When George Ezra sang, “My house in budapest, my hidden treasure chest…” he wasn’t joking around. Budapest is truly a hidden treasure chest of history, beautiful architecture, and amazing food.
While studying abroad in the fall of 2015, I was fortunate enough to visit many unique cities with London being my home base. Budapest, Hungary was definitely one of my favorite cities because it was not very touristy, like Rome or Barcelona. I was only here for one weekend, yet I was able to see everything as Budapest is not a huge city.
Here is also a fun fact you should know before going to Budapest. Buda and Pest are actually two different parts of the city separated by the Danube River. Pest is home to Parliament and St. Stephens Basilica; Buda is home to Fisherman’s Bastion and St. Matthias church. Continue reading to hear more about these places.
- Ruin Bars – Szimpla Kert– This is one of the most well known Ruin Pubs in Budapest and it was also the first. Ruin bars in Budapest are very cool because it is exactly what it sounds like: an old, abandoned structure that has been transformed into a bar (where you can often find large pints of beer for nearly $2!!)
- Tom George Italiano (by the Basilica) – I would recommend the pasta dish. We went here both nights for dinner because we loved the food and it was centrally located. Check out the menu here.
- A la Maison Grand (by the Basilica) – This was a recommendation actually from the Four Seasons Hotel because we missed the brunch there and it was the cutest cafe. It looked like a Parisian cafe and had great breakfast options as well. Check out the menu here.
- Cafe Kor (by the Basilica) – This was recommended to us by many locals. We went here for dinner one night and the food was amazing, plus it is right near the Basilica. Check out their reviews here.
- House of Terror – One of the most moving museums I have ever been to. This museum used to the be headquarters for some of the most powerful men during the fascist and communist regimes. It serves as tribute to the many people that were captured and tortured in this building. It is located on Andrassy ut.
- Fisherman Bastion – Located on the Buda side of the Danube River, it gives you amazing views of Parliament. It is also located right near St. Matthias Church. This Roman Catholic church sits on top of Buda Castle Hill and has been around since 1015.
**I would recommend taking a cab here – we went at night and there was no way we could have navigated the hike in the dark. The views were incredible at night as well. We first crossed over to the Buda side from Pest via the Chain Bridge and then flagged down a taxi.
- Top of St. Stephen’s Basilica – This is the center of Pest. There are many restaurants located around this area and it is within walking distance to the Danube River. I would highly recommend climbing to the top of this Basilica because of the views looking over the city.
- Bike Tour via Budabike. We did the Budapest Highlights Tour ($25 for approximately 3 hours) and here is what we saw:
- First, we started at the Basilica which was a very convenient location.
- Liberty Square – This square has a mixture of businesses and residential buildings surrounding it, but it does contain the US Embassy and a statue of Ronald Reagan.
- Changing of the Guards at Parliament. I think we had good timing with being able to see this, but it is definitely amazing to see Parliament building up close.
- Heroes’ Square – Contains statues of the leaders of the 7 tribes that founded Hungary.
- Széchenyi Bath – The biggest thermal bath in Budapest. Definitely worth checking out, although getting into the water is questionable…
- Boat Tour – We did this on Sunday afternoon before our flight and it was definitely worth it for only 13 Euros. We were able to go up and down the Danube and get a quick history lesson on both Buda and Pest. I would definitely recommend this, however, you do not need to do the food option for the tour.
When I went in 2015, $40,000 HUF (Hungarian currency) was equivalent to $142 USD and that was plenty for the weekend. FYI – It was also about 8,000 HUF to get to and from the airport each way. This city was very inexpensive and I would definitely recommend visiting if you are able to get here.