In twenty-first century Europe, East is the new West – and Budapest is home and heart to the transition. This city is clean, gorgeous, and interesting. It’s also one of the Continent’s best capitals to run. The Pest part of town features flat terrain, good paths, and even asphalt sidewalks amenable to a city-center jaunt. Those strong of joint and craving hill workouts should go to the Buda side for castle repeats up to the city’s ancient manor. Be mindful that this area is steeped with cobblestones, and if you’re prone to injury it’s better to stick to one of Budapest's expansive parks.
Post-run, explore the traditional old alleys of Várgehy (Castle Hill), cross the Chain Bridge to stroll along the Danube as the boats pass by, make your way past the old mansions that line Andrássy Utca, and watch the evening set in from the patio of a trendy cosmopolitan bar at Liszt Ferenc Ter.
And don’t worry – regardless of the strength of your Hungarian language skills, the people of this country are helpful and hospitable. Many of them speak English and most of those who do will speak it with you.
- Traffic: The paths next to the river are not as wide as one might like, and during rush hour the cars can get annoying.
- Pollution: Budapest is a pretty clean city, but if you run down Andrássy Utca during the day you will feel it in your lungs.
- Bike Lanes / Cyclists: On the one hand, this would be a great city to cyclocommute. A surprisingly comprehensive network of bike lanes snakes through the Pest side of town, but make no mistake: they are very definitely bike lanes. They are not walking paths, they are not running paths, and you will get run over if you stray into them.
Did you know? “Budapest” as we know it only became a city in 1873 when the towns of Buda, Obuda, and Pest were united. Buda is on the Danube’s west bank; it is the hill part of the city with the castle. Pest is on the river’s opposite shores, and is known for its classy mansions and flat terrain.