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Buda or Pest: The Best Place to Stay in Budapest

Buda or Pest: The Best Place to Stay in Budapest

Hungary Travel Planning

Visiting any new city for the first time is obviously going to spark questions about where to stay–but Budapest puts a different spin on this question altogether by asking what city you want to stay in during your visit: Buda or Pest.

Originally two different cities divided by the beautiful Danube River (or if you want to get technical, three cities), the west bank cities of Buda and Obuda united with the city of Pest on the east bank of the Danube in 1873, and Budapest as we know it was born.

Even today, you’ll hear people referring to the “Buda” side of the river and the “Pest” side of the river, particularly when describing where tourist destinations are located.

So, where is the best place to stay in Budapest: Buda or Pest?

Well, that depends on what you’re looking for!

Buda or Pest: The Best Place to Stay in Budapest--Fisherman's Bastion

Stay in Buda for…

… better views.

Buda is the hillier of the two cities and sits much higher than Pest on average.

It’s home to some of the best views in Budapest, including from the Citadel at Gellert Hill and Fisherman’s Bastion!

… the Castle District.

The Castle District, which holds Buda Castle, Matthias Church, and Fisherman’s Bastion among many other attractions (we’re partial to the Labyrinth under Buda Castle), is a favorite of tourists who come to Budapest.

3 Days in Budapest Itinerary: Parliament

… a quieter side of the city.

Buda is considered to be the calmer side of the city–while it’s not exactly dead, there tends to be much more going on, including nightlife, on the Pest side of the river. Buda tends to have a much more residential feel.

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Highlights of Buda

Some of Budapest’s most famous sights are located in Buda, including Fisherman’s Bastion, Matthias Church, and Buda Castle.

The caves underneath Budapest are also accessed from the Buda side of the river, and you can find the Cave Church, Gellert Baths, and Citadel here as well.

Prague or Budapest: Budapest view of Danube

Stay in Pest for…

… better nightlife.

Budapest’s famous ruin pubs, located in what used to be the Jewish Quarter, are located on the Pest side of the river.

If you’re coming to Budapest for nightlife, this is the place to be!

… a larger concentration of tourist sights.

While Buda holds some of Budapest’s most famous attractions, Pest has more of them overall, including St. Stephen’s Basilica, Central Market Hall, the Szechenyi Baths, and the Parliament Building, among many others.

Prague or Budapest: Budapest Opera House

… plenty of restaurants and shopping.

Pest is larger, busier, and has much less of a residential feel than Buda, and that lends itself to having much more commerce in general.

You’ll never have trouble finding one of Budapest’s great restaurants on the Pest side of the river, but with so many options, you may have trouble deciding what to eat in Budapest!

Highlights of Pest

Pest’s most well-known sights include Central Market Hall, the Parliament Building, the Shoes on the Danube Monument, Heroes Square, the Szechenyi Baths, St. Stephen’s Basilica, the Hungarian Opera House, and more.

We’re also partial to the Szabo Ervin Library on this side of the river!

3 Days in Budapest Itinerary: Szabo Ervin Library

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Do we stay in Buda or Pest?

On all of our visits to Budapest, we have chosen to stay in Pest and love it there–we’ll continue to stay on the Pest side for future return visits as well.

While Buda has some incredible sights, they are mostly concentrated right up against the river–it’s very easy to cross the Danube from Pest to visit them. Behind the initial highlights and away from the river, Buda has a much more residential feel that, while beautiful, is out of the way of most tourist highlights.

Pest’s sights, on the other hand, are more spread out and generally set further back from the river, making them harder to access from the Buda side. They’re also simply more numerous–we tend to spend far more time sightseeing on the Pest side of the river than the Buda side.

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Ultimately, deciding whether to stay in Buda or Pest is a matter of preference–if you’re on a quiet romantic getaway, for example, you may want to stay in Buda. For most people, though, the best place to stay in Budapest will be on the Pest side of the river.

Visit Buda, of course. Visit a lot. But stay in Pest.

Whether you decide to stay in Buda or Pest, make sure that you’re staying reasonably close to a bus, tram or metro stop–regardless of whether you’re spending just a weekend in Budapest or much longer, you’ll want to be able to navigate your way to anywhere in Budapest that you’d like to go!

The Ideal 3 Days in Budapest Itinerary

Hotel Options in Budapest

Though we have stayed in Airbnbs for our last couple trips to Budapest as they lasted 1-2 weeks each, for a shorter trip, we would likely stay in a property similar to these: both are midrange in price, with excellent locations and good wifi.

Jackquaters — Located right next to Vaci Utca and only 100 meters from the Danube, Jackquaters is the perfect location for anyone visiting Budapest. Budapest highlights like the Chain Bridge and Great Market Hall are within easy walking distance.

Check rates & book your stay at Jackquaters!

Feodorm Apartments — Perfect for the budget conscious traveler who wants to be close to the action, Feodorm is located a short walk from the Hungarian Parliament Building.

Check rates & book your stay at the Feodorm Apartments!

Want to try Airbnb instead? Sign up with our link to receive a discount on your first stay!

Budapest or Vienna: Which City is Right for You?

Buda or Pest: The Best Place to Stay in Budapest

24 Comments Write a comment

Kate has been traveling the world full-time for more than 3 years. She tries to keep a balance between going on new adventures and exploring favorite destinations (like Italy!) in depth, and is always on the lookout for the next beautiful overlook and delicious meal.


  • Abigail Sinsona January 23, 2018

    This is such a useful guide for anyone trying to determine where to book accommodation. I prefer the castle views and the cultural sites, so Buda is for me. I’ve always wanted to go to Hungary, specifically Budapest. And this post just confirmed why I have this on my bucket list.

    • Kate Storm January 25, 2018

      Definitely a bucket list worthy destination! The castle and Fishermans’ Bastion are absolutely dreamy.

  • Heidi January 23, 2018

    I never realized Budapest was originally two/three different cities. Just another reason to visit soon. And now we know where to stay since you’ve given such awesome descriptions and breakdowns of each. And that library on the Pest side. Beautiful photo! The hubby will have fun photographing the staircase, while I check out the books 🙂

    • Kate Storm January 25, 2018

      Right?! Several months later, I’m still obsessed with that library and the photos we took in it. 😀

  • Lisa January 24, 2018

    This is a very useful post, as I’m planning on visiting this year. I like the sound of both, but probably Pest wins for all the reasons you listed. Buda looks pretty too, especially as it’s higher up!

    • Kate Storm January 25, 2018

      How exciting! Hope you enjoy your trip, Lisa!

  • Suzanne January 24, 2018

    I like how you broke down the pros and cons of each side of the city. I think Buda sounds right up my alley with its quietude but then Pest sounds more convenient and accessible. I think I will take your suggestion to stay in Pest because Buda is so close anyway.

    • Kate Storm January 25, 2018

      There’s definitely some pros and cons to both! We still managed to find our quiet corner of Pest, though–best of both worlds IMO.

  • Ada January 24, 2018

    I knew Buda and Pest used to be a different cities but I had no idea its still kind of separate like that till today. Good to know, its very helpful 🙂 I am actually planning to visit Budapest this year! I am moving to Krakow in Poland and I already found an amazing deal to travel from there 🙂 Just like you I would probably stay in Pest. I am not sure if I would wanna stay near all tourist attractions. I would just go there during the day, see everything and go back south to explore nice pubs, nightlife and restaurants 🙂 .

    • Kate Storm January 25, 2018

      Oh, how fun! We loved Krakow too, though we were only there for a few days–on our first trip to Budapest, we were actually coming from Krakow when we arrived. Good luck with your move!

  • Julia Guerra January 24, 2018

    I hadn’t realized that Budapest used to be three cities and that people still refer to them by their old names! Personally, though, I think I would like to stay on the Buda side. I like to be in calmer areas and get the local feel of a place.

    • Kate Storm January 25, 2018

      Interesting, right? I never knew until I went. On a broad level it’s definitely one city, but I guess you could say they refer to them almost as boroughs in a way–like Manhattan vs, Brooklyn, except WAY different!

  • Joanna January 25, 2018

    I have visited Budapest twice, and every time I chose to stay in Pest as well. The second time I was there on a project with an airline so they booked my hotel, a wonderful art boutique one on the shore of the Danube river, close to the central market. I really loved the location, especially that I could go in the evening and just walk along the river. Pest is great for nightlife, I remember seeing to many restaurants and bars (and boat bars) where people were having fun. I like Buda as well but I don’t think I would like to stay there, it’s too hilly and too quiet 🙂

    • Kate Storm January 25, 2018

      Oooh, how fun it must have been to stay right on the river! We stayed in a similar neighborhood on our first visit–a few blocks from each the river and the Central Market–and loved how central we were to everything.

  • Agness of eTramping January 25, 2018

    Budapest is simply astonishing and your post was an excellent read, Jeremy and Kate! Such a great comparison and useful tips for everyone planning to go there. 😉

    • Kate Storm January 25, 2018

      Thanks, Agness! Budapest definitely is astonishing. 🙂

  • Juliette January 25, 2018

    Budapest looks beautiful no matter which side you stay on! I love the idea of the quieter more romantic Buda but equally the nightlife in Pest and general activity sounds really fun to be in. Maybe I’d choose Pest. The views across the city (from Buda I think – that nighttime photo) is gorgeous! Hope to visit one day. I always forget there are two parts to it.

    • Kate Storm January 25, 2018

      Yep, that view is from the citadel on the Buda side–and I agree, the view is amazing! It’s our favorite viewpoint in the city.

  • Samah January 26, 2018

    This is a fantastic comparison. I would prefer to stay in Pest given the ample amount of restaurants and attractions to see and you say Buda’s attractions are available just across the river! I would love to visit Hungary one day.

    • Kate Storm January 31, 2018

      Hope you get the chance, Samah! We love it there–hoping to get beyond Budapest on our next trip. 🙂

  • vinay gupta February 14, 2018

    stunning your all pictures and article too really nice thanks for sharing n keep it up thanks a lot..!

    • Kate Storm February 17, 2018

      Thanks, Vinay!

  • William Wood July 16, 2019

    Thank you so much. We will be arriving late morning on 20 August from Vienna leaving by train the following evening. We are senior citizens but physically quite active!
    On visiting new cities we like to take open tour bus tours to get an overall feel. Given our restricted time any suggestions?

    • Kate Storm July 17, 2019

      Hi William!

      We actually have a whole post of what we suggest doing with only one day in Budapest:

      It doesn’t include an open bus tour, but the usual companies do operate in Budapest. If you want to take one, I’d suggest looking for one that takes you over to Buda and up Castle Hill, as otherwise you’d need to take a city bus or the funicular up.

      Hope you guys have a great time!

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