High Five: Budapest, Hungary

It’s amazing to me that I went to Budapest this past May with less than 24 hours notice, and of course the irony is that I’m just now mentioning the trip on my blog for the first time. Unfortunately, a friend who was supposed to go had to change plans and go to the US last minute, so there was an extra ticket and a travel companion in place. It didn’t take much begging to get me to go; I’d finally really take advantage of the fact that I’m a freelancer. Laurel – who is a self-proclaimed nancer (one who is generally spontaneous in nature) – was the perfect travel companion for winging it and having a wonderful adventure. I had been to Budapest once before, nearly 11 years ago as a study abroad student. It was amazing how much I didn’t remember from before. But even my Hungarian friends have said so much has changed even in the past few years while they’ve been living in France. For me, this edition of “high five” are my top picks for Budapest. I’ve also mapped them Everplaces, and more pictures are on flickr.
1. Gellért Hill – Make your way to the highest point in Budapest for breathtaking views over the city. It’s a nice hike en route to the baths at the bottom.

2. Gellért Spa & Baths – You may go thinking you want to stay a half day, but a full day will do you wonders. Treat yourself to a massage while you’re at it (~15 Euros/30 min). Don’t miss the wave pool and thermal pools (indoor and out), and a beer in the sun can be a nice way to end the day in the right season.

3. Printa Café – This fantastic cafe serves as a) café with light snacks b) gift shop c) print studio (you can even sign up to take classes) and d) art gallery. They also sell an awesome map [see lead image] they designed in house which makes for the perfect practical souvenir. It’s how we found #4!

4. Szimpla Kert – Kazinczy utca [the name of a street] is the mecca of fantastic beer gardens. It was hard to pick a favorite. Szimpla is a “ruin bar” where you can sit in car parts, or in a bath-tub upstairs (where there are cheap eats). It’s eclectic and fun in an inside/side setting. Down the street Stone Soup (outdoor beer garden) and Koleves (for dinner) are also fun.

5. Hungarian State Opera – Do your best to get tickets in advance. We were luckily to get ours last minute (20 min before start). A mix of tourists and locals will be in attendance, but have fun, dress up and be fabulous. You’re at the Opera! in Budapest! Be warned that the opera lasts about 3 hours, but enjoy the views during intermission.

BONUS TIP: We were able to grab free wi-fi randomly all over the city. Of course there were cafés, but our favorite discovery was that the red “hop on, hop off” tour buses had wi-fi so it became our joke when we found it (even while sitting in the comforts of a taxi in traffic) and would upload pictures to social media.

There are a million guides out in the world, but of course you can’t do everything when you travel. So if you only have a limited time, these are my high five picks I’d recommend. Click here for more in the series.


  • I fell in love with Budapest during a week there last summer, which I have to say, surprised me a lot. I totally agree with your high fives — Gellert Hill is definitely worth the effort, Szimpla was the perfect place on a hot summer night, and the Hungarian State Opera was impressive. Looks like you had a great time!

  • I’m working in Istanbul and a friend and I have been planning a weekend trip to Budapest – we’ll be using your high five list, thanks!

  • You have convinced me that I need to go, pronto. My boyfriend lived there a few summers ago, and he already had me fairly convinced about how great it would be, but your photos have cinched it for me!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *