I am proud to say that this is my 200th post on my blog, and how appropriate that I can dedicate it to one of my favorite cities in the whole wide world – BUDAPEST!
Just thinking about Budapest is enough to stir up the butterflies in my stomach and make me crave summertime in this city. I have so many fond memories of both trips I’ve taken here, and it’s definitely a place I’d consider living in for awhile. The nightlife is invigorating but not pretentious. The food scene is hot but the prices are unbeatable. The people are (mostly) friendly and welcoming to tourists. The city provides ample opportunities for sightseeing and relaxation. If you find yourself here, I cannot encourage you enough to spend time just wandering both the Buda and Pest sides of the city, allowing yourself to get completely lost in its streets.
Accommodation – Sziget City Hostel
In a city of a long list of party hostels and accommodation options, this spot was a gem! The staff was very friendly and inclusive, always organizing bar crawls and other fun events for guests while providing awesome recommendations for anything you could possibly want. I felt like I was friends with the people working there after just a few days. It’s in a central location, with a fully equipped kitchen, rooms with bathrooms nearby or ensuite and strong security – there are large lockers in the dorms to secure valuables. They also cook a communal meal every night – you can sign up for about $2 to have one of the staff cook your dinner! This is really a great spot for longer-term travelers.
Located on the Buda bank of the Danube, this plaza with statues and 7 towers is not to be missed! Not only does it provide beautiful architecture and is a plaza for the Matthias church, it also gives a beautiful panoramic view of the Pest side of the Danube.
The Matthias church is a 14th-century Catholic cathedral that has a copper roof that sparkles in the sun, impressive spires and sits right in the plaza of the Fisherman’s Bastion.
This view of the bridge at night was taken from the banks at the bar Pontoon, one of my favorite spots we visited in the city, discussed in the food section below. Our legs dangled off the edge of the wall over the river.
Szechenyi Chain Bridge was the first permanent bridge to span the Danube, and it leads you from the Pest side of the city to the base of the funicular up to Buda castle, aglow in this picture behind the bridge. I love the way it’s lit up at night, feeding into the pulsing heartbeat of the lively city.
Central Market Hall
One of the things I regretted not making it to my first time in Budapest was Central Market Hall, and I must say I am so glad that we found time to visit on this second trip. It’s closed on Sundays, so be sure to plan your stop for a weekday or Saturday, and come hungry. I didn’t realize how many shops it had with prepared food, there were so many options, each looked more delicious than the last. This is also a great spot to buy artisan goods like artwork, clothing, and jewelry, which make for more meaningful souvenirs than some of the trinkets sold in other stores.
If you’re looking to sneak in some cardio, make the climb up Gellert hill. It offers stunning views of Pest, a beautiful, natural escape from the concrete jungle of the city, and a plaza to enjoy a beer and the panorama with.
St. Stephen’s Basilica
An awesome free thing to do in Budapest. The interior of the church is beautiful and the stone composition makes it a cool retreat from the blazing summer heat.
It goes without saying (but I’m going to say it anyway) the baths are something not to be missed when in Budapest. I’d recommend arriving early to beat the rush and get a good soak in before it gets too crowded, and also to grab a lounge chair. They have lockers for your valuables and provide towels. Bring flip flops, sunscreen, a water bottle (stay hydrated!) and shower stuff/clean clothes to change in afterward.
Within the bath complex, there is a beer spa that gives you the opportunity to bathe in beer, while drinking beer. It sounded a bit ridiculous, but it was only €25 and we figured, why not? For a period of 45 minutes, you get to soak in a tub of beer ingredients that are (supposed to be, anyway) great for your skin, while having a tap of unlimited beer. You can book ahead or same day.
Eat & Drink
This is a fantastic outdoor bar right on the banks of the Danube with a view of Buda castle and chain bridge. Pictured below is a Berry Moscow Mule, need I say more? It has a cool outdoor vibe, reasonable prices considering the location, and overall awesome, summer atmosphere. Grab a drink and sit on their “patio” which extends right to the edge of the river, and watch the boats cruise by.
Ruin Pub Crawl Spots
Even if you aren’t a bar crawl person, GO ON A PUB CRAWL IN BUDAPEST! Seriously, they are so much fun and the bars you go to are so unique and unlike anything you’d experience on a generic bar crawl in a different European city. Ruin pubs are converted houses that provide an artsy venue with outdoor, interior spaces for drinking and visiting with people on the crawl. Each one is unique, showcasing different art, whimsical furniture, mismatched decor and brow-raising sculptures, with fantastic lights and music to boot. On our crawl, we visited Ankert, Ellatohaz, Kuplung and Ellato Kert. Go on a crawl, drink, make friends, dance around, live the Budapest tourist life!
This is probably the most famous ruin pub in Budapest. It’s a massive maze of different rooms and lounges, an outdoor patio in the center, multiple levels, stairs and bars to get lost in while on a night out. I love this place because it was the first ruin pub I experienced while visiting for the first time in 2014. I remember weaving from the different rooms that were like improvised mini-nightclubs, with blaring music and flashing lights, to retreating to the outdoor patio for a conversation with a stranger that had become a friend. The warm summer air had the lingering smell of cigarette suspended in it and I felt at ease with a tall beer to quench my thirst.
This is a little cafe that’s perfect for brunch! Awesome menu selections and fantastic iced coffee. I had a classic benedict, Molly had the florentine, and if I had to go back I think I’d do the florentine. Delicious way to start the day!
Brunch was definitely our most important meal of our time in Budapest, and thankfully, there’s no shortage of trendy cafes and foodie havens. This spot was awesome, I’d love to go back to try their other menu items. I will say the portions were a bit small, and I could’ve done without the pancake “sushi” and done a more protein-heavy side instead.
You have to try this while in Budapest. It’s deep fried dough with toppings. We chose sour cream and cheese. I hope you weren’t expecting more words to convince you to try it.
This place is a fantastic stop for cheap eats in Budapest. It’s all Hungarian/Eastern European food, and all for dirt cheap prices, while still having a nice, sit-down atmosphere and service. Definitely go here for at least one dinner and try the chicken paprikash with dumplings 🙂
Another fantastic breakfast spot.
If you’re not sure what you want to eat, or you’re with a big group of people with different tastes and culinary interests, this is THE PLACE to stop. Located in the Jewish Quarter, it’s a collective of different food trucks, selling a diverse range of foods from all around the world. Definitely stop by and grab something – and bonus – it’s open LATE!
I hope to get back to Budapest someday soon. It’s a city of vibrancy and culture that evokes feelings beyond words. It’s a place I hope to bring lots of friends and family so they can experience it like I have.
Have you been to Budapest? Did you do something that I should do on a return trip? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll love you forever!!!