It's worth walking across the Chain Bridge (which won't actually take as long as you think) before making your way up to Buda Castle at the top of the hill. Prior to entering the Castle, make sure you stop to get the sweeping panorama shot of the Danube and all of the Pest side of the city across the water. I probably wouldn't pay a tourist premium price to ride for about 30 seconds on the Wes Anderson box chairlifts to the top of the hill a second time, but I'm saying this because I've forgotten what it feels like to be walking around a city in 35C heat.
The main building of Buda Castle houses an art gallery and is surrounded by gardens, with high narrow walkways that you can walk on, and small pockets of hidden corners and staircases that lead you to walled gardens and other parts of a big complex.
Take some time to explore the grounds and make sure you take the 'long way' down to the bottom of the hill by walking through the castle grounds. There are a series of really modern elevators on your way down that are, ironically, right next to these stairs that lead to underground passageways that seem to have been built into the hill.
You might as well go to the Citadella too, especially as it's the next stop on most Hop On, Hop Off bus tours - more on that in my next post.
Billed as the 'most beautiful cafe in Budapest', New York Cafe is its own stop on the tourist bus map, where waiters are dressed to the nines, the food prices will make your wallet a little teary, and where you can sit and stare at a pillar for ages just trying to absorb all the detail of the Baroque furnishings and ceilings. It's not a place that is particularly friendly towards photographers trying to capture every corner of its ceiling because you feel rather rude for getting up and leaving your (red velvet) seat, but I am slowly training myself to not have shame when it comes to photography, to be honest.
Personally, if I could do it again, I'd either go all out and stay in the adjacent luxury hotel complete with hat box*, do a photoshoot, or at least dress up for the occasion. That being said, there were people in casual clothes eating there too, so you're not entirely out of place as a tourist.
As a place, I think it's good for the Instagram photo or a special occasion. The food is quite lovely and well done, albeit expensive for its price point. If you're just looking for the novelty of being there, I would probably just pay to have some dessert because there really isn't much to do other than sit, converse and ogle. That being said, I did really enjoy my Strawberry Champagne Ice Cream Cup - it hit the spot for summer, even if I had to pay 8 euros for it.
*because you know you're in the 0.001% when you need a bloody hat box.
Worth it. I say this as a neurotic travel planner and hater of organised tours, it's an enormous relief to be able to just write 'food tour' and know that you won't need to think about lunch and dinner for a day, but know that you'll be eating good food and be in good company, with a local to help you find the best places to go and see. Can't recommend it enough when travelling to a new place.
My favourite was Taste Hungary - just a superbly organised tour.[/full_width]