The final stop of our one-month-long Eurotrip was Budapest, the stylish capital of Hungary. Neither of us knew much about this city before our visit. As it turns out, there’s enough to do for any amount of time from 2 days in Budapest to 3, 4 or even a week-long Budapest visit, as you can also do some awesome day tours to other places in Hungary and even nearby countries. Europe is well-connected that way.
This city offers quite unusual and interesting things to do in Budapest including finding awesome photo spots, trendy vegan cafes, old school ruin bars, live music jamming nights, artsy boutique hotels and more. We really love to find picture-perfect places in every city so we spent a few days exploring all the best Budapest points of interest.
So we’re sharing our favorite places to see in Budapest to experience this city in style in as little time as 2 days for a quick city break, or as a Budapest 3 day itinerary for those, who like to enjoy the city at a slower pace.
BUDAPEST FUN FACT: Not that long ago, a group of people got the approval to use abandoned houses in the city center to turn them into bars. They were decorating them with whatever they could find on the streets. The result turned out to be awesome, giving life to the famous ‘Ruin Bars,’. They basically looks like Soviet style houses with gardens that regularly hold different events.
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BUDAPEST MUST SEE SPOTS AND THINGS TO DO
Cross the Liberty Bridge
One of our favorite photo spots in Budapest is the green Liberty Bridge. It connects Buda and Pest, the two sides of the city divided by Danube river. Crossing the bridge reminded us of the famous Tower Bridge in London. Both of the bridges feels equally impressive, so you know the Liberty Bridge is worth a visit.
Also, this bridge, located on the eastern end of the city center, is a strategically great spot where to start your Budapest exploration for the day. Once you’ve approached the Bridge from the Grand Market Hall side (it’s a must visit too, so read more about it in the Budapest food guide section), there are two options.
You can either take a scenic tram ride along the river, passing the old town area of Budapest and several notable building along the way. This is a great option if you’re not up for a long walk. But if you are, cross the bridge to the other side, taking some artsy photos along the way. That’s exactly what we did.
Admire the city view from the Gellert Hill
Once you cross the Liberty Bridge, you will be standing at the bottom of the Gellert Hill. There’s a trail that takes you up the 235m high hill, offering great city views from the top. A great way to work off your breakfast as it takes about 15-20 minute climb up.
Some say that it’s the best city view from above for the sunset. It’s perfect if you manage to get up there in the evening around 30 min before sunset. That way you will be able to watch to sun go down and the city light comes up. If you choose to do this, know that the way down will not be illuminated, so bring your own flashlight for your way back down.
If you’re into city views from above, you’ll love the next one!
Enjoy Budapest from the birds view with the Budapest Air Cruise
This is a true luxury experience. The Budapest Air Cruise offers to take you around the city in a small private plane, a helicopter or an “air taxi”. They promise the best city views you can possibly experience in Budapest and I believe they’re not lying.
Sure, this is quite a pricey activity, but in case you are on a splurge kind of holidays, then why not? It’s gonna be unforgettable. We didn’t have a chance to try this out this time, but as soon as we heard about them, we added it to our “must do in Budapest” bucket list for the next time.
Take a photo sitting in the “window” of the Fishermans Bastion
The Fishermans Bastion is hands down our favorite spot in Budapest. It stands out over other famous Budapest tourist attractions, not only because it makes you work to get to it (it’s located on the hill), but also makes you go “wow” looking at the white neo-Gothic and neo-Romanesque style walls with artsy windows, allowing you to spot the symbol of Budapest - the Hungarian Parliament Building.
The Fishermans Bastion is located walking along the Danube river coast straight from the previous spot, the Gellert Hill. It takes about 30 min to walk from one to another, more if you stop by other sights along the way. You have to walk up some small city streets, to get to the Fishermans Bastion.
Once you are there, rest a bit for the climb and brace yourself for a photo shoot you’re about to have. These white walls look just as gorgeous in photos, as they do in real life.
Walk around the Castle Hill and Buda Castle area
If you still have any strength left to walk around some more, continue from Fishermans Bastion to the rest of Castle hill area and Buda castle itself. Walk around the small cobblestone streets and just enjoy the area.
Check out this guide to Buda castle, to find out more about what to expect there.
When we were there, we couldn’t help to feel like we are in the movie taking place in medieval times when princes and princesses were living in castles, surrounded by the little castle cities inside the high walls rounding the area and protecting it from intruders.
As this is actual castle area with, with a high wall shielding it from the rest of the city, it really creates that old-time feeling.
Visit the iconic Hungarian Parliament Building
Once you are done with the Buda side of the city, cross over any of the bridges to the Pest. One of the most important places to visit in Budapest proudly stands there near the Danube coast. It’s the world-famous Hungarian Parliament Building. I feel like it’s the view I’ve seen in every photo when something is related to Hungary. And hey, it feels awesome to see the building in real life. It’s huge and impressive. I appreciated it a lot, even not being a big fan of buildings and architecture.
Did you know that this building is the third largest parliament building in the world? Hungarians say that due to the fact that this building is such an artwork with complicated design details of the outside facade, it’s almost always under construction.
After a long day of walking, you have deserved relaxation. There are two ways how to do that:
Visit a Ruin Bar
The nightlife in Budapest is so much on point. Ruin bars are responsible for a large part of it, being a series of former warehouses and factories turned into city's hippest bars and clubs. Each one of these bars is unique, as they're decorated in one of a kind style.
Have an outdoor thermal bath experience at Szechenyi Baths
If there’s one thing people recognize Budapest for, apart from their Parliament building, it’s the thermal spas all over the place. With the impressive 70 million liters of thermal water rising to the surface, Budapest is home of an unbelievable amount of thermal baths. The most well-known is the Szechenyi Baths.
Usually, it’s not the best idea to go to the most touristic spot in the city as everyone goes there and it’s crowded. Budapest does offer many other awesome baths, but this time we suggest to make an exception and go to the popular one.
With the bright yellow building surrounding the yard where the light blue water with misty steam coming out of it, it’s the view worth experiencing. Another place that looks perfect in photos, just as it does in real life.
Budapest Fun Fact: There’s a statue in Budapest that will make you a great writer. The legend tells that touching the pen of the statue of Anonymous in Budapest's City Park will bless you with great writing abilities. You may not believe it, but the shiny surface of the pen suggests that people do believe it. Are you up to test it out?
The best times to visit the Szechenyi Baths is earlier in the day, either in the morning around 10 am, or around noon to 1 pm. Early morning hours are less crowded in comparison to afternoons when the place is packed with tourists. During the early morning from 6 am to 8am, the pools are almost exclusively used by local regulars who wish to do their swimming laps in the outdoor.
IF YOU FEEL LIKE DOING AN ORGANISED BUDAPEST TOUR INSTEAD, HERE ARE AWESOME IDEAS TO CHECK OUT:
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BUDAPEST FOOD GUIDE
Some of the best food in Budapest can be found in the Grand Central Market, that’s located right by the Liberty Bridge. If not the best, the most impressive looking for sure. The first floor of this impressive building is packed with different food, souvenirs and clothing stands, where you can buy some very interesting things. Once you get past those, get up the stairs to the second floor to discover what feels like a true food paradise.
The first thing we noticed was the huge portions of different kind of pica, goulash, hotdogs, filled potatoes and all kinds of other things. Being the food lovers that we are, we instantly knew we’re about to have a food party. And we did, just an unexpectedly expensive one.
Here’s something you should be aware of over there. When you order food with several ingredients, each of the ingredients has it’s own price. They will ask it in a way like it’s not and people feel like they are just offered to add some ketchup of tomato slices which are usually free. But they are not. So at the end, when you have to pay for your order, the price will be gigantic. It felt like a total tourist scam as we saw people being honestly shocked when asked to pay. And the honest ones did pay those crazy prices, including that. But now I regret it. I should have just refused the food and left.
To give you an idea - we ordered goulash in bread, topped with some sauces, tomatoes and sour cream like they had it in the sample photo. The price of goulash was like 5 USD and this picture next to it. So we thought, sounds awesome! But as it turns out, the price 5 USD is only for the goulash sauce, the one ingredient from the photo. So the whole thing cost us 30 USD. And we took 2. A bit pricey for a street food type of meal in a central market in Eastern Europe?
VegaCity - the best Vegan Spot in town
Our real favorite place where to eat in Budapest is this simple Vegan place called VegaCity. It’s located 5 min walk from the Grand Central Market and is an awesome place for vegan lunch. You don’t even have to be vegan to go there and enjoy the variety of food there. We are not too, but loved what we got.
Gita had a burger and I, Anete took pita with flatbread (the Greek dish). If we didn’t know that it’s a vegan restaurant, we’d be 100% sure that we ate meat, as it’ s normally the main ingredient of both of those dishes. I’m still surprised how can a vegan meal be so well prepared, not even being able to tell it vegan. Not missing any tastes or anything.
After the meal, we felt so good and wasn’t hungry anymore till the next day. Oh, and the prices are really cheap there, as it normally is in Eastern Europe.
Location: Múzeum körút 23/25, Budapest
This is one of the most famous cafes in Budapest. It’s been the most beloved coffee-house for artists, writers, and other creatives for decades. The royal Italian Renaissance-style architecture makes it look like you are in a majestic opera house.
They offer a high tea, a full lunch or dinner menu, and different drinks. The prices are quite high, so if you just want to enjoy the beauty of the place, go in for a Latte or a hot chocolate and take some unforgettable photos.
Location: Erzsébet krt. 9-11, Budapest
Try a Hungarian Sandwich from any small shop
Walking around the Center of Budapest we noticed bakeries or different small food shops with “Hungarian sandwiches” displayed in the window. They are not the typical sandwiches you’d imagine, but more like Spanish style bruschettas with different interesting toppings. This is another food experience not to be missed.
These kinds of pieces of bread didn’t seem too extraordinary for us taste-wise, as Latvians eat quite a lot of similar things. But overall they seem an interesting taste test and will be memorable for you if you’re not from Eastern Europe yourself.
Budapest Fun Fact: It is considered rude to clink your beer glasses in Budapest. Legend has it that when the 1848 Hungarian revolution against the Habsburgs was defeated, 13 Hungarian generals were executed, with the Austrians clinking their beer glasses after each execution. As a result, Hungarians vowed not to cheers with beer for 150 years - and while the time has passed, the custom remains.
BEST BUDAPEST NIGHTLIFE SPOTS
Budapest's exciting nightlife has a lot to offer for everyone. From relaxing jazz bars, open-air lounges to artsy pubs and ruin bars, having a good time is pretty much guaranteed.
Boutiqbar Budapest is one of the most popular bars in town. The main reason is the unique cocktail choice they offer. Just trust the master level bartenders to make you a cocktail of the night!
Location: Paulay Ede u. 5., Budapest
This is a creative bohemian space, that's offering a range of different events throughout the week as well as a seasonal bistro and fine dining menus. We visited Brody Studios on a Monday night when they were having their weekly jamming session.
They have a few guys jamming on the stage and anyone from the audience can jump in any time to join and play with them. Such a cool concept and great vibes. Other nights they do stand up comedy and more.
Location: Vörösmarty utca 38, Budapest
This one is the main party in town every weekend, bringing the best music performances week by week. It's the right place for all techno and house music lovers. Their minimalist design and the beautiful rooftop terrace makes Corvin Club a real eye candy. During the summertime, they even have an open-air cinema program.
Location: Blaha Lujza tér 1-2., Budapest
THE MOST STYLISH BOUTIQUE HOTELS: where to stay in Budapest?
Another awesome Budapest discovery that we like in particular is the number of artsy style hotels they have over there. This level of creativity and thoughtful details you really don’t see often. So here are our top picks of the Budapest hotels that really makes you feel that you travel in style. To experience all these, you’d need at least 4 days in Budapest to a week. But picking one at the time is just as good.
>CLICK HERE< to use this link to book your hotel on Booking.com and get 10% off of your stay! Easy, no tricks!
The Brody House
With the location close to the Grand Central market but on a smaller street away from the city noise, The Brody House is a true style and service quality example. It’s decorated all from recycled materials, giving the place a unique personality and kind of vintage vibe.
They serve nice breakfast with organic options, has a cool chill area with board games and free tea&coffee, and also offers awesome entertainment in its sister-property The Brody Studios. >CLICK HERE<
The prices usually range from around 100$ in a summer season.
Read about our experience and see more of our photos from the Brody House here.
This hidden gem of a hotel is located in the Buda Castle area, making you feel like a prince or a process living there. The design of the place gives off a bit of an old NY Broadway vibe at first and such a stylish sophistication once you are in the room. It’s perfect for a romantic getaway, as well as if you want to be away from the city hustle and bustle.
The prices usually start at around 150$.
Read about our experience and see more of our photos from Baltazar Budapest here.
Fraser Residence Budapest
This Apartment hotel is our biggest discovery of an apartment type hotel. Apartment hotels offer all the comfort that you’d have at your own place, like the kitchen area, possibility to wash clothes etc. But at the same time you get to go to breakfast every morning, someone always comes to clean your room and you have reception staff available to help with any kind of questions.
This place will be perfect for families and people, who like to cook their own food. We actually did try a couple of home-cooked Hungarian recipes here.
Read about our experience and see more of our photos from Fraser Residence Budapest here.
The prices usually start at 120$ in the summer season.
For more stylish recommendations on where to stay in Budapest Hungary, read also: Where to stay in Budapest: best style hotels & hostels for any budget
BUDAPEST FUN FACT: Elvis Presley is an honorary citizen of Budapest. Posthumous citizenship was awarded to the musician in 2011 in recognition of his somewhat heroic status after a performance of “Peace in the Valley” on American television brought attention to the 1956 revolution. The accolade is also recognized in a local landmark, Elvis Presley Boulevard, dedicated to the star.
GETTING AROUND THE CITY: Budapest public transport
Getting around Budapest is super easy. Not only they have the oldest metro system in Europe, but above-grownd transportation is just as easily usable. So here are the options you will have in Budapest:
Taxify - this is the most useful app in Budapest. It does exactly what Uber does. It’s just a European version. With this app, you can get a taxi at any time to take you any place you need.
Tram - they have a great tram system in Budapest. You have ticket machines outside tram stations, where you can get the tickets. The tram line that goes along the Danube river makes the ride just as a great Budapest sightseeing tour, as it passes the all the beautiful buildings in the center of the city and offers views across the river to Buda side.
Metro - using metro is always our favorite mode of transportation in any city, just because they usually have the most understandable routes. Budapest is not an exception. It’s easy to use with ticket machines outside the metro stations. We took a metro to go to Szechenyi Baths, as it’s quite outside the city center and they have a metro stop right in their yard.
Public Buses (moving around and convenient when going to the Airport) - public buses are perfect to get to other parts of the town apart from the center. There’s also a bus that takes you directly to the airport, as it’s quite near to the city center. That’s by far the most convenient and cheapest way how to get there.
! Click on any of the modes of transportation to get full info about routes and tickets.
HUNGARIAN FUN FACT: Yes, Hungary is landlocked. And then there is the Lake Balaton almost 600 square kilometers large. It's the largest lake in Central Europe – so big, in fact, that it's often referred to as the Hungarian Sea, and sun seekers have flocked to its shores for decades. The nearby sulphuric waters of Heviz, meanwhile, are said to have medicinal qualities and are believed to cure rheumatic ailments, aches, and pains.
BUDAPEST WEATHER: when is the best time to visit Budapest?
When planning to visit Budapest, it’s important to consider the Hungary weather conditions at that time, as it can be nice and warm, or just as well very cold. The weather in Europe is always a tricky business, so do your research ahead of time.
The average Budapest temperature varies from a little below 0 to +8 C (25 to 50 F) during the cold months from November to beginning of April. End of April to September offers the temperature between +10 to +27 C (50 to 80 F), with July being the hottest month.
If you are looking for the best Budapest weather August seems like a perfect choice, as the weather is still at its peak but the crowds and prices start to drop as the Hungarian summer is coming to an end.
Budapest in September is just as perfect. The weather is still warm and you get to experience the first Autumn vibes. That always looks beautiful in Europe, with the green leaves on the trees turning red when the golden autumn start.
OTHER IMPORTANT DETAILS
CURRENCY: Hungarian Forint (HUF). 1000 HUF = 3.13 EUR or 3.73 USD. They do offer good currency exchange and many ATMs, so there's no problem to get to Forints either way. Credit and Debit cards are widely accepted everywhere, so you can get by even without Forints in cash. We only took out 10 EUR worth of Forints from the ATM to use for public transportation.
ELECTRICITY SOCKET: Hungary runs on 230V AC electricity. Their power outlets are the two-prong round sockets. Overall we've found that carrying a universal travel adapter is always a good idea and avoids the hustle when you need to buy a different adapter in each country. Click here to see what we use.
LANGUAGE: The official language in Hungary is Hungarian. Most of the people also speak English at some level. Everywhere we went, we were always able to get by with English perfectly.
SAFETY: Overall Budapest is a very safe city and Hungary a safe country. You'll see a lot of homeless people living in the underground metro stations. If might feel a bit uneasy, but don't worry as they are harmless. We never felt unsafe in Budapest. Just be aware of your surroundings to avoid any pickpocketing and things, that can happen anywhere in the world. Just to be safe though, it's always smart to get a travel insurance.