If you’re planning a trip to the Hungarian capital, it’s likely that you’ve debated whether staying in Buda or Pest is right for you. A capital divided into two distinct areas by the mighty Danube, both the Buda side and the Pest side of Budapest have different things to offer travellers and can give travellers two unique outlooks on the city. One side is tranquil, quiet and largely residential and the other is lively, dynamic and metropolitan.
Two halves really do make a whole in Budapest and no visit to this incredible Central European city would be complete without visiting both sides of the Hungarian Capital. But which side should you choose to stay? Major Budapest attractions lie on both banks of the Danube and there are both pros and cons for choosing to stay in Buda vs Pest or vice versa.
So if you’re planning a trip to Budapest and are wondering if you should choose Pest or Buda to spend the majority of your time in the city, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve spent a significant amount of time in the Hungarian capital over the years and have a wide knowledge of the city and what there is to do there.
Want a quick answer? Choose Buda for a quiet residential stay and choose Pest to be close to all the action. Here are some accommodation choices:
Buda: Shantee House (Budget), Arch Boutique Hotel (Mid-Range), Maison Bistro & Hotel (Luxury) or Design Flat in Central Castle District (Airbnb)
Pest: Big Fish Hostel (Budget), Butterfly Home Danube (Mid-Range), Corinthia Budapest (Luxury) or Beautiful Modern Apartment (Airbnb)
Situated on the west bank of the Danube, the Buda side of the Hungarian capital is known to be a bit quieter and more residential than the bustling Pest side. Buda, however, is not without its charms and attractions and boasts some of the city’s top sites while being the perfect place to stay for those looking for something a bit calmer.
The entire city of Budapest is widely accessible via an extensive public transit system that consists of a metro, trams and buses and this extends to the Buda side of the city. Therefore, if you want to easily get around via public transit, you really shouldn’t have an issue here and it’s not really a problem to get around at all.
Because there are some top sites close to the river on the Buda side of the city, it is quite well-connected for tourists and that makes it quite an attractive option for those who would rather stay in a quieter area of town without sacrificing any of the great things that Budapest has to offer.
If you are staying slightly farther out on the Buda side, you may find it less appealing to get most everywhere you may want on foot, however, which is something that you can do on the Pest side. For some, this may not be an issue, however, there are others that prefer to see the majority of the city they are visiting from their own two feet.
One other downside of Buda’s accessibility is that, while there are a number of attractions on this side of the river, the vast majority of what the city has to offer lies on the Pest side of the Danube. This means that it becomes increasingly less logical to pop back into your hotel or Airbnb to take a break from sightseeing and that you are also in for longer travel times either on public transit or via a taxi.
In general, the whole of Budapest is a very affordable city and it can be a refreshing respite on your budget if you’ve been visited nearby cities like Vienna. However, you may also find small price discrepancies between on either side of the Danube.
If you’re wondering if Buda or Pest is more affordable, it really does depend on where you are and where you go. For instance, some of the most expensive touristy areas in Budapest lie on the Buda side. For instance, the area around the Budapest Castle and Fisherman’s Bastion is home to incredibly inflated prices as these are wildly popular areas amongst tourists.
If you’re planning on staying on the Buda side because you want a good view of the iconic Parliament building on the other side of the Danube, you’re certainly going to pay a pretty penny for that as well.
Of course, if you stay a bit further out and in more residential areas of Buda, you can presumably save money on accommodation, however, you also do need to account for the time it may take to get to the main sites and attractions of the Hungarian capital.
All in all, Buda can be an expensive area to stay in depending on where you are.
Things to do in Buda
Pest gets a lot of the credit for having the most “things to do” and classic Budapest sites, however, there are a number of great things to do in Buda, as well. In fact, some of the city’s top attractions (and best views) lie on this laid back and tranquil end of the city.
For instance, no trip to Budapest is complete in the slightest without a visit to Castle Hill. At the Budapest Castle you will find spectacular views, interesting museums and the iconic Fisherman’s Bastion. Underneath the castle also lies one of Budapest’s most interesting and underrated museums, the Hospital in the Rock, which is located in a former military hospital turned cold war bunker.
Another classic thing to do in Budapest is to visit some of the city’s iconic bathhouses and while countless tourists will flock to the Szechenyi Baths on the Pest side of the Danube, there are numerous other (arguably better and more local) baths located on the Buda side.
If you want to bath in classic Austro-Hungarian style, for instance, consider heading to the Géllert Baths or if you want to soak in the healing geothermal waters while taking in an incredible view of the House of Parliament, head the rooftop pool at the Rudas Baths.
In general, especially if you are into great views and relaxing in the baths, there are a lot of things to do on the Buda side of the city and it can be worth staying there just to be close to them.
Where to Stay in Buda
If you’ve decided that the tranquil Buda side of the city is the place for you on your trip to the Hungarian capital, there are lots of accommodation options available for you to choose from. If you’re searching for the perfect place to stay in Buda, check out these great options:
Shantee House — If you’re travelling on a budget or visiting Budapest solo, then this hostel is an excellent option for you. Located in a tranquil neighbourhood on the Buda side of the city, this hostel has a range of dorm and private rooms available, a lovely garden complete with numerous hammocks to relax in and great common areas that make meeting other travellers a breeze. Click here to check availability
Arch Boutique Hotel — If you’re looking for something a little bit more on the high end during your stay on the Buda side of the city, then this hotel is a great choice for you. They have a number of plush rooms available and a great location within walking distance of a number of Buda’s top attractions. Click here to check availability
Maison Bistro & Hotel — If you’re after total luxury on the Buda side of the city, then this small boutique hotel is the perfect choice for you. They have a handful of luxe rooms available and a lovely restaurant and bar on site. They are also located within easy distance of some of the city’s top attractions on this side of the Danube. Click here to check availability
Airbnb — If you would rather a private room in a local’s home or even an entire apartment rental (like this Design Flat in Central Castle District), then Airbnb is an excellent option for you. There are lots of properties available on the Buda side of the city and its sure to give you a more local perspective of the Hungarian capital. Click here to browse Airbnbs in Buda
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other options in Buda!
If you’re looking for a lively and dynamic Budapest experience and would to be right in the heart of all the action of the Hungarian capital, then Pest the side of the Danube may be the place for you!
As mentioned earlier, Budapest has a fantastic public transit system that easily connects both sides of the city and the Pest side is very much included in that system. If you want to explore some places that may be a little bit far-flung from each other, you will have no problem hopping on the metro, bus or tram on this side of the Danube.
One great merit of the Pest side is that it is also a bit more cosmopolitan and a great portion of sites are located within easy walking distance of each other. In fact, if you don’t want to, it is actually perfectly viable to visit most of the city’s top attractions on foot easily if you’re based on the Pest side.
Even if you’re not keen to walk absolutely everywhere, it will still take less time to get most places via public transit or taxi, giving you more time to enjoy the great energy of the city.
In general, you’re not really going to find a huge discrepancy in prices between Pest vs Buda, however, the Pest side of the city is more densely populated, meaning there are a few more options available. This generally means that it’s easier to find things like cheap eats and fast food that it would be in a more residential area of Buda.
Accommodation wise, you will find that places to stay cost roughly the same as they would on the Buda side of the city. A luxury hotel is likely going to be just as expensive in Pest as it would be in Buda, but you may actually find things like a well-located hostel or Airbnb to be a bit cheaper just because there are far more options to choose from.
And finally, as mentioned in the “accessibility” section above, Pest is a better option if you would rather see the majority of the city on foot. If you don’t want your travel budget to go to metro tickets or taxi rides, then Pest is the area to stay in.
In general, while there is no significant difference, staying on the Pest side of the city may work out to be marginally less expensive than the Buda side with all things considered.
Things to do in Pest
The vast majority of Budapest’s top attractions lie on the Pest side of the city and if you plan to do a lot of sightseeing, then this is the easiest side to base yourself on if you want to maximise efficiency.
Pest is packed with iconic sites and areas, including the UNESCO-listed Andrassy Utca — often lauded as Budapest’s Champs Elysee — the Dohány Street Synagogue — one of the largest Synagogues in Europe — the iconic houses of Parliament, the moving Shoes on the Danube Exhibit, countless museums including the chilling House of Terror, the famed Central Market and so much more.
Pest is also home to the city’s best nightlife and if you’re keen to experience Budapest’s unique bar and club scene, then the Pest side is going to be the best choice for you. Located in the former Jewish Quarter lie countless ruin bars, a now-infamous kind of bar that started in Budapest. These unique bars began taking over abandoned buildings in the mid-2000s and are now synonymous with the quirky culture that the Hungarian capital boasts.
Pest is definitely a more “24-hour” destination and certainly not as quiet as the Buda side, but if you’re looking for a lively and metropolitan area of the city to stay in, then you’re not going to be disappointed in posting up on the Pest side.
Where to Stay in Pest
If you’ve decided that lively Pest is the side of the Danube for you on your trip to Hungary’s dynamic capital, then you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to accommodation. If you’re struggling to figure out where to stay in Pest, check out these great choices:
Big Fish Hostel — Perfect for budget and solo travellers alike, this centrally located hostel is the ideal place to stay on the Pest side of the city. They have a number of both dorm and private rooms available, a friendly and inviting staff, and fantastic common areas that make it easy to meet other, like-minded travellers. Click here to check availability
Butterfly Home Danube — Centrally located within easy walking distance of some of Pest’s top attractions, this small hotel is perfect for those looking for a comfortable, mid-range stay on this side of the Danube. They have a number of clean and cosy rooms available, an attentive staff and include breakfast in the cost of the room. Click here to check availability
Corinthia Budapest — If you’re looking for a classy and luxurious stay on the Pest side of the city, then you cannot go wrong with this beautiful hotel. Located in a gorgeous Art Nouveau building on the UNESCO-listed Andrassy Utca, this hotel is situated in the centre of all of the action of the Hungarian capital. They have a number of plush rooms available, lovely amenities, and a great bar on site. Click here to check availability
Airbnb — Another fantastic option for this side of the Danube is Airbnb, perfect for those looking to save money and get a local experience by staying in a private room or an entire apartment (like this beautiful modern apartment) there are countless properties available on the Pest side of the city. Click here to browse Airbnbs in Pest
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other options in Pest
Buda or Pest: The Verdict
So all things in this article considered, you’re sure to be wondering if Buda or Pest is the right area for you to stay while visiting the beautiful capital of Hungary.
All in all, if you’re interested in experiencing Budapest’s infamous nightlife, would like to access most things on foot and limit your time on public transit or in taxis and are interested in the more metropolitan lifestyle in Budapest, then you’re going to find that the Pest side is likely the best area for you.
Conversely, if you in Budapest to take in the gorgeous views, don’t care too much about nightlife or about everything being within walking distance, and prefer a more laid back and tranquil vibe to a lively and energetic one, then Buda may be the best choice for you.
Given that prices in the city are pretty steady throughout and everything is well connected via public transport, it doesn’t matter too much if you stay in Buda or Pest and you’re sure to have an amazing visit to the Hungarian capital either way.
Figuring out the difference between Buda or Pest is one of the first things you need to do before visiting the vibrant capital of Hungary. While both sides of the Danube have something different to offer visitors, there is no denying that the entire city is absolutely magnetic and you’re sure to have a blast visiting no matter where you stay.
When travelling in Budapest, it’s always a good idea to make sure you have a travel insurance policy so you’re covered for any unfortunate events! We like WorldNomads and always use them for our trips – click here to get a quote from WorldNomads
Are you trying to weigh the pros and cons of staying in Buda vs Pest? Have you been to the Hungarian capital? Let us know in the comments!