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Budapest

Stag & Hen Destination

Budapest may not have been on your stag or hen party radar as it is not yet (and we stress the ‘yet’) a major player in that market – which has its advantages: fewer negative local vibes than some overdone spots; they are trying harder; and nobody in the group is likely to say “Oh not there again.”

This capital city – actually two cities, the more ancient Buda flowing over the hills one side of the Danube, and dynamic commercial and administrative Pest the other – is truly lovely, the riverbanks famed for their beauty, the old castle likewise, and other highlights like the world’s second oldest underground system. The architecture gives the place a sense of style that’s reflected in the excellent restaurants and the cultural facilities you’d expect of a major European centre.
Not sure if shopping is cultural, but the retail therapy here is terrific, loads of local stuff of interest – there’s a great indoor market worth a call for example – and some bargains to be found.

As with all overseas dos we’d recommend you use a dedicated organising company (it’s not a bad idea in the UK either), particularly so here as your party almost certainly won’t muster a single word of Hungarian between you. And locals know where to go, where not to go, and how to arrange the best deals. A get-me-home card to give to a taxi driver could save a considerable amount of convivial evening hassle, and it is best to find your accommodation via someone who knows where they are ok with stags and hens. Oh, and they can arrange kissograms etc.

Yeah, but what about last-night-of-freedom stuff?
Budapest may well have the widest selection of daytime activities we’ve encountered. You can do the wheeled experience thing with karts and quad-bikes, or for something a bit different there’s a self-drive Trabant tour, that vehicle at the opposite end of the spectrum from what you’d drive at the F1 circuit here. Or (not strictly wheeled) you can drive a tank – you know you want to.
Shooting is a big favourite on stag and hen dos – learn to use a pistol with a professional instructor, or try picking off clay-pigeons. For that slight twist, you can handle an AK47 or a Magnum. Paintballing naturally is available, with the less painful laser-tag another option.

That Trabant is not the only way to add some style to your city-viewing. Work up a thirst with a bike tour; give the wonderful Segway a go; hire a limo (with or without stripper!), or take to the air in a helicopter or a light plane to give an unforgettable view of the city (best before enjoying the local lagers). The Danube offers a third way – it is beautiful, and you can combine sight-seeing with investigating the city’s excellent beers. And that’s not the only way to have water-borne fun here – water-skiing (not easy btw), wake-boarding and banana riding just three of the sportier choices.

Budapest is famous for its thermal baths, with one possibly the most impressive on the continent. That’s a cue for spas, massages, detox treatments, and general pampering.

And we’re back to adrenaline stuff with the three Bs (to be tried pre-convivial evening): bungee jumping, bobsleigh, and boxing. Rather less hectic is learning to pole dance or make cocktails.

Beer is pretty cheap (though in some of the top clubs this won’t be the case), but don’t forget the great Hungarian wine tradition – Louis XIV said the dessert wine Tokaji is “The king of wines, the wine of kings,” and they have some decidedly robust reds to balance things out. Try a tasting session, maybe combined with a meal – the Hungarians do know how to cook, and we don’t just mean goulash (though unless you are veggie why visit Budapest without trying the national dish?). For the adventurous there are a couple of other local tipples worth a sip – but don’t overdo it! Unicum is a strong bitters (about 40 per cent ABV) drunk as an aperitif or digestif; and Palinka is fruit brandy (plum, cherry and pear just three of many varieties), all too easy to enjoy. Beware!
And for the rest of the evening’s entertainment? Again, best to rely on local recommends and guides, but the club scene is not going to disappoint you, the bars are great, and there are plenty of places where you can do more than neck a few – maybe a game of poker, a casino night, or watch the games at a sports bar.
So stylish surroundings, great food and drink (at pretty fine prices), and lo
ads to do. What’s not to like about Budapest?