Yes, they both begin with a "b," but aside from that fun fact there are many other factors that make Budapest similar to Berlin. Compared to its German counterpart, however, which has been welcoming Europe’s creative drifters for the past decade, the Hungarian capital is only just beginning to permeate the travel hip lists. Travelers are now discovering that Budapest has everything that helped to catapult Berlin into what it is today, though -- which is why 2016 is the year Budapest's popularity seems to be blowing up. We're sure many reasons can be dug up to prove it, but here are seven major reasons why Budapest is the new Berlin.
1. There are ruin bars.
A byproduct of the country’s troubled past, the Budapest "kerts" or "ruin bars" parallel the same creativity that Berlin demonstrated in its own transformation following the fall of the wall. The abandoned, disused building bars of Budapest are pretty much like bars everywhere -- just way better. Think graffiti on the walls, fairy lights, candles, '80s computers dangling from ceilings, bathtubs instead of sofas, impromptu markets, and a general acceptance that anything goes. Oh, and they look amazing. Pull out your phone for some epic Instagram opportunities.
2. You can still feel the lingerings of communism.
Like Berlin, Budapest fell under communist control following World War II -- only to throw out the old regime in 1989. But the past is still present across the city, from museums and statues to restaurants and shops that sell the genuine communist era fare. If you’re interested in the history, head to the ominously named Museum of Terror. Formerly home to the Secret Police, it covers the darkest times of the communist regime, offering an insight into what life was like under Soviet rule.
3. The contemporary art scene is thriving.
Budapest’s contemporary art scene is thriving and nowhere is that more evident than on the streets. Art covers the open-air canvas that every city boasts (read: it's streets) and filters into the aforementioned ruin bars and coffee houses to decorate their walls. Galleries like Vintage Galeria (great for new photography), INDA Galeria, Kisterem, and the Ernst Museum are all worth adding to an artsy itinerary.
4. Coffee is life.
While Berlin has been fussing over its vintage La Marzocco machines and banning strollers from its cafes, Budapest has been getting busy with its own specialty coffee scene. The Hungarians have long held a penchant for coffee with their traditional coffee houses but the new wave more closely compares to the likes of what you’ll find in Shoreditch, Greenpoint or Kreuzberg. Try any of My Little Melbourne, Tamp & Pull, and Madal for your flat white.
5. District VII is just like Berlin's hipster neighborhoods.
With a name similar to that film that had way too much "parkour" in it, District VII is Budapest’s very own hipster neighborhood. The ruin bars, nightlife, coffee shops, and art scene are all focused here on the east side of the Danube. And along with the hip there’s also the old, with ancient Soviet-style architecture and graffiti everywhere you look. Take an Apple laptop and order cold press coffee, and you’ll feel right at home in Budapest’s answer to Neukolln.
Hotel Pick: To stay close to District VII but avoid the noisy nights, check in at the nearby Atrium Fashion Hotel. Functional, contemporary rooms look out onto a stylish multi-level atrium and rooms are reasonable for their upper-mid-range status.
6. It has an innovative spot dedicated to recreation.
Put your hands up if you’re bored of hearing about Berlin’s Tempelhof Airport? No, us neither; after all, nowhere else in the world has a whole airport gifted to the city for fun and games, so there’s no comparison here. What Budapest does have, though, is an island stuck in the middle of the Danube between the old town’s of Pest and Buda -- and who doesn’t like an island? Covered in woodland, Margaret Island is the city’s own recreational release spot with virtually no buildings to distract you during your break from the Budapest bustle.
7. The markets are awesome.
In Budapest, there exists a selection of markets to suit all tastes. While we can’t stand by and tell you that they are necessarily better than Berlin’s, we can tell you that there’s nowhere quite like the Great Market Hall. Get lost between stalls of fresh produce, check out the views from the balcony, and bask in the glory of a market that was once named the most beautiful in Europe.
Hotel Pick: For a basic base from which to explore, the Three Corners Hotel Art is located in the Palace District just a short walk from the Great Hall Market and other attractions. On a quiet street, the hotel’s rooms are small and simple -- and suit those who want to spend most of their time seeing the sights of Budapest.