Pretty much the only thing you need to like to enjoy Budapest are thermal baths. That’s literally it; there are tonnes of them. If you’re more into culture/museums/long park walks/rooftop bars, Buda’s got you too.
One of my favourite ways to get to know a city as quickly as possibly is to go on a walking tour, which we did on our first night. A lot of them are free (you pay in tips) and a good 1-2 hours long so definitely worth looking into. We finished the tour at the Chain Bridge at sunset before heading to a restaurant for dinner.
As previously mentioned, the thermal baths are probably what a lot of people head to Budapest for. We didn’t actually end up going to the mega touristy one (Széchenyi) but went to the Gellert baths and the Rudas baths in stead, which were both lovely in their own right. They were each between £10-£20 for a few hours so totally worth it if you spend a while there.
I’d 100% recommend a walk along the Danube to see the Parliament building and the Shoes monument, which is a tribute to the Jews that were killed on the river during the Second World War. It was incredibly simple and touching and so easy to find – only about a 5-minute walk from St Stephen’s Basilica and Vaci Street.
We also spent some time on Margaret Island which is right in between Buda and Pest and can be accessed either by foot or by tram. There’s so much to see on the island alone, let alone the rest of the city! The Magic Fountain plays every evening which we loved because it reminded us of the one in Barcelona, way back in 2014.
In terms of night life, we tried to go to a variety of ruin bars which Budapest is also famous for. Our favourite more upmarket one was Mazel Tov, which is a primarily outdoor, fairy light covered garden with live music. The cocktails were amazing! The best bar to go to if you’re up for more of a dance is definitely Szimpla Kert – there’s literally everything you can imagine there and I want to go back so badly! I’m pretty sure there are 27+ rooms, each offering something different. We spent some time in the basement club, some on an outdoor dancefloor, some in a sheltered bar talking to other travellers and some dancing to traditional Hungarian music with live music and locals… all in one venue.
In terms of food, one of my highlights was the High Note Sky Bar, which isn’t so cheap but an absolute must in my opinion. Make sure you dress nicely though! We also went to Napfenyes which was an entirely vegan restaurant and pastry shop *heart eyes emoji*. There was also the not-so-well-known food truck court which actually includes a vegan truck, and the Central Market Hall where we picked up some houmous and fruit.