Thinking about booking a trip to Europe and wondering where to stay in Budapest? You’re in the right place!
Budapest is one of the most historically-rich cities in Europe, and while it’s popularity is increasing every year, Budapest is still largely an undiscovered gem. If you’re a travel junkie, it’s well worth going ASAP. It’s becoming more and more on the map by the day, it seems.
My first trip to Budapest was in 2014 with my family, and I made it back again in 2018 to spend more time exploring. I love Budapest – it’s one of my favorite cities in Europe – and I found myself wondering what it would be like to live there someday.
Breathtakingly beautiful, this historic city embraces the mighty river Danube with Pest to the west with its leafy hills and natural spas and Buda’s pretty fin-de-siecle boulevards and the Jewish quarter on the eastern bank. There is so much to experience: awe-inspiring architecture, grand spas, stunning parks, fascinating museums, and a vibrant nightlife with a surprisingly diverse selection of restaurants. I know – you’re going to have an amazing time!
You will also learn why you should visit these neighborhoods and suggestions for what to see and do there. So let’s dive into where to stay in Budapest for a trip you’ll never forget!
If you’re traveling to Budapest, you won’t want to miss my other travel guides for the Hungarian capital. Like this detailed 4 day Budapest itinerary. Or this guide to traveling to Budapest gluten free.
Click here to see our handpicked list of the best Airbnbs in Budapest to find the perfect place to stay for your trip
Where to Stay in Budapest: A Complete Guide to the Best Places to Stay
Before we get into the meat of the best areas to stay in Budapest, let’s talk about my philosophy and process when it comes to picking a place to stay.
There are two main ways to approach choosing where to stay in a given city – pick the best hotel, regardless of the area, or pick the best area, then find a hotel that fits your style and budget.
My approach is the latter. I love exploring on foot and think it’s an integral part of any itinerary, so staying in the best neighborhood is important.
When I am researching the best neighborhoods, I’m looking for three things.
- First, a central location with public transit links. You don’t want to be spending half an hour getting to the main sights in Budapest.
- Second, the food and drink scene. Because I love food, and you probably do too.
- Last, but certainly not least, the “vibe” for lack of a better word. Is it full of tourists? I prefer to stay in neighborhoods where locals actually live to get a taste of local life, even if that means I’m not staying right in the middle of the city.
Now that you know how I chose these neighborhoods, let’s get to finding a place to stay in Budapest that you’ll love!
The Best Places to Stay in Budapest: The 4 Best Areas for First-Timers
A central location is always a good bet if you don’t know a city, although one of the great things about Budapest is that it is compact. Budapest is only about ⅓ the area of Central London.
With an efficient and low-cost network of public transport on hand, travel time in Budapest is not as much of an issue as it can be in other cities, but let’s start in the middle of the city since we’ll all be heading there for at least a part of our trip.
Belváros or Inner City (District V): Best Place to Stay in Budapest Overall
If I could choose one area of this delightful city to stay in, it would have to be Belváros, the heart of Pest perched on the eastern bank of the Danube. It has everything – superb baroque architecture, chic luxury stores, museums, fine dining restaurants, and some of my favorite cafés.
The northern and southern zones of District V, roughly from Parliament to the Basilica and Ferenciek Tere to Kálvin Tér are the most relaxing and peaceful. The mid-zone is the busy one and contains Váci Utca, the major shopping street that’s always worth a visit even if you don’t plan to buy something for yourself.
The whole neighborhood is sprinkled with historic buildings overlooking the tree-lined streets, including the Hungarian Parliament building, the largest in Europe, where you can see the Crown Jewels.
All four metro lines converge on Deák Ferenc Square, so it’s well-connected and easy to get to and from.
My personal recommendation for you is to find a stylish Airbnb in Belváros to serve as your home base for exploring Budapest. Lucky for you, there’s a TON of amazing options for you in this part of the city. I tend to stay in Airbnb Plus listings as much as I can, which are the best of the best in terms of style and customer experience.
There are almost too many places to visit in Belváros! Besides Parliament, there is St. Stephen’s Basilica, the largest church in the city, the Shoes on the Danube, a touching memorial to those killed by the Hungarian Arrow Cross (a fascist party briefly in power towards the end of WWII), the Széchenyi Chain Bridge, the first bridge to connect Buda and Pest in 1849, among many others.
While architecture is a major sight to see here, you absolutely have to stop at the restaurants, cafés and bars:
- Have a drink at Csendes Vintage Bar & Café. High ceilings, bizarre décor and a laid-back atmosphere make for quite the experience! Grab a drink on a warm night and enjoy it on their outdoor patio.
- Budapest is an excellent place for coffee, and if you love coffee, you have to try these cafés:
- If you enjoy Spanish tapas, try Pata Negra Pest, phenomenally good with outdoor seating and plenty of gluten-free options.
- Stroll through the Károlyi-kert park (just around the corner from Csendes) and enjoy the atmosphere and indulge in some people watching.
- Take a walking tour to get your bearings with the help of a local guide.
Best Places to Stay in Belváros
Like I said above, Budapest is a place with a wide selection of simultaneously amazing and affordable Airbnbs. That’s where I would stay, if it were me.
If you prefer hotels and hostels, I’ve got you covered there too – keep on reading!
Airbnb in Belváros
Cozy Downtown Loft
My wife and I stayed at this stylish and central Airbnb during our last stay in Budapest, and it is the perfect place to base yourself for exploring all corners of the city. Brand new in 2016, this loft (ish) apartment is a stylish mix of ultra-modern with period details. It accommodates up to four people with two beds, and is on the second floor of a lovely building opposite the entrance to Karolyi garden – very convenient for Csendes Vintage Bar & Café!
I can personally vouch for this place; it was a great find and the hosts provide incredible service. I’d stay there again in a heartbeat. It’s undoubtedly a contender for the best place to stay in Budapest.
Want to see what else is out there? Here are more fantastic options in the neighborhood.
For Couples / Two People:
- Hip Loft-Style Apartment Close to City Center Attractions – 1 bedroom / 1 bathroom
- Luxury and Comfort in the Palace District near Gellert Bath – 1 bedroom / 1 bathroom
- Elisabeth Deco Suite next to the Danube Shore – 1 bedroom / 2 bathrooms (just in case you both need your own full bathroom??)
- Cutting Edge Design Apartment in the Heart of Downtown Budapest – Studio
For Families & Groups:
- Scandi-Style Loft in the Heart of the City in District V – 1 bedroom + 1 sofa bed / 1.5 bathrooms (perfect for families with kids)
- Period Riverbank Home with Captivating Liberty Bridge Views – 2 bedrooms / 2 bathrooms
- Chestnut Suite, Romantic Home in Downtown – 2 bedrooms / 1.5 bathrooms
Hostels & Hotels in Belváros
If you prefer a good hotel, or are looking for an affordable hostel in central Budapest, here are your best bets.
Style on the Cheap: Maverick Hostel & Ensuites
This renovated royal mansion is situated centrally and has a fantastic baroque façade and lovely bright rooms. It has the usual hostel facilities – kitchens, laundry, wi-fi, and so on that you’ll need for a comfortable stay. The ensuite rooms are worthy of a hotel, equipped with cable TV, and if you are prepared to share, the prices for the dorms are extremely reasonable.
They often arrange social events, can provide bicycle rental, and they do free walking tours. There is a supermarket just across the street, too.
Maverick is nothing like the old backpackers’ hostel of years ago; it’s clean, well kept and welcoming!
An Incredible Serviced Apartment: Loft Astoria
Located on the eastern edge of the neighborhood, Loft Astoria doesn’t have the old world charm of the Maverick, but the rooms inside are ultra-modern and well presented. For instance, their Deluxe Loft apartment can accommodate four people, has soundproof doors and windows for a restful night’s sleep and tasteful décor. It has a living room, air conditioning, wi-fi, TV, fully equipped kitchen, and a big bathroom.
The staff are attentive and it has everything you need to make your stay in Budapest one to remember. Restaurants are all around, and the metro station is just a few steps away, so Loft Astoria is the perfect location to base yourself in Budapest.
Modern Elegance: The Three Corners Lifestyle Hotel
This newly built hotel has everything the modern traveler expects: bright, airy rooms with a distinctive contemporary look, multiple USB ports to charge all your devices, and the bathrooms are both spacious and luxurious. They provide all the services you might want: air conditioning, big TVs, free wi-fi, elegant bar, sauna and fitness cabin. The walk in shower are a treat.
It is situated at the quieter, southern end of the area and gets rave reviews.
Erzsébetváros (District VII): Best Area to Stay in Budapest for Nightlife
When considering where to stay in Budapest, District VII should be high on your list. Erzsébetváros is just to the east of Belváros and is just as convenient a location to explore Budapest.
It is a diverse neighborhood with a rich Jewish history and a modern, edgy slant full of young, hip people and street art intermixed with kosher shops and the Grand Synagogue, which is the largest in Europe.
Importantly, it is also home to cafés, restaurants and eateries of all kinds and is the center of the ruin pubs phenomenon, so there is a great party atmosphere. If you want affordable food and drink, not to mention fun, Erzsebetvaros is the place to go!
Here are some things not to miss in the area.
- The must-do is to visit the ruin pubs. They’re all built into the ruins of abandoned buildings and are a massive part of the culture of Erzsébetváros. My favorites are Koleves Kert and Szimpla Kert.
- Hungarian wine is now something they can be proud of and there is no better place to sample its delights than Doblo Wine Bar, where you can also try palinka, the traditional fruit brandy.
- Visit Free!, my favorite gluten-free bakery in Hungary.
- Go to My Little Melbourne for a shot of coffee in an Australian-style coffee shop.
- Just wander the streets and check out the street art!
- Go on a guided tour and just immerse yourself in Budapest’s fascinating Jewish history.
Best Places to Stay in Erzsébetváros
Airbnb in Erzsébetváros
If you’re looking for an Airbnb, there’s almost too many choices in this part of the city.
Here is a curated list of five apartments that I fell in love with as I was researching where to stay in Budapest.
- Snuggle up in the Mezzanine Bedroom at a Stylish, Sunny Loft – 1 bedroom + sofa bed / 1 bathroom
- Amber Pearl Apartment – 1 bedroom + sofa bed / 1 bathroom
- Smart, Stylish Apartment In The Heart Of Budapest – 1 bedroom / 1 bathroom
- Classic Deco Suite in the Old Jewish Quarter – 2 bedrooms / 2 bathrooms
- Modern Two Bedroom Flat in the Secessionist Heart of Budapest – 2 bedrooms / 2 bathrooms
The Maverick certainly deserves to get two mentions, considering it has two well-located, stylish, and affordable hostels. If you want to base yourself in the heart of Budapest, the Maverick City Lodge should be on your list. There are few other places that offer the same combination of style and affordability. It’s the best place to stay in Budapest on a budget.
The Best Erzsébetváros Hotel: Roombach Hotel Budapest Center
Beautiful colors and dynamic furnishings typify this exciting hotel. Their contemporary rooms offer style and comfort with wi-fi, air conditioning, smart TV, and a laptop-sized safe, so it’s a great base for enjoying Budapest and District VII in particular.
The Top-Rated Apartment Hotel: Vagabond Broadway
The best choice if you’d like to have the option of looking after yourself is Vagabond Broadway. They offer completely self-contained apartments, fully equipped kitchens, great décor and are so, so comfortable. Kid-friendly too!
Castle District (District I): Best for Peace & Quiet and Families
Just the other side of the Danube from Belváros, the Castle District (aka Budavár) is close enough to make sightseeing a breeze but is a bit quieter and more relaxed. It is made up of Castle Hill (Várhegy) and riverside Watertown (Viziváros) and contains many of the best museums plus excellent restaurants. It is the Buda center.
From Castle Hill you get spectacular views of the city, but turn around you’ll see the wonders of the sprawling Buda Castle.
The Best Things to Do in the Castle District
- If you like food and cooking, taking a Hungarian Farm to Table cooking class could be just the thing. You will learn how to prepare a three-course Hungarian menu while sampling locally produced organic wine and home-made spirits.
- Take a history walk and learn about Buda Castle’s Secrets with a Historian.
- Enjoy THAT view of Budapest by heading to Gellert Hill as sunset approaches.
- Walk along the bank of the Danube to get the best view of that extraordinary Parliament building from here.
Best Places to Stay in Budapest’s Castle District
If You’re on a Budget: Santico Art Hotel and Hostel
Within a 15 minute walk from Castle Garden, Santico Art Hotel and Hostel offers a variety of accommodation to suit everyone. With Studios, Quadruple Rooms, and Family Studios, you’ll find something to suit you and anyone you’re traveling with.
The Best Hotel in District I: Monastery Boutique Hotel Budapest
A restored 17th-century monastery, this relaxed hotel has 47 simple but well equipped and stylish rooms with all the conveniences you would expect from a modern hotel but in a historical setting. Family rooms are available. There is an informal restaurant and an inviting bar.
Terézváros (District VI): Best for Those on a Budget
Terézváros is just north of Belváros and is home to the Hungarian State Opera and Budapest’s theatre district. It is another hip area in this fascinating city, with food vendors and quirky shops, cafés, and restaurants.
The Best Things to Do in Terézváros
- You should visit the House of Terror, where you can learn about Budapest’s turbulent history during the Soviet occupation. It’s an incredibly important place to visit, and is a time not many know about – the reason I feel such a strong tie with Budapest is that my grandmother escaped from the city during this time, fleeing to New York.
- You have to spend some time exploring Budapest’s Central Park, Városliget, and, in particular, the Széchenyi Thermal Baths. They should be at the top of the list for any visitor to Budapest.
- Eat lunch or dinner at Drop, a 100% gluten-free restaurant and one of my favorite gluten-free spots in all Europe!
- See if you can catch a performance at the Budapest Opera House.
Best places to stay in Terézváros
The Hostel Choice: Activity Hostel
Just 200 yards from St Stephen’s Basilica, Activity Hostel offers three down-to-earth mixed-sex and female-only dorms with bright, airy rooms, a shared kitchen and lounge. The atmosphere is laid back, friendly, and the hostel is within a short walk of some of the most beautiful sights Budapest has to offer.
The Best Hotel: T62 Hotel
Close to the Budapest-Nyugati train station, T62 offers contemporary and edgy decor in an elegant historic building. It has 142 rooms and “urban art” is featured throughout the atrium, lobby lounge and bar. It is an excellent choice for those interested in exploring this unique city.
The Best Airbnb: Studio On Broadway
Another well-designed, bright and airy Airbnb that sleeps three and is in the heart of the city. The hosts are Superhosts with 500+ reviews, and they are committed to providing quality accommodation for visitors. Speaking of reviews, they almost all mention the kindness of the hosts, who will give you all the advice you need to make the most of your time in Budapest.
I hope this guide to where to stay in Budapest helps you to choose your very own “best area to stay in Budapest”!
Budapest is a remarkable city to visit. You’ll find a satisfying mix of history, both old and new, with a trendy edge to it that makes it a fascinating place to explore. Let me know where you stay!
Looking for ideas for your itinerary? Don’t miss my guide to 4 Perfect Days in Budapest and its complete, detailed itinerary.
Hungry for more travel inspiration, guides, and tips for traveling in Europe? Check out my latest Europe posts.