2020 Budapest Travel Tips
Commonly called “Paris of the East,” tourists are flocking like never before to Budapest. Between the picturesque historic sites, natural baths, and ruin bars, there is something for everyone.
The first thing you should know is that Budapest is actually two cities: Buda and Pest. They are divided by the Danube River. Buda is known for its scenic views overlooking the mountain, while Pest is known for its popular ruin bars. They are both lovely places, so your choice of where to stay will come down to your personal preference. I recently took a trip to Budapest, so here is a breakdown of each!
Buda is home to three of the top historic sites: Matthias Church, Buda Castle, and Fisherman’s Bastion.
- Matthias Church is known as one of the most ornate churches in all of Europe. You can even visit the historic Hungarian crowns and other relics in the gallery.
- Buda Castle was once home to Hungarian Royalty. It was built in 1265 and now houses two museums.
- Fisherman’s Bastion is named after the fishermen who defended the city of Buda. If you are looking for the best view of Buda and Pest, this is it. Fisherman’s Bastion has seven different towers that offer breathtaking panoramic views.
Buda is at a higher elevation than Pest, which provides beautiful views of the Danube River. Buda is also known as the residential neighborhood. It is much more relaxed, so if you are looking for an authentic stay, give Buda a try.
During my recent trip to Budapest, we chose to stay in Pest as it’s more of an active city famous for its ruin bars, the Szechenyi Baths, local cafes and shopping.
Ruin bars are what I like to call, the “hipster Planet Hollywood.” They are usually in pre-war buildings and feature graffitied walls, off-beat furniture, and live music provide for a cool environment. Most of these bars extend to several rooms and serve food. These bars have live music and DJs 7 days a week.
The vacation rental we stayed in was right across from the most popular ruin bar, Szimpla. Our host was kind enough to leave us earplugs because the ruin bars were often very loud later in the evening. Even with the noise, we felt like we were in a great location because everything was extremely accessible.
You cannot visit Budapest without taking a trip to one of the famous baths. The baths offer everything from spa services, games, wave pools, to even bath parties. The pools are open year-round and are very popular with locals. The Szcehenyi Baths are the most popular. You can purchase tickets in advance to avoid long lines. These tickets typically cover your towel, entrance fee and locker access.
Where to Stay
The cost of accommodations is a huge selling point of visiting Budapest. Travelers can stay in 5-star hotels for less than $300 USD a night! One popular hotel is above the iconic New York Palace Café, which is modeled after Grand Central Station in New York City. The interior is breathtaking.
If hotels aren’t your thing, you might be interested in a vacation rental. It is harder to find a rental house due to the nature of the city, but there are plenty of apartments that can be rented within the city. We were able to rent a three-bedroom apartment, in the heart of Pest for $250 USD a night. We found this to be a bargain compared to the many other international cities that we have visited.
Budapest does not allow Uber, however, Bolt is a ride sharing app for taxis. We did not have any problems with the Bolt app when we were in Budapest. We also chose to ride Budapest’s cable cars, which are a fantastic way to see Budapest. They are above ground and move at a comfortable speed for sightseeing. You can purchase your tickets at the different street stations. Tickets are one-way, so make sure you purchase two tickets if you plan a round trip activity. The ticket machines only take credit and debit cards, so keep the cash at home.
Things to consider before traveling to Budapest:
- Check their holiday schedule. We ended up travelling during their Independence Day which meant that most shops were closed for two days.
- English menus are available at most restaurants
- If you’re a foodie, let the waitstaff order for you. We did this at a café and it turned out to be the best meal we had while in Budapest.
- Check to see where the famous BUDAPEST sign is for a great photo opportunity! It moves every few months.
- Make sure your health is protected with one of IMG’s travel medical insurance plans. Getting sick or injured away from home is never fun, so pick up a Patriot Travel plan before you leave. If you're planning a trip with a high amount of prepaid costs, you might also be interested in trip cancellation coverage. Check out all of our plans here.
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