With Sziget Festival fast approaching, we figured it was time to give you the best insights to our favourite city in Europe. We’ve visited Budapest 7 times in the past couple of years, both on solo travels, with friends and as a couple. We’ll take you through where to stay, what to do, where to eat and drink and tips you’ll need to know before you go.
This is the absolute best hostel to stay in when visiting Budapest - it’s part of a chain of Hostels called Budapest Party Hostels, but is the only one that doesn’t hold parties at its own venue, meaning those who don’t want to be kept awake until 5am every night can actually get some kip. Those of you who want to party on a daily basis can either stay here and join all the events every night, or go to one of the others in the chain including Retox, Grandio and Carpe Noctem Original; head to the Budapest Party Hostels website to take a look at these! They do family dinners, daily events, games, competitions and ridiculous pre-drinks for you to enjoy every day of the week and it really is banging! Take at look at their Jager Train here: They’ll take you to the best ruin bars, set you up with tickets to boat parties and spa parties, and you’ll always have a few guides with you who can help any step of the way. During Sziget they provide party buses to get you there! Make sure you book very soon as this place is very popular!
Things to do
Szechenyi Baths - Go to the sparty here for sure, it’s such a fun time and is the best thermal bath to party at. Try not to visit during the day time as it’s extremely touristy and also expensive. It’s huge and has 13 thermal pools and 5 swimming pools, and the sparty costs approximately £44.
Palatinus Strand Baths - We found this completely by accident whilst exploring Margaret Island (I’ll tell you more about this later), and we so shocked to find out it was a waterpark with 11 pools including wave pools, rapids and water slides, and was the equivalent of approximately £6 entry during off-peak times.
Buggie hire - When visiting Maraget Island, be sure to rent out a buggy, electric scooter or bike to explore with! The island is quite a trek to walk around and also, renting these forms of transport means that you can 100% play manhunt around the island with friends… You can hire them for 30 minutes or one hour, and make sure you bring your driving license as they won’t let you do it without!
Rudas Baths - This is definitely the place to go to relax in the thermal baths. It’s smaller, cheaper and less busy than Szechenyi. They have 6 steam pools and 1 swimming pool, and costs anything from £7 with a cabin.
Musical Fountain -
Every day on Margaret Island, the fountain turns into a music and lights show. This is beautiful to watch in the evenings and is free on the hour, every hour. The best soundtrack is played at 9pm.
Citadella - This historic fortress is located right at the top of Gelert Hill, and requires a good ol’ hike to reach! It was built in 1851 and is a symbol of oppression and liberty from the Austro-Hungarian empire. It has stunning views over Budapest; great for photographs and drones!
Szimplakert - If you’re staying at Carpe Noctem Vitae, they’ll take you here plus many other ruin pubs during their bar crawl, but I highly suggest coming and spending a whole evening here! It’s not cheap (but compared to London it is!), but is such a different experience! It has several bars inside this bar, computers and electronics hanging from the walls and ceilings, graffiti everywhere, walls crumbling around you and a shisha bar.
Buda Castle - There are loads of ways to experience this castle, including segway tours, walking tours, night tours and budget tours from £9.
Itoshii - Drop everything and go here. It’s an eat and drink as much as you like Japanese restaurant. We got absolutely hammered and all you pay is £17! That's all alcoholic drinks included, and they just keep coming!
KARAVÁN - This cool little place is a courtyard of different eateries served from caravans! No matter what your diary requirement is, there’s something for you. There’s seating all around so you can sit and eat in the sunshine. Read about it here!
Caving - This is the best daytime activity we did in Budapest. It’s a three hour tour around the caves underneath Budapest and is certainly not for the faint hearted. Get your head lamps on and squeeze your way through small, dark spaces! But don’t worry - our friend who is an absolute giant managed to do it, so you’ll be fine! You can book this experience through the hostel or go to the website here!
Boat party - Now this is something! Budapest Party Hostels organises their own boat tour once a week, with a bottle of champagne included on arrival - however, don’t be fooled into thinking this is classy, as it’s an absolute shit-show! Get ready for naked people! Just make sure you kiss someone under each bridge - it’s a tradition (with their consent)! Also be sure to look out for the Parliament building - it’s the most beautiful sight from the boat and you can even see bats flying around the top!
Free Walking Tours - There are several to choose from, and although they’re free, be sure to tip at the end! You’ll still be paying way less than your average paid tour so be generous! Budapest has a long and interesting history, so doing one of these tours on your first day is always a good idea! They last 2 hours and start at either 10.30am or 2.30pm. No need to book in advance!
The Red Star Train Graveyard - This graveyard occupies a vast area of land outside Budapest. More than 100 locomotives and train cars rot away, some in deteriorating depots, others out in the field. Among these are some very rare train engines, and a few cars that are said to have transported prisoners to Auschwitz during the Holocaust. Just be aware, you’re gonna have to sneak into this one! Best to go after Sziget at night or on a sunday to avoid the guards! Ask the staff at your hostel for details. Secretly.
Drink a Tatratea 72% - Have water nearby!
If you were hoping to visit Budapest to experience a beer bike, you’re out of luck! They’ve now been banned from the City which is completely gutting and completely understandable - people are just sick in the streets and under trees and by the road and off the bike and… there’s just so much sick. There’s also nowhere to pee, so finding a bush was the best time!
Our best tips before visiting
Buy a weekly travelcard at the airport. It works out as around £15 and is an absolute Godsend because of the trams! Everything is in walking distance but with the heat during this time of year, you’re going to burn and/or have a mental breakdown.
Download four important apps; Taxify [Hungary’s Uber], Maps.me [offline maps], XE [live currency converter], and Picolo [free drinking game].
Be sure to learn some Hungarian - the locals really appreciate it! Scroll down for some examples.
Always carry around a portable charger - as there’s so much to do in Budapest, you’ll soon notice that ‘popping back to charge your phone’ just isn’t a viable option. Better yet, don’t take your phone out at all!
Don’t say ‘Budapest’; it’s pronounced ‘Buda-Pesht’!
Bring a water-to-go bottle as you can’t drink from the tap in most places! You could end up needing to budget £56 for plastic water bottles for a two week holiday (based on 4 bottles per day)! We have a 15% discount if you use the code UNRAVELLING15
Hello is Helló (Hell-oh) or Szia (SEE-a)
Good Morning is Jó Reggelt (Yo Reg-gaet)
Good Day is Jó Nap (Yo KNap)
Good Evening is Jó Estét (Yo Est-Ate)
Goodbye is Viszontlátásra (VEE-sont-la-tash-ra)
Informal Goodbye is Viszlát (VEES-lat)
Thank You is Köszönöm (KO-so-nom)
You’re Welcome is Szívesen (SEE-ve-shen)
Cheers for drinking is Egészségedre (Egg-ace-Shag-Edre) For Toasting can also use Ein Prosit (Eyn Proz-it) which means I Salute and is usually followed by Der Gemütlichkeit (Dar Gay-mute-lish-kite) meaning I Salute Our Friendship & Good Ti