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A guide to Budapet's districts

Anyone who has visited Budapest should know that the city is split in two by the River Danube. Buda is the older, historic and more regal side, while Pest is its younger, noisier sibling bustling with life and culture. The first thing when deciding which part of the city you would like to live in is to choose between the two.

A guide to Budapet´s districts

WHAT ARE THE BEST DISTRICTS WITHIN BUDA? 

Buda (the red parts on the map)

Buda, home to the historic and regal Buda Castle, the iconic Fisherman's Bastion and Gellert Hill, has a reputation for being the 'posh' part of town. And rightfully so. Set across a series of sprawling hills, Buda offers beautiful panoramas of the city. Covered in lots of green parks, woods and other vast outdoor expanses. The area is ideal for those who love the outdoors –  the most popular outdoor place is Normafa and Széchenyi Hill, where you can go on shorter hikes, runs or just outdoor barbecues with friends and family. 

Besides fresh air, Buda has an excellent infrastructure and public transport - although in most Buda neighborhoods, people prefer to have a car to get around. You will find high-end shopping centres and basically all of the international schools are located on this side of the Danube.  

Because of this, and as Buda’s residential nature is particularly ideal for families with (younger) children. 

II, XII, ARE THE MOST POPULAR AMONG EXPATS, BUT SOME WELL-LOCATED AREAS OF DISTRICTS XI AND III CAN ALSO WORK WELL – IT MOSTLY DEPENDS ON WHAT YOUR OFFICE-SCHOOL-HOME ROUTES WILL LOOK LIKE. 

 

DISTRICT 1 -THE CASTLE DISTRICT 

District 1 is a historic neighbourhood. Filled with winding roads and cobbled streets, it is brimming with romantic charm. The Castle District is the heart of the old Buda town, and is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Best accessible on foot or by bike, the whole Castle area is quite touristic, as it is home to many of the city's most famous cultural sites and festivals. Parking spots in the Castle are considerably restricted, but there are areas of District 1 where it’s easier to park your car. Still, District 1 is mostly ideal for young professionals or couples. 

Transportation in District 1 is well-connected, providing convenient access to various parts of Budapest. The district is served by buses, trams, and the Buda Castle Funicular, offering efficient links to the city's public transportation network.

 

DISTRICT 2 AND 2/A

District 2 might be a more appropriate choice if you are seeking a property as a family. Sandwiched between Districts 1 and 3, the area covers a total of over 36 km sq. So large, you can opt for a property closer to the hustle and bustle of the city, or something more green and remote. The recently redeveloped area around Szell Kalman Ter, offers excellent transport links. There you will also find plenty of bars and restaurants and all the necessary shops one might need. The area is also home to three Turkish baths: Veli Bej and Lukács.

Venturing a little bit further out there is an area of the 2nd district of Budapest, which is a charming residential area known for its leafy streets, elegant villas, and green spaces. The area called Pasarét, is situated at the foot of the Buda Hills. The neighbourhood offers a tranquil atmosphere away from the bustling city center while still providing convenient access to amenities. It is characterized by a mix of architectural styles, from traditional Hungarian villas to modern residences, making it an appealing and diverse neighborhood for those seeking a peaceful yet well-connected living environment in Budapest. Tucked away in the heart of Pasarét, situated in a Bauhaus building making its way into everyone’s consciousness and changing the face of its community with it’s cosy interior and inventive bistro cuisine is Pasarét Bistro which is one of our personal favourit spots for a lunch in the area.


If you'd like you can venture into district two's outer area and Buda's suburbs. District 2A covers the areas known as Hűvösvölgy, Remetekertváros, Máriaremete, Budaliget, Széphalom and Pesthidegkút – this is where you’ll find the French International School and these are closest areas to Nagykovácsi, home of the American International School. For younger children, there are also plenty of nurseries from which to choose. 

Being more residential, the properties on offer here are larger, and mostly detached family houses – this is the real suburban deal.  Ideal for larger families and if you prefer a large garden, but prepare for driving 30+ minutes for a coffee with friends in more central Buda. 
 

DISTRICT 3 – ÓBUDA

The largest and equally popular Buda district is the 3rd District. Boasting a 10km stretch of the Danube’s riverbank, it is filled with steep slopes and mountains. It is the perfect spot for nature lovers. Characterised by its Roman legacy, there are lots of ruins to explore. The district is also home to lots of restaurants and the trendy Római part: a bohemian riverside spot, it is ideal for a sunny day. 

As for schools, district three is home to the British International School. You will also find several universities. These include the Óbuda and Milton Friedman universities, the International Business School (IBS), and Aquincum Institute of Technology (AIT). 

The area is also home to the Csillaghegyi baths.

Expect some serious traffic and 20+ min of driving to central Buda.
 

DISTRICT 11 

Home to the Gellert Hill, is one Buda's largest districts and the neighborhoods can vary greatly. Over recent years the area around Gellért Hill has been undergoing numerous developments. On Bartók Béla street lots of bars, cafes, and galleries have popped up in the area, offering no shortage of things to do. The popular Gellért Hill is not only a tourist spot, but is a great spot for a jog or walking your dog. 

The schools in District 11 are less international, but if you can stay close to Gellert area, it can be an easy commute to the International schools.

With good transportation links from Móricz Zsigmond Square as well as the Gellert square, you can access the rest of the city with ease. District 11 provides a great balance between outdoor and urban living. 

The best-known of Budapest’s many spas, the Gellért Baths are housed in a magnificent Art Nouveau building between Gellért Hill and Liberty Bridge. Designed before World War I, the spa and adjoining hotel of the same name were not unveiled until 1918, anticipating the so-called Silver Age when Budapest was part of the Grand Tour. It was here that the world’s first wave pool was opened, in 1927, still a major feature of the baths today. Surrounding it are elegant grounds and a terrace to relax and sunbathe. Though attached to the Gellért Hotel, the spa operates separately. 

 

WHAT ABOUT PEST (THE GREEN DISTRICTS ON THE MAP)?

Lying to the east of Buda, the city of Pest is the larger, flatter half of the city, home to the country’s parliament. If you like to be closer to the action, Pest should be your first choice. It’s an ideal location for students, young professionals and generally those who enjoy the hustle and bustle of city life. Popular districts for renting include districts 5, 6,7, 8, 9, and 13. If you would like to know more about District 5, check out our earlier post here, but here’s a short recap, and read on for an overview of the rest.

 

DISTRICT 5 – BELVÁROS AND LIPÓTVÁROS

We love this district because of its architecture, scale, interesting places and its incredible location - everything seems to be only minutes away, even on foot (disclaimer: our office is located here, so we might be biased..). No wonder it is also the favorite of local and foreign investors and expats moving to Budapest alike.  Though the neighborhood is quite small, the district is divided into two parts: Lipótváros (the Central Banking District, CBD)  in the north and Belváros (the Downtown) in the south.

In the center of Lipótváros, you’ll find the iconic Parliament building with its nearby attractions such as Liberty Square with the US Embassy, the beautiful St Stephens Basilica, or the legendary street named Falk Miksa, where many of the city’s best antique stores and art galleries present their merchandize. 

The “Belváros“ part of the District is much more lively, less banks and government buildings and more cafes, restaurants and shopping! 

The district is a good place to rent if you like historic buildings, elegant neighborhoods and you like going out, but prefer that it’s quiet when you actually go home to rest. 

 

DISTRICT 6 - TERÉZVÁROS

The outer edge of the District, with its wide, tree-lined avenues, embassies and many mansions, one can tell district 6 was once home to high-society. But there’s a part where the cafes, restaurants, wineries and breweries abound, closer to the heart of the city: Deak Ferenc Square. Running through the heart of the district is the famous Andrassy Avenue, a UNESCO World Heritage Site often compared to the Champs-Élysées, at the northern end of it you will find Heroes’ Square. The district is also home to the Hungarian State Opera, the Liszt Ferenc Music Academy and plenty of high-end, designer shopping. It is best described as a cultural and entertainment hotspot. 
 

In the more down to earth part of the neighbourhood one will find Oktogon, a hub of coffee shops and eateries. From here you can catch the 4-6 tram to many of the neighbouring, central parts of the city. The city’s nightlife is also right on your doorstep. This makes District 6 ideal for students and young professionals.

 

DISTRICT 7 - ERZSÉBETVÁROS

Home to the city’s old Jewish quarter, there are plenty of trendy spots to hangout both daytime and night-time. Not as polished as it’s neighbour, District 6th, the 7th has a more rough and ready feel. That’s not to say, however, that it is not safe. 
 

A tourist hot spot for sure, you will have to contend with the many ambling visitors on its narrow streets. A thriving district, it is full of eclectic architecture, street art and food vendors. If you're looking to rent here, you will want to be conscious of noise levels. This area is one to avoid if you have young children in tow. Prices in the area will be more competitive than the 5th and 6th; however, apartments will not be as high in quality. 

 

DISTRICT 8 – PALACE DISTRICT

Once home to the mansions of Hungary’s wealthy nobility, Józsefváros, and especially the Palace District (‘Palota Negyed’ in Hungarian), covers an interesting area. Charmingly run-down in some parts, a little rough around the edges in others, the eclectic streets of this part of town are starting to burst with new life and a cool, creative vibe. Once a really rough spot, in more recent years, the neighbourhood has undergone considerable regeneration, and is now a more hipster, vibey area in which you will want to spend some time. It is home to beautiful architecture and a vibrant cafe culture. 
Connected by trams 4-6 and metro line number 2 and 3, plus plenty of other buses, getting around from here is a breeze – it is also very close to Semmelweis Medical University, so it’s a favorite area amongst med students.  

Home to some of Budapest’s finest Baroque streets and boulevards, the surprisingly good Hungarian National Museum, hipster cafes, a lively, local party scene, and perhaps the best hotel in Budapest, this once dilapidated district is seriously underrated by visitors to the city.

Józsefváros feels like it’s kind of our little secret (it’s really not!) a place where we go to escape the stag-do crowds of the 7th, to hang out with locals in the know.

Less popular with tourists than the 5th, 6th and 7th districts, prices are also more affordable. 
 

DISTRICT 9 - FERENCVÁROS

Ferencváros is undoubtedly one of Pest's most up and coming areas. Once a working-class neighbourhood, today it is home to a crowd of young student and professional crowd. This is due in part to a spill over from the increasingly crowded inner districts, and partly because there has been some serious residential development projects (Corvin Quarter). Think newly built apartment blocks with a huge mall, but there are still rundown parts of the neighbourhood you’ll want to avoid. 

Nearby, iconic Raday Street is often referred to as a restaurant street, and it is worthy of the name as it is indeed rich in great spots. For example, there’s Costes, a Michelin-starred restaurant (near the Small Boulevard), then, not far from there, Café Delion, a Hungarian-style gastro pub, and Holló és Róka, the first raclette place in town. The culinary selection of the street also includes authentic Asian pancakesice pops and bubble waffles. Besides all the restaurants and cafés, there is also the Ferencvárosi Helytörténeti Gyűjtemény (History Museum), the Ráday Könyvtár (Library) and Károli Gáspár University’s Faculty of Theology. Since Ráday street is close to the Danube and Kalvin Square, it is a favourable resindetial option for those who prefer historic buildings and more interesting neighborhoods. 

Besides the tourists, the district is full of students, artists and intellectuals. Ferencváros is home to one of the country’s most prestigious universities, Corvinus University. Popular spots in the area include jazz café Jederman, drawing in the musicians. Trafó Performing Arts Theatre and the Budapest Music Center (BMC) are both nearby arts and cultural centres. They hosts regular exhibits, musical and theatre performances. 

District 13 – Újlipótváros


A continuation of District 5’s Lipótváros along the Danube, District 13’s ‘Újlipótváros’ neighbourhood offers residents a different vibe. You will find parts of Marget Island in the district. The 2.5 sq km island is a natural heaven between Buda and Pest, where you can enjoy the peaceful atmosphere, have a walk or a picnic with your partner or with the family.
Margaret Island is a perfect leisure destination for everyone, you can find stunning historical buildings, pet zoo for the children, a spectacular music fountain, and a belvedere with
360-degree panorama at the Water Tower. 
It is an ideal area for outdoor recreation. 

Well connected by trams 2, 4 and 6, the this part of town is home to lots of artists and families and dog lovers. There are plenty of parks, playgrounds, cafés and restaurants from which to choose. When it comes to properties Újlipótváros offers a wide selection and different types to choose from. These include riverside and classic high-rise apartments.


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