Budapest, Hungary

Straddling the romantic Danube River, with the Buda Hills to the west and the start of the Great Plain to the east, Budapest is the most beautiful city in central Europe. And the human legacy is just as remarkable as Mother Nature’s. Architecturally, Budapest is a gem, with enough baroque, neoclassical, eclectic and art nouveau buildings to satisfy anyone’s appetite. With parks brimming with attractions, museums filled with treasures, pleasure boats sailing up and down the scenic Danube and Turkish-era thermal baths belching steam, the Hungarian capital is a delight both by day and by night.

SIGHTS

  • the Castle district is a great place to start – beautiful views of the city and some famous attractions: Matthias Church, Fisherman’s Bastion and the palace houses the National Gallery
  • The House of Terror Museum is really well done (a modern concept/experience type of museum) about life under the Hungarian nazis and under communist rule
  • Vajdahunyad castle is great for architects – built for the turn of the century celebrations in 1900 in the city park, the interconnecting buildings show different period architectural styles; Heroes square (Hosok Tere) is also nearby; both can be viewed in the evening as the outsides are the most interesting
  • The Museum of Fine Arts and Mucsarnok are both located on Heroes Square at the end of Andrássy Utca, Budapest’s grande boulevard, along which is the State Opera House
  • The Museum of Applied Arts has a roof tiled with Zsolnay ceramics and has nice industrial design exhibits
  • the Parliament is a beautiful neo-gothic building (like the houses of parliament in London); the inside can also be toured in the mornings
  • Gellért Hegy/Citadel amazing views of the Danube and both sides of the city
  • Gellért Bath and Széchényi Bath
  • Nagy Csarnok is the great market hall and features beautiful architecture and all the foods that Hungary is known for (paprika, Hungarian salami, etc.)
  • Váci Utca is the main pedestrian shopping street in Budapest with the Nagy Csarnok at one end and Vorosmarty Square with Gerbaud Cafe at the other. There is a great river walk near Vorosmarty Square with fantastic views of Buda
  • For some interesting sightseeing tours, check these out: Budapest Bike Breeze, ImagineBudapest, Unique Budapest, Beyond Budapest

FOOD

  • Zeller Bistro is the best restaurant in town period.
  • Pesti Disznó serves the delicious Hungarian dishes featuring the special mangalitsa pig.
  • Fatál Restaurant Be sure to try the Vetrece soup, which is an amazing garlic/tarragon type chicken soup served in a huge fresh hollowed out bun (the other food is great too, huge portions with lots of meat). We come here every time we’re in Budapest.
  • Klassz Étterem a foodie gem near Star Inn, see here for reviews
  • Két Szerecseny is another great restaurant in the area
  • Menza Étterem serves contemporary Hungarian cuisine in an ironic reworking of communist chic, as the restaurant design is based on the look of a 1960s canteen
  • Cafe Bouchon Restaurant another foodie haunt close to the Star Inn, this Hungarian/European fusion restaurant also comes highly recommended
  • Gundel
  • Csalogány 26 is a highly regarded fine dining restaurant that is considered one of the best in the city. It is reasonably priced and underneath the castle district.
  • Govinda Vegetarian Restaurant
  • Fruccola is a vegetarian cafe
  • Alabardos
  • Café Gerbeaud Try the Dobos torte, a famous Hungarian eight layer chocolate cake with caramelized sugar on top
  • Jég Bufé This has Dora’s favorite dessert – Rakoczi Habos
  • Ruszwurm Try the marcipan cake called Szamos Torta
  • Café New York has a beautiful interior that was recently renovated
  • Muvesz Cafe
  • Mannatural gives an option for fresh raw vegan food
  • Mozaik Teahouse is my favorite place to sit on pillows and have some yummy tea and dessert. I especially love their fruit teas!
  • Trofea is a large buffet style restaurant with huge quantities of food and drink

Hungarian foods to try

  • Porkolt (ghoulash stew) or Paprikás chicken
  • Pisztráng/Fogas (Rainbow trout/Pike-perch) – flaky, mild white freshwater fish that can be amazing when well prepared (usually breaded and fried or fried whole)
  • Lángos – Hungarian comfort food available upstairs in the market hall (Nagy Csarnok) or at small stands – fried dough traditionally served with garlic sauce, sour cream and grated cheese on top

Underground pubs and ruin pubs

ACCOMMODATION

EXCURSIONS

  • Szentendre is an adorable town just north of Budapest with cobblestone streets and colorful houses; it can be reached by the HEV commuter rail and it’s nice to return by boat down the Danube; there are many folklore shops as well as cute restaurants and cafes: Labirintus restaurant in the center has AMAZING Paloc Soup (better than Ghoulash soup) served in small cauldrons
  • Yellow Zebra Bikes has bike tours through most of the year. I’ve always enjoyed going on bike tours in different cities, as it lets you see things you may not have had time for!

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