Time: 3-6 days
Budget: $40 day (includes accommodation, food, 1 activity)
Popular attractions: thermal baths, ruin bars and the parliament building
Must try foods: Langos, Goulash, Trdelnik
History of Budapest
Originally Budapest was two separate cities split by the Danube river and they merged to create Budapest as one city. The popular side is the Pest side where all the attractions are. The Buda side is more residential and a lot quieter. Keep this in mind when booking accommodation and personal preferences.
Budapest is a great student city, lots of amazing cafes, incredible nightlife and gorgeous architecture. There’s definitely something for everyone in this diverse city and it will be hard not to fall in love.
Check out St. Stephen’s Basilica, it’s a beautiful church that is free to enter so it’s worth the visit. You can get photos of this church if you come early and it’s also a great spot for people watching with great cafes.
Margaret Island is a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city! It’s one bridge over from the chain bridge and an island in the middle of the Danube that is accessible by walking and public transport. Every 2 hours they have a fountain show at the entrance that is fun to watch. They have a great running path that goes around the entire park. There’s a Japanese garden you can visit at the other end of the park and if you don’t want to walk you can rent a bike. It’s a gorgeous green space to play sports or to sun bath with restaurants and cafes around the island.
You can hike up the Citadella which takes about 20mins. It has gorgeous views over Budapest and would be great to visit at sunset, entrance is free.
Another must is a visit to the thermal baths, the most popular one and the biggest one is the Szechenyi thermal baths. The entrance is cheaper if you go during the week and you can rent a locker from them to hold all your belongings. Entrance plus a locker is 5200 Forints. You can stay for the entire day, they have many baths inside as well as an exterior area which has 2 big pools plus lawn chairs to lay on, so you can soak up the sun. I was there by 8 am and it was quite busy and by 10 am most of the lawn chairs were taken so if you want a spot outside be sure to get there bright and early, the baths open at 6 am.
They are found in a beautiful park north of the city with a zoo and botanical garden that require an entrance fee. There are many baths located around the city and all have great reviews so look at which one you would like to visit. This one was the most expensive because it is so popular.
The Hungarian Parliament building is something that you need to see, Gothic architecture is incredible and it’s right along the Danube on the Pest side. I don’t think you can enter it but seeing it from the outside is enough. In the summer once the sunsets the lights of the parliament building come on around 8:30 and it’s beautiful all lit up. For the best views, cross the Chain bridge and walk along the river on the Buda side and sit on one of the benches and enjoy the view of the Parliament building.
The Fisherman’s Bastion is a beautiful place to see views of the Pest side and you can walk the grounds for free. Certain areas require and entrance fee but I don’t think that’s worth it. If you are on the Buda side of the Danube facing the parliament building, it’s a short 10 min walk up-hill. I went there around 7 am on a Sunday and there were very little people, so if you want to take photos go early.
At night prater park comes alive with tons of students going there to relax, have some drinks and play music. It’s a great vibe, there’s also restaurants and a little market to buy any souvenirs. You can’t miss it, just look for the big Ferris wheel.
The nightlife is very popular, so it attracts many students and bachelor parties each year. The most popular place to be is the ruin bars (7th distrcit), they are old and rundown buildings from the war that are now converted into bars and clubs, decorated in fun and hippy decor. You can go explore them with friends or if you’re solo they offer free ruin bar tours.
The most popular one is Szimpla Kert, go early because it gets very busy and the interior is decorated with funky and unusual things like chairs hanging for ceilings. Also, in the same area they have smaller ruin bars and beer gardens that are worth a visit, as well as clubs like Instant that are very popular.
*Beware the homeless people on the street will try and sell you drugs, don’t answer and keep walking. *
Hungary is a very cheap country so most of your meals will be big portions for cheap so there’s no need to cook since a price for a meal will be cheaper than buying groceries. If you do choose to cook meals try and shop at supermarkets since the produce is a lot fresher. A great place is the central market hall, (Nagy Vásárcsarnok), that was built in the 19th century.
A must try food in Budapest is Langos, which is fried dough and toppings typically include garlic, sour cream and cheese. This can be shared because it’s shaped like a medium pizza. It gets very messy when ripping it apart with your hands but it’s so good.
A beautiful place I had to check out was New York café, I went inside to see the interior but didn’t order anything because the prices are quite expensive. The interior is absolutely breath taking with the most intricate details. If you feel like splurging on a meal go here for the interior alone, you will feel like royalty!
If you want a unique burger head to “Good Bar Good Burger”. A meal costs about 10$ and they have a wide selection of meat, I had the duck burger and it was delicious.
If you are vegetarian I can’t recommend enough the hummus bar I went twice it was so good! Almost all of their dishes are vegetarian, and the service is quick and the food is so fresh and amazing. The first time I had the falafel on a pita and they were one of the best falafels I’ve ever had, so crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside! Most of the meals are between 5-10$ and you can easily share a plate of hummus because the portions are huge. They have this chain all over Budapest, so I urge you to check it out!
A place I found on Instagram was Mr. Funk and it’s a donut and milkshake shop. You can customize your milkshake and pick your flavors (mango, pina colada, chocolate etc.), then you can pick 2 donuts from a wide variety and then they put it together. Mine costs 15$ and it’s huge so you can share it with someone or else you’ll get a massive sugar high like me!
A one-way ticket is quite cheap and be sure to buy one at the ticket kiosk and validate it because there will be people checking tickets when you get on the metro and when you get off. In all the cities I went to this city was the strictest so don’t be caught without a validated ticket.
Hope this guide is helpful and you have an amazing time in one of the best cities in Europe!