A Digital Nomad’s Guide to One Month in Budapest
We first visited Budapest back in 2015 for 10 days. It was the last stop on our 2-month European adventure and we quickly fell in love with this city. While we have so many incredible memories from that summer housesitting in the French Alps, strolling through Lake Como’s most romantic villages, and surviving a heat wave in Prague, Budapest was the one city we knew we needed to come back to for a longer period of time.
There is just something about Budapest. It’s a stunning city with beautiful architecture and one of the most impressive urban landscapes. The Banks of the Danube at night are dreamy and one of my favorite sights in the world. The cafe and food scene is thriving. It is extremely rich in history.
It still has a bit of a grunge factor and its certainly not winning any awards for being the cleanest city in the world, but this just adds to its charm. Although its a bustling city, it still manages to have such a laid back vibe compared to the more Western European countries. I could go on and on, but the truth is, it is a place you really have to see for yourself to understand.
We booked an apartment for one month, and now with less than one week to go, we are realizing a month still wasn’t nearly enough. I feel like we haven’t even scratched the surface. If we hadn’t already booked our flights home for a short visit, we would definitely be extending our stay. We found a good gym right down the street, some great cafes to work at, and some delicious cheap eats nearby. The weather has been amazing every single day, which is a big reason why we decided on this time of year. Although the public transportation is really good here, we’ve enjoyed being able to walk everywhere. In Thailand we are often hiding out in cafes soaking up the AC, but here we’ve spent a lot of time outside, lounging in the parks and just strolling around the city.
Our AirBNB Apartment
We have a one-bedroom apartment, which is usually one of the biggest requirements for us. Charlie likes to get up with the sun and its better for our relationship when he can do that in another room! The other big requirement for us is AC. The apartment is equipped with AC, but unfortunately, only in the living room. The apartment stays pretty cool inside for the most part, but a fan in the room would be helpful for sleeping at night. Especially these last two weeks when the weather has warmed up significantly. We are also fully equipped with a nice kitchen and everything we need to cook or have our coffee in the morning (although we haven’t figured out the espresso machine yet). Best yet, the bathroom is nice and spacious! The only other thing lacking is closet or storage space.
Location: Buda vs Pest
The Buda side has so much great history, beautiful buildings and monuments to see, including Buda Castle, Matthias Church, Liberty Statue, and the Fisherman’s Bastion. It is much more quiet, hilly and residential. In fact, walking through the residential areas felt a bit like the Hollywood Hills. Its so charming.
Pest, on the other hand, has unlimited shops, restaurants, cafes and nightlife. It is the heart of the city where you’ll find popular tourist spots such as Váci utca, St Stephen’s Basilica, the Parliament Building, Andrássy Avenue, Heroes’ Square, the famous ruin pubs and more. No matter which side you choose to stay, the whole city is extremely accessible via public transport or a nice stroll over one of the city’s many connecting bridges which is definitely worth doing anyways.
Our apartment is located on the Pest side in the Jewish quarter, just steps away from the famous ruin bars and an awesome street food market. We have 2 supermarkets within a 2 minute walk and just about every kind of food we could possibly want within 3 minutes. There is certainly no shortage of cafes and coffee shops. We have buses, trams and metro stops within a block from our door. The only downfall is its a pretty touristy area and more of the “party” district. While we are grateful to not hear any noise at night whatsoever, each morning on our way to the coffee shop we are stepping over trash, broken beer bottles, smells of urine and often vomit (yes, sorry – its true). It’s not so settling on the stomach first thing in the morning – or ever, for that matter.
The last time we were here, we stayed in more of a residential area of Pest, just two blocks from the river and Margaret Bridge. We really loved the location there as well, and we were still walkable to just about everything. I really don’t think you can go wrong as far as location. Every area of the city has its own great cafes and restaurants to explore and, as said before, everything is so accessible via public transportation or walking. I almost would prefer to stay in a different location each time just to be able to experience it all.
Gyms in Budapest
Our friends recommended Life 1, which seemed to have it all, including plenty of weights, cardio machines, classes, tanning beds, massages, sauna, pool and more. They have a few locations in Budapest, and we were so disappointed when we realized we weren’t near any of them! We considered taking the public transportation, but when we did a quick search for gyms in our neighborhood, we found so many options.
We finally settled on Astoria Fitness, which is definitely not the nicest of options available, but it did the job. Its just a 5 minute walk from our apartment and has the weight and cardio machines that we need, albeit, its all quite old and limited. The setup is also a little strange, almost like a maze from one room to the next, but the best part is there is often hardly anyone there. They were also running a special and the first month was only 6,999 HUF (approx. $25).
We also really liked Templefit, which is also located in the Jewish district. Its a lot nicer with newer and more equipment. However, it was a little bit farther of a walk and quite busy when we were there.
This article has a nice list of options as far as gyms go in Budapest.
Our Favorite Cheap Eats
When I say we have every type of food within 3 minutes, I’m talking Thai food, tacos, creole, BBQ, pizza, ramen, kebabs, burgers, Goulash, and I could go on forever. You can literally find all of this on one street (Kazinczy St.) right behind our apartment building. I wish I could cover them all, but I’ll just highlight our favorites.
Bors GasztroBar: we stumbled into this place on our first day in Budapest and immediately understood why there is always a line out the door. These guys are serving up the most unique and incredible tasting soups and sandwiches I’ve ever had. How they come up with these crazy fusion soups that they do amazes me. But they work. As for the sandwiches, try the Barack Obama. You won’t regret it. And the dessert soups are a must as well!
Street Food Karavan: this food truck market is conveniently placed right next to Szimpla Kert, the famous ruin pub, and just out our back door. You can choose from a huge selection of food, from burgers to pizza to lángos and more. Of course, the famous chimney cakes are available for dessert, as well as the new nitrogen ice cream truck. It’s a great place for a group so everyone can get what they want, its affordable, and its an awesome environment for just chilling out. Did I mention there is a bar, too?
Soul Food: When I passed by this creole food restaurant the first time, my mouth watered for it but I just couldn’t imagine it living up to my expectations. After checking reviews, I was surprised to find such high ratings and the pictures of their dishes lured me right in. Zero regrets. The food was amazing, although definitely not as cheap as we hoped. But it was worth it. The jambalaya was awesome but pulled pork Po Boy was to die for.
Thai Chili Wok Bar: We found this gem on our first trip to Budapest after having serious Thai food withdrawals. It exceeded our expectations and we paid many more visits in those 10 days. It was one of the first places we headed when we got back to Budapest this time, and after trying many Thai food places in our neighborhood, we still prefer to make the journey across town for this place.
Salad Box: We were so excited when we first discovered Salad Box in Brasov, Romania and ate it almost everyday for a week. After eating way too much meat and potatoes, we were in need of a good salad place and were missing our beloved Salad Concept in Chiang Mai. Salad Box is even better though and they now have locations in Hungary. Its a build-your-own salad place with daily soups and fresh fruit juices to choose from. A great place to get your greens in, eat cheap and quick, and still healthy.
Best Cafes To Bring the Laptop
Finding a really good coffee shop to work in Budapest proved a lot more difficult than we thought. It seems you either get really good coffee and tiny tables with uncomfortable chairs, or you get a nice, comfortable working space with plenty of outlets to charge but slower wifi and overpriced coffee. These have been our go-to places the past month…
Solinfo: this is definitely where we’ve spent the most time working this past month in Budapest. We stumbled into this place on one of our first days here and the coffee won us over. We noticed the amount of people working in there on their laptops so the next time we came back with ours. Excellent Wifi, beautiful decor, delicious coffee and breakfast, and friendly service. The only problem is sometimes getting one of the tables near an outlet and with comfortable seats. Oh yeah, their daily lunch specials are awesome and so affordable, too.
Magveto “M” Cafe: we stopped in this cafe/book store on day 1 as it was right around the corner from our Airbnb. They had great coffee and an incredibly cozy atmosphere. Half of the people seemed to be working away on their laptops, while the other half were reading a book while sipping a latte. It has staircase seating and plenty of books to choose from. Outlets are freely available and the Wifi is great. The only downfall is most of the tables are smaller and not as comfortable to work at for long periods of time. But if you get there early, you can usually snag one of the bigger tables.
Costa Coffee: Costa Coffee is a Starbucks-like chain and you can find plenty of them throughout the city. Costa’s definitely win for having the most comfortable seating for working long periods of time. Our favorite Costa location was the one right by the Nyugati train station as it had a huge second level with tons of seating that looked out over the street (great people watching while working). Plus, this was by the Salad Box. This one was quite farther away so we often hit up the one on Király U which was pretty good, too. Two downfalls about the Costa is its more expensive than the others and often the Wifi would slow down mid-afternoon when it started filling up.
California Coffee Company: another chain coffee shop and plenty of locations in Budapest. They have great coffee, comfortable seating, and plenty of outlets. They also have good panini’s and bagels which is a big plus in our book. However, the Wifi is always really slow and spotty.
As for our favorite things to do and see in the city? That will just have to be for another post. Stay tuned…