Where to stay in Budapest – The best areas and hotels
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 capital. 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.
Although I do love District IX, the SoHo of Budapest, I must say that overall the Historical Centre, District V, is the best place to stay in Budapest, and I will tell you why.
In saying that there are other options that may work better for your stay, especially if you are on a second or third visit, or your want to save some money on the accommodation side.
But let’s dig into it.
Table of Contents
- 1 District V, Belváros – Best place to stay in Budapest overall
- 2 District I, the castle – Where to stay in Budapest for a quiet time
- 3 District VI, Terézváros – The best place to stay in Budapest on a budget
- 4 District VII, Erzsébetváros – Best area to stay in Budapest for nightlife
- 5 District IX, Ferencváros – Where to stay in Budapest for a SoHo experience
- 6 Budapest VIII, Józsefváros – An interesting district to visit but not stay
- 7 Best places to visit in Budapest
- 8 Arriving in Budapest
- 9 Moving around Budapest
- 10 Conclusion with the best areas to stay in Budapest
District V, Belváros – Best place to stay in Budapest overall
District V, Belváros is the best places to stay in Budapest because:
- It is the most preserved area of Budapest, a beautiful Historical Centre with museums, monuments, beautiful squares, narrow streets and, of course, the Hungarian Parliament Building.
- You will be in the most central location of Budapest, walking distance from all other districts and the Castle
- You will find the trendiest bars and restaurants, either in the area or nearby
- Easy access to the Central Market Hall for some shopping
- You will experience Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque revival architecture style everywhere you go.
- If you’re visiting the city for the first time, this is the best area to stay in Budapest
- It is very convenient for couples and solo travellers
- Ideal for a short stay with all around you
The weakest points:
- It is the most expensive and popular area to stay in Budapest, but there are still some little gems to be found
- There are a lot of travellers around the area.
- Parking is an issue. If travelling by car, make sure to have it included in the accommodation.
- There may be some noise occasionally. It is possible to find quiet streets, however, I cannot deny that there are a few noisy lanes. Below is a list of safe hotels for a peaceful night sleep.
This is the most gorgeous district in Budapest and, of course, also the most popular one with travellers.
The historical centre has been fully redecorated and renovated in the last 30 years, with amazing buildings from the Austrian-Hungarian Empire era.
Discover the tiny gems like the Brudern House, an amazing historical building freshly renovated with a shopping area at the ground level and residential units above.
Have a walk along the busy Váci Utca or the Danube river, especially in summer when people tend to use it as a city beach.
Remember to visit the St. Stephen’s Basilica, built over 150 years ago and hosting regular concerts.
One of the best things of this district is that you will be right in the heart of the city and in no time you can be in District VIII (the Budapest SoHo) or District VII (the Jewish quarter and center of Budapest nightlife) or again cross the bridge to visit the Castle district.
For this reason, this is the best area to stay in Budapest for a short stay or just a weekend.
District V is mostly a quiet area of Budapest, good for families that want to stay in the centre of the city or for a romantic break away with easy walking access to a few trendy bars and restaurants.
It gets busy during the day, however it is not really the centre of the nightlife, which is great for an early evening sleep.
Be aware, however, that a few lanes can be noisy because of a few pubs and bars.
The hotels suggested below are all in quiet streets or very well insulated.
Do you want to go straight to your hotel? Pre-order an airport transfer that will wait for you directly at the airport. So easy.
This century-old accommodation smack in the middle of Budapest gives you convenient access to the region’s attractions – from Buda Castle, Matthias Church, to St. Stephen’s Basilica.
Chain Bridge itself is right in front of the Four Seasons Hotel .
It features luxurious rooms and an infinity pool, and some of the rooms come with views of the Danube River and Castle Hill.
The staff are very welcoming, and you can grab meals at the Kollázs Brasserie & Bar that overlooks the bridge and river.
Here, you start your day with à la carte breakfast set on the rooftop terrace. The view is to die for.
Rooms in Hotel Rum Budapest have stylish interiors and come with a minibar, private bathrooms and some have a seating area. The artwork spread out in the hotel sets an intriguing ambience.
All through the week, there is a brunch at Solid Sky&Bar, where you get to dine as you enjoy views of Buda Hills – and as a guest at the boutique hotel you get a 10% discount on meals.
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.
A nice touch is also the unlimited supply of complimentary water, coffee, tea, and sweets in the lobby area.
These apartments are set in a quiet neighbourhood, in a building that traces its roots to the early 20th century.
Back in the days, it used to serve as a dormitory for students in the region, and its central location provides convenient access to Budapest attractions.
Each unit has its kitchenette and private bathroom. 2 common areas – basically like lounge areas- are shared with other guests checking into the residence.
Parking is also available, but at a fee – and a walking distance from the property.
Places to eat
This area tends to be more touristy (read expensive) than others. However, this does not mean you should avoid 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.
Are you still unsure if you should visit Prague or Budapest?
District I, the castle – Where to stay in Budapest for a quiet time
The Castle Area is the best places to stay in Budapest because:
- It is a quiet and relaxing area
- You will be so close to the castle, one of the most popular attractions in Budapest
- It is a leafy area with a few nice parks such as Gellért Hill, Garden of Philosophers, Horváth-kert, Vérmezo, and Lanchid Park
- The Historical Center (District V), just across Széchenyi Chain Bridge, is within walking distance (20-30 minutes or less).
- This is the best neighborhood to stay in Prague with family and kids
- Ideal for a quieter short or medium stay
The weakest points:
- It can be as expensive as District V
- Restaurants and bars are available, but not as many as in the Historical Center across the river
- Although the Castle is the most notable destination in the area (and possibly Budapest), most of the attractions and museums are on the opposite bank of the River Danube.
The District I, located on the Buda side of the city, is a small maze of streets, lanes and alleys with the pavement in cobblestone.
Historical buildings are left and right. It’s like an open-air museum with cafes on every second corner.
The area gives the best during the daytime, with the main attractions being the Budapest Castle, the St. Matthias Church and the Fisherman’s Bastion, one of the most beautiful spots for the panoramic views over to the Pest side of the city, located right across the banks of the Danube river.
Art lovers will enjoy visiting the Hungarian National Gallery to better understand the local art and cultural history.
The Castle District becomes almost mystical at night, especially in the 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, it is one of the best places to stay in Budapest for families.
It works great also if you are after a relaxing holiday or breakaway, with peaceful nights to enjoy a local Hungarian wine at one of the few restaurants around
The area is quite leafy, especially if compared to all the other central districts in the city.
Have a walk to the top of the Gellért Hill for another unmissable viewpoint.
These are 3 accommodations that are perfect for a stay in District I.
The rooms here have impressive artwork and cosy beds, with breakfast being provided during your stay – croissants, orange/apple juice, and coffee or tea.
By the way, you can even bring your pet along with you on your trip.
Baltazar Boutique Hotel is located within the Castle district walls – actually on top of the hill, with numerous transport options available, including hopping onto a bus for a quick ride that takes you right down to the centre of Budapest.
The Pest-Buda Hotel is a lovely boutique/design accommodation in a beautiful historical building.
Originally opened in 1696, the hotel underwent a full renovation in 2016 that highlighted the original design of the old wood frame.
It’s a great value hotel, considering the place and the service. Very quiet too and next to the castle.
They have also an on-site restaurant inspired by the local Hungarian cuisine which should not be missed.
Located right at the Riverwalk, he self-catering unit is spacious, comes with a well-equipped kitchenette for you to prepare your dishes, a furnished dining area, throughout a washing machine and free WiFi.
The ceiling is quite high too – at 4 metres, adding to the impressive effect of the accommodation.
The host, Tamás, is also available to be your guide through Budapest attractions in case you want one. Speaking of which, the local attractions are near, accessible on foot or via tram.
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.
- 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: This great 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.
District VI, Terézváros – The best place to stay in Budapest on a budget
District VI, Terézváros is the best places to stay in Budapest because:
- It has some of the cheapest accommodations in Budapest
- It is actually a cool and quiet area with beautiful historical buildings, including the Hungarian State Opera
- You will experience one of the oldest, and I may add most beautiful, Metros in the world
- Close to the train station
- If you’re looking for a cheap accommodation, this is the best area to stay in Budapest
- Ideal for a cool stay without breaking the bank
The weakest points:
- A few streets may feel run down. In saying that the area is very safe, with a few embassies too.
- It is not as central and you may have to rely more on public transportation.
Terézváros is probably the coolest and cheapest place to stay in central 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 night too.
The Andrassy Avenue, well covered in trees, is the grand boulevard and 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.
In the area you should not also miss the Robert Capa Contemporary Photography Center, hosting from time to time a few controversial exhibitions, and maybe for this reason even more interesting.
Budapest VI is a great area for couples looking for a romantic getaway when travelling on a budget.
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, but stay clear of Akácfa Utca, where you can find one of the biggest night venues, Instant.
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.
Here below two great value accommodations that you should not miss.
Friends Hostel is a cosy accommodation with views of Budapest, and close to popular sites – from the State Opera House to St. Stephen’s Basilica.
This spot of the Jewish quarter has more youthful energy compared to other areas of the city, including a vibrant nightlife.
The property comes with free WiFi, has a fast-screen TV, and even an Xbox 360 console for gamers to enjoy on their trip, and the premise also has a terrace.
You have private rooms, but you still get shared living spaces to give you that hostel experience.Bike rentals are also available on site.
Z40 Apartments give you a comfortable stay, with the autonomy that comes with a private bathroom and fully equipped kitchenette to use during your visit.
The accommodation is right in the city centre, allowing you to access the sites on foot – from the Hungarian State Opera and House of Terror, to Dohany Street Synagogue and Chain Bridge.
Public transport is also near, like the Nyugati train station, that’s just a 7-minute walk away.
While the rooms are rather small, they are convenient for a short stay, keeping you within your budget while providing a relaxing environment.
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: this is the ideal place if you are looking for a meal in a cool chic environment. The restaurant usually serves traditional Hungarian dishes with a French twist, a European fusion. Not cheap, but definitely worth the night.
- 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.
District VII, Erzsébetváros – Best area to stay in Budapest for nightlife
District VII is the best places to stay in Budapest because:
- There is a high concentration of pubs, bars, cheap restaurants and clubs to extend your night till the early hours of the morning
- It is the home of most of the iconic ruin bars
- You can find some good value accommodations
- Ideal for some crazy nightlife weekend
The weakest points:
- The noisiest part of Budapest, with a few streets hard to sleep without earplugs.
- It is far away from the Castle District and most of the attractions
The area 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.
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 Great Synagogue, the biggest synagogue in Europe and the second-largest in the world where you can have a tour for an introduction to the synagogue and the Jewish life in Budapest.
Have a look also at the Kosher market, a small shop still selling kosher products like 60 years ago. Nothing has changed.
The Amazing Metal Art Gallery is another great place to spend a couple of hours with a stunning exhibition of art pieces made of scrap metal
If you have been in Prague, you may have a seen a similar one on the main street that takes to the Old Town
Although District VII is still a place that you should visit during the day, the entire area is mostly known for its bars and cool nightlife.
Besides the already mentioned Szimpla Kert, add to your must-do list a visit to Instinct, a ruin mega structure including 18 bars, 6 dance floors and 2 gardens, all with free entrance, which is unreal.
For a bite, go to Karavan, a street food ruin complex offering any kind of food, from snacks to fast food and local Hungarian dishes
To sum it up, the Jewish Quarter is the best place to stay in Budapest for nightlife.
The entire district can be really noisy. Select carefully your accommodation. The Roombach Hotel is a safe heaven.
This is a lovely newish hotel located on the western end of the Erzsébetváros area, close to the Historical Centre (District 5).
It is very convenient to explore the city, enjoy the nightlife of District VII and it’s a stone away from the Airport Bus Stop.
Its position on a back street, almost in front of the 19th century Rumbach Synagogue, is perfect for a quiet night sleeping.
The en-suite rooms have a sleek design and they all come with air conditioning and a flat-screen TV.
Free Wi-Fi is offered throughout the building
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.
District IX, Ferencváros – Where to stay in Budapest for a SoHo experience
District IX is the best places to stay in Budapest because:
- It has a cool vibe, a bit chic a bit underground.
- There are many galleries to explore and cafes to spend the morning and the afternoon
- You will find a good selection of restaurants popular mostly with locals
- Great value for money accommodations
- Ideal for a long stay
- Great for a short stay on a second or third trip to Budapest
The weakest points:
- Based on your accommodation place, you may be not really in the inner city and you will need some form of transportation to get around
District IX is my favourite district, where I spend 5 or more days 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.
Raday Utca is the main street, where traffic is limited, so lovely on a warm spring and summer night.
Budapest IX does not have any major attractions, 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.
Although this area is getting more and more popular with travellers, you can still find a good mix of locals and tourists around, without the noisy part of the nightlife.
The Ibis Hotel is one of the best value accommodation in Budapest.
It is located right on Raday Utca, close to Budapest V, in a perfect spot to visit the Historical Centre, the marvellous Great Market Hall and, of course, the local art and cafe culture.
The private rooms have been recently renovated with a simple and clean design.
I suggest including the breakfast in the deal, really tasty.
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
- Púder Bárszínház: located in the heart of Raday Utca, Púder is a Bohemian bar with a lovely interior design (inside) and a few outdoor tables for the summer. Food is a hit and miss, but coffees and cocktails are great. It gets very busy for dinner, booking is essential.
Budapest VIII, Józsefváros – An interesting district to visit but not stay
The inner part of this area is famous for a large number of museums and gardens.
Some of them are hosted in beautiful baroque buildings, originally the homes of the highest ranks of the Austria-Hungarian Empire.
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 or the 9th 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.
District VIII is also home to the Hungarian Natural History Museum, with interesting interactive exhibitions that are great for a family visit.
It’s a bit far from everything and it does not have enough to justify being in a hotel there.
Best places to visit in Budapest
The Hungarian capital has a long list of places to visit, apart from the restaurants and palaces filled with lush gardens. You will never get bored.
Let’s start with the Gellert Bath and spa centre, 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.
Margaret Island is a long island on the River 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 those 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 a great location to taste wines from more than 22 Hungarian wine regions together with the traditional fruit palinka.
The Danube Promenade is a beautiful spot for a 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.
Other interesting attractions of the Hungarian capital are:
- Széchenyi Thermal Baths, the largest medicinal baths across Europe.
- Central Market Hall, the oldest as well as the largest indoor market in Budapest.
- Heroes’ Square.
- Budapest cave church,
- Metropolitan Ervin Szabó Library, a 19th-century aristocrat’s mansion turned into a library secretively hidden within a modern library.
- Flippermúzeum, a museum dedicated to the classic pinball
- Michael Jackson memorial tree
- Budapest castle hill funicular
Arriving in Budapest
Most of the people will arrive in the Hungarian capital through the International Airport. Grab the public bus 100E to get a direct lift into the city or take the cheaper 200E to the nearby Kőbánya-Kispest Metro station.
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.
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 around Budapest
There are a few options:
- Public transport by BKK (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 a great option. Honestly. Parking is really hard and unless you stay on the outskirts, you will have a nightmare in finding a spot.
Conclusion with the best areas to stay in Budapest
As I started this post, my recommended area to stay in Budapest is the District V, in the heart of the inner city and so well preserved.
In saying that, other districts my work better for you.
The Castle area, for example, may be a better choice if you are after a quiet area.
Here below, you find a quick summary of the best areas of central Budapest with a map.
Just a quick reminder that the city is based on two macro areas, Buda on the left bank of the Danube River, and Pest, on the right side.
Pest has the most interesting districts to stay in Budapest, or at least to visit. The Castle District is the only exception in Buda.
- 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, 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 the quietest area to stay in Central Budapest.
- 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 the Historical Centre, 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, a bit grungy a bit hipster, is the favourite among travellers looking for a budget hotel. 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. This district is popular with the post-millennials. It can be noisy at night and on weekends.
- Budapest VIII – Józsefváros: this area of Budapest is almost divided into two sub-districts. The first closer to the city center, 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 for a long stay. 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 staying 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 until late in the morning.
Just keep in mind that the city of Budapest, including the Banks of the Danube, has been added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site list, so it doesn’t matter which area you will go for, you will surely have a great time between historic buildings.