Budapest’s hidden pearls (City Guide)

The Concierges at The Ritz-Carlton, Budapest have compiled a selection of their favorite sights in the Hungarian capital.

Old Buda area (Óbuda)

The main square of Óbuda is an enchanting place, and surprisingly so, as the old 18th – 19th century buildings are hidden by the soaring ten floor blocks of flats built from concrete Legos during the Socialism. It features many lovely events throughout the year; the Óbuda Festival in spring or the Óbuda Christmas market is well worth a visit. Once in the neighborhood, you can take a visit to a lesser known museum, the Hungarian Trade and Tourism Museum with many interesting exhibits. Óbuda is most known for the Óbuda Island where the world famous Sziget Festival takes place each year. Old Buda (today the 3rd district of Budapest) also has a Synagogue. It is only a 15-20 minutes ride by public transport, off the beaten track of more touristy areas in Budapest (downtown, Buda Castle, Heroes Square).

Flea Markets and Thrift Shopping

Budapest has several flea markets that offer all sorts of items, from old photos through pioneer memorabilia to amateur paintings or broken jewels. One of the most visited flea markets is in the City Park of Budapest (Városliget) in the courts of an outdated concert hall from the 1980’s (a real retro feeling with all the tidbits on the blankets and stalls).

Downtown Budapest offers a great way for thrift shopping with its many quirky boutiques and second hand shops. Go off the beaten path and find something that is unique and feels just like you.

Budapest Ruin Bars and Pubs

Budapest has turned into a paradise of cool, trendy bars and clubs with amazing interiors, nonchalantly mixing old and new, design and recycled, and offering fantastic concerts every day. Most of these newly launched pubs and bars are located in 19th century residential buildings that have been turned into the star places of Budapest nightlife. Head to District VI and VII, around the streets called Kazinczy Street, Dohany Street, Kiraly Street and you will find thousands of people chatting and dancing in the dozens of bars of Budapest, the ruin bars.

If you are unsure which places you should check out, you can choose from many cheap and good pub crawls, special tours to show you the best bars in Budapest. Some of our favorite secret places are Fogashaz Bar (in the old Jewish Quarter) and Otkert behind the Gresham Palace of Budapest.

Cave Church, Budapest

The church in the cave under the Gellert Hill of Budapest gets usually overlooked by visitors who check out the more well-known Matthias Church in the Buda Castle district, or the majestic St Stephen’s Cathedral (Szent Istvan Bazilika). If you are at the Liberty Bridge (the green metal Szabadsag hid), you can take a look at this strange church of the Hungarian Pauline order (the Cave Church is in use, also used for marriages). Definitely off the beaten path and is worth a half an hour detour if you should be visiting the Gellert Bath. Once in the neighborhood, try a coffee and cake at Café Hadik on Bartok Bela street, one of the oldest literary cafes in Budapest.

Veli Bej Bath Turkish bath

Most tourists know about the famous Budapest baths, like Gellért Spa or Széchenyi Baths, or even the crazy night bath parties in Lukács Baths. But one thermal bath is a nice thermal bath hardly known by tourists. The recently restored Turkish bath in Budapest is the least known amongst the thermal baths of the City of Spas, as Budapest is often called. Most tourists who want to see a Budapest Turkish bath will either take a bath in the big and spacious Rudas Bath, or head to the ruinous historical Király Bath. Veli Bej is unlike them: small, cozy, crisp new with a historical core from the 16th century.