My family is full of historical buffs, so when it came time to decide where to visit for our annual family vacation, we jumped at the opportunity to learn more about our heritage in the land of the Magyars. Located smack dab on Europe’s second-longest river, the Danube, Budapest has a long, storied history from the rule of the Hapsburgs to surviving both World Wars to Communist rule and more. A little known fact, Budapest is actually two cities, Buda and Pest, which are separated by the Danube River. While Buda boasts sweeping views of the city and definitely deserves a visit, most of the attractions (and where you’ll want to stay) is in vibrant Pest.
Where to Stay
- House of Terror
- While visiting the site where both Nazis and Russian Communists set up shop doesn’t exactly sound like a fun way to spend your vacation, this museum tells the troubling history of life in Budapest under outside rule informatively and tastefully. Fair warning, this museum will give you the chills.
- National Opera House
- Without having to sit through an entire opera, if you pop in in the afternoons on the hour, there are tours that show off the beautiful architecture of the building.
- Matthias Church & Fisherman’s Bastion
- Visit Buda if only for the views. The Mattias Church, while crafted in an array of interesting color choices, is one of the longest standing buildings in Buda.
- Shoes on the Danube
- A haunting memorial for those Hungarians who lost their lives in the Holocaust.
- St. Stephen’s Basilica
- An expansive church that offers panoramic views of the city…so long as you are willing to walk the 364 steps that is.
Where to Eat
- Costes Restaurant
- Boasting one Michelin star, this restaurant is a true show of culinary artistry.
- Borrso Bistro
- A quaint bistro located on the sidewalk of a quiet, side street, this restaurant offers incredible Hungarian wines and comforting, Hungarian-inspired dishes.
- Borkonyha Winekitchen Restaurant
- Located conveniently next to St. Stephen’s Basilica, this Michelin-starred wine kitchen has mastered the art of simple, but outstanding, fare.
Where to Drink
Budapest’s ruin bars
Completely rundown and abandoned buildings in the trendy Jewish quarter of Budapest have lent themselves to chaotic but friendly, inexpensive watering holes for the Hungarian youth.
- Szimpla Kert
- The first of its kind, you can find hookah pipes, Hungarian palinka and hip locals enjoying themselves on the open patio or in one of the array of unique rooms.
- Mazel Tov
- True to its namesake and more upscale than its predecessor Szimpla Kert, Mazel Tov is serving up authentic Middle Eastern cuisine under strings of twinkling lights and an open roof and is a fun local to drink and eat under the stars.
Where are you hoping to jet off to next?