Budapest was never more than a tiny blip on my travel radar until this year, mostly because I’ve focused a little more on Western Europe destinations. Let’s face it, a lot of these countries in the Eastern half of Europe are expensive to get to from the US, which can be a huge turnoff when you’re looking at flight prices.
If I had only realized how completely wonderful Budapest would be, I would’ve pulled it way further up on my travel list. It’s definitely an underdog city in Europe (at least for many of the Americans I know), one that many more people should consider visiting. They have something for everyone. There’s a world-class opera house, clothing-optional thermal baths, some of the best cakes I’ve ever eaten, and an incredibly fascinating history. Reading about WWII and the communist history here in Hungary could occupy my spare time for weeks.
This city should be on every traveler’s list. Of all the cities we’ve visited in Europe, we’d definitely rank Budapest as #1 for being the most livable AND as #1 for being the most appealing for a tourist. Whether you’re doing slow travel or just planning a week-long trip, Budapest is perfect.
In this post, I talk about everyday life in Budapest. What it’s like to live here as an expat, where we go running, what our apartment here is like, and what we spend our time doing. In the next few posts, I’ll talk more about the tourist side of Budapest.
Our Apartment in Budapest
This might be the #1 reason we love it here so much – we rent a fantastic Airbnb apartment from a really nice gal, and it ran us just $570 for 4 weeks. That price includes all utilities, and the Airbnb fee, and averages out to just $20/night. The apartment has high ceilings, huge windows, a nice open kitchen (important since we only go out to eat twice a week), a washing machine and dishwasher, and super comfy furniture. We love working and living here, and we hated to leave.
We’re glad that the apartment has been so great for working. We usually camp out at the dining room table to work each day, and the fast internet has been great for us. There aren’t many cafes in our neighborhood with free wifi, so it’s good that this worked out so well.
We even have a little balcony with a table and chairs! We’re on the 3rd floor of the building, so it’s fun to sit out there and enjoy the sunshine.
Here’s a quick little video tour of our home for the last 4 weeks:
This spot has been a great home base for exploring this awesome city. We’ve been working 5 days a week here, and doing all of our tourist things on Mondays and Fridays. It has been fun to settle into a routine, do a lot of studying and learning, and finally kick off our job search!
Enjoying our Neighborhood
We’re definitely not located in the most central location in Budapest. We’re about a 1-hour walk towards the downtown tourist area, which is certainly a hassle at times. If you stayed here for a short trip to Budapest, you’d definitely want to spring for bus tickets to get in and out of the city quickly. But we think that the neighborhood (and the general awesomeness of the apartment) make it worth the hassle of being outside the urban core of the city.
For one, we have lots of awesome flowers and gardens around here:
But mostly, we love walking a few minutes to City Park to visit any of the handful of outdoor bars. Nothing beats soaking up the sunshine on a warm day with a half liter of Hefeweisen in your hand:
If sitting still while drinking isn’t your thing, there are lots of these riding around Budapest, too:
Running in Budapest
I admit it, we are now extremely picky about which Airbnb apartments we rent. One of the top things we look for is that an apartment is near to an outdoor location where we can go running. I’m training for a marathon, so having a nice place for my 22-mile runs is super important.
Luckily, Budapest came through! The apartment we picked is a few blocks away from enormous City Park. This huge tree-filled park is also home to the Szechenyi Baths and Vajdahunyad Castle! It can get crowded on weekends and I sometimes get filled with tourist rage when people obliviously block the entire walking path, but most of the time it’s a pleasant place to be.
The Perks of Slow Travel: Going to Holiday Festivals!
One of the great things about being in town for 4 weeks is that you’re inevitably going to be around for some sort of festival. As it turns out, Budapesters throw a huge shindig for Easter! The castle area of City Park filled up with food stalls, craft booths, and beer vendors. It was a great way for us to celebrate Easter.
First, we discovered a Hungarian specialty called Kurtoskalacs, or Chimney Cake! Dough is rolled out onto a wooden roller, is covered in sugar, then roasted over hot coals until the dough is cooked through. We ordered ours dusted with cinnamon, but you can also get walnut, chocolate, vanilla, coconut, or poppy! It’s a massive, filling pastry that costs just 1000 Forint (less than $4). Hands down, this is my favorite dessert we’ve had in Budapest.
The next best thing about festivals is the beer vendors! In Europe, you don’t have to stay in a beer garden to drink, you can take your beer wherever your heart desires. It’s amazing. But not as amazing as this cute little VW Van that has been turned into a little tap house on wheels!
There’s something for everyone at the Easter Festival. Do you want to listen to country music and enjoy a platter of “Befalo Bill” Barbecue? We can accommodate that.
We Want to Hear From You!
Have you visited Budapest? Did you love it as much as we did? Leave us a comment and let us know!