There were no expectations for Budapest so because of that there wasn't much room for disappointments - only surprises. (A tactic quite useful in life beyond travel.) We stayed on the "Pest" side which housed most of the action, while "Buda" showcased the quaint charm a traveling couple may prefer. Regardless - separated by only a small bridge, you could easily explore the entire city in a couple of days.
Our American dollar ran free, getting the best bang for our buck, and with the help of some new local friends, I didn't feel like we missed too much. From the colorful city charm to touristy ruin bars, here's a taste of Budapest from our experience.
The food was delicious - but a bit different with its flavor and style, particularly with dishes we were normally familiar with. What really hit home run for us was how cheap it all was! Drinks, apps and a main dish hovering in the $10-$15 range? Yes please. Another circumstance that worked to their food's advantage was how rainy and cold the weather was while we were there. Comfort food was constantly a must and Hungarians know how to do that very well.
Below are some of the cool spots we tried:
Budapest Bagel, Budapest 1085 Baross u. 4 1085 Hungary - My ULTIMATE favorite during our time there. It was right next door to our Airbnb listing in the Pest and was "oh so delicious." They basically serve bagel sandwiches that taste like heaven, fill you up and cost ~$3.
Funky Pho, Budapest, Mozsár u. 7, 1066 Hungary - A tiny Vietnamese restaurant with a killer bowl of soup and mint lemonade. Their hot sauce was on point!
Menza, Budapest, Liszt Ferenc tér 2, 1061 Hungary - Hungarian food that satisfied the comfort craving. Came highly recommended by our Airbnb host and friends. It didn't disappoint. Say yes to the Goulash.
Hummus Bar, Multiple Locations - A "fast" food chain for a quick bite or a casual setting to hit the spot for your hummus craving. Nothing fancy but I'd suggest the pita sandwiches to fill you up while still being really easy on the pocket.
I am the highest critic on a city and the shopping opportunities. Quality and design are the name of the game. In Budapest, it was all about the classics with vintage shops to "bring it back." I was delightfully surprised as I grew up thrifting so there was some nostalgia looking through the racks of clothing. Another cool shopping concept was a cafe, gallery and shop in one. Who would've known?
Below are the two shops I'd suggest checking out:
Retrock, Budapest, Anker köz 2, 1063 Hungary - Literally the best vintage shop in Budapest. Honestly wouldn't even bother with the others. Also, carrying new things and classics, it is your "all-in-one." Not only can you find some new digs, we lucked out making some new local friends here.
Printa, Budapest, Rumbach Sebestyén u. 10, 1075 Hungary - Not a spot really for the clothing, but still a dime to check out for the art and experience.. An art studio, gallery, cafe and shop in one. Too cute if you ask me. I left with some pretty cool prints made right in the shop.
I"ll let the photos really speak to the stunning scenery you can find in Budapest. We barely took any public transportation since we knew we'd see much more on foot. It was honestly the best way to go. I would suggest the same and leave the suggestions slim in this section to allow for your own exploration.
I will however give some tips of certain spots I'm sure you'll end up checking out:
Széchenyi Thermal Baths - Public pools of water freak me out so I was already not into the idea of going, but everyone insisted we go. And yes - I think this is a unique experience you should try at least once. It almost seemed like a public semi-heated swimming pool that you would see in Las Vegas minus the booze and music, but of course with the Hungarian architectural views.
You can rent towels there for a small fee + deposit, but beware of people taking your towel and causing you to loose your deposit. That almost happened to us. Also, don't forget sandals or something to wear walking around the not so pleasant floors like I did. One cool part you might consider as well is the option to pay for a thai massage after the baths. I had to say that was my favorite part.
Buda Castle - Absolutely stunning views and a clear tourist attraction. Crossing the Danube to get the Buda from Pest was actually a very short walk so I would suggest walking the bridge. From there it was also nice walking up the hill and stairs to get to the castle. We didn't get to take the Funicular, but that would also be a good option up the hill. Soak it all in and take pictures - but don't both eating there or staying all day. A half day is sufficient if anything.
Budapest attracts a lot of visitors from neighboring (and far) countries, which speaks to their lively nightlife. I surprisingly heard a lot of British accents. Just like you, everyone else that is visiting wants to go out and have a great time so you'll definitely sense a heightened energy. Certain spots still go off on a weekday, because tourists don't care about what day it is. We sure didn't.
Here are some spots we hit up:
Dürer Kurt, Budapest, Ajtósi Dürer sor 19-21, 1146 Hungary - A music venue that was an unexpected stop. We made a new friend who told us about a show to see July Talk and the extremely easy on the eyes (and ears) Hungarian band, Middlemist Red. Seeing live music is always high on my list so I definitely recommend seeing a band here if you're in town.
Szimpla Kurt, Budapest, Kazinczy u. 14, 1075 Hungary - The first "ruin bar" that created the best branding for Budapest nightlife. Please google "ruin bar" and read up. When you arrive to Szimpla Kurt, explore and get lost on the multiple floors and hidden areas. It was honestly made up of 90% tourists, but again - they bring the party vibes.
Instant, Budapest, Nagymező u. 38, 1065 Hungary - From the first ruin bar to the biggest one. Another destination tourist spot for a good time and loud music. Why not right?
Kolor, Budapest Király u. 13, 1068 Hungary - A bar and restaurant. We went here to go to Monday Session , a hip hop night, which they were hosting at Kolor. Good classic beats and chill crowd for a monday. I'd check out where Monday Session is happening since they change venues.
So you ready for Budapest?