“They said that, of course, Budapest is beautiful. But it is in fact almost ludicrously beautiful.” -Anthony Bourdain
Best things to do in Budapest to live a local
The previously separate cities of Buda and Pest — linked together by the Danube River — were officially blended in 1873, and this Hungarian destination is unlike so many other cities across Europe. From a thriving nightlife scene spurred by the famous ruin bars, to thermal baths to soak your worries away 🛁, to sightseeing among Gothic Revival and Neoclassical style buildings, the variety of activities of Budapest feels unending. Read on for our local tips on what to do in the capital city of Hungary. ✨
What are the best places to eat in Budapest?
- Mazel Tov. Mazel Tov is the light and airy complement to Budapest’s typically dark and crowded ruin bars. With a crumbling façade, walking into this upscale, Middle Eastern restaurant with cocktails, mezze plates, modern design and occasionally live music is a pleasant surprise. Head next door to Fogasház, a more traditional ruin bar, for a post-meal drink.
- Menza. This is a popular dinner spot among the locals. You’ll enjoy traditional Hungarian food in a trendy eatery. It’s a lively, bustling restaurant during any visit, but if you’re travelling for your birthday, this is definitely where you’ll want to celebrate. 🎂 They turn off all the lights and play a fun birthday song and everyone claps for you; “Boldog születésnapot!” (“Happy Birthday” in Hungarian)
- Karavan Street Food. This outdoor eatery is home to a variety of food trucks and quick eats, from Mexican and Italian to Hungarian classics like langos. Located next to Szimpla Kert on the notorious party street Kazinczy utca, it’s perfect for a quick bite, day or night, while exploring.
- Levendula. During a long day of wandering the cobblestone streets, cool off with a scoop of ice cream with one of Levendula’s many unique flavours, such as green tea, rose 🌹, mint raspberry, and of course, lavender!
- Szimply. This tiny, hole-in-the-wall breakfast spot is hidden within the courtyard of a business building, and dining there feels like discovering a secret. Just a stone’s throw across the street is Kontakt (mentioned below) for fresh, no-frills coffee while you wait for your table.
Photo: Flytographer in Budapest. Lindsay and their family capture memories in Budapest with a family photoshoot at Vörösmarty tér & Chain Bridge.
Photo: Flytographer in Budapest. Kim and their partner capture memories in Budapest with a couple photoshoot at the Buda Castle.
Photo: Meli in Budapest for Flytographer. Samira and their partner capture memories in Budapest on a couple photoshoot at Fisherman’s Bastion.
What are the best places to go for drinks in Budapest?
- Szimpla Kert & Anker’t. These are two ruin bars that don’t exactly fly under the radar, but regardless, you can’t miss having at least one drink. A ruin bar, or ruin pub, is a bar in an abandoned building, and these two bars have a variety of quirky and uniquely decorated rooms to explore.
- Faust Wine Cellar. Sample wine and pálinka (a traditional Hungarian fruit brandy) beneath the Dominican Cloister in a gorgeous underground stone cellar/cave. 🍷 Not only are the drinks fantastic quality and the staff extremely knowledgable, but a walk through the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Fisherman’s Bastion on your way to your reservation is also worth it alone.
- Kontakt – No frills coffee served directly across from Szimply (mentioned above). The baristas here take their coffee seriously, where there are no Americanos, no sugar available and no milk for your filter coffee. Drink your coffee as they believe it is meant to be enjoyed, and we guarantee it will be your tastiest cup of the day. ☕️
- Pótkulcs Budapest. While many of the famous ruin bars in Budapest have become well-known and at times, incredibly touristy, this low-key bar with an outdoor garden and live music could be easily overlooked. Kick back with a cold drink where the Hungarians still come to socialize.
- Kisüzem. By day, it’s an understated bar filled with locals playing chess, neighbours passionately debating politics, and students socializing in their off-time. By sundown, the place fills almost nightly to full capacity, but managing to squeeze yourself into the bar seating is a worthy endeavour.
Photo: Meli in Budapest for Flytographer. Trever and their partner celebrate their engagement with a surprise proposal photoshoot at Fisherman’s Bastion in Budapest.
Photo: Flytographer in Budapest. Hayley and their partner capture memories in Budapest with a couple photoshoot at the Hungarian Parliament.
Photo: Roky in Budapest for Flytographer. Fatima and their family capture memories in Budapest Vajdahunyad Castle with a family photoshoot.
What are the best things to do in Budapest?
- Fisherman’s Bastion. This UNESCO World Heritage Site sits high above the city offering panoramic views of the sprawling landscape below. Arrive early to score the area all to yourself, as you watch the sunrise over the iconic parliament building across the water. 🌊The beautiful Matthias Church is the centerpiece of this location.
- River Cruise. Book a river cruise to glide along the Danube River as you take in views of the regal Hungarian Parliament Building and other beautiful landmarks across Budapest. A dinner cruise is the perfect option for blending sightseeing and a meal all in one. Looking for a more budget-friendly option? Buy a public transport ticket for the same views, with a pared-down experience.
- Szechenyi Thermal Baths. “One thing that hasn’t changed through the years is the Hungarian affection for taking the waters — marinating in thermal baths. A tradition going back to the Romans, continued by the Ottomans, and something that survived through two wars and communism. And they do it in style.” – Anthony Bourdain
- Vajdahunyad Castle – Hidden within City Park, the Gothic-Renaissance and Baroque architecture of this castle sets a mysterious scene. It is free to wander through the courtyard to admire the views, or explore inside the castle and museum for a small fee. 🏰
- Walking tours. Taking a guided tour of the city is one of our favourite activities in any destination to get to know the city streets and history. We recommend a walking tour through the Jewish Quarter to learn about its harrowing history from World War II as a Jewish ghetto to the thriving neighbourhood it is today. The Jewish Quarter is home to the Dohány Synagogue, which is the second largest in the world, the Hungarian Jewish Museum and Archives, and a beautiful array of street art decorating every corner.
Honourable mentions: Budapest History Museum, Hungarian National Gallery, Hungarian State Opera House, Gellert Hill, Heroes Square (Hosök Tere), Hospital in the Rock Nuclear Bunker Museum, House of Terror (Terror Haza), Castle Hill Funicular, Liberty Statue, walk the Széchenyi Chain Bridge, City Park, Dohány Street Synagogue
Photo: Flytographer in Budapest. Andreas and their partner celebrate their engagement with a couple photoshoot at the Jewish Quarter in Budapest.
Photo: Meli in Budapest for Flytographer. Lisa and their family capture memories in Budapest with a family photoshoot at Fisherman’s Bastion.
Photo: Flytographer in Budapest. Sandra and her friends capture memories in Budapest with a friends photoshoot at Fisherman’s Bastion.
Sandra’s Travel Tip for Budapest
“In my research I found out that you can go cave exploring in the hills where the natural springs stem from! It was so thrilling to squeeze under and between ancient rocks once full of the healing waters that the city embraces in their bath houses. Three hours of spelunking and then a long soak in the thermal baths — it was another perfect day in Budapest!” – Sandra
Read more Budapest Travel Tips from Flytographer customers.
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Where do the locals go shopping in Budapest?
- PALOMA. A group of young artists came together to establish PALOMA Artist Courtyard: a variety of concept stores, showrooms and ateliers on the ground and first floors of the previously abandoned Paloma Shopping Center. Promoting contemporary Hungarian design and fine art 🎨, this is the place if you want to meet the designers behind your goods.
- Szimpla Farmers’ Market. Every Sunday, 30-40 local vendors come together to sell their wares, including fresh produce, cheese, honey, jam, spices and more. After shopping, head upstairs for Szimpla Brunch to refuel.
- Printa. This quirky store feels like an art gallery, where beautiful designs adorn everything from canvas totes and t-shirts to zero-waste items and clothing. Housed in the Jewish Quarter, this is where Budapest’s trendiest shoppers come to spend their forints. 💰
- Massolit Books and Cafe. Spend a slow afternoon browsing this independent bookstore with a cup of coffee from the attached café in hand. Don’t worry, there is a large variety of English-language books, from history to fiction to travel. Cozy up in a plush armchair and give your feet a break as you kick back with your next vacation read.
- Paulay Ede Utca. The rising popularity of independent designers and concept stores has come together on this street, where local Hungarian designs reign supreme. While clothing is the star of this street, you can also find postcards, prints, candles and accessories that make the perfect souvenir.
Photo: Flytographer in Budapest. Franceska and their partner capture memories in Budapest with a couple photoshoot at Fisherman’s Bastion.
Photo: Meli in Budapest for Flytographer. April and their family capture memories in Budapest with a family photoshoot at Fisherman’s Bastion.
Photo: Meli in Budapest for Flytographer. Sharon and their partner capture memories in Budapest with a couple photoshoot at the Budapest Ice Skating Rink.
Capturing memories in Budapest
The blend of Gothic, Art Nouveau and Baroque architecture make every corner of this stunning city photo-worthy. Capture the magic of Budapest with a Flytographer shoot to explore and document the streets of this Hungarian city with one of our talented local photographers. 📸