Budapest was such a hidden gem for us during our European travels. It’s so rich in culture, history and architectural beauty!
The city itself is split by the Danube River where you can find Buda on the west side and Pest on the east side with beautiful bridges connecting the two. People have lived in this part of the world since the Stone Age! It is no wonder that the Danube River and Buda Castle are considered UNESCO World Heritage Sites
We’ve heard many travelers say that Budapest was a pleasant surprise to them…probably because they didn’t know where to set their expectations. The beauty of the architecture and skyline can rival any European city and the foodie scene from traditional to Michelin starred restaurants are still considered a bargain by European standards.
Where we stayed
We stayed at the Bohem Art Hotel which was really centrally located on the Pest side. It was quite quirky but different in the sense that it stands out among many of the hotels we’ve stayed in. Overall, it’s comfortable and clean and in a great location!
Where we ate
We had a dinner at Borsso Bistro and enjoyed it. Budapest is known for their fois gras so give it a try!
We tried making brunch at the Gellert Hotel but didn’t quite make it. The hotel is beautiful!
We really loved Faust Wine Bar that is situated down in the wine cave underneath a hotel. It’s a little chilly so bring a sweater. This is the perfect spot for pre-dinner drinks! Note: there’s no bathroom down in the cave so go before you enter or you’ll be racing back and forth to the hotel getting a good work out in!
Things to do
Take a tour of Parliament. It’s a stunning building and don’t forget to bring your camera! Photos are allowed!
Check out Castle Hill – You can walk but there’s also a cable car on the Buda side that will take you if you’re strapped for time or just not craving the exercise! There are great photo ops of Parliament and the Chain bridge to the Pest side. The castle (Fisherman’s Bastion) looks like a giant sand castle, just next to Matthias church. Truly unique! Upon the hill you’ll see a cave which is actually a functioning church built into the rock.
If you enjoy architecture, take a tour the Opera House… Opera Houses in Europe are stunning and this one surely doesn’t disappoint with all its architectural beauty. Better yet, stay for a performance…for a bargain!
We opted for a Danube River Tour at night. The castles and Parliament lit up over the water gives it a unique up-close-and-personal look that you don’t see in the day. Tickets can be purchased in advance or on-site but check with your hotel to determine which method would be best during your visit.
Also worth mentioning is the Great Synagogue, which happens to be Europe’s largest! It is also home to the Hungarian Jewish Museum.
Hungary is believed to have over 1,000 natural hot springs. Széchenyi thermal baths is just one located in Budapest where you can soak in 100 degree temps (F).
For a souvenir, Hungary’s artists create figures out of clay, woole, felt, thread and glass. Each region creates their own style. Mester Porta is a small shop below the castle that offers a nice selection.
Other recommendations from blogs and articles:
Onyx – became the first Michelin star resto in Budapest in 2010. Check out the 3 course tasting menu for lunch. “Located in the historic Budapest patisserie’s former Royal Salon, where Habsburg family members once ate cake.”
Tigris – For traditional Hungarian food. “Tigris takes its passion for foie gras to an extreme and offers at least a half-dozen different preparations of it at a time, as well as an equally nice selection of sweet Tokaj wine to pair with them.”
DiVino Borbár – Lively wine bar located in front of St. Stephen’s Basilica where patrons spill out onto the square on nice days.
Léhűtő Craft Beer Bar – Craft beer brewing is new to Budapest but for the die-hards, this bar has 6 taps and is constantly changing their lineup.
Instant – For the night owl this two building, 3 level nightclub has 23 rooms, 6 bars, and 3 dancefloors. (unce-unce-unce)