11 BEST Areas to Stay in Budapest First Time

The best areas to stay in Budapest for both first time and returning tourists are the neighborhoods of Buda (District I), Lipótváros – Belváros (District V), Terézváros (District VI), Erzsébetváros (District VII), Józsefváros (District VIII), Ferencváros (District IX), Kelenfold. In this guide, I will help you decide where to stay in Budapest for first-timers, and safest districts for nightlife, sightseeing, family, Christmas, and the best hotels in the city center, and near the airport.

Budapest was created on 17 November 1873 from a merger of the three historical cities: Buda, Obuda, and Pest. Featuring a rich history and diverse culture, Budapest is the capital and largest city in Hungary, as well as the 9th largest city in the European Union.

Budapest is a very safe city for visitors but like all big famous tourist destinations, you should take some precautions about taxi scams and pickpockets in public transport, crowded shops, and in touristy places. You should also avoid poorly lit streets at night.

Budapest is divided into 2 areas by the Danube River: Buda in the west side and Pest in the east side of the city. Buda and Pest are both wonderful places, with their own unique selling points. Buda tends to be the more cultured, historic region of the city, Pest is more fast-paced, full of nightlife and exciting experiences. Buda is better than Pest if you want to explore the most historic part of the city. Pest is better than Buda if you prefer a more modern, vibrant city.

Those who prioritize long days in the great outdoors may like destinations like Angyalfold, while anyone who is all about where to stay in Budapest for nightlife will lean towards a destination like Erzsebetvaros, the 7th district.

💖 Best Area for First-TimersDistrict V (Pest Side)
💎 Best luxury hotel:InterContinental Budapest, an IHG Hotel 
🏨 Best mid-range hotel:Prestige Hotel Budapest
💰 Best budget hotel:D8 Hotel 

>> 🔍FIND BEST HOTELS IN BUDAPEST <<

📌11 Best Areas to Stay in Budapest

1. Belváros – Parliament (District V), where to stay in Budapest for first-time tourists

District V: Belváros, where to stay in Budapest for first-time tourists

District V (also known as Belváros or the Inner City) is the political, commercial, financial, and tourist hub of Budapest, and all of Hungary. This lively district has plenty of shopping, dining options, vibrant nightlife, and within walking distance to major attractions St Stephens Cathedral, Váci Street, Great Market Hall, and Hungarian Parliament Building.

District V is the best place to stay for first-time tourists. You can also easily hop on public transport in the Castle District for more sightseeing. You will pass some of the beautiful bridges like Chain Bridge (Széchenyi Chain Bridge), Liberty Bridge (Freedom Bridge), and Elizabeth Bridge.

The Belváros (Pest) side is essentially the downtown area of the city. This is the best place to come for those looking to enjoy a break filled with days of shopping and sitting in cafes, while your nights are spent in the high-class bars and restaurants the area has to offer.

It is home to Váci Street and Fashion Street, perhaps the most famous in all of Hungary, which is a pedestrian area filled with high-end establishments.

If you want to enjoy its class and style but also desire a little more to see on a vacation, attractions such as the Inner City Parish Church, and the Evangelical Church On Ferenc Deak Square are just some of the options available in the surrounding area, to ensure your trip offers a diverse range of things to do.

In the Lipotvaros side of the city, the feel changes somewhat, as this is an area less designed for tourists and features a more business-like environment. Home to the Hungarian Parliament Building, this is a place filled with slightly older, less flashy buildings, which will appeal to a more niche audience than the Belvaros side.

Don’t think that means there isn’t still plenty on offer here though. Important buildings, such as the Hungarian Academy Of Sciences, the Supreme Court, the Ministry Of Youth, and the Ministry Of Education can all be found here, making it a perfect choice for those who like their trips to be learning experiences.

These are then offset by a selection of more aesthetically pleasing locations, such as St Stephens Basilica, Gresham Palace, Vigado Concert Hall, Liberty Square, and the Danube Promenade.

On the Danube Promenade sit sixty pairs of old-fashioned shoes in the 1940s. The Shoes on the Danube memorial to the Hungarian Jews who were shot by the Arrow Cross Party in the Second World War.

You also have the Endre Ady Memorial Museum, the Orthodox Cathedral of Our Lady, the Lion Fountain, and the Petofi Museum of Literature.

On top of all of this, the area also features a wide range of bars, cafes, and restaurants, with notedly lower prices than in the other half of the district, giving you the option to enjoy both days and nights out, without having to constantly worry about how much you’re spending.

When you combine all of these elements together, it should become clear that Belváros-Lipótváros is a multi-faceted destination, which has plenty to offer for visitors with a wide range of interests.

Budapest is one of the many northern European cities that are known to put on quite a display throughout when Christmas comes around. While markets, trees, displays, and decorations will be present throughout the city, what’s on offer at St Stephen’s Basilica, goes above and beyond everything else.

District V offers a wide range of accommodations, mostly luxury hotels, and also well-priced apartments, bed and breakfast, and budget hotels. Many 5-star hotels offer spacious rooms with Danube river views, superb service, free wifi, a continental breakfast, and within walking distance to all the main attractions, bars, and restaurants.

You can also find mid-priced hotels in central locations with rooftop terraces, and close to top attractions such as the Hungarian Parliament Building, the Chain Bridge, and St. Stephen’s Basilica.

Stay in the Pest siade and Fifth District quarter if you’re couples, families who are the first time visiting Budapest; you enjoy shopping in high-end stores, you like fine dining, you like a diverse range of sights and activities, you want a learning experience.

Best places to stay in Belváros-Lipótváros:

🔍FIND BEST HOTELS IN BELVAROS-LIPOTVAROS

If you are still wondering how long should you stay in Budapest, check out my post on How Many Days in Budapest is Enough?– 3 Days in Budapest Itinerary to know more how long is enough and more best things to do in this Hungarian capital city.

2. Castle District (District I), where to stay in Budapest for sightseeing

District I (Castle District), where to stay in Budapest for sightseeing

District 1 is situated on the West bank of the Danube River. The historical section of the Buda region of the city, its name translates to Castle District, which should give you a good idea of what to expect here. This central district is the best area to stay in Budapest for sightseeing.

District 1 is home to the most popular tourist attractions like the Matthias Church, Royal Palace, and Central Market. It’s also in close proximity to Budapest’s thermal baths such as the Rudas Baths and historical Gellért Thermal Bath.

Castle District is located in a hilly area that offers stunning views of Pest and the Hungarian Parliament Building across the river. It also offers many photo opportunities with cobbled streets, beautiful monuments, and ancient houses.

Its central attraction is the stunning Buda Castle, the home of countless Hungarian kings throughout the ages. While construction on the original building was completed in 1265, much of what you see today was added much later, in the mid-18th-century. Sitting atop Castle Hill and dominating the city’s skyline, it is surrounded by buildings featuring Baroque, Neoclassical, and even Medieval architecture.

To reach Castle Hill, you can take the funicular from Clark Adam Square near the Chain Bridge, or just walk up the stair.

Within the complex are some of the most iconic attractions in all of the city, including the gothic, 14th-century-Matthias Church, the Fisherman’s Bastion, built to symbolize the chieftains who founded Hungary in 895, and the Sandor Palace, the official home of Hungary’s Prime Ministers and Presidents throughout the years. 

The Hospital in the Rock Museum is a labyrinth of interconnected caves beneath Buda Castle that used to house a hospital and a nuclear bunker during WW II.

While that alone should be enough to entice history buffs to make a visit, the fact that the castle now houses both the Budapest History Museum, National Széchenyi Library, and Hungarian National Gallery makes it an absolute must-see attraction.

The Rudas Bath is one of the oldest thermal baths in Budapest, a good place for medication and relaxation purposes. This historic spa was built in the 16th century, during the time of the Turkish occupation, a true Ottoman bath, with six therapeutic pools and one swimming pool.

If you like hiking and enjoying the wonderful scenery, check out Gellért Hill. Gellért Hill is at its most beautiful in the afternoon when the sun is coming down. On the hill, you have panoramic city views, 19th-century Citadel, historic monuments like the Statue of Liberty, Liberty Monument, Cave Church, and Gellért Bath, the most famous Art Nouveau thermal baths in Budapest

On the northern slope of Gellert Hill, you will find Tabán. Tabán is a big green area on the banks of the Danube, close to Elisabeth Bridge and György Dózsa Square, and east of Naphegy. It is an ideal place for relaxing with its many bars and cafés. Deer House and Aranyszarvas Restaurant are worth checking out!

Other landmarks in Buda district to mention are the Vienna Gate, Castle Garden Bazaar, Statue of Independence, Military History Museum, Church of Saint Mary Magdalene, Garden of Philosophers, and Fairy Tale Museum.

Castle District is an upscale area, it can be busy during the day and quiet at night. It’s most suited for families with children, couples, and luxury travelers who after a peaceful and quiet night’s sleep; if you want more nightlife, head to Pest.

Stay in Buda if you want a lot of sightseeing; you are interested in the rich history of the city, and historical architecture; you love beautiful castles, museums, and galleries; you want a romantic location for couples with quiet nights; you want to take a ride on a traditional Hungarian train.

Best places to stay in Buda:

🔍FIND BEST HOTELS IN DISTRICT I

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3. Erzsébetváros (District VII), where to stay in budapest for nightlife

We move now to Budapest’s District VII, Erzsébetváros. Located in the Pest region of the city, this has historically been known as Budapest’s Jewish Quarter.

The crown attraction of the area is the Dohany Street Synagogue. Built in the mid-1800s, featuring a Moorish Revival style architecture, it is the largest functioning synagogue in all of Europe.

Housed within the complex, you will find the Great Synagogue itself, along with the Hero’s Temple, a graveyard, a memorial, and the Jewish Museum. For anyone interested in Jewish history in culture, both here and around the world, this is an absolutely can’t miss attraction.

Other landmarks in district 7 are Gozsdu Weekend Market, Rumbach Street Synagogue, Madách Theater, Karavaan street food, and New York Palace on Grand Boulevard.

Despite its main attraction being something so cultured and historic, the other major draw of the area is vastly different, as the 7th district is the district to stay in for those looking to enjoy the best nightlife on offer in Budapest. The bar area is centered around Elizabeth Boulevard (Erzsebet krt) and Charles Boulevard (Karoly krt).

Featuring bars, restaurants and clubs, that range from cheap and cheerful to more high-end establishments, this is a place that has a huge range of choices when it comes to your evening entertainment, allowing you to eat, drink and dance the night away in a different place every time.

On the off chance you can’t find somewhere to suit your tastes here, don’t worry, as the district borders the sections of the 5th and 6th districts that are the runners up in the nightlife department, meaning you can easily stroll between the three, to ensure you find something that takes your fancy on any given night.

This hip and popular area have plenty of accommodations for budget travelers and there are some upscale options for luxury travelers. Many accommodations provide a royal spa, on-site restaurants, cafes, superb rooms, spacious common rooms with a kitchen, free wifi, and close to major attractions such as the Opera House and Dohany Street Synagogue.

Stay in District VII: Erzsébetváros if you are budget travelers looking for a vibrant nightlife; you are interested in Jewish history and culture.

Best Places to Stay in District VII: Erzsébetváros:

🔍FIND BEST HOTELS IN ERZSEBETVAROS

4. Józsefváros (District VIII), where to stay in Budapest on a budget

Our next destination sees us in the District VIII of Józsefváros. Of all the districts in Budapest, perhaps none have as many faces as this, with the section located in the center of the city being the grand Palace District, with the outer reaching areas gradually going downhill the further out you go.

With that in mind, let’s first focus on that central region, where attractions such as the National Museum, the Metropolitan Ervin Szabo Library, and the Academy Of Drama And Film are surrounded by a wonderful collection of bars, restaurants, and hotels, to keep you entertained day and night.

While I would suggest staying in the more central part of the district, for those who would like to explore it in its entirety, there is still plenty of attractions awaiting. 

The Erkel Theatre; a Hungarian State Opera House, Orczy-Kert; one of Budapest’s biggest gardens, The Centre For Foreign Languages; Hungary’s oldest authentic language examination center, as well as the Hungarian Natural History Museum and Corvin Budapest Film Palace are all located here.

This Palace district is home to many palaces such as Degenfeld-Schonburg Palace, Gráf Károlyi Alajos Palace, Almássy Palace, and Gráf Festetics Palace.

You also have the Dandár Gyógyfürdő Spa, the Martsa Műterem és Művészkert, the Holocaust Memorial Centre, Wenckheim Palace, the Flag Museum, and the József Attila Memorial.

On top of all of that, this district is also home to a large collection of universities. Not only are many of these stunning buildings to view in themselves but they also bring with them a distinctively student culture and environment. This is perfect for those looking for a livelier environment that’s attainable on a budget.

As a final parting gift, it is also the location of Budapest’s main train station, Budapest Keleti train station, making it the perfect place to stay for anyone traveling by train, who doesn’t want to worry about dragging their luggage too far at the beginning and end of their trip. You can use the red M2 line, blue M3 line, green M4 line both have stops in this area.

Stay in District VIII: Józsefváros if you want to be near the airport or train station; you’re looking for a more budget-friendly area; you are happy to explore more “rough and ready” areas, you want a great variety of bars and restaurants.

Best places to stay in District VIII: Józsefváros:

Impulso Fashion Hotel Centrally located in Budapest, this 4-star hotel is close to II János Pál Pápa Tér, there is a subway stop nearby connect to Keleti Train Station.

Courtyard by Marriott Budapest City Center Located conveniently in the center, you can reach most sights by foot such as Dohany Street Synagogue, Keleti Train Station, and Central Market Hall.

🔍FIND BEST HOTELS IN JOZSEFVAROS

5. Terézváros (District VI), where to stay in Budapest for culture vulture

District VI: Terézváros, where to stay in Budapest for culture vulture

This is a trendy neighborhood in Budapest and nowhere demonstrates that more than iconic Andrassy Avenue( the Champs-Élysées of Budapest), UNESCO World Heritage Site. Andrassy Avenue connects Elizabeth Square with Heroes’ Square, finish at the City Park. It’s an important cultural hub with plenty of museums, exhibition halls, and stunning architecture.

The high-end fashion shops are renowned while the Neo-Renaissance palaces ooze real style. This is an avenue that those on a budget can visit, just window shopping and not look for accommodation.

Terézváros is also home to the Hungarian State Opera House, the Operetta Theatre, The House of Terror, the Liszt Ferenc Music Academy, and many other museums such as the Postal Museum, the Hungarian Electrotechnical Museum, and the Zoltán Kodály Memorial Museum.

Other attractions include the most famous thermal baths, Szechenyi Baths, Heroes Square, Vajdahunyad Castle, and Millennium Monument.

The district does have little for the budget traveler but in general, it is a place where the rich can rent large apartments and enjoy the activities in the immediate vicinity. That includes some bars that open in the afternoon and serve until very late.

Luxury travelers will find hotels around Andrássy Avenue, Liszt Ferenc tér, and the Opera House while there are several hostels around Ó Street.

Terézváros is served by Budapest Nyugati train station. To get around, use the Yellow M1 line stops in many places along Andrássy Avenue, and the Blue M3 line goes through to this area too.

Stay in District VI: Terézváros if you’re interested in historic and cultural attractions; you want to stay in a convenient area close to Downtown Budapest; you want plenty of activities and attractions nearby.

Best Places to Stay in Terézváros:

🔍FIND BEST HOTELS IN DISTRICT VI

6. Ferencváros (District IX), budget-friendly area with good local vibe

District IX: Ferencváros, budget-friendly area with good local vibe

Ferencvaros is one of Hungary’s most famous football teams. It is also an ever-growing area in Budapest and a very diverse one. It runs next to the Danube and the Expo ’96 site is here. A good deal of renovation has been needed to address local problems and that is ongoing work.

Ferencvaros is home to Central Market Hall, Corvinus University of Budapest, within a short distance to the Liberty Bridge and Gellért Thermal Bath.

This up-and-coming neighborhood is less touristy, more residential with locals and ex-pats. If you’re looking for cheaper accommodations with a local vibe, you can consider staying at district 9.

Budget travelers are certain to find something that they like here while the added appeal is the cultural experiences on offer. They include museums, theatres, and other concert venues. The National Theatre is on the Danube on the Pest side, close to the Rákóczi Bridge. 

The Palace of Arts was added in 2005 with the Ludwig Contemporary Arts Museum and the National Concert Hall on its grounds. The Danube River Promenade, Müpa Budapest, Dandár Thermal Bath are other attractions to enjoy.

Accommodations in Ferencvaros are relatively cheap, you’ll find many budget accommodations between the inner city and the first ring road.

Stay in District IX: Ferencváros if you want a budget-friendly area with a good local vibe; You want to be close to the Danube; The arts are of interest to you; Budget accommodation is your idea.

Best places to stay in Ferencváros:

🔍FIND BEST HOTELS IN DISTRICT IX

7. Kelenfold, District XI, a residential area, off-the-beaten-track

Kelenfold is on the Buda side of the city and its appeal includes lovely views of the Danube. It developed as a residential area in the 1970s in a place that lacked the rich history of other parts of Hungary’s capital.  Its design perhaps lacks style and imagination but forget that for a while.

Despite being residential, it has a vibrant nightlife and in the weeks of summer, there is outdoor music for both locals and visitors to enjoy. The Botanic Garden Buda is a restful place with clean air and plenty of attractive fauna.  Other attractions include Barba Negra Music Club, Szent Gellert Church, the Savoya Park Shopping Mall, and the Kopaszi gát Park.

You will find good budget accommodation here and surprisingly good cuisine as well.

Stay in Kelenfold if You are looking for budget accommodation; Relaxing in green spaces interests you; You are not concerned about a central location near Budapest’s main landmarks.

Best places to stay near Kelenfold station:

🔍FIND BEST HOTELS IN KELENFOLD

8. Óbuda-Békásmegyer (District III), home to Sziget Festival

District III: Óbuda-Békásmegyer, where to stay in Budapest for Sziget Festival

Obuda is the home of the Sziget Festival each year, one of the largest music and cultural festivals in Europe. If you’re attending this Sziget Festival festival, the Obuda neighborhood is a good base. While many people are aware of Budapest being formed by the joining of the cities of Buda and Pest, the third city involved in the merger, Obuda, is often overlooked.

As you may have gathered from its name, the modern-day District III now encompasses the old city of Óbuda and offers history and culture that differs from the rest of Budapest.

Having been settled as early as the stone age, the region even served as the capital of the Roman province of Pannonia. While many of the actual remains of the city are now, unfortunately, obscured, there are still plenty of places to find out about the history of Obuda.

The Aquincum Museum contains displays demonstrating the lives of the Roman people that once lived here, surrounded by ruins of the towns they inhabited, complete with shrines, sculptures, columns, buildings, and even a sarcophagus.

The Kassak Museum displays exhibits relating to the Hungarian writer Lajos Kassak. The Óbuda Museum is dedicated to the local history of the area, complete with Hungary’s only Toy Museum and one dedicated to folk furniture. There’s even the Museum of Hungarian Trade And Tourism, as well as the Vasarely art museum, dedicated to his works, as well as those of a few other local artists.

Don’t fret if museums aren’t your thing though, as while I said many of the area’s ruins are obscured, there are still a number of Roman amphitheaters, baths, and even a villa scattered around.

On top of all of this history, we still have the main attraction to get to, as the stunning Hajogyari Island, also known as Obuda Island, is located here, in the middle of the Danube River.

Connected to the mainland by multiple bridges, the island features farms, parks and even a yacht yard, making it one of the most popular attractions in the city for those looking to get away from the concrete jungle for a while.

Stay in District III: Óbuda-Békásmegyer if you’re attending Sziget Festival; you are interested in Roman ruins and history, you enjoy getting back to nature, you like festivals, experience more unique culture.

Best places to stay in District III: Óbuda-Békásmegyer:

mid-range: Aquamarina Hotel Set on the bank of Danube River, there the boast from hotel to city center, and Parliament Stations. The main tourist attractions like Acquincum ruins, Szentendre, or the Danube Bend with the cities Visegrád and Esztergom are easily reachable.

budget:  Alfréd Panzió Good location hotel can reach the city center easily by public transport, and within a short stroll from Danube banks.

🔍FIND BEST HOTELS IN OBUDA

10. Angyalföld (District XIII), very close to Margaret Island

District XIII: Angyalföld, very close to Margaret Island

The penultimate option on our list is located in the District XIII of Angyalföld. While much of the district is a working-class area, this allows it to offer incredible value when it comes to both accommodations, as well as the prices in the surrounding shops.

However, the price isn’t the reason for this location making the list. Instead, it is an attraction somewhat similar in nature to our previous two entries.

Completing the set of three Danube islands located within Budapest, Angyalföld is the location of Margaret Island (Margit Sziget in Hungarian), one of the most popular recreational destinations in the city.

Covered largely by beautiful landscape parks and Roman ruins, the island is ideal for those who like outdoor locations. However, it also features a number of shops and restaurants, allowing you to enjoy the rural charms, while still being just seconds away from civilization when you want it.

Among its attractions are a Centennial memorial celebrating the unification of the city, a Japanese garden and fish pond, a zoo featuring exotic waterfowl and other animals, a pavilion designed for open-air concerts, a fountain with music and light displays, and an Art Nouveau water tower, the last two of which are both protected UNESCO World Heritage sites.

There are even two hotels located on the island itself and, with no private traffic allowed, this gives you the opportunity to completely immerse yourself in the environment. Angyalföld is most suited with young families, couples, and mature travelers.

Stay in District XIII: Angyalföld if you prefer a less built-up location, you enjoy walking in parks, you like zoos, you want to take in some beautiful river views, you are interested in roman ruins.

Best places to stay in District XIII: Angyalföld:

Ensana Thermal Margaret Island Set in a quiet Margaret Island, offers an indoor and outdoor swimming pool with free wifi. Close proximity to Japanese Garden, and Lukács Bath.

Danubius Hotel Helia Located right on the bank of the Danube river, with rooms that overlook the river, Buda hill.

🔍FIND BEST HOTELS IN ANGYAFOLD

10. kerület-Csepel (District XXI), laid-back area

From one island to another, we move to the 21st district of Csepel, which is located on the northern end of Csepel Island, the largest island in the Danube. It also holds the distinction of being the only entire district that is at no point located in either of the historical areas covered by Buda or Pest.

Perhaps not as abundant with attractions as some of the other locations on this list, it does provide a history and experience that differs from the rest of the city, while offering visitors the chance to enjoy their stay in a slightly more relaxed, less built-up environment.

Largely featuring a more middle class, suburban environment, sights such as a number of gardens, an 18th century Baroque parish church, the Csepel Gallery And Museum Of Local History, the Csepel Collection Of Factory History, and even the home stadium of Csepel FC, the Beke Teri Stadion, are among the more popular attractions in the district.

Connected to the mainland by a number of bike tracks, bridges, and railway lines, this makes it the perfect spot to enjoy the quiet life, while being able to quickly jump back into the hustle and bustle of the heart of the city whenever you choose.

Stay in XXI. kerület if you want a more laid-back location, you want a unique experience, you like river views, you want quiet accommodation that has easy access back into the city.

Best places to stay in XXI. kerület:

🔍FIND BEST HOTELS IN CSEPEL

11. Staying around Budapest Airport

Budapest Airport (BUD) is located 20km from the city center, if you have a late arrival or early departure, staying near the airport is a good choice. Below are the best hotels near Budapest Airport:

luxury: Airport Hotel Budapest This 4-star hotel offers fine cuisine in its 24-h restaurant, free parking, a 24-hour wellness center, and free WiFi. it offers a free airport shuttle bus and is just a short drive from the airport.

mid-range: Airport Almáskert Panzió Thi bed and breakfast offers units with a private bathroom, air conditioning, a flat-screen TV, and a fridge. it also has an ironing service, business facilities like fax and photocopying.

budget: Airport16 bed and breakfast This B&B offers accommodations fully equipped private bathroom with shower and a hairdryer, free WiFi, air conditioning, a bar, and a shared lounge. It also has continental and buffet breakfast options, a barbecue, garden, and sun terrace.

So, there you have it, our article on the best areas to stay in Budapest. Hopefully, this will have given you a clear idea of exactly what you want to get out of your trip and where the best place to stay in order to achieve that is.

Check out my virtual tour about the best places to stay in Budapest in this video:

If you are interested in where to stay in Budapest, you may also be interested in where to stay in Prague, where to stay in Vienna, and where to stay in Bucharest Now as you know the best areas to stay in Budapest, all that’s left to do is go and start getting everything booked, so you can experience all the wonders I have mentioned for yourself.

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