Andy here again (could probably tell by the title of this blog, but just in case). Sam’s would have been something like “We Go Together like Buda and Pest”. Well, Sam, you may be the Buda to my Pest, but we’re throwin’ it back to 2006 Bubba Sparxx with this title.
Budapest had long been on my bucket list, and I told Sam at the beginning of this trip that this city was an absolute non-negotiable for me. I had heard so many amazing things from so many people about Budapest, that I absolutely did not want to miss it. Sam agreed – and I’m so glad she did but it lived up to all the hype.
One of the great things about Budapest is there’s stuff to see, but not so much where you feel like you have to spend every waking hour sightseeing. Instead, you can see what you want while taking plenty of time to eat and drink your way through the city.
And what a city it is for eating and drinking.
We stayed in Pest, which seems to be wear most visitors stay, and it was great. We loved our Air BnB. We had an incredible host who gave us plenty of suggestions and also decorated her apartment in the perfect blend of funk and rock n’ roll.
If (when?) we go back, we’ll make a point to stay across the river in Buda, because we fell in love with that side of the city, too.
I keep saying that I’d love to go back to Budapest on a boy’s trip (no disrespect to Sam), because the plethora of inexpensive bars make it a great place for bar hopping.
So let’s dive into my love affair. We’ll start with the list of “things to see”, so we can make sure we get that part covered for you.
Hands down our favorite site/view point in Budapest was Fisherman’s Bastion. We walked up right around sunset and found some amazing architecture, but even more jaw-dropping than that was the view it provided. Fisherman’s Bastion is located in Buda and gives you a panoramic view of Pest, including the beautiful Parliament building. We could have stayed up here for hours, and it actually made us wish we stayed in Buda, instead of Pest.
After checking out the view, we went over and ate at a cozy little restaurant with a great outdoor area called Pest-Buda bistro. We ate some Toros Csusza (think: Kugel) and paprika chicken (famous in these parts) and both were delicious.
There’s also a sweet looking Hilton hotel right up in that area which gives you the panoramic views as well. So if you have the budget, we’d definitely recommend looking there for a night or two, because the views and location were incredible.
We also checked out the Chain Bridge, another classic spectacle that connects Buda to Pest. It looks really cool at night, so we’d recommend checking it out after the sun goes down.
If you’re looking for more views, ride the funicular up to Buda Castle where you can walk around the old castle grounds and take in more sweeping views of the city. There’s also a little restaurant up there so you can grab a bite to eat or a drink if you’re so inclined.
I already mentioned the views of the Parliament building, but definitely take the time to go see it up close. It’s an incredible work for architecture with people bustling outside of it snapping photos and enjoying the grounds. I’m pretty sure you could also go inside if you wanted to be, but we chose to enjoy the building from the outside.
One of the more powerful sites in Budapest are the Shoes on the Danube Bank. The 60 true-to-life pairs of iron shoes are a chilling tribute to the 20,000 Jews who were forced to remove their footwear and then executed on the bank of the Danube. Cast-iron signs along the memorial state in English, Hebrew, and Hungarian, “To the memory of the victims shot into the Danube by Arrow Cross militiamen in 1944–45. Erected 16 April 2005.” If you’re visiting Budapest, we urge you to visit this memorial, reflect, and pay respects to those lost in this horrific time in history.
On a brighter note…bars, restaurants, and cafes!
As always, we checked off a bunch of rooftops that Sam had researched.
We checked out 360 rooftop, Highnote Sky Bar, and Intermezzo. 360 and Highnote were far and away our favorites.
360 rooftop is appropriately named for its 360 views of Budapest. If you go up here at sunset, you surely won’t be disappointed. The cocktail list is solid, and as everywhere else in Budapest… affordable.
Highnote had an indoor and outdoor portion, which provides nice options depending on the weather you get. While not offering the same sweeping views that 360 does, it offers great views of the city and particular buildings. It provides a great experience and you get to see some of the great architecture up high and personal (see what I did there?)
The first place we went to grab some food was called TolTo. It’s a tiny little place off one of the main streets that serves up incredible sausages. Sam doesn’t even like sausages, but she liked hers. They come served on buns with different options including sauces, fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and more. Ding!
Our favorite breakfast spot was Szimply, conveniently right across the street from a favorite coffee shop Kontak. The move is to get your coffee at Kontak and bring it across the way to Szimply – it makes for a great combo.
Kontak was a little intimidating because it’s definitely one of these hoity toity coffee shops that looks down on you if you ruin your coffee with milk and sugar. But, once you get over that, you quickly realize these guys know what they’re doing and serve up a great cup.
Put your name in at Szimply first, because there is going to be a wait. So, we put our name in, sat with our coffee until they called us, and then brought our cups over to enjoy some delicious avocado toast. They have other items on the menu, and all looked good, but we were quickly sold on the avo toast (basic!) that did not disappoint.
By far one of my favorite bars that I went to on the entire trip around the sun was Szimpla Kert. It’s the oldest Ruin Pub in Budapest and I wish I was sitting there right now writing this article. Beers are dirt cheap and the decor is an eclectic arrangement of tables, chairs, signs, fans, misters, and anything else that were thrown together to create this magical aesthetic. If I could go back, and one day I will, I will spend an entire day jumping from ruin bar to ruin bar. Sam knew she was in trouble as soon as we walked in because she could tell I was in love. But the good news is, she was too.
Another famous hot spot in Budapest is of course, the Szechenyi Thermal baths. These baths were definitely impressive, there were 18 different baths to choose from, talk about options! Before I make this next comment I want to paint a quick picture for you. We were in Europe in the high season. That means there are SO many people everywhere, all the time. So with the thermal baths being the #1 thing to do in Budapest- of course there were going to be tons of people, rocking their speedos. It was HOT and humid outside when were in Budapest. I’m talking 88 degrees and sticky kinda hot. So to go in the baths that were about 100 degrees wasn’t exactly the most refreshing feeling in the world. We both agreed that we MUST come back to Budapest in the winter to experience these baths again. We think it’ll be a magical experience, a bit different than the one we had. Nonetheless, these baths are highly recommended to check out and approved by the Bests!
It’s hard to pick a favorite place from this amazing journey. But Budapest has to be somewhere near the top. At the very least, it’s certainly one of the places I would go back to over and over again.