Budapest: A Year-Round Travel Guide
You’re on a boat, floating down the river Danube, surrounded by gorgeous neo-gothic architecture as the sun sets over a backdrop of rolling mountain–you’re not dreaming, you’ve just woken up in the Paris of the East. Here’s what you simply can’t miss out on.
1 | Parliament – While the view from across the river is gorgeous (especially at night, when the whole building emits a golden glow), make sure you get up close to feast your eyes on the stunning details. Guided tours allow you to steep in the magnificent interior. This is NOT politics as usual! // Kossuth Lajos ter 1-3., Budapest 1055, Hungary
2 | Opera House — More like Opera Palace–spectacular, exquisite interior with sweeping staircases and ornate detail. Even if you’re not an opera buff, catch one of the reasonably priced concerts (and experience some of the best acoustics in the world). for a journey back in time–your only regret might be not having more eyes to take the magic in. // Andrassy ut 22, Budapest VI, Hungary
3 | Shoes on the Danube — A somber memorial (it’s a pile of shoes) on the Pest side of the Danube promenade where innocent Jews were thrown into the river. It might not seem like much, but it’s heart-wrenching in all of the best ways, and a moment you will never forget. // Pest side of the Danube Promenade,Budapest 1052, Hungary
4 | St. Stephen’s Basilica — This church took over 50 years to complete, and holds the mummified hand of Hungary’s founding king-saint, Stephen (István). The vaulted domes, spiral staircases, and opulent stained glass exude a mystical feel, but it doesn’t stop there–St. Stephen’s doubles as one of the main venue for Hungary’s greatest classical musicians. // Budapest, Szent István tér 1, 1051 Hungary
5 | Heroes’ Square -saunter down Andrássy Avenue during sunset, finishing at Heroes’ Square just as golden lights illuminate the statues (they’re downright majestic at night). There’s no better way to understand why Budapest is often called the “Paris of the East.” // Andrassy ut | Next to City Park in the VI. District, Budapest 1062, Hungary
6 | Fisherman’s Bastion—Don’t worry–no fish smells here! Just spectacular views of the city from an ancient medieval wall that was used as a vantage point. Trivia tid-bit: the seven towers actually represent the seven Hungarian tribes. // Szentharomsag ter, Budapest 1014, Hungary
Activities & Tours
1 | Széchenyi Thermal Baths — The perfect way to unwind after a day full of exploration–soak down, and sprawl out while old men play chess next to you. If you’re looking for something more intimate, jaunt over to Gellért Hill, where the thermal waters have been known to heal since the Middle Ages; although a bit pricey, it’s basically like taking a bath in a cathedral! (Sidenote: if you do make it over to Gellért, walk to the top of the hill to see the statue, and enjoy the stunning panoramic view of both Buda and Pest!) Széchenyi: Budapest, Állatkerti krt. 9-11, 1146 Hungary // Gellert: Buda, District 1 | next to Citadella, Budapest,Hungary
2 | Running Tour — Hungarian cuisine is downright delicious, yet notorious for its deftness–some meals will leave you full for a week! This running tour will acquaint you with parts of Budapest that you would never otherwise see, all while working up your next appetite. // 20,Somloi street, Budapest H-1118, Hungary
3 | Pinball Museum — Don’t be fooled, this is no museum, rather an all you can play arcade game buffet, and a throwback to simpler times. Or: the middle-school date night died and gone to heaven. // Radnoti Miklos U. 18, Budapest 1137,Hungary
4 | Bike and Bite — This unprecedented combo–exercising, sightseeing, and indulging in scrumptious local fare all at the same time–is a win-win-WIN. Köszönöm szépen! (Thank you very much!) // Szent Istvan Ter 6-Basilika, Budapest,Hungary
5 | Gozsdu Escape Rooms–Looking for adventure? Then head to this bizarre local invention that has popped up alongside the ruin bars–challenge yourself by finding your way out of a locked puzzle room using only logic. // Dob utca 16. Gozsdu Courtyard | “F” Courtyard Basement, Budapest 1075, Hungary
1 | Kispiac — This intimate hole-in-the-wall with a distinctly retro vibe offers up very Hungarian things like stuffed csülök (pig’s trotter–ten times better than it sounds), roast malac (piglet–ditto) and an infinite variety of savanyúság (sour pickled vegetables). // Hold utca 13., Budapest, Hungary
2 | Zeller Bistro — With a down to earth, familial atmosphere, outstanding service, and food sourced locally from their family farm, this charming candle-lit cellar bistro is a must. Elderflower champagne, anyone? Advance booking essential. // Izabella utca 36-38 | 1077, Budapest 1077, Hungary
3 | Klauzal Cafe — Old world charm–being here feels like stepping into someone’s living room. Sipping on a cappuccino while an old man tinkers away on a piano in the background makes for a genuine atmosphere. Also a go-to for vegetarian and vegan options. // Klauzal utca 23, Budapest 1072, Hungary
1 | Kuplung — What started as a repair shop has morphed into an essential underground locale–a concert venue, an exhibition space, and a creative workshop. Kuplung is funky, eclectic, and your go-to for live events. // 1061 Budapest, Király utca 46.
2 | Ellátó Kert — This bar has a distinctly local vibe to it, bike racks and thirsty students included. It is ruin bar for purists–legend has it that in order to combat the evening chill, locals gathered hammers to help staff build a roof onto the garden! Delicious Mexican fare, and drinks galore. One word? Authentic. // 1075 Budapest, Kazinczy utca 48.
3 | Szimpla Kert — Budapest is revered for its affordable drinking scene, and Szimpla is the most complex and well known of the ‘ruin bars’ (old abandoned buildings gone artsy venues in the old Jewish quarter), and a veritable rite of passage into this thriving scene–mingle with other foreigners, join an acoustic jam session, or simply revel in the maze-like atmosphere. Try a shot of Palinka–local brandy made of plum, apricot, pear, or grapes. // 1075 Budapest, Kazinczy utca 14
Szentendre — Jet set from the bustle of the city, and take a calming boat ride on the Danube to this small Serbian village about an hour away from Budapest (alternatively, you can take the blue line train). The village is filled with galleries, wonderful little coffee shops, and even a bizarre museum full of figures made of marzipan! A true escape. // Dumtsa J. street 14, Szentendre, Hungary
I love staying right in the historic heart for the convenience to the sights, restaurants and bars!