I’m officially in love. Budapest has stolen my heart! I’m not sure if it’s the beautiful architecture, the awesome ruin bars every 10 metres, my super cool hostel, the hungarian food or simply the people I met, but one thing is for absolute certain, I AM IN LOVE!
For a long time Budapest had been on my go-to list but it kept getting pushed further and further back with each and every other exciting place I wanted to visit. Why, oh why?! Why hadn’t more people told me how amazing this city is?!
A few people have been asking me about the trip, what I did, where I stayed, where I ate, etc. so I’ve decided to put together this little mini-guide with a few tips. Honestly, if there is one place in Europe you visit this year, at any time, make it Budapest!
As I’m currently living in Vienna, Austria, Budapest isn’t so far for me to get to. I organised a ride on Bla Bla Car (which is fantastic!) and that only set me back 10 euro. I had a great driver who even gave us a tour around the city before dropping us off.
Where I stayed
When I was planning my trip to Budapest my original plan was to Couchsurf, like I normally do. Although, the more I thought about it, the more I realised that I wanted to be in the absolute centre of town, at a hostel with a bar so I could make some new friends. I had a look on Hostel World, read through some reviews and worked out that Wombats City Hostel was the place for me!
I was totally impressed with this place! It had everything I wanted – Amazing price (10 euro per night), great location, hostel bar with free drink on arrival, free wifi, cheap buffet breakfast and super friendly staff. I’d definitely stay there again!
Wombats is the biggest hostel in Budapest with over 300 beds, although it definitely didn’t feel that big! It’s located perfectly right in the centre of the Pest side and within walking distance to all the best spots! There are a lot of great bars, restaurants and nice shops nearby and you’re also not far from the Chain Bridge which will take you over to Buda to explore the castle district. (a must see at night!)
Where I Ate
1) Lescó Gyorsétterem – 1137 Budapest, XIII. Szent István körút 10.
This place is definitely off the beaten path but well-worth the visit. I went here with a Couchsurfing friend, Adam, I met earlier in the evening. He’s Hungarian so he knows all the best places! The food was incredible and even for Hungarian standards this was VERY cheap!
Tip: Try the traditional Hungarian Goulash but keep in mind that It’s not goulash as you would expect – It’s more of a soup than a stew.
2) Trófea Grill – 1061 Budapest, Király U. 30-32.
Now, I have to be honest and say that I didn’t actually eat here. We had intentions to but when we arrived they were booked out so we were unable to get a table. I would advise booking and you can do that on their website. I’m pretty gutted
Basically, this place gives you 3 hours for an all you can eat buffet AND all you can drink beer, wine, champagne and soft drinks! I was given this recommendation by a handful of people and I’m heading back in August and I WILL go! I’ve heard great things about it and there are a few of them around the city so put it on your list of places to go!
3) Sörcsata – Gozsdu Udvar – Budapest, Király u. 13, 1075 Hungary
The food at this place wasn’t the best. It took a long time to come and when it arrived it was less than average. Perhaps it’s because I ordered a burger and I’m not the biggest fan of burgers or perhaps all there food is like that. What was great about this place was the atmosphere. There was a live band playing both Hungarian and English music, the place was incredibly busy and filled with both locals and tourists and besides the grumpy waiters that seem to be everywhere, everybody seemed to be having a great time. What you must check out though is the entire area around there – Gozdu Udvar (right opposite the Wombats Hostel!) This area used to be considered Budapest’s ‘ghetto’ but is now one of the most dynamically improving centers in the downtown of Budapest; it is a meeting point that combines entertainment, gastronomy and culture. Just walking down through the courtyard between all the heaving restaurants and bars is really cool. I would suggest any of these places would be good to try out.
Tip: Don’t order a burger!
Where I Drank
1) Szimpla Kert – 1075 Budapest, Kazinczy utca 14, Hungary.
The first ever ruin pub in the city, it’s become a cultural institution that’s inspired others to pop-up around the city. While the copy cats come and go, Szimpla remains a fixture that seems to attract both tourists and locals. Entering Szimpla is like entering another world and exploring the building’s giant labyrinth and uncovering its quirky and funky decor is half the fun! Picture sitting down in old bathtubs and old Russian Trabant cars. Combine that with cheap drinks, free wi-fi, open air cinema, a Sunday market and you have yourself a winner. Szimpla is not only my favorite bar in Budapest, but my favorite bar in the world.
2) Lokál Cafe and Bar – Budapest, Dob u. 18, 1074 Hungary
This place was so so SO cool. An awesome swing/jazz club. Think of the music from The Great Gatsby (2013) – There’s a whole lot of that! Awesome songs that you know with an upbeat jazzy twist! The D-floor is packed with people that actually know how to dance… plus people like me, that really really can’t! Again, every room you walk into is decorated very differently. There is a lot of awesome wall paper and art put around here and there.
Tip: Like everywhere in Budapest you’ll find cheap drinks – I’d definitely recommend the Pálinka, not because it’s good but because you just have to try it! If you try any of the ones with honey in them then you’ll be pretty safe 🙂
3) Lámpas – Budapest, Dob u. 15, 1074 Hungary
Another really cool underground bar that we were lead to by a CouchSurfing/Budapest local, Attila. When I walked in there was a neat little band playing in one room. Apparently they host a lot of live music events there and if you’re lucky you can catch some famous acts there. It’s small, narrow and cosy and again, like most places around there’s cool stuff placed everywhere! What I love about this place as well is that there are just SO many books everywhere and big comfy chairs! There was also a friendly atmosphere and we left with more friends than we came with – both locals and tourists.
4) Instant – Budapest, Nagymező u. 38, 1065 Hungary
This is where we all ended up at the end of Friday and Saturday night, my new friends and I. What a place! This is the biggest ruin pub in Budapest featuring 26 rooms, 7 bars, 2 gardens and 7 stages – The party never stops here! Known as one of the biggest ‘party bars’ in Budapest, you’ll find a mix of locals and tourists. There’s music to suit all tastes and the place is decked out incredibly. My favourite decorations being the HUGE pig-shaped disco-ball and the room covered in sheet music. This place is huge so it’s easy to get lost! Super friendly bar staff (we managed to score a few free shots!) and open until 6am every night of the week. I’ll be back!
Tip: Just go!
What I Did During the Day
I was on a pretty tight budget (and recovering from a hangover and 6am bedtime both days!) so I didn’t do as much as I wanted to do on this trip. I also know that I’ll be back in August for 10 days for Sziget Festival so I wasn’t too worried if I missed out on things this time. I’m also so close in Vienna that I can be back there in a few hours if I want.
The first day I walked around by myself for a few hours and tried to get my bearings. I saw a lot of beautiful buildings, cute cafes and restaurants, took a stroll along the Danube, ate some local street meat and got lost in the beautiful streets of Budapest. It was my idea of fun.
What I would recommend is the Free Budapest Walking Tour. I did this on the second day with my new-found Aussie friend Tammy, who I met on the Travel Buddies Facebook page. This tour was great! We met at the meeting point at 2.30pm (they also run a tour at 10.30am, presumably for those that don’t go out partying the night before!) and we went from there. The guides are great and very knowledgeable and the tour gives you a great overview of the city. Basically, the guides work on tips and you’re expected to pay what you think the tour is worth but it is definitely worth it. You start exploring in Pest and then make your way towards the Chain Bridge and over to Buda and you’re given bits and pieces of information along the way. The tour goes for about 3 hours and you finish up on the other side of the river. I was pretty tired by the end of it but I’m so glad I did this as I really felt like I saw a lot of the city in a short amount of time.
This company also offers a number of other tours around the city. These include a Jewish District Walk, a Communism Walk and a Pub Crawl – I intend to do all of these on my next visit.
So that was my Budapest weekend. I traveled there alone and left with a whole bunch of new friends. I met the most incredible people and had the most incredible weekend and I’m SO excited about returning in the summer, if not before! This place has definitely made it into my top 5 cities that I’ve visited and I really think you should put it on your list too!
By Gidget ‘Gigi’ Gallaher