Last updated on January 8th, 2019 at 07:29 am
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, still in 2019. And I will explain why later.
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.
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)
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.
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
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.
Some great options for food and drinks in the area are:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
Once in Budapest VI you should check out these restaurants:
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.
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.
Besides some great bars and pubs, there are also a few good eateries around:
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.
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.
In this area, I would suggest a couple where you can have your lunch
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.
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.
To save some money check out this AirBnb option, an apartment right in Raday Utca at a super bargain price.
The list here could be a subject for a post itself. I like to mention:
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.
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.
Other interesting attractions of Budapest are:
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.
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.
There are a few options:
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.