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Best Places to stay in Budapest

Best places to stay in Budapest 2018 [coolest hotels & best areas]

Last updated on November 28th, 2018 at 02:14 pm

Budapest has been always in my heart, to a point I have eventually decided it to be my summer “headquarter”, my base to explore the western and eastern Europe.

I have experienced every corner of this city, and possibly most of the hidden restaurant and bars. However, I still remember my first time there when I asked myself where to stay in Budapest. And what hotel to choose.

This is not a small city. It was originally an area made of two cities, Buda (western side of the Danube) and Pest (river’s opposite bank), that now it is worldwide known as Budapest.

The place to stay really depends on what you are looking for. The length of your trip is also an important factor.

Do I have a favourite area? Yes, I do and I keep going back there. And I will explain why later.

The Chain Bridge on a misty day

The Chain Bridge on a misty day

Best districts to stay in Budapest

As I mentioned before the city is based on two macro areas, Buda on the left bank of the Danube River, and Pest, on the right side.

Pest tends to have the most interesting districts to stay in Budapest, or at least to visit. The Castle District is the only exception in Pest.

Best districts to stay in Budapest

Best districts to stay in Budapest. Download full res map here.

  • Budapest I – The Castle District: located on the Buda side of the city, on the left banks of the Danube river. The Budapest I district, also known as Várkerület among the citizens, is obviously famous for the castle, however, there are other major attractions as the Fisherman’s Bastion, the Church of St. Matthias, the Gelert hill and the Rudas Baths. This district is quiet and well suited for a family stay.
  • Budapest V – Belváros: on the right banks of the Danube river between Margaret bridge, in the north, and Liberty Bridge, in the south. The fifth district is one of the most popular and tourist rich areas of the entire city. This part of the city centre is known for its bars, restaurants, architectural sights as well as souvenir shops.
  • Budapest VI – Terézváros: across the northern boundaries of Budapest V. This district is the favourite between the local young adults. Grungy, hipster and bohemian bars, great restaurants and hotels for any budget, from backpackers to luxury accommodation. It’s the perfect place to be if you want to be next door to the trendy eateries and bars, still without being in a noisy area
  • Budapest VII – the Jewish Quarter: The 7th district of Budapest, also known as the Jewish quarter has a very lively nightlife, great for drinking and partying. Budapest VII is also famous for the bars and clubs, besides a few places to have a sunset drink. This district is similar to the 6th, however, it is more popular with the post-millennials. It can be noisy at night on the weekend.
  • Budapest VIII – Józsefváros: this area of Budapest is almost divided into two sub-districts. The first closer to the city centre, called “Palace District” with beautiful mansions from the Austria-Hungarian Empire era. The second, more modern, in the outer part. This is a district that is growing in popularity, however, it’s not quite “there”
  • Budapest IX – Ferencváros: often described as the Soho of Budapest or the Latin Quarter. This is my favourite area. Raday Utca (street) is the main centre of “action”, with some of the best restaurants in the city and a few art galleries. This is a street to surely visit for dinner. I love to stay in Budapest IX for easy access to amazing cafes, to a few baths, to Budapest V and the clubs in Budapest VII. Still, the area is so quiet that I can sleep till late in the morning.
Riding the streets of Budapest

Riding the streets of Budapest

Keep in mind that in Budapest there are 10 districts in total, however, the most interesting ones for travellers are just the ones mentioned.

The remaining four are mostly inhabited by locals and you will hardly find people speaking in English.

Budapest has plenty of hotel options as well as AirBnb style apartments for a short stay. Of course, you will have a different service and a different price.

It’s really a personal decision. I had both and I was happy with both, although I had to make my breakky 🙂

District I and V tend to have the most expensive accommodations, however, a few are really magnificent and unique in the world as the Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace (even if you do not book there, have a walk inside)

Budapest I – The Castle District to visit

This is a beautiful destination for a view over to the Pest side of the city located right across the banks of the Danube river.

The district is a small maze of streets, lanes and alleys with the pavement in cobblestone. Artistic and historical buildings are left and right, it’s like an open-air museum with cafes every second corner.

View to the Castle district

View to the Castle district

The area gives the best during the daytime, with the main attractions like the Budapest Castle, the St. Matthias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion all open for “business”.

Art lovers will enjoy visiting the Hungarian National Gallery to have an understanding of the local art and cultural history.

Budapest 1 becomes almost mystical at night, especially in winter time, when the fog comes just after sunset and disappears, most of the time, after sunrise. It’s a great spot for photography.

It tends to be quieter than most of the other areas in Pest and for this reason, I would suggest it to families looking for the best place to stay in Budapest with kids.

It’s close to lots of attractions and it’s super quiet.

The Pest-Buda Hotel is a lovely boutique/design accommodation in a beautiful historical building. They have also an on-site restaurant that can become very handy. It’s a great value hotel, considering the place and the service. Very quiet too and next to the castle

Check the price at Pest-Buda

Pest-Buda Hotel - Design & Boutique

Pest-Buda Hotel – Design & Boutique

If you prefer an AirBnb option I can suggest this bargain just 10 minutes walk from the castle. It’s a 2 bedroom apartment with free wifi too.

Bargain apartment Chaoyang

Chaoyang Apartment

Chaoyang Apartment

Places to eat

Some great options for food and drinks in the area are:

  • Pest-Buda Bistro: positioned in the middle of Budapest I, this is one of the oldest spots in the city which is known for crispy pork tenderloins and creamy crepes.
  • Icon Restaurant: located near the fisherman’s bastion. It’s not the cheapest spot, however, the view is truly magnificent.  Great duck leg confits with wild mushrooms
  • Pierrot: this restaurant has built its reputation for the amazing desserts like the chocolate fondants served with tangy orange sorbet. In summer you can enjoy the beautiful courtyard with live piano tunes in the background.
  • Marvelosa Restaurant: The place serves great homemade style Hungarian chicken and paprika as well as goulash soup in a brightly decorated décor. It’s a great bohemian spot.

Budapest V – Belváros, the centre of the city

This district, just like the Budapest I, is gorgeous. This is the most popular area of Budapest, where you will be most likely to find tourists, and for a good reason.

The centre has been fully redecorated and renovated in the last 30 years, with amazing buildings from the Austrian Hungarian Empire era, architectural and engineering landmarks, like the Chain Bridge as well as the Four Seasons Gresham Palace.

The most famous attractions in Budapest V are probably the Hungarian Parliament Building, the Central Market Hall and the St. Stephen’s Basilica. However, do not limit yourself to only these famous sites.

Budapest V and the beautiful Parliament building

Budapest V and the beautiful Parliament building

Discover the tiny gems like the Brudern House, currently under renovation, however, you may find an open door to the dome 😉

Have a walk along the busy Váci Utca or the Danube river, especially at summer when people tend to use it as a city beach.

Belváros is a quiet area of Budapest, good for families that want to stay in the centre of the city. It gets busy during the day however it is not really the centre of the nightlife which is great for an early evening sleep.

The Estilo Fashion Hotel is a great boutique hotel in the southern part of District V, in a small lane, super quiet. It offers connecting family room which is great if you have kids and the breakfast is also included.

Check the price at the Estilo Fashion

Estilo Fashion Hotel

Estilo Fashion Hotel

As an AirBnb option, you can have a look at the Vaci Apartment, a 2 bedroom unit right in the center of the district, perfect for a family with kids visiting Budapest.

Check availability at Vaci

Váci Fashion Street Apartment

Váci Fashion Street Apartment

Places to eat

This area tends to be more touristy (read expensive) than others however this does not mean you should not eat in this district, you can still find some good value options, especially at lunchtime, like:

  • Ape Regina Italian Restaurant: this is a well decorated Italian eatery which serves delicious mushroom risottos and a lunch buffet (great value).
  • Onyx: this Michelin ranked restaurant is famous for its wine pairing with traditional Hungarian dishes (unique experience).
  • Dionysus Taverna: cosy Greek restaurant with a beautiful patio seating. You will definitely love its mackerel cream, the greek salad, the feta cheese as well as the freshly made chicken gyros.

If your hotel is in the southern part of the district then have a short walk to Raday Utca, my favourite street for restaurants, very popular with the locals.

Budapest VI – Terézváros, a cool place to stay in the city

Terézváros is probably the coolest place to stay in Budapest, a bit snobby a bit bohemian, a bit for everyone.

There are plenty of attractions and famous places to visit, during the day and the night too.

Avenues of Budapest

Avenues of Budapest

The Andrassy Avenue, well covered in trees, is the main stage of this district, with unique cultural attractions, both underground (one of the oldest metros in Europe) and overground, with a large number of local theatres.

Many embassies can be found around the City Park, the biggest garden area in Budapest and a place to absolutely visit, especially on Sundays when the locals go to spend the day.

Budapest VI is a great area for families and couples looking for a romantic getaway.

I suggest staying near the southern boundary of the city for a better shopping experience (closer to the Belváros district) or near the western boundary for a lively cultural experience (closed to the Cultural Center).

Check out the programme at the Hungarian State Opera not only for the performances but also for the opportunity to visit and see one of the most beautiful theatres in Europe.

The Quality Point Apartments are one of the best bargains in Budapest for design, location and price. You will love all of them, so clean and spacious.

Check availability at Quality Point

Quality Point Apartments

Quality Point Apartments

Places to eat

Once in Budapest VI you should check out these restaurants:

  • Ristorante Krizia: located in the middle of the district, this ancient style relaxing eatery offers delicious Italian dishes.
  • La Perle Noire Restaurant and lounge: I highly recommend this place if you are looking for a meal in a calm environment. The place usually serves traditional Hungarian dishes with a French twist, a European fusion.
  • VakVarjú Restaurant: it is a family run restaurant famous for both quality and quantity. Hungry people will love the portion size. The goulash and tenderloins steak served with a barley and tomato-based sauce, complimented with bacon fries, is the speciality of the house.
  • Menza: This is one of those unique restaurants which has its different way of bringing the traditional Hungarian dishes in a new modern form. The strudel desserts and the Lebanese lamb rack are absolutely delicious.

Budapest VII – the best place to stay for nightlife

The place is a perfect destination for the party and club lovers who like to roam at different pubs and elegant dining eateries in the middle of the night.

Ancient buildings here have been converted into ruin styled pubs. The Szimpla Kert is my favourite funky pub, half enclosed in an old building, half in a beautiful backyard, all hidden behind an unpretentious door.

The backyard at the Szimpla Kert Pub

The backyard at the Szimpla Kert Pub

Budapest VII was and still is the Jewish Quarter, although the nightlife has prevailed on the religious origin of this district.

You should check out during the day the Dohany Street Synagogue. There is a small entrance fee however it includes also a free tour which will give you an introduction to the synagogue and the Jewish life in Budapest.

Have a look also to the Kosher market, a small shop still selling kosher products like 60 years ago, nothing has changed.

The Jewish Quarter is the best place to stay in Budapest for nightlife. Highly recommended if you are planning a trip that includes some nice walks through the historical city, however, the main goal is to enjoy the night.

The EuroPest Apartment is a great AirBnb option. Great location in front of the park, next to all the bars and cafes but still good for a quiet sleep. And it has a lovely balcony for breakfast too.

Check bargain price at the EuroPest

EuroPest Apartment

EuroPest Apartment

Places to eat

Besides some great bars and pubs, there are also a few good eateries around:

  • Fausto’s: it is a nice Italian-Mediterranean restaurant which has been divided into two sections “Astoria” and “Ristorante”. The “Astoria” is the great value side, especially considering the quality of the burgers and the truffles.
  • KönyvBár & Restaurant: Inspired by several movie themes, this eatery offers a unique 5-course menu paired with the local Hungarian wine. I personally liked how the staff explained the whole meal’s pairing with the wine and the chocolates offered at the end of the meal.
  • M Restaurant: it is one of the popular bistros around Kertész utca, famous for its French cuisine served with a Hungarian twist. The Watermelon soup and the pork knuckle are delicious.

Budapest VIII – Józsefváros, visit but not stay

The inner part of this area is famous for a large number of museums and gardens. Some of them hosted in beautiful baroque buildings, originally the homes of the highest ranks of the Austria-Hungarian Empire.

This inner part is also called “Palace District”, obviously for the presence of luxurious buildings like the Hungarian National Museum or the Andrássy Universität.

American Embassy in Budapest

American Embassy in Budapest

On the outer side, the neighbourhood has a few stylish bars and restaurants but it lacks the nightlife, the bohemian vibe and the sociable atmosphere of the 7th district.

There is a large presence of students however they tend to roam more to the Jewish Quarter for cafes and drinks.

It’s definitely an area to visit and spend half a day, however, I would not book the accommodation there. It’s a bit far from everything and it does not have enough to justify being in a hotel there.

Restaurants in the area

In this area, I would suggest a couple where you can have your lunch

  • Fülemüle Étterem: it is a cosy restaurant with a Jewish-Hungarian cuisine. The chicken paprikash and duck with bean soup are the specialities, definitely worth trying.
  • Csülök Csárda: The place is just a 5-minute walk from the Keleti Metro station. It has a nice local atmosphere and very reasonable prices. Great for the beef stew and the Hungarian csárda, typical Hungarian dishes.

Budapest IX – Ferencváros, on a budget and close to everything

Ferencváros is a great place to stay in Budapest on a budget and at the same time close to everything.

I may have already mentioned that it is my favourite district, where I spend most of my stay in Budapest.

It’s the Soho part of the city with plenty of small galleries, bohemian cafes and boutique restaurant with some of the best Hungarian and International food.

The colorful local restaurant

The colourful local restaurant

Raday Utca is the main street, where traffic is limited, so lovely in a warm spring and summer night.

Budapest IX does not have any major attraction but it has that great vibe, full of energy.

The inner area, the most interesting part, is also so close to the centre and a quick ferry ride to the castle.

The Ibis Hotel is right on Raday Utca, close to Budapest V, the best location and a great value too.  I suggest to include the breakfast in the deal, really tasty.

Check the price at the Ibis

Ibis Budapest Centrum Hotel

Ibis Budapest Centrum Hotel

To save some money check out this AirBnb option, an apartment right in Raday Utca at a super bargain price. 

Check availability on the Raday apartment

Raday Apartment

Raday Apartment

Cafes and restaurants

The list here could be a subject for a post itself. I like to mention:

  • WokZilla: a nice simple Asia restaurant with plenty of rice and noodle options
  • Borbíróság: elegant restaurant with traditional Hungarian food. This is the place you want to taste your goulash, together with a local wine
  • Il Mezzo Ungherese: a nice restaurant serving Hungarian food inspired by an Italian taste. I would personally avoid pizza and concentrate more on the meat.

What to do in Budapest?

Budapest has a long list of places to visit, apart from the restaurants and palaces filled with lush gardens. You will never get bored.

The Gellert Bath and spa centre is one of the oldest bathing places in the city. It includes an open-air pool, effervescent swimming pool, a sauna as well as a range of other saunas and plunge pools. Even massaging facilities are available.

Gellert Thermal Bath

Gellert Thermal Bath

Margaret Island is a long island on the Danube not too far from the Castle and the district V. It’s a peaceful place with plenty of facilities for kids. The Palatinus Strand has a great set of outdoor pools for the summer, ideal in that hot days.

You can rent pedal carts, golf carts, and other self-powered vehicles to explore every corner of the island.

The Faust Wine Cellar is a historical wine bar located right below the Buda castle. It is the perfect location to taste wines from more than 22 Hungarian wine regions together with the traditional fruit palinka.

The Danube Promenade is a beautiful walk along the Danube River. It stretches from Elizabeth to the Chain Bridge.

The Budapest Eye Ferris Wheel is one of the world’s largest wheels. It is located in Erzsébet Square. Its size is over 60m in length carrying a capacity of about 42 cars.

Budapest Eye Ferris Wheel

Budapest Eye Ferris Wheel

Other interesting attractions of Budapest are:

Central Market Hall

Central Market Hall

Arriving in Budapest

Most of the people will arrive in Budapest through the International Airport. Grab the public bus 100E to get a direct lift into the city. Check out this page for more information on where to catch the bus.

The alternative is to have a taxi ride, budget around $30-$40 based on where you will drive to. The closest districts to the airports, and therefore the less expensive to reach, are the 8th and 9th.

If you take the train you will most likely arrive at the Budapest-Nyugati station, which is right in the core of the city. From there you can either walk or take a tram to your accommodation.

Nyugati Central Station Budapest

Nyugati Central Station Budapest

With the bus, you will arrive at the Internation Bus Station which is located on the outer part of the 9th district. From there, you can either walk or take a tram.

Moving in Budapest

There are a few options:

  • Public transport by BKV (Budapest public transport company) in form of metro lines, blue local buses, yellow trams and red trolleybuses. Check the website for the timetable.
  • Taxi, they should charge 300HUF/km (around $1/km). As in any city, a few taxi drivers tend to forget to start the meter and they may ask for more money at the end of the run. Make sure they do start the meter!
  • Renting a car is not an option. Honestly. Parking is really hard and unless you stay in the outskirts you will have a nightmare in finding a spot.
The famous old yellow trams

The famous old yellow trams

Travel Photography Stefano FerroStef Ferro is the founder and editor of MEL365, a travel & photography website made to enhance the travelling experience and improve the photography work.

Stef is a professional travel photographer with past experience in the cycling and film industry. 

Stef runs travel photography workshops in Melbourne and around the world. 

 

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Stefano Ferro
Photographer
Stef Ferro is the founder and editor of MEL365, a travel & photography website made to enhance the travelling experience and improve the photography work.
Stef is a professional travel photographer with past experience in the cycling and film industry. 

Stef runs travel photography workshops in Melbourne and around the world.

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