Here is your complete Budapest travel guide including (click to scroll):
- My Budapest experience
- Where to eat in Budapest
- Historical sites to see in Budapest (that are not boring)
- Really fun things to do in Budapest
- Best views in Budapest
- Budapest neighborhood guide
- Budapest travel tips.
When you open up your mind you let in all the warmth of the world, and oh dearest Budapest, you bring all those warm-fuzzy-feels. From the hot baths, hearty stews, street art, fall foliage, mulled wines, and coziest airbnb we felt like we had lived here before. I fell in love with this city within the first hour of touching ground. You know those places that just have a warm energy? That’s Budapest. Or I should say Buda and Pest- I’m not biased.
Although to be very real upfront, Budapest is a bit of a contradiction. During World War II the Holocaust execution here was devastatingly tremendous, the country is frustrated by its own history of war, and the government is presently very corrupt. Communism is still a “thing”. We think we have it bad in the USA? Most Hungarians have fled Hungary. Our city guide told us “the largest Hungarian city is London”. We felt extremely disheartened by this because the city is full of creative magic.
Fast forward to 2018 and there is a Holocaust memorial across the street from a hipster barber shop and popular sex shop. They have converted ruins into bars (admittedly pretty cool ones at that) and people travel all around the world to party here for cheap. Hate to break the news to you, but the community of Budapest does not support drunk tourists and bars can refuse entrance. Be mindful.
Two words for you: #Communism and #Hipsters. Which creates three more words for you: EPIC street art.
I felt all my creative juices flowing while strolling through the streets of Budapest. My mind was beyond stimulated, it felt like a giant outdoor art museum but waaaaaay less boring. This city truly opened up my mind and made me think at a much deeper level.
Hungarians are magically creative
The creativity of the Hungarians shined when we learned about “The Two-Tailed Dog”, a political party that is a serious #satire with serious intentions. Slogan: free beer and eternal life (+20 years). They have Santa Claus, an invisible man, a gorilla, and a chicken running for office. Santa Claus only works one day a year so has 364 days to campaign and the invisible man is easy to photoshop. Who wants to bring this party to the USA?! All aboard the train to trump Trump. Choo choooo.
Let’s circle back to some #travelinspiration. Budapest is a breathtaking city full of history and authenticity. Every business has a unique and stimulating design and every surface has been turned into artwork. It’s impossible to be bored in #Budapest.
For those of you inspired to travel to Budapest, here is my authentic blogging-for-fun-not-money advice:
Where to eat in Budapest (coming from a big foodie):
For a very authentic Hungarian dining experience you need to eat at Gundel Etterem. We felt like we were on a 1940’s movie set; white table cloths, waiters in tuxedos, forgetting which silver utensil to use, and classy serenading happens here.
Gundel stole my heart with elephant-shaped butter, but served me a heart in return. Seriously, make sure you ask what part of the chicken you are eating because I found out mid-chew I was served chicken heart and let’s just say my husband Bryan left the restaurant with the evidence in his pocket. The experience was worth the surprise!
More places to eat in Budapest:
- Gettó Gulyás for hearty stews
- Eat lunch at Hilda and admire their decor
- Enjoy schnitzel, fresh rotisserie chicken, sausages, and beer flights at Bestia Beer Garden
- Visit Zeller Bistro for an unreal dinner ambiance with a beautiful garden courtyard, +1 for greeting us at the door with prosecco
- Head to Doblo Wine Bar for delicious European wines and live music
- 9 Bar for coffee and croissants all day errryday
Historical sites to see in Budapest (that are definitely not boring):
Take a walk across the Szechenyi Chain Bridge connecting Buda and Pest built in 1849. Explore the relaxing elevated Castle Hill district of Buda Castle and visit Fishermans Bastion for wine and views.
Visit Shoes on the Danube Bank which is an artistic memorial honoring the victims shot into the Danube by arrow in 1944-45. Then stroll through Parliament Square where you can find a lot more art installments, captivating monuments, and witness the guarding of the Hungarian Flag.
Wander around the courtyard and surrounding streets of St Stephens Basilica. This area became our “go-to” because there are so many shops, outdoor seating areas, and great people watching.
Without a doubt, join a city walking tour! I recommend joining a tour in the Jewish Quarter. We booked our tour through #airbnbexperiences and it was eye opening and full of rich history (and a beer or two). Contact me for more info!
Really fun things to do in Budapest:
Budapest is hot bath galore and you need to get involved. The most famous #hotbath is Szechenyi Bath where you should go for a couple hours as part of your Budapest experience. However, don’t opt in for any “extras” including the extra massage because it does not feel good. Prepare for lots of tourists…I actually photoshopped some of them out of this picture here. Sorry, not sorry.
At dusk, walk along the Danube river on the Pest Side overlooking the gorgeous lights of the museum, Buda Castle, and bridge. If it’s a cold night, drink warm mulled wine and soak up the views. You can often find live music in front of the Intercontinental Hotel making the walk even more magical.
Visit the Ruin Bars because they are way too cool. Our favorite ruin bar is called Szimpla Kert Budapest. Have a couple beers and admire the sculptures and artwork throughout the pub.
Walk, walk, and walk some more! Get lost in every neighborhood. This city is so walkable and there are so many things to see around every corner. We walked the following route from Opera House, down the Pest Riverside, and north to the park to visit the hot bath: Budapest Walking Route idea.
Where to get the best views in Budapest:
For incredible panoramic views of Budapest visit Fishermans Bastion in the elevated castle district. You can see the majestic Parliament building, drink some Hungarian wine, explore Buda Castle, and watch boats cruise through the Danube River. #instagramable
You should also take a ride up the Budapest Eye – don’t be scared.
Top neighborhoods in Budapest:
If you want to be in the heart of it all and fully embrace the hustle and bustle of a city, then definitely stay on the Pest side of the Danube River. Here are my perspectives on top neighborhoods:
Jewish Quarter in District VII – Erzsébetváros
Looking for nightlife and the best bar scene? Look no farther. Jewish Quarter is my favorite neighborhood full of the best street art, live music, ruin bars, war memorials, and flea markets. As far as booking a hotel or airbnb here, the quarter is very noisy in the evenings meaning it’s not ideal for the light-sleepers or early risers. However, you night owls will love Jewish Quarter!
Terézváros – Opera House neighborhood
Terezvaros is the small neighborhood we stayed in and we highly recommend. Seeking a central location where you can walk everywhere and access great shopping and dining, but is not a tourist hot spot? District VI Terézváros is a great place to call home, ideally near the Opera House.
Belváros-Lipótváros in District V
District V is Budapest’s bustling downtown area and home to Parliament, St Stephens Basilica, and fancy hotels like the Four Seasons and Intercontinental. This neighborhood caters to tourist attractions which means souvenir shop mania. Ya dig?
Need more zen-time? Stay in Buda’s District I -Várkerület which is home to the elevated Castle District and Fisherman’s Bastion- a bit more quiet and relaxed vs Pest.
My Budapest travel tips for you:
Walk everywhere! Budapest is extremely walkable and we saw most our favorite sites and artwork by walking and getting lost.
Drink Hungarian wine because its incredible
Visit Budapest in the fall because the foliage is gorgeous
Eat breakfast every day. They are big on BIG breakfasts and advertise throughout the city ihop style
Drink Pálinka after every dinner – you will thank me later. You’re welcome.
Where can you workout in Budapest? You can get a daily pass at Templefit for $10usd (When you see how they advertise you will understand why we signed up).
Use #airbnb instead of a hotel. Our airbnb was the best airbnb we have ever stayed in, yet seasonal. For more details please email me directly.
Budapest is a city I will never forget and will always hold a special place in my heart. Let me know if you need any other travel advice for this amazing city. Laurajane@ifthesunseteast.com