Buda and Pest were two cities lying on either side of the Danube river. It makes sense that they joined into one city in 1873 to make Budapest.
Buda is gorgeous. It's quiet, clean, and home to the wealthy. There are many historical buildings on peaceful streets and a lovely woodsy park with walking paths. This side of the river is hilly and green, home to Castle Hill, and some of the best scenery.
Pest is known as "the real downtown" by the locals. It was developed more recently than Buda, in the 19th and 20th century. It's where everything happens, including the famous underground pub scene. We didn't know about these underground pubs until the day we were leaving the city, so we didn't get a chance to check one out! (It always pays to take a walking tour at the beginning of your stay in a city, not when you're ready to leave. We took two walking tours while in Budapest, and the second one with Free Budapest Walking Tours was much better and so incredibly informational and fun.)
The Hapsburgs, the royal family from Vienna who controlled Austria-Hungary, funded much of the development in Budapest. The building of the famous Saint Stephen's Basilica was funded by the Hapsburgs. The Queen also had a royal palace built on the river in Budapest for her holidays away from Vienna, though she rarely ever spent time here. I think Budapest has such a lovely European feel because of the royal family's influence. It was so nice to learn about the intertwined history of Austria and Hungary back to back since we were just in Vienna.
We stayed on the Pest side (in the Jewish Quarter), but after checking out the city, I would have rather stayed in Buda, where it's more quiet, charming, and beautiful. There are buses, trains, a subway system, and too many bridges over the river, so getting to things on either side is a cinch. This was one of my absolute favorite cities, so I have no doubt that we'll be back for a stay in Buda.
The view from our kitchen window.
Having an apartment with a kitchen is only about 10x better than staying in a hotel. We loved making breakfast together every morning.
We wandered into a quiet courtyard (in Buda) and fell in love with the charming entries and fixtures.
If you rub this man's belly, you will either have a good meal tonight or... get fat. Must take a chance. I love that every statue around Budapest has a story and also a specific place to rub for good luck and wishes.
We were so glad that we bought these boots in Vienna. They served us well in cold and snow. [But now we have to drag them around in the bottom of our suitcases while we wear flipflops in Asia.]