It’s a battle of two über-cool European capital cities. But which one wins? German contender Berlin, or Hungarian upstart Budapest?
Inhabitants: Like West Side Story, cool cats rule the streets in Berlin. It’s even more funky-fresh than Shoreditch.
Do: Graffiti, odd architecture and every shade of grey gives the city an industrial starkness, but there’s plenty to see. Catch the Berlin Wall at the East Side Gallery (eastsidegallery.com) in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, which has the only graffitied part of the wall. After a heavy night, head to the Badeschiff (arena-berlin.de), an open air pool in the River Spree.
Stay: Propeller Island City Lodge’s (propeller-island.com) rooms are themed art installations that you feature in, including a floating bed and a bouncy floor. If this sounds all too wacky, opt for somewhere like boutique B&B Linnen (linnenberlin.com).
Eat & Drink: Try Currywurst at Konnopke Imbiss (konnopke-imbiss.de) or Curry 36 (curry36.de), or a sit-down affair, head to Napolean and Beethoven’s former haunt Zur Letzten Instanz (zurletzteninstanz.de). You can find beer in the city’s oldest pub, Wilhelm Hoeck (wilhelm-hoeck.de) on Wilmersdorfer Straße, or head to the trendy east side for a modish drink.
Inhabitants: Partygoers and intellectuals dominate Budapest. Sadly, it’s outdone by Berlin in the cool stakes.
Do: Get lost in the streets of Óbuda around the main square, where buildings date back to the 18th and 19th centuries (they were restored after the war), or find a music festival – there’s nearly always one on the go. Bathing is a serious business in Budapest – head to Gellert (gellertbath.com) for a fancy experience, or to Rudas (rudasfurdo.hu) for a more local dip.
Stay: The bohemian Brody House (brodyhouse.com), next to the must-see ‘ruin-pubs’ (refurbished ex-factories and houses), is more than a boutique hotel – it’s also a mini art gallery. Or blow the budget at Boscolo Hotel (boscolohotels.com).
Eat & Drink: The Central Market Hall – Központi Vásárcsarnok – is the place for traditional meats, cheese and pastries, but for Hungarian haute cuisine try dining institution Kárpátia (karpatia.hu). For drinking, Budapest trumps Berlin with Unicum, a herbal liquor that tastes as bad as it sounds. Take it along to a spa party, held in the city’s baths. Strip off and, er, enjoy.
And the winner is? Let us know what you think in the comments below.