What a magnificent city. I know that Budapest within the last couple of years have been hyped as a must see in Europe. Both for its sightseeing and cultural scene but little did I know how amazing this city actually is.
Basically Budapest got it all. The sightseeing is fantastic and everywhere you go there is beautiful buildings to look at. I think both Buda and Pest got a lot to offer even though people often refer to Buda as being the most beautiful of the two.
Besides the sightseeing you got small cafés, restaurants, wine bars and night life al over the city and as a bonus to a traveller at very affordable prices as well.
I’ve spend 6 days in Budapest and I’m definitely coming back. Often 5-6 days in one city is enough for me. Then I’ve got plenty of city life and need to move on but Budapest is different. There is a few cities in Europe and around the world that I like to revisit and occasionally also do but that list just got added another destination.
So here we go with my first impressions and tips as a Budapest beginner.
Hive Party Hostel
Budapest offers a plenty of accommodation and if you are at an medium budget you have many possibilities. My recommendation goes to Hotel President Budapest. It is possible to get at a price of around 80-100 Euro for a double room and that is very affordable compared to what you get. Breakfast is included, roof top bar and the spa in the basement includes a fine pool, sauna, hot tub, cold water basin etc. for free. What not to like. Ohhhh and yes you can easily walk from the hotel to any sight in the city.
Are you on a tight budget Budapest also have some great possibilities. My recommendation goes to one of the party hostels – Hive Party Hostel. It really is what it is named – a party hostel – with a big bar in the centre of the building and even an extra bar on the rooftop. Yes all rooms are located around that big bar and there is no way that you can get a quiet room. Either you go to the party, get drunk and sleep or you go very late to bed.
What is great at the Hive is that it is amazingly cheap, nicely made, are clean and you really got the opportunity to meet new people. It is probably one of the best hostels I’ve been at if you look at interior and price but you have to be ready to sacrifice your night sleep as the party is going on and the young people coming home at night are party people mostly from around Europe and not travellers who are used to stay quiet at a hostel as you after all normally meet around the world.
Budapest has since the opening of the first bar in 2000 been know for its ruin bars. Going out in Budapest is all about ruin bars. For a brunch my recommendation goes to the Jewish ruin bar Mazel Tov. Your surroundings sitting in the restaurant is amazing, the level of service is high and the food is great. Once again at very affordable prices. You will not get ripped of even if you are on a budget.
For dinning in the evening or even lunch Budapest offers some great choices. Start by checking out the Michelin guide. Besides the Michelin restaurants their Bib Gourmand and recommendations is a perfect guideline to discover gourmet in Budapest. Why invent the deep plate when the French have done all the work for you?
My recommendation goes to Aszu which had a general high standard regarding service, fantastic food (I went for the goulash, where else to get that) and once again at a very affordable price level. It is hard to go out for dining at this high level any where in the world at these prices. I just love it.
Unfortunately the Laci! Konyha! was closed for a short vacation period when I was there but I think you should check it out. An Michelin recommendation at only 8 Euro for the main dish. I’m going for that one at lunch next time.
Wine bars in Budapest and wine in restaurants for that matter is all about local Hungarian wine. There is no reason to got abroad when ordering wine since Hungary got it all under control. They make great white wine and even the red wines is coming along as quit good. I think Hungarian wine within the last 10-15 years have gotten a respect around Europe and is in competition with Austrian and southern German wine. And why shouldn’t they be. They are at the same latitude and have been making wine for hundreds of years.
Also the price of the Hungarian wine is good so there is no reason to be a snob and drink French wine in Hungary and then pay the double.
I recommend Doblo Wine Bar in the party centre of Pest but there is several great wine bars around the city so go explore. I paid 2 1/2 Euro for the cheapest glass of red wine and the most expensive was at 5 1/2 Euro. Again – what not to like.
Party and bars
There are plenty to choose from but this could be a Saturday day/night out:
Start at 360 Bar and enjoy the view 360 degrees around Budapest. Go for a few Aperol Spritz or some local white wine and then head towards Szimpla Kert the first ruin bar and the one that started it all. Szimpla Kert still got it even though it nowadays is full of tourists. Get something to eat in the evening and then head for the Sparty at Szechenyi Bath. Where else can you experience to drink and partying at an amazing spa? Its just great fun. Take it for what it is. Stay 2-3 hours get a shower and get back to town where the party goes on all over all night.
Gellert Spa in the background
You can’t do Budapest without the spas. Not the Sparty but a real spa experience. Since the Turks occupied Hungary the spas have been a part of Budapest and what more perfect than relaxing in a spa maybe on a Sunday with hangovers.
There are several to choose for but I would go for the Gellert Spa especially since I’ve seen the Szechenyi during a Saturday night. They need to do a hell of a cleaning for me to enter on a Sunday… I think Gellert is good and besides the relaxing time you can continue just out side the door with some sightseeing going up to Citadella. You should be ready for that after a couple of hours in a nice spa.
Where to start? The biggest sights are definitely all worth visiting. I don’t know which I prefer the most but go for the Gellert Hotel/Spa, Citadella, Buda Castle, Fisherman’s Bastion, Chain Bridge and the Hungarian Parliament. Then you’ve got the most important ones. Take your camera, time and your eyes and you will have a wonderful time sightseeing in Budapest.
All in all Budapest is just a fantastic city and I’ll be back – that is for sure.
Hotel President Budapest
Hive Party Hostel
– Bring your own swimwear and get the ticket including a towel and a cabin for your clothes.
Buda Castle – walk, the tram ain’t worth it