Where to Stay in Budapest: Buda or Pest?

The grey-green waters of the mighty River Danube dissect Budapest into two distinct districts: Buda and Pest. But is it better to stay in Buda or Pest?

In the interests of research, I stayed on both sides of the river during my most recent visit to Hungary’s capital and I am excited to share my first-hand experiences.

In a nutshell, pick Pest if you want to be in the thick of things; Buda offers a more tranquil stay. Both sides of the river offer easy access to the city’s top attractions but the city is more walkable from Pest.

I have my favourite side of Budapest (psst! … it’s Buda) but what is right for me may not be the best choice for you. Get the lowdown on where to stay in Budapest in this guide where I weigh up the pros and cons of Buda vs Pest.

panoramic view of budapest showing the buda and pest districts of the city

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Buda and Pest: The Two Sides of Budapest

In 1873, Buda and Pest were united with a smaller third city, Óbuda, to form Budapest.

Buda, its Old Town, is on the river’s west bank. Pest is to the east and is the city’s vibrant 19th-century commercial centre with the landmark State Parliament building and wide boulevards.

Staying in Buda vs Pest in a Nutshell

– Close to Budapest’s historic heart
– Fabulous city views
– Tranquil and residential
– Close to many of Budapest’s tourist attractions
– In the heart of the city’s nightlife
– Wide choice of restaurants and bars
Where to stay
Park Plaza Hotel
Monastery Boutique Hotel
Boutique Hotel Victoria
Where to stay
TG Hotel Suites Budapest
Dorothea Hotel
Asbóth Taylor Apartment

Staying in Buda

statues of st stephen on a horse in front of the matthias church in budapest

It’s on the doorstep of Castle Hill

This district is Budapest’s historic heart and home to the Fishermen’s Bastion, Buda Castle and Matthias Church, one of my favourite churches in Europe. As the location of some of Budapest’s best museums, including the Budapest History Museum and Hungarian National Gallery, it’s perfect for culture vultures.

This is also the right side of town for soaking in the thermal waters of the famous Géllert Baths.

sculpture of a lion's head overlooking a gilded altar in a church
Inside the wonderful Matthias Church

You’ll be treated to some of the best views of Budapest

This is where you come for panoramic views of Budapest, including those iconic shots from Géllert Hill and Fishermen’s Bastion. And you don’t have to climb up Castle Hill for unforgettable views; just walking along the riverbank will do the trick.

view of the river danube and parliament building in budapest seen through arch of fishermens bastion
View from Fishermen’s Bastion

It’s a quiet and largely residential district

I loved the tranquil and non-touristy feel of Buda after the museums and churches of Castle Hill shut their doors for the night. That said, you shouldn’t struggle to find somewhere to eat within walking distance of your hotel.

  • A broad choice of accommodation – there are fewer hotels and apartments and you’re likely to pay more to stay on this side of the river
  • To be close to lots of restaurants and bars

Park Plaza Hotel

I would stay at this Radisson hotel again purely for the unforgettable view of the river and Parliament Building from my bedroom window. As well as its great location, my room was spacious and the staff were super friendly.

hotel bedroom with 2 beds 2 chairs and a small table and red carpet
bar area of park plaza hotel in budapest with curved sofa and tables and chairs


Monastery Boutique Hotel

Other travellers have highly rated this gorgeous 4-star hotel. Like the Park Plaza Hotel, it’s in a superb location, one block from the river.


Boutique Hotel Victoria

This hotel is another fabulous choice and sits at the foot of Buda Castle. Rooms have those river views to die for.


Staying in Pest

stone sculpture of a pensive angel seen during two days in budapest

To be close to many of Budapest’s tourist attractions

As lovely and as popular as the Castle District is, many of Budapest’s tourist attractions are on the Pest side of the city. These attractions include St. Stephen’s Basilica, the unmissable Dohány Street Synagogue, the Hungarian Parliament Building and many more.

Shopaholics won’t be disappointed either. Pest is the location of the UNESCO-listed Andrassy Utca, the city’s prime shopping location.

red brick exterior of dohany street synagogue with two clock towers
Budapest Great Synagogue

Most places should be walkable

As many of Budapest’s star attractions are concentrated in a small area of Pest, you should be able to see most of the city on foot. For more far-flung places, Budapest’s user-friendly public transport system is easy to use.

It’s in the heart of the city’s nightlife

Stay in Pest if you want to experience Budapest’s legendary nightlife. This includes the city’s famous ruin bars in the Jewish Quarter.

bottles of wine and beer on a shelf below a sign saying wine bar
One of Budapest’s (in)famous ruin bars

Wide choice of restaurants

In keeping with Pest’s lively and cosmopolitan vibe, there are more restaurants than you can shake a stick at.

  • A tranquil environment – Pest is busy 24/7
  • A good night’s sleep – staying in the heart of the action comes at a cost for those who are not night owls. Even with the windows shut, you may struggle to block the noise of revellers and traffic.


TG Hotel Suites Budapest

I stayed in this large and stylish apartment. It was a stone’s throw from St. Stephen’s Basilica, on the doorstep of several restaurants and cafes.

room in hotel with bed, sofa and small table with 2 chairs
bathroom of hotel room with large shower toilet and white basin


Dorothea Hotel, Budapest, Autograph Collection

This 5-star hotel, close to the Hungarian National Museum and Parliament Building, has attracted stellar reviews. It offers a range of elegant rooms and suites and offers a hammam.


Asbóth Taylor Apartment

If you are looking for self-catering accommodation close to Budapest’s Jewish Quarter and ruins bars, one of these apartments could be for you. They are huge and have well-equipped kitchens with a washing machine and dryer.


Is It Better to Stay in Buda or Pest?

In choosing where to stay in Budapest, it is horses for courses.

As a midlife solo traveller, I value safety and a decent night’s sleep over bar crawling. I preferred staying in Buda for these reasons.

As a more residential area, Buda felt safer at night and my riverside neighbourhood was calm and pretty.

I had the misfortune of staying in Pest at the weekend when the city is at its liveliest (think Stag Party Central). Raucous behaviour on the streets outside my window continued until 5 am.

But if I asked my 25-year-old self if she wanted to stay in Buda or Pest, she would have plumped for Pest. She would have been one of those late-night revellers.

the hungarian parliament building on the banks of the river danube illuminated at night

Thank you for reading about where to stay in Budapest

I hope this helps you decide if Buda or Pest is right for you. Whichever side of the Danube you choose, have a fabulous time in this beautiful city.

I last visited Budapest as a solo traveller on an Interrail trip through Central and Eastern Europe. If you have found this review useful and need help with planning where to go next, take a look at my other articles:

AUSTRIA: Discover where Mozart lived and worked in Salzburg and plan a Christmas vacation in Vienna. Have the best day in Feldkirch, one of Austria’s hidden gems, and take a day trip to Liechtenstein, exploring Vaduz.

CZECHIA (CZECH REPUBLIC): Be inspired by my Brno itineraries and take a day trip to the South Moravia vineyards.

SLOVAKIA: Find out how to spend a day in Bratislava and why you should visit Slovakia’s capital. Discover what to do in Košice, and spend one day in Bardejov, a UNESCO gem.

Happy travels!

bridget coleman the flashpacker 2

About Bridget

Bridget Coleman has been a passionate traveller for more than 30 years. She has visited 70+ countries, most as a solo traveller.

Articles on this site reflect her first-hand experiences.

To get in touch, email her at hello@theflashpacker.net or follow her on social media.

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