a shout out to a local Pizzeria that was based right next to the hotel we were staying in (the hotel of which we would absolutely not be recommending to anyone unfortunately!!) about a 10 minute underground ride away from the old town, Pizzeria Carllino. This restaurant though outside of the main town of Prague, seemed very popular indeed and was really reasonably priced. Not only that but they served amazing, large stone-baked fresh pizzas, and really tasty large portions of pasta. If you happen to be passing here, we would definitely recommend dining here.
If you are travelling to any of these 3 beautiful cities, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for these delicacies, and have a fantastic time just as we did! If you have any feedback or any recommendations yourself, please do share this with me!!
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Seems like a lot of fun!!