Hard to beat for sheer beauty, Budapest ticks every box you could want from a European city and seems to do it without trying.
Uber-cool ruin bars in derelict buildings channel the cool of Berlin, while relaxing here can mean an afternoon in one of Budapest's many parks or a dip in waters from its 100-plus thermal springs. The Hungarian capital is, simply, one of Europe's great must-visits.
While the best way to see the city is arguably on foot, Budapest also has plenty of transport options. From its huge range of public transport to its easy cycle hire system, here’s how to get around the city.
There are multiple reliable and cheap public transport options in the centre of Budapest, including buses, trolleybuses, trains and an underground metro system. The metro has four lines, which all pass through the main station of Deák tér, while the commuter train system can connect you to further-flung suburbs. The city’s attractive yellow trams travel along over 25 different lines. At night, you can either hail a licensed taxi or hop on one of the 30-something night buses around the city.
With its wide avenues, long stretch of riverfront and designated cycle paths, Budapest is a bike-friendly city. There's an easy-to-use bike share system called BuBi that lets you rent out a bike for a pretty nominal sum for 24 hours from multiple points around the city. You’ll find cycling more challenging on the hilly Buda side of the city and a breeze on the flatter Pest side, and it’s also possible to cycle along the Danube for scenic riverside views.
Also known as the city’s Jewish District, this area sits just to the east of the city centre and is well known for two things. Firstly, the stunning Moorish-style Dohány Street Synagogue, the largest of its kind in Europe, which offered shelter to hundreds during Budapest’s occupation in World War II. It’s now a moving museum as well as a working synagogue with an exquisite weeping willow-shaped Holocaust memorial. Secondly, this area is home to plenty of fantastic Jewish-influenced eateries, as well as the city’s famous ruin pubs, including the eclectic Szimpla Kert.
Stretching from Gellért Hill in the south to Castle Hill in the north, this is the district on the Buda side of the river that’s home to some of Budapest’s most beautiful sights. Gellért Hill marks the highest point in the city and a climb up it gives you breath-taking views. Its neighbouring hill is where you’ll find historic structures like Buda Castle and the magical Fisherman’s Bastion as well as lesser-known attractions such as the Hospital in the Rock. If you look out towards the River Danube from this area, you’ll also get a front-row view of the elegant Hungarian Parliament Building.
Right in the heart of the city, this district is small but packed with restaurants, shops and theatres, including the magnificent Hungarian State Opera House. Winding through it is the well-known Andrássy Avenue, lined with designer boutiques as well as the city’s international embassies. Further along it, about halfway to the beautiful oasis of City Park, is where you’ll find the House of Terror museum. Filled with fascinating exhibits on the Nazi and Soviet occupations of the city, it’s an emotional and interesting museum that documents the city’s experiences during the war.
Currency: Hungarian forint Ft (HUF)
Time zone: Central European Standard Time (GMT +1) and Central European Summer Time (GMT +2)
Language: The national language is Hungarian; however, you’ll find that staff in most restaurants, bars, shops and attractions speak English too.