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 charming neighborhoods and essential landmarks, and will reveal the side of Budapest locals know. (Refer to this map for the 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 the 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 in 1908 finally selling it to the state. 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
ruin bars, that marries resourcefulness and locality. The ship used to be an Ukrainian stone-carrier on the Danube before becoming Budapest's go-to concert venue, hosting A-level international and local bands almost every night on the riverbank.#7 - 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
#8 - 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.
#9 - 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.
#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.