Thursday, 12 Dec 2019

Where to stay in Budapest: a neighbourhood guide

Whether you’re in the city for a week of culture and sightseeing, or just a weekend of partying and spa-hopping, we’ve got the lowdown on the best areas to stay in Budapest.

Hailed by many travellers as their favourite city in Europe, Budapest has a reputation for being two very important things: fun and cheap. It certainly delivers on both fronts. Every night the bars are pumping until dawn, and days can be filled with trips to thermal baths, vintage shops and trendy cafes. You’d be hard-pressed to blow your budget here, and there’s so many things to do it’s impossible to get bored.

The city is made up of two towns that joined in the late 1800s, named, you guessed it, Buda and Pest. With the Danube river separating the two sides, each has their own distinct vibe. Buda is hilly, covered in trees, and is where you’ll find the *financially blessed* residents of the city. Pest is where the action is: it’s lively, energetic, always busy, and has the gritty yet charming vibe Budapest is notorious for. While you’re likely to head over to the Buda side for the castle and thermal baths, most of your time there will be spent in Pest. FYI, that’s pronounced “pesht”.

The city has 23 numbered districts, though the majority are purely residential and don’t have any hostels or tourist attractions. Near to the river is where you’ll find the areas worth visiting, with a variety of different neighbourhoods to choose from, based on what you’re planning for your stay in Budapest. Some, like Újlipótváros, are more quiet and residential, while the Jewish Quarter is busy 24/7. Józsefváros is for students and hipsters, while Terézváros delivers big time on culture and arts. Every district beats to its own drum, with a unique vibe you’ll pick up on the moment you get there.

It’s super easy to get around: the Pest side is fairly walkable, and completely flat so you won’t have to worry about giant hills (though the Buda side is another story). There are buses, trams, and an underground subway system that are cheap and efficient. They run frequently and late into the night.

Be ready for a lot of late nights, because even if you don’t plan on staying out, the city will suck you in. The bars are incredibly cheap (some charge just over £1 for a drink), and as soon as the sun goes down, Budapest really comes alive. The ruin bars around Erzsébetváros can easily swallow you up for hours, with endless nooks and crannies to explore. Foodies will rejoice in the number of cheap eats on offer, from food truck lots to 24-hour kebab joints.

Hostels in Budapest usually organise events like pub crawls, though they’re easy to get around and explore on your own. If they have an organised boat party, I recommend you give that a go! They can often turn into a wild party, but it’s a really fun way to see the city’s buildings all lit up from the river.

And if you’re worried about having a hangover on holiday, the city’s thermal baths are here to soothe your aching souls. There are a few giant bath houses all over the city, where you can soak in naturally warm water, relax with a massage, or sweat out all your alcohol in a beautifully-scented steam room. You can even combine the drinking and the baths at one of the legendary spa parties, which aren’t for the faint-hearted.

So without further ado, here’s a little intro to Budapest’s neighbourhoods, so you can figure out where to stay depending on what works best for you.

where to stay in budapest, Széchenyi Chain Bridge at night

? @danfreemanhoto

Jump straight to:

Belváros-Lipótváros: the best area to stay in Budapest for sight-seeing

  1. What to do in Belváros-Lipótváros
  2. Places to eat in Belváros-Lipótváros
  3. Best hostels in Belváros-Lipótváros

Terézváros: the best area to stay in Budapest for a hit of culture

  1. What to do in Terézváros
  2. Places to eat in Terézváros
  3. Best hostels in Terézváros

Erzsébetváros (The Jewish Quarter): the best area to stay in Budapest for partying all night

  1. What to do in Erzsébetváros
  2. Places to eat in Erzsébetváros
  3. Best hostels in Erzsébetváros

Józsefváros: the best area to stay in Budapest for channelling your inner hipster

  1. What to do in Józsefváros
  2. Places to eat in Józsefváros
  3. Best hostels in Józsefváros

Újlipótváros: the best area to stay in Budapest for relaxing with locals

  1. What to do in Újlipótváros
  2. Places to eat in Újlipótváros
  3. Best hostels in Újlipótváros

1. Belváros-Lipótváros (District 5): the best area to stay in Budapest for sight-seeing

Belváros literally means downtown in Hungarian, so you know that this district is as close to the action as you can get! If you’re just in the city for a couple of days and want to cram in as much sightseeing as possible, this is the best area to stay in Budapest for you. Unlike some other parts of the city it’s clean with wide streets, amazing old architecture and an almost Parisian feel. Lined with trendy coffee shops and upscale boutiques, you can spend a whole afternoon just wandering here.

There are a ton of tourist attractions in this area, so you can cross everything off your list without wasting time on travel. St Stephen’s Basilica, the Chain Bridge, Parliament and the Market Hall are all within easy walking distance. The bars and nice restaurants are geared toward travellers, so you won’t need to struggle your way through a conversation in broken Hungarian.

The middle band of the district can get pretty busy: here you’ll find European chain stores like Zara and H&M as well as trendy fast food spots and fancy hotels. It’s also where a couple of metro lines meet, so it’s easy to zoom out from here to other parts of the city. The northern and southern areas of Belváros are a little quieter, though still safe and populated at all times of the day.

There are a few good local spots you can find amongst the crowds, where residents hang out and rub shoulders with tourists. The district runs along the river so is great for a good late-afternoon stroll, with plenty of people-watching opportunities.

By night you’ll find bars and busy restaurants, and you’re only a ten minute walk from the city’s famous ruin bars. If you’re a foodie, there are a ton of Michelin-star restaurants mixed in with cheap hole-in-the-wall authentic Hungarian nosh.

where to stay in budapest,, man sitting on wall on fishermans bastion in budapest

? @levansurame

What to do in Belváros

Staying in Belváros means you’re located smack-bang in the middle of everything worth seeing and doing in the city. While Budapest has a great public transport system, you won’t need to make use of it unless you decide to head to a further-out district. Running parallel with the Danube river, Belváros is a beautiful area with way more to it than you assume at first glance.

Yes, it’s the most touristy of all Budapest’s districts. Here you’ll find the buildings that draw travellers to the city, including the beautiful Parliament building perched on the riverbanks. The best way to see it is by crossing the river and renting a bike or electric scooter to zoom along the waterfront and see it from afar. While you’re over on the Buda side, check out the castle and Fisherman’s Bastion. From there you’ll get great views out over the Pest side of the city, and it’s a good place to pause for an ice cream after the short but steep walk uphill.

where to stay in budapest, girl walking down steps at fishermans bastion

? @itsjeimy

Also on the Buda side of the river, but super close to Belváros, are the Gellert thermal baths. There are quite a few baths strewn across the city, but Gellert is a great choice. It’s set inside an old 1920s building with ornate interiors and beautiful architecture. There are a number of baths of varying temperatures, as well as steam rooms, saunas, icy plunge pools, and even a wave pool outside. Avoid visiting on weekends as it can get quite busy. In fact, you’d be best coming first thing in the morning.

The central market hall is worth a visit, but beware than it gets pretty packed with tourists, especially on the top floor. Steer clear of the stalls selling “traditional Hungarian” produce or souvenirs, as they’re usually overpriced and inauthentic. Skip the front doors and instead come in via the Csarnok Tér entrance for a slightly calmer experience, where you won’t be dodging the tourists who come in just to snap a few pics before leaving. It’s a good place to pick up fresh produce like veggies, cheese, bread, and spices: the places selling meals are just there for the tourists. There’s great coffee at the Rózsavölgyi stand.

Places to eat in Belváros

where to stay in budapest, view from the top of the market hall

? @juliusjansson

Vegans will rejoice while visiting Budapest. Despite most central European cuisine being very meat-heavy, this city is absolutely full of vegan eateries. An absolute must-try for vegans and meat-eaters alike is Napfenyes, a restaurant where everything on the menu is plant-based. Everyone who eats here raves about the pizza, which is legendary for how “normal” the cheese tastes. Don’t leave without sampling at least one of their vegan cakes.

For a cheap and easy lunch option that’s Anthony Bourdain-approved, Belvárosi Disznótoros is a hit among both tourists and locals. It’s basically all meat, just join the line and point to what you want in the glass cabinet. If you’re overwhelmed by the choices, the best thing on the menu is the sausage served with mustard and bread.

Can’t go a day without coffee? Luckily, Budapest has a number of trendy coffee joints serving up surprisingly good brews. Espresso Embassy is a hipster’s haven with trendy brick walls and vaulted ceilings, serving cakes that are almost as good as their coffee. Australians might like to try out My Little Melbourne cafe for a taste of home.

For cheap street-style food, the Hold Street Market building has become home to a food court of small vendors with low-key but gourmet offerings – though they’re only open for lunch. Buja Disnó(k) has giant pork schnitzels served with potato salad, while A Séf Utcája has great Hungarian-Jewish cuisine, like slow-cooked beans and eggs. Wander through the other stalls to find food like sausage, burgers and even Vietnamese Pho.

Best hostels in Belváros

No matter where you choose to stay in Belváros, you can’t go wrong. The whole area is safe and modern, and is all very well-connected by public transport. The hostels in this area are a little swankier than other parts of the city, and tend to favour relaxed good times over partying. If you’re less of a night owl then this might be the perfect place to stay and meet other like-minded travellers. Expect modern rooms inside beautiful old buildings, with the most convenient locations in the city.

The Lazy Muggle is the closest you’ll get to feeling like you’re at home while travelling. Just by reading their description you’ll get a feel for their sense of humour and welcoming atmosphere. They offer nightly pub crawls and have a social common room so you’ll have no issue finding other travellers to hang out with. It’s strictly not a party hostel though, so fear not if you love an early night.

If you’re most comfortable in a clean and modern atmosphere, check out the rooms at Flow Hostel. Only a couple of years old, the rooms are huge and the common rooms are comfy, bright, and filled with plants. The beds are more like little pods, with curtains and built-in drawers. The hostel is next to the Central Market building, and there’s a subway and tram line right nearby.

where to stay in budapest, flow hostel dorm

? Flow Hostel

Solo travellers should definitely head toward Pal’s Hostel, just around the corner from St. Stephen’s Basilica. They have nightly activities like group dinners, pub crawls, movie nights, and traditional food tasting. The spacious and airy apartment-style rooms are quiet despite their central location, and the hostel has a full kitchen you can use.

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2. Terézváros (District 6): the best area to stay in Budapest for a hit of culture

Terézváros is a small but busy neighbourhood located just off the main downtown area. The district has become the city’s unofficial cultural and artistic hub, with many theatres, galleries and performance spaces. It’s full of grand apartment buildings, so the bustling crowds that fill the streets every day of the week are mainly residents going about their day, as well as the odd tourist exploring the area.

Most travellers stick to Andrássy út, the main boulevard bisecting Terézváros. It’s leafy and wide, with elegant buildings that have been renovated to maintain their old-world grandeur. The southern end of this street is where you’ll find upmarket stores with high ceilings and marble floors – think Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Hungarian high-end fashion. The boulevard heads up all the way to Heroes Square and Városliget city park at the top of the district.

While Andrássy út is worth a stroll, you’ll find way more of interest in the streets and alleys that shoot off the main artery of Terézváros. Here you’ll find a more gritty vibe, with graffiti, crumbling walls and all the charm and character you’d expect from Budapest.

where to stay in budapest, tables outside a restaurant on the street in budapest

? @angelopantazis

What to do in Terézváros

Bring your walking shoes, because this district is best explored on foot. Whether you’re strolling around the fancy boutiques near the Hungarian Opera House, checking out the stalls of the bustling Hunyadi marketplace or admiring the palace houses up near Heroes Square, expect to be clocking up the steps on your activity tracker.

The northern section of the district is worth visiting for the architecture alone. Here you’ll find stately manors and palace houses that once belonged to Budapest’s elite, back before World War II and communism changed the face of the city. While the original occupants have moved on, the stunning buildings remain. It’s worth taking a wander along Benczúr and Bajza streets.

If you’re a fan of museums, Terézváros is an ideal place to spend your time. The most well-known is the Terror House, which provides an in-depth and confronting look at Nazis and communism. It celebrates freedom while also educating about history in a digestible way. Nearby you’ll also find the Museum of Fine Arts which contains some amazing Italian Renaissance paintings, and the M?csarnok with its rotating collection of temporary exhibits.

where to stay in budapest, girl standing in heroes square

Heroes Square ? @amiceming

There are also quite a few contemporary art galleries within the district: acb, which is trying to bring its unconventional art styles to a broader audience; Viltin with great temporary exhibitions from Hungarian artists; and Deák Erika, which showcases painters of all different styles.

You could dedicate a whole day to the sprawling city park found at the top of Andrássy boulevard – while not technically part of Terézváros, it’s walking distance from wherever you choose to stay. It’s a huge green space with bars and cafes, and even a castle on the banks of a small lake. Inside you’ll find the Hungarian Agriculture Museum which is quirky and worth a visit if you’ve got time to spare. Right near the park’s zoo you’ll find a vendor selling kürt?skalács, traditional cake cooked on a spit, that you need to try at least once on your visit. Enjoy it in a patch of sun on the green lawns.

Places to eat in Terézváros

Food in Terézváros is as varied as you can get. You’ve got traditional Hungarian fare, cheap street food that’s open all night and a huge variety of international restaurants with dishes from around the world. While there are a number of fancy eateries with high prices to match, it’s easy to find good-quality, cheap food, if you know where to go.

You’ll have to sample the local Hungarian food at least once during your stay, and there’s no better place to do it than Karcsi Vendégl?. A homey, welcoming space with a varied menu and huge portions, it’s the best place to try iconic dishes like goulash and chicken paprika. A main meal shouldn’t set you back more than £5.

For a quick, cheap bite, you can’t go past Hokedli. It’s a small, hole-in-the-wall type place with cute tables outside, serving delicious and healthy stews. The flavours change often, but expect to find hearty food for cheap prices. If you’ve still got room in your stomach, their vegan desserts are top-notch.

Another good option for a quick lunch on the go is Duran Szendvics. They have a huge variety of open-face sandwiches with different toppings, including plenty of vegetarian options. They’re really fresh and we guarantee you won’t be able to stop at just one.

For something a little different, Saigon Bisztró has delicious Vietnamese takeaway-style food at a reasonable price, or Gyros Kerkyra has the best gyros in the city and cheap beers to wash them down with.

Best hostels in Terézváros

If you’re looking for accommodation on a budget, then Terézváros is the place to be. The rooms might not be as flash as those in the central district, but they’ve got charm and character, and are still clean and comfy. You’re going to be spending most of your time exploring and enjoying the city anyway, so you won’t even notice!

Budapest is notorious for its party scene, and if you want to throw yourself into it headfirst you should stay at Retox. This is definitely a party hostel, no doubt about it. There’s no chance of sleeping early while you’re here, and forget about having any nights without drinking. The hostel is built above a courtyard with a wild backpacker’s bar which is basically open ‘til dawn. Then you can do it all again the next morning starting with a breakfast beer. If it’s your kind of scene, you’re definitely going to have an amazing time and see the most fun parts of the city.

Meander Hostel prides itself on a warm, welcoming atmosphere for travel-weary backpackers who want to relax somewhere for a few days. It’s not a party hostel, but they do have nightly activities for those who want to experience the most of Budapest. Their basement bar has €1 beers and is a great place to start your night rubbing shoulders with locals and travellers while listening to live music. A nightly family dinner ensures you’ll be eating well, before loading up on the cheap booze.

For a quiet, more low-key place to stay, you might like Avenue Hostel. It’s cosy with high ceilings and rooms full of natural light. Their breakfast is legendary, a great way to fill up before a day of sightseeing. It’s located right at an intersection of two main roads, with a tram line running past, so you couldn’t be more well-situated.

where to stay in budapest, avenue hostel dorm with bunk beds

? Avenue Hostel

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3. Erzsébetváros (District 7 or the Jewish Quarter): the best area to stay in Budapest for partying all night

If you’re in Budapest to experience its nightlife, then Erzsébetváros is the best area to stay for you. Formerly the city’s Jewish quarter, it’s the smallest but most populated district in the city. As well as a huge amount of bars, clubs, restaurants and cafes, the district is also dotted with old synagogues. The Dohany Street Synagogue is actually the largest one in Europe, and most are worth a visit if you’re interested in architecture or history.

Once the sun goes down the streets are filled with partiers – both locals and foreigners – and you’ll have no trouble finding a bar or club where you can let your hair down. If in doubt, stick to Kiraly and Kazinczy streets, the main party areas. The district is also home to the city’s ruin bars – run-down, crumbling old buildings which have been turned into bars and clubs.

By day Erzsébetváros has a great selection of authentically hip cafes and eateries, as well as food truck parks, bars, and an overall very unique vibe. Keep your eyes open for all the amazing street art that, along with its eclectic residents, helps make Erzsébetváros colourful and vibrant.

where to stay in budapest, two people taking a selfie in szimpla

? @hopewarrenx

What to do in Erzsébetváros

What else is there to do in this district other than party, party, party?! People come here to experience some of the best nightlife in the world, so let’s cut right to the chase and lay out some of the best bars and clubs you have to hit up.

First thing’s first: ruin bars. Two decades ago, Erzsébetváros was full of crumbling old buildings, uninhabited and unused for years. A couple of guys opened a bar in one of them offering cheap drinks to young locals, and it was a hit. Over the years, more have popped up, each with their own unique and mismatched decorating style.

The most famous is the original, Szimpla, which is chaotic in the best possible way. Try to swing by in the afternoon to see it in all its splendour before night falls and it becomes packed with people. Don’t expect to pay too much for a night out: a glass of wine or beer will set you back £1. Another good ruin pub is Instant, with many different bars and clubs within the one building. K?leves kert is great in the afternoon, with a sunny courtyard, cold beers, and great iced coffee if you need some caffeine before a night of drinking.

where to stay in budapest, girl standing in szimpla with beer

Szimpla Kert ? @hopewarrenx

Many hostels offer pub crawls but those don’t always go into the best ruin bars, some of which don’t allow large groups in. They’re easy to navigate on your own though, as all the best ones are within walking distance of each other. No matter the time of night, the streets are packed with people.

Places to eat in Erzsébetváros

Catering to the partying crowd, the district is full of late night-eateries and cheap food options. If you’re feeling indecisive, hit up Karavan. In a way, it’s like a food court: a parking lot filled with food trucks and picnic tables. You can get traditional Hungarian lángos (fried dough usually topped with sour cream and cheese), burgers, Mexican, or fried chicken. They’ve also got a bar, so you could essentially just spend your night here. If you’re plant-based, there’s a Vegan food truck courtyard a few blocks away.

where to stay in budapest, two plates of food from from karavan with beer

Karavan ? @hopewarrenx

If you love sandwiches (and who doesn’t), a visit to Bors Gastro Bar needs to be on the cards. They serve up massive portions for great prices –a small sandwich is around £2 – and I guarantee this will be one of the best street food meals of your life. If you’re extra hungry get a soup as well, because they’re legendary.

To try some traditional Hungarian food, have lunch at Kádár Étkezde. It’s a small, authentic, Jewish restaurant which has hardly changed since it opened in the 1950s. If you want a local failsafe dish, try the goulash or dumplings with stew.

Mazel Tov is a great option for a long weekend brunch if you want to splash out a little. Pricey by Hungarian standards, but still cheap, it’s a huge plant-filled courtyard restaurant serving up incredible food made with local, fresh produce.

where to stay in budapest, inside Mazel Tov restaurant with brick floor and hanging foliage

Mazel Tov ? @sevcovic23

Best hostels in Erzsébetváros

The majority of hostels you’ll find in this district cater to partiers: you’re in the city’s biggest nightlife neighbourhood, after all. If you’re planning on a couple of late nights out, this is the area to be staying in. Budapest’s coolest bars and clubs are all within a five minute walk of most hostels, and you’re always surrounded by delicious and cheap late-night food options.

At Vitae Hostel, you get the best of both worlds. Dorm beds start from £5 a night and are much cleaner and better equipped than you’d expect for that price. It is a party hostel, with huge events planned every night. But, apart from the rowdy pre-drinks, the partying takes place off the premises, usually at it’s sister hostel, Retox. Staying at Vitae always guarantees a good night, and plenty of other travellers who are just as keen to party as you are. But on nights when it all catches up with you, it’s quiet enough to curl up in your bunk at 8pm and watch Netflix.

Hostel One claim that their hostel isn’t about a bed, it’s about providing travellers with a whole experience. For them, this means an incredibly social atmosphere with organised day trips, dinners, drinking games, and basically a whole load of fun. All the workers there are travellers themselves, and can give great recommendations for the city and the rest of Hungary. Be ready for some late nights, and to make friends that’ll last better than the hazy beer-addled memories.

where to stay in budapest, Das Nest hostel kitchen

? Das Nest

If you like a small hostel where you can have conversations in a comfy common room without having to yell over music, then you need to stay at Das Nest. With a maximum of 28 guests, it’s like staying in a big house with good friends. A renovated rooftop loft apartment, it’s got a huge kitchen and a couple of common rooms, with seriously cool and eclectic furnishings. The beds are comfortable, the coffee is free and the location couldn’t be better.

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4. Józsefváros (District 8): the best area to stay in Budapest for channelling your inner hipster

Formerly one of the city’s rougher neighbourhoods, Józsefváros is slowly but surely becoming the place to be among Budapest’s young hipsters. Its newfound popularity means that new restaurants and cafes are opening up every day, so the area is just getting better and better. This district is where Budapest’s students and young residents tend to congregate, making the most of the cool vibe and cheap prices. A little off the usual itinerary, it’s the neighbourhood to enjoy an evening cocktail or a glass of wine instead of the crazy party vibe you might find in other districts.

It’s bohemian and laid back, though still has a gritty character and doesn’t take itself too seriously. The architecture here is seriously impressive – be sure to stop and look up every once in a while while wandering the streets.

Home to many grand pre-war buildings, Józsefváros is often known locally as the Palace District. The city’s nobility set up shop here in the 19th century, and many of their stately manor homes still remain. History buffs will be in heaven while exploring – some old buildings still have bullet holes in them from the Hungarian Revolution in the 1950s.

While some people say the area can be a bit sketchy, it’s totally fine during the day – though stick to the main streets at night. This is a great area to stay for backpackers travelling in a group – if you’re solo you might want to find a busier neighbourhood where you’ll feel more comfortable coming back alone late at night.

where to stay in budapest, a yellow building covered in hanging green plants in the palace district

? @nicknight

What to do in Józsefváros

The district is a jumbled mix of architecture styles – centuries-old manor homes stand next to squat boxes built during the communist era. You’ll find some beautiful buildings right behind the National Museum – a great place to spend a couple of hours to learn about Hungarian history that you probably weren’t taught in school.

A true hidden gem tucked away in Józsefváros is the Ervin Szabo library. While the majority of it looks like a normal library – endless shelves of books and students huddled over notes – on the fourth floor at the back you’ll find beautiful ornate rooms with original furnishings like wood panelling and chandeliers. You can technically get in for free, but you might need to pay a small fee, depending who’s manning the desk.

where to stay in budapest, street art mural of a man in the józsefváros district

? @ivanarundaworld

You’d be mad not to take advantage of Józsefváros’ great nightlife, more tame but just as fun as the nearby Jewish Quarter. For something a little different, swing by Trafik club, a live music venue with local Hungarian punk acts. Mingle with locals at the dive-y bar Krúdy Söröz?, a no-frills bar with bucket loads of character and prices that’ll keep you there all night.

Walking around Józsefváros, it won’t be hard to pick up on the young, student vibe of the district. There are cafes everywhere, all of which are friendly to a backpacker budget and a great place to decamp for a couple of hours over a cup or two of coffee. Lumen is a beautiful light-filled space with great breakfast and coffee – by night it turns into a live music venue with drinks (and serves a mean slice of cheesecake). M?terem Kávézó is a bit further out but has the best coffee in the area, as well as great flaky pastries for breakfast.

If you want a low-key afternoon, head to Mikszáth Kálmán tér, a square lined with bars and cafes, the perfect place to just watch city life go by. Otherwise Sirius Teahaz is a cozy space filled with pillows, tapestries, and an undeniably magical atmosphere. They serve only tea and it’s an ideal place to spend a couple of hours chilling out.

where to stay in budapest, boutique shops in budapest with flowers outside

? @illiakholin

Places to eat in Józsefváros

Thanks to the six universities situated in and around this district, it’s absolutely overflowing with cheap food options. Kürtös Ételbár is a must-visit for cheap Hungarian dishes. It shares a kitchen with the slightly more upscale Rosenstein but is way cheaper. It’s tiny so head in after about 1pm to beat the rush and try their truly delicious schnitzel.

Jelen Bistro is a cute little restaurant that serves everything from breakfast to dinner, where the food is comforting and delicious. The decor is a little eclectic, but it’s right at home in this district. Whatever you order, be sure to try the bread dumplings. Cafe Csiga is a favourite among locals, where you’ll find them tapping away on laptops or engrossed in books. The food has a homemade vibe and the coffee is good, so it might quickly become your favourite as well.

Aldente On The Road has delicious Italian-style takeaway food that makes a great lunch or snack for a low price. You can find great lángos, a traditional deep-fried street food, at a stall in the back of the Rákóczi Market. Buddies Burger have the best American-style burgers in the city if you happen to get a craving, and Padron has some incredible tapas though is a little more upscale than other places in Józsefváros.

Best hostels in Józsefváros

The hostels in Józsefváros are clustered around the western edge of the district, which is where every traveller would want to be anyway. The streets here are well-lit and safe, and during the day you’re within walking distance to the city’s hotspots.

Despite it’s decidedly un-hipster name, Hipster Hostel is actually a pretty great place to spend a couple of days. Each room is decorated according to a different theme, but it manages to be cool rather than tacky. Here you’ll find some of the best hospitality in the city, with super-friendly staff just trying to make you feel at home.

Solo travellers who want to meet people, but aren’t emotionally prepared for the craziness of a typical party hostel, will love Mandala Hostel. The small but cosy rooms – with normal beds rather than bunks – make meeting people inevitable. It’s a little rustic but has the friendliest vibe you could ask for in a hostel.

A brand-new hostel with modern amenities and comfortable beds, GrandBackpackers is ideal for anyone who likes a bit of luxury. Its minimalistic, bright decor is a refreshing change from the gritty district it’s in, and you’re almost guaranteed a good sleep when you’re here. It’s not the most social of spaces, so a good one for groups and couples.

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5. Újlipótváros (District 13): the best area in Budapest for relaxing with locals

Újlipótváros is the perfect area to stay to escape the hustle and bustle of Budapest, or somewhere to stay if you’re returning to the city and have already ticked off the usual tourist haunts. You’ll love the quiet nature of Újlipótváros. It’s usually skipped over by travellers, so you’re guaranteed an authentic local experience.

Only about a 10-minute walk to the Parliament building, it’s mainly residential, it has a great local neighbourhood vibe, and is inhabited by young families and professionals. It still has a community though, with cute boutiques and coffee shops lining its main streets. A great attraction of this district is Margaret Island, a skinny stretch of land in the middle of the Danube, connected to the banks by a long bridge.

Built in the 1940s, the architecture of Újlipótváros stands out as pretty modern compared to the rest of the city. Pozsonyi Road is the main artery of the district, and where you’ll want to hang out to experience all the area has to offer. Stick to the bottom part of the district, as it’s closer to the main city centre and well-connected by public transport.

where to stay in budapest, girl in hat sitting outside the parliament

? @traveltoblank

What to do in Újlipótváros

This is the district where you can take it easy. It’s easy for you to zoom out to other districts on the metro to see the sights, but once you’ve checked them off it’s time to slow down and amble around this residential district.

The streets around the southern end of the district, near the bridge to Margaret Island, are prime wandering material. There are cute side streets with small shops and cafes, and even the main roads are tree-lined and well-paved. Bookworms should check out Láng-Téka Könyvesbolt, then just keep wandering up Pozsonyi street, which runs from the top to the bottom of Újlipótváros.

A sunny day would be well spent visiting Szent István Park, maybe with a takeaway coffee from the nearby local favourite Balzac Coffee. The park has beautiful manicured gardens and is surrounded by some of the city’s most pricey real estate – just look up and admire the modern Hungarian architecture.

Of course, Margaret Island is the main attraction of Újlipótváros. Located smack bang in the middle of the Danube, it’s a green oasis in the sprawling city. Here you’ll find a running track circling the island, huge lawns, gardens, a zoo, and bars and cafes. It’s an ideal place to while away a sunny afternoon. Be sure to stop by the giant fountain which has choreographed water shows.

where to stay in budapest, a fountain in the city

As it’s mainly a family-oriented neighbourhood, Újlipótváros isn’t rife with nightlife hotspots. That being said, if you’re into jazz (or just open to a new experience), check out the timetable for the Budapest Jazz Club. You can usually get pretty cheap tickets and it’s always a good night out.

Places to eat in Újlipótváros

For a quiet neighbourhood, Újlipótváros has some pretty great food options. Start your day at Három Tarka Macska bakery which, if you arrive early enough, serves flaky pastry and fresh bread still warm from the oven. If you want to try local delicacies, go for kakaós csiga (a chocolate pastry) or túrós batyu, which is filled with sweet cottage cheese. It’s a great place to grab snacks to take on a bike ride around Margaret Island.

For a full breakfast meal, try Sarki F?szeres, a cute cafe with an outdoor terrace and extensive brunch menu. They’ve also got cheeses and meats for sale if you want to stock up for a picnic.

You can experience traditional Hungarian cuisine at Pozsonyi Kisvendégl?, a no-fuss restaurant with red gingham tablecloths and cheap prices. Be sure to try the iconic national dish, chicken paprika, or a heaping serving of hearty goulash. Leave space for dessert and treat yourself to sweet dumplings or chocolate-y crepes.

Sick of Hungarian food? You’ll find great Vietnamese at Oriental Soup House, with menu items like pho, noodles and spring rolls.

Best hostels in Újlipótváros

The accommodation options in Újlipótváros reflect the neighbourhood itself – more for families and groups to have a comfortable home base in Budapest, rather than wild backpacker hostels where late nights with new friends are the norm. If you’re after a calm time in Budapest with friends, it’s ideal.

Aventura Boutique Hostel is a small and basic space, but furnished and run with care. The bathrooms are clean and the bedrooms have single beds with lofts, rather than standard bunks. The kitchen is well-equipped if you want to save cash by cooking, or there’s a great cafe right underneath the hostel. It’s not super social, but perfect if you want a quiet night in after a big day of sightseeing. For under £8, you’ll get well more than your money’s worth.

For something a little different, why not remove yourself from Budapest’s streets and instead stay on Margaret Island, in the middle of the Danube? Island Hostel is an easy walk across the bridge into Újlipótváros, but you’re surrounded by parkland and water instead of honking cars and pedestrians. The hostel’s huge outdoor area has hammocks, table tennis, and big comfy lounges as well as a grill for cooking up a big dinner. It’s quiet and relaxing, but their on-site pub and cafe means you won’t have to go far to find a good time. It’s a little far from downtown and the big nightlife areas, but you won’t even notice as there’s so much to do on the island.

where to stay in budapest, social area with foosball table, sofas and hammocks at island hostel

? Island Hostel

Compare all hostels in Budapest

As you can see, Budapest is a huge city, with so many different districts to suit all types of traveller. There’s literally no way you’d ever be bored here! Hopefully we’ve been able to help you figure out the best place to stay and add a few things to your must-see list. If you’ve stayed in any of these neighbourhoods, let us know in the comments! We’d love to hear your recommendations and insider tips. Enjoy Budapest!

where to stay in budapest, the parliament in Budapest lit up at night

? @karim_manjra

About the author:

Jemima Skelley is an Australian travel writer currently exploring Europe. She believes that the best way to discover a country is through their food, and is always on the hunt for a good coffee spot. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @jemimaskelley.

Keep reading: ?

? Where to stay in Prague: a neighbourhood guide 

? The 15 best hostels in Budapest

? The best cities in Europe for craft beer lovers

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