Buda? Pest? Which side of the river is right for you? Read these nifty, in depth neighborhood overviews and find the right 'hood for you and your needs.
BelvarosBelváros is located inside the boundaries of the old city wall, in the heart of Pest, Budapest's flat, eastern side. Its small streets, constructed over a millennium ago, include the famous pedestrian Váci utca as well as the picturesque Belgrád Rakpart, which runs along the east side of the Danube.
Packed with tourist sights—including the Inner City Parish, the gorgeous Párizsi Udvar arcade, and the Klotild Palaces—the area is also home to overpriced restaurants and souvenir shops. Travelers should also be aware that theft can be rather common here
ErzsebetvarosBefore and during World War II, Erzsébetváros as a Jewish neighborhood. Now it's a cornucopia of late-20th-century architecture, its Byzantine-Moorish-style Great Synagogue (the second largest in the world) standing in gorgeous contrast the functional Communist-era structures that line its narrow streets.
By day, it's business as usual here, with local proletariat working away, Internet stations buzzing and restaurants serving up authentic grub. At day's end, the neighborhood redefines itself as a nightlife hub, home to the hip Liszt tér restaurant, a buzzing café culture and cool kert (courtyard) bars.
Gellert-HegySituated along the western waters of the Danube, Gellért Hill showcases Budapest's royal and fantastical sides. Its location affords aerial views of Pest, and the famous Gellért Hotel sits along the riverfront, at the foot of the Szabadság Bridge. The hotel's impressive spa, built in Secessionist style with marble columns and colorful mosaics, is a must-see. Across the street, monks from the Pauline Order hold court in their cavernous cathedral. The 'hood is also home to the Citadella, a major tourist draw.
Thankfully, the budget hotels here are on flatter ground, just west of the hills. Circling around the Congress Center, the western side of Gellért is markedly different from the hillside. Its has a more suburban feel, with office buildings and business-class hotels scattered throughout residential neighborhoods.
Jozsefvaros & FerencvarosFormerly Budapest's seedy Red Light District, Józsefváros has reinvented itself in recent years. It's now a fun, eccentric 'hood, home to world music stores, gothic clothing shops, boho cafés and pubs, and the grand neo-classical Hungarian National Museum. Nearby Ferencváros sports its very own savvy student scene.
LipotvarosSituated north of Belváros, Lipótváros feels like central Pest's airier cousin. Here the streets are wider, the buildings grander and the térs (squares) are vaster.
Wider walkways showcase Budapest's famous "all-inclusive" architecture scene. The Baroque-meets-gothic Parliament sits across the street from the Ethnographical Museum, which merges elements of Renaissance, Baroque and Classic styles. And the nearby Ministry of Culture is built in the city's 19th-century Historicism style.
Rozsadomb & VízivárosBudapest's Turkish history is most readily apparent in Rózsadomb ("Rose Hill" in English). The area is dotted with Hun- and Turk-era bath houses, like the 19th-century Lukács Baths and the Király bath house, built by the Turks in 1566.
Along the riverfront you'll find Margit Bridge, which leads to the expansive parks of Margit Island, and Gül Baba's Tomb, the burial site of a Bektash dervish and poet. The wide streets down here are lined with clothing shops, grocery stores and cafés, while the steeper parts of the neighborhood maintain a quiet, residential feel.
TerezvarosSurprisingly snazzy for a train station neighborhood, Terézváros lies just south of the Nyugati station, a glass showcase built by the Eiffel company. On the eastern end of the neighborhood is the large park, Városliget, as well as the neo-classical mansions house embassy headquarters, while.
Andrássy ut on the southern end is sometimes called "Fifth Avenue of Budapest" and home to the Opera House and the House of Terror Museum. And the neighborhood's west side offers easy access to St. Stephen's Basilica and the central Deák tér Metro station.