Budapest City Guide
Budapest is one of my absolute favorite cities to explore. I’ve recommended this to my friends who’ve had a few extra days in Europe and weren’t sure where to visit, and they all agree: Budapest is a hidden gem you need to visit now. From caves under the city, to bathhouses for a refreshing dip, or even quirky teahouses, Budapest truly offers something for everyone.
This city is broken out into two sides, Buda and Pest, with the Danube River separating the two. The Buda side is full of hills (with caves under) and includes the Fisherman’s Bastion. It’s typically the ritzier side of the city. Pest is the flatter side of the Danube, more alternative (i.e. hipster), with tons of site-seeing and awesome bars, restaurants, teahouses, and even Baths.
When to Go
You could pretty much visit Budapest any time of year. The warmest months are between May-September. However, the most popular time to go is in June/July, with June having the most rainfall. The hottest month is July with an average high of 81°F (27°C) and low of 62°F (16°C). The coldest month is January with an average high of 36°F (2°C) and low of 27°F (-3°C).
Before You Go
- What am I paying with? The Hungarian Forint (291 forint per USD or 365 forint for GBP).
- Do I need a visa? For citizens from the US, Europe, and Canada, you do not need a visa to visit Hungary if you’re staying for less than 90 days. Be sure that your passport will not expire within three months of your visit.
- What are they speaking? Hungarian, but a lot of people speak English too. A few phrases to know:
- Hello: Hellò
- Good morning: Jó reggelt
- Good afternoon: Jó napot
- Good evening: Jó estét
- Thank you: Köszönöm
- Cheers!: Egészségedre
Where Should I Stay?
- Budget: If you’re going for budget travel, want to meet friends, and have a wonderful time with helpful staff, hands down Carpe Noctem Hostel. I could go on about this place, but some of their perks include: a cooked meal every night that you pay next to nothing for and you have a family dinner with your hostel mates, an organized bar crawl through communist ruin bars, a once a week organized spa party, and a once a week organized cruise along the Danube river. Don’t worry about it getting too crazy, as they have quiet hour rules in the hostel itself, so you have to take the party outside. It’s about $24 a night during their peak season, and $10 during off season.
- Moderate: If you’re looking for moderately priced hotels, I would recommend the Danubius Hotel Astoria City Center (about $75 a night). It’s in the perfect location to explore Budapest.
- Luxury: For those looking to splurge, Budapest is just the city! As it’s a pretty affordable city, for a luxury hotel like Corinthia Hotel Budapest, it’ll only be $155 a night. It is fully equipped with a gorgeous spa and restaurant, with all you need to relax. It’s also located in the heart of Budapest, perfect for sightseeing.
Most Important: Food! What Am I Going to Eat?
Street food is everything in Budapest. From sweets like marzipan (almond paste candy) and Kürtőskalács (chimney cake), to tasty langos (fried bread usually with sour cream and cheese), you can’t go wrong wherever you eat in Budapest. Also, anything with paprika, which they’re famous for. This includes the famous Goulash soup and chicken paprikash. The best place for langos? The Great Market Hall. It’s a three story indoor farmer’s market with tons of fresh fruits, veggies, meats, spices, restaurants, souvenir shops, and food stands.
What Am I Going to Do Here?
For the one who is here to relax:
- One word: Baths. No, not your bathtub. These are giant, thermal pools with varying temperatures, with both indoor and outdoor options. It’s a great way to spend the day relaxing. The largest, and by far most popular, is Széchényi Baths located in the Budapest City Park. It’s popular for the multiple baths and décor. Also, Gellert Bath is a little less crowded but a fun way to spend a day soaking. Palatinus is a less crowded bath as well, located on Margaret Island in the Danube River.
- Tea houses: Hands down the best teahouse in Budapest is Sirius Teahouse. It’s very hard to find as there is only a small plaque on the door saying what it is, but it’s worth the treasure hunt! When you go in, it looks like a traditional Turkish teahouse. There’s a variety of tea to choose from and lots of seating. When you enter the wardrobe doors, however, you find yourself in an Alice in Wonderland type adventure. There are stairs, glass mirrors, nests to drink your tea in, little hideaways and hidden rooms, and so much more.
For the one seeking adventure:
- Caving: Umm yes! If you’re not claustrophobic, there’s a cave system under the Buda hills that you can explore, but definitely do this with a guide.
- Escape Rooms: Want to get your heart pumping and try to escape a creepy scenario in limited time? This is the activity for you!
For the one who loves to sightsee:
- The House of Terror is always a must see, as it shows you the occupation of Hungary by Nazi Germany, as well as Communist Russia. There’s so much history behind Hungary, and if you’re interested in learning about this, you have to check it out.
- House of Parliament (Pictured at the top of this page).
- Fisherman’s Bastion with an amazing view of the Danube.
- St. Stephen’s Basilica.
- Shoes on the Danube Memorial to pay memorial to the victims shot into the Danube during WWII.
- Matthias Church next to Fisherman’s Bastion.
- Castle Hill- with awesome sights of the city and Danube.
- Budapest at night boat tours: want to see one of the most beautiful cities lit up at night while cruising on the famous Danube River? This is your way to go.
For the one who’s here to party:
- Ruin bars: These are bars that are created from communist ruins. They are steeped in history but also a lot of fun. Some popular ones include: Fogashaz, Szimpla, Ankert, Kuplung, and Ellatohaz. They range from cozy, to offering live bands, and even a club.
- For the artsy partiers: Instant. There’s so many rooms with tons of strange art pieces to sip your beer and enjoy.
- Sparty= spa+party. On Saturday nights, Szechenyi Bath offers spa parties, where the baths basically turn into a dance club. Bring your bathing suit (no matter the time of year) and hop in!
- Boat Parties: These are similar to the boat tours above, but more like a booze cruise.