Budapest, the capital of Hungary, has become popular in recent years, and rightly so. It is situated on the beautiful Danube River and is filled with history, thermal spas and exciting nightlife. I may be biased as I had a Hungarian grandmother and have been going to Budapest since I was a child, but I thoroughly recommend a visit.
Buda and Pest were once separate cities, with Buda on the left bank and Pest on the right, that were unified in 1873 and the new city was called Budapest. However, Buda and Pest still retain their own characteristics. Buda is quieter, with many residential buildings, although the Budavar District has plenty of sightseeing opportunities, including Buda Castle. Pest is livelier with many famous attractions, including the Jewish Quarter, the Parliament Building, and the Central Market Hall.
Nightlife is buzzing in Pest, especially in the ‘ruin’ pubs, which are quirky bars and nightclubs housed in abandoned buildings. Hungarian food is meat-orientated so Budapest is not the ideal place to go if you are vegan. However, it is a big city and there are restaurants and cafes where you can get plant-based food.
Traditional Hungarian dishes include goulash, chicken paprikash, and langos, a street food of fried dough topped with sour cream or cheese. Cakes are delicious, and Somloi Galuska is the most popular. It is a layered cake with chocolate cream, walnuts, rum, and whipped cream. The national drink of Hungary is Palinka, a strong fruit-flavoured brandy drunk as a shot.
The climate in Budapest is continental, with cold winters and warm to hot summers. It can, however, rain at any time of the year, so be prepared with a rain jacket or umbrella. If you haven’t been to Budapest before, you may not know where to stay in Budapest. The city has 23 districts, and I have chosen five that I think are the best. They are all different in what they offer, so I think you will find at least one that you will like. I have also chosen three hotels in each district to suit different budgets.
Where To Stay In Budapest
Budavar – District I
Budavar is the only district that I have chosen on the Buda side of the river.
Most of the left bank is residential, but Budavar, or the Castle District, is filled with attractions.
You won’t be surprised to hear that this is where Buda Castle is.
It used to be the royal palace and was first built in the 13th century.
However, in the 18th century, it was redesigned in the Baroque style.
It now houses the Hungarian National Gallery and the Budapest Historical Museum.
There are other museums in Budavar, including the House of Houdini, the Museum of Military History, and the Museum of Music History.
Also worth visiting in Budavar is the Matthias Church, which is said to date back to 1015, and Halaszbastya, or Fisherman’s Bastion, which looks like a Disney castle.
From the terraces, you get magnificent views of the river and the Pest side of the city.
Budavar is an expensive area, and there aren’t many hotels that are less than 3 stars, but I have searched and found a budget hotel as well as mid-range and luxury hotels.
Where To Stay In Budavar
Luxury: Hotel Clark Budapest – Adults Only
If you are at that stage in your life where you don’t want children running around all the time, this hotel will suit you down to the ground.
Perhaps you are on your honeymoon, or maybe you have had children and they are now grown up, and you want to experience a holiday with just you and your partner.
The rooms all have air conditioning, a TV with satellite channels, an ensuite bathroom with either a bathtub or shower, complimentary toiletries and hairdryer, free Wi-Fi, and a coffee machine.
Some rooms also have a balcony.
Dine at Leo Bistro or have a drink at the Leo Rooftop Bar, which has stunning city views.
Depending on the package, breakfast can be included.
The hotel is very close to Buda Castle, Matthias Church, and the Chain Bridge, which connects Buda to Pest.
Just over the bridge, you will find St. Stephen’s Basilica and the Hungarian Parliament Building.
The hotel is a good base if you want to explore both sides of the river.
The airport is 25 km (15.5 miles) away from the hotel.
Mid-Range: Monastery Boutique Hotel
The Monastery Boutique Hotel is also in prime position 600 metres (1969 feet) away from the Halaszbastya, 1.4 km (0.87 miles) from Buda Castle, and 700 metres (2296 feet) from the Chain Bridge, making it easy to get to the other side of the river.
The nearest underground station is just 600 metres (1968 feet) away.
There are two restaurants in the hotel and a bar, but if you prefer to go out, there are many restaurants, cafes, and bars close by.
The hotel serves a substantial buffet breakfast every morning.
Rooms have ensuites with a bath, air conditioning, TV, tea and coffee maker and a desk.
The hotel offers a beautiful river view, a garden, and a 24-hour front desk.
The staff will happily give you tips on what there is to see in the area and how to get there.
Budget: Mercure Budapest Castle Hill
I have found a budget hotel in the expensive Budavar district, and it offers everything you need for a great holiday.
The rooms all have air conditioning, a private bathroom, a satellite TV, free Wi-Fi, a safety deposit box, and a tea and coffee maker.
The hotel has a bar and two restaurants, and some packages include breakfast.
There is a shop in the hotel, and a large car park if you want to hire a car.
The Mercure is right next door to the Deli railway and metro station, and it is only four stops to the city centre on the other side of the river, so when you have explored Budavar, you can head over to Pest to enjoy what it has to offer.
Belvaros – Lipotvaros: District V
Belvaros-Lipotvaros is on the opposite side of the Danube to Budavar and is the downtown area.
It is just as attractive as Budavar, with beautiful architecture, museums, and many cafes and restaurants.
A highlight of this district is the Hungarian Parliament Building, built in the Gothic style on the banks of the river.
You can take a guided tour of the building, and when you come out, you will be on the Danube Embankment which is a lovely place to take a stroll.
Here you will have stunning views of the Buda side of the river, and you can stop for a coffee or a meal.
You shouldn’t miss seeing the Shoes on the Danube, which are 60 pairs of shoes in the style of the 1940s, cast in iron and anchored to the ground.
They are dedicated to the Jews who were murdered during WWII.
You may think that this is a strange memorial, but during the war, Jews were taken to the Danube and ordered to take off their shoes before they were shot and fell into the river.
Going away from the river, you will come across the 18th-century Vaci Street, which is a shopaholic’s paradise, though be warned, the shops are all high-end.
There’s a decent choice of restaurants, cafes, and bars along this street.
You should visit St. Stephen’s Basilica, the third-largest church in Hungary and the tallest building in Budapest.
There are spectacular views of the left bank of the Danube from the right tower, but if the thought of climbing 95 metres (314 feet) fills you with dread, there is a lift.
A lot of tourists stay in this district, so prices in restaurants and hotels are high.
You won’t find anything lower than a three-star hotel.
Where To Stay In Belvaros-Lipotvaros
Parisi Udvar Hotel Budapest
Four Seasons Gresham Palace
Aria Hotel Budapest by Library Hotel Collections
If you enjoy music, you will love this hotel because the rooms and suites are all centred around music genres and include an upmarket multimedia system.
In addition, you can have drinks in the Music Garden while listening to live music each evening.
The accommodation is spectacular and includes an iPad, a Nespresso coffee machine, air conditioning, and an ensuite bathroom with a bath, a walk-in shower, bathrobes, slippers, and toiletries.
There is free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel.
The facilities are second to none and include a spa centre with a swimming pool, sauna, hammam, and there is also a gym.
A complimentary buffet breakfast is available every day.
You can get free coffee and tea with biscuits and fruit all day, and from 4.00 p.m.
until 6.00 p.m., there is a free wine and cheese tasting.
Meals are served in the Cafe Liszt, and the High Note SkyBar offers not only drinks but a panoramic view over the city and the Danube.
Mid-Range: Mercure Budapest Korona
This hotel is in a prime position as it is close to St.
Stephen’s Basilica, the Hungarian Parliament, and the Hungarian State Opera.
It is on the pedestrianised Vaci Street, so you have shops, restaurants, cafes, and bars at your fingertips.
It is also not too far from District VII and the Jewish Quarter, where you can learn about the history and culture of the Jews.
It is also not too far from the tram and metro, so you can easily explore the rest of the city.
The rooms were renovated in 2018 and have air conditioning, an ensuite bathroom, a TV, a safety deposit box, a tea and coffee maker, and free Wi-Fi.
The hotel has a restaurant called Winestone, which offers innovative dishes along with an extensive wine list.
Breakfast is included in some packages, and you can order room service.
Budget: Danubius Hotel Erzsebet City Centre
This hotel is on a pedestrianised street, so you don’t have to worry about the noise of traffic.
All along the street are cafes and bars.
so you won’t have to go far if you want a coffee, drink, or light meal.
It is also close to Vica Street.
The hotel has its own restaurant called the Meszar Steak Kitchen, which, as you can guess, is meat-oriented.
The restaurant also serves an included breakfast.
There is a bar, Judy’s Wine Bar, where you can enjoy a pre-dinner drink.
All rooms are air-conditioned, have a private bathroom with a bath, heating, a TV, free Wi-Fi, and a minibar.
The metro is just 200 metres (656 feet) away and there is free parking if you decide to hire a car.
For more about Hungary read:
Erzsebetvaros – District VII
Erzsebetvaros is also known as both District VII and the Jewish Quarter.
It is a small district, but it has a large population for its size.
As it is the Jewish Quarter, you will see many sights connected to Jewish history, such as the Hungarian Jewish Museum and Archives, and the Great Synagogue (Nagy Zsinagoya), which is the second-largest synagogue in the world.
It is also worth visiting the Kazinoy Street Synagogue and the Wallenberg Holocaust Memorial Park.
In contrast, the nightlife is vibrant, so if you like to party when it gets dark, this is the place you should stay.
There is a party atmosphere every night, with young people and the not-so-young enjoying ruin bars and clubs.
It is cheaper to stay here than in Budavar or Belvaros, and you will find many budget and mid-range hotels.
There aren’t as many luxury hotels here, but there are a few that are five-star.
Where To Stay In Erzsebetvaros
Luxury: Anantara New York Palace Budapest
This hotel is elegant and sophisticated and is housed in a beautiful 19th-century building.
The rooms are decorated with opulent Italian furnishings, silk wallpaper, and chandeliers.
The New York Cafe inside the hotel has gilded stucco columns and frescoes and offers live piano music.
The rooms are all air-conditioned and have an ensuite bathroom, a TV, a minibar, tea and coffee maker, and a safety deposit box.
There is free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel.
The hotel also has a fitness centre and a spa with saunas, a steam bath, and a relaxation pool with a hot tub.
Breakfast is served in the Deep Water Breakfast Room, and the Salon Fine Dining Restaurant offers traditional Hungarian cuisine for dinner.
Mid-Range: Leonardo Boutique Hotel Budapest M-Square
This hotel is conveniently situated just 150 metres (492 feet) from Deak Square, the main metro hub of the city, so it is easy for you to visit other parts of Budapest.
The rooms are all air-conditioned and have heating, free Wi-Fi, a TV, a private bathroom, a safety deposit box, and a tea and coffee maker.
Some rooms have a terrace, and others have separate sitting and sleeping areas.
Breakfast is available at this hotel, and some packages include it in the price.
Budget: Ibis Budapest City
This hotel is conveniently in Blatia Luiza Square, close to shops and attractions.
It’s a 15-minute walk to the Hungarian National Museum, and Vaci Street is two stops away on the metro.
There, you will find many shops, restaurants, cafes, and bars.
The rooms all have both air conditioning and heating, along with a private bathroom.
Continental breakfast is available and is included in some packages.
Jozsefvaros – District 8
Jozsefvaros is one of the oldest districts in Budapest and is named after Emperor Joseph II.
Here you will find stunning architecture, museums, universities, and libraries.
The area is also known as the Palace Quarter because the wealthy built mansions here in the 19th century.
Go into the enormous Szabo Ervin Library, which used to be the home of the Wenckheim family, and head to the fourth floor, where you can see some of their original furnishings.
The library itself holds around one million books.
Museums in this district include the Hungarian National Museum and the Natural History Museum, which is the largest in the country.
Art galleries include Molnar Ani Gallery and TOBE, which showcases photography.
This district isn’t that touristy, but it may change as trendy and stylish restaurants, cafes, and bars have recently popped up.
The hotels in Jozsefvaros are mainly mid-range, but I have managed to find a luxury hotel and a budget hotel.
Where To Stay In Jozsefvaros
Luxury: Silver Crown Hotel & Residence, Palace Quarter
This hotel is in prime position as it is close to many sites.
The Hungarian National Museum is just 0.7 km (0.43 miles) away, not far from the Jewish Quarter and is just 0.4 km, (0.25 miles) from Dohany Street Synagogue.
The rooms are elegant and sophisticated and have luxurious extras like free toiletries.
All rooms have a kitchen, free Wi-Fi, air conditioning, heating, and a safety deposit box.
You can have an optional breakfast in the Arni restaurant, which is also open for lunch and dinner.
Relax with a drink in the bar after a hard day’s sightseeing.
Mid-Range: Zoya Luxury Residence
The rooms in this hotel offer everything you need for an enjoyable stay, a home away from home.
They all have a private bathrooms, a fully equipped kitchen with a handy dishwasher, washing machine, TV and free Wi-Fi.
If you don’t feel like cooking, you can have breakfast in the hotel, and on offer is a buffet, continental or a full English or Irish breakfast.
There are cafes and restaurants in the vicinity as well.
Zoya Luxury Residence has an indoor swimming pool.
The hotel is just 1.2 km (0.74 miles) from the Hungarian National Museum and 2.2 km (1.36 miles) from the city centre.
Budget: Intercity Hotel Budapest
The Intercity Hotel Budapest is close to many attractions, such as The House of Terrors, a museum dedicated to the regimes of the Communists and Fascists in the 20th century.
It is also near the Dohany Street Synagogue and the Hungarian National Museum.
The rooms all have free Wi-Fi, air conditioning, heating, a tea and coffee maker, a desk, and a private bathroom with a shower.
The hotel has a cool bar and the restaurant serves an American breakfast.
If you are travelling to Budapest on business, there is a business centre and a meeting room in the hotel.
Ferencvaros – District IX
Ferencvaros used to be a quiet area, but since many international college students moved into the area, it has become lively, with new restaurants, bars, and cafes popping up everywhere.
It has a beautiful promenade by the river, which is a lovely place to take a stroll.
There are beautiful views of the Danube and the other side of the river, and you’ll have a choice of cafes and bars where you can relax with a coffee or a drink.
The Great Market Hall, which is the largest market in Budapest, is well worth a visit.
Mingle with the locals on the ground floor, where fresh fruit and vegetables are sold alongside paprika-flavoured cold cuts of meat.
On the first floor, you will find booths selling street food as well as souvenir stalls.
If you enjoy visiting museums, Ferencvaros has a few, including the Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art and the Zwack Museum, which tells the story of Hungary’s famous herbal liqueur, Unicum, and best of all, you get a taste!
Next to the Zwack Museum is a popular thermal bath, the Dandar Baths.
If you like jazz, you will love this district.
The Budapest Music Centre is home to the city’s jazz scene and has concerts on most days.
Where To Stay In Ferencvaros
Arpadtravel is conveniently situated with the Hungarian National Museum just 1.6 km (0.99 miles) away and Dohany Street Synagogue, 2.8 km (1.73 miles).
The airport is 12 km (7.45 miles) away, and the 24-hour front desk is happy to arrange airport transfers for you.
The hotel’s wellness centre and indoor swimming pool are great for when the weather is inclement.
There’s a garden and a bar to relax in if sightseeing has got the better of you.
The rooms are well-equipped and you can choose one with a hot tub, bidet, a kitchen with a dishwasher, microwave, and toaster, a living area, a dining area and free Wi-Fi.
Mid-Range: MT Suites Budapest
MT Suites Budapest offers an airport shuttle, but there is private parking if you decide to hire a car.
The hotel is only 500 metres (0.3 miles) from the Hungarian National Museum and only 1.7 km.
(1 mile) from the city centre, Belvaros, with its many museums, restaurants, bars, and cafes.
The rooms all have free Wi-Fi, a fully equipped kitchen, a TV, a desk, a seating area with a sofa, air conditioning, and heating.
Budget: Di Verdi Imperial Hotel
This hotel offers everything you need for a pleasant stay at a very reasonable price.
The rooms are all air-conditioned and have heating, a TV, a kettle, and a private bathroom.
There is free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel.
If you want breakfast, it is available, and some packages include it.
If walking around the city isn’t enough exercise for you, there is a fitness centre at the hotel.
The Di Verdi Imperial Hotel is just 1.6 km away.
(9.32 miles) away from both the Hungarian National Museum and the Great Market Hall.