Top 10 Things for Expats to Do in Budapest

Lights at night in Budapest

Budapest has become a tax and transfer pricing expat hotspot in the past few years. Besides the tax job opportunities, low cost of living and low-income tax, what attracts ambitious tax expats to live in Budapest? Kingpin International has put together our top 10 reasons for the ultimate adventure for VAT professionals on their day off.

1. Hungarian Parliament building

A striking building that stands tall during the day, contrasting the Danube’s azure hues and is lit up by a gentle golden glow at night, the Hungarian Parliament is one of the country’s largest buildings and Budapest’s most iconic monument that features on almost all postcards.

It is the third-largest assembly building in the world behind the Parliament of Romania and the National Congress of Argentina. You can take a guided tour of this Gothic Revival style building and visit the spectacular main staircase, the Hungarian Coronation Jewels in the Dome Hall, the Old Upper House Hall of the bicameral Hungarian Parliament, as well as the lounge.

2. Unwind in the thermal baths 

Budapest Gellert Baths attraction

When in Budapest, tax and VAT professionals should visit the baths. Known as the “City of Baths,” Budapest boasts an impressive selection of thermal baths that are naturally fed by 120 hot springs. They include a neo-Baroque palace, a rooftop pool and an art nouveau landmark.

Why not try out the grandest spa of all, Gellert Baths. This art nouveau complex is host to indoor and outdoor baths, saunas, an outdoor wave pool and a stunning terrace. Rudas Baths are a Turkish-style bathing complex offering a central octagonal pool and a modern rooftop bath overlooking the Danube. And last but not least is Budapest’s most popular and largest thermal bath complex, Széchenyi. Located in a neo-Baroque palace, there are 15 indoor pools and 3 outdoor pools. You’ll also find saunas, steam rooms, whirlpools and much more. It even hosts a “spartie” (spa party) on a Saturday night and features DJs and laser shows.

3. Danube Promenade

Budapest danube shoes at the promenade

An attractive esplanade, the Danube Promenade is a popular spot among locals and expats for a leisurely stroll. Take a walk along the Danube river and enjoy the numerous upscale restaurants, cafes, bars and luxury hotels as well as spectacular views of Buda Castle, the Citadel, Gellért Hill and a few of the city’s famous bridges. The promenade is also host to the poignant Jewish memorial ‘Shoes on the Danube Bank.’

Why not enjoy a candlelit dinner on the Danube during sunset or a magical cruise down the river at night to be memorised by the enchanting and beautifully lit buildings and UNESCO World Heritage sites?

4. Buda Castle

Budapest castle at night

Another unmissable popular location is the world heritage site of the Buda Castle District. One of the most beautiful and romantic parts of the city, it boasts a royal palace, castle and a historical old town which transports you back in time to a tranquil world and from which you can enjoy stunning panoramic views of Budapest including the popular Chain Bridge and the Hungarian Parliament. You can take the Buda Castle Hill Funicular uphill, the second oldest funicular of its kind in the world, or climb the hill for 10 minutes.

Buda Castle also hosts some of Budapest’s best festivals all year round such as the Easter Festival, Wine Festival, Palinka Festival and many more. There is almost a festival for each month of the year, the ideal opportunity for tax expats to immerse in Budapest culture!

5. Fisherman’s Bastion

Budapest Fisherman's bastion attraction

Experience the fairy-tale surroundings of the historical Fisherman’s Bastion (Halászbástya), a neo-Gothic and neo-Romanesque style terrace. Built in the 19th Century to serve as a lookout tower, this panoramic viewing platform provides spectacular views of the Danube, Margaret Island and Pest. A must-see for new expats exploring the city.

6. Shop ‘til you drop!

From shopping malls to markets, there is plenty of choices when it comes to shopping in the Hungarian capital. The city boasts busy shopping streets such as Váci Street in Pest’s central area and Andrássy Avenue which offers lots of high-end shops for luxurious buys and designer brands. Perhaps the most famous shopping area of Budapest is within the Great Market Hall. This is more than a market in that it is a spectacle to walk around and take in the atmosphere. The market is also a great way to sample some of the fantastic Hungarian produce and wines.

7. Soak up the cool vibe in the ruin bars

Budapest szimpla ruin and rooftop bars

With numerous ruin pubs, rooftop bars, spa parties, clubs and boat parties, Budapest caters to all tastes and inclinations. At the heart of Budapest’s nightlife is its iconic ruin bars, ideal for tax expats who are seeking a place to relax after a week of work. Located in District VII (the old Jewish quarter), these ruin bars are abandoned buildings or warehouses that have been transformed into hip, artsy bars and courtyards bustling with crowds enjoying the laid-back vibe. Fogasház  and Szimpla Kertare two of the most popular.

8. Let your hair down at Sziget Festival

Budapest Sziget Festival

Based on Obuda island, Budapest welcomes thousands from around the globe, including tax professionals, each year to its colourful music and cultural extravaganza. With a range of music artists as well as circus, theatre, museum quarter and much more, Sziget is more than just a festival and sees its Szitizens return to the “Island of Freedom” year after year. A truly wonderful experience.

9. Margaret Island

Escape the city and enjoy the serenity that Margaret Island has to offer. With no traffic allowed except from one bus line, stunning rose gardens, a pool, an outdoor summer thermal spa and musical fountains, it’s the perfect peaceful hideaway for hardworking tax expats to unwind.

10. Wine and dine

Boasting cuisines from all parts of the world, Budapest will certainly have you spoiled for choice! The city is known for its rich cuisine therefore it is recommended that you head out and give it a try. With an impressive variety of fine dining restaurants such as Michelin star restaurants Onyx and Costesas well more hearty and reasonably priced eateries, there is something for every occasion. You can sample traditional Hungarian dishes such as goulash with many restaurants and cafes serving up the local favourites.

For a quintessential Hungarian wine experience, sample some of the country’s best wines in the many authentic and vibrant wine bars throughout the city.

Keen to learn more about what Budapest has to offer for ambitious tax expats? Read our articles below to discover more about Budapest.
Living and working in Budapest as a Tax Specialist
6 reasons why expats are relocating to Budapest
Adding Budapest to your tax career portfolio

If you are interested in a move to Budapest or anywhere else in the world and would like to speak to Kingpin International about International Tax Opportunities, please contact a member of the team. Alternatively, please browse our current International Tax vacancies.