Check out these tips for having a truly indie experience in Budapest.
  • The locals in Budapest are among the friendliest around. So don’t worry about taking tours, just grab a map and explore on your own. If you get lost or have questions, a friendly Hungarian will be right there to happily give you a hand.
  • If you’re a fan of theater, you’ve come to the right place. Visit Budapest outside of the summer high season, and you can check out some of the best theater in the world.
  • Visit one of Budapest’s traditional public baths for an authentic and unique experience.
  • There are some super touristy caving opportunities in Budapest, but if you’re a little more serious and hard core, check out the Pál-völgyi–Mátyás-hegyi cave system.
  • Visit a borozo, or a wine pub, for an authentic Hungarian drinking experience.
  • Budapest is located on hills and , within easy reach by public transportation, there is a Children’s Railway which takes you to a lovely lookout point – Elisabeth Tower – accessible via a short hike in the woods.

Why you should add Budapest to your RTW travel list

  • Small downtown, easy to get around
  • Bathe in your choice of 100 thermal springs
  • Ever seen a cave church before?
  • See what’s at the end of the Wine Labyrinth
  • Hungary’s Lake Balaton is the largest lake in Central Europe, and can be easily reached from the capital
  • The city of Eger has a lot of interesting things: a castle, excellent wine and good food. Plus it’s just half an hour by train from Budapest.
  • If you want to experience a Christmas Market without the high cost of Western Europe’s similar markets, come to Budapest in December.
  • See the Stud Farm and the Valley of the Beautiful Women

Why you should not add Budapest to your RTW travel list

  • It’s always a good idea to find a restaurant further from the touristy areas (especially Buda Castle Hill). Take a walk on one of the avenues which cross the city and you’ll find plenty of other good and cheap choices.
  • Don’t expect to speak English everywhere. Some basic knowledge of Hungarian helps a lot (even just for breaking the ice).

Overview

Budapest is the enormous capital of Hungary and a real delight for first-time visitors. Known as one of Europe’s most beautiful cities, Budapest has a charming and fairly compact center that makes it easy to visit on foot. The city is actually divided into two halves by the Danube with Buda on the west and Pest on the east. English isn’t widely spoken, but most things travelers will need can be performed easily enough in English anyway.

What To Do

On the Pest side you’ll find the downtown, which features the stunning and huge parliament building. It was designed to resemble the English Parliament building but is slightly longer and wider (on purpose). Organized tours are given most days. The House of Terror is in the former secret police headquarters and documents the dark periods under both Nazi and then communist rule.

The Buda side contains Castle Hill, which features a variety of museums including the Hungarian National Gallery housed in the former Royal Palace -- a well-regarded collection of paintings dating back to the 10th Century. The Fisherman’s Bastion is also housed in the Royal Palace and is a great place for views of the Danube and the whole city beneath you.

Getting There

With its location in Central Europe Budapest is a great place to visit by train, particularly for Eurail Pass holders. If coming from more than a country away you’ll want to book a flight into Budapest’s Ferihegy International Airport (code: BUD). It’s a large airport and recent competition from the low cost carriers has helped keep prices reasonable.

Where To Stay

There are plenty of hostels in Budapest and obviously loads of hotels as well. The city as a whole is fairly spread out so it might be worth it to choose a place near the things you most want to see rather than save a bit of money and spending half your day going back and forth.