That Girl Away

Solo Traveler's Guide to Budapest

In the coming weeks, I’m going to start posting what essentially are round-ups to my experiences in different cities so a) they’re all in one place for you guys, and b) so I can more easily keep track of what I’ve written about and what I still need to write about.

This is as much a selfish endeavor as it is a helpful one to people looking to travel to Budapest (and other cities) by themselves.

I thought I’d start with Budapest because I wrote about Budapest a LOT. I’d started this blog only a couple of months earlier so I was pretty excited to have a new place to write about. So, without further ado, here is my guide to Budapest when you’re a solo traveler who wants to save some money…

Things to Do in Budapest as a Solo Traveler

To Begin…

Stay at a hostel. I stayed at the Wombat’s Hostel in the 7th district (the district also known as the “party district” – I did not know this when I booked this hostel, I swear). This hostel is really nice – comparably to other hostels – and really cheap. My three nights in a private room with a private bathroom was $250 USD. #worthit. Obviously it’s really centrally located, too. Check them out here.

Where to Stay in Budapest

When You Should Go…

I went in mid-March and it snowed, so I’d say go at the end of March or the beginning of April so that you (hopefully) avoid the snow AND the tourists that come when the hotter weather moves in.

Tips For Traveling Solo to Budapest

If You Love Animals…

I think they really love the whole cat cafe fad in Budapest and I couldn’t be happier about it. I went to not one, not two, but three cat cafes while I was in Budapest. One was a ‘cat bar,’ Whiskers, but the same overall idea – you get to hang out with adoptable cats. I’d highly recommend that you check out Cat Cafe and Cat Cafe Budapest (yes, I promise they’re completely different places). Lastly, make sure to check out The Budapest Zoo. It’s huge and the exhibits are excellent. You can easily kill three hours there as I did.

Things to Do in Budapest - Budapest Zoo

The Touristy Things Worth Checking Out…

There are several ways to learn all about the history of Budapest and I’d recommend a tour of the Hospital in the Rock (a WW2 and Soviet-era hospital created in the bedrock of the city to withstand nuclear attacks), a tour of the gorgeous Hungarian Parliament Building (book a day or two ahead of time online), and pay (a small fee) for a Ruin Pub Crawl one night to learn the history of how the ruin pubs came to be a thing in the 7th District of Budapest. I’d also recommend a walk or tram ride up to the top of Buda Hill to see the view from Fisherman’s Bastion, taking in Matthias Church next door, a walk through St. Stephen’s Basilica, taking a candlelit stroll through the Labirintus and seeing Count Dracula’s cell, and a stroll through Buda Castle if you’re into art. Lastly, if you’re Jewish, make sure to honor those roots with a tour of the Dohany Street Synagogue, aka The Great Synagogue, in the 7th District.

To Eat and Drink…

You have to try Palinka (if you drink!) which you can at any bar in the city. If you are looking for some typical / Americanized foods, definitely check out the famous New York Cafe. I don’t remember what the entire menu was but I remember that I ate pasta there. It was delicious and it honestly wasn’t that expensive. But the real reason to eat there is to admire the interior because it is stunning. If you’re looking for cheap street food, definitely make sure to check out Karavan in the 7th district. There’s even a vegan cart! Lastly, make sure to try Langos, a traditional Hungarian food. I went to the little cafe that was at the base of Buda Hill next to where you board the elevator up to Buda Castle.

What to Eat in Budapest - Langos

Pretend You’re Hungarian…

Hungarians are big into the spa & bath culture, so checking out one of the many spas & bathhouses is a must. You will definitely need it after all the walking around you’re going to do! I went to the Gellert Spa and it was a lovely break after walking around in the rain all day. Pro-tip: Make sure you read the menu of packages that they offer and DON’T do what I did when I simply paid for admission to the baths. (It’s hard to dry off without a towel.)

Gellert Baths in Budapest

Walks Not to Miss…

Make sure you walk across the Széchenyi Chain Bridge at night. It’s so, so pretty, and filled with people so it’s safe. Stroll up the main shopping street, Andrassy ut, on your way up to the Museum of Terror to learn more about the bloody history of the Hungarian people. You should also definitely check out the free walking tours: I did the original walking tour and the Jewish District walking tour, but it looks like they’ve added a street art walking tour and a communism walking tour too, as well as a few others. (Disclaimer: I highly recommend a walking tour in any city you travel to – it’s the best way to orient yourself in a new city!) Of course, don’t forget to take a stroll along the Danube River and see the Shoes on the Danube memorial to the Jews who were lined up on along the river and shot by the Nazis.

Shoes on the Danube (Budapest)

In Conclusion…

If I’d had more time, I would’ve gone to more bathhouses and I would’ve taken a few more rides on their Metro just to see more of the city. Another pro-tip: If you have an hour or two to go walk around the fancy houses in the Castle District on the Buda side of the Danube River, you might see Ernő Rubik, the inventor of the Rubik’s Cube, who still lives in a house there and supposedly walks his dog every day (I’m assuming multiple times a day). There’s also a ton of amazing street art all around Budapest, especially in the 7th district, and during the day, some the Ruin Pubs turn into flea markets which are super fun.

If you have any questions, let me know below. Budapest is one of my favorite cities that I’ve visited and I’d definitely recommend it (and I have since visiting, many times). It’s also extremely cheap so if you’re looking for someone to go and you’re on a tight budget, definitely move Budapest to the top of your list. Jó utat kívánok!

(That’s bon voyage in Hungarian!)

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