Budapest, Hungary: A local guide on where to eat, drink, stay, and shop
Budapest was the first city that I discovered after the fall of communism in my native Romania, thus the Hungarian capital became a magical place for me as it represented liberty and new chances.
In the past decades, my love for Budapest mellowed while the bond deepened; thus in my mid-20s, I moved to Budapest and lived a carefree life for a couple of years. I spent many happy moments in Budapest, admiring the world-class architecture and the UNESCO World Heritage sites, enjoying the lavish thermal baths and shopping at the upscale boutiques on Andrássy Avenue.
I always felt that the Hungarian capital is one of the few cities in the world where travellers can fully satisfy all of their gastronomic and entertainment needs while also enjoying arts, history, and an intriguing culture. For me, Budapest is both intellectual and fun, sophisticated and gauche, contemporary and old-fashioned, and that’s why from time to time I’m delighted to rediscover my favorite European city.
If Budapest is on your bucket list, I recommend taking one of the unconventional sightseeing options like the Trabant city tour or a helicopter ride but if you want something less eccentric, stroll around the traditional high-end neighborhoods.
Distinguished guests will enjoy the impeccable service, contemporary design, and residential comfort of the Gresham Palace Four Seasons Budapest. Superior suites have as its key feature the panoramic views of the Danube, Chain Bridge, and the Buda hills. Art and history connoisseurs will appreciate the Gresham Palace for its magnificent Art Nouveau ornamental style. The Spa features seven treatment rooms where guests can enjoy massages and signature treatments, whie KOLLÁZS Brasserie & Bar offers the best brunch experience in Budapest — attracting the local luxury loving-crowd.
Situated on the upscale Andrássy Avenue, this boutique hotel boasts one of the best locations in Budapest. With 99 stylish rooms and a Bistro Fine restaurant, it becomes an excellent choice for younger or millennial guests who prefer a stopover closer to the trendy bars and designer shops than museums and art galleries.
Awarded 1 Michelin star in 2011, Onyx Restaurant is truly one of the most distinguished and posh dining options in the Hungarian capital. The restaurant is located in the Gerbeaud House — one of the most acclaimed and respected Hungarian gastronomic institutions. The talented team has managed to successfully refresh and reinterpret traditional dishes, lifting them to a new extreme.
Situated in the landmark building of Dorottya Palace, this restaurant is the place for French-Asian cuisine devotees. The seafood-focused dining options are unexpected, due to a mix of Hungarian, Asian, and French elements. Guests can enjoy the fine dining options offered by Brazilian Chef André Bicalho in a contemporary and classy setting. The idea behind the interior design is based on the concept “less is more” — where every piece defines understated elegance.
This ruin bar is something like an institution in Hungary. Named by Lonely Planet one of the 'Most Incredible Bars in the World', Szimpla has everything that millennials love: great cocktails, good shisha selection, cool interior design and an open air courtyard where guests can enjoy the summer breeze. The graffiti-clad interior transforms the place into a modern art gallery while the mismatched “art” pieces personalise the place, giving it a grungy and distinctive note.
The rooftop bar is located at Aria Hotel, right in the heart of Budapest. Due to its proximity to St. Stephen’s Basilica, guests can enjoy stunning views of the neo-classical church. High Note Sky Bar offers both indoor and outdoor dining options while the two Panorama Terraces are an excellent choice for enjoying private dining options.
Andrássy Avenue is known as the Hungarian Champs Élysées because of its world-famous luxurious housing developments, beautiful apartments, and designer boutiques. Today, it hosts posh local boutiques and upscale designer brands like Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Burberry.
About Adina Laura-Achim
Adina became a storyteller after a 10-year PR and marketing career. Today, she spends her time writing books, freelancing for magazines, and travelling to distant corners of the world. She's a polka dot and stripes aficionado who can't live without red lipstick, silk pajamas and her Audrey Hepburn movie collection.