Know Before You Go:
Budapest offers a unique culture and tons of historical sites. Most places in the city are walkable, and you can visit many of the major sites in just one weekend. The city is also quite cheap in comparison to other cities that you are likely to visit in Europe. This means that you can stay in a nice hotel and eat amazing food for reasonable prices.
Where to stay:
Budapest is home to a variety of cheap yet nice hotels and hostels. Check out the Wombat Hostel. It is walking distance to the ruin bars and also the Jewish quarter, which is full of bars and restaurants. Another huge plus is that many of the must-see sites are easily accessible from here!
Museums and sites to visit:
1. Chain Bridge: This bridge connecting Buda and Pest was built in 1849 and was the first permanent bridge built across the Danube. Part of it was destroyed during the Second World War, but it was rebuilt and reopened in 1949.
2. Hungarian Parliament Building: This gothic style building is home to the Hungarian parliament. The only way to tour the building is through an organized tour. You can purchase tickets online or wait in line outside the building.
3. Dohany Street Synagogue: This is the largest synagogue in all of Europe and also one of the largest synagogues in the world. You can arrange to tour the synagogue and the accompanying Jewish Museum. For a large group you can buy tickets online, but smaller groups must buy tickets on site at the synagogue. When you are planning your visit, note that the synagogue is not open on Saturdays or on any Jewish holidays.
4. Budapest Zoo: If you want to visit any animals abroad or are just a little tired of going to museums, definitely make your way to the Budapest Zoo. The zoo is located within walking distance of Heroes Square, which is another site to see, so you can visit both on the same day.
5. St. Stephen’s Basilica: St. Stephen’s is the tallest church in Budapest. It is located in the center of the city and is walking distance to many of the other attractions. You can go inside and admire the beautiful mosaics or pay a small fee and climb to the top of the Basilica for a beautiful view of the city.
6. Buda Castle: This is one of the most popular attractions on the Buda side of the river. You can access most of the castle grounds for free, which is a huge plus.
7. Fisherman’s Bastion: This collection of lookout towers and terraces was completed in 1905 and is home to one of the best views in Budapest. It costs about a dollar to climb the Bastion and is completely worth it for the incredible views and this once in a lifetime experience.
8. Beer on Wheels: These beer bikes are extremely popular in Budapest. The bike is basically a bar on wheels. Your group pedals and is able to take in the sights of Budapest while enjoying unlimited beer. You can book your tour through the company's website.
9. Baths: Budapest is famous for its thermal baths and spas. There are several located throughout the city. Make sure to bring a bathing suit and towel. Some of the more famous baths are Gellert Baths and Szechenyi. Be sure to check the weather before you go because some of the baths are located outside.
Where to eat:
1. Hummus Bar: This Middle Eastern restaurant has a variety of locations throughout Budapest. Check out the one near the synagogue. It has been recognized for its amazing foods and cheap prices! They serve all kinds of hummus, pita, shawarma, falafel, shakshuka and other Middle Eastern delights.
2. Meska: Meska serves hearty Hungarian foods, as well as traditional Jewish food. They have something for everyone on the menu. Be sure to make a reservation.
3. Zeller Bistro: Zeller is known for its continental European flair. The restaurant is relatively small and quaint. They have butcher paper on the tables, so you can color while you are waiting for your food. At the beginning of the meal, they bring out free champagne and also give you free cupcakes for dessert.
4. Bestia Beer Garden: This restaurant is very trendy and serves modern European and Hungarian food. They have a great selection of beer on tap and a great atmosphere!
5. Café Gerbeaud: This is a traditional coffee house serving coffee, cakes and small meals. The café was established in 1858 and is one of the best coffeehouses in Europe.
6. Gelarto Rosa: This ice cream shop is famous for its gelato shaped like a rose. You can choose up to three flavors and enjoy a delicious, foodstagram worthy treat.
Ruin Bars: This collection of bars, primarily located in the Jewish quarter, gets its name from its ruined appearance. Most of them are abandoned lots or buildings filled with vintage, mismatched furniture. The best way to see several of these bars is on one of the Budapest bar crawls. If you are staying in a hostel like Wombats, there is a free tour that leaves from the lobby. If you can only see one ruin bar, we recommend Szimpla Kert. It is one of the bigger bars and is good to visit if you are with a group of friends.
Sparty Party: If you are in Budapest on a Saturday make your way to one of the famous bath houses, such as Szechenyi, for a night spa party! The Sparty takes place every Saturday night at one of the baths. Check online to find out where the party will take place while you are visiting. You can make your reservations and buy the tickets online. Be sure to bring a bathing suit and your own towel. You can buy towels at the bath, but they are overpriced.