While two-thirds of the city occupies the lesser known Pest bank on the Danube, the best known third resides on the other bank in Buda. Today’s Budapest is administered according to 23 different districts. This gives visitors a wide range of choices for good areas to stay in Budapest.
It is no accident that the capital of Hungary is often referred to as the “Little Paris of Middle Europe.” With monuments dating back through 1,000 years of Hungarian culture and history, the city also boasts relics from other empires which ruled along the Danube River. Today’s Budapest counts nearly two million residents, good for nearly one of out of every five Hungarians.
The capital is made up of the two magical mega towns of the city Buda and Pest each meandering along the hallowed river banks of the Danube. The two areas each offer their own characteristics for the city and as a place where to stay in Budapest. While Buda is hilly, Pest rests on flat lands with the Danube River flowing through all.
Buda is both suburban and the more historic quarter of the city. It boasts the castle quarters with its medieval houses and streets, cafes, museums, and Roman ruins. Pest on the other hand is the dynamic heart of the modern city, complete with the biggest parliament edifice in all of Europe, markets, riverfront promenades, antique stores, book stores, and cafes.
The city has so much to share with travelers. Historic synagogues and churches, galleries and museum, historic buildings including palaces, pools, and baths all stand proudly side by side throughout Buda especially.
The Parliament building features columns and arches, cupolas and ornately decorated doors. It hails back to the era of industrious building in the city from the 1800’s and early 1900’s.
Finally, the city is justifiably famous for its amazing bridges that connect Buda and Pest over the Danube River. The four most beautiful are also the oldest, each constructed between the years of 1849 and 1903. The many beautiful areas of the capital make it a tough decision of which district of the city to stay in Budapest when visiting.
Where to stay in Budapest: Best areas and neighborhoods
1. District I: Buda
Buda is the old castle district of the old city. The charming quarter is an ideal place to stay in Budapest. It includes beautiful cobblestoned streets bordered by impressive medieval monuments including the Matthias Church, Royal Palace, Fisherman’s Bastion, Castle District, and northern portion of the Gellert Hill.
Besides this, visitors can also look forward to such appealing attractions as the Rudas Turkish Bath. Clearly this is one of the better known neighborhoods in Budapest.
The most beloved Buda neighborhood for travelers is called the Krisztinaváros. It lies immediately to the west of Castle Hill and delivers panoramic views across the Danube River to Pest. The Krisztinaváros has terrific connections to the remainder of the capital.
The city’s Metro system is complete and operates late into the depths of the night. Travelers love its ease of use and affordability. Budapest is justifiably famous for being the second great city in the world to install its underground train network after London.
Krisztinaváros offers all sorts of activities to travelers, some of them for free or at least on the cheap. In sub neighborhood Taban, there is the Gellert Hill with its Citadella and Monument of Gerard of Csanad.
Statue finding is a fun and free past time here. In this district travelers will find so many, including the Statue of the Independence War, the Turul Statue, and the Statue of Prince Eugene of Savoy. There are other neighborhood highlights here like the House of Houdini, Mace Tower, Hospital in the Rock, and the Budapest Castle Hill Funicular.
The Buda district is ideal to stay in Budapest for big spending travelers as well as active travelers. Couples and families who love history and architecture will feel like they are in heaven here. This is the place to spend as much time as possible if a group only has a day in Budapest. It is a must see for first time visitors as well.
2. District V: Lipótváros y Belváros
At some distance from historic Buda and its first district is the District V which includes both Belváros and Lipótváros. Belváros is often considered to be Budapest’s charming inner city. It counts most of the must-see attractions, landmarks, and sights. This beloved area remains popular with short stay visitors as well as those here on a weekend break.
Expensive and esteemed, Belváros hosts much of the most jaw dropping architecture in the Hungarian capital city. For a city of impressive architecture, this is the district most not to be missed.
Belváros offers among the most high-end luxury boasting hotels and restaurants in Budapest within its bounds. Even though this is still the historical heart of Buda, Belváros maintains a somewhat laid back feeling. Summer may be the peak season in the capital, yet Belváros somehow avoids becoming crazy and overrun even in those months.
An unmissable walk in Belváros is the one that runs from Elizabeth Bridge to Széchenyi Chain Bridge, fronting the Danube Promenade with its leafy trees. It allows visitors to see the Buda city side views from just over the Danube River. The route boasts both relaxing park benches and literally dozens of sculptures to admire en route.
Within the district are other not to be missed monuments including the Orthodox Cathedral of Our Lady, the Endre Ady Memorial Museum, the Petofi Museum of Literature, the Vigadó Concert Hall, Belvárosi Nagyboldogasszony Főplébánia-templom Church, the Count István Széchenyi Statue, and the Lion Fountain.
This district of Belváros is ideal for high spending visitors, active travelers, first time visitors and families, and those who love history and architecture but are here for only a single day and are looking for a good place to stay in Budapest overnight.
The other quarter of District V is the Lipótváros neighborhood. This rises immediately over Belváros to the point that no one is quite clear where one ends and the other begins. The two neighborhoods share in common the beloved Danube River Promenade.
The Lipótváros quarter on the Danube Promenade offers travelers famed bronze statues. One of these is a renowned sculpture series called “Shoes on the Danube” that recalls the individuals killed by the fascists in the Second World War.
The best known landmark in this Lipótváros district has to be the Hungarian national Parliament Building. Certainly this stands out above all others in the area as the most imposing. The Országház remains among the best known parliaments in Europe, drawing in hordes of tourists year round.
The building was constructed in the beautiful Gothic Revival style with an ornate exterior decoration only rivaled by its lavish interior decor. Visitors are able to spend time in the visitor’s center where they can learn all about the chaotic politics and sometimes frantic political history from Hungary over the centuries and decades.
Other sights worth seeing here include the Liberty Square, the OSA Archives, The Glass House, St. Stephen’s Basilica, the Soviet War Memorial, the Ronald Reagan Statue, the Count Istvan Szechenyi Statue, the Statue of Imre Nagy, and the Fat Policeman Statue.
Without a doubt, the Lipótváros remains one of the more expensive and luxuriant areas in which to stay as a visitor here. It is well-appointed, situated, and connected for tourists in all seasons.
This Fifth District quarter is ideal for lovers of art and architecture, mid-budget to high budget travelers, active travelers, couples and families, and for those who are here for their first time or who only have a day to spend in Budapest.
3. District VI: Terézváros
Just behind the Belvarós lies the District VI neighborhood of Budapest. This Terézváros area is home to the capital’s trendy and famed Andrassy Avenue. The Andrassy proves to be the Parisian Champs Elysees for Budapest. It hosts the gorgeous Neo Renaissance palaces, elegant high street fashion shops and stores, and even a few little known affordable hostels for budget minded travelers.
These elements all combine beautifully to ensure that the Sixth District of Budapest is a hidden and sometimes overlooked gem.
Budget minded visitors have at last found their quarter with hostels that are ideally located in the center of the vibrant city’s pulsing action. Luxury minded travelers have choices of large rental apartments with plenty of room to spread out, and those who like action will all be anything but disappointed in this throbbing section of the city as a place to stay in Budapest.
A little known charm of the District VI is the famed Ruin Bars of Budapest. The nightlife action center is a popular hot spot for visitors from the latter afternoons till late into the long nights here. Where else can you down copious amounts of Palinka alongside the natives all the while table top dancing in Budapest? This is a must do for hard partyers visiting the Hungarian capital.
Among the sights not to miss here are the Csendes Vintage Bar, Simple Kert Ruin Bar, Széchenyi thermal baths, Andrassy Avenue, the Budapest Puppet Theater, the Instant Nightclub, the Zoltán Kodály Memorial Museum, the Postal Museum, the Hungarian Electrotechnical Museum, Vajdahunyad Castle, the City Park, and the House of Terror.
Everyone from budget travelers and fun loving visitors to hard partyers will all love the area, famous for a Hungarian pulse and vibrant nightlife that just does not quit.
4. District VII: Erzsébetváros
Erzsébetváros is the name of District VII in Budapest. It is bounded by Király utca, Károly körút, and Rákóczi út. This area is also famous for being a Jewish center in Budapest. As a result, a few different synagogues are based here. In fact the second biggest and arguably the most stunning synagogue on earth the Great Synagogue is found in Dohány utca.
This District VII is also among the hippest parts of town. There are a number of popular bars, ruin bars, garden bars, design shops, street food outlets, specialty cafes, and even some of the best known landmarks in Budapest such as the New York Palace found in Nagykörút on Grand Boulevard.
The most popular locale in District VII is Kazinczy Street. This renovated boulevard is a hot spot for nightlife and culture in the Hungarian capital. Besides the glorious orthodox synagogue, it remains the center for the Kazmir Tourist Information Point, along with a variety of good street food bars alongside the garden pubs, ruin pubs, and kosher shops. Opposite the orthodox synagogue, a kosher pizzeria successfully draws in the crowds.
The city is well connected via a variety of public mass transit means. The Red M2 metro line skirts the district’s boundaries. It has the Blaha Lujza tér public transportation center. Several trams and buses also pass through the district. Trams Number six and Number four stop here. Buda and Pest connections are available through Buses number 173 and number 7, respectively.
5. District VIII: Józsefváros
The District VIII is also called the Józsefváros neighborhood. It adjoins the Palace District along a couple of streets. This also makes it a southerly neighbor of the more expensive and busier districts like Lipótváros and Belváros.
Józsefváros turns out to be a marvelous location to stay in Budapest, especially for those visitors who want to be in the center of the city’s action while not breaking the proverbial bank in the process.
Józsefváros is also among the oldest Budapest suburbs. This allows it to beautifully showcase architecture dating all the way back to the 1700’s. Museums here are both disturbing and fascinating in nature in Józsefváros as a result.
Visitors can pay homage to the memory of those tragic Second World War Jewish holocaust victims from Hungary at the Holocaust Memorial Centre. First constructed in the 1920’s, the centre is based in a renovated synagogue.
Another great museum located in Józsefváros is the well-known Natural History Museum. This turns out to be a fantastic museum for the whole family to see in no small part because of its vast displays and collection. The museum’s highlight proves to be the actual whole whale skeleton located in the museum’s main hall.
The district offers plenty of highlights for visitors. Among these are the Flag Museum, the Orczy Garden, the József Attila Memorial, the Martsa Műterem és Művészkert, the Erkel Theater, the Dandár Gyógyfürdő Spa, and the Kegyeleti Múzeum.
The area is best suited for lovers of good architecture and history, for active travelers who also happen to be on a budget, and for couples and families. First time visitors will enjoy this part of the city as well as those who only have a day or two to spend in Budapest.
6. District IX: Ferencváros
Some of the greatest diversity in Budapest can be found in District IX, also known as the Ferencváros. While the ambiance here is similar to the Józsfeváros, Ferencváros has an important role to play in the city as one of the most rapidly growing sectors in the capital. This does not make it a paradise neighborhood by any means though.
The district is forced to deal with and address major environmental and social issues today. A great number of the district’s monuments need significant renovation as well. Among the major development and redevelopment projects underway here in this district is the previous Expo ’96 site found along the banks of the Danube River.
There are advantages to all of this bustling explosion, of course. Ferencváros lodgings are budget friendly, and the area offers significant cultural appeal including concerts, theaters, and museums, to name a few of the more popular attractions.
Some years ago, Hungary built their new National Theater on the Danube River Pest Bank near the Rákóczi Bridge. In 2005, Budapest also completed the Palace of Arts adjacent to the National Theater. This hosts the Ludwig Contemporary Arts Museum as well as the National Concert Hall within its edifice and grounds.
This is not to say that the Ferencváros District can compete with the nightlife of other districts (like the Old Jewish Quarter) or the stately pre-World War II buildings found in District VIII. Yet it is worth seeing for visitors who have the time to spare and wish to meander through the various districts of the capital.
Thanks to the presence of many international university students living and visiting here, among the finest museums and a growing craft beer scene call this interesting district home. This has helped the neighborhood to change quickly from the long time quiet neighborhood of the working class it has previously been renowned for in the past.
The best kept secret of District 9 is surely the expansive views offered by the Danube River Promenade that fronts the river banks. Visitors can enjoy a nice stroll starting at the Great Market Hall and wander continuing the full way down to the Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art. This easy walk takes a casual thirty minutes.
Students call the area’s Corvinus University of Budapest home here. This is found on the Danube River side adjacent to the Renaissance Revival palace. In Communist times, the university was known as the “Karl Marx University.” Before this, it previously served as a customs house.
The growing university expanded significantly and moved back in 2007 into a more modern building found to the south at 4 Közraktár Street. It has since led to the development of one of Budapest’s few cutting edged public university facilities, and is one for the city to be proud of today.
Kelenfold is a delightful area on the Buda side of the Danube River. This gorgeous neighborhood enchants and delights visitors with its expansive Danube River views as well as its authentic portrayal of and snapshot into the Hungarian daily life in the capital city. Besides this, it is also an optimal locale for adventurous explorers looking for a different Budapest experience.
Much of the estate forms of housing in the area was constructed back in the 1970’s era. This is why the neighborhood provides more urban variety in contrast to the historic neighborhoods found in Pest across the Danube.
Party people will be right at home in Kelenfold. Barba Negra Music Club proves to be the neighborhood’s deserved centerpiece in this party loving area. The outdoors music venue maintains an incredible atmosphere despite its lack of elegance in design. Visitors in the summer especially can enjoy live DJs and bands playing on the majority of nights.
A hidden gem in Kelenfold is the Botanic Garden Buda. The beautiful garden offers both natural variety and refreshing clean air. The area also offers the Savoya Park Shopping Mall, the Kopaszi gát Park, and Szent Gellért Church.
It is a favorite of foodies and architectural enthusiasts, hard partyers and couples, back streets travelers who love adventure, and budget travelers.