If you’re looking for a gateway into exploring central and eastern Europe, you should seriously consider visiting Budapest. This city is still widely overlooked by tourists when planning their European vacations, but it shouldn’t be!
Budapest has a unique charm that’s all its own. During your Budapest travel experience you’ll find that this is where the gritty meets the elegant, the young and fresh meets the timeless, and the unassuming meets the grandiose.
All of these elements that make up Budapest’s personality create an unparalleled atmosphere you won’t find anywhere else. So why should you visit Budapest? We’re glad you asked!
14 Reasons for Visiting Budapest
Budapest is a bargain, even for central Europe. More affordable than Prague and neighboring Bratislava, you are in for a treat. The currency here is the Hungarian forint, which is weaker than the euro and even the Czech koruna, so your money will go even further when you visit Budapest.
In fact, according to recent surveys, Budapest has been named one of the cheapest holiday destinations on the planet. This is considering the prices for the travel necessities: eating out, alcohol prices, accommodation, and public transport.
Even if you want to visit museums or shop, these things will be cheaper than they are in most other places. So,your budget will be maximized to its full potential during your Budapest travel experience!
Take it from us – Hungarian food is delicious! There are loads of national and local dishes for you to try – or if you want to branch out a bit, there are plenty of international options, as well. As a result, all foodies should visit Budapest!
The most famous Hungarian dishes are goulash soup and langos. The goulash soup is to die for. Each restaurant or cafe can put their own twist on it, but the flavor stays consistently delicious – hearty and full of beef and paprika (the spice that the country is famous for!).
The langos here is also amazing. While you can find langos in other cities like Prague or Bratislava, it’s just not the same! In Budapest, the langos is topped with sour cream, fresh garlic, and shredded cheese – a unique flavor you’ll miss as soon as you leave. So trust us, your Budapest travel experience won’t be complete without at least one langos.
If you’re not into Hungarian food, don’t worry! The city has a diverse offering of other international options readily available, and you can wash all of it down with a fresh homemade lemonade. Hamburgers are especially popular in Budapest these days, and you can find a whole variety of them in many place across the city. And if you’re a vegan, don’t worry, plenty of options for vegans a well!
Budapest is famous for its ruin bars and pubs, and rightly so! These are places you won’t find anywhere else and they have become a cornerstone of the city’s nightlife. Whether you’re looking to grab a drink or a bite to eat, these places are a must-see when you visit Budapest. Located in buildings that had been abandoned, mostly in the Jewish District, these run-down yet stylish venues offer a cool place to spend a night out or chill during the day.
The most famous ruin bar is Szimpla Kert – the one that started it all. Opened in 2004, this ruin bar has become so popular that at night a line tends to form outside, sometimes snaking all the way down the street. So, our recommendation? Get there early if you want to check it out without waiting in line for ages! If you don’t make it here, however, there are a ton of other ruin bars in the area that you can visit.
These are a signature of the city that you absolutely must see during your Budapest travel experience.
If you’re looking to relax for a day during your Budapest travel experience, pay a visit to one of the city’s thermal baths. These are a long-standing tradition, and you’ll still find older locals occupying corners of the outdoor pools playing games of chess while having their daily soak. The biggest and most famous is Szechenyi, but there are others dotted around the city.
Szechenyi boasts 15 indoor baths and 3 outdoor pools containing natural hot spring waters, plus 10 saunas. They also have massages and facials if you wish to pamper yourself a bit more when you visit Budapest. They are surrounded by a stunning neo-Baroque palace built specifically to host the baths.
At night, the thermal baths sometimes host foam parties and other nightlife events, so plan your visit carefully depending on the atmosphere you’re looking for.
Budapest travel is well-known for its crazy nightlife scene, and it’s easy to see why! With the trendy ruin bars, the hyped-up nightclubs, and the lively local pubs, the city truly comes alive at night. Budapest is home to a huge population of young people, so there’s always something going on after dark.
Check out one of the ruin bars that we mentioned before, or go on the popular boat party, which is basically a pub crawl with an open bar on a boat. Enjoy a few drinks while cruising down the Danube at night and admiring the view of the monuments all lit up. Afterwards, the staff will escort you to other bars or clubs where you can continue the party.
Young people from all over visit Budapest just to experience the unique nightlife, so definitely check it out while you’re there if that’s something you’re into.
Young and Artsy City
As we’ve already mentioned, Budapest is home to a lot of young people, including locals, students, and expats. As a result, there are tons of young creatives and entrepreneurs who contribute their own unique perspective to the local community. Take advantage of exploring everything they have to offer when you visit Budapest!
Take the ruin bars, for example. Szimpla Kert was set up by a group of entrepreneurs looking to create a unique community space. Now, the ruin bars have become hubs for art and creativity during the day and live music and parties at night.
Besides the ruin bars, Budapest offers tons of art museums, flea markets, cafes, and other venues where young people can come together and share their ideas. This environment gives them the opportunity to breathe new life into the city at every turn, making Budapest travel different each time you go (yes, it’s worth visiting more than once!).
The capital of Hungary has a rich history, and it’s easy to see just with a stroll through the city’s streets. Modern-day Budapest has existed since the late 1800s, when the Buda and Pest sides were joined to make one city, but the known history of the city dates back to the Romans in 89 AD.
More recently, Budapest has changed hands from the Ottoman Turks to the Habsburgs, then became independent before being war-torn by World War II. The city eventually ended up under the sphere of Soviet communism. Finally, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Hungary became what we know it as today.
The history of Budapest is commemorated by monuments and landmarks across the city, from the shoes on the banks of the Danube River to Castle Hill, the Fisherman’s Bastion to the Parliament building, and more.
The Mix of Architectural Styles
Along with a rich history comes a diverse mix of architectural styles commemorating the most important time periods in the city’s past. Budapest is known for its “faded beauty,” meaning that a lot of its buildings have not been renovated or restored, so while they may be old, it is this specific quality that makes Budapest so intriguing.
The city is also home to many examples of Gothic, Renaissance, Classic, and Baroque architectural styles. After being ruled by so many different influences from both the East and West, the city is a unique and intriguing blend of beautiful architecture.
The Danube at Night
The Danube River at night makes the list of reasons why you should visit Budapest because the view of the city after dark is unforgettable. Walking along the banks will show you everything you want to see: the river, the buildings lit up on both sides, and the shoes on the banks, but if you’re really looking to experience the Danube at night, do a night cruise.
A night cruise on the Danube will provide you with a beautiful panoramic view of the city’s main landmarks in all their glory. The Hungarian Parliament building twinkles with the glow of a thousand lights, while the Buda Castle, the Fisherman’s Bastion, Matthias Church, and other historical buildings and bridges are also lit up for you to enjoy. This may be the sight you remember most from your Budapest travel experience!
Some of the Best Sites are Free!
We already mentioned that the main attractions in Budapest tend to be cheaper than the ones in other places, but did you know that some of the best sights to see when you visit Budapest are free? Some of Budapest’s landmarks are UNESCO World Heritage sights, too, so you won’t want to miss them.
Buda Castle is one of the most well-known sights that is completely free of charge. It’s home to the royal gardens, the Hungarian National Library, the Royal Palace, and the National Gallery. The Fisherman’s Bastion lookout point is also free, and provides one of the best views of the city. You can also visit Heroes Square, the iconic Chain Bridge, the Garden Bazaar, Margaret Island, and much more – all completely free of charge.
The Wine and the Palinka
After wolfing down all that delicious Hungarian food, you need something to wash it down with. And what better option than sweet Hungarian wine or a glass of their signature fruity brandy: palinka.
Hungary is famous for its vineyards, and you’ll be able to taste wine from all over the country during your Budapest travel experience. In fact, underneath Budapest’s castle district, there are historic caves with cellars that sometimes offer wine tastings.
Palinka is also a beloved Budapest favorite. This fruit brandy is an old Hungarian tradition. It is made from a variety of different fruits, and is said to be good for your health. The most famous and most popular flavor is apricot. No matter what flavor you choose, be sure to try at least one when you visit Budapest!
Budapest’s location is ideal whether you’re looking to explore Eastern or Western Europe. Located just a few hours by both bus and train from cities like Prague, Vienna, and Bratislava, it’s easy to get to whether you’re just passing through for a day or if you’re looking to spend more time here.
Plus, it’s close to the Hungarian countryside, which holds some of the most beautiful nature in Europe! Don’t be afraid to get off the beaten path and explore the greenery.
Inhabitants of the former Communist bloc aren’t exactly known for being friendly, but in Budapest, the locals will surprise you. The city’s residents are upbeat, smiley, and hospitable – and most of them (at least the young ones) speak good English, too.
If you need help during your Budapest travel experience, don’t hesitate to ask the locals for tips. They’ll give you directions, tell you the best places to go, and some of them will even order you a cab to get where you’re going. This city is pretty unpretentious and relaxed, and the locals carry the same attitude.
Budapest might not have as much green space as some of the surrounding cities, but the green space it does have is absolutely beautiful! Take advantage of one of the city’s parks while you’re in town and enjoy a mini escape from the hustle and bustle.
When you visit Budapest, Margaret Island should be near the top of your list of must-sees. This island in the middle of the Danube boasts promenades for your strolling pleasure, the ruins of an old convent, thermal spas, a musical fountain, and even a small zoo. You could entertain yourself for an entire day just in this one park.
City Park is home to the botanical gardens, a few museums, a lake, and plenty of grass to sit back, relax, and have a picnic. If these two parks aren’t enough for you, explore Nepliget (the People’s Park), which is the largest park in Budapest, or Gellert Hill.
And there you have it, folks. Those are 14 reasons why you should visit Budapest, but in many ways we’re just scratching the tip of the iceberg here. Budapest is one of our favorite European cities, and we’re hoping it becomes one of your faves too!
Let us know what YOU think of Budapest in the comments below, or on Twitter. As always, happy travels!