Mini Travel Guide: Budapest

As requested via Instagram: today I'm sharing my Mini Travel Guide for Budapest! I visited this Hungarian city for a long weekend with my man and was pleasantly surprised - especially by the many great places for food & wine.

We decided to take the not-so-touristy approach and just wanted to explore the city and relax. A few must-sees were included, of course, but there was no "cultural running around" to all the sights to check off some kind of list. The only thing I had prepared beforehand was a map of places to eat, drink & shop. You know, just in case... nothing is worse than desperately trying to find a spot for lunch when you're already feeling hangry. Luckily we also spontaneously discovered some REALLY great restaurants along the way, which we probably would have gladly returned to for a second round if our trip had been longer. 

So if you're looking to have an easy-going, relaxing weekend, with lots of good food and wine, then this is the perfect mini Budapest city guide for you! 

Kick off your first morning in Budapest with a breakfast at Sonkapult. This tiny restaurant doesn't offer too many tables to sit at (though the wait isn't long), but the food options are really great. We enjoyed - and can highly recommend - the sweet pancakes and avocado toast with bacon & eggs. Good coffee, too. 

Another great breakfast option is Szimply - apparently a very popular place for breakfast for both the locals and tourists. Again, this place doesn't offer too many seats either, but if it's full you can conveniently grab a coffee in the cafe across while you wait for your table.

I LOVED this place for lunch. Great food options (we had the goulash soup & cheese platter) and the interior is truly a feast for your eyes. If you're not hungry, but love interior design as much as I do, definitely just go there for a coffee and enjoy the vibe. The attention to detail is amazing - I couldn't help but snap a few photos straight away... so much inspiration. 

Coffee Stand Gutenberg
Almost quite literally a whole in the wall: at Gutenberg you can order a lovely cup of coffee (and a treat) through a little window. The perfect quick pit stop to get your caffeine fix to-go while exploring Budapest.

New York Cafe
Probably one of the most mentioned spots in any of the Budapest city guides I came across - and yes, we paid it a visit. It reminded me a bit of Hotel Sacher in Vienna, with tourists lining up, camera in hand. The cafe truly is stunning and worth a visit, but just enjoy a coffee or milkshake here before you move on to another place. We had lunch here and, although pretty tasty, 50 euros for 2 people was a bit of a money grab. 

VakVarju etterem
Found by accident... and so happy we did! We initially walked by, writing it off as "super touristy", but then ended up for lunch here anyway. The food was really, really good and thankfully we came hungry, so we ordered a few different things. My absolute favourite were the dumplings combined with sauerkraut and pickled onions... still dreaming about those. Can recommend the soups, beef tartare and aubergine dip as well. 

M. etterem
A very lucky find, as we accidentally sat down in this restaurant thinking it was another one. A cozy, warm atmosphere, friendly staff, great food and, surprisingly, really good prices. This restaurant checks all the right boxes and makes me wish I could find something similar in Berlin. I recommend making a reservation, especially if you're with a group, but if you end up there spontaneously at a busy time, just head next door for a glass of wine while you wait. The staff will come pick you up once your table is ready. (I wonder whether this is a Budapest thing - I think it's an amazing approach!)

Cool spot with lots of plants and dishes from the Middle East, Mediterranean and the Caucasus. Come hungry and order a mix of the cold and hot mezze to share. We paired it with a couple of beers and it made for a delicious evening. I'd recommend making a reservation ahead of time, as this is a popular spot with the locals as well.

Kadarka Bar
This wine bar is the perfect place to continue the evening after your dinner. It has just the right atmosphere for good conversations over a glass of wine (or a bottle, in our case) and knowledgeable, friendly staff. We discovered the most delicious Hungarian wine here - if you're a lover of red as well, then make sure to order the Toth Ferenc Egri Bikaver Superior 2013. Not that I am a wine connoisseur by any means, but I think the experts will agree with me that this one's amazing. We made it a point to visit Kadarka a second time before our departure and I can highly recommend it for both couples and groups.

Another wine bar, focused on Hungarian wines, that we sadly did not get to hang out at (fully booked), but I think you should definitely give it a try when you're in town.

For the fellow fashion lovers! Nanushka is one of THE European brands that is enjoying lots of momentum at the moment and it's not hard to see why. I have been following the brand via Instagram for a while now, so it was high time for a little "touch & see" tour through their brick-and-mortar in the heart of Budapest. Needless to say the entire store was on point: fantastic interior design and beautiful fashion, tied together with a cute cafe in the corner. Even if you're not looking to shop, it's worth a visit for just browsing. 

Another Budapest label with a beautiful showroom space that should definitely be visited during your little shopping tour. AERON's collections are characterized by quality and effortless elegance - wrapped in some very beautiful "packaging" (one of each, please!). Chances are that if you like the fashion here on NOA NOIR, you're going to enjoy visiting this showroom.

Other spots that I had on my list, but did not have a chance to visit (one can only eat & drink so much...):

Gerbeaud (cake)
Muzeum Kavehaz (old style)
Kiosk (lazy lunch)
Terminal (location and traditional food)
Borbirosag (modern Hungarian)
Menza (retro)
Central Kavehaz (coffee & cake)
Hungarikum Bistro (!!! highly recommended, but make sure to reserve!)
Zona (from the same owners as Liberte)

Szimpla Kert (THE ruin bar)
Boutiq bar (cocktails)
Black Swan
Mazel Tov (also for food)

Important notes for your visit:

* At many places the tip is already included! We only found that out halfway through our trip - which made us finally understand the "oh wow you're so generous!" comment from a waiter... Look for "Service" on the bill.

* We took a taxi from the airport to the city center, which cost about 25 euros. They're very organized at the airport and made the last leg of the trip quick & easy.

* Everyone seems to be very proud of the Hungarian wines - and it makes sense, because they're great. Especially any Bikaver (aka "Bull's Blood") wine. 

* Speaking of drinking - again - try some Palinka while you're at it. It's "pretty strong" (understatement; 40-60% alcohol), but nice to have as a digestive after your dinner.

* Be picky with those baths that the city is known for. I have heard many mixed reviews, mostly on the more negative side. One of the reasons why I didn't visit one. 

Have any of you already visited Budapest? Would love to hear what your experiences & favourite spots are!