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Solo Traveller’s Guide to Budapest, Hungary

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When I think of Budapest, I think of digital nomads working in coffee shops and coworking spaces. I also think of bachelor and bachelorette parties every weekend, especially during the warmer months! And you cannot forget about the famous thermal spas! And most of all, I think of beautiful architecture on both sides of the Danube River that make up the beautiful city.

As one of Europe’s best travel destinations, Budapest attracts millions of visitors each year. In Budapest, solo travel is very common. Many single travellers visit the Hungarian city and have the best time! Between all the historical and cultural buildings, museums and all the thermal spas, I can honestly say I thoroughly enjoyed my solo trip to Budapest.

Budapest has been on my travel list for a very long time. But I’m glad the wait is over! Country food#48 – check!

Related Post – Solo Travel Guide to Vienna, Austria

Climb up to the top of Castle Hill to see a panoramic view of Danube River
Climb up to the top of Castle Hill to see a panoramic view of Danube River

Why Budapest is great for a solo female traveller

Budapest is very easy to navigate. As most places are walkable and public transit BKK (buses, trams, four metro lines, trolley buses and suburban railway) is easy to use. And if you hop on Tram 2, you can tour the city and experience the panoramic sightseeing tour on the yellow streetcar that follows the Pest embankment. Or hop on Metro 1, the world’s third oldest subway.

The Hungarian language is a bit difficult to understand. Okay, I don’t understand any of it. Ha! But luckily, they speak English! And most signs are in English. It didn’t even occur to me once that I should learn a few basic phrases (although I wish I did). You can easily get by with speaking English only.

Moreover, going to Budapest alone is not daunting at all. Budapest is safe for solo female travellers. But with visiting any big cities, please practice your normal safety precautions. Violent crime is not prevalent, but pickpocketing and scams occur in touristy areas. So take care of your belongings.

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Lots of murals in the Jewish Quarter in Budapest
Lots of murals in the Jewish Quarter in Budapest

Where to Stay in Budapest

There are plenty of good and cheap hostel options in Budapest. The clientele hostels I stayed are a bit of a mish-mash. Typically there are groups of younger kids, a lot of solo travellers and sometimes there are families and older folks as well. The culture of hosteling has definitely changed since I first started travelling solo. 

I didn’t find any decent mid-range hotels. But there are a few good high-end contemporary hotels worth checking out.

For more information for each accommodation option, check out the description below and the location on the map by clicking on the individual pin.

  • Avenue Hostel ($) – Located close to Nyugati train station, the hostel has private pods as dorm rooms, a large kitchen and free breakfast.
    • Check prices & reviews: Agoda
  • Flow Hostel ($) -The hostel is near the Central Market Hall. The dorm rooms are spacious and have various communal spaces. They even have a quiet space for work.
    • Check prices & reviews: Agoda
  • Essential Hostel ($) – The look and feel of Essential Hostel is very similar to Avenue Hostel. Each dorm bunk bed has privacy curtains and a locker. And you get free breakfast in the morning.
    • Check prices & reviews: Agoda
  • D8 Hotel  ($$$) – Get a standard room near the Danube River and the Chain Bridge. The room is newly renovated with a contemporary flair. You get a private bathroom, flatscreen tv and buffet breakfast each morning.
    • Check prices & reviews: Agoda
  • Hotel Clark Budapest ($$$) – Located on the Buda side, Hotel Clark Budapest has modern guest rooms and beautiful lobby and common areas. I was quite impressed with all the finishes in the hotel.
    • Check prices & reviews: Agoda

Airbnb accommodation

  • Cost: average Airbnb cost 15,000HUF per day
  • Airbnb is an excellent option for short and long-term accommodation. There is an abundance of options for apartments and private rooms.
  • I stayed at several Airbnb’s in Budapest and would highly recommend all of them.
  • Herbarium Apartment is located in the Palace Quarter, and the apartment is designed really well and decorated in retro Scandinavian minimalist furniture. The kitchen is well-equipped, and the living room is a comfortable space.
  • I spent another week staying right in the middle of the Jewish Quarter, on the same street as Szimpla Kert. I rented a room in the central apartment in this new building where the host made breakfast every morning. He was super helpful and friendly. I highly recommend staying here if you just want a room.
  • Towards the end of my trip, I stayed in an apartment in Corvin District. The apartment is newly renovated, has a large living room, a well-equipped kitchen and a comfortable bed. Basically, it has everything you need for a comfortable stay.
  • And if you are not part of Airbnb yet, please use this code to claim your $35 Airbnb discount.

Related Post – Everything you need to know before booking Airbnb

Szimpla Kert, the original ruin bar
Szimpla Kert, the original ruin bar

What to Eat in Budapest

I love traditional Hungarian food! Before this trip, I only know about Hungarian goulash, and that’s about it. I was pleasantly surprised to learn I don’t have to eat goulash every meal! Ha! Not like that’s a bad thing though…

Typical Hungarian Food and Drinks in Budapest

  • Gulyás – Hungarian goulash is the most popular dish, sometimes serve in a bread bowl
  • Paprikás Csirke – chicken paprikash is made with red spiced paprika and stewed chicken leg
  • Pörkölts – boneless meat stewed with paprika, vegetables but without potatoes
  • Jókai Bean Soup – soup made with sour cream, smoked pork, parsley root and carrots
  • Lecsó – thick, stew-like vegetable soup with green and red peppers, tomatoes, onion, paprika
  • Halászlé – fisherman’s soup, hot, spicy paprika-based river fish soup
  • Lángos – fried dough, like pancake-style pizza with sour cream and cheese
  • Meggyleves – chilled sour cherry (or fruit) soup
  • Kolbász – boiled, dried, or smoked Hungarian sausages can be eaten as cold cuts or in stews and salads. It contains bacon, ground pork, beef, lamb, paprika, garlic, pepper, nutmeg and the local spice
  • Töltött Káposzta – stuffed cabbage rolls made with pickled cabbage, minced pork meat, paprika and sour cream on top
  • Libamáj – fried goose liverGyros – Hungarian kebab
  • Nokedli – Hungarian dumpling looks like spaetzles
  • Túrógombóc – curd or cottage cheese dumplings in a ball shape, boiled in water, covered with buttery breadcrumbs, served with sour cream
  • Dobos torta – Hungarian sponge cake covered in chocolate and caramel
  • Gesztenyepüré – like a Mont Blanc, chestnut puree with whipped cream
  • Rákóczi Túrós – shortcrust pastry, with sweet cottage cheese and meringue and apricot jam
  • Kürtőskalács – chimney cake made with sweet yeast shaped in a cone
  • Rétes – Hungarian strudel
  • Kifli – Hungarian yeast roll in a crescent shape
  • Fröccs – white wine and soda water, a Hungarian summer drink
  • Pálinka – strong spirit that can be blended with honey
  • Unicum – Hungarian herbal liquor
  • Tokaji – dessert wine

Where to Eat in Budapest

There is delicious Hungarian food everywhere! Many casual eateries are the Jewish Quarter, and food stalls are all over the city. And there are many excellent vegan restaurants in the city too. I probably had way too much good food during my solo trip to Budapest.

And Budapest is a very popular city for digital nomads. Primarily because of the city’s cost of living. It is definitely more affordable than in other European cities. And not to mention the availability and speed of data and wifi. Also, there are a lot of places that support the digital nomad lifestyle. Coffee shops are everywhere and have perfect workstations if you want to put in a full day’s work. Here are some of my favourites.

Below are some budget and mid-range restaurant suggestions and coffee shop suggestions. You can find more information about each location in the attached google map by clicking on the individual pin (see interactive map above).

  • Karaván Street Food ($) – there are many food stalls to choose from. I went there three times and ordered the beef lángos burger. You have to try this if you are in Budapest! 
  • Hummus Bar ($) –  they serve delicious comfort food in the form of pita and hummus
  • Bors GasztroBár ($) – known for their delicious soups and pressed sandwiches, the rowdy kitchen and fun menu boards make this little resto a must-try! 
  • Pöriző ($) – a takeaway food stall that makes a variety of Hungarian stews in pancake cone. I tried the chicken stew in noodle pancake. A bit messy but totally delicious!
  • Cafe Ruszwurm ($) – one of the oldest cafes in Budapest. I love their dobos torta cake and Ruszwurm cream cake!
  • Molnár’s Kürtőskalács Cafe ($) – they make their chimney cake fresh! Try the cinnamon as that is the most popular one. And the one with the soft-serve ice-cream is great for a hot summer day (or any day you feel like ice-cream! Ha!)
  • Mazel Tov ($$) – a tranquil, casual space that serves Israeli food. Try their Israeli brunch on the weekend; it is to die for!
  • Kispiac Bisztró ($$) – one of the cutest restaurants in Budapest and the best food! Try their asparagus with serrano ham, fat duck liver and grilled duck. Don’t forget to order a bottle of Hungarian red wine to go with the deliciousness! And make a reservation if you can.

 

  • Magveto Cafe ($) – a comfortable space with different types of seating. The cafe has great wifi and cake selection, and they welcome dogs (a lot of places do)
  • Madal Cafe – one of the best coffee shops to work in Budapest! I love their simple interiors, delicious cappuccino and great wifi. Make your way to the second floor to do some serious work! Konyha – an eclectic space for food patrons and remote workers. I tried their 3-course lunch which includes a fruit soup, pork tenderloin and a cream cheese dessert. The price is reasonable. The upstairs space is great for working.
  • Kelet Café – a cute little cafe on the Buda side. The breakfast is delicious, but the wifi is intermittent. But still, a great space to do some serious work.
  • My Little Melbourne Coffee and Brew Bar – seems like all the good cafes have the second floor and this one is no exception. I happily worked most of the afternoon upstairs with my cappuccino and lamington (an Australian cake). Yum!
  • Blue Bird Cafe Hand Made Roastery – a small but cozy space. They sell coffee beans too!

What to Do in Budapest

First, let’s about talk geography. The Danube River split Budapest into Buda (west of the river) and Pest (east of the river). District I is on the hilly Buda where you will find Castle Hill.

The flat Pest is divided into many districts, but the ones you will want to know is District V Inner City, District VI & City Park (technically District XIV), District VII Jewish Quarter and District VIII Palace District. There are many other districts, but chances are you will be spending the majority of your time in these districts. Check the map for more details. 

It is very easy to spend many weeks in Budapest because there is so much to do! But if you have to condense it, you can probably see the city in three to four days to see all the best Instagrammable places.

All the top things to do in Budapest are pinned in the interactive map. You can find more information about each attraction by clicking on the individual pin.

District I Budapest

Spend an afternoon strolling the hilly Buda where you will find Buda Castle, Fisherman’s Bastion, and beautiful Matthias Church all on Castle Hill. You can either hike up the hill or take the funicular all the way to the top. For those who like museums, Budapest History Museum and Hungarian National Gallery are on Castile Hill as well.

And while you are on the Buda side, walk up to the Citadella on top of Gellert Hill for the best spot for sunset. On the way back down, the Hotel Gellért and Gellért Thermal Bath are just at the base of the hill.

District V Inner City

One of the best ways to experience Budapest is walking along the Danube River. You can get a close-up and personal experience with the Hungarian Parliament Building, the iconic Neo-Gothic building in front of the Danube.  And make sure you cross the river via Liberty Bridge and Széchenyi Chain Bridge which is the first stone-bridge, symbolic of Budapest. When you are hungry or wanting some retail therapy, Vaci Utca is where you want to be. And if you keep walking north, you’ll find St. Stephen’s Basilica, a Roman-Gothic basilica.

Or you want to experience the Danube River by cruising down the river in a Danube River Cruise. Many tour companies have tours going up and down the Danube throughout the day. I heard the views during the evening is the best. 

District VI + City Park

As one of Hungary’s World’s Heritage sites, Városliget (City Park) has a lot to see and do. You are first immediately greeted by Hősök Tere (Hero’s Square), which is the largest and most impressive square in the city. And immediately around the vicinity of Hero’s Square, take in some culture at the Museum of Fine Arts and Kunsthalle (Hall of Art). Walking further in, you will find Vajdahunyad Castle, a romantic castle by the boating lake. And Széchenyi Thermal Bath is also in the park as well.

House of Terror is a bit south of the City Park. A monument to remember all those held captive, tortured and killed in this building. As horrific as it sounds, the horror ended with the victory of freedom and independence.

District VII Jewish Quarter

There are a lot of casual eateries and shops in the Jewish Quarter. You can find some of the best Hungarian food in this district. See below for more restaurant suggestions.

And while you are in the Jewish Quarter, visit the Dohány Street Synagogue, the largest synagogue in Europe. The building itself is quite impressive along with the intricate details in the courtyard. A lot of significant events took place in the synagogue, and it is considered to be the most important religious place of the Neolog Jews in Hungary to this day.

Ruin bars are synonymous with Budapest nightlife, and they are all in the Jewish Quarter. Essentially, they are bars in old and abandoned spaces. It doesn’t sound very attractive but it is the most happening nightlife and bar scene in the city. Even if you are travelling alone, you should still experience this as it is truly unique to Budapest only. You have to visit Szimpla Kert because this is THE ruin bar of Budapest! The interior feels like a maze as you walk through each room. I saw this space during the day, and it was dizzying. Can’t imagine at night while intoxicated! Or try one of the best Budapest ruin bar crawls. It is one of the most unique experiences in Budapest! 

Moasic interiors of Gellért Thermal Bath
Moasic interiors of Gellért Thermal Bath

Thermal Baths

One of the unique activities that you need to do is going to the thermal bath. Budapest is known for thermal baths! You have to try at least one! They are relaxing and have a medicinal effect due to the mineral-rich waters. 

Most people will visit Széchenyi Thermal Bath because of its beautiful complex. It is one of the largest bath complexes in Europe with 21 pools. To use the thermal spa, you pay an entrance fee which includes the use of all thermal baths, saunas and aqua fitness. Indoor pools have various temperatures while a beautiful yellow Neo-Renaissance building surrounds the outdoor pool. You can also pay more to experience the Beer Spa where you sit in a tub of beer and have all-you-can-drink beer from the beer tap next to the tub. 

However, Gellért Thermal Bath was my favourite. Even though the spa is part of Hotel Gellért, the spa is open to the public and has spa treatments and an outdoor pool as well. The Art Nouveau building is decorated with colourful mosaic tiles. The overall feel and ambiance are relaxing and comfortable. 

Rudas Spa and Király Thermal Baths are both highly recommended during my research. And there are sparties, spa + parties, on Saturdays at either Széchenyi during warmer months and Lukács Baths during winter months, where you can enjoy a bevy and music in the thermal spa!

Festivals in Budapest

There are a lot of festivals during the warmer mothers in Budapest. One of the best ways to find out about them is to check out. We Love Budapest website. It has all the upcoming calendar events and activities. 

Some favourite events include Budapest100, where some of Budapest’s squares and courtyards inside buildings are open to the public for viewing. There are some elaborate and intricate courtyards all around the city but usually not accessible. This is the one day where some of them are open to the public for viewing. There is also the Night of the Museums where visitors can visit the participating museums past midnight. 

As for food, both Beer Week and Gourmet Festival at Millenaris Park are happening around in May. The one event I was able to participate was the Rosalia Festival where Hungarian rosé winemakers gather at the City Park for a weekend. There are performances, typical Hungarian food stalls and of course, lots and lots of rosé wine! 

If you want to make the most of your time in Budapest, check the event calendar so you will not be disappointed. 

Interested in tours in Budapest? Try one of these tours below:

Day Trips from Budapest

There are several great day trips from Budapest that you can take and one of the best ones is Szentendre. 

Szentendre

If you have time to venture outside of Budapest, Szentendre is a small town just 45 minutes away by train. The little Serbian town has churches, museums, galleries, and cafes in a serene baroque setting. There are summer festivals and a lot of art and cultural events in this quaint cobblestone town. Some of the must-sees include the Hungarian Open Air Museum and Blagovestenska Church.

From Budapest, take the suburban train H5 at Batthyány tér and take it to the end of the line. On the way back, take the boat from Szentendre at 5:00 pm back and you will experience the boat ride on the Danube River slowly cruising its way back to Budapest.

Related Post – A day trip to Bratislava from Vienna

Phew! That was a lot of info! Hope you like this informative post about Budapest! And if you are considering travelling to Budapest alone, go for it! I had the best time in Budapest, and you will love the city too.

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About Author

Hi, my name is Queenie, and I've been a solo traveller for 18+ years and currently based in Hong Kong. Follow me on my adventures through Instagram and my blog!

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