Every year, August 20th, Hungarians celebrate their most important public holiday: St. Stephen’s Day. Some of you might be lucky enough to be river cruising on the Danube and stopping in Budapest. In our opinion, it is a once in a lifetime treat. If you haven’t heard of it yet, don’t worry, let us tempt you by our outline of what you can expect!
About St Stephen’s Day
Budapest has become one of the most popular short-break destinations in Europe. Old derelict buildings are being turned into hipster hotels, old courtyards are becoming new cafés and the grungy ruin pubs on which its fame once rested, are now the chicest spots in town. What is not to like about that?
If you happen to be in Budapest on August 20th – the day of the St. Stephen’s celebration, we recommend that you have a little rest when you arrive to then fully emerge yourself in the festivities.
St. Stephen’s Day is one of the most important national holidays in Hungary. On the day, locals celebrate the foundation of the Hungarian state more than 1,000 years ago.
Throughout the day, the city is buzzing with activities, concerts and dance performances. You’re also able to visit the Parliament building for free up until 6pm which enables you to take a closer look at St. Stephen’s holy crown. Most of the main sights in Budapest such as the Buda Castle, Fishermen’s bastion and the Parliament are hosts to markets, performances and processions.
However, the main event that you definitely cannot miss is the firework display. It starts at 9pm and lasts for more than 30 minutes. We’ve experienced them ourselves and they are one of the best if not THE best fireworks we’ve ever witnessed.
Thousands of people will be watching the fireworks in awe which creates a magical atmosphere along the Danube river embankment. There are several good spots to watch the fireworks such as between Chain bridge and Margaret bridge, at the Fishermen’s Bastion in Buda Castle or a centric roof top bar. Having said that the very best spot to watch the firework display is on your river cruise ship on the Danube!
Thermal Baths in Budapest
If you happen to stay a bit longer in Budapest then we recommend that you visit one of the many thermal baths as well as a ruin bar and test yourself in an escape room. But let’s start with a thermal bath…
Back in the 1st century AD, the Romans were the first ones to cherish the steaming, mineral rich thermal waters. Over the centuries, this hasn’t much changed and now the thermal baths are one of the main tourist attractions in Budapest.
One of the most popular spas is the Széchenvi spa complex. It’s the biggest one in Budapest and one of the biggest natural hot spring baths in Europe. It’s more than 100 years old and since then it’s estimated that more than 100 million bathers have enjoyed a dip into the warm water.
In total, Széchenvi has 18 pools that are open every single day throughout the year, including national holidays which makes it an ideal place to visit on your 2nd or 3rd day while staying in Budapest. While visiting the spa, you can also book a massage, enjoy the sauna or gym or what we prefer, relax by the pool side with a nice beverage.
If you want to visit more than one thermal spa, we can also recommend visiting the Gellért Bath, Rudas Bath and the summer pools like Palatinus.
Ruin Baths in Budapest
After you enjoyed your stay in one of the many thermal spas, you might like to explore the centre in the look out for a nice drink. One of the things that makes Budapest truly unique are their ruin bars. These are bars that are inside pre-war abandoned buildings. They have become very popular with tourists and foreign students.
Most ruin bars you’ll be able to find in the old Jewish quarter. From the outside, these bars look like normal houses. Nothing indicated that there is anything happening behind those closed doors. But once you enter the courtyard, you will find yourself in the middle of a bar which is the centre point for people talking, dancing and enjoying the laid-back atmosphere. Each bar has its own personality, but they all follow the same principle of re-using an old building that has been neglected for too long.
Escape Rooms in Budapest
We also highly recommend taking part in an escape room game. Budapest has made a name for itself for hosting many of the best escape rooms. The game is very straight forward. You have to race against the clock to solve some tough riddles and fun puzzles to get out. But fear not, clues and interesting conundrums are being handed in which will enable you to crack the code which will eventually set you free.
If you’re a fan of detective stories, puzzles and quizzes than this is the perfect activity for you.
If you have any questions regarding a Danube river cruise or how you can visit Budapest on St Stephen’s Day, please do get in touch with Global River Cruising. We’re can save you time by answering all of your questions and take out the hassle of vacation planning.
We’ll also be able to recommend to you when is the best time to go, where to go and what to do. And most of all, we can help you with the unexpected. Get in touch!