Budapest in one word? Incredible! I wasn’t sure what to expect from the city, but l’d heard good things so l was excited. I’m happy to say that we were not disappointed. It definitely deserves all the accolades. The city is gigantic and offers plenty to do. There are about 2 million people in the city. I think it is incredibly hard to take a bad picture and you find yourself oohing and aahing at every turn. . If you plan on visiting this amazing city, here is a guide to enjoying Budapest. We’ve now done 2 trips to Budapest and love it totally.
Where to stay in Budapest:
The best place to stay in Budapest that will give you a bang for your buck is definitely the Pest side. Budapest is a city with 2 sides, namely Buda and Pest. The two sides are divided by the river Danube. The Buda side is older, more residential, hilly with narrower streets. It makes it a little a little harder to get to Pest where much of the restaurants and nightlife happens. To save yourself time on the metro or bus, I would recommend staying in Pest.
We stayed at an AirBnB accommodation. At a very affordable €30/night, we were pleasantly surprised to see that it had all the comforts of home and it was in an excellent location in District 5, very close to the Hungarian Parliament building (less than 5 minute walk) and the Chain Bridge. We couldn’t have asked for a better apartment, and that was for the whole unit, not a room. Budapest is affordable for sure. If you are new to AirBnB, feel free to use our link to get $31 off your first stay.
If you would prefer hotels in Budapest, here is a suggestion of a budget hotel in Budapest:
Aventura Boutique Hostel has an ideal location, close to the metro station. It also offers great amenities including:
- Free WiFi
- Guest kitchen
- Laundry service
- Breakfast option
- Themed rooms
- Family friendly accommodation
Where to stay in Budapest – Luxury Hotel
If budget travel is not your style, there are of course many options for lodging in Budapest. Here is Boscolo Budapest, a well rated luxury hotel in Budapest at a surprisingly reasonable cost. Parking, pool, WiFi, and breakfast buffet, it’s easy to see why it’s a fantastic place to stay in Budapest.
Getting Around Budapest: (Budapest Travel)
Budapest has so much history and we had a great time wandering. The first couple of days, we did the tourist bus tour which was well worth it for us. It is just too big a place to navigate on your own, at least in the beginning. it was a good overview of everything. The rest of the time, we walked, took the metro and walked some more. The metro is quite easy to use in Budapest. One tip is to make sure you keep your ticket because the police do make spot checks and if you’re caught without it, there is a steep fine. You can of course take cabs, but it’s really not needed.
What to see in Budapest: Some of the best Budapest attractions
It’s impossible to see it all due to the size, but here are some of the suggestions on the best sights that l think should be included in your Budapest itinerary.
The building is also known as the Parliament of Budapest. It is a top attraction and definitely one of the top things to see in Budapest. It is massive landmark and has stunning views of the Danube and Buda. Did you know that over 80 pounds of gold and half a million precious stones were used in the construction? Who says all that glitters is not gold? There is a central dome and the architectural style is classified as Gothic Revival. I consider it one of the best places in Budapest. If you have time, you can take a tour of the building. You can purchase your tickets here.
Szechenyi Chain Bridge:
Another very popular tourist attraction in Budapest. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can join the holiday crowd on the suspension bridge that crosses the Danube river, walk from Pest to Buda or vice versa, something that we did a couple of times. It is an absolutely beautiful bridge. On the Pest side at the end stands a little lopsided church that had to be moved because of the bridge construction, one of the little tidbits we learned on our tour.
Shoes On The Danube Bank:
Another one of the places to see in Budapest. A moving memorial to the victims who lost their lives during the war. This is a must-see sight in Budapest. It features bronze shoes to depict the poor people who suffered at the hands of fascist militia. The victims were ordered to take off their shoes, they would then be shot, so that their bodies would fall into the water and float away so they wouldn’t have to be buried. How cruel are men? It is within walking distance from the Hungarian parliament.
This is the palace complex of the Hungarian kings. This baroque palace is humongous and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is on top of Castle Hill and can be seen from afar. It is especially beautiful at night. We didn’t tour the palace, but did walk up the steep hill to get a closer look. It is definitely a must see in Budapest, and gives you a glimpse at how the powerful people lived.
Andrassy Avenue is a great Budapest to do:
Home to all the exclusive retail shops such as Tiffany and Louis Vuitton among others. This is where the money is. Lots of exotic cars zooming up and down the avenue. It’s a great place to people watch and window shop.
Central market Hall: (Great Market Hall)
Largest and oldest indoor market in Budapest. You really get a glimpse of everyday Hungarian life as locals shop for fresh produce. Join them and try some Hungarian specialties such as their cold cuts and pate, or grab a drink. Upstairs, you can find shops selling souvenirs. It’s a nice way to spend time in Budapest.
Heroes Square in Budapest:
What to see in Budapest should include a visit to Heroes Square. Located at the end of Andrassy Avenue, it is another of popular places to see in Budapest. This is where you will find the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, as well as the iconic statue complex called Seven Chieftains of the Magyars. This is another UNESCO World Heritage Site that is one of the top tourist attractions in Budapest. Despite the large size, it can get crowded with tourists. The Museum of Fine Arts is also located by there.
One thing for sure, the Hungarians of past really had a lot of time to think up creative punishments. People were shot, an Italian priest placed in a barrel of thorns and pushed down a hill, a Turk was killed by placing a burning crown on his head and burned. Really creative no? A lot of things were also “blown up”, bridges, caves etc. I swear it seems like they said it at least 10 times!!! Yeah.. I enjoyed the bus tour :-).
Museum of Terror:
Located on Andrassy Avenue, it was indeed a terror for the many victims who were imprisoned there, falsely accused for the most part in an effort to seize their houses and wealth.
Related Reading: Museum of Terror Visit
The Opera House:
Amazing and elegant building. Neo-Renaissance in style and Baroque architectural design, it is the 2nd largest opera house in Hungary. Otto Klemperer was a music director there for 3 years ( I only know that because l was a big fan of Hogan’s Heroes which starred his son Werner) :-) . It is gorgeous inside with marble stairs and lots of red.
Budapest Ruin Pubs:
No visit to Budapest is complete without checking out one of the famous ruin pubs. These are basically abandoned buildings taken over by young hipsters. Full of psychedelic ambience and mismatched crappy furniture, it started as a place for young people to hang out and drink for cheap, but has evolved into a must do thing in Budapest, even the locals hang out there. Worth checking out one or two. There are several located in the 6th District.
Other places of interest in Budapest include:
- Fisherman’s Bastion
- Szechenyi Thermal Baths
- Margaret Island (we visited, but sadly those images are gone as are others from the market)
If you prefer to do Budapest tours, we recommend using this tour company, one we have used personally often during our travels. We find their prices competitive and their customer service and guides excellent.
Best time to visit Budapest:
Weather wise, the best time of year to visit Budapest is March, April, May, September, October and November. Not only is Budapest less crowded at these times of the year, kids are back in school :-), but the weather is milder and idyllic to go adventuring.
Related Reading: Our Budapest Home exchange
What to eat in Budapest: Some of the yummy food we had
Budapest prices for food and drink are very reasonable, so have no fear. The cost of eating out in Budapest can be as low as $7 or less per person if you go to where the locals eat. This means getting off the main avenues and venturing just one or 2 streets over. You can also cut costs by shopping for sandwiches at convenience stores that are spread all over the city. What to eat in Budapest includes local Hungarian dishes, and of course Hungarian goulash soup. I think we had that almost every night, and we were not disappointed. I had no idea that Turkey ruled for 150 years, meaning at least 4 generations of Turks and therefore great food!. We also had the famous Hungarian pancake dessert.
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Here is the breakdown of our visit to wonderful Budapest. I loved the fact that prices were reasonable enough. I am breaking down our costs here so you can use it as a gauge if you find yourself on a Budapest trip :-) .
Our bus ride from the airport was €5 each, then a short walk to the flat. You might want to get a door to door shuttle from the airport. In hindsight, we should have done that. The AirBnB flat was €30/night. We ate a lot of gyros and kebabs, because we love them and they cost €2 each for the most part. Our most extravagant dinner was €70, at Restaurant Kherion which included:
Bottle of great Hungarian red wine
2 starters, (Hungarian sampler plate & goulash soup)
2 main courses (roasted duck breast & Game stew with dumplings)
2 desserts (flambé pancake and white chocolate mousse)
I highly recommend it as a great restaurant to eat in Budapest. The atmosphere was romantic and classy and they had live music which added to the experience.
Breakdown cost for 4 full days:
Return flight for 2 €220
Big Bus Tour €30
Souvenirs and postcards €8
For even more ideas on how to spend time in Budapest, check out this awesome list of things to do. The city, despite its cruel or perhaps because of its past is extremely photogenic. It is extremely hard to take a bad picture. I know for sure we can’t wait to re-visit. It is definitely one of our favorite cities to date. After having visited, I can say “I get it now”. I had always thought people were exaggerating just a bit about its beauty and affordability. No, they were not.
So.. how many days in Budapest to stay? We recommend a minimum of 4 days to fully appreciated most of what it has to offer. Slow travelers like us might benefit from a longer stay, but not everyone has that luxury. The point is that you don’t want to feel rushed through your Budapest vacation.
Have you been to Budapest? If not, is it on your radar? What do you think of city as presented and do you think it’s affordable? Would you care to spend some time there?