Budapest, Hungary’s capital, is a wonderful place to visit. I’m here to help you navigate, and get the low down on what to eat in Budapest and where to stay in Budapest.
Eating Out in Budapest
Goulash. Goulash goulash goulash. You’ll fine goulash everywhere in Budapest. At this time I still ate meat and this was just one of the best meals I’ve had. I couldn’t tell you the name of it sadly. I stumbled upon what kind of looked like a diner, but wandering in I was hit by the stench of cigars, wood paneling, and more knickknacks than I could count. The menu was all in Hungarian, but gulyás is identifiable enough when eating out in Budapest.
It was different from the goulash I grew up with. Actual goulash is more of a soup than a stew. Beef, potatoes, vegetables, and paprika. It’s hearty and delicious and with some nice bread it was the perfect fall dish. Hungarian dishes are heavy on the paprika and you can buy every sort of paprika you can imagine at various markets or even at the store. I hope you like paprika.
Hungarian pastries are… the best. They’re flaky and buttery and just decadent. They’re denser than French pastries, but just, if not more delicious. Make sure to grab chimney cakes (Kürtőskalács) at a patisserie or one of Budapest’s hundreds of coffee houses. Also, for some reason, Budapest has a lot of really delicious Chinese restaurants.
Where To Stay
There is only one place you should stay in Budapest and that is The Loft Hostel. I have never enjoyed a stay at a hostel more than I did at Loft. It’s a small cozy place on top of an old apartment building. You have to go up the world’s creepiest elevator to get there that holds but one person and walk along a balcony, but once you arrive you’ll know it’s worth it.
Painted walls with art and characters immediately let you know it’s a more eclectic place. The communal kitchen is basic and quaint with a large communal living area filled with bean bags, couches, and a sizable television. There’s only four or five rooms, so this isn’t your mega Budapest hostel. No, it’s cozy and friendly and the staff will hang out with you, go out with you, and just become an instant family.
The owner is also in a Mississippi blues band and one night after we had all drunk the four litres of wine I had brought back from Eger, he closed the hostel up and we all went to the bar where he was playing.
I don’t remember a whole lot from that night, just a few slightly blurry and drunken photographs to remind me, but I know it was a lot of fun. I’m not usually one to immediately take to strangers, but there was something about this Budapest hostel that changed that. I immediately bonded with my roommate from Austria and was sorely sorry to see her leave the day before me. I danced and goofed off with the other hostel stayers and the next day when we were all hungover as all hell, we piled into the living room and watched the Star Wars trilogy.
This summer, I’ll be going through Budapest again and while we may not be able to even stay overnight, I kind of hope we can, just so we can stay at Loft.
Budapest surprised me. I loved it there. I spent five days roaming around Hungary, drinking wine, eating goulash, and trying to decipher Hungarian (and failing). It’s still one of the best trips I’ve ever taken and I hope it’ll be one of yours.