Budapest is one of the most popular destinations for backpackers and travellers in all of Europe. Budapest boasts the perfect combination of affordability, great nightlife, interesting culture/history, and just incredibly fun. I have met backpackers Budapest that have stayed for over a month such has been their experiences.
Budapest Party Hostels
Budapest is famous among the backpacking community for its party hostels. The party hostels here certainly deserve their reputations. Four of the best party hostels in Budapest are owned and operated by the one group. They are Carpe Noctem, Carpe Noctem Vitae, Retox Hostel and Grandio Hostel. All are located within the lively Jewish Quarter. There are events on every night of the year where all four hostels combine their forces and partying together. These events include the famous Budapest Spa Party, trips to Ruin Bars and Nightclubs and non stop drinking games. If you want to really let loose, drink a lot and party for 4 or 5 days, you will have an amazing time in one of these four hostels. However if you want to spend your time in Budapest doing more than just partying, do not stay here.
Big Fish is a great option if you are looking to have mix your partying in Budapest with more traditional touristic endeavours. The location is perfect. Its right on the edge of the Jewish quarter where all the best nightlife and cheapest food is available. It is also very well connected to the rest of the city by train and tram. A great social atmosphere and very friendly staff.
The Loft Hostel is located in the inner city area of Budapest, about a kilometre from the lively Jewish quarter but very close to the Danube and the magnificent bridges that span it. For backpackers, the Jewish quarter is the more interesting area since there are better options for cheap food and great nightlife. The Loft Hostel is a fantastic hostel regardless, easy to meet people in the large social spaces and excellently laid out dorms.
Sights and Highlights
The ruin pub craze hit Budapest 10-15 years ago is one of the reasons Budapest boasts such an interesting night life. Essentially ruin pubs are bars and clubs found in old abandoned buildings. Most of them are located around the Jewish quarter, conveniently close to many hostels. The first ruin pub, Szimpla Kert, was born out of an abandoned factory behind the Great Synagogue and began as an open air cinema and pub. Over the years an eclectic mix of old furniture and weird art made it’s way into the bar and the bar began to expand into some of the surround abandoned buildings. The walls of the bar are bare concrete but are now mostly covered with graffiti and messages from patrons of the bar.
Ruin pubs can be quite seasonal in their popularity. Though are a few popular stalwarts like Szimpla Kert and Instant along with Grandio Bar and Retox (both have party hostels attached). Ruinpubs.com seems to have a pretty up to date list. Ultimately, just talk to your hostel, they will have good recommendations.
What better way to recover from long nights sampling the best ruin pubs than to soak yourself in one of Budapest’s thermal baths. My favourites are the Gellert Bath and Szechenyi Bath, two of the biggest. If you want to save a bit of money, the small yet beautiful Kiraly Bath is a great option with prices less than 6€ for students.
There are all kinds of museums you can visit in Budapest. I recommend Budapest.com if you are after a complete list and Welovebudapest.com for a more curated list. My personal recommendation would be to visit:
- House of Terror – Museum dedicated to the two periods of tyrannical rule over Hungary during the 20th century.
- Memento Park – Providing a glimpse behind the Iron Curtain, Memento Park displays the statues and monuments of the Communist Era.
- Hungarian National Gallery – Located in the Buda Castle. Its exhibitions are late Renaissance and Baroque art, medieval and renaissance stone carvings and panel paintings and wooden sculptures from the Gothic period.
Incredible venue for to enjoy some delicious Israeli food. Having travelled to Israel, this is the best Israeli food I have tasted outside the country. Decor and detailing is really nice and there was a live band playing. Food was some of the best I have had in Europe, the Shawarma grill plate was stunning. It is located inside a ruin pub with a lovely layout.
A great place to try the hungarian take-away food Lángos. Retro is open until late every night making it a perfect snack after a night of partying. Cheap and very tasty.
Arriba Taqueria is Budapest’s version of a gourmet Mexican food stand. The founders are Hungarian-Americans and offer delicious Mexican food and great service. Menu includes quesadillas, fish tacos, and Tex-mex treats like Jalapeño Poppers, chili con carne and taquitos.
The aforementioned ruin pubs provide a heap of variety and I wouldn’t look any further in your search for good nightlife in Budapest. Backpackers and travellers flock to the ruin pubs like moths to a flame. The result is a mix of locals and foreigners mixing together like cultural melting pot.
Budapest has a very functional public transport system. It consists of an arterial subway system and a light rail/tram network connecting everything together above ground. Using google or apple maps on smartphone provides excellent public transport directions and it is the easiest way to navigate Budapest. You can use a transport network map to help, but letting your smart phone decide your route works best.
Getting In and Out
Budapest is very well connected to the rest of Central Europe and the Balkans with an extensive train network covering the region. I used seat61.com a lot to help with catching trains in the region. Seat61.com contains lots of useful hints and tips and not just timetables and maps like other websites. Regarding timetables, I use Bahn.de all over Europe. It is a German company and website but can provide very detailed timetable information for all of Europe.