I hadn’t realised that wine was such a big deal in Hungary, but apparently, it is a BIG deal. As I don’t drink beer I was on the look-out for fun things to do in Budapest that don’t involve beer, so I was thrilled when I came across a wine tasting in Budapest, which started just down the road from my hostel. I signed up on the Airbnb Experiences page for a Budapest Wine Tasting Tour with Urban Adventures, and here is my review of the tour together with all the drinks you should try on any wine tasting in Budapest!
As the #WombatsTraveller Ambassador for wombat’s CITY HOSTELS, I had a complimentary stay at the wombat’s BUDAPEST so I could explore the city and share my favourite things to do in Budapest. As always, all opinions are my own and I maintain full editorial control of Tales of a Backpacker.
Exploring the Old Jewish Quarter in Budapest
Our wine tasting tour was really like a wine bar crawl around Budapest’s old Jewish Quarter, close to my hostel. As we walked around, our guide Dóri explained the history of the area, including the awful events of the Second World War when so many of the Jews who lived here were murdered. We also checked out some of the street art in Budapest as we walked past some of the murals and statues in the neighbourhood. The tour was a fabulous mix of drinks, history and good company!
Budapest Wine Tasting Meeting Point
We met in a perfect location, both for me as it was less than 5 minutes’ walk from my hostel, and generally, as 3 metro lines cross here it is thought of as the centre of Budapest. Apparently, it is a typical meeting point for locals, especially in warm weather, and even at the end of March, there were quite a few people hanging around. It was a pleasant evening, and we strolled over to what is commonly known as ‘The Hole’ – once planned to be a new classical concert hall but halted during the building process. Eventually, the hole was filled with a bar and venue, but much trendier than the original plan.
Wine Tasting Budapest – Drinks to Try
We tasted a wide selection of wines, and another traditional Hungarian drink – a spirit called palinka. If you are wine tasting in Budapest, these are some of the drinks you should definitely try!
Fröccs Wine Spritzer
Our Budapest wine tasting experience began gently, with a white wine spritzer called fröccs. It was very pleasant enjoying the last of the early spring sunshine, and as Dóri was at the bar, I chatted with my fellow tour-goer, another female solo traveller who was in town on business. When Dóri returned with our drinks, the conversation continued to flow, and she taught us how to say ‘cheers’ in Hungarian (it’s egészségedre by the way).
Our next stop was a bar with open brickwork and an impressive selection of wines. We tried two different wines here, and the waitress explained each wine and the region it came from. One of the wines we tried was from the UNESCO listed Tokaj wine region, which has been producing famous Tokaj wines to an extremely high quality for nearly 300 years.
Apparently, Tokaji wine is among the most expensive wine in the world, with a bottle of Tokaji Essencia wine fetching $40,000. The wine is so expensive as each grape has to be harvested by hand after the grapes have been affected by ‘noble rot’ which dries them out like raisins and brings out the sweetness. Needless to say, we didn’t try that particular wine, but it was nice to know that we were tasting some of the best wines in Hungary on our tour!
Dóri also ordered some snacks for us, I think she knew from experience that drinking too much wine on an empty stomach is not a good idea! We had some cheese spread and fresh bread which was delicious and helped us to continue the wine tasting without getting too tipsy!
Pálinka is a traditional fruit brandy from Hungary. It is drunk in shots, down in one, none of that namby-pamby sipping malarkey – in Hungary, they do it properly! It wasn’t my favourite drink of the night, but when in Budapest, it’s something you just have to try.
To taste Pálinka we went to a relatively new restaurant in the old Jewish Quarter that specializes in pork meals – ironic for the Jewish Quarter but it seemed to be doing a good trade! We also had some more food here too (not one for the vegetarians!) which was basically pork lard on toast. It didn’t sound that appetizing, but it looks and tasted delicious! It was great to have some more food too – I’d had a snack before I came on the tour, but you really do need something to line your stomach!
Rose Wine in a Ruin Bar
Ruin Bars are what made Budapest nightlife famous. In the Jewish Quarter, when the Jewish families were forced into the Ghettos or murdered during the Second World War, many of their old businesses and residences were abandoned for several years when the war was over. Gradually people began to return to the area and inhabit the buildings once again.
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In 2002, some of them decided to open Szimpla Kert, the first and most famous Ruin Bar. Filled with junk, this huge building is now an institution in Budapest, hosting community events such as a craft market and farmer’s market with a delicious Sunday brunch, as well as live music and a fab place to grab a drink. Every room is different, and every space is filled with second-hand brick-a-brack, making Szimpla a treasure trove of stuff!
Dóri let us have a wander round to explore, while she bought us a glass of rose wine at the bar. We found a spot to drink our wine in a colourful corner. I returned to Szimpla several times during my stay in Budapest and found something different each visit!
I must admit, by the time we reached our final stop I was feeling quite tipsy. After enjoying a light and fruity glass of red wine, we’d had four glasses of wine each and a shot of Pálinka, so I think we were well on the way to being drunk. I don’t usually drink that much anymore, not since my student days, and it was lovely to relax and enjoy a few drinks in a very pleasant environment with great company. I’m not sure what kind of red wine we had; I was about to take a photo of the bottle when the waiter took it away – but it was delicious!
Once we’d finished our wine, we said goodbye to Dóri and she headed off. Me and the other lady on the tour stayed a while longer, then went to get some food at the nearby street food market Karavan, which serves up tasty food till 11pm.
Would I Recommend this Budapest Wine Tasting Tour?
YES! I really enjoyed the evening. As a solo traveller, I don’t usually go to bars by myself, so I really enjoyed going out for a quiet drink with a couple of people instead of signing up for a pub crawl which would have been lots of beer and shots. This made a nice change, and as a wine drinker, I loved tasting different wines that I probably wouldn’t have ordered as I was totally clueless about Hungarian wine.
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Dóri was a fabulous host, and we chatted together like friends. She clearly knew her stuff and shared lots of information about Hungarian wine regions and the wines we tasted. The bars we visited were great too, with friendly and informative staff – and delicious wines! I even enjoyed the red wine which I don’t usually drink, and the cheeky shot of palinka.
How to Book Your Budapest Wine Tasting Tour
I booked through the Airbnb experiences website here. If you have never used Airbnb before, use this link to sign up & get up to $40 credit to use on your first trip or experience (subject to a minimum spend). Read more about the Airbnb first time discount code and my full Airbnb guide or click below for your Airbnb coupon.
While you are in Budapest you might also be interested in the following tours:
Where to Stay in Budapest
I stayed at the wombat’s BUDAPEST hostel, which is in a great location for this tour and for exploring the Jewish Quarter and Budapest nightlife in general. There are dorms and private rooms available, an in-house bar and buffet breakfast served in the morning for a few forints. The staff are friendly and have some great tips for exploring Budapest on a budget.
If you’d like to look for other hostels in Budapest, you can check Hostelworld here or check for hotels in Budapest here. There are also some cool options for Airbnb in Budapest too, take a look here.
If you’re looking for travel insurance for your trip to Hungary, get a quote now from World Nomads.
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Tales of a Backpacker is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. I only recommend goods and services I believe are useful and reliable.Last updated: May 8, 2019