Monday, 9 May 2016

Budapest vs. Prague



Budapest and Prague are often hailed as two of the most beautiful cities in Eastern Europe. During the past twelve months I've been lucky enough to visit both and thought I would write a comparison post for you all. While many people comment on the similarities of both cities, I had a completely different experience in each one and thought this may be helpful for those of you who are struggling to decide which to visit.

I only had a short amount of time on each trip but I will try and be as thorough as I can. If you have any questions about either please don't hesitate to leave a comment.

SIGHTS



Prague: Anyone who's ever visited Prague will know how stunningly beautiful it is. After hearing so many people gush about the architecture I was really looking forward to seeing it for myself and I wasn't disappointed. I felt like I'd stepped straight into a Gothic novel. The most impressive building for me was Prague Castle (the largest ancient Castle in the world) - you have to climb over 200 steps to reach it but it's 100% worth it.

We visited Prague in the middle of summer but I'd love to return during the colder months to see the city all lit up for Christmas. I imagine it looks bewitchingly eerie engulfed in a layer of fog, too.  

Things to see: Charles Bridge, The Astronomical Clock, Old Town Square, Church of Our Lady before Tyn, St. Vitus Cathedral, Wallenstein Palace Gardens, Frank Gehry's Dancing House and Municipal House.  



Budapest: Like Prague, Budapest boasts an array of Gothic architecture (the Hungarian Parliament - which sits right on the edge of the Danube - will take your breath away). Both cities have that medieval aesthetic which I just love. 

In a lot of articles I've read, visitors have stated they found the sights in Budapest less impressive than Prague. I disagree. Both cities are packed with character and are perfect for those with a penchant for history. I had a little more time in Prague and therefore saw more of what the city had to offer, but I wasn't disappointed with Budapest. 

Things to see: Buda Castle, St. Stephen's Basilica, Hero's Square, Chain Bridge, Vajdahunyad Castle, Fisherman's Bastion and the Hungarian State Opera House.      

FOOD



Prague: I wasn't a vegetarian when I visited Prague but I still struggled with the food. I've only ever eaten white meat and I found beef and veal featured heavily on most menus. Dumplings are very popular, aswell as sauerkraut (cabbage) and soup. Don't get me wrong, although I'm now vegetarian I've never been fussy when it comes to my food and love trying dishes from other cultures. However, Czech cuisine just didn't appeal to me!

On the plus side, I did enjoy the sweet treats Prague had to offer. On every street there were carts which offered Trdelnik (a rolled pastry topped with sugar and walnuts - pictured above). It's delicious! Apparently it is also popular in Budapest but I saw it a lot more in Prague. 

Although I don't drink it, the city is also renowned for it's cheap beer. 



Budapest: Hungarian cuisine is also very meaty but I still managed to try a variety of foods. There were many vegetarian/vegan restaurants in the city centre and most eateries featured a veggie alternative to goulash (hearty stew seasoned with paprika - a traditional Hungarian dish). Of course, if you're not veggie/vegan then go ahead and sample whatever you like!

If you're visiting during the end of November - early December, it might be worth paying a visit to the wine and cheese festival held at Vajdahunyad Castle. 

NIGHTLIFE

As I went to Prague with my mom I didn't really experience the nightlife so I can't comment too much on it. When we wandered around town on the evenings the bars certainly looked lively - Prague is famous for it's cheap alcohol and stag parties so if you're looking to go clubbing I'm sure you won't be disappointed!

In Budapest I went out every night and had so much fun. The city is home to countless 'ruin pubs' - derelict buildings that have been transformed into uber hip bars. One club we went to featured psychedelic wall art and furniture pinned to the ceilings. Drinks prices weren't as low as I expected them to be but they weren't expensive (certainly cheaper than London anyway).

If you enjoy going out and you're planning on going to Budapest I'd 100% recommend going to a sparty - a club night held in one of the city's many thermal baths. We went to one on our first evening and loved it. It costs around 35-40 euros for a ticket (which you book online before you go) and on the night you're given a card which you top up with money to buy your drinks. As the water is heated, the spartys are held all year round (although you do get a bit chilly waiting at the bar...)

THINGS TO DO



Prague: In both cities I was on my feet from morning 'til night - there is plenty going on to keep you busy. In Prague we mainly spent our time sightseeing and visiting the many churches and museums. It was unbelievably hot when we went so we also dedicated a few hours to the cafes of Old Town Square, lazily sipping iced tea and watching the world go by.

My mom and I love anything related to the middle ages so we had fun exploring all the medieval-inspired shops and pubs. I'd recommend taking a trip to U kr√°le Brabantsk√©ho, which is a tavern located in Old Town. It's decorated in skulls and hosts fire eaters, belly dancers and sword fighting. It has all the ambiance of a 14th century inn - even the staff are dressed in medieval attire. Perfect for anyone who's a fan of Game of Thrones. 




Budapest: We only had two full days in Budapest so we tried to cram as much as we could into our trip. We spent the majority of the first day sightseeing before deciding on a spontaneous visit to the zoo.

As we went to the sparty on the first night, we didn't visit any of the thermal baths in the day - however if we'd have had more time I'd have liked to. The pools are completely unique to Budapest and are open even on the coldest days, meaning they can be enjoyed whatever time of year you visit.

In both cities I took a boat ride along the river - this is so affordable and a fantastic way to appreciate all the architecture, especially if the weather's nice. It also gives you chance to rest your feet!

SHOPPING

While there are plenty of stores in both cities for anyone who needs a quick fix, neither Prague nor Budapest are amazing for shopping. This didn't really bother me as I'm not too fussed about spending money on clothes etc when I'm abroad. If shopping is a big factor for you when you're away then I'd suggest Budapest - I found there was more of a selection and the stores were more modern.

There is one shop in Prague I'd suggest visiting if you're looking for some unique presents for back home, however. Manufacturer is a gift emporium selling home made bath/body products and wooden crafts. It's very pretty. I treated myself to some skincare when I visited and bought my sister a few bits, too.

I wasn't too taken with New Town in Prague - the stores all looked dated and the area itself felt a bit tired. Old Town is where the magic is!

Also, if you visit Budapest over the weekend, it's worth noting that all the shops are closed on a Sunday - even the newsagents and supermarkets. I forgot to pack shampoo and planned to buy some once we'd arrived but nothing was open! So make sure you're prepared.

VERDICT 



Although I had an amazing time in both cities, Budapest came out top for me. Prague was incredibly busy and very touristy, whereas Budapest was much more relaxed and felt more 'pure.' They are both as beautiful as each other so if you're after fairy tale-esque sights I'd recommend trying to visit both; but for the food, nightlife and overall vibe, I preferred Budapest. I would happily return to Prague though, too!

Have you visited both Prague and Budapest? Which did you prefer? x

5 comments:

  1. I just got back from Budapest and loved it so much for everything - the buildings, the food, the people. Now I've got my eye on Prague!

    Lisa | Not Quite Enough

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  2. Haven't been to Budapest yet, but I'd love to go. Those ruin pubs sound AWESOME!

    Jane / deluminators

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  3. I've always wanted to go to those two cities. I've heard many great things about both from friends who have visited each.
    Blue Jazzmin

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  4. I've been to Budapest many years ago and really enjoyed the architecture and food! I'm not in a hurry to go to Prague but it does look interesting as well.

    Hanh | hanhabelle

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  5. Prague is beautiful but yes, packed with tourists with selfie-sticks. I didn't find their cuisine appealing either, and people were not exactly the friendliest... but I live in Dublin, so I can't really compare friendliness of people ahah. Can't wait to visit Budapest though!

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