I have always visited Budapest in winter time till this year – just recently. I decided I should visit one of my favorite cities in the summertime to get the feeling during this period of the year.
While up till now we stayed in the Pest area, now we decided to try something new – the Buda part. This was a bad decision, apart from the fact that the hotels are far from being as nice as in the Pest area, we had a lot of climbing and walking to do by foot :)) at first and then by taxis of course ;), the best and the most of the restaurants are in the Pest area – there are some in the Buda area as well, and we have selected may be one the best ones but really worked our way till there ….climbed as many stairs as one could imagine.
You will see below why I do love Pest area much better, I do love winter time in Budapest far more than summertime – but then again this is a subjective point of view as I love winter and wish it could be winter all year round.
This time around we stayed in the 1st district … if you plan to stay more than 2 nights this is not the place to be, especially if you are a city life person. This is the castle quarter, which is by far nice to visit, to see from the top of the castle hill the 360 view of the city architecture on one side and the green hills on the other side. You can see this by just coming to visit this part of the city as well.
Where to stay
As I had both experiences, I would definitely recommend the Pest part of Budapest. For this, I would choose between the 5th and the 6th or 7th district.
The 5th district is in the middle of everything, it has great sights, great restaurants, and the Danube promenade with the possibility to have a nice dinner out – especially in the summer nights. This is the district for the shopping lovers as well – there is the Vaci Utca where you can shop till you drop. 🙂 I don’t mind the crowded shopping places so it’s definitely a place for me.
The 6th and 7th districts are bounded by the Andrássy út which is again a sophisticated street of boutiques, design stores, cinemas and opera house. However, as you go more and more and the street becomes wider you can see that it becomes greener. Going deeper into the 7th district you will be in the Jewish quarter. This is a must, it is very interesting with its synagogues, and people are special around here and the food as well.
Places to visit in Buda area
- Citadella is a living proof of the troubled history Budapest had. The monument build here honors the Soviet army – there are four statues – the woman that carries the torch symbolizes the progress; the man fighting the dragon – the fight against the evil; the Red Army soldier – the liberators and the woman that holds a palm leaf the liberty.
- Buda Castle is the home of National Gallery and Budapest History Museum. The Buda Castle District with its streets and attractions like the Fisherman’s Bastion is opened all day long.
- Fisherman’s Bastion – located in the Buda Castle district it can be visited from outside any time of the day. if you like to have a great view of Budapest you can have a coffee on the terrace of the Fisherman’s Bastion.
Places to visit in Pest area
- Jewish quarter – located in the 7th district is a must when in Budapest. You can see the Jewish legacy – The Great Synagogue in Dohány Street, the largest Synagogue in Europe and the second largest in the world; Jewish Museum, the Heroes Temple, the Jewish Cemetery and the Raoul Wallenberg Memorial Park – these are all included in the courtyards of the Synagogue; The Holocaust Memorial; The Orthodox Synagogue and many other synagogues along the way.
- Fantastic art nouveau buildings – like the Orthodox Synagogue, while it has some small embellishments on the roof, it is rather modest on the outside and inside. However, it has the most Jewish Monarchs than any other in the city.
- Th Hungarian Orthodox Church of Our Lady – a small and beautiful church for the Orthodox people living here, one of the most beautiful small places of worship here.
- Hungarian State Opera House – this is an opulent building both on the outside and inside. It has the 3rd best acoustic in the world right after the Scala in Milan and the Paris Opera House. A visit inside is a must and if you happen to be when a big play is put in scene, you really should go. You will not be sorry. The performances here are at the highest standards available.
- The Chocolate Museum – Though a pretty small one, it is located in an area where you arrive without even noticing it. it is nice and it tells you the chocolate history and it also has a TV where you can view how they did the chocolate in the past and what techniques they used.
- Parliament – the square and the park near the Parliament building is home to outdoor concerts till late September. Performances are usually held twice a month usually on Thursday at 17 hours next to the Visitor Center.
- The Zoo – while it is not as exciting as the other locations in Pest it is worth visiting if you are here. The Art Nouveau entry gate, the elephant’s building and the owl’s castle, which is the oldest original structure still standing are some of the elements you can observe while at the Budapest Zoo. I for one enjoyed a lot the experience in the Zoo, the fresh air and the relaxing moments with the small animals 🙂
Where to shop – Pest area
What I did notice in Budapest is that locals like to dress well and up to date. They like being fancy and take care of their looks. And why wouldn’t they? They have so many options to choose from and it would be a pity not to take advantage of them. You can find unique inspirations here with Hungarian designer boutiques, international designers stores and enjoy a shopping day on the streets of Budapest.
- From designer pieces to retro finds, Budapest is the dream come true for a shopaholic. Kiraly Utca is home to a range of designer galleries and chic boutiques as well as high street fashion.
- Live and breathe fashion while sightseeing in Budapest – the Deák Ferenc u. promises you just this. Knows as Fashion Street they created a shopping street concept in the heart of Budapest. Here one can find many international brands. You can continue this shopping spree with the Andrássy út. You can find everything here, from Herend to Louis Vuitton to Max Mara. This is Budapest’s version of 5th Avenue in New York with high-end designer shops and expensive restaurants. Very chic and posh. This isn’t the only experience on the Andrássy út. You will also find the Opera, Book Cafe and Museum of Terror here.
Where to eat
I enjoyed a lot eating on the Pest part. I like eating good food and have chosen some of the best restaurants there. But there are so many that you can come here a lot of times and not cover them all.
Eating on the Danube promenade is a fancy thing and you will get to experience the Danube river smell. You can find a lot of restaurants here – one of the best is the Dubarry Restaurant. The view of the Danube and the food makes it the perfect place for dinner.
If visiting the Zoo, you can see just vis-a-vis the Robinson restaurant. It is a very good one and I really enjoyed the food and the service there.
And coming back to the one on top of the hill in the Buda area – the Búsuló Juhász Étterem Restaurant. The views, especially during night time, are with it. Moreover, the Hungarian dishes are great and the people here have patience in explaining every dish you ask for.
If you want Italian food I suggest Jamie Oliver’s Italian Restaurant located right in the heart of the Castle District.
All in all, Budapest is the place where you can find great restaurants with unique cuisine and specialties. If you would really like to try an exclusive high-class restaurant you can opt for one of the 4 that have Michelin stars.
Must things to do
Danube River Cruise – while I did this in my former trips to Budapest during winter time, I enjoyed it a lot and would for sure do it again. This is an exciting experience; it is a two hours trip around Budapest. I chose a romantic dinner on the Danube but there are various packages – including lunch or even party packages.
Wine tasting – while at the Buda Castle there is the Faust Wine Cellar, which is part of the vast labyrinth system winding beneath the Castle. After exploring the Castle you can relax with a glass of wine and learn about winemaking in Hungary in the cellar beneath it. The cellar is a relaxed and romantic setting just perfect for a great wine tasting.
Would I come back?
I would, as it is a great city filled with romance and history.
What time of the year would I come back?
I would surely come back during winter time. Though during summer there are many festivals, the weather allows you to walk and enjoy the streets of Budapest more and also enjoy the sun in the many baths (that we have not covered here as this is a totally different aspect of Budapest), winter is the time when the city has a special feeling. In this time of the year, people are fancier, the city is nicely dressed and the Opera House is in full swing.
Hope I helped you create the ideal trip in Budapest for a summer (or winter) city break.