Now that the weight of visiting the must-see Budapest sites is off your shoulders, you’re free to immerse yourself in places off the beaten track. This list includes both charming neighborhoods and essential landmarks, and will reveal the side of Budapest locals know.
Refer to this map for the specific locations.
#1 - Visit Újlipótváros, Budapest’s West Village: A little city within the city, Újlipótváros is a hidden gem that somehow flies under the radar of most tourists. With a 1930s modernist housing stock, this middle-class neighborhood looks strikingly different than the rest of city’s classical revival architecture. Lined with bookstores and trendy cafés, the main artery of the neighborhood is Pozsonyi Road.
#2 - Discover the coolest Buda neighborhood: No doubt that Pest is where most of the action is, but the stately Bartók Béla Avenue in Buda gives it a run for its money. This revitalized area is teeming with cafés, bars, art galleries, and a local, bourgeois bohemian crowd.
#3 - Stroll down the Danube promenade in Ferencváros: Unfortunately, cars in Budapest have more access to precious Danube River views than people. One exception is the green promenade running down from the Great Market Hall to the Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art. Along the way, be sure to pop in to the historic market hall, and the enormous whale-shaped contemporary building where bars offer panoramic vistas.
#4 - Use BuBi, Budapest’s city bike system: With densely built streets and a flat surface, the Pest side of Budapest lends itself to be discovered on two wheels. With almost 1,500 bikes and 124 docking stations, Budapest’s self-service bike sharing system, BuBi, provides an excellent coverage of all downtown neighborhoods. You can pedal away for the whole day for the equivalent of less than €2 (within 30 minute intervals). Just please keep your wits about you and be respectful to others sharing the road.
#5 - Walk or bike around on Budapest’s Central Park: Margaret Island is a massive green land perched in the middle of the Danube River - no wonder that the royal family kept it close to its chest before finally selling it to the state in 1908. Bike around the island's manicured lawns or join packs of locals on the running trail stretching around the island.
Hungarian architecture. Rather than relying on Western European examples, Lechner's colorful ceramic tiles and curvilinear shapes took inspiration from Hungarian and Asian folk motifs. One of the best examples is the Postal Savings Bank from 1901.#6 - See one of Ödön Lechner’s buildings: At the turn of the 20th century Ödön Lechner created a unique
#7 - Visit the tomb of Gül Baba: Gül Baba, "father of the roses" in Turkish, was a charismatic Bektashi monk who died in 1541 in Buda, when the Ottomans occupied the city. His octagonal tomb (türbe) here is the northernmost point of Islamic pilgrimage in the world and also a beautiful and peaceful area with sweeping views of Budapest. For the best experience, climb up on Mecset Street through the rose garden, and leave the area on the other side down the winding Gül Baba Street.
ruin bars, that marries resourcefulness and locality. The ship used to be a Ukrainian stone-carrier on the Danube before transforming into Budapest's go-to concert venue, hosting A-level international and local bands almost every night on the riverbank.#8 - Go to a concert on the A38 ship docked on the Danube River: This commercial-ship-turned-concert-venue is one of those unique Budapest creations, similar to
#9 - Check out the award-winning new M4 subway stations: A crisscross system of exposed concrete beams, playful lighting solutions, and customized designs lend a distinctively 21st century feel to the platforms of Budapest's M4 subway line. The Fővám Square and Szent Gellért Square stations, both designed by Hungarian architects, won the highly prestigious Architizer A+ Award in 2014.
#10 - Explore the Fiumei Road Cemetery: The “Père Lachaise of Budapest”, this vast land of 56 hectares (140 acres) close to the city center hides the beautifully landscaped garden cemetery where Hungary’s most famous citizens are buried. Enjoy a stroll through its towering limestone mausoleums and impressively designed tombstones while getting to know the country’s leading statesmen and artists, including Lajos Kossuth and Tivadar Csontváry. At the back, but accessed from outside, is the Salgótarjáni Street Jewish Cemetery, which boasts elaborate tombstones of the turn-of-the-20th-century Jewish upper class.
#11 - Discover the Bosnyák Square market: This chaotic, partially outdoor marketplace in the outskirts of Pest is the opposite of the organized and clean Great Market Hall downtown. Besides the standard fruits, vegetables, and meat vendors, Hungarian farmers sell homemade goods including jams, vegetable spreads, and fruit syrups in the back of the space. Don’t miss the little lángos eatery, which makes some of the best of this fried dough. For the best experience, go early on Friday or Saturday.
#12 - Get some food at Budapest's Chinatown: With about 30 thousand people, Budapest has the largest Chinese community in Central Europe. This of course means that plenty of excellent food options abound, be it Sichuanese, seafood, or Chinese barbecue you're after. Budapest's Chinatown consists of a huge wholesale center complete with 13 restaurants and 5 Chinese supermarkets among others. It's located in the outskirts of Budapest in Monori Center, which is about 40 minutes by public transport from downtown. You can learn more about Budapest's Chinatown here.