The Hungarian capital can be many things to many people — something that makes it a particularly ideal travel destination. A rich history, architectural beauty, stunning skyline and proximity to nature only scratch the surface of what you can find in Budapest. Looking for more? Our local Budapest tour guides have gathered their picks for some of the best things to see and do while you’re visiting.
Mikszáth Square is in the heart of the so-called Palace Quarter (also called District 8). This up-and-coming neighbourhood is filled with neo-renaissance, neo-baroque palaces built in the second part of the 19th century, which makes it a must-see for every architecture lover. The square itself is in the very centre of the neighbourhood with some nice restaurants and a cool café-bar called Lumen. These few streets provide a serious slice of history, and the sometimes-shabby facades still hold something of the grandeur of the Monarchy, while the bullet holes visible on some buildings are still there from the 1956 uprising, or even from World War II.
If you’re you a huge beer lover you may want to make time in your Budapest itinerary to check out Élesztő, the biggest and most important craft beer pub in Budapest. It has appeared in some best beer pub lists in the past few years and rightly so. They have 21 taps and change their selection almost on a daily basis. Plus, every Sunday there is a great farmers’ market held right in the pub.
This is a must-visit for beer fans, but the whole neighbourhood where the bar is found is exciting, too. Other new craft beer pubs have opened up in the past several years making this once industrial, shady area a true heaven for beer lovers. Psst: Really love beer? Check out our Best Beers of Budapest tour.
The city has two completely different sides (Buda and Pest), with Buda being the hilly one. But it is not only Castle and Gellért Hill that are worth visiting. Among the locals, the other hills of Buda (Normafa, Zugliget and Hármashatárhegy) are even more popular destinations for a one-day hike. To get up in the hills you can use all different kinds of public transport. From Városmajor park you can hop onto the cogwheel railway (tram line 60) to Széchenyi hegy (close to Normafa) where you can transfer to the Children’s Railway which is almost completely operated by children (under the supervision of adult railway workers). It’s up to you whether you want to go all the way or get off at János Hill where the Elisabeth Lookout can give you a stunning view of Budapest and surrounding areas.
The downtown market on Hold street may not be as famous as the big central one, but it might be more exciting for foodies. It’s best to arrive here with a rumbling stomach because even though the market stocks fresh produce, the real deal here are the more specialty goods. From sausages and salamis, to baked goods and the tastiest dairy products, you can find a lot worth eating here. Not to mention, the second floor of the market is home to various high-quality fast food options including the city’s best (and biggest) wiener schnitzel.
Don’t miss Massolit Books and Café in the Jewish district. This small café and bookstore is one of the best places to hang out while having a coffee or a cake. The hidden garden in the back is adorable and an ideal spot to while away an hour or two. Feel free to grab an old magazine from the shelves or just enjoy the company of the bohemian regulars. Massolit is beloved by expats who live in Budapest, so if you want to get a new point of view about the city you can find it here.