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An interview with Erika Szabó from UniqueBudapest, offering alternative sightseeing tour routes

Services that offer alternative sightseeing tours have become more and more common recently. How did the idea come up with youő

We are really a company in Public Relations, and the owner of the company had the idea of organizing tours that show a different yet characteristic face of Budapest. There are a number of such enterprises running aboard: in Dublin, you can go on a pub tour, and in Chicago, you can tour the skyscrapers. Fortunately in Budapest there is a lot to see over and above the obligatory (and therefore often boring) tourist attractions, and so we have things to show even those who have been here several times, but want to know the capital better.

How do you choose your routeső

We talk to a lot of people before choosing the routes: art historians, sociologists, architects. Our main point was to work out tours that can be done on foot in 3-3.5 hours and are structured on a common theme, an architectural style, or a specific part of the city.

Who can become an alternative tour guideő

Certainly not unmotivated, resigned guides who spent 20 years in the profession and can only do the obligatory Heroes’ Square – Parliament – Buda Castle type of routes. It’s important to show some initiative, to be open for the hidden treasures of the city.

Which is your most popular tourő

It’s “The Retro Period”, primarily among foreigners; “Eclecticism, Art Noveau” and “Villas and Palaces” is also doing well. It’s interesting that these latter two are mostly appreciated by Hungarians.

Are you planning to add some new routes to your repertoireő

We have a lot of new ideas, and tour guides also often give us useful pointers. We recently launched a tour called “Budapest Code”, which is an interactive program run by UniqueBudapest: it is planned for larger groups, like co-workers touring together, and in this, players get a map and a ‘route plan’: series of riddles, a mosaic of information really, and they have to solve the riddles as they go along. The tour guides tell them interesting stories while they move from one place to another, give them the next task to solve at each new place, and see that the rules are kept. We’re also planning a tour about the hidden treasures of the Buda Castle.

What is the proportion of Hungarians and foreigners in your toursőő

The services that UniqueBudapest offers are primarily aimed at tourists, but the number of Hungarian participants is steadily rising now: a lot of people seem to be giving these tours as gifts to each other.

Jellemzően kik jönnek el a túrákraő Meghatározó-e a nemzetiség, a korő

What sort of person comes for such tourső Does nationality, age or such things seem characteristicő

People come from all over the world, a lot of them from the USA and Canada. I’d say the average age is between 20 and 40, but we’ve had older participants too. We meant “Retro” for young people, but when a group of old age pensioners took the tour, often the roles were reversed: they told interesting things to the tour guide…