You feel the heat, you feel the sweat, you feel the sun. When stepping out of the Central Station, Budapest had me just because of the weather. It was in the middle of August and it was hot as hell. I would guess about 35°C (95°F). But I loved it! Living in Germany can be quite frustrating since our summer doesn’t last very long and it barely gets this warm.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t as lucky with my accommodation as with the weather. I booked an apartment via Airbnb, but the man hadn’t answered anymore, so I had to book a hotel at the last minute. And when I say last minute I mean I was already in Budapest. You can imagine how I felt when coming to a new city without a sleeping spot. But I found a free room in the Novotel, which was of course way more expensive. From friends I heard they lived in an old, shabby house. So all in all, I would say Airbnb in Budapest is not a very good choice. You should better look for a hostel or hotel.
So while walking with my luggage to the Novotel, which was close to the Central Station, I was looking around to see what Hungary’s capital looks like. I saw filth and empty rundown houses. I saw lots of bums resting on a piece of cardboard. I saw lots of fast food chains like McDonald’s or Burger King. My first impression of Budapest wasn’t quite good. But when I had a closer look at the city, I saw the beautiful spots that Budapest has to offer. If you want to spend your vacation in European’s ninth-biggest city, then explore Budapest’s sights and food hotspots in this City Guide.
Looking for a good observation point over the city of Budapest? You might find it at the Buda Castle which rises on Castle Hill. It’s the castle and palace of the Hungarian kings of Budapest and is also a part of the UNESCO World Heritage since 1987. From up there you have probably the most beautiful view over the city and the Donau river.
Right on the Castle Hill you find the Fisherman’s Bastion. It’s a terrace in net-gothic and net-romanesque style with seven towers and perfect sport for romantic Instagram photos.
The Great Market Hall
If you love food and want the best variety of all, then the Great Market Hall is the right address for you. It is not just the largest and oldest indoor market in Budapest, but also offers a huge variety of meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, pastries, candies and spicy stuff on three floors.
The alternative district of Budapest is a must and gives you an impression of the old Budapest. Throughout the years the Jewish Quarter developed to a hip and trendy cultural scene with lots of bars and food markets. For instance, you can stop by the cool ruin bar Szimpla wert to hang out and drink a beer. Right next to it, you find the Street Food Karaván, a food market with delicious Hungarian food.
In the middle of the Donau river you find an island called Margaret Island. It is THE hotspot when you love to walk in a big park or do sports. It not just has a professional running street around the island, but also offers sports equipment. Moreover, it is quite different compared to the city itself and makes Budapest even more attractive.
Shopping street Váci Utca
Here is an advice for the shopping fans: Váci Utca was Budapest’s oldest trade street and is now a popular strolling promenade. You find it in the old town of the district Pest near the Great Market Hall. But you will mostly see the common fashion stores and unfortunately no little and cute boutiques.
Did you know that Budapest is the city of thermal baths? In Hungary’s capital you find the most thermal baths in the world including 118 ponds and hot springs. I chose the Király Thermal Bath which was a great choice and so relaxing. I also had a massage in the end of the day. If you’re not sure which one to choose, maybe this Lonely Planet guide will help you.
A laid-back dinner is the perfect way to end an evening. And the perfect location for that is the Gozsdu Courtyard, a complex with seven buildings. When you step in you feel like you’re in the middle of a festival. Although it is noisy and crowded, it is a great spot to hang out for dinner.
One of the major squares in Budapest and also part of the UNESCO World Heritage is the Heroes’ Square. It is famous for its iconic statue featuring the Seven Chieftains of the Magyars, which were the leaders of the seven tribes of the Hungarians. It is a typical touristic spot, but an impressive one.
The best food spots
Last but not least some advice where you can go for dinner. A hip restaurant with an industrial style and a great atmosphere is Bestia. It’s located by the St. Stephen’s Basilica which is also a great place to walk around. One of the best ice creams of the city you get at the Levendula Ice Cream Manufacture and the For Sale Pub is perfect to write down your thoughts and pin the paper on the wall.
Have you ever been to Budapest or do you have anything to add? If not, read here my post about the 6 things you should know before going to Budapest. Also have a look at my FINA World Masters Championships post and get to know why I came to Budapest in the first place.