In our new Green Weekend series, we invite you to discover Europe’s main cities in a sustainable way - from green accommodation to getting around, ethical shopping to relaxing. Let's begin with Budapest, the capital of Hungary, and this year's best European destination according to European Best Destinations (EBD).
Known as the 'Pearl of the Danube', Budapest offers the elegance of Paris, the architectural heritage of Vienna, the charm of Porto and Stockholm’s easygoing way of life. If you are a green traveler, you may not think of Budapest as the prime eco-friendly travel destination. However, in the last decade, the city of 1.75 million people has made great strides in terms of environmental friendliness. Follow our guide:
Getting around: bus & bikes
Walking is one of the best - and most eco-friendly - ways to get around Budapest but if you want to give your feet a rest, there are other ways to discover the beauty of Budapest. For example, Budapest’s must-see castle district can be visited on the new Budapest Castle Bus, an eco-friendly way to visit without climbing all the stairs.
MOL Bubi is Budapest’s public bike-sharing scheme, which consists of 127 docking stations and 1,546 bicycles; you can use MOL Bubi with a quarterly, annual or a semi-annual pass, a 24-hour, 72-hour or 7-day ticket or simply by the hour.
Stay: A hotel & museum
The Budapest Museum Central Hotel is located right across the Hungarian National Museum. This cozy hotel boasts large, airy rooms and features a number of newly designed green elements. It uses alternative energy sources and chemical free biodegradable cleaning agents, and provides breakfast choices that include organic and fair trade food.
Recently they installed solar panels and the hotel carry the EFL label, established by the Hungarian eco-labeling organization (a public body of the Ministry of Environment and Water). Aside from eco-friendliness, the hotel focuses on the promotion of culture by displaying a variety of contemporary exhibitions on the Museum Gallery floor.
Address: Budapest Museum Central Hotel, Trefort utca 2.Website
Stay: views for days & electric bikes
Located right on the Danube embankment (Buda side) and overlooking Budapest’s majestic castle and emblematic Chain Bridge, Hotel Clark is a stylish boutique hotel that welcomes guests over the age of 18 only. The hotel offers 86 rooms in four different categories and there is also a hip rooftop bar (operating during the warmer months) with sweeping views of some of the Hungarian capital’s most iconic sites. Guests are encouraged to make use of the free e-bike rental to explore the city in a green way. Hotel Clark is located in a new building with a state of the art energy-saving electricity system and 'green' house-keeping rules.
Address: 1, Clark Ádám tér.Website
A 'vegetable bar'
Börze is a sleek bistro-style restaurant on Liberty Square (Szabadság tér) that serves modern Hungarian food with a strong focus on locally-sourced seasonal ingredients. Though Hungarian cuisine is characterized by an abundance of meat, Börze’s management believes that it’s more important than ever to have a stronger focus on vegetable-based dishes.
During the busy lunch hours, the restaurant has a dedicated “vegetable bar” with delicious and filling dishes that patrons are encouraged to choose for their main (in the near future, these options will be expanded to dinner time). Börze has no intention of becoming a totally vegan place but instead wants everyone regardless of their culinary convictions to be able to have breakfast, lunch and dinner together. Enjoy one of the Hungarian or Austrian bio-dynamic, organic or vegan wines with your meal and pick up a food souvenir (organic Hungarian chutneys, cordials, etc.) from the shop section.
Address: Börze, Nádor utca 23.Website
A full vegan degustation menu
The sophisticated and stylish La Perle Noire Restaurant and Lounge in the very heart of the fashionable villa district along Andrássy Avenue boasts a spectrum of cuisine ranging from traditional Hungarian dishes to gourmet French food. Head chef Árpád Kovács believes that regardless of the cuisine or the type, every restaurant must respect the environment and that’s why he uses ingredients that originate from nature and are 100% edible, sources only organic, fresh and local produce from Hungarian farmers who deliver it in natural packaging and grows herbs and spices in the restaurant’s own garden.
La Perle Noire was also the first fine dining restaurant in town to offer a full vegan degustation menu last New Year and also makes sure to have vegetarian and vegan options available for each seasonal menu, while avoiding the use of honey. The issue of food waste is taken very seriously: La Perle Noire partners with a homeless shelter to deliver any leftover food to those in need. In the warmer months, guests can enjoy their meals in the lush garden, which is shaded from the bustling Andrássy Avenue by trees and plants.
Address: La Perle Noire, Andrássy út 111.Website
Specialty Coffee Bar and Bistro
Flow Specialty Coffee Bar and Bistro is where all of Budapest’s cool kids come to drink great coffee, refuel with a seasonal vegan lunch menu (it costs only €5) that changes daily and just hang out while enjoying the establishment’s lively vibes. Because the founders believe that it is possible to serve diverse and whole meals without using animal products, everything on the menu and almost everything in the pastry section is vegan and inspired by a variety of different cuisines; management takes great measures to ensure that there is minimal food waste and all packaging material is as eco-friendly as possible.
Address: Flow, Andrássy út 66.Website
Organic and fair trade goods
Here, coffee meets friendly ambience and eco-consciousness. Eco Cafe uses organic and fair trade goods. Those who try to keep to a healthy lifestyle will surely appreciate all the bio delicacies, bio-coffee, pastries made from natural ingredients on site, salads and over 20 kinds of leaf tea on offer.
Address: Eco Cafe, Andrássy út 68.Website
Budapest vegan hotspot
Vegan Garden, in the heart of Budapest’s Jewish District, put the Hungarian capital on the map of European vegan hotspots. The concept is simple: six street-food trucks are parked in one single location. From thin-crust pizza and dairy-free ice cream, to Mexican inspired meatless chili and juicy burgers, the choice of plant-based tasty comfort food is abundant.
This hub also hosts dedicated markets to sample ingredients and replicate the delicacies at home. Vegan Garden is open during the warmer months, usually between March and November.
Address: Vegan Garden , Dob utca 40. Website
Shopping: Hungary's sustainable fashion scene
There is a vibrant - and quickly growing - sustainable fashion scene that is putting Hungary on the map for ethical and eco-conscious shopping and these are just some of the brands leading the way.
Paloma Artist Courtyard is a shared showroom space which aims to promote Hungarian contemporary design and fine and craft arts, and it is home to the works of nearly 40 up-and-coming fashion designers and craft artists - many of whom you can meet there in person.
Address: Kossuth Lajos utca 14-16.
For organic, vegan and cruelty-free cosmetics check out Krém Patika. Handmade in Hungary, the shop boasts more than 25 kinds of cosmetics, from face creams to shampoos and bronzers to micellar water - all made of only natural active ingredients.
Address: Pannónia utca 21.Website
Partying: Budapest hippest planet-friendly bars
From the famous ruin bars to more upscale establishments, there is an impressive selection of watering holes in Budapest that also focus on sustainability. In August, 2018 some of the city’s hippest bars joined a planet-friendly campaign requesting guests to skip the plastic straws when ordering drinks. Though it was only a month-long campaign, many bars carried on past this date.
Perched atop the Parizsi department store on Budapest’s gorgeous central Andrassy Avenue, 360 Bar offers not only great cocktails and DJ nights on weekends with a view over all of Pest, but also biodegradable straws and other feel good events like shelter dog days where guests can come and adopt a friend in need for life.
Address: Andrássy út 39.Website
Legendary Budapest ruin bar Szimpla Kert, riverfront PONTOON (open only during the warmer months), prime cocktail hotspot KIOSK and the Doblo wine bar are some of the other places to have joined continued in their efforts towards sustainability after last August’s campaign.
A while ago, Filo Bar made a big push towards sustainability by introducing measures like 100% recyclable plastic flooring, fully recyclable plastic garden chair, water saving taps which allow for up to half less water consumption and much more.
Address: Dob utca 32.Website
Fans of craft beer and vegan eats will appreciate Belvárosi Legenda. The pub offers almost 100 different kinds of vegan craft beer along with some vegan bar snacks and stays up to date with the latest sustainable bar trends like glass cups and the absence of plastic straws.
Address: Kazinczy utca 11. Website.
Relaxing & wellness: the largest medicinal bath in Europe
Budapest is renowned for its abundance of thermal baths and there is something for everyone – listing even a tenth of them would require a separate feature. Széchenyi Bath, however, is the most renowned and architecturally stunning and is also the largest medicinal bath in Europe. There is also a special bath within the complex called Palm House (Pálmaház) and here the focus is on bringing people closer to nature through a unique relaxing atmosphere, tropical plants, exotic fresh fruits and homemade herbal teas.
Address: Pálmaház at Széchenyi , Kós Károly sétány (Gate no.1). Website
Yoga & Zen: finding your balance surrounded by beautiful views
For those who want to stick to their yoga and meditation routines while traveling, Petra Szappan has been holding her classes in some of the Budapest's most spectacular locations. Every second Sunday, you can join her dynamic vinyasa flow yoga classes on Aria Hotel’s rooftop. Once a month, she holds her class at Bárkert Bistro overlooking the Danube, which is followed by a vegan brunch afterwards. In spring and Summer, Petra’s classes take place in the open air on the rooftop of President and prove that you can be one with nature even in the center of the city.
Address: all over Budapest.Website