Budapest Travel Guide: Exploring the Best of Hungary's Capital

Charles Nagy Jul 28, 2023
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Budapest
Table of Contents
  1. Brief Hungarian Lesson
  2. Hungarian Culture
  3. Best Time to Visit Budapest
  4. Districts in Budapest
  5. Top sites to visit in Budapest
  6. Top things to do while in Budapest
  7. Day Trips from Budapest
  8. Hungarian Food
  9. General Information about Hungarian Food
  10. General Information
  11. Fun Facts

Budapest, Hungary is one of the most captivating and romantic cities in Europe. It's a magical place that feels like stepping into a fairytale with its grand architecture, enchanting bridges over sparkling rivers, and cute cafes tucked away in alleyways waiting to be discovered by traveler's around the world. Budapest has something for everyone—whether you’re looking for great food, lively nightlife, or simply want to take it easy and enjoy the local culture, this city can provide all of that and more. From sightseeing on the river Danube to tasting traditional Hungarian food at delicious cafes - experience all Budapest has to offer.

Budapest

Small disclosure, my father's was from Hungary, which is why Budapest holds a special place in my heart. I feel that same enchantment when I visit the city as I did when I heard stories of its beauty from my father growing up. Every time I go back, it feels like coming home and discovering something new about the culture and the people. That's why I keep coming back to Budapest time and time again—for its captivating beauty, unique culture, and local charm that you can't find anywhere else in the world!

Brief Hungarian Lesson

Hungary has a long and complex history that dates back centuries. It was part of the powerful Austro-Hungarian Empire before World War I, then an independent republic after World War I until the Nazis occupied it during World War II. After World War II, Hungary became a Socialist state ruled by a strict Communist party. The Soviet Union’s occupation continued until 1989 when free elections were held and the country regained independence. Since then Hungary has experienced economic growth and democratic reforms, becoming a member of the European Union in 2004. This unique and troublesome history has shaped Hungary into the vibrant nation we know today.


Budapest, one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, has a vibrant history that goes back to 1873 when it was formed from the unification of Buda, Pest, and Obuda. The Hungarian parliament building was constructed during this time and it still stands today as the symbol of unity within the city.


Fisherman's Bastion ranks among Budapest's most iconic landmarks. This Neo-Gothic terrace was built in 1902 and offers incredible views of the Danube river and Margaret Island. From its medieval old town to its grand European parliament building and breathtaking Fisherman's Bastion, Budapest embodies many centuries worth of Hungarian architectural grandeur.

Parliament Building

Fisherman Bastion

Hungarian Culture

Hungarian culture has a rich and long-standing history that goes back centuries. Food has always been an important part of Hungarian culture, as the country's local climate and geographical positioning made it well-suited for farming; this enabled them to access a wide variety of nutritious ingredients which they used to create unique dishes. Examples of some quintessential Hungarian dishes are goulash, paprikás, and túrós csusza. Hungary is also famous for its Pálinka, a traditional fruit brandy distilled since the 1400s. Hungarians have crafted dozens of varieties over the years, often utilizing fruits such as apricots, pears, and plums to make this delightful spirit. By embracing their localized customs and ingredients, Hungarians remain proud in their culture which continues to live on today.

Best Time to Visit Budapest

Budapest, Hungary is a beautiful city with plenty to explore year-round. That said, the best time to explore Budapest depends on what kind of experiences you are looking for. If you want to experience both the cultural and outdoor activities available in the city, then April through June and September through November offer mild temperatures and sunny days ideal for sightseeing and leisurely walks. For those looking for more vibrant nightlife, July and August have longer daylight hours that make it the perfect time to hit the town. No matter when you choose to come, Budapest will always be ready to welcome you with open arms.

During the summer months in Hungary, many locals flock to Lake Balaton for a break from the heat. The largest lake in Central Europe, it is an ideal spot for swimming, boat trips, and outdoor recreation. Numerous resorts around the lake cater to travelers who want to experience all that Balaton has to offer. Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway or a family fun weekend, Lake Balaton is sure to provide you with plenty of entertainment and relaxation—all without having to suffer through the intense heat of Budapest’s cityscape.

Spring and Summer in Budapest

Spring in Hungary

Districts in Budapest

Budapest is a city of two halves, divided by the majestic Danube River. The western part, known as Buda, is more hilly and residential, with historical monuments and beautiful castles dotting its landscape. The eastern portion, known as Pest, is home to many of the city’s popular attractions including the Parliament Building and Szechenyi Chain Bridge. There are 23 districts in total, each with something unique to offer visitors. From the buzzing downtown core to leafy green parks and buzzing nightlife spots, there's something for everyone in Budapest. Those looking for an old-world charm should visit District V on the Pest side of District I on the Buda side; those seeking modern entertainment can explore District VII or VIII on the Pest side. No matter what experience you choose, you're sure to find something new and exciting in this vibrant Hungarian capital.


My favorite districts are district V, VI, VII, and VIII. If you're planning on staying in any of those districts, here are a few hotels to consider.

District V - known for it's historical monuments and beautiful castles. Also home to many of the city's popular attractions including the Parliament Building and

District VI - close to the city center & Hungarian National Gallery. This is also home to many of the city's popular attractions

District VII - close to the Széchenyi Chain Bridge

District VIII - known for their modern entertainment and bustling nightlife.

Each district offers something unique, so it’s no wonder why they are some of my favorite places to explore while in Budapest. Whether you’re looking for history, culture, or modern entertainment, there is something here for everyone!

Szechenyi Chain Bridge

Top sites to visit in Budapest

There is so much to discover in Budapest, and with an extensive public transportation network, it's easy to get around Budapest and the rest of the country with ease. From buses, trains, and even boats, there are plenty of options for getting from one place to another quickly and conveniently. When in Budapest, some of the top sites to check out.

Fisherman’s Bastion

St. Stephen’s Basilica

Buda Castle Hill

Top things to do while in Budapest

In addition to visiting the top sites in Budapest, here's a list of top things to do while you are visiting the city.

There are so many stunning locations that you'll be spoilt for choice! With its vibrant culture and fascinating history, Hungary is sure to captivate visitors with its unique charm and beauty.

Thermal Baths

Day Trips from Budapest

Taking a day trip from Budapest is an excellent way to explore the beautiful country of Hungary outside of the city. Whether you take a bus or rent a car, you can easily and affordably visit some of the most stunning cities around. From Székesfehérvár and Eger for their historical sites to Szeged for its gastronomy and Győr for its museums, there's something for everyone near Budapest. There are plenty of tour groups and companies that offer organized trips and packages if you don't feel confident exploring on your own, or don't have the time. A whole new world awaits, just a few hours away from Budapest!

Székesfehérvár

Here's a list of my top favorite day trips outside of Budapest.

Hungarian Food

Hungarian cuisine is known for its robust flavors, with a range of dishes featuring hearty ingredients and plenty of paprika. From Goulash - a beef stew cooked in a paprika-spiced broth - to flavory Kurtos Kalacs pastry, there's something for everyone. Pork dishes are especially popular, with favorites such as blood sausage and roasted pork knuckle making up the bulk of the country's traditional fare. Other popular staples include Palacsinta (similar to a crepe), which can be filled with both sweet and savory ingredients. With so many delicious options available, it's no surprise that Hungary has become renowned for its unique and flavorful cuisines. Here's a list of the Hungarian dishes that you need to experience when you visit Hungary.

  • Chicken Paprikash (Csirke Paprikás) - chicken and vegetables cooked in a creamy paprika sauce usually served over egg noodles. Probably the most traditional Hungarian dish.

  • Goulash (Gulyás) - a beef stew cooked in a paprika-spiced broth

  • Fisherman’s Soup (Halászlé) - fish soup made of carp and vegetables

  • Meat Pancakes (Hortobagyi Palacsinta) - crepe-like pancakes, served with sweet or savory fillings

  • Stuffed Cabbage Leaves (Töltött Káposzta) - cabbage stuffed with pork and eggs

  • Meat Stew (Pörkölt) - combines pork or beef with vegetables cooked in a savory tomato-based sauce.

  • Hungarian Trifle (Somlói Galuska) - layered sponge cake filled with boiled chestnut puree, raisins, and walnuts

  • Dobosh Cake (Dobos Torta) - seven-layer chocolate buttercream cake with caramel topping

General Information about Hungarian Food

  • Hungarian food tends to be very spicy so be careful. If you see the word Fűszeres or Forró on any packages it means Spicy & Hot.

  • If you are looking to bring back sausage and salami when you leave Hungary, I suggest the brand PICK. You can get this from the local grocery store.

  • Hungarian palinka is very strong alcohol and it will sneak up on you so be careful. (Don't say I didn't warn you)

Enjoy!

Hungarian Food

General Information

  • Local Currency - Hungarian Forient. In my experience the Hungarians prefer cash, they do use cards in the city but outside of the city there are many places that only except cash.

  • Hungary is part of the European Union

  • Hungary operates on a 230V supply voltage and 50Hz, the same as the rest of Europe.

  • Yes, Budapest has an underground metro system (subway)

  • Budapest has a tram system. Always carry a ticket with you. There is a good chance you'll get stopped and asked for a transportation ticket. On-the-spot fines can be imposed if you are caught without one.

  • Hungary does not use Uber, they use BOLT

  • Next hail a taxi off the street, you will get ripped off. Download the Taxify app.

  • If you are taking the bus or the train, it's cheaper to buy your ticket before you get on the bus or train.

  • Pedestrians always have the right away in a crosswalk.

  • Hungary is cheap, so your money will go a long way, with that being said, look for luxury hotel deals as they tend to be quite cheap.

  • Unlike most European countries you do not tip, in Hungary it's proper to offer a 10% tip.

Fun Facts

  • Kate Perry's Firework music videoThe video was filmed in Budapest, Hungary, and features Katy Perry singing in various locations, including a balcony overlooking the city, a field filled with people holding sparklers, and a bridge over the Danube River.

  • Michael Jackson's HIStory teaser was filmed in Budapest, Hungary in 1995.

  • The 1996 film adaptation of "Evita" starring Madonna had scenes that were filmed in Budapest, Hungary

  • One of the most Instagrammed places in Budapest is the New York Cafe

Budapest, New York Cafe

Budapest Hungary is a fantastic place to visit for an unforgettable city trip. From typical tourist attractions like its beautiful architecture and famous landmarks to its affordable prices and delicious food, there really is something for everyone to enjoy. If you are looking for a unique experience that won't break the bank, Budapest is the place for you. And if you need some inspiration for what to do during your visit, just ask one of the locals - they will be more than happy to show you around! So why not add Budapest to your next travel bucket list? You won't regret it!

Hungary, Budapest

Table of Contents
  1. Brief Hungarian Lesson
  2. Hungarian Culture
  3. Best Time to Visit Budapest
  4. Districts in Budapest
  5. Top sites to visit in Budapest
  6. Top things to do while in Budapest
  7. Day Trips from Budapest
  8. Hungarian Food
  9. General Information about Hungarian Food
  10. General Information
  11. Fun Facts