Traveler’s Guide to Budapest, Hungary
“In Budapest, you’ll find experiences like nothing else in Europe: Feel your stress ebb away as you soak in hundred-degree water, surrounded by opulent Baroque domes…and by Speedo- and bikini-clad Hungarians. Ogle some of Europe’s most richly decorated interiors, which echo a proud little nation’s bygone glory days.” - Rick Steves
Budapest is a magical city. Every new street I walked down, I fell in love with a new building, a unique statue, or the smell of fresh pastries. I would put my headphones in and dance-walk everywhere I went. I couldn't help it! I felt so much joy each time I discovered something new.
I feel like you could never spend "enough" time in the city, as there is so much to discover and explore! I tried to experience as much as I could so I could really share my best places and reviews with you. I am sure I missed a few things, but this should be a good list to get you started if you plan to visit Budapest.
(Pssst... one of my favorite things about having a blog is sharing my talented friends. I used a mix of my fellow remote's photos - be sure to check them out on Instagram)
Where to eat?
Most - I loved this place, especially the lunch prices! This restaurant is located near the basilica and opera house, with a large outdoor patio and adorable views inside. My group never had an issue with any of their meals. I was especially fond of their mint elderberry lemonade.
Deryne Bistro - I told everyone about this place! My good friend, Rachel, and I were out taking photos on the Buda side of town before any of the normal tourist restaurants were open, so we had to go venturing further into town to find some breakfast. We were grateful that we did! As soon as we sat down, we were offered a variety of fresh squeezed juices. Everything we tasted was amazing and they even offered us wine (at 9:30 am, I might add). I'd go back in a heartbeat.
Menza - This place is super funky! It has this great 70's feel to it. My roomie and I came here one night and did a bit of work between courses. They don't really have any good vegan options, but everything is pretty traditional Hungarian and we enjoyed it. Plus, the wait staff is pretty good lookin' 😛
Kozmosz Vegán Étterem - Yay! A vegan place! I am super bummed I only visited this place once because their entire menu looked amazing. I was really craving a vegan burger and was super excited they had a blackbean one on the menu. (Side note: Most "vegetarian burgers" in Europe are a patty of fried cheese...) However, when I went to the restroom, I smelled and saw everyone else's food and it all looked bomb! Plus, they have good wifi.
Other places: If you are into dessert and good instagram photos, don't forget to stop by Mr. Funk and Mrs. Bagel for some ridiculous amounts of sugar. Budapest has a chain restaurant throughout the city called Hummusbar and I was a big fan. There is also the Budapest Bisztró that most people loved, but I honestly didn't find much food I could eat each time I visited.
Also, do not forget to stop and try a chimney cake. Thank me later 🙂
Where to drink?
360 Bar - This is a great place to grab some fancy cocktails and enjoy the stunning rooftop views of Budapest. Seriously, try the cocktails! They are amazing and worth the price. This was a pretty regular hangout for a lot of our crew.
Pontoon - Loved this atmosphere! This bar is located right on the river by the suspension bridge. They often have live music and the view of the bridge and water at night is really grand. You can also do what my friends did - have a few cocktails and then walk across the bridge to get the gorgeous site of the parliament building lit up at night.
Ruin bars - Ruin bars are all the rage in Budapest and some travel writers consider them some of the best night life in Europe. They are definitely unique! These bars are built in an area of town that was pretty destroyed by WWII and they transformed old homes, apartments, and business buildings into multi-level mazes of dance floors, smoky bars, and endless entertainment. I really loved getting lost in Instant, but Szimpla Kert is definitely the best known and a popular spot for the group.
What to do?
Museums - There are so many incredible museums here! I really enjoyed the history museum within the palace. There is an art museum in the palace as well, if that's your jam. I would highly suggest a visit to the House of Terror, which will walk you through some of the darker pieces of Hungary's recent history, including the actions of the Nazis, Arrow Cross Party, and the communist parties to follow. I was also told to visit the Hospital in the Rock, which is a nuclear bunker museum that I never had the chance to visit.
Free Walking Tours - I did the generic free walking tour of the city, which walked us through parts of the Pest and Buda side. I had an incredible tour guide and left with great knowledge of the city that I was showing off the anyone who would listen. The same company has a variety of other free tours, but I have heard excellent reviews about their Jewish and Communist tours. Don't forget to bring a tip!
Visit Monuments - There are so many incredible buildings in Budapest. You can enjoy a stroll around many of these sites and venture inside, if you would like! I highly recommend a walk inside of St. Stephen's Basilica. There is a suggested donation of 200 HUF (about $1) to visit or a fee of about 1600 HUF to go to the top (about $5). Go to the top! It is stunning.
I also suggest a visit to the Parliament building, said to be the most gorgeous in the world. While you are there, walk down to the water and see the Shoes on the Danube, which is a moving monument for the lives taken by the Arrow Cross Militia. Matthias Church near Fisherman's Bastion is another incredible building, as the roof tiles are colorful and something completely different from everyday rooftops. The views from the Bastion are wonderful because you can see the parliament building from the opposing side of the river.
Take a hike - Gellert Hill offers a variety of walking trails to stunning monuments, such as the Citadel. I loved how green the park was, such trees that hang over the walkways, and the smell of fresh air. In the middle of the city! Amazing 🙂
Visit a bath house - 100% do this at least once! I believe the largest and most well-known bath house in Budapest is Széchenyi. I only went there at night for a giant event called a "sparty," which I wouldn't really recommend doing for the price. There is a bath house at Gellert Hill for those who want to visit both places in one day. I enjoyed the massages at Kiraly Medicinal Bath, which had incredible prices.
Things to do outside of the city
Outdoor adventures - Did you know that you can go caving underneath Buda? Did you know you can canoe or paddle board down the Danube River? I chat about all of this in detail in this blog post about Outdoor Adventures in Budapest.
Visit Lake Balaton - Lake Balaton is a gorgeous fresh water lake not too far from Budapest. The color of the water is this memorizing shade of aquamarine and the lake is surrounded by cute towns and wineries. I wish I had enjoyed more time at the Tihany peninsula which had great views and adorable shops.
Visit other European cities! If you have a lot of time and want to see more, visit nearby countries! I spent six days exploring outside of Budapest and loved it.
Nomad life - Work & Stay Fit
Work - I spent a lot of my working life at the co-working space called KAPTÁR. This is a great place to get a membership too if you plan on being a Budapest for a little bit and want to do some networking. I enjoyed sneaking away from the busy city setting to escape to the adorable patios and calm energy at Magház Restaurant and Teahouse. Also, if you are into cats, you can work from the cat cafe near KAPTÁR!
Stay fit - In complete honesty, I was not very active in Budapest and received the majority of my fitness through walking around the city or yoga at home. However, a couple of my fellow remotes really enjoyed the gym at the Marriott Hotel. If you are into jogging, there are gorgeous trails on Margaret Island. Is biking your jam? You can rent Bubi bikes for about $2 a day, which is a fun way to see the city.
For not being much of a "city girl", I absolutely loved Budapest! I enjoyed the energy, the people I got to know, and the gorgeous buildings. I seriously could not help but smile at my luck for the opportunity to enjoy a month here.
Have you visited Budapest? What was your favorite things about the city? Do you have questions about anything I did not address? Comment away, my friends <3
I'm off to explore some of Lisbon for the day! Thanks for reading!
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