Joe and I went to Budapest for the first time in September of this year and absolutely loved it. All I really knew about it was that it was an awesome place to go in your 20s and that it is known as the "Paris of the east." I didn't have many expectations. If you've been to Prague, you know how great the exchange rate is for Americans. Budapest is the same. You can live like a king or queen for nearly pennies compared to what you'd pay for the same trip in London, Paris, Stockholm, etc. which are much more expensive. Check out my list of recommendations of what to do and where to go at the very end of the article.
Download this city guide (with GPS maps) on your smartphone here to have it handy for your trip!
Budapest blew what little expectations I did have out of the water. It was breathtakingly gorgeous and the architecture was extremely unique. Everywhere you looked you'd see an even prettier building. Everything seemed so regal and looked like a castle. I went to Budapest with no expectations and left with a new favorite city.
Surprisingly to many, Budapest is composed of two completely separate districts: Buda and Pest, which are bisected by the beautiful Danube River and some really cool, historic bridges. The Chain Bridge and the Liberty Bridge are most notable in my opinion. It's technically one city, but with two very different personalities.
Buda, which sits on the west side of the river, has better views with big hills looking over Pest. It's an area owned by a lot of old money. The panoramic view from Fisherman's Baston and the Buda Castle are unbelievable. It's a much more suburbian and quiet area. There are lots of cute little cafe's scattered around, but for 20-somethings, I'd definitely recommend staying in Pest.
Pest sits on the east side of the Danube River and feels like a big city; it's much more bustling and lively! There are lots of young people walking the streets or riding bicylces in the bike lanes. It's a very bike friendly town and you can bike nearly everywhere, which is what Joe and I did. Even across the bridge to Buda! It's definitely the best way to get around. In Pest, you'll find really cool buildings and hotels, trendy restaurants and ruin bars, and lively nightlife. This city has such a lively and unique vibe that simply can't be explained, but I absolutely fell in love with it. The whole scene in Pest is very hipster and underground.