Buda or Pest? Where to Stay in Budapest

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by Maggie Turansky


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If you’re planning a trip to the Hungarian capital, it’s likely that you’ve debated whether staying on the Buda or Pest side is right for you.

A capital divided into two distinct areas by the mighty Danube River, 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.

In general, choose Buda for a quiet residential stay and a bit more tranquillity. On the other hand, choose Pest to be close to all the action and within easy reach of some top attractions and nightlife.

However, there’s more to factor in when making this decision and having spent a significant amount of time in the Hungarian capital over the years, we’re here to help you decide which side to stay on!

Looking for a place to stay? Here are some accommodation choices for both Buda and Pest:

Buda: Shantee House (Budget), Váralja Home (Mid-Range), Maison Bistro & Hotel (Luxury) or BudaFlats Apartments (Apartments)

Pest: Lavender Circus Hostel (Budget), Butterfly Home Danube (Mid-Range), Corinthia Budapest (Luxury) or Golden Stars Budapest Apartments (Apartments)

Buda

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 bustling Pest.

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.

Accessibility

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, others 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 several 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.

Budapest's Parliament view from Buda Castle
View of the Hungarian Parliament Building from Buda Castle

Affordability

In general, the whole of Budapest is a very affordable city and it can be a refreshing respite on your budget if you’ve visited nearby cities like Vienna. However, you may also find small price discrepancies on either side of the Danube.

If you’re wondering if Pest or Buda 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. The area around the Budapest Castle, Fisherman’s Bastion and the Citadel 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.

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 several great things to do on the Buda side, 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 Buda Castle you will find spectacular views, interesting museums, the Matthias Church and the iconic Fisherman’s Bastion.

Below 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 in a cave underneath the castle.

Another classic thing to do in Budapest is to visit some of the city’s iconic and famous bathhouses. 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 in Buda.

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 to 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.

Buda Castle
Buda Castle

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.

Váralja Home — If you’re looking for a mid-range hotel 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.

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.

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.

BudaFlats Apartments — If you would rather have an apartment than stay in a hotel, then these flats are a great choice. There are a couple of fully-furnished apartments to choose from and a great location for exploring the city.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other options in Buda!

Chain Bridge seperating Buda and Pest
Chain Bridge separating Buda and Pest

Pest

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!

Accessibility

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. If you don’t want to, it is 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 to most places via public transit or taxi, giving you more time to enjoy the great energy of the city.

 The shoes on the Danube, a moving memorial to the Jews who were murdered during Hungary's Nazi occupation
The shoes on the Danube, a moving memorial to the Jews who were murdered during Hungary’s Nazi occupation

Affordability

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 than 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 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.

The Great Synagogue of Budapest
The Great Synagogue of Budapest is a sight to be seen

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, St Stephen’s Basilica, Heroes Square, 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.

Ruin bars are a great reason to choose Pest over Buda!
Ruin bars are a great reason to choose Pest over Buda!

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.

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 clean and cosy rooms available, an attentive staff and include breakfast in the cost of the room.

Corinthia Budapest — Located in a gorgeous Art Nouveau building on the UNESCO-listed Andrassy Utca, this luxury hotel is situated in the centre of all of the action of the Hungarian capital. They have plush rooms available, lovely amenities, and a great bar on site.

Golden Stars Budapest Apartments — Another fantastic option for this side of the Danube, these apartments are perfect for those who want their own space while staying in hip and lively Pest. There are a few flats to choose from, all equipped with everything you may need.

Lavender Circus 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.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other options in Pest

Buda vs Pest: The Verdict

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.

St Stephen's Basillica in Pest
St Stephen’s Basillica in Pest

Figuring out the difference between Pest and Buda 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.

Are you trying to weigh the pros and cons of staying in Buda vs Pest? Have any questions? Let us know in the comments!

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Maggie is a co-founder and writer for The World Was Here First. Originally from the US, she has lived in five different countries and has travelled to dozens more, both solo and with her partner, Michael. She particularly loves exploring Spain and spending time in the Caucasus and the Baltics. Read more about Maggie

Comments

  1. Loved your site and back pack guide. I recommend trying to keep weight of main pack under 10 kilos (22 pounds) with a small day pack that you can carry for security reasons in front. Also make sure you split up and hide money, docs, etc for security.
    I have been wandering (traveling) periodically since 1969 when I turned 21 in Mexico. Thought I was a seasoned traveler in 1971 when after 5 months of travel I met an Englishman in Morocco who had been continuously wandering for 10 years.
    After 55 countries and one 3 year trip my wife and I are heading to Eastern Europe in late August. One economical tip: we use zip locks bags for each clothes category and squeeze the air out thoroughly.
    Keep up the good writing and inspire Americans to travel early in their life and often.
    “At the end of your life when the movie of your life passes before your eyes…make sure it’s worth watching!”

    Reply

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