Budapest Travel Guide
Welcome to Budapest. To put it simply, if you haven't been here, it's time you make plans to do so. This city appeals to many; you can step out of a thermal baths and right into a nightclubs (and then back into the bath). You should also save time to savor Budapest's culture, history, and natural beauty. It's more than just the political capital of Hungary—it's also the commercial ... continue» Read More
The best times to visit Budapest are March through May and September through November. That's when the weather is idyllic and the city isn't overcrowded with tourists. However, the climate is always relatively mild, with temperatures rarely exceeding bearable levels. July and August experience average highs of 80 degrees Fahrenheit, while average lows in January are in the upper 20s. Tourists flood the city in summer, despite it being the hottest and wettest of seasons.Read More Best Times to Visit Budapest»
November 17, 1873 saw the union of Buda, Pest, and Óbuda, creating modern-day Budapest. The city is divided by the Danube River, with flat Pest to the east and the hilly Buda and Óbuda regions to the west. Travelers tend to stick to Buda and Pest, as there aren't many tourist attractions in Óbuda.
Budapest is divided into 23 different districts: six in Buda, 16 in Pest, and one on Csepel Island which lies between them. Some districts contain one neighborhood, others contain many, and each neighborhood has its own distinct character.
Belváros (City Center)
Accessible via the Deák Ferenc tér and Ferenciek tere metro stations.
Belváros ("city center" in Hungarian) is the core of Pest. With its historic architecture, high-end shopping, and luxury hotels, many visitors begin and end their stays here. It'd be easy to spend the whole day in any of the numerous tourist-friendly restaurants and cafés Belváros has to offer, but be sure to put some time aside to check out the Inner City Parish Church next to the Erzsébet Bridge (or Elizabeth Bridge, one of the bridges that connects Buda with Pest). The Danube marks the western border of Belváros.
Erzsébetváros (Elizabeth Town)
Accessible via the Kodály Körönd metro station.
The primary reason to come here is to see the old Jewish quarter and its main attraction, the remarkable Great Synagogue. The neighborhood is a bit on the dilapidated side, but dripping with culture and history. Every year, Elizabeth Town comes alive for the Jewish Summer Festival, a week-long affair celebrating Jewish culture and heritage. Make sure to peruse the National Jewish Museum, close to the Great Synagogue. Elizabeth Town lies just southeast of Theresa Town.
Lipótváros (Leopold Town)
Accessible via the Kossuth Lajos tér metro station.
North of Belváros lies pleasant-but-stodgy Leopold Town. Flush with office buildings and government ministries, it isn't the most exciting neighborhood for vacationers. However, it has two can't-miss sights: the Parliament Building and St. Stephen's Basilica. The two tallest buildings in Budapest are awash in history, and visiting either constitutes an architecture-lover's dream afternoon.
Terézváros (Theresa Town)
Accessible via the Nyugati Pályaudvar metro station.
The main boulevard here, Andrássy út, is one of the most prestigious streets in Budapest. Gorgeous architecture and boutique shops abound here. Travelers flock to Theresa Town to check out Heroes' Square, to watch performances at the Hungarian State Opera House, and to peruse the disturbing House of Terror. Theresa Town is just northwest of Elizabeth Town.
Margitsziget (Margaret Island)
Accessible via Bus 26 and Trams 4 or 6.
In the middle of the Danube across from Óbuda is peaceful Margaret Island, a favorite of locals and travelers alike. There are not many sites of note here, but there's plenty in the way of outdoor activities—whether it's biking along the scenic paths or lounging in one of the swimming pools that you desire, Margaret Island has got you covered.
Várhegy (Castle Hill)
From the Moszkva tér metro station, walk up Várfok utca or take bus 16A.
Castle Hill, also known as the Castle District (Várnegyed), promises to be one of the highlights of any trip to Budapest. Castle walls and medieval architecture provide 19th-century ambience while you stroll the lattice of cobbled streets and explore cafés and shops. The Royal Palace (a.k.a. Buda Castle) is on the southern tip of Castle Hill and contains a number of museums, including The Hungarian National Gallery and the Budapest History Museum. Other sites in Castle Hill include Matthias Church and the Fisherman's Bastion.
Víziváros (Water Town)
Accessible via the Batthyány tér metro station.
Sandwiched between Castle Hill and the Danube, it would be easy to dismiss Water Town simply as suburbs for wealthy Hungarians. But if you dig a little deeper, you'll find Millennium Park, which features the kid-friendly Palace of Wonders and the House of Future Centre. But the real gems in Water Town are the Rudas and Kiraly Baths.
Accessible via Tram 17.
Óbuda is mostly residential. There are hotels aplenty, but it isn't the best place to base yourself as getting to Pest from here can be a hassle. Nearby Óbuda Island hosts the massive Sziget Festival every summer.
While Budapest is a relatively safe big city, you should still exercise general safety precautions. Make sure to take extra care on the bus and at major tourist sites, where pickpockets are more prevalent.
There have been some reports of bars and nightclubs that give very large checks to customers and then threaten them if they don't pay. You can click here for a list of some alleged culprits. To avoid trouble, keep careful track of your order and double check the price with your server. Also, don't order anything in places that don't list prices on their menus.
The best ways to get around Budapest are on foot and by public transit. The city's neighborhoods are extremely walkable, and you'll be able to admire the historic architecture as you stroll. But when it comes to getting across town, rely on Budapest's extensive network of public buses, trams, and metro lines. Should you be making your way home from a night out, avoid getting lost by simply taking a taxi.Getting Around Budapest»