I never thought about how difficult it is to write a Travel Guide about Budapest, a city I lived more than 10 incredible years. Understandably, I am full of memories and preconceptions, have got so many old favourite places and now some new ones as well, so it’s hard to decide where to start. Whenever I travel to a new city I spend a few days, maximum a week there with a partly planned partly spontaneous itinerary but spending time in your ex home town is different.
Budapest has something to offer to anyone, from lovely city parks to thermal baths, from river side to castle area, from sunny laidback bar terraces to Michelin star restaurants. The city is deeply historical and refreshingly modern at the same time. A gorgeous place to spend a long weekend, you will love it.
Here is the top 10 sights you must see while you are in Budapest!
Where to stay in Budapest?
I always recommend Airbnb for those looking for unique accommodation experience for good value for money. If you are unfamiliar with the concept of Airbnb, I recommend first reading my blog post from earlier in where I explain what Airbnb is and how to use it.
Instead of going to a hotel, we wanted to rent a big enough, comfortable apartment in the heart of the city close to everything. A place which can be our home away from home to work, to (re)explore the city, meet friends and family.
We found this gorgeous apartment right next to St. Stephen’s Basilica. Let me get this straight upfront, I fell in love with Budapest again thanks to this apartment! It`s the most incredible listing on Airbnb with THE BEST view that none of the hotels have. The reviews were outstanding and now we understand why! It is the place to be for anyone visiting the city. For this summer the whole apartment costs around 100 -120 EUR / night depending on dates, worth every single penny.
This is probably the most stylish flat I have ever stayed, in the meantime also super practical and comfortable. It comes with a fully fitted kitchen (dishwasher, Nespresso machine, washing machine, plates etc.), a large dining area, a beautiful and huge living with high ceilings so it just feels incredible airy. Comfortable, good quality bed is something I really appreciate as well as the stunning, stylish bathroom which has a shower and a carefully designed bath corner where I can recover after a long day in the city.
The location is perfect to explore the inner city; Chain bridge, Parliament, River Danube, bars, restaurants etc. all just a few blocks away. Yet, the apartment is surprisingly quiet and intimate on the second floor. A dream really, I already look forward to be back!
You can sign up free to Airbnb and get 45 USD / 35 GBP / 40 EUR worth discount from your first stay anywhere in the world via this link. If you want to find Budapest’s most beautiful apartment (I highly recommend you do) search for “Facing the Basilica, Premium Home” or check the link here.
What to eat in Budapest?
While you explore the historic inner city on the Pest side and experience the magnificent view from the Castle area on Buda side, you might wonder what to eat and where.
When it comes to Hungarian Food goulash is the first one pops into people’s mind… perhaps langos, as a super cheap street food alternative but today the city has so much more to offer. You will find plenty of places where the chefs been trained in the best restaurants all around Europe and not afraid to use high quality locally sourced ingredients presented in a modern, vibrant way. Be prepared for Instagrammable brunch restaurants, progressive fine dining, specialized coffee houses and high quality bakeries and pastry shops around every second corner in the city center.
Have you ever thought about Budapest as a food capital? Probably not and I can’t blame you. If you haven`t been there in the last 5-6 years, you wouldn’t believe how many new super cool places popped up recently. When I left Budapest about 8 years ago, the culinary revolution has just started and today the city is full of world class restaurants I can proudly and warmly recommend to anyone visiting Budapest.
Budapest has become one of the hottest Food destinations in Europe and it certainly deserves a place on the Foodie map!
Where to eat in Budapest?
Here is my list for the best food in Budapest. I have sacrificed myself and been eating around for a week so that you will have the best experience ever! The restaurants are mentioned in this post randomly so make sure you don’t miss out on any of them!
This former movie theatre is now a top notch brunch place in art deco style just next to Blaha Lujza Square. After entering, you can immediately feel the history behind the place; the old ticket counter has been converted into a coffee bar while the tables are in the former oval entrance hall.
The short (I love short menus, that is usually a good sign in a restaurant!) but brilliant menu offering classic brunch items like Eggs Benedict, Waffle, Scrambled egg etc. I literally wanted to try everything after seeing the plates on the tables around me. My favourite must have been the scrambled egg that is the prettiest scrambled egg ever! I loved the waffle too with so many different textures and flavours in it. Oh and the matcha tonic, OMG the matcha tonic was amazing!
They are also a strong player when it comes to coffee. The fun fact is they don`t serve sugar with your coffee, neither sweetener or honey, only pure high-quality coffee. Trust me you, don`t need that extra sugar with this level of quality! I am amazed by how bravely they embrace this idea of letting the coffee shine! Well done!
Cirkusz is the no 1. brunch place in Budapest based on Tripadvisor reviews so I definitely wanted to give it a try. This modern, bohemian café is in the pulsing heart of Budapest’s downtown. If you are wondering around on the narrow streets in the Jewish quarter, it`s just a few blocks from Dohány Street Synagogue in the street called Dob.
Heaven for coffee lovers! One of their baristas, Edit took the third place at the Latte Art World Championship in Melbourne (2014) and Adam, one of their other baristas became the Hungarian Barista Champion of 2018. If you are a coffee posh like me, this should be one of the places to visit in Budapest.
Beyond coffee, they offer a wide range of breakfast and brunch menu. I recommend trying the Hungarian countryside style breakfast which reminds me of my childhood, or you can go for a Recovery breakfast if you had too many cocktails the night before. I loved the Pulled pork Benedict, a really interesting take on Eggs Benedict I have never seen anywhere else presented. And we took the French toast for “dessert” , of course it can be a perfect breakfast too if you like sweet for breakfast.
Szimply – Breakfast & brunch
This cosy brunch place located in a quiet alley way where you can sit and dine outside and listen to the birds singing in the middle of the busy city. As you can guess from the name Szimply, it is not an overly complicated place, in fact this is what gives its real character. It´s simply amazing!
The food visually looks absolutely amazing and it does taste incredible too. My personal favourite was the lecso, which is a traditional Hungarian ratatouille type of dish and here it is presented in a whole new way with poached egg, sausage crumbs and edible flowers on top. 100% the most beautiful and delicious lecso I have ever had.
Let me also recommend to pop into Kontakt, which is top notch specialized coffee house next door! Kontakt applies the same “no sugar, yes good coffee” approach as I mentioned earlier, definitely something I would love to see in more coffee houses in the future.
À la Maison Grand
Szervita ter’s elegant and stylish brunch bistro just off the road from Vaci Street, Budapest’s fashion street. I went there with my friend and we found the atmosphere absolutely lovely, ideal for having a brunch with your girls gang.
They offer classic brunch menu available all day long. From savoury to sweets, you can literally have everything from egg based dishes to waffles, pancakes etc. I am a HUGE Eggs Benedict lover so was impressed by their menu which has about 10 different kinds of Benedict, my personal favourite was the foi gras (goose liver) version.
I loved their drinks too, the smoothies are not too sweet (banana coconut amazing!) look and taste equally delicious as well as the their healthy breakfast options in case you are more into healthy eating. If you want a beautiful, stylish brunch place, À la Maison Grand should be on your list.
Freyja – the croissant story
Address: Budapest, Szövetség u. 10-12, 1074 Instagram
Freyja is only a few years old croissant specialized Cafe in town. When I say croissant specialized I mean to the highest possible standards, both in terms of ingredients, also in regards to actual pastry technique. I have tried several croissants all over the world and I can tell you with no doubt that this place is offering not just the best croissant in Hungary but very likely the best croissants in the world. I know, big statement, you have to let me know if you know anything better.
27 layers of goodness laminated to perfection and generously filled with incredible delicious fillings. Look at those layers! And the fillings… pistachio and strawberry ganache are a dream come true, you just can`t get enough. I also tried a savoury one; prosciutto, fig jam and goat cheese, it is also absolutely incredible!
As a guest, I am such a pain, I asked for a plain croissant as wanted to see the cut. If you are not familiar with croissant lamination technique, you should know one thing, the layers inside should resemble a honeycomb structure with air pockets of even size. Check it out! Perfection!
NOR\MA Nordic style bakery
Address: Budapest, Kecskeméti u. 11, 1053 Instagram
The name of NOR/MA is coming from the mix of NORway and MAgyar (meaning Hungarian) and it is a Nordic style bakery in Budapest. I live in Sweden so I can confidently state that I know cinnamon bullar inside out, therefore I was curious to see what they offer. To get this out of the way, the cinnamon bullar is spot on! It`s not too sweet, buttery, tender inside and crunchy outside, honestly tastes even better than the Swedish version, I am impressed!
The interior is typical Scandinavian, and you can watch live how those gorgeous bakery products are made. They have an award-winning baguette and several other bakery style products such as pistachio roll, which was my other favourite.
I recommend to grab a nice coffee with a cinnamon bullar and sit outside under the trees. Before you leave, don`t forget to take a baguette or a gorgeous sourdough bread with you for later, like I did.
Address: Budapest, Hegedűs Gyula u. 23, 1136 Instagram
Chouchou has been on my list to visit for ages! It’s one of those dessert places I can proudly recommend, in fact strongly advise to visit if you are in Budapest.
Kinga, the owner is a real inspiration for all self-thought bakers out there! She started making chocolate and bonbons back in the days to switch off from everyday work. (Does that right the bell?). Slowly she fell in love with her hobby so much that after several years of learning, testing and practising she decided to give up her safe and secure office job, followed her dream and launched her love project, Chouchou. She has a cosy pastry shop today and you can also try several of her desserts at various coffee shops in town (e.g. Espresso embassy, Brew Brothers Budapest, Budapest Baristas etc.).
Chouchou is offering classic French style desserts; e.g. choux pastry, tarte, mousse mono desserts and also some Hungarian classics in new ways, all made with the highest quality ingredients. I went a bit crazy and tried 8 desserts (sorry not sorry!). So what happened was that on the way to my parents I decided to bring a box of desserts for them and obviously everyone tried everything eventually but of course only after I took some photos. The desserts are works of art and they also taste divine, check these out.
Café Gerbeaud welcomes guests since 1858 in the heart of the city just at the end of Vaci street, Budapest’s fashion street. The rich history is deeply in the walls from architecture to interior and sitting in one of the saloons feels like a time travel experience, in a good way.
Beside traditional pastries like Dobos cake, Eszterhazy cake, Sacher cake, they offer stunning modern mousse cakes too. You can also purchase their signature chocolates like konyakmeggy, which is a delicious sour cherry bonbon filled with cognac and covered with dark chocolate, or macskanyelv (cat’s tongue), that is milk chocolate shaped like a cat’s tongue.
Enjoying a cake and a cup of coffee with live piano music in the background and watching the beautiful Vörösmarty square is an unforgettable experience after walking or shopping around the city for hours.
New York Cafe
New York Cafe won the most beautiful Cafe in the world award for a reason, it must be on your list when visiting Budapest.
The New York Palace itself was built in eclectic Italian Renaissance-style and opened back in 1894 and it´s hard not to be impressed by the interior and live gipsy music in this Cafe. The building was restored to its former glory in 2006 and now operates as a five-star hotel, New York Palace Hotel with New York Café. Last year I actually stayed in the hotel and I loved the buffet breakfast which was served in the same Cafe, it´s one of the most amazing hotel breakfast environment I have ever experienced.
In the Cafe I recommend to keep it simple and order a coffee and cake and enjoy the breath taking interior and live music. Understandably it can get busy with long queue outside therefore I highly recommend to make your booking in advance.
Caviar & Bull Budapest
We were really looking forward to visit Caviar & Bull, one of the best fine dining restaurants in Budapest where each plate is a culinary art. The team lead by Marvin Gauci from Malta, offering an international menu yet focusing on fresh, high quality local ingredients of the Hungarian cuisine such as Mangalica pig, Foie gras, paprika and Tokaji wine. Not only the menu but the interior has been also carefully designed with elegant grey, black furnishings.
Trying Hungarian duck liver is a must while in Budapest however you need to choose the right place to eat this iconic dish. Caviar & Bull took it to the next level and presented it with home made orange brioche, Tokaji aszu (Hungarian dessert wine) caviar and fruit textures. A dream come true!
The Black Angus tartar with wasabi ice cream is probably the most incredible tartare I`ve ever had, I just loved how the ingredients let the taste of the meat shine without being overwhelming.
For main we went for a fish and lamb dish, honestly I could rave about them for hours. The portions are also very well thought through with plenty of flavors and texture which bring the maximum out of each other.
We tried two desserts, one of them is the very interesting cheese, apricot, elderflower plated dessert, a genius flavor combination I will certainly try to recreate once I get home, perhaps in a mousse cake. The other dessert I strongly recommend to try is “coconut” literally looks like a coconut. It’s made of milk chocolate, coconut and garnished with passion fruit, mango and edible flowers. Taste even better than it looks, the flavors and textures are just out of this world.
Caviar & Bull offers memorable dining experience in a luxurious, yet friendly atmosphere. Visiting and trying their dishes can be a highlight to anyone visiting Budapest.
If you got until here in reading, well done, now you are well aware of the hottest places to visit and best restaurants to try in Budapest! After the pandemic is over and you are comfortable to travel again, make sure to visit Budapest, one of the most beautiful cities in the world! The Hungarian capital is one of those hidden gems in Europe that should be on every Foodie´s list to visit.
Have you been to any of the places mentioned above? Do you have any other favourite places in Budapest? Let me know below!