Budapest: A Complete Travel Guide
It’s finally here! My first travel guide.
First off let me start by saying- my sole reason for creating these “travel guides” are to help you on maximize your experience when traveling to new places. When I travel I want to make sure to get the most out of my experience and it can be really over-whelming if you are unfamiliar with a city. The first things I think about are: where is the best place to eat? Get a bomb picture? How about coffee shops? Quick bites? What to avoid? Instagramy- cafes? You know… the usual questions that go through a travelers head when trying to narrow down what cities to visit?
Here are all of my tips, what to see, and of course my favorite part….where to eat while you are in the historical city of Budapest, Hungary!
I have to be honest- Budapest was not at the top of my travel list when I moved to Europe, and that’s mainly because I didn’t really know anything about the city. But after visiting, it’s clear that Budapest is a top destination.
So here’s how it all went down. One of my best friend’s from college came to visit me the first week I moved to Prague. We are both spontaneous and have a hard time staying in one spot for too long. Needless to say, less than 24hrs after her arrival we found a decently-priced flight to Budapest and left that afternoon. Bold.
*mind you, we knew nothing about Budapest and created our itinerary on the fly*
Upon arrival we realized that Uber’s do not exist in Budapest. I don’t know about you, but I fully rely on Uber when it comes to travel and I’m not exactly confident on how to handle Taxi’s in a foreign country. Well, it was definitely a rude awakening when we took a cab from the airport to our apartment and our driver told us he only accepted “Forint”( the currency in Hungary) and no credit cards. Uhhhh?
*Pro tip: when you land at the airport, make sure to immediately get enough cash for your taxi ride into the city
Where to stay
We stayed on the “Pest” side of Budapest, right next to the breathtaking Parliament building.
Personally I think Airbnb is the way to go. For 4 nights I spent under €300 on a stunning apartment with a view of the Parliament building. I mean….you can’t beat that location or price.
If you are more of a hotel person, I would recommend the Aria Hotel. A combination of luxury and connivence, this magical hotel is situated on the Pest side. Not to mention, they have the most stunning rooftop bar/ lounge that has an incredible view of the city. If you are not staying here, I would 1000% recommend going here for a drink ( this is a great Instagram worthy spot)
Where to Eat
On the Buda-side of town, right before you go up the hill to the castle district, there is a a strip of restaurants and we happened to stumble upon the best one. A cute two-story-loft restaurant with the freshest drinks, Charcuterie plate and outstanding bone-broth soup…and of course-all of their meat dishes are to die for.
I am going to be straight-up. This is probably the priciest brunch in Budapest, but you are paying for the “experience”, and boy is it worth it! This hotel has a dreamy- atmosphere, with beautiful architecture, where you listen to classical musicians play right in front of you as you sip down a few Aperol Spritz’. The perfect spot for a leisurely brunch.
The only year-round rooftop in Budapest. It offers a 360 view of the city, with a breathtaking view of St. Stephen’s Basilica. I could have spent all day here (if my tight schedule allowed lol). Not to mention, they have the most refreshing drinks that are seasonally crafted by their bartending staff.
Ready for a mouth-watering experience? This Italian restaurant left us speechless. A clear winner was the handmade Gnocchi and the Spinach Soufflé with Octopus and creamy sweet potatoes, accompanied by a refreshing Hugo. We were also quite shocked when we got the bill…for all that we ate and drank, it was surprisingly budget-friendly
First and foremost- you must eat the bread! They have an in-house bakery with over 40 different sweet and savory products. Don’t pass it up, I promise it’s worth it. You really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, but I recommend the fish because they only serve fish in whole, fresh market from their open Oyster and Fish bar in the front of the main dining room.
What to Visit
Fisherman’s Bastion :
Located in the castle district.
It is free of charge to walk around and has absolutely stunning views of the city and Matthias church
The ugly truth
What nobody is really going to show you:
Okay, I am about to be really blunt about this topic: Thermal baths.
*Please keep in mind that this is my personal opinion and I am sure other have had a different experience*
I hate to be negative but I wish I would have known more about the baths before we went. The only pictures I saw were completely misleading to what they were. This was by far my least favorite experience in Budapest. On Wednesday we went to the Gellért Baths and we were both so overwhelmed by the creepy men staring at our every move that we walked to each of the different rooms trying to find an area that wasn’t packed. Well, every tub was over-loaded with people, and the outdoor bath was shut down (which we were never told about…but thats besides the point).
We did more research and everyone really hyped up the Szechenyi Thermal baths, saying they completely trumped the Gellért baths…..What the heck, might as well give this one a shot, right? Well, there are no words for how over-whelming this experience was except for this picture(below) that shows hundreds of people packed into a small pool. So basically moral of the story: if you’re like me and hate waterparks, this is a waterpark on steroids. Truthfully, it just seemed really unsanitary… and clearly not as “dreamy” as it was pictured.
Here is an Instagram photo I saw vs reality:
Reality of what Széchenyi Thermal baths look like:
A cute, loft-style coffee shop situated right down the street from Váci Utca – the most famous shopping street in Budapest. This coffee shop is the perfect place to stop for a quick “pick-me-up”.