I can only give you advice on Budapest, which as you said is fairly well documented on the web already but for what it’s worth, my hot tips are:
- Ruins pubs: Szimpla. I know it’s well known but it really is one of the coolest bars I’ve been too. It’s HUGE – there’s actually about 5 or 6 bars inside it and every space is different, from cool cocktails in the garden to funky little rooms that are like inside a gallery installation to intimate lounge space upstairs to fussball tables to wrap-round balcony where you can just stand and take it all in.
- Buda side: once you get away from Castle Hill (head slightly north-west) there are heaps of really cute little dive bars that tourists normally never find (we had a local friend guiding us) and they're very cheap. There’s some weird concoction they drink that’s basically a pint of red wine topped up with cordial – very sweet, yummy and lethal.
- Trofea Grill: it’s an all-you-can-eat-AND-ALL-YOU-CAN-DRINK restaurant. This includes cocktails! The food is good (not amazing) and a great way to sample lots of local dishes without committing to a whole meal of something you don’t know what it is. The staff were lovely when we went and, even though there is a four hour limit on your visit, were very nice about letting us run a wee bit over (about an hour!) getting in our last round or two of drinks.
- Across the road from the tram stop for Trofea Grill (I think it was the Zuglo branch in District XIV) is the ugliest building you’ve ever seen in your life – looks like a soviet kids’ playground: all primary colours and pipes on the outside mixed with stern concrete and steel – and inside is an amazing food market full of locals doing their grocery shop, eating langosh with sour cream and cheese and generally just kicking back and enjoying some breakfast beers.
- We did a cycle tour with Budapest Bike Breeze. The guide was very knowledgeable and a complete sweetheart although, while not exactly scatty, maybe not as polished as you’d expect elsewhere. But it actually rather refreshing. The mission to get to the top of castle of totally worth it for the free-wheel back down!
Enjoy your trip!
I know I'm going to catch shit for this next question, but I figure its worth asking. The timing is a bit sketchy for Belgrade, right around the anniversary of the 1999 NATO bombing campaign. Some websites have mentioned in passing an increase in anti-american sentiment during this time. Has anyone experienced this? I was wondering if I should take this into serious consideration or is it more of the typical fear-mongering US State Department garbage?
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