Buda or Pest: What’s the Best Place to Stay in Budapest?

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?

While the capital of Hungary is clearly one city today, it technically hasn’t been one for long at all!

The place we know as Budapest was originally two different cities divided by the beautiful Danube River (or if you want to get very specific, 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.

kate storm and jeremy storm posing at the top of fishermans bastion with parliament in the background in budapest hungary
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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, in a Buda vs Pest showdown, where is the best place to stay in Budapest?

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

Here are the pros and cons of staying in Buda or Pest.

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 (and therefore some of the best photo spots in Budapest), including from the Citadel at Gellert Hill and the famous Fisherman’s Bastion!

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… 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.

Buda Castle is also home to some of Budapest’s best museums, including the Hungarian National Gallery and the Budapest History Museum.

You’ll also find the Hospital in the Rock underneath Buda Castle.

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… a quieter side of the city.

Buda is considered to be the calmer side of the city, and that’s for good reason.

Bhile 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, especially once the museums and churches of the Castle District close for the day.

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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
The views from the Citadel are incredible!

Stay in Pest for…

… better nightlife.

Budapest’s famous ruin bars, 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!

kate storm and jeremy storm at Szimpla Ruin Bar budapest hungary

… a larger concentration of tourist sights.

While Buda holds some of Budapest’s most famous attractions, Pest has more of them overall!

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As far as visitors are concerned, Pest is by far the biggest side of the city.

Famous attractions in Pest include St. Stephen’s Basilica, Central Market Hall, the Szechenyi Baths, City Park, and the Parliament Building, among many others.

Prague or Budapest: Budapest Opera House
The Hungarian State Opera House is also in Pest!

… 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.

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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!

Budapest’s most iconic shopping street, Vaci Utca, is also located in Pest.

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Highlights of Pest

Pest’s most well-known sights include Central Market Hall, the Hungarian 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!

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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.

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We love visiting the Buda side of the river on each visit, but on future trips, we fully plan to continue to stay in Pest.

While Buda has some incredible sights, they are mostly concentrated right up against the Danube, so it’s very easy to cross the Danube from Pest to visit them.

view of buda castle with chain bridge and the danube river in the foreground

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.

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They’re also simply more numerous–we (and most visitors) tend to spend far more time sightseeing on the Pest side of the river than the Buda side.

Ultimately, deciding whether to stay in Buda or Pest is a matter of preference!

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If you’re on a quiet romantic getaway, for example, you may want to stay in Buda.

For most travelers hoping to get a snapshot of what makes Budapest special with limited time, though, the best place to stay in Budapest will be on the Pest side of the river.

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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 few days 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!

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Hotel Options in Budapest

Did we convince you to book a stay in Pest vs Buda?

If so, here are some popular, well-reviewed hotels to consider in Pest!

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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!

view of buda from the pest side of the river as seen when exploring the best things to do in budapest in november


Hotel Erzsébet — With Central Market Hall and Vaci Utca at your fingertips, you definitely won’t go hungry while staying at the beautiful Hotel Erzsébet!

With modern interiors, easy access to the metro, and a central location, this well-reviewed property is a reliable and cozy place to stay.

Check rates & book your stay at Hotel Erzsébet!

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Hotel Mika Superior — Not only does Hotel Mika Superior offer beautiful rooms, fabulous service, and a delicious included breakfast, but it’s also located in the old Jewish Quarter of the city, near the Dohany Street Synagogue and Hungarian Opera House.

This is one of our personal favorite neighborhoods to stay in while visiting Budapest!

Check rates & book your stay at Hotel Mika Superior!

kate storm and jeremy storm on roof of St. Stephen's Basilica, Best Things to Do in Budapest

Read More About Visiting Budapest (and Beyond)

Ready to keep planning your trip to Central Europe?

We’d love to help!

You can browse all of our Hungary blog posts here, or check out these guides:

Buda or Pest: The Best Place to Stay in Budapest
About Kate Storm
Image of the author, Kate Storm

In May 2016, I left my suburban life in the USA and became a full-time traveler. Since then, I have visited 50+ countries on 5 continents and lived in Portugal, developing a special love of traveling in Europe (especially Italy) along the way. Today, along with my husband Jeremy and dog Ranger, I’m working toward my eventual goal of splitting my life between Europe and the USA.

34 thoughts on “Buda or Pest: What’s the Best Place to Stay in Budapest?”

  1. 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.

  2. 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 :)

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

    • 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.

  5. 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 :) .

    • 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!

  6. 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.

    • 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!

  7. 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 :)

    • 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.

  8. 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.

    • 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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?

    • Hi William!

      We actually have a whole post of what we suggest doing with only one day in Budapest: https://www.ourescapeclause.com/one-day-in-budapest-in-a-day/

      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!

  11. Beware of people who think one side is better than the other…it really depends on YOU. If I were a tourist in my hometown I would probably stay half the time in Pest and half the time in Buda. Pest generally has a more urban feel to it, and Buda is the calmer, cleaner, older side. I think I also agree someone who said that Buda has more of a local feel, to it.
    But there shouldn’t be any competition.:)

  12. I would love to visit Pest. My Father was born in Pest at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains./In a small village …..Does any one know where the records of Birth and and Residences would be recorded there? Old Records Like 1800″S on to 1898 when my Father came here?Would appreciate any Info before I travel there/

    • Hi Joy! I wish I could help, but I truly have no idea where you would find that information. If you don’t find anything before you arrive, you may check with one of the tourism offices in Budapest and see if they can point you in the direction of an office that handles genealogical research.

  13. I have had a great flat in Buda for over 20 yrs.on the Bartók Bella,the pest thing about Pest is you can see Buda from there.( local joke)

    • Ha, that’s a good one! I have some distant cousins who have lived in Buda for 20+ years as well and they love it up there.

  14. Budapest is the best city for me. I went there twice and I stayed in Buda and pest .both of them are amazing, photogenic and wonderful. I love Budapest.

  15. Hi, I’m going to Budapest in Feb for 11days10nights. This is my first time visiting budapest and I’m wondering if it is advisable to split my stay to 5 days in pest and 5 days in buda.

    • Hi Jacqueline,

      It’s not really necessary if your only goal is seeing the top sights of the city, but it’s certainly doable and could be fun!


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