Budapest is one of Europe’s most beautiful cities and is ideal for those who want to relax at high-class spas, enjoy the Hungarian cuisine, shop and live luxuriously without having to spend a fortune.
Budapest is a city that is very close to my heart, partly because I have family, friends and a part of my life span as I was residing there in Hungary. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from Hungary’s largest city when we got a chance to live there for a longer while for work.
In this travel guide, I share my best advice during my entire stay at Budapest.
What You’ll Find In This Budapest Travel Guide:
- How Much Budget To Visit Budapest
- How Long To Visit Budapest
- The Good And Not-So-Good Things About Budapest
- Budapest’s Must-See Sights and Attractions
- Budapest Nightlife
- Public Transportation
- And More
How Much To Budget For Visiting Budapest
- Budapest is a very economically fair destination for budget traveler
- We recommend budgeting €17-40/day if you’re on a backpacker’s budget — you can easily spend more and you might be able to spend less, but this is a good range for planning purposes.
How Long To Visit Budapest: 3-5 Days
Want to hit the highlights? We recommend a minimum of three days. Don’t want to feel rushed? Try to stretch your travel plans: four or five days. Although I had plenty of good times in Budapest and neighbourhood ,nearby cities and specially my favourite lake Balaton for every weekend as I was living there for couple of months.
The Good And Not-So-Good Things About Budapest:
- Castle Hill and Architecture. You’ll love walking the streets while you’re admiring Budapest’s Art Noveau and other style buildings.
- Danube River. The banks of the Danube are amazing, so it’s a joy to take a stroll along the Danube (especially at night when everything is lit up).
- The Thermal Baths. Budapest is world famous for their thermal baths and they’ve been attracting visitors since the Roman times. They’re still a popular buy for both tourists and locals alike.
- Nightlife. Budapest Loves parties. It’s a party city- especially for the unique Ruin Bars
- The Language Ain’t Easy. Hungarian is a tough language and while the alphabet looks similar to English, the letters are pronounced much differently
- Crooked Taxi Drivers. Always use certified taxis and insist they use the meter.
- Scams and Pickpockets. There are a couple of common scams popular in Budapest. And of course, there are the usual pickpockets that you have to take care of.
Budapest’s Must-See Sights And Attractions
- Danube Promenade
The banks of the Danube river are amazing and gives you a serene walk, so you should spend some time visiting the Danube Promenade. It’s also a great place to see many of Budapest’s best sights. Don’t miss the opportunity to Sail the Danube.
2. Castle Hill
Rested above the city, Castle Hill is a must-visit neighborhood of Budapest. Some of the buildings date back to 14th and 15th centuries. Set aside a day to discover its winding cobble stone streets. The area also hosts many of Budapest’s top attractions like Trinity Square, Matthias Church (Mátyás templom), Fishermen’s Bastion (Halászbástya), and Buda Castle.
3. Buda Castle Hill Funicular
This funicular, which first opened in 1870, is the second oldest funicular of it type in the world. A system of weights and counterweights is used to help to raise the carriages up and down the hill.The funicular is the swift and rapid way to get to the top of Castle Hill, and is exceedingly popular because of its panoramic views out across the Danube.
4. Great Market Hall
This massive indoor market is a huge hub for fruits, vegetables, prepared foods, and random souvenirs. The prices are a lot higher than what you’d find over on the Buda side of the city. However, it’s a nice place to go for rush bites and to look at the architecture of the hall.
5. House of Terror
The House of Terror is a museum which reflects Budapest’s time under Nazi and communist rule — specially it focuses of the secret police of both parties. It’s housed in the secret police’s former headquarters. It’s a very interesting museum and it’s one of the cities most visited attractions.
6. Hungarian Parliament
This iconic building is the largest building in Hungary and it’s the third largest parliament in the world. It’s a treat to admire from the outside but you can also admire the inside by taking one of the daily tours (in English) for around €12.42.
7. City Park
City Park is kinda picnic spot where people of Budapest go to escape the city. In this huge spread park, you’ll also find a zoo and a replica Transylvanian Vajdahunyad Castle. It’s a fun place to explore with family and kids
8. Heroes’ Square
The largest square in Hungary. It also designates the mark of the entrance of City Park so you’re sure to come across this monument.
9. Saint Stephen’s Basilica (St. István’s Basilica)
Saint Stephen’s Basilica is the largest church in Budapest and it also contains St. Stephen’s mummified right hand. The more impressive thing about this church: are the views from the top of the church as it also offers the highest 360-degree views of the city.
10. Margaret Island
This elongated strectch of 2.5km island in the middle of the Danube is a nice landscaped park and it’s a popular recreation spot.
11. Ecseri Flea Market
This is one of the biggest flea markets in Central Europe and it sells just about everything you can imagine. It’s a best place to pick up a unique souvenir for way back home. It is about 40 minutes outside the city but it is easily accessible via public transportation.
12. Shoes On The Danube
I was touched with a very moving memorial while walking along the Danube promenade. The shoes on the Danube banks tell the war story of the many jews who, during 1944-1945, were forced to strip naked on the banks of the Danube and face the river. A firing squad then shot the prisoners in the back so that they fell into the river to be washed away.
The shoes are a tribute to all those who lost their lives, but also a sad reminder of a very dark time.
13. Thermal Baths
Budapest is known for its natural thermal pool baths — in fact, even the Romans enjoyed the city’s thermal baths. Some say the thermal springs which fill these baths have healing powers. They are relaxing for sure — which is why you’ll find people of all ages enjoying these warm waters.
Budapest has a handful of different thermal bathhouses — some are barebones and others are quite opulent. Most all have multiple small pools, each with different temperature water (some can be quite hot so be careful).
The two most famous thermal baths in budapest are SZÉCHENYI SPA are GELLÉRT SPA.
Széchenyi, is probably the most popular and it’s a beautiful neo-baroque bath complex that consists of 11 medicinal pools and eight swimming pools. It’s also one of the largest spas in Europe. A ticket (including a cabin or locker) will cost around €13-€17.
Gellért is another popular option. Built in 1918, this opulent thermal bath complex features four thermal-medicinal pools, six other indoor pools, and two outdoor pools. Expect to pay around €17 for entrance and a cabin or locker rental.
Budapest Nightlife and Drinking
Budapest has that great combination of being a large youthful city that also has plenty of cheap alcohol-one of its famous and to be tried is Palinka and lots of large, cheap buildings — which is why this is one of the best cities to enjoy nightlife
Budapest is most famous for its Ruin Pubs. which are exactly what they sound like — pubs built in abandoned/ruined buildings. after WWII many of buildings in the neighborhood were destroyed. Years later people moved into (i.e. squatted) these buildings and turned them into secret underground pubs and bars. Many of these bars still exist and they each have their own vibe. The three main ruin pubs are Szimpla Kert, Instant and Fogas Ház
Traveling Around Budapest
Budapest has a good network of transportation via trams, buses, and subways. They’re all affordable but be sure you always validate your ticket because they do check tickets often (you don’t want to get fined —which is €27-€53).
Download the Smart City Public Transportation app for your smartphone as it gives you offline maps/routes for all the public trans in Budapest.
Single Ticket: 350 HUF (€1.15)
Book of 10 Single Tickets: 3,000 HUF (€10)
Unlimited Day Pass: 1,650 HUF (€5.45)
Train Ticket Between Airport and City: 400 HUF (€1.33)
And More ….!!! 🙂
So, would you visit Budapest? It’s cheap and hip, let’s go, let’s go!
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