I would use this to get around: The tram. Yellow trains colour the city and can get you anywhere for about $1 CDN. It’s a fairly walkable city, but getting from one side to the other is a bit of a hike. Plus, I think there’s a sneaky kind of fun in figuring out a city’s public transit system and then trying to act like a local on your way to something ordinary.
I would stay here: Anywhere on the river with a view of the water, at least for one night. It will cost more, for sure, and if you check-in during the day you’ll be wondering what all the fuss is about. But be patient. Once the sun goes down and the lights go up, you’ll get it.
I would eat here: Budapest Public Market. The bottom floor is full of fresh fruits & veggies for snacking on the go. The top floor is full of souvenirs and trinkets for the most part, but there are food vendors that sell hot, messy delights like goulash and langós, a Hungarian pizza with fried dough and a variety of toppings.
I would drink here: Szimpla, near the old synagogue between Rakoczi and Andrassy. It’s large, especially by European standards, with lots of little alcoves and outdoor space. With bars in every nook and cranny, this place is guaranteed to keep your whistle whet.
I would do this: Take a load off at one of the public baths leftover from 150 years of Turkish rule in the 16th – 17th Centuries. The Gellert and the Szechenyi are two of the more popular hot spots owing to their size and pristine beauty so I recommend getting there early as they tend to fill up pretty quickly during high seasons and on weekends.
I wouldn’t do this: Go to Budapest in the winter. So much of what I loved about this city had to do with its outdoor spaces. On the other hand, summer gets hot and people-y, so if I were you I’d do my best to get there in spring or fall.