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Local on the health scene in Budapest

In our Local on the Health Scene series, we’re asking fit correspondents around the world to let us in on their city’s best spots for high performers. Between its setting on the Danube and palatial buildings, Budapest is a magical place steeped in history.

For nearly four years Alia Akkam, a native New Yorker, has lived there (currently in central Pest) expanding a writing career that covers food, wine and spirits, travel, and design. She frequently craves green juice, finds peace in guided meditation and sound baths, and has recently returned to practicing yoga.

Below, her guide to the city's best restaurants, thermal baths, and outdoor adventures.

An unexpected vegan dining scene

Hawking ubiquitous tourist menus of chicken paprikash, goulash, and stuffed cabbage is common at Budapest restaurants, so you’d be forgiven for thinking that the city is devoted solely to hearty, carnivorous cuisine. In recent years, local chefs have taken a turn toward more refined, balanced cooking that emphasizes high-quality, fresh-from-the-market ingredients. Here, three examples:

An ancient thermal bath culture

Rejuvenating in purportedly healing, mineral-rich waters is a Hungarian ritual that traces back to Roman times. With 123 natural springs alone, Budapest is known as the “City of Spas.” Explore this age-old wellness tradition, which pairs hot and cold pools with steam and sauna sessions.

A wealth of outdoor activities

After a long, brooding Budapest winter, locals love lingering in the sunshine, whether on a café terrace sipping lemonade or along the banks of the Danube River. For fitness enthusiasts, there are a number of al fresco adventures to enjoy as well.