This city on the Danube River is one that- even before visiting- held a special place in my heart for a few different reasons. My ancestors on my mother’s side are from Hungary, so I grew up eating goulash and paprika chicken and hearing stories about our family history. Also, one of my very best friends, Morgan, lived in Budapest this past year and spoke so highly of it that I was inspired to add it to my backpacking itinerary.

Budapest is a city which grew on me more and more each hour I spent there. There are so many different facets that make it up, and each “district” (the way the city is divided up) offers something unique to take in. Hikes and towers offer incredible panoramic views of the sprawling town, river, and bridges, while places such as the Jewish Quarter and the ruin bars offer explorations and fun seeped in history.

Favorite Things to See / Do / Eat / Drink

  • Ruin Bars: Everyone recommended Szimpla Kert, and it did not disappoint. It was the first ruin bar in Budapest; an old abandoned apartment building in the Jewish Quarter from WWII. The neighborhood itself is truly an awe-inspiring experience to visit, and really represents Budapest’s resilience.
  • Gellert Hill / Citadel Hike: A beautiful hike offering views of the city and some nature to decompress from the busy streets!
  • Liberty Bridge: We were lucky enough to be in Budapest on the weekend when this bridge is only open to pedestrians. This meant that people were out on the bridge climbing on it, drinking wine, having picnics, and even hanging hammocks up just soaking up the beauty of the river!
  • The Baths: Definitely one of the most unique tourist attractions I’ve visited/participated in, and I definitely recommend them! Budapest has so many to choose from and it is the perfect activity for after a long flight or overnight train ride.
  • Warm Up: A small cocktail bar with a local feel- they simply ask you what you’re in the mood for or what kind of drinks you like and hand-craft you something amazing!!
  • Boat Cruise: Do this at night to soak up the lights of the bridges and buildings surrounding the Danube.
  • St. Steven’s Basilica: Climb to the top for beautiful panoramic views of the city!

This city was one that slowly but completely captured my heart, and I relished being able to have four full days there to truly absorb it all. The hostel we stayed in, Penthouse Privates, also completely made our experience by connecting us with local activities, new friends, and making this new city feel a little more like home. For a vibrant city with fellow travelers looking to soak up more of the local culture than tourist attractions, Budapest is the perfect place to go.


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