The Best of Budapest – Great Local Eats, Where to Stay and Things to Do

This week I thought I would share some of my favorite eats, where we stayed and a few highlights of my time in Budapest. This city is unlike any city I’ve visited. From its tragic and tortured past, to its emerging modern, urban scene, this city has so much to offer. It’s no surprise that it has become a popular European vacation destination.

If you have the opportunity to visit Budapest, don’t pass it up! A blend of old and modern, this city has quite the diverse landscape. Its architecture encompasses a wealth of different styles. Gothic, Renaissance, Ottoman, Baroque, Classicism, Romantic, Art Nouveau and even bleak utilitarian designs from the Communist era are all vividly captured in this beautiful city. The longer I was in Budapest, the more I grew to appreciate this city. And while parts of the city can be a bit gritty (like most large cities), there is something captivating about it.

Today I’m sharing my favorites from my recent trip to Budapest. Starting off: Where to go for great food. I’m the type of person that likes to experience the local culture of a city. You can spare me the touristy restaurants, I want to eat where the locals eat! If you’re planning to travel to Budapest and want to know where to eat, where to stay, and things to do, read on!

Favorite Coffee Shop – Zoska Reggeliző Kávézó

The first morning in Budapest we tried out Zoska Reggeliző Kávézó. This happened to be a coffee shop recommended by our Airbnb host, David. I visited three coffee shops while in Budapest, and this was by far my favorite.  Zoska seemed to be more of a local coffee shop and less of a tourist spot and I loved that aspect.

Neutral walls and rustic wood floors made this coffee shop simple and inviting. A loft area showcased a wall decorated with bright Post-its. Visitors scrawl personal notes and leave them on the wall of the coffee shop. Tranquil and inviting, it was the perfect spot to spend some time journaling and just soaking up the atmosphere before embarking on another full day of sightseeing.

Zoska Reggeliző Kávézó - Budapest, Hungary
Zoska Reggeliző Kávézó

For breakfast I enjoyed a rich and robust cortado. Bold and velvety, it was the jolt of caffeine I needed. For breakfast, I was in the mood for something unique so I ordered the scrambled eggs with goat cheese and pear. This interesting combination of sweet and savory intrigued me. I love goat cheese and while I was a bit skeptical of pear with scrambled eggs, I decided to go for it.  And I’m very glad I did! It was quite delicious and I was highly pleased with my selection. The sweetness of the pear complimented the scrambled eggs in a surprising way. The creaminess of the goat cheese was the perfect agent for balancing the sweet and savory elements.

Zoska Reggeliző Kávézó - Budapest, Hungary
Cortado
Zoska Reggeliző Kávézó
Scrambled Eggs with Pear and Goat Cheese

Favorite Local Restaurant with Authentic Hungarian Cuisine

The second day of my stay in Budapest I went on a walking tour.  Andris, our tour guide, was quite personable and informative. In addition to learning more about the history of the city, Andris shared some of his favorite local restaurants. For dinner we dined at one of his suggestions:  Frici Papa Kifőzdéje. This was definitely a local establishment and it was spectacular.

Our waitress was quite friendly and helped us with our menu selections and offered suggestions. A point of interest: most of the locals knew at least a little English and between their knowledge and hospitality, along with a little pointing and gesturing, we were able to communicate surprisingly well.

Our authentic Hungarian meal started with an appetizer of Ràntott Sajt. This is basically a Hungarian version of fried mozzarella sticks. I’m not sure what cheese was actually used in this dish (my Hungarian was quite limited and the menu did not specify), but it was definitely similar in taste and texture to mozzarella.

Frici Papa  Kifőzdéje
Ràntott Sajt

For our main course we enjoyed Vörösboros marhapörkölt. This was a beef goulash with red wine sauce and it was phenomenal. The sauce was deep and rich, adding layers of flavor to the beef that made for a well-seasoned and hearty dish. The goulash noodles had a firm texture to them and a mellow flavor that nicely absorbed and carried the notes of the beef and red wine sauce.

Frici Papa  Kifőzdéje
Vörösboros marhapörkölt

For dessert we ordered the Király palacsinta. This reminded me a crepe. It had an apricot filling and topped with chocolate and vanilla sauces and finished with a cloud of whipped cream. This dessert was not overly sweet. The chocolate and vanilla sauce were both rich and decadent. This was not my favorite dessert, but fun to try.

Làngos – A Favorite Local Snack

While researching and preparing for my trip, I learned of this popular, local snack food. I figured I had to try it out while I was there. Làngos are pockets of deep-fried dough – already sounds heavenly, right?!? Traditional Hungarian toppings for làngos are sour cream and cheese. Other options are also popular, such as ham, sausage, mushroom and even cabbage.

Andris suggested Retro Làngos for làngos, so our last night in Budapest we set out to find it. It actually wasn’t hard to spot. Even at 10 pm this little food stand sported a modest line. We patiently waited in line and our wait was soon rewarded. This local snack reminded me of a savory version of the funnel cakes you get at the fair. It was hearty and filling. We split a traditional làngos topped with cheese and sour cream. It was huge! Between the three of us we still were not able to polish off the entire thing.

Where to Stay in Budapest

I traveled with two amazing and adventurous friends. In the months preceding our trip we dreamed, researched and planned our itinerary. We wanted to make this trip fun and affordable and we knew one way we could do that would be booking our accommodations through sites like Airbnb. While budget is a large factor, we were also in agreement that we were not willing to sacrifice safety or cleanliness. Airbnb was the perfect solution for us.

For our stay in Budapest we reserved Sophie and David’s Airbnb and I can’t say enough good things about this cute little apartment. It was the ideal place for us! The location was perfect. Located on the Pest side of the river and right by Fashion Street,  we were within walking distance of the Danube, a metro station and a host of restaurants and shops. Sophie has done a fantastic job of decorating the apartment and we all three loved her sense of style. The apartment is secure and we felt safe during our entire stay there.

Where to Stay in Budapest
The Cute Kitchen
Where to Stay in Budapest
View into the Dining Room and Living Room
Where to Stay in Budapest
Bedroom

David manages the apartment for Sophie (she travels a bit) and he was in constant contact and easily assessable. He helped us navigate from the train station and answered any and all questions we had. When we arrived, he was there to meet us, show us around, and gave us some great recommendations on where to eat and things to do.

Recommendations for Sights to See and Things to Do

Budapest has so much to see and unfortunately I did not have time to see everything. That’s ok though, all the more reason for me to make a return trip.😊 Here are some of the things I did and places I visited that I highly recommend:

  • Free Budapest Walking Tour – Our tour was about 3 hours. Andris was our guide and did a wonderful job of giving a brief history of the city, pointing out must-see sights, as well as giving us great recommendations for restaurants and places to visit in Budapest. The tour itself is free, and you are encouraged to tip the guides.
  • House of Terror Museum – For anyone who is interested in the history of Hungary, this is a must. I walked in with only a limited knowledge of the history of this country. After taking the audio tour, I left with much more insight and a better understanding and deeper appreciation for this country and all the suffering and struggles its citizens endured.
  • River Cruise on the Danube – This one is non-negotiable. If you’re in Budapest you have to do this! Fortunately, there are no shortage of options for this. Cruise companies offer night cruises, day cruises, dinner cruises, party cruises and just about any type of cruise you can imagine. What we ended up doing (another capital idea from Andris) was taking the Danube River Ferry Service. We purchased a 3 day transportation card and the Ferry Service was included in this. This was probably one of my favorites of the trip. Take the last Ferry of the day and you get a stunning sunset view of Budapest.
  • Buda Castle
  • Fisherman’s Bastion
  • Matthias Church
  • St. Stephen’s Basilica
  • Chain Bridge – I loved walking the Chain Bridge and did this a few times.
Budapest, Hungary
Chain Bridge

Budapest is a captivating city. It has so many layers, paradoxes and complexities. I merely scratched the surface of it in the three days I had to make its acquaintance.  This city left an unforgettable mark on me and I hope to return again some day soon and more fully embrace it and all its charm, culture and character.

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