THE ULTIMATE BUDAPEST TRAVEL GUIDE 2023/2024
Just a short two-hour flight from Amsterdam and you’re in Budapest. Somehow we feel this city has been under the radar for the last couple of years. Time to bring Budapest back on the European city-trip map, where it belongs.
Budapest in a nutshell
Budapest is the capital of Hungary and is also known as The Pearl of the Danube – a title the city rightfully carries with pride. Buda and Pest used to be two separate cities and were divided by the Danube. The two were joined together in 1873 to form one big capital as we know it. Tucked in between Austria, Vienna, Slovenia, Romania, and Serbia, Budapest is a vibrant city with many nationalities. We would say that the best time to visit would be between May and September, but we enjoyed Budapest in the April sunshine, which was lovely.
This city breathes history and with so much to do and see it definitely deserves a top spot on your city trip bucket list.
Where to Stay in Budapest
Like all European cities, there are too many good hotels to mention. However, we would say our top pick would be the Anantara New York Palace Hotel for many reasons. This five-star hotel was renovated in 2021, and used to function as the New York Insurance company, hence the name. The staff is super friendly, and most of them know your name after the first day. It’s genuine though, and little gestures like a small gift on your pillow, make it extra special. Not to mention that the hotel has the famous New York Café located in-house, so guests can enjoy a royal breakfast here without having to stand in line. Rooms are available for about 265 euros per night, which we think is quite reasonable for a hotel of this stature. Additionally, the hotel offers exclusive experiences, like a Hungarian cooking class or a sightseeing tour. You will read more about this if you scroll down.
If you want to enjoy a more budget stay, there are plenty of nice hotels or even hostels to choose from. Check all hotels here.
Where to eat
In all fairness, we could write a separate article about this subject. So we did! These are the best coffee places, and here are the best places for lunch. Budapest is full of cafés, local bars, and trendy restaurants. You can even find seven Michelin Star restaurants in the city. Here are some of our best picks!
New York Café – for breakfast and high tea (see our reel below)
Gundel – for dinner and live classical music (many famous people like Madonna and Brad Pitt have dined here)
Rosenstein – where the locals eat, high-quality food, at a small price
Mazel Tov – Located in the Jewish district, with pretty dishes, and an amazing interior with plants hanging off the walls.
Elelem Etterem – Vegan food, done well! They also serve smoothies and vegan cakes.
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Sightseeing in Budapest
Start the day early in Buda, and make sure you’ve got your camera ready and your walking shoes on because your first day in Budapest is going to be a sightseeing fest. Imagine yourself back in the 13th century whilst walking around Buda Castle, enjoying the marvelous architecture and views at the Fisherman’s Bastion, and walking over the first permanent stone bridge, the Chain Bridge, that connects Buda and Pest whilst enjoying your view over the Danube. Once in Pest don’t forget to check out St. Stephen’s Basilica and last but definitely not least wander around the impressive and gigantic Parliament.
Off the Beaten Track
Honestly, it was quite hard to find some hidden gems in just 3 days, but we managed to find a few that the locals love.
- Visit the lesser-known Rudas Thermal Baths. It used to operate as a therapeutic swimming facility in 1896.
- Get out of Budapest and visit a traditional village by the name of Tard, about 1,5 hours drive by car. It’s one of three villages in Hungary where they still use embroidery as a craft. You can learn and watch from the women-owned company named Matyo Design. You can book this exclusive experience via Anantara New York Palace Hotel.
- Book a Volkswagen Samba tour of the city. You can also book this through Anantara New York Palace Hotel.
Gliding down the Danube
When you’re visiting The Pearl of the Danube a boat trip on this river shouldn’t be left out whilst exploring Budapest. Many operators in Budapest offer boat trips up and down the Danube, and some of them also make a stop on the little island between Buda and Pest called Margaret Island. During summer the river may have dried up to a low tide, so do check if it’s possible. Some tours are including drinks and dinner but some tours just offer a boat ride. Make sure you pick a company that offers unlimited 24-hour boat rides so that you can go on a day tour and a day-night tour. You haven’t been to Budapest if you haven’t seen it by night, it’s just magical!
Budapest is not only famous for its countless historic buildings, it is also famous for its thermal baths. Many natural hot water springs in the city have been operating since the 1800s. Go to one of the many spas to relax, play a little chess and enjoy some more gorgeous architecture. Try to go early cause to avoid the biggest crowd. We can also tip Anantara’s spa; it has all the goods. Think sauna, steam room, relaxing pool, and treatment rooms. The spa is open to all guests.
As can be seen, Budapest has so much to offer, and the above is just a small glimpse of it. Whether you’re planning a short visit or you’re going to stay there for a week: you’ll love this city.