Known widely for its rich history and breath-taking architecture, Budapest is one of the Danube’s greatest treasures. While it’s long been a favourite among Euro-travellers in the know, the capital of Hungary is finally starting to catch the eye of adventurers from around the world.
Budapest is divided by the Danube river with on one side the hilly “Buda” area and the flat “Pest” side. Use this guide to explore the highlights of both sides of the city.
And while all of these are true highlights of Budapest, more and more travelers are discovering that Hungary is a country home to so many hidden gems! Enjoy their rich culture and deep history, delicious food, beautiful scenery, and Christmas markets that will leave you feeling warm and fuzzy inside.
Budapest is absolutely beautiful all year round, so choosing the best time to visit all depends on your preference for the weather, crowd size, and budget.
We ventured to the beautiful city in winter to enjoy the Christmas markets. Winter can be bitterly cold and many attractions, including accommodation in smaller towns, shut down. If you’re trying to visit Hungary on a budget, this is a great time. Just be sure to bundle up- It’s cold!
Tip: Invest in a really good feather down jacket and thermals. (Its the only thing that will keep you warm if you are wanting to walk the city like we did)
Currency: The official currency of Hungary is the Hungarian forint (HUF).
Credit Cards & ATMs: Credit cards are widely accepted throughout Hungary, especially Visa and MasterCard. Small businesses may not accept cards or may have a minimum purchase requirement, so it’s wise to keep some cash on you during your visit.
Tip: If you are travelling with Euros, be sure to change into Hungarian Forint’s. You will save so much more money due to the conversion rate.
The Fisherman’s Bastion with its beautiful detailed arches and seven fairy-tale-like white towers is a castle overlooking the entire city. It is incredibly picturesque and one of the best things to do in Budapest.
The Fisherman’s Bastion is easy to reach by Metro, followed by a short 10 min walk. To avoid the tourist buses, plan a visit before 9 AM. It is open 24 hours a day, except for the towers (9 AM).
Tip: Book a photoshoot with Andras through Airbnb .The most informative and incredibly talented photographer you will meet! I couldn’t pass the opportunity to book a photography session with him to capture one of the most beautiful attractions in Budapest. If I can, this will definitely become a ritual with all our travels. Beautiful memories captured that we get to keep forever.
Central Market Hall, or the Great Market Hall as it’s sometimes known, is a historic indoor market in Budapest that’s notably the oldest and the largest of its kind in the city.
It first opened in 1897 and although it’s seen many changes throughout its history, it is still a reliable place to purchase products, pastries, sweets, and more.
In recent years, several vendors have begun offering souvenirs and goods designed to appeal to tourists so you can find something to buy here even if you’re not looking for groceries.
The second floor of the market is also home to several food stalls as well as tables and chairs so you can enjoy your meal right away.
Tip: Try Langos, a type of Hungarian street food that is essentially deep-fried dough with delicious toppings like sour-cream and grated cheese. It’s hard to go wrong with that combination!
An absolute must try, apart from the Langos, is the Chimney Cakes!
A sweet scent is catching your nose and guiding you to the origin of the sugary aroma, which is a chimney cake kiosk. Guaranteed there will be a long queue but man. oh man, it is absolutely worth the wait! The ultimate Hungarian sweet street food you must try at least once!
If you’re looking for an interesting place to get a drink or two, the Ruin Bars in Budapest are the obvious choice.
These bars are literally located in the ruins of an abandoned building and offer a unique ambiance to enjoy. If you’re not sure where to go, try Szimpla, which was the first Ruin Bar.
It opened in 2004 and quickly became the place to be, before inspiring several other similar bars that have opened since.
We stumbled upon the Central Grand Café & Bar and quickly said: “yes please” when the French inspired waitron asked us if we would like a table for two. It took us back to what we thought it was to be in an upmarket café back in the 1950’s. Sophisticated yet casually moody where we indulged in a melt-in-your-mouth croissant and hot cocoa. Definitely pop in, if you do stumble across it, it’s a treat!
The City Park Ice Rink (Hungarian: Városligeti Műjégpálya) is a public ice rink located in the City Park of the Hungarian capital Budapest, between the Heroes’ Square and the Vajdahunyad Castle. Opened in 1870, it is the largest and one of the oldest ice rinks in Europe. In the Summer months its a beautiful paradise when locals and visitors alike enjoy the ponds and castle grounds, winter months the ponds freeze up and the Christmas Markets pop up! It’s a mix between Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque – it’s absolutely magnificent!
If you are visiting Budapest in December time (PS: pack thermals) The Vajdahunyad Castle is absolutely breath-taking to walk through and see the lake frozen over.
Before heading in, you get to enjoy the Christmas cheer by indulging in hot chocolate, hot mulled wine and plenty of sweet treats
Getting from A to B in Budapest is no problem. The metro system spreads throughout all popular parts of the city. The metro in Budapest is one of the oldest in the whole of Europe- isn’t that amazing!?
There are also bike services that when connect to an app, gains you access to use a bicycle for 24hours
A place we cannot reccomment highly enough- Ibis Styles Budapest City Located on the bank of the Danube river near the city centre offering great views to the Gellért Hill. It is a perfect location with the most comfortable access to both the financial and historical parts of the city. All-you-can-eat tasty buffet breakfast, unlimited Wi-Fi access and many more extras that don’t cost a bunch.
New Year’s in Budapest is chaos- But in a good way. The restaurants get packed and close early, 10pm some 11pm, so that all can celebrate the new year.
If you looking for a spot to eat, be sure to book in advance. Hit the streets and enjoy the celebrations! It is such a vibe! The locals celebrate EARLY by setting off fireworks as early as 6pm new years eve. The fireworks go off everywhere but be sure to go where the crowds gather to get the best views.
Budapest is absolutely a place to add to your bucket list. A place I would love to go back to, but perhaps in the summer time xx
There you have it, the Ultimate Budapest Travel Guide! Would love to know if you have visited this beautiful city and any hidden gems you have discovered along the way!