Beloved of river cruisers, bar hoppers, history buffs and culture lovers alike, there’s truly something for everyone in Budapest.
You’ll soon fall in love with Budapest, too. Explore both sides of Hungary’s capital along the Danube River—traditional “Buda” on the west bank and more cosmopolitan “Pest” on the east bank—and from Fishermen’s Bastion, see how the river divides this fascinating city.
The “Queen of the Danube” possesses a calming landscape, with the majestic River Danube flowing through the center of the city and the rolling hills to the west. Budapest has a prevalence of thermal springs – a total of 118 springs and boreholes that supply the city’s spas and baths. Check out the beautiful Szechenyi Thermal baths and swimming pools: definitely Old School, in the best way!
Nagymező Street crosses the Andrássy Avenue. This is Budapest’s traditional theater, night club and pub street. It can be recognized by Dolce & Gabbana on the corner of Andrássy. there is something going on here every night of every year. You can try out some of the comedy theaters, such as the famous Radnóti, Mikroszkóp or Thália Theaters, the beloved Hungarian Operetta Theater or one of the city’s most affluent night clubs, Moulin Rouge. The street is lined by pubs, cafés, and nightclubs for every taste.
Ruin Pubs (‘rom kocsma’ in Hungarian, literally: pub in a ruin) are located in formerly abandoned buildings in the city and are very popular hot spots. Most are open year-round, some are temporary outdoor pubs, open from May to September and some are located in the cellars of old houses. Live music with the best Hungarian bands, charming retro décor, unique atmosphere and late opening hours make these places perfect for party. Ruin Pubs certainly represent a new wave of entertainment in Budapest. The trend started about 10 years ago and although some places come and go or change ownership; you will always find a Ruin Pub that’s popular–try Simpla Kertz, voted the best in Budapest by Lonely Planet. The heaving table of mangalica sausage (a local variety that comes from an odd-looking breed of pig with sheep-like fur) that draws the most attention from the fashionable young crowd, and after sampling the soft, chorizo-esque meat, it’s not hard to see why.
On a more genteel note, you can visit Cafè GERBEAUD downtown (Vörösmarty Square.) At the end of the pedestrian zone (Váci utca), in the heart of the city, you’ll find one of the best cafès and confectionaries in Europe: Gerbeaud. It is famous for its elegance, traditions, and extraordinary history. The cafè was founded by Henrik Kugler in 1858.
Visit the Post Museum, Fashion Hall and the Mai Manó House, one of Europe’s most interesting exhibitions of applied and fine art. The Time Wheel is a peculiar 24-foot hour glass contained in a granite and steel wheel. A proud Hungarian tradition, its sand flows downward all year and is ceremonially turned over each New Year at midnight.
Traveling in Budapest’s Castle District, you’ll have panoramic views of the River Danube and the iconic Chain Bridge. Visit the Buda Castle, a famous UNESCO World Heritage location with several attractions, museums, reminiscent streets and squares.
August 20th is the greatest national holiday for Hungarians, celebrated with day-long festivities followed by spectacular fireworks throughout the country. August 20th commemorates the foundation of the Hungarian state, it’s like Hungary’s 4th of July. Also called as St. Stephen’s Day, remembering Stephen I, the first king of Hungary and founder of the Kingdom of Hungary, who was canonized on August 20th, 1083 by Pope Gregory VII.
The food here is amazing, so don’t miss it! Opened in 2007 and situated just off József Nádor Square in the centre of town, neo-baroque styled Onyx got the nod from the folks at Michelin in 2011. The restaurant’s signature ‘Hungarian evolution’ tasting menu is the undoubted key to its success, taking classic Eastern European cuisine and running it through the molecular gastronomy lab. The result is exquisite, with ingredients such as rabbit, white beans and cabbage rendered triumphant by exceptional imagination and skill.
Down by the river at Gepárd És Űrhajó – a more casual spot with a stand alone drinking area – Italian and German influenced dishes like duck breast with herbed gnocchi and pork schnitzel are excellent value. The wine selection is equally well-priced and almost as extensive as that at Onyx.
Prices are just as reasonable at Kárpátia, a veteran of the city’s dining scene, where steamy bowls of goulash and huge hunks of grilled venison come presented under (unintentionally) kitsch silver domes. A Not trendy, but worth it for the four-course set meal of hearty Hungarian classics.
Away from the polished cutlery and amuse-bouches, the city also offers plenty to appease less sophisticated cravings. Ring Café & Gourmet Burger Bar near the city park is the clear king of the diners, serving up inventive, perfectly grilled burgers (try the stilton-studded ‘black & blue’ for a particularly intense experience) and crisp skin-on fries, while a young crowd make the most of the free wi-fi to complete the trendy urban hangout look.
For good sushi, head to Takebayashi-Bambuszliget on the Pest side of the Danube, where the fish is fresh and served in generous portions. For bigger appetites, a set dinner including grilled fish, tempura and udon is a bargain and includes a bottle of wine.