33 Budapest Travel Tips: How to Best Visit Hungary’s Capital

  • Post author: Naddya
  • Post category: City Travel
  • Post published: January 27, 2021

The Capital of Festivals .

The Queen of the Danube .

And the Capital of Spas and Thermal Baths all refer to the same gorgeous European city.

Located in the heart of Europe on the banks of the mighty Danube River, Budapest will enchant you with its diversity. The Hungarian capital offers visitors unparalleled experiences you can’t find elsewhere.

The following 33 Budapest travel tips will help you prepare for your visit to this magnificent city.

In the travel guide, you’ll find how to avoid the most common scams, what bars you should visit, and what peculiar customs you must be aware of.

Use the navigation below and explore all of Budapest’s secrets!

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⭐ Top Tours in Budapest ⭐

📍 Budapest Grand Tour – the highlights of Buda and Pest, including the Parliament.

📍 Danube Cruise with Prosecco – unlimited prosecco and Budapest at night.

⭐ Best Accommodations in Budapest ⭐

🏨 Monastery Boutique Hotel Budapest – our top pick near Buda’s main attractions.

🏨 Bohem Art Hotel – this funky, hip hotel has the vibe of an art gallery.

⭐ Easiest Transportation Options in Budapest ⭐

🚍 Budapest Card – enjoy discounts, free travel, and entrances to museums.

🚍 Discover Cars – compare and find the best rates for car rentals.

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Preparation – Things to Do Before You Visit Budapest

Before you visit Budapest , there are a few technicalities you need to know and prepare for . From the visa requirements through the language hacks to the unusual clothing you must pack, carefully read the following Budapest travel tips.

Note : If you want to be able to get ready for a trip within minutes, better yet grab our battle-tested Travel Checklist .

  • Do you need a visa to travel to Budapest? Hungary is a member of the European Union and the Schengen Area. If you travel with a U.S. passport, valid for at least another 6 months, you can explore the country for 90 days max without a visa. Find the whole list of visa requirements on the official website of the European Union .
  • Hungarian is the official language of Hungary. Also known as Magyar, Hungarian is a Uralic language. Approximately 13 million people speak it natively worldwide. In the tourist spots of Budapest, you’ll get along with English. Many of the signs and menus come in multiple languages. However, if you want to impress locals and show respect to their culture, here are several common phrases for you:
  • Is Budapest safe to visit? Be cautious around landmarks and crowds. Pickpockets and bag-snatchers are quite the plague. Other than that, Budapest is a very safe place to travel to. Naddya explored the city on her own and never had any issues during her four-day trip.
  • Never clink beer glasses in Budapest. In 1848, the Hungary Revolution was overthrown by the Habsburgs. To celebrate their victory, Austrians cheered with beer. 173 years later, Hungarians have not forgotten and never clink their beer glasses. While it won’t put you in trouble, it would be advisable to avoid raising your beverage.
  • Pack your best swimsuit. The Hungarian capital was crowned the Capital of Spas and Thermal Baths for an obvious reason. One of the coolest facts about Budapest is that it boasts five huge spa complexes, featuring a total of 47 mineral pools. Visiting a thermal bath is not only a must but also a great way to relax and rejuvenate. The city’s first bath – Szechenyi Bath – opened in 1913. Apart from being the oldest, it is also Budapest’s largest, grandest, and busiest spa.

Weather – When Is the Best Time to Visit Budapest

The moderate climate of Hungary offers four distinctive seasons. In Budapest, it’s often windy due to the city’s location on the banks of the Danube River.

Summers are hot and winters are snowy. You’ll find spring and autumn to be the best time to visit Budapest as they are less rainy than other major European cities.

The Christmas holidays and the summer vacations bring the most visitors. However, you’ll find enough awesome activities in all seasons .

  • Winter Budapest seduces with Christmas markets, outdoor ice-skating rinks, and thermal baths. The city is magical under the snow duvet. Explore the landmarks and the Christmas Markets stalls. Keep yourself warm with hearty foods and steaming-hot drinks. Get your heartbeat pumping with ice skating. Or spend a relaxing day at the spa.
  • In spring, the city awakens for new adventures. You can picnic between the cherry blossom trees in the Füvészkert Botanical Gardens . If you’re an art fan, the Budapest Spring Festival in April is for you. It brings together a diverse range of performances. Tens of venues invite to everything from classical music, opera, and jazz to dance, contemporary circus, and visual arts. And if that’s not enough to seduce you to visit Budapest in spring, how about Hungarian Ice Cream Day ? On May 8, popular parlors provide extraordinary gelato foodgasms at great discounts.
  • In summer, Budapest holds one of the largest festivals in Europe. The Sziget Festival takes place in August. The week-long event is one of the largest musical and cultural gatherings on the Old Continent. The 266-acre Óbudai-sziget (Old Buda Island) in the Danube River hosts 1,000+ performances. If the music fans aren’t your crowd, you can relax on one of the three public beaches. Palatinus Beach, Római Beach, and Csillaghegy Bath welcome visitors from May to September.
  • Fall is the most photogenic season in Budapest. When autumn arrives, the countless parks and gardens in the Hungarian capital change their crowns to uncountable shades of gold, amber, and red. To make your visit even more tempting, Budapest hosts its own Design Week in October. During this time, the city boasts various events at over 100 locations. Add a fashion twist to your stay by attending one of the talks, exhibitions, projections, design tours, or fashion shows. Also in autumn – at the end of November – Budapest holds the Wine and Cheese Festival . You get the chance to taste the first vino of the season accompanied by artisanal cheese from local farmers.

Money-Saving Travel Tips: How to Stretch Your Bucks in Budapest

Despite being an EU member, Hungary still doesn’t use the Euro. The national currency remains the Hungarian forint . That’s why one of the most important travel resources in your arsenal should be a currency converter .

The following Budapest travel tips will teach you how to stretch your budget and not overpay when you shouldn’t.

  • Be careful with the banknotes’ denominations. The forint is quite inexpensive. A banknote of 1,000 HUF currently trades for about $3.35 (€2.77). Don’t get tempted to pay your bill in dollars or euros as the exchange rate won’t be in your favor. When you withdraw cash, avoid the Euronet ATMs. Their exchange rates are the worst. Instead, search for a bank and use its cash machines to withdraw forints .
  • Budapest is very walkable. You can wander from one end of the city center to the opposite in about 45 minutes. Still, if you don’t want to use your feet everywhere, public transportation is quite comfortable and affordable ( see the section on transport below ).
  • The tap water in Budapest is safe to drink. If you want to stretch your budget, drink tap water. It is healthy and safe to consume. In fact, it is the most strictly controlled substance in Hungary. You can also order a glass of tap water in restaurants. Just make sure it’s not the only thing you order. 😉
  • Do you tip in Budapest? In sit-down restaurants, it is customary to leave a 10% tip on top of the bill. If you found the service exceptional, leave 15%. Give the tip to the waiter or drop it in the tip jar. Just make sure the establishment hasn’t already charged you a service fee ( szervidij ). It is usually 12.5% of the total check.
  • You can find many free things to do in Budapest. Marvel at the most famous landmarks of the Hungarian capital for free. The Heroes Square , the Parliament Building , Castle Hill , and the Great Market are just a few of the places you can explore free of charge.
  • Avoid eateries around tourist attractions. This Budapest travel tip has to be obvious, but every once in a while, even the most well-traveled among us fall for it. Instead of overpaying for a mediocre meal, check the foods & drinks section of the Budapest travel tips.

Food & Drinks in Budapest: What You Shouldn’t Miss Tasting

You can have an extraordinary culinary experience with the Queen of the Danube . Find the hidden gems of Budapest and the quintessential spices of the Hungarian cuisine with these food & drinks travel tips .

  • Budapest rivals Paris and Vienna for the coffee house culture. Hungarians love to start their day with a strong brew. The tradition of the cafés – kávéház – started at the beginning of the 16 th century. The Turks brought coffee to the Hungarian lands. The boom of the cafés started three centuries later. Many of the coffee houses still keep their rich history alive.
  • If you want a quick and cheap bite, try lángos . The fried flatbread is served with different toppings. They vary from garlic and butter through grated cheese, sour cream, ham, and bacon to powdered sugar and jam.
  • Sample at least one of the most famous Hungarian dishes. The quintessential goulash is a thick soup of red meat and vegetables seasoned richly with paprika. Chicken paprikash is the most popular Hungarian stew. The ample use of paprika gives the dish its name. The chicken typically simmers for a long time in a paprika-infused roux sauce. And if you haven’t noticed from this food tip, we’ll spill it out for you. Hungarian cuisine uses paprika . A lot.
  • Try the mouth-watering pastries. Budapest’s sweet treats seduced even royalties like Sisi, the Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary ! If you’re looking for a sugary delight, try the scrumptious Strudel . You can order the filo pastry with a filling of apples, cherries, plums, apricots, poppy seeds, cheese, or custard crème. Not craving sugar? Then, the savory variation with cabbage is for you.
  • Taste the Bull’s Blood if you’re a wine lover. Winemaking traditions in Hungary date back to Roman times. Although the best-known wines are the white dessert Tokaji Aszú and the Villány red wines, we recommend that you try Egri Bikavér . This dark, full-bodied red wine is also known as Bull’s Blood . Legend says that the name originates from the Siege of Eger. The outnumbered soldiers were served delectable food and plenty of red wine to keep them motivated. A rumor started among the enemy that bull blood was mixed into the wine. The enemy couldn’t otherwise explain the strength and resistance of the castle’s defenders.
  • Include a visit to a ruin bar on your itinerary. Budapest’s old Jewish Quarter hosts the most unusual establishments in the city. Housed in the ruins of crumbling, abandoned buildings, these bars offer an unparalleled experience. The hype started with Szimpla Kert in 2001. Currently, there are numerous ruin bars in Budapest and they are as big attractions as the Buda Castle and the Parliament Building. Apart from drinks, you’ll also find art installations, dance parties, and arts & crafts markets in the recycled spaces.

Traveling in Budapest: How to Get There and Getting Around the City

You’ll barely find another city on the planet with a UNESCO World Heritage subway and funicular. If that’s not enough to make you want to ride the public transport in Budapest, how about the ferry boats included in the travelcard price or the historic trams?

Discover what other peculiarities the transportation system of the Hungarian capital hides in this section of the Budapest travel tips.

  • The transfer from Budapest International Airport (BUD) to the city takes half an hour. Public transport provides easy access to the city center. You’ll find the bus stop at the arrivals level. The direct, non-stop bus 100E operates around the clock between Terminal 2 and Budapest’s center. From there, you can quickly get to every part of the city. Alternatively, you can book a shared transfer directly to your hotel via this link .
  • Budapest is easily reachable from neighboring countries. If you’re visiting Austria or Slovakia, for example, consider adding Budapest to your itinerary. These countries are members of the EU and the Schengen Zone, so traveling between them is a breeze. Ticket prices vary from €4.85 ($6.00) all the way up to €57.00 ($70.00). Here are some of the distances and trip durations:
  • From Vienna to Budapest, you’ll arrive in about 2:40 h by train.
  • From Bratislava to Budapest, you’ll travel approximately 4:00 h by train.
  • The best way to explore the city is on foot . We always recommend this way of transportation, especially for walkable cities like Budapest. Wear your best pair of sturdy shoes and immerse yourself in the Hungarian capital’s vibrant atmosphere. Cross at least one of the eight bridges over the Danube, stroll the pedestrianized shopping Váci Street, and take a leisurely walk along the Danube Promenade.
  • The public transportation system is vast and easy to navigate. It consists of four metro lines, trains, trams, buses, trolleybuses, and the Buda Castle funicular. You can buy your ticket in advance online, from a vending machine, or from the vehicle operator. Have in mind that the pre-sold tickets are cheaper than the ones you can buy onboard. The single pre-sold tickets currently cost 350 HUF ($1.20), but if you purchase them in the vehicle, you’ll have to pay 100 HUF ($0.35) more and have exact change. A 10-ticket block costs 3,000 HUF ($10.35), while a 24-hour Budapest travelcard is 1,650 HUF ($5.70). The 72-hour Budapest travelcard comes at 4,150 HUF ($14.30). The travelcards also have group options. Plan your trip on this website .
  • Ride the Buda Castle Funicular which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site . The most authentic way to travel in Budapest is riding the Buda Castle Funicular. It links the banks of the Danube River with the fortification and has been operating since 1870. The track is 312 ft. (95 m) long and surmounts an incline of 164 ft. (50 m). The panoramic views of the city during the short ride are captivating. The 95-second journey costs 1,400 HUF ($4.85) for a one-way ticket and 2,000 HUF ($6.90) for a return ticket. 
  • Two historical trams and one vintage bus operate in Budapest. You can ride them every weekend from May to October. Their routes are along the Danube Corso and pass near the Buda thermal baths. The single-ride ticket costs 500 HUF ($1.72) and the daily pass comes at 2,000 HUF ($6.90).
  • Ride the iconic subway M1 line. The Budapest Metro is the second-oldest underground railway system in Europe. Only London’s tube is older than it. Budapest’s Line 1 was inaugurated in 1896. Its significance is so big that it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site .
  • Boats connect the two sides of the city. If you want to get from one riverbank to the opposite, crossing the majestic Danube River is possible either on one of the eight bridges or via a boat. Four boat lines transport passengers from Buda to Pest and back. You have to either purchase a single ticket for 750 HUF ($2.60) or use your Budapest travelcard. If you want to indulge in a longer, fancier ride on the Danube River, we recommend this awesome cruise .

Where to Stay in Budapest: Best Neighborhoods and Accommodations

The city on the banks of the Danube River offers entertainment for every type of traveler. Find out the best area to stay in Budapest for your personal interests in this section of the travel guide.

  • Stay in Belváros if it’s your first time in Budapest. The Inner City is packed with fantastic sights and excellent restaurants. From there, you can also easily stroll to the Parliament Building, find a lush park to relax in, or venture out for more sightseeing in the Castle District. Accommodations can suit any budget .
  • Várkerület is the most romantic area of the Hungarian capital. What can be more romantic than staying near a white castle and going sightseeing with your loved one? The captivating views over the Danube River, the Gothic churches, and the world-class museums in this district will make your stay unforgettable. Visit the Fisherman’s Bastion , cross the square to enter Matthias Church , stroll around Castle Hill , and then wander to the Buda Castle .
  • Book a room in the Jewish Quarter for unparalleled nightlife. The area is one of the best entertainment hotspots in Europe. Among the historic buildings and monuments, the unique ruin bars serve inexpensive beverages and offer the perfect setup for socializing. During the day, they turn into arts & crafts markets and offer great food as well.
  • If you’re traveling with children, you’ll love Margaret Island . Located just outside the city center in the middle of the Danube River, this part of Budapest is a quiet recreational area. Medieval ruins, thermal baths, and outdoor activities will entertain the whole family. The island is easily reachable from other parts of Budapest by tram and bus, so you won’t miss the sightseeing.

Which Are Your Favorite Budapest Travel Tips?

There you have it, all the things you need to know before traveling to Budapest, Hungary.

The Queen of the Danube offers peculiar transport modes, unusual bars and festivals, delectable snacks, and awesome activities for every season and budget.

And with these Budapest travel tips, you’ll navigate the Hungarian capital as if you’ve lived there your whole life.

Now, we’re curious:

Have you visited Budapest before?

Which travel tips were most helpful?

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tips to travel to budapest

My husband and I are traveling to Budapest on Monday 10/17/2022 for a week. We love walking tours, food and wine related things. One tricky thing is I am a vegetarian and most of the food experiences mostly involve lots of meat. Any suggestions with this criteria?

tips to travel to budapest

Hey Amy, so jealous of you and your husband for heading to the Queen of the Danube soon! The city is great for exploring on foot and you’ll find amazing wines to taste for sure. As for vegetarian food, you can try langos with different meat-free toppings as a quick meal. Don’t miss sampling various strudels, if you have a sweet tooth. And for main dishes, vegan and vegetarian options have become quite popular everywhere in Europe, including Hungary. You can choose from vegetarian soups, stews, and pasta dishes, for example. We’ve seen non-meat options in the lunch menus as well. Enjoy your time in gorgeous Budapest and happy travels! 🙂 Naddya and Svet

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tips to travel to budapest

18 Things to Know Before Visiting Budapest Hungary

I recently took off to spend a weekend in Budapest , Hungary for the first time and it was such a gem of a city. Although I usually travel with my family, this trip was a short getaway with a friend. My husband and I take a couple of opportunities a year to either take a quick trip together or a quick trip with a friend/other family member.

And let me tell you, if you’re a parent and you’ve never tried this, I definitely recommend! I think it ends up being a good experience for everyone (each parent + the kids).

Anyway, back to Budapest. I’d never really given much thought to visiting Budapest until I was looking for a good weekend getaway in Europe but I’m so glad that we landed on it as our destination!

The post is to help you with all of the things you need to know before planning your trip to Budapest, Hungary. These are things that I wish I had compiled for me before my trip.

*There may be affiliate links in this post. Read my  privacy/disclosure policy  to learn more.

18 Tips for Traveling to Budapest for the First Time

1. budapest is so worth a visit.

Budapest is absolutely beautiful and is definitely worth a visit. The city is split in half by a large river with gorgeous bridges that cross it and a hill on the opposite side that affords for beautiful views.

There is a lot of history, cozy restaurants, great shopping, and beautiful places to see.

2. Budapest Makes For a Great Weekend Trip

Budapest is just the right size to feel satisfied with what you can see even after a quick weekend trip. Like any place you visit, I’m sure you could spend much more time and still enjoy it, however, I found that two days of exploring in Budapest was totally perfect.

Yellow and white tram in front of old white brick building in Budapest

This means that if you are local to Europe, Budapest makes for a fabulous weekend getaway or if you are coming from further abroad Budapest is a great stop to add to your larger European itinerary.

3. Best time of year to Visit Budapest Hungary

The nice thing about Budapest is that you can visit almost any time of year and have an enjoyable experience as (long as you are prepared for the different weather you will encounter).

Similar to most places in Europe, the ideal months to visit to avoid extreme heat and crowds are April/May and September/October. However, I visited Budapest in early August and didn’t feel like the crowds were bad at all.

But on the other hand, if you want a cozy, Christmasy time in Budapest then you should visit from mid to late November through December when the Christmas Markets are up.

Some of the coldest months (and maybe the least exciting months) would be January-March. However, you may have a lot of attractions to yourself.

4. Budapest feels very Safe

I haven’t traveled without my husband in many years which left me feeling a little unsure of how I would feel safety-wise (I’ve just gotten too dang used to having him around 🙈). However, I’m happy to report that there was not one time that I felt unsafe in Budapest.

Woman in black standing in front white church with spires and brown and turquoise roof shingles

I traveled with one other female friend and was out late into the dark both nights in the city and we always felt safe. So if you are concerned about safety or interested in a solo trip to Budapest, I don’t think you have any reason to worry.

5. There are Lots of Amazing (yet Affordable) Hotel options in Budapest

I was pleasantly surprised to find that Budapest has some great hotels at really affordable prices. We stayed at the D8 Hotel in the Budapest city center and were soo happy with our stay. D8 Hotel felt super new, our rooms were sparkling clean and the morning complimentary breakfast buffet was great.

Not only was it just an amazing hotel on the inside, but I couldn’t stop talking about its great location! We had just a 5-minute walk to the Danube River River, a 5-minute walk to where we boarded our nighttime river cruise , and just a 15-minute walk to the Jewish Quarter full of loads of history and eclectic shops.

Woman in tan stands in front of tan statue of a lion with a blue statue of a lion above

Not to mention we were also just a 3-minute walk to the closest metro line and a 5-minute walk to Budapest’s largest walking street Vaci (which is lined with shops and restaurants including big stores like Zara etc. )that goes all the way to Central Market Hall.

If this doesn’t give you an idea of how great the D8 Hotel is I don’t know what will. The amazing location coupled with the clean, stylish rooms, yummy breakfast, and affordable price really makes staying there a no-brainer.

Although we really loved our experience at the D8 Hotel in Budapest, there seemed to be many other affordable, nice-looking hotels to choose from that you can find by searching here .

6. Budapest has some great spots to See some Beautiful views

I am a real sucker for a good view and maybe that’s one reason why I enjoyed visiting Budapest so much. But really, if you like a good view then Budapest is for you.

My favorite spot for views was from the viewing terrace at Fisherman’s Bastion . It’s a gorgeous area with a beautiful church and fairytale-like spires. We also enjoyed some great views from Buda Castle.

Red shingles on a home in the foreground and a large tan building with multiple spires along a riverbankin the background

Two unique places that we enjoyed views of Budapest from were the Leo Rooftop Restaurant (I highly recommend) and from a nighttime river cruise on the Danube River .

7. Nighttime is a beautiful time to be out

If you visit Budapest and don’t go out after dark, you’re really missing out. The area along the Danube River is absolutely gorgeous as the sun sets and turns everything a dusty pink. And once the sun is down, the lights along the river start twinkling, the bridges become illuminated and the Parliament Building is a stunning, lit site to see.

A vehicle bridge with two white arches over a large river at dusk

I recommend heading to some of the viewpoints I mentioned above right before sunset to watch the city transition from day to night. It was our most peaceful and relaxed time of the trip taking in Budapest at night.

8. A NightTime Danube river cruise Is a must-do Experience

You can take a cruise/boat ride on the Danube River at any time of day, however, I highly recommend booking a nighttime river cruise . The buildings and bridges along the Danube River come alive at night with gorgeous twinkling lights and a boat ride along the Danube is one of the best ways to experience it.

There are a lot of different tour boat companies that offer rides along the river which can make it difficult to choose. However, we booked this boat ride and were very impressed with what we got. I’ve taken a lot of sightseeing boat tours in Europe but this was one of the most comfortable and informative rides I’ve taken.

A large building at night with multiple spires and lights on illuminating the building and reflecting in the water

We sat in comfortably padded chairs and were given a headset that connected to a video showing on a screen at the front that was showing us images of the inside of all of the buildings we passed while we listened and learned about those buildings on the headset. Plus the crew came around to take our drink orders and then served us our complimentary drinks (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic options).

Overall our 1-hour Danube River nighttime cruise was really lovely and I recommend it as a great way to end the night.

9. You Can Find Hungarian Paprika Almost Anywhere

Little did I know, but Hungarian paprika is lauded to be the best type of paprika one can have to add a distinct paprika flavor to any dish. Hungarian paprika comes in quite a few different variations including sweet, spicy, and smoked.

Woman in yellow packets stands in front of market booth selling packets of paprika spices

The Central Market Hall (or Great Market Hall as it’s sometimes called) has rows upon rows of stalls selling paprika. I’m no paprika connoisseur so it was hard to know which kinds were better than others. However, it was still fun to shop for some paprika souvenirs to take home to family.

Close up of plastic bags filled with the red paprika spice

10. The bridges have pedestrian paths you can use to cross

Something I wasn’t sure about before visiting Budapest was whether the bridges crossing the Danube River were only for vehicles or if we would be able to walk on them.

Woman in black smiles at the camera with an arch of a bridge in the background in Budapest

Thankfully, the beautiful bridges crossing the river (Széchenyi Chain Bridge, Liberty Bridge, and Erzsébet Bridge) DO have pedestrian walkways.

The bridges were one of my favorite parts of visiting Budapest and I highly recommend walking them.

11. Budapest Has Some Really great places to eat

Since being an adult is basically continually figuring out what you are going to make for dinner, it’s so nice to visit somewhere with a good food scene. Some of the amazing food establishments that call Budapest home are called ‘ruin bars’.

The ruin bars in Budapest are restaurants and/or bars built in old abandoned buildings leftover from WWII and the Soviet Era. One of the most famous ruin bars is Szimpla Kert . It’s more known for its bar and nightlife, however, we visited it on a Sunday morning for the weekly (quiet) farmer’s market which is much more my scene.

White, curled iron chairs at a brown table on a red and white flowered rug next to a brick and wood wall in a trendy restaurant in Budapest Hungary

We also had brunch at Mazel Tov which is a beautiful and delicious Israeli fusion restaurant built in an abandoned building. If you want to eat here, reservations are highly recommended. You can find so much Israeli-inspired food in Budapest because of the Jewish influence in the city.

Two plates of food on a wooden table. One has falafel and sweet potato fries while the other has white yogurt with granola and fruit

Of course, there are also many traditional Hungarian establishments worth a try (which unfortunately we didn’t have time in our itinerary).

And if you’ve never tried Georgian food, there are plenty of delicious Georgian restaurants in Budapest which are also worth a try! We got Georgian food at Hachapuri and it was great!

12. There are Many vintage shopping Opportunities in Budapest

If you love strolling through cute, small shops packed from wall to wall with homemade goods and vintage garb, then the Jewish Quarter of Budapest is for you. I was pleasantly surprised at how many retro shops we stumbled upon and they were so fun to explore.

Storefront along city street painted black and pink with the words 'Dressing Room, Vintage, Retro and Bohem' on the wall

If you want a couple of vintage shops to get you started, try checking out Retrock and Ludovika VNTG Shop. Or if you are looking for handmade goodies, try Szimpla Design Shop.

Framed drawings fill drawers in a small shop selling trinkets

A simple Google search for ‘vintage shops in Budapest’ or ‘shops in Budapest’ will give you lots of great suggestions to add to your itinerary. Or you can be like us and just stumble upon shops as you explore the Jewish Quarter.

13. Budapest has Multiple Thermal Pools open to the Public

One of the most common things to do in Budapest is to take a dip in one of the many thermal pools in the city. The largest and most popular pool is Széchenyi Thermal Spa . This is a large thermal pool complex that includes outdoor and indoor pools and from what I’ve seen it looks the prettiest.

We planned to visit the Szechenyi thermal pools , but when the time came we just didn’t feel like getting wet and everything that comes with that 🙃. However, we did pass by Szechenyi and noticed a long line outside for those who hadn’t purchased tickets ahead of time.

People standing in blue pool with large yellow building in the background

So from that experience, I’d recommend purchasing tickets to the pool ahead of time. You can do that here .

Another popular thermal pool complex is the Gellert Thermal Spa . The Gellert pools are a bit more centrally located (still a bit out of the way) but they also feature an outdoor swimming and wave pool which would be fun if you are traveling with kids.

I’d also recommend booking in advance for the Gellert Thermal Pools to ensure you aren’t wasting time waiting in a long line. You can do that here .

14. There is so much WWII and Jewish History in Budapest

I had no idea before visiting Budapest, but there is a lot of amazing WWII and Jewish history in Budapest. Besides wandering the Jewish Quarter for the cute shops and hip atmosphere, I also recommend stopping in to visit the Dohány Street Synagogue .

White ceiling with Hebrew lettering and gold trim

The Dohány Street Synagogue is the largest Jewish temple in all of Europe and right in the heart of the Jewish Quarter of Budapest. Here you can learn about some of the devastating actions of the Holocaust and its effects on the Jewish residents of Budapest.

Large green cabinet with ornate gold trim in front of a white wall

This entrance ticket to the synagogue includes a short guided tour of the synagogue or you can book a longer guided tour of the Jewish Quarter that includes both the synagogue plus a walk through the Jewish Quarter with additional information (I would have loved to have taken this).

You can also travel back in time to learn about the 1956 Revolution to the fall of the Iron Curtain and everything in between on this guided historical tour of Budapest including a museum visit.

15. There are Many Great, Guided Tours You Can Book in Budapest

If you’re someone who loves a good guided tour, there are plenty of great tour options in Budapest . As I mentioned above, we took this 1-hour nighttime river cruise on the Danube River . It was so cozy and the views of the lights of the Parliament Building and the bridges from the water were just lovely. Or you can even take a river cruise on an old paddle steamer which looked so quaint.

View of the Budapest skyline including the multi-spired Parliament building

A walking tour that I’m sure would be amazing is this amazing Jewish Quarter walking tour about the past and present Jewish presence in the community. There is a lot of history there and I would have loved to learn more about it.

Or you can book this all-inclusive Budapest walking tour with a strudel stop that covers many of the main attractions in Budapest.

You can search Budapest tours yourself here to see if there are any other tours that look good to you!

16. You can Book Fun day trips from Budapest

If you want an easy way to see some of the area around Budapest, then you may want to consider booking a guided day tour to one of the popular day trips from Budapest. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time for any day trips from Budapest.

However, if we had had time, I would looked into this day trip to Lake Balaton which includes a stop at a porcelain factory and a boat ride on the lake. There is also this private day trip to Lake Balaton for those who want a more intimate experience.

Old houses with worn singles stand next to one another

Another popular day trip from Budapest is to the beautiful river town, Szentendre with entrance to Visegrád Castle . Or you can also head north on a day trip to Bratislava in Slovakia for the day to explore.

But if you’re a wine-lover, the best day trip from Budapest for you may be the half-day Etyek wine country tour from Budapest with dinner . You get to enjoy dinner outside near the vineyard in summer or in the cellar in winter.

17. The Budapest Travel Card is an Inexpensive way to cover Public Transit

Whenever I travel, I love to get a local travel card so that I don’t have to purchase public transit tickets before each journey (it’s SO much easier and often a great deal). Budapest was no different.

You can purchase a 24-hour Budapest Travel Card or a 72-hour Budapest Travel Card for unlimited travel on the metro and bus lines. These are the least expensive travel card options but keep in mind that these travel cards do not include rides on the tram lines (for example the iconic yellow tram that goes along the Danube) and the bus to and from the airport.

Yellow and white tram numbered '47' on a street in Budapest

If you want to ride the iconic Tram 2 in Budapest (which I highly recommend) then you will need to book a separate ticket either from one of the ticket machines along the route which you can find on a map here . But I think you can also purchase the travel cards plus the one-time single tram ticket on the mobile app here .

However, another option that DOES include a ride on the tram plus the bus and metro line, two free walking tours, and free entry to some museums (plus discounts to others) is the all-inclusive Budapest Card .

The Budapest Card is a good option if you plan to visit many of the included attractions over multiple days. However, for us, it wasn’t worth it so we did the basic 72-Hour Budapest Travel Card .

18. It’s Very Easy to get from the airport to the city center

As I mentioned above, transit to and from the airport to the Budapest city center is not included in the basic Budapest Travel Card . But no worries! It’s so easy to get from the airport to the city center.

All you need to do is hop onto the 100E Airport Express bus and 40 minutes later you’ll be at your destination. You don’t even need to buy tickets in advance. You can purchase your ticket at a kiosk ON the bus using your bank card. A one-way ticket was about $6.

There were even employees at both the airport and the settle bus stops in the city center helping passengers purchase their tickets quickly and efficiently. It was super easy.

If you’re someone who likes having everything settled in advance, then you can purchase your airport bus ticket ahead of time on the Budapest Transit App .

tips to travel to budapest

And those are all of my Budapest travel tips that I think you need to know to help you plan the best trip to Budapest, Hungary! Please let me know in the comments below if you have any other questions about my time in Budapest, I’ll be sure to get back to you, and happy to help if I can.

Check out these other posts, I know you’ll love them:

  • 8 Best Viewpoints in Budapest You Can’t Miss
  • The Only Itinerary You Need for a Weekend in Budapest: 2 Days in Budapest

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Your post on Budapest is truly enchanting! The way you’ve captured the city’s vibrant essence makes me feel like I’ve journeyed there myself. Thank you for sharing such a delightful and inspiring experience!

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city beside a river with mountains in the backdrop at sunset traveling to budapest

Traveling to Budapest: 20 Important Things To Know

February 16, 2024 //  by  Linda Malys Yore //   Leave a Comment

Are you traveling to Budapest soon? If yes, then you have come to the right place.

I have visited Budapest several times and can help you with all the important things to know before going to Budapest.

Budapest is a popular European city that is home to the romantic Danube River and is connected by the iconic Chain Bridge.

What I love about Budapest Hungary is that both the historical and the cosmopolitan parts of the city exist together.

So, whether you are surviving a long-haul flight to reach here or coming by road, it is essential to be aware of some Budapest travel details to help you make the most of the trip.

Do you wish to enjoy the thermal baths, delicious food, and the stunning scenery here?

If yes, then read on my list of the 20 important things to know before traveling to Budapest!

Check On Your Country’s Hungarian Visa Entry/Exit Requirements

It doesn’t matter if you are traveling to Budapest for one day or longer, you should know the Visa requirements for Hungary before planning your trip.

Thankfully, Americans don’t require a visa to travel to Budapest for a stay of less than 90 days.

If you are not holding an American passport, it is wise for you to research your country’s Hungarian visa requirements.

Check Out: Budapest: Shared Airport Shuttle Bus Transfer

Check Out: Budapest (BUD): Ferenc Liszt Airport Premium Lounge Access

Make Sure to Check Your Passport Before Traveling To Budapest

You will need a current and valid passport to enter Hungary. The expiry date of your passport should be three months longer than the intended date of departure from Hungary.

Plus, make sure you have sufficient proof of funds and a return plane ticket.

Hungary also requires one full blank page for stamping your entry and exit.

So, check your passport expiry date and empty pages well in advance as expedited handling fees to renew your passport are quite expensive.

Check Out: Budapest: Private Transfer from Airport to Hotel

Check Out: Budapest: City Highlights Cruise with Welcome Drink

Purchase A Hungarian SIM Card For Your Phone

When traveling to Budapest, one of the best travel tips for Budapest that I can share with you is to purchase a Hungarian SIM card or e-SIM for your smartphone.

This will allow you to have a network to send and receive messages on WhatsApp or FB Messenger. Plus, you will be able to connect to public WiFi easily as well.

You can install and activate an e-SIM when leaving from your home country or buy a local SIM card at the airport kiosks upon arrival, or in Budapest.

Check Out: Budapest: Hungary/ Europe eSIM Roaming Mobile Data Plan

Check Out: UK/Europe: eSim Mobile Data Plan

Cash or Credit Cards? What Is Best To Have?

The simple answer is when traveling to Budapest, you will want to have both!

Credit cards are widely accepted throughout Budapest. However, if you are using cash, both Hungarian forint and Euros are accepted.

You will get the best exchange rate when traveling to Budapest if you use an ATM. I highly suggest you use an ATM before you leave the airport to withdraw money in the local currency.

Be aware there are fees when using an ATM. So, I suggest you withdraw a larger sum of money, less amount of times.

Also, check with your bank at home before traveling to Budapest and find out the names of fee-free “in-network”  bank ATMs in Hungary, so the out-of-network fee is not charged to you as well.

If you need to exchange money from home into the local currency, your safest bet would be a Hungarian bank.

Check Out: 3-Hour Orientation Walking Tour of Buda and Pest

Check Out: Budapest: 3-Hour Grand City Tour and Castle Walk

Notify Your Credit Card Company When Traveling to Budapest

Call your credit card company to notify them of the dates you will travel to Budapest. This ensures that your card is available for you to use and won’t be blocked when needed.

Check to see if the credit cards you are currently using charge foreign transaction fees every time you use them when you are out of the country. 

If it does, inquire about applying for a credit card that does NOT charge such fees.

Best Time to Visit Budapest Is Throughout the Year

I love that you can plan a visit to Budapest throughout the year.

If you want pleasant weather and fewer tourists, then the Spring and Autumn seasons are the best for visiting Budapest.

But if you are traveling to Budapest in winter, then you can enjoy the Christmas markets, thermal baths, outdoor ice skating rinks, and so much more here.

During summers, you can attend the largest musical festival here – Sziget Festival, or chill on one of the three public beaches.

Trust me, you cannot go wrong with a trip to Budapest, regardless of when you decide to go.

Check Out: Budapest: Buda Castle Cave Walking Tour

Check Out: Budapest: Széchenyi Spa Full Day with Optional Pálinka Tour

Use Budapest Public Transportation 

If you planning to spend at least two days in Budapest , then I recommend using public transport.

There are lots of public transport options available including subway, trams, buses, etc.

Subway is one of the best ways to get around town when visiting Budapest. Budapest was the first European mainland town to install the subway system.

Another great option is to use a tram or trolly system. The city has an extensive tram and trolly network which is the largest in the world.

Budapest  buses  stop all over the city. If you plan to hop on and off frequently, avoid the express buses.

Try a ride on the  cable railway . This funicular runs from the foot of Castle Hill to the top of the Castle District.

Check Out: Budapest: Big Bus Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Tour

Check Out: Budapest: Evening Sightseeing Cruise with Unlimited Prosecco

You Will Feel Safe As In Any European City While Traveling to Budapest

Let me start by saying my family and I were robbed in broad daylight in  Paris France.  

That would be 3 out of 4 of us. All on the same day. At different locations. So we are aware of unsafe circumstances.

However, we always felt safe when sightseeing in Budapest.

Of course,  remain vigilant  with your personal space and your belongings. 

Most Hungarians Will Understand Your English

Although Hungarian is the main language spoken by those living in Budapest, English is equally popular in the city.

So, you will face no issues in communicating with the locals and the shop owners.

If you still aren’t sure, then download Google Translate, which helps me communicate with locals in a foreign country.

Check Out: Budapest: Daytime Sightseeing Boat Cruise

Check Out: Budapest: MonsteRoller E-Scooter Tour

Bathe With The Hungarians To Experience Their Culture

On your Budapest travel itinerary, keep some time aside for a bath in the thermal baths as well. 

When my family and I visited Budapest, a resident suggested we visit the Rudas Medicinal Baths and Spa . Located on the Buda side of the River Danube, this spa is clean and very affordable. 

According to various studies, it has been found that the mineral waters have curative and restorative properties for those suffering from degenerative diseases. 

This is why I highly recommend keeping aside two hours for this quintessential experience when traveling to Budapest.

Check Out: Budapest: Full-Day Gellért Spa Ticket

Check Out: Budapest: Sparty – The Ultimate Late-Night Spa Party Ticket

My daughter Victoria in the panoramic thermal pool at Rudas Medicinal Thermal Spa

Bring Along A Travel Adapter

When traveling to Budapest, do not count on your cruise line, or hotel to have enough electrical adapters  for all your devices.

Make sure to bring a travel adapter for your devices.

Paprika Is The Symbol Of Hungarian Cuisine

From sweet to spicy, from bright red to orange, seeking out Hungarian paprika is one of the top things to do on your visit to Budapest.

You can purchase it all over town, but your best bet would be to head to the Central Grand Market.

Don’t forget to try the local delicacies as well that make use of this delicious spice.

Check Out: Budapest: Private Food Tour – 10 Tastings with Locals

Check Out: Budapest: Food and Wine Tastings Tour

Should You Tip When In Budapest?

Before traveling to Budapest, I asked many friends, do you tip in Budapest?

This is why I feel one of the top things to know before going to Budapest is that there is a tipping culture here.

The standard tip in a restaurant is 10% for good service and 15% for an exceptional experience.

However, many restaurants in Budapest customarily add a 12.5% service fee to your total bill. So, check your bill carefully to avoid leaving additional tips unless you want to.

Book Attraction Tickets Online To Save Money And Skip The Lines

One of my top travel tips for Budapest is to buy tickets online for your selected places to visit in Budapest.

You will save money, sometimes significantly. Some if not most attractions allow you to skip the wait lines and walk right in.

Check Out: Budapest: Floating Bus Tour by Land and Water

Check Out: Budapest Card: Public Transport, 30+ Top Attractions & Tours

When Traveling To Budapest You Want To Know Is Drinking The Water Safe?

So, one of the biggest questions that people ask me is, can you drink tap water in Budapest?

Well, the answer is yes.

Matter of fact, tap water is the most controlled food substance in Budapest.

Bottled water is still offered in pubs and restaurants. But, when you travel to Budapest, save money on water by drinking free tap water.

Save Money By Getting Snacks And Convenience Foods At Local Grocery Stores

When you plan your travel to Budapest, I am sure you must be thinking about all the delicacies to try here.

Well, trying new dishes on your Budapest trip is great, but it can easily become expensive if you do this for every meal.

This is why I suggest going grocery shopping in Budapest. Buy snacks and sandwiches for day tours.

You can also buy fresh fruits for healthy snacking and granola bars are a great choice as well.

Yogurt, drinks, and chips/snack foods are all items to have available where you are staying or on the go, to save money when traveling to Budapest.

Check Out: Budapest: Private Insider Tour of Grand Ecseri Flea Market

Pick The Neighborhood That Is Best For You When Traveling To Budapest

One of the most important travel tips for Budapest is to choose the right neighborhood for your stay.

Varkerulet (District I) is located on the Buda side of the River Danube. It is the Castle District. Historic and charming, with the cobblestoned streets, this area is home to palaces and exquisite churches.

It is the ideal place to stay in Budapest for tourists.

Terezvaros (District VI) is for those traveling to Budapest on a budget.

Looking for nightlife? Then Erzsebetvaros (District VII) may be the right place for you. Also known as the Jewish Quarter, this neighborhood is home to fashionable bars, clubs, and restaurants.

Belvaros (District V) is a great choice to be near some of the most famous attractions Budapest has to offer.

Here you will be within walking distance of the Hungarian Parliament Building, the Shoes on the Danube Memorial, and the Grand Market Hall to name just a few.

Check Out: Budapest: Grand City Tour with Parliament Visit

Check Out: Budapest: 1.5-Hour Private Kick-Start Tour with a Local

Walking Is A Wonderful Way To Discover Budapest

When you are traveling to Budapest, plan on walking a lot! 

Walking gives you a unique experience and allows you to explore Budapest more thoroughly.

I would suggest sightseeing in Budapest on foot to explore the neighborhoods, visit lovely cafes, people watch, and so on.

Don’t Forget to Check Out the Ruin Bars

When you travel to Budapest, you cannot miss out on visiting the famous ruin bars in the old Jewish quarter! What exactly is a ruin bar?

Well, it is a pop-up bar that you can find inside the ruins of an old house, shop, or restaurant.

What I found cool about these bars is that apart from offering cheap drinks, you can also enjoy the art installations and flea markets here.

Szimpla Kert is the first-ever ruin bar to open in 2001 and should be on your Budapest travel itinerary.

Check Out: Budapest: Ruin Bar Pub Crawl with Entry Tickets

Check Out: Budapest: Festive & Jewish Quarter Self-Guided Walking Tour

Where to Stay in Budapest

Aria Hotel Budapest by Library Hotel Collection – If you like beautiful hotels with amazing views, then I would suggest Aria Hotel Budapest by Library Hotel Collection offering stunning views of downtown Budapest from its rooms that are based on 4 music styles.

They also have a spa center with a pool, a hammam, and a sauna for you to relax on your trip to Budapest.

Check Price Here

Kozmo Hotel Suites & Spa – The Leading Hotels of the World – For a luxurious experience, I would recommend Kozmo Hotel Suites & Spa .

Here, get the celebrity treatment with their 5-star services and facilities that include a spa and wellness center, a fitness center, a restaurant, and so on.

Stories Boutique Hotel – Stories Boutique Hotel is a gorgeous 4-star hotel located in Terézváros district of Budapest.

I love the colorful rooms and the plant-filled lobby here. Plus, it is close to several attractions in Budapest such as St. Stephen’s Basilica, Hungarian State Opera, and so on.

Packing Tips When Traveling To Budapest

Read  How To Pack Lightly  for packing tricks on how to maximize your packing space! And here for  How To Survive Long Haul Flights.

This unisex RFID blocking concealed travel pouch is  lightweight and comes in several colors.

These  RFID  sleeves  would be handy to prevent identity theft.

This  Anker high-speed phone charging battery  is the exact one I carry with me on all of my trips ..

My daughter gifted me with this  FugeTek Selfie Stick and Tripod  for my birthday. It has Bloothtooth connectivity so it is very easy to use.

This  world traveler adapter kit   can charge several devices at the same time.

These Bagail packing cubes   are  the exact ones I use whenever I travel . I cannot believe how much more organized I am now!  

I never leave home on a trip without my  Bobble filtration bottle.  The 18.5-ounce size is perfect for travel and it will fit nicely in the pocket of a backpack or your purse. Also when filled with water, it is not too heavy to carry.

And the Bobble carbon  filter  ensures fresh clean water whenever and wherever you fill the Bobble. You can find  filter replacements here. 

You will want to bring a  backpack or daypack  with you to store snacks, your water bottle, phone, extra clothes, etc.. This   foldable water-resistant backpack  would be great. 

You may be visiting Budapest in warmer weather as I did, and you may want  a pair of sandals  to wear exploring.  I highly recommend these  Vionics adjustable strap orthotic sandals.  

I have several pairs of these exact  Vionic sandals in several colors that I bring with me *everywhere* I travel. They are very comfortable.

I also sometimes bring along my  Vionic Tides flip flops.  The toe post is so comfortable which makes wearing these super comfortable. 

If experiencing culture at the Hungarian baths is on your list you will want to bring along swimwear. This  lightweight men’s swim trunk is quick-drying  and affordable.

I like this  women’s one-piece bathing suit.  It has a moderately high leg cut and is lined for modesty’s sake. It has a built-in bra and comes in neat colors.

This fast-drying, lightweight and very absorbent towel  is the perfect solution. You choose what color and size you wish and it is extremely affordable.

You may want to bring along a  wet-dry bag  for your suits and towels once you are finished lounging in the baths. This  wet dry bag with handles   is a good option.

These  unisex polarized sunglasses   come in a lot of lens colors and frame designs and are extremely affordable too.

If you are fond of the  aviator-style of sunglasses  these polarized aviators may interest you.

If you need  new luggage,  this  expandable hard-side spinner luggage  is affordable and comes in lots of colors. If you like hard-sided better, then you may favor this  soft-sided luggage set  better.

Both sets come with TSA-approved zipper lock s and 8 wheels per piece. Either will be great for the plane or train or even your car depending on how you are traveling to Budapest.

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16 Budapest travel tips & hacks | First-timers in Budapest

Things to do in Budapest Budapest Travel Guide Budapest Travel Tips

An architectural treasure trove, Budapest flaunts a wonderful harmony of natural and man-made elements. With epic tales of its history woven into its everyday life, Budapest’s thriving culture draws a diverse crowd. The city's transitioning blend of Western and Eastern Europe makes it like no other European city. With its healing hot springs, umpteen ruin bars and breathtaking Art Noveau architecture, Budapest is a much-needed respite for those keen on a cultural chaos. Our Budapest Travel Tips will help you find order in this chaos and make the most of your visit.

Budapest Essentials

Starting with the essentials, here's what you must know before getting to Budapest. Make sure you brush up a little Hungarian!

Language Hungarian

Time zone GMT+2

Country Code +36

Socket Type C & F

Currency Hungarian Forints (HUF)

Best Time To Visit Budapest

Blessed with a pleasant climate throughout the year, it is hard to zero in on one the best time of the year to visit Budapest. However, with affordable rates and little to no crowd, it is spring that makes an ideal season for those looking for a relaxing getaway. Summer witnesses an upsurge of crowd, however, the Budapest Summer Festival, which takes place between June to August, is definitely something you shouldn’t miss out on. Fall in Budapest also is a great time to visit, considering the drop in temperature. However, if you don’t mind the a snowy vacation, December to February is also a great time to enjoy its quaint Christmas markets and events that take place around the festive season.

Read more about the best time to visit Budapest .

Budapest in Jan

Budapest Travel Tips 101 - A First Timer's Holy Grail

Below are the tips and hacks you're here for. Read on and thank us later!

#1 Sample Local Wines

Budapest Travel Tips - First Timers

Home to some of the most well-known brands of wine, there's no leaving Budapest without trying some of its piquant alcohol. While there are several opportunities to try wine (in restaurants and pubs), look out for historic cellars or wine tasting tours that take place in the city on a frequent basis. Pair the tasting with a romantic cruise to make the most of your evening in the city!

#2 Don’t Clink Beer Glasses!

Budapest Travel Tips - First Timers

A funny, yet interesting tradition the locals in Budapest follows comes from 1848 when the Hungary revolution was overthrown by the Habsburg. To celebrate their victory in Vienna, Austrians everywhere clicked beer to show their joy for the same. Though 167 years have passed, Hungarians have not forgotten and have vowed to never clink beer glasses! While it may not land you into trouble, it would be an advisable option to avoid the regular ‘cheers’!

#3 Dine at Butcher Stores

Budapest Travel Tips - First Timers

Butcher’s stores in Budapest are not just for buying your weekly meat ration; they are a dining experience in itself. From sausages to pork knuckle, duck and blood sausage served with saeurkraut, chips and, of course, mustard - it's a gastronomical delight in here. While it is a stand-only dining affair, you cannot miss out on this experience in the city. Checkout Belvárosi Disznótoros for one of the most famous in-butcher dining experiences in Budapest.

#4 Forget The Euros

Budapest Travel Tips - First Timers

Although Hungary is a member of the European Union, the country hasn’t adopted the Euro as its official currency. Though the Euro is widely accepted through the country, be prepared to receive change in the form of Forints if you choose to exchange your currency locally. Restaurants in Budapest also don’t prefer a card, so make sure you hit the ATM before heading for a meal. It is advisable to go through a legal money exchange instead of opting for easily available options within the city.

Rome in 5 days

Exploring Budapest on a Budget

#5 explore the coffee house culture.

Budapest Travel Tips - First Timers

Hungarians love to start their day with a strong brew! Cafés, or kávéház, have been around in Budapest since the early 16th century after the Turks brought in coffee cultivation as an occupation. In fact, you may also stumble upon some coffee houses that has a deep history to it! Although many of these coffee houses have been restored to match their former glory, the old-world charm is still alive within its four walls!

#6 Insist on Using the Meter in a Taxi

Budapest Travel Tips - First Timers

Taxi drivers in Budapest are known for overcharging tourists. Hence, insist on asking for a meter. While taxis are a convenient way to travel in any city, it is also one of the most expensive modes of transport. Consider buying the Budapest Card which allows unlimited public transport if you're planning to use the public transit system as your primary mode of transport .

#7 Visit Ruin Pubs of Budapest

Budapest Travel Tips - First Timers

Owing to its historic background, Budapest houses a number of ruin bars. What were once merely considered crumbling, abandoned buildings have today been transformed into swanky bars and pubs that are a favorite of many. Ruin bars began as an experiment by Szimpla but have slowly taken over the city as many recycled spaces have begun popping up after the initial success. Make sure you include one of the many ruin bars in the city on your itinerary for a unique experience during your stay.

#8 Watch Out for Signs of History Along the Way

Budapest Travel Tips - First Timers

Budapest has signs of history scattered around the city. What was once almost demolished due to the ill effects of World War II, today houses several memorials across the city for the lives that were lost. One of the most notable exhibits include the 60 pairs of shoes at the Danube, which were designed by sculptor Gyula Pauer. The memorial is dedicated to the Jews who lost their lives in the Danube by the Cross Arrow Military.

#9 Sign up for a Guided City Tour

Budapest Travel Tips - First Timers

Opt for a cultural walk from Buda to Pest with local guided tours that take you through the history of the city. Available in English and Spanish, these tours take place twice a day and have skilled guides on board who could brief you on some of their exciting stories about the city. With tours on the history, pub culture and Jewish legacy, there’s something for everyone in these walking tours.

Rome in 5 days

Guided Tours, Walking Tours, Segway Tours and More

#10 tipping is norm in budapest.

Budapest Travel Tips - First Timers

Although not mandatory, tipping in Budapest is considered courteous and is followed by locals as well. It is considered polite to tip in hotels and concierge services. A 10% to 15% tip can be applied to restaurant bills as well unless service tax is already added. While tips can also be added to spas and bathhouses in Budapest, the locals also tip the taxi drivers.

#11 Tram over Taxi, any day!

Budapest Travel Tips - First Timers

While taxis are considered to be convenient, taking the tram in Budapest is perhaps a more viable option. With 40 lines running between 4:30 am to 11 pm, the tram is an ideal way to tour the city on a budget. Connecting almost every important attraction in the city, you can buy a day’s pass or choose to opt for a Budapest card to use the tram freely during your stay.

#12 Come Hungry

Budapest Travel Tips - First Timers

Hungarian food is delicious and anyone who tells you otherwise does not have the taste for a hearty fare. With stews and meat as well as potatoes and dumplings, the food is light on the stomach but lingers on your taste buds long after. Potatoes are pretty much the only thing "vegetarian", but the meat fest otherwise is a sensory treat.

#13 Stroll the Length of Andrassy Út

Budapest Travel Tips - First Timers

The grand tree-lined boulevard of Andrassy Út is a UNESCO Heritage Site that connects the Opera House and City Park, and is best explored on foot. It runs by the city’s most expensive real-estate, so have a great time craning your neck and spotting the best houses in town. By the end of it, you'll surely be pining for a piece of land here!

#14 Catch a Show at The State Opera

Budapest Travel Tips - First Timers

Unlike most other European cities, entertainment in Budapest is cheap! You can catch a show at the State Opera for as little as 500 HUF ($1.80), and if you come during rehearsal performances, you can find seats starting from 200 HUF ($0.72)!

#15 Why not a Beer & Pizza Cruise?

Budapest Travel Tips - First Timers

With the River Danube running majestically right through the middle of the city, cruises in Budapest are a much sought after affair. While there different cruises to suit all budgets, our top favourites are the Beer & Pizza Cruise and the Operetta & Folklore Cruise. Check out the other top selling Danube cruises in Budapest and grab your tickets right away!

#16 Hop on the Second Oldest Metro in the World

Budapest Travel Tips - First Timers

The Budapest Metro is the oldest electrified underground railways system in Europe and the second oldest electrically operated system in the world. It was opened in 1896 and runs till date - on time, every day. While traveling through this metro, you're traveling with years of history etched in the walls of these trains. Cherish the journey and enjoy the cheap and easy accessibility throughout the city.

budapest travel tips

What To Do | Budget Tips | Day Trips and More

Tips for saving money on transportation in budapest.

  • The Budapest Card provides free, unlimited public transport throughout its validity. Apart from this, it also includes entry to select museums, complimentary tours as well as various discounts across platforms in the city. Here's all you need to know about the Budapest Card before buying it
  • Opt for the MOL Bubi if you’re someone who prefers cycling around a city.
  • Students can avail discounts on all modes of transport by flashing their student card.

Tips For Saving Money On Eating In Budapest

  • Look out for street carts selling local food. Lángos, a variant of pizza but with thicker dough, is one of the few street foods sold cheaply in Budapest.
  • Bread and bakery items in Budapest are inexpensive as compared to other items. Get yourself breakfast at a local bakery, and relish a pastry which is essentially considered to be a part of the Budapest breakfast!
  • Several restaurants in Budapest offer a tourist menu which is comparatively cheaper. It offers modest portions of a three-course meal enough for one.
  • The central market steam tables are a great place to try anything beginning from stews to strudels on a budget! Keep a watch for vendors that can be easily spotted around the entrance of the market.
  • If you’re craving Chinese takeout in Hungary, stopping by at Kinai Bufes (affordable Chinese steam tables) would acquaint you with some delicious Asian cuisine in Budapest.

More Tips To Save Money In Budapest

  • Accommodation Tips:
  • An Airbnb or Couchsurf which guarantees an off-beat, local experience on a modest budget is highly recommended in a city like Budapest.
  • If you're in a fix between staying in Buda or Pest, know that Buda is the calmer, residential side of the city while Pest sees a more active nightlife with more ruin bars and night clubs. Depending on your agenda, choose the side of the city that suits you best.
  • It is common to bargain with hotels in Budapest, as they can offer you a better deal or an upgrade.
  • Most hotels in Budapest don’t have an air-conditioner. It is a good idea to check up on your hotel online before booking it online.
  • The Europeans refer to twin beds as a double room. Make sure to specify if you require a room with a double bed instead.
  • Free Attraction Tips
  • Samples the taste of Budapest at the Great Market located in a large hall opposite to Liberty Bridge for free all day, everyday.
  • Make the most of the free walking tours are available every day from Buda to Pest, at 10:30 am and 2:30 pm respectively.
  • Wander across the Jewish quarter which is dotted with great cafes as well as ruin bars.
  • There are several free art galleries across the city which house their unique exhibitions. Telp on Madach street is one of them that showcases photography, sculptures, and paintings.
  • Free Museum Days
  • If you’re a citizen of the EEA, and under 26, you can gain free to the Museum of Fine Arts , the Hungarian National Museum and the Hungarian National Gallery.
  • The Military Museum has free admission on the last Sunday of every month for people under the age of 26.
  • Hungarian National Gallery, Museum of Applied Arts and Nagytétény Palace can be visited for free on every third Saturday of the month.
  • Museum of Ethnography and Hungarian Natural History Museum can be visited for free on the first Sunday of the month.
  • Visit the Transportation Museum, Museum of Military History as well as Ludwig Museum for free on the last Sunday of every month.
  • Tips For Guided Tours in Budapest
  • Guided tours with a local guide allows you to explore the city through a local's eye - a chance to witness lesser known gems and walk through lanes that are probably not on Google Maps!
  • Budapest has a famous Segway City Tour that takes you across the city without tiring you, but covering maximum grounds. Check it out!
  • A self-guided tour is also a great idea if you’re looking out for an economical way of touring the city at your own pace.
  • It is a good idea to invest in an audio guide if you’re touring by yourself, as it can help in acquainting you to the local history of the area.
  • Tips For Buying Tickets Online
  • Choosing to book tickets online can not only help you to avoid last-minute price rise but can also help you avoid the crowd.
  • Online tickets may also come with perks such as skip the line, VIP access as well as several other combo offers.
  • Booking tickets online can also provide you with an option of flexible dates and various cancellation offers.

Top Things To Do In Budapest

Here are the top 10 things you must do in Budapest . If any of these are missing from your itinerary, make sure you squeeze them in!

1 Budapest Parliament

The Hungarian Parliament, often known as the Budapest Parliament, is one of the city's most distinctive buildings, and no photo of Budapest can be considered complete without some aspect of it being shown. The current seat of the Hungarian Parliament is this stunning building, which provides a fascinating look into Hungary's political history.

tips to travel to budapest

2 River Danube

The magnificent Danube River, the fairytale waterway cutting through Budapest, is a must-do when you visit Budapest. Locals frequently claim that the greatest way to sense the romance in Budapest is to go on a Danube River Cruise.

tips to travel to budapest

3 Castle Hill

Castle Hill is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Budapest. The hill is home to a number of historic landmarks and attractions, including the Buda Castle, the Hungarian Parliament Building, and the Fisherman's Bastion. Visitors can enjoy stunning views of the city from atop the hill, or take a walk through the beautiful gardens and parks that surround it.

tips to travel to budapest

4 Budapest Baths

Budapest, also known as the "Spa City," is a city rich in thermal springs, many of which date back to the 16th century. A mecca for spa and wellness fans, 'taking the waters' is just as regular as shopping. A visit to Budapest isn't complete without a tour of the ancient baths.

tips to travel to budapest

5 Budapest - Hop On Hop Off tours

Budapest is best seen on a Hop On, Hop Off tour, which is full of life and action. Budapest is a wonderful city to explore because of its bustling atmosphere, rich history, and interesting architecture. The Hungarian capital is known for its vibrant nightlife and natural beauty as well as numerous baths, spas, and hot springs.

tips to travel to budapest

6 Hungarian State Opera

The Hungarian State Opera House (Magyar Állami Operaház) is a neo-renaissance opera house located in central Budapest, on Andrássy út. Originally known as the Hungarian Royal Opera House, it was designed by Miklós Ybl, a leading architect of his day. The building was completed in 1884, and is considered one of the finest examples of 19th-century neo-renaissance architecture in Hungary.

tips to travel to budapest

7 Margaret Island

Margaret Island (Hungarian: Margitsziget) is a 2.5 km long island, 500 metres wide, in the middle of the Danube in central Budapest, Hungary. The island is mostly covered with landscape gardens and parkland, and is a popular recreation area for tourists and locals alike

tips to travel to budapest

8 Great Synagogue

The Great Synagogue of Budapest is one of the largest and most spectacular synagogues in Europe. It was built in 1859 in Neo-Classical style, with a capacity of 3,000 people. The beautiful building has a stunning Moorish Revival interior, with ornate chandeliers and an Ark made of carved cypress wood.

tips to travel to budapest

9 Great Market Hall

Write about Great Market Hall Budapest The Great Market Hall (Nagycsarnok) is the largest and oldest indoor market in Budapest, Hungary. It is a true paradise for food lovers. You can find almost anything here, from the finest Hungarian cheeses and meats to the freshest fruits and vegetables. The market also has a wide selection of Hungarian wines and spirits. If you're looking for a souvenir to take home, the market has a great selection of traditional Hungarian handicrafts, including pottery, embroidery, and folk art.

tips to travel to budapest

10 The House Of Terror

The House of Terror, located in Budapest, Hungary, is a museum that commemorates the victims of both Communist and Nazi regimes. The building itself was used as a secret police headquarters during both regimes, and it now stands as a reminder of the terror that those regimes inflicted upon the Hungarian people.The House of Terror contains a number of exhibits that detail the atrocities committed by both the Communist and Nazi regimes.

tips to travel to budapest

Deals, Offers & Promo Codes in Europe

Ready to explore budapest.

Here are a few recommendations to help you plan your visit.

Budapest in May

How long should I stay in Budapest to make the best of my visit?

If you're counting how many days it will take to see everything in Budapest, two days is enough to tour the city and see all of its attractions if you work hard. A three-day itinerary may allow you to visit more of Hungary's top sights at a slower pace while also allowing you to relax and unwind in one of the thermal baths.

What are the things I should avoid doing in Budapest?

Some of the things you should definitely avoid doing in Budapest is, to validate your metro ticket, to forget to pack your bathing suits, and to confuse Buda with Pest!

Can I drink the tap water in Budapest?

Yes, the tap water in Budapest is extremely safe to consume.

Is there anyway I can budget my Budapest trip?

You can foresee the average costs for your Budapest trip by using the budgetyourtrip tool.

Is Budapest safe for solo female travellers?

Budapest is a relatively safe city for single women, whether during the day when visiting the city's many magnificent historical sites or at night, when experiencing fantastic nightlife and delicious food.

Does Budapest have a good nightlife?

Budapest nightlife is fantastic, with enjoyable ruin pubs, various sorts of wine, excellent local cuisine at top-notch restaurants, dancing in discos, and a variety of cultural activities.

Do I need to pre-book the Budapest baths?

Yes, Budapest Baths are a ticket attraction and it is recommended to pre-book your tickets to avoid standing in long queues.

What's the best time to visit Budapest?

From March through May and September through November, Budapest is at its most beautiful. These off-peaks are ideal because the weather is pleasant and the city isn't clogged with visitors.

See more Budapest. Save more money.

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Lakshmi Menon

Born to parents bit by the wander bug, Lakshmi calls her love for travel "hereditary and habitual". Perpetually ensconced with a book in her hand and a mug of coffee in the other, she has been to over 15 countries in her 23 years of existence and is currently saving miles and money for her solo trip to Iceland. Always hustling towards the least trodden path, she has encountered some wonderful people during her escapades and if you ever meet her, she won't stop gushing about them.

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A First Timer’s Guide to Visiting Budapest, Hungary

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Embarking on your first journey to Budapest? Our comprehensive guide is tailored for first-timers visiting Budapest and covers everything you need to know—from iconic landmarks and hidden gems to local cuisine and travel tips. Make the most of your Hungarian adventure with our expert insights.

Visiting Budapest Travel Guide

Budapest, often called the Pearl of the Danube, is a city that magically straddles both time and culture . The Hungarian capital unfurls an opulent canvas of history, from its regal castles and intricate architecture to its modern-day ruin bars pulsing with youthful energy.

As you wander along the cobblestone streets, you’ll find an endless array of activities that cater to all—be it the history or culture aficionado, the art lover, or a family on the move.

A mere three days in this enchanting city will sweep you off your feet, leaving you so enamored that, like us, you’ll find yourself planning a return trip. In fact, we were so smitten by Budapest’s charm that we’re heading back there with our family this coming March.

Trust me, Budapest doesn’t just meet expectations; it dramatically exceeds them.

Where is Budapest in Hungary?

Snuggled along the sweeping curves of the Danube River, Budapest holds the title of being the capital and the largest city of Hungary , a landlocked country in Central Europe sharing its borders with seven other nations — Slovakia, Ukraine, Romania, Serbia, Croatia , Slovenia , and Austria .

The city itself serves as a geographical and cultural crossroads, linking the eastern and western parts of the continent.

So, when you’re visiting Budapest, you’re not just stepping into the heart of Hungary; you’re essentially stepping into a vibrant epicenter of European heritage and history.

Why Visit Budapest

fishermans bastion castle hill

No need to search for excuses, but if you’re on the fence, here are a few irresistible reasons to make Budapest your next destination:

♥ Budapest is simply enchanting. It offers experiences that stir the soul. ♥ The city is a blend of old-world charm and modern flair. ♥ It’s a food lover’s paradise. serves up culinary delights like goulash and chimney cake that will leave an indelible impression on your food memories. ♥ The thermal baths are not just a dip but a tradition. ♥ For the stunning Danube River, which splits the city into Buda and Pest. ♥ To explore its compelling history and diverse architecture. ♥ For the ruin bars—there’s nothing like it anywhere else. ♥ It’s a city that never sleeps but also lets you relax. ♥ For Buda Castle, an iconic symbol of the city’s resilience. ♥ Because of the Fisherman’s Bastion, where fairy tales come to life. ♥ Its people make you feel like you’re home, even when you’re miles away.

Feel like packing your bags yet? Because I certainly do!

Best Time to Visit Budapest

view over budapest from buda castle

There’s no bad time to visit the Pearl of the Danube. It all depends upon your travel goals.

June to August (summer) marks the peak travel season. It’s when the weather is great, days are long, there are a host of events around the city, and all the attractions are open. However, if we talk about the cons, it’s the time of the year when the temperatures are at their highest and the hoards of tourists throng the city increasing the cost of accommodation.

November to February (winter) mark the low travel season. It’s when the weather is cold and dreary, days are short, and many of the attractions are closed. The pros include lower prices, the absence of crowds, and a chance to witness the winter wonderland.

If visiting one of the best Christmas markets in Europe is your travel goal, December is the perfect time to visit Budapest. The city comes to life during the Christmas season. With the blanket of snow covering the city’s iconic architecture, views over the frozen Danube, and the festive cheer filling the air – the city looks like a fairytale.

Hop from one Christmas market to the other, enjoy the outdoor ice skating rinks, ride the special Christmas tram, gorge on the warm chimney cakes, soak in the quintessential thermal baths, or party hard at the unique ruin bars around the city – whatever you do, you’d love Budapest in winter.

March to May (spring) and September to October (fall) mark the shoulder season. Overall, these are the best times to visit Budapest as they offer nice weather, affordable prices, and fewer crowds.

Getting to Budapest

You can get to Budapest by air, by car, by train, by bus, and even by cruise depending on where you are coming from.

Getting to Budapest by Air

You can easily fly into Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport from any part of the world. Most airline companies including low-cost airlines (LOT, Wizz Air, Ryanair, and Easyjet) offer flights to Budapest. We use Skyscanner to search and compare flights.

You can hire a Budapest airport taxi at any hour of the day which costs anywhere between 6,500 HUF to 9000 HUF or board a Budapest airport bus 100E which costs 900 HUF to get to the city center. Bus 100E leaves from Terminal 2 and runs every 20 minutes from 5 am to 1:20 am. It stops at Kálvin tér M, Astoria M, and Deák Ferenc tér M. You also have the option to book a shared airport shuttle bus transfer or private airport transfer .

Getting to Budapest by Car

Driving is one of the best and fastest ways to get to Budapest from nearby European cities. We use Discover Cars to rent a car wherever we go.

PS: It’s best to use public transport to get around Budapest so book a hotel close to the city center that offers safe parking.

Getting to Budapest by Train

Budapest is served by three main international railway stations viz. Keleti, Nyugati, and Déli offer direct connections between Budapest and other European capital cities. We use Eurail and RailEurope to book train tickets.

Getting to Budapest by Bus

Budapest is served by the Népliget Bus terminal which offers bus and coach services between Budapest and other European capital cities. We use Flixbus and Omio to book bus tickets.

Getting to Budapest by Danube River Cruise

If you’re coming from Vienna or Bratislava, the river cruise is the most scenic way to get to Budapest.

Understanding Budapest to Navigate it Better

Having a good grasp of Budapest’s layout can be a game-changer for your trip. At its core, Budapest is a tale of two cities: Buda and Pest , separated by the majestic Danube River. Each side has its own distinct personality and attractions, making it almost like visiting two cities in one.

Buda is the hilly, more residential area boasting attractions like the Buda Castle and Fisherman’s Bastion. It’s where you’ll find winding streets, Ottoman-era thermal baths, and panoramic viewpoints overlooking Pest.

On the flip side, Pest is the urban heartbeat of Budapest. This is where you’ll dive into bustling markets, edgy ruin bars, and grand boulevards like Andrássy Avenue. It’s the commercial and cultural center, home to the Hungarian Parliament Building, St. Stephen’s Basilica, and endless shopping and dining options.

It’s also important to understand the layout of districts of Budapest to give you an even fuller picture of this vibrant city. Budapest is divided into 23 districts, each marked by a Roman numeral and often referred to by their individual names.

The districts spiral out from the center, with District I being the historic Castle District in Buda, home to the Buda Castle and the quaint, cobblestone streets that surround it. District V is another crucial area to know, as it’s the political and financial heart of the city, boasting the Hungarian Parliament Building and St. Stephen’s Basilica.

With a bohemian vibe, District VII aka the Jewish Quarter is the birthplace of Budapest’s famous ruin bars and has a lively, youthful atmosphere filled with art, music, and culture.

District VI is the hub for shopping and entertainment, particularly along Andrássy Avenue, which leads to the iconic Heroes’ Square and City Park in District XIV .

With a laid-back vibe, District XIII offers a quieter, more residential feel but still provides a variety of restaurants and cafes along the Danube.

Getting Around Budapest

tramway in budapest getting around

The best way to explore Budapest is on foot. Buda and Pest are super pedestrian-friendly. If walking isn’t your thing, Budapest is well-served by fast and efficient public transportation. The public transportation system includes the metro, trams (streetcars or trollies), trolly buses, and buses. Outer districts and nearby towns are connected by the local suburban railway (HÉV).

PS: You can experience the first underground on the European mainland, the world’s second-oldest underground after the London Underground, and the oldest line of the Budapest Metro – Line 1 or Metro 1 or M1 or Millennium Underground Railway . Locals call it kisföldalatti or the small underground.

Tip: You must not miss riding Tram 2 in Budapest, one of the most beautiful trolley rides in the world. Boarding bus no. 16 is another amazing way to sightsee across Budapest.

We recommend buying a travel card  if you plan to use public transportation as it saves you time and money. You can buy a 24-hour, 72-hour, or 7-day travel card depending on how long you are in Budapest.

Alternatively, you can purchase a Budapest Card that not only gives free access to public transport but also gives you free entry to about 19 museums and attractions and discounts of up to 50% for other museums, sightseeing tours, and sights. That’s not all it also offers a free walking tour and free entry to Lukács Thermal Bath.

If using public transportation feels like a big hassle to you, you can safely book a hop-on-hop-off bus tour ! We booked a  48-hour Budapest Hop-On-Hop-Off Sightseeing Bus Package  and loved the ease and freedom of exploring the city. It saves you money plus the hassle of figuring out the public transportation system in a new city. You can buy a 24, 48, or 72-hour ticket. The ticket comes with the free Danube cruise, night tour, and walking tour. Value for time and money.

How Many Days to Spend in Budapest

You need a minimum of 2 days to explore the highlights of Budapest.

If you don’t want to rush and prefer to take in the beauty of the queen of the Danube at a slower pace (vital if you’re traveling with kids), set aside at least 3 days. We recommend you spend a minimum of 3 days in Budapest.

And if you can spare 4 days (lucky you!), you can also discover the hidden gems in Budapest along with the popular attractions.

Staying Connected in Budapest

In the digital age, where would we be without our trusty gadgets and the internet, especially when exploring a new city? To truly make your trip seamless, a connected smartphone is almost non-negotiable.

Having continuous access to Google Maps transforms your travel experience from aimless wandering to targeted exploring. Navigating the city’s public transport system, discovering eateries where locals actually go, and, or even translating a foreign menu becomes easy as you stay plugged into the matrix.

Though, free Wi-Fi is widely available in public spaces, cafés, and even some metro stations.

But if you’re my type, you’ll need a connection as stable as your love for Hungarian pastries and thus, it’s vital getting a local SIM card. Major providers like Telekom, Vodafone, and Telenor offer a range of budget-friendly plans, tailored for tourists.

Just pop into a store, show your ID, and you’ll be Instagramming your goulash in no time.

And if swapping SIM cards sounds as outdated as a flip phone to you, then Airalo is your go-to for staying connected in Budapest. This eSIM service offers a variety of data plans that are not only affordable but also super easy to set up. Simply download the Airalo app, choose your Hungarian data pack, and voila—your phone will be buzzing with connectivity quicker than you can say “Egészségedre,” that’s ‘Cheers’ in Hungarian, by the way.

What’s more, Airalo’s eSIM works seamlessly across multiple countries, so if you’re extending your European escapade beyond Budapest, there’s no need to worry about changing plans or incurring roaming charges. It’s a fuss-free, ultra-convenient way to ensure you’re always connected, letting you focus more on soaking up the Budapest experience and less on hunting down Wi-Fi passwords.

Tipping in Budapest

While it’s not obligatory, leaving a tip for good service is customary in Budapest. Whether you’re dining at a restaurant, taking a taxi, or relaxing at one of the city’s famous thermal baths, a tip is a nod of approval and a thank-you for good service.

At restaurants and cafes, it’s standard to leave around 10-15% of the total bill. Some places might include a service charge (around 12.5%), but this is not a tip and goes to the establishment rather than the individual server. It’s always good to check your bill for a service charge and then decide how much extra you’d like to leave.

Taxi drivers usually look forward to a 10% tip on the fare. For minor services, like using a cloakroom or restroom, a tip of a few hundred Forints is enough. Instead of leaving spare change on the table, it’s more common to round the bill to the nearest whole number or specify the total sum you’d like to pay, tip included.

So go ahead, be generous but not extravagant, and when in doubt, 10% is a good rule of thumb. Your gesture won’t just make someone’s day; it’s a wonderful way to show appreciation and respect for the local culture.

Where to Stay in Budapest

District I (Castle Hill), District V (Downtown or Inner City or Belváros), District VI (Terézváros), District VII (Jewish Quarter or Erzsébetváros), and District VIII (Józsefváros)are the recommended neighborhoods to stay in Budapest.

If you are visiting Budapest for the first time or are short on time, staying in District V is your best bet! It’s the center of the city where most of the popular attractions, best restaurants, and hotels are located.

Some of the best hotels in District V are Aria Hotel Budapest , Prestige Hotel Budapest , and Kempinski Hotel Corvinus Budapest .

For a quieter and more luxurious stay, you can choose District I . Buda Castle Hotel , Hilton Budapest , and Monastery Boutique Hotel Budapest  are some of the best properties in the Castle District.

District VI is packed with history and culture and makes a good stay option for culture lovers while District VII is home to the unique ruin bars Budapest is known for and can be a good fit for those who want to experience the vibrant nightlife of the city. Home to some of the finest and most charming streets and boulevards, the Hungarian National Museum, bohemian cafes, lovely art spaces, and extravagant mansions, District VIII is also a great place to stay in Budapest.

The best hotels in District VI include Stories Boutique Hotel , Mamaison Hotel Andrassy Budapest , and Barceló Budapest and the recommended ones in District VII are Bo33 Hotel Family & Suites , Roombach Hotel Budapest Center , and Vagabond Broadway .

The best properties to stay in District VIII are Brody House and Hotel Museum Budapest .

What to do in Budapest

attila jozsef statue kossuth square

To help you navigate the abundance of must-dos in Budapest, here are the city’s crown jewels that promise an unforgettable experience without overwhelming you.

Marvel at the Buda Castle

Your trip to Budapest would be incomplete without visiting the Buda Castle. This historic palace complex is not just an architectural masterpiece but also offers panoramic views of the city from its hilltop location. Don’t miss the Hungarian National Gallery within the complex.

Take a Dip in the Thermal Baths

A dive into the city’s spa culture is a must! Budapest is famous for its thermal baths, thanks to a bounty of natural hot springs beneath the city. The Széchenyi Baths and the Gellért Baths are the most famous, but for a less crowded experience, try the Lukács Baths or the Rudas Baths.

Walk Across the Chain Bridge

Connecting Buda and Pest, this iconic bridge is best crossed on foot. The views of the Parliament and Buda Castle at either end, especially during sunset, are simply unforgettable.

The Danube Promenade

Wander the Danube Promenade for a breathtaking tableau of Budapest’s illustrious landmarks. As you amble, you’ll come face to face with the haunting yet beautiful Shoes on the Danube Bank, an evocative tribute to the Jewish victims of World War II.

This stroll is not merely scenic; it’s a walk through the riveting chapters of Budapest’s past.

Visit the Hungarian Parliament

You can’t visit Budapest without marveling at one of Europe’s oldest legislative buildings.

It’s one of the largest and most intricately designed parliament buildings in the world. While its exterior is magnificent, the inside is equally grand, featuring marble columns, golden accents, and the Holy Crown of Hungary.

Whether you tour the inside or admire it from the Danube, its grandeur is awe-inspiring.

St. Stephen’s Basilica

This neoclassical church is not only a functioning religious institution but also offers some of the best views of the city from its dome. You can either climb the stairs or take an elevator to the top.

Fisherman’s Bastion

This fairytale-like structure provides another excellent vantage point for city views. It looks particularly magical at sunrise and sunset.

The Great Market Hall

For a dose of local life, head to this bustling market. It’s a great place to try local foods, buy souvenirs, and observe the daily life of Budapest residents.

Discover the Jewish Quarter

Home to ruin bars, street art, and the Great Synagogue—the largest in Europe—the Jewish Quarter is a fusion of history and hipster culture. Don’t miss a visit to Szimpla Kert, the original ruin bar.

Explore Andrássy Avenue

Imagine sauntering down an elegant avenue framed by magnificent Neo-Renaissance edifices and upscale boutiques, each step bringing you closer to the legendary Heroes’ Square. Here, larger-than-life statues of Hungary’s national heroes stand in solemn tribute, watched over by two cultural behemoths—the Museum of Fine Arts and the Hall of Art.

Continue your journey, and you’ll soon be enveloped by the verdant embrace of City Park, where the enchanting Vajdahunyad Castle awaits to sweep you off your feet.

House of Terror Museum

This museum offers a dark but necessary look at the fascist and communist regimes that once ruled Hungary. It’s located in the former headquarters of the secret police, adding to its haunting atmosphere.

Cruise on the Danube

A river cruise on the Danube, especially in the evening when the city’s landmarks are lit up, is magical. It’s a wonderful way to see Budapest from a different angle.

Enjoy Hungarian Cuisine

Dive into local flavors at the Central Market Hall or at eateries like Kispiac and Mák Bistro. Make sure you try chimney cake, an irresistible local dessert.

Have a Cup of Coffee at New York Café

Often dubbed the “ Most Beautiful Café in the World ,” this cafe is a living piece of Hungarian history. With its grandiose chandeliers, opulent gold leafing, and frescoed ceilings, stepping inside feels like entering a bygone era of glamour and elegance.

It’s the kind of place where you half expect to see 19th-century poets and writers discussing their latest works over a cup of coffee. And speaking of coffee, their menu is a delightful fusion of traditional Hungarian treats and classic café staples.

Even if you’re not in the mood for caffeine, simply walking into this magnificent space to admire its historical and visual grandeur is an experience in itself.

In essence, a visit to the New York Café is like stepping into a living museum, one where the exhibits are best enjoyed with a cup of coffee in hand.

Hidden Gems in Budapest

If you’re in the mood to sidestep the well-trodden paths and discover Budapest’s less-heralded treasures, then you’re in for a treat.

Memento Park

Located a bit out of the city center, this park is a collection of statues from Hungary’s Communist period. It’s an eerie yet fascinating look into a bygone era.


This pinball museum offers a nostalgic trip down memory lane with playable pinball machines from different eras. It’s quirky, fun, and a great way to spend an afternoon.

The Children’s Railway

Operated by children under adult supervision, this narrow-gauge railway takes you through the scenic Buda hills. It’s a unique experience that’s perfect for families.

Hospital in the Rock

A lesser-known site, this former hospital was turned into a nuclear bunker during the Cold War. Now a museum, it’s a fascinating dive into history.

Petofi Literary Museum

For the literature aficionados, a visit to this museum is like entering a time capsule of Hungarian literary history. Named after Hungary’s national poet Sándor Petőfi, the museum offers an intimate look into the nation’s literary accomplishments and struggles for freedom.

Koleves Kert

It’s a unique ruin pub where local artists have transformed discarded furniture and vintage items into an eclectic masterpiece. It’s Budapest’s alternative to mainstream nightlife, nestled in the Jewish Quarter but far enough from the crowd.

Szimpla Farmer’s Market

For a sip of Budapest’s underground culture, head to this unique market, hosted every Sunday in the renowned Szimpla Kert ruin bar. It’s a patchwork of local produce, handmade crafts, and that authentic Budapest community vibe you won’t find anywhere else.

Toth Arpad setany

Take a walk along this lesser-known promenade in Buda offering panoramic views of the city and a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle. It’s one of the best spots to catch a golden Budapest sunset.

Day Trips from Budapest

lake balaton day trip from budapest hungary

The city’s central location makes it a fantastic starting point for day trips that offer a whole new set of experiences. Here are some handpicked escapes that can effortlessly fit into your Budapest itinerary.

Lake Balaton

Often hailed as the “Hungarian Sea,” Lake Balaton stands as Central Europe’s largest freshwater haven. Less than two hours from Budapest by train, this alluring destination offers sailing, swimming, and even wine tasting.

Just a short train ride away, Szentendre is an art-lover’s paradise. This charming town is home to winding streets, quaint buildings, and several art galleries and museums.

This town is a medieval marvel, complete with a royal palace and a hilltop citadel offering panoramic views of the Danube Bend.

Known for its monumental basilica, which is the largest church in Hungary, Esztergom is a treasure trove of history and architecture. It’s an easy train or boat ride from Budapest.

This southern city offers a unique blend of Roman architecture, a vibrant arts scene, and Ottoman-era mosques. Pécs is around a three-hour train ride from Budapest but well worth the journey.

Also known as the Great Hungarian Plain, it is a day-tripper’s dream, especially if you’re keen to experience Hungary’s traditional countryside. Located about 90 minutes from Budapest, this expansive flatland offers horse shows, carriage rides, and a glimpse into the pastoral life that’s a world away from the city hustle. It’s the ideal spot for those who want to see Hungarian cowboys, known as “csikos,” in action and indulge in local folklore.

Famous for its castle, thermal baths, and the historic defeat of Ottoman troops, Eger also tempts visitors with its wine culture, including the renowned Egri Bikavér (“Bull’s Blood”).

A UNESCO World Heritage site, this village offers a glimpse into traditional Hungarian life. Its Easter Festival is especially worth experiencing.

Just a half-hour train ride from Budapest, Gödöllő hosts the Royal Palace, the world’s second-largest Baroque chateau. It was a favorite summer residence of Queen Elisabeth, affectionately known as Sisi.

What to Eat & Drink in Budapest

chimney cake molnars kurtoskalacs

Think rich stews and mouthwatering pastries—Budapest offers a flavorful peek into Hungary’s vibrant culture.

Goulash is the iconic Hungarian stew that’s a comforting blend of meat, veggies, and that all-important dash of paprika.

If you’re in the mood for something less hearty but equally delicious, Lángos is your go-to. This delectable deep-fried flatbread is usually adorned with dollops of sour cream and a sprinkle of cheese.

Chimney Cake

Chimney Cake, or Kürtőskalács is a sweet, spiral-shaped pastry that’s crispy on the outside and soft within.

And don’t forget to try Pogácsa, a type of savory scone that’s perfect for snacking as you explore the city.

Hungarian Wine

Hungarian wine is often overlooked, but it’s a must-try while you’re in town. Venture to a local wine bar to sample a glass of Tokaji , Hungary’s famous dessert wine, or Egri Bikavér , a robust red. For something stronger, take a sip of Pálinka , a fruit brandy that packs a punch.

Where to Eat & Drink in Budapest

For a genuine taste of Hungarian cooking, head to this retro-chic eatery that revisits traditional recipes with a modern twist.

Costes Downtown

If you’re craving some Michelin-star dining, Costes Downtown offers a world-class experience right in the heart of the city.

Bors GasztroBar

This place is practically an institution for street food in Budapest. From soups to sandwiches, every dish is a burst of flavor, making it a favorite among locals and tourists alike.

Street food fans, brace yourselves for Karavan, a food truck yard serving up everything from chimney cake to gourmet burgers.

Molnar’s Kurtoskalacs

It’s the go-to place for chimney cake, a Hungarian dessert that’s crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, literally a sugary spiral of joy that you’ll probably dream about long after your trip.

Vegetarians like me can savor plant-based delights at Vegan Love, known for its scrumptious vegan burgers and shakes.

Espresso Embassy

To soak in the city’s coffee culture, Espresso Embassy is an ideal haunt, serving artisanal coffees that are the talk of the town.

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Your Essential Budapest Travel Guide

Discover Budapest: Your Essential Travel Guide

Welcome to Budapest! This is your ultimate guide to the heart of Hungary. Immerse yourself in this stunning city’s vibrant culture , rich history , and breathtaking scenery.

From the iconic Chain Bridge to the stunning architecture of Parliament , Budapest is a feast for the senses.

Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway or a family adventure, our expertly curated travel guide has everything you need to plan your perfect trip. So what are you waiting for? Let us take you on a journey to discover the magic of Budapest!

Budapest city

Welcome to Budapest.city – The ultimate travel guide to one of Europe’s most beautiful cities. Our team of travel experts provides insider tips, top attractions , and hidden gems to help you make the most of your visit. Whether you’re here for a weekend getaway or an extended stay, we’re here to make your trip unforgettable. Join us and discover the best of Budapest!


Accommodation, transportation.

Expert advice and top suggestions

Insider tips and local’s recommendations for lesser-known places in Budapest.


Top attractions

tips to travel to budapest

Buda Castle

Dominating the city skyline , Buda Castle is an iconic landmark. As a UNESCO World Heritage site, it is home to the Hungarian National Gallery and Budapest History Museum. The panoramic views of the city from Castle Hill are simply unforgettable.

tips to travel to budapest

Parliament Building

One of the largest parliament buildings in the world, this magnificent structure is a perfect example of neo-gothic architecture. The guided tours offer a glimpse into Hungary’s political history.

tips to travel to budapest

St. Stephen’s Basilica

Named after the first King of Hungary, St. Stephen’s Basilica is the largest church in Budapest. The stunning interior, combined with the breathtaking views from the dome , make this a must-visit attraction.

tips to travel to budapest

Fisherman’s Bastion

Fisherman’s Bastion offers the best views over Budapest, a beautiful neo-Gothic and neo-Romanesque style terrace. It’s one of the most visited sites in Budapest, particularly loved for its fairy-tale-like architecture.

tips to travel to budapest

Széchenyi Thermal Baths

Budapest is famous for its thermal baths , and Széchenyi is the largest in Europe. Relaxing in its thermal waters is a quintessential Budapest experience.

tips to travel to budapest

The Danube Promenade

Strolling along the Danube promenade, particularly at sunset, is a mesmerizing experience. The river beautifully separates the city into Buda and Pest , each offering unique charm.

What’s more?

Travel guides

Discover budapest like never before with budapest.city travel guide.

Welcome to Budapest, the heart of Hungary and the crown jewel of the Danube! Our comprehensive travel guide, www.budapest.city , is your essential companion in uncovering the layers of history, culture, and vibrancy this city offers. Whether you’re a history buff, a culture vulture, or a spontaneous traveler, we’ve got you covered.

Dive Deep into Budapest’s Rich History

Start your journey with our detailed section about Budapest, delving deep into its storied past. From the enigmatic Great Age of Migrations and the pivotal rule of the Clan of Árpád to the impactful times of the Turkish Occupation and the Habsburg Rule , each epoch leaves its indelible mark on the city’s architecture, streets, and psyche. Relive the events of March 1848 and explore the influences of World War I and Soviet Power , understanding Budapest’s resilience and its phoenix-like resurgence.

A Treasure Trove of Experiences

Our ‘Explore’ section brings to you the glittering array of top sights, picturesque neighborhoods , and atmospheric districts . Whether it’s the iconic thermal baths that promise relaxation or the lush parks and gardens offering a slice of tranquility, we guide you through it all. And for those seeking a cultural immersion, Budapest’s churches , synagogues , museums , galleries , and landmarks are sure to mesmerize. Don’t forget to delve into our detailed segments on the city’s stunning palaces and historic buildings – a testament to Budapest’s architectural grandeur.

Beyond the City’s Bounds

But there’s more! Just a stone’s throw away from Budapest, discover attractions that promise an equally captivating experience. Whether it’s a castle, a quaint village, or natural wonders, you’ll find it listed in our ‘Near Budapest’ section.

Your Practical Guide to Budapest

Navigating a new city can be daunting, but fret not! From detailed transportation guides on reaching Budapest by bus , plane, or train to invaluable local tips , we ensure your journey is smooth and enjoyable. Our sections on accommodation , currency exchange , and even a list of what not to do, equip you with all the practical information you’ll ever need.

Unlock the City’s Secrets

For the explorers at heart, our ‘Insights’ section is a goldmine. Dive into local tips, uncover hidden gems, and discover offbeat attractions that only the locals might know of. We guarantee experiences that will make your trip truly memorable.

So, why wait? Let www.budapest.city be your trusted guide in exploring Budapest’s magic. Dive into our site, craft your own journey, and let the city’s charm unfold before you. Every alley, every bridge, every spire has a story. Come, discover yours!

Discover the magic of Budapest with our comprehensive guide — bookmark it now and share the love on Facebook and other platforms, so your friends and family can also embark on this unforgettable journey!

Best Time to Visit

Weather & Climate

Budapest Airport Guide

Public Transportation

Neighborhoods to Know

72-Hour Itinerary

Day Trips From Budapest

Top Things to Do

Free Things to Do

Best Museums

Thermal Baths

Shopping in Budapest

Hungarian Dishes to Try

Best Restaurants in Budapest

Ruin Bars to Visit

Your Trip to Budapest: The Complete Guide

tips to travel to budapest

Jennifer Walker is a freelance writer specializing in art, travel, and culture. Jennifer's work has appeared in many publications, including Matador Network and CNN Travel.

tips to travel to budapest

Budapest is one of Europe's most photogenic capitals. Divided in two by the Danube River, many of the city's most famous sites cluster around the river. But no matter where you walk, especially if you remember to look up, you'll always find some unique detail that captures your imagination. Once your camera has run out of battery or you're done with sightseeing (whichever happens first), you can take a dip in one of the stunning thermal water baths or grab a drink at an iconic ruin bar . Whether you're into architecture with a touch of drama, old-world cafes, thriving nightlife, grand thermal spas, or even communist history, Budapest has something for you. You'll find history etched into its bullet-scarred walls and life buzzing around its boulevards and promenades downtown.

Here’s a complete guide about when to visit, where to stay, what to do, how you can get around, and more on your visit to the Hungarian capital.

Planning Your Trip to Budapest 

  • Best Time to Visit : The shoulder seasons like fall and spring are the best time to visit Budapest. The temperatures are the most pleasant and it’s not too crowded this time of year.
  • Language: Hungarian 
  • Currency: Hungarian Forint 
  • Getting Around: Budapest has an excellent public transportation system, which makes it very easy to get around. It’s also a very walkable city, so if you are centrally located you can walk everywhere. Otherwise, you can take the metro, tram, bus, or even the local public transport boat, which runs along the Danube in the summer. 
  • Travel Tip: Make sure you validate your single tickets correctly when you get on the tram, bus, or metro. Plainclothes ticket inspectors may fine you if you’re caught with an unvalidated ticket.

Things to Do

First-time visitors should head up to Castle Hill for fantastic views over the river and the charming historic streets winding around Fisherman’s Bastion and the Royal Palace of Buda Castle. Once you’re done with the historic Buda side, cross the Chain Bridge on foot to downtown Pest for St. Stephen’s Basilica and the Hungarian Parliament.

Art lovers and history buffs have no shortage of excellent museums to explore. Be sure to make a stop at Memento Park—a large park where communist statues go to die. If you enjoy nature, head up to the Buda Hills for hiking, or go for a ride on the Children's Railway. The only capital where caves run below the city   , Budapest offers many caverns to explore as well, including Pálvölgyi and Szemlőhegy Caves. Some things every visitor to the city should do are:

  • Take a boat up the Danube. See the city from the river on a boat tour or take the local public transport boat for a couple of dollars.
  • Bar hop in the Jewish District. Explore Budapest’s most famous ruin bars by night. Grab a drink at Szimpla, the first ruin bar of the city, and head over to nearby Instant-Fogas.
  • Visit a thermal bath . Boasting more thermal baths than any other capital city   , Budapest has rightfully earned its title as the City of Spas. There are more than 80 geothermal springs and 10 thermal baths here, so you have plenty to choose from. If you want grand architecture, head to the Széchenyi or Gellért Thermal Baths. For a spot of history, go for a dip in one of the historic 16th century Turkish baths like the Rudas Baths.

Get more information about activities in Budapest with our guides to the city's best museums and top things to do in Budapest .

What to Eat and Drink

Hungarian food is rich and hearty. Meat, especially pork, dominates the cuisine, which tends to be spicier than its Central European counterparts. Most typically Hungarian dishes like goulash, catfish soup, or chicken paprikás bear a deep red color thanks to their generous paprika content. Other specialties you may want to try are street food like lángos, a deep-fried savory dough topped with cheese and sour cream, or chimney cake, a grilled brioche-like cake rolled in cinnamon, cocoa powder, or ground nuts. If you have a sweet tooth, try some of the amazing cakes in one of the historic cafes or confectionaries. The chocolate-caramel Dobos cake or the nutty Eszterházy cake won’t disappoint.

When it comes to drinking, Hungary has got you covered. Hungarian wine is gaining a solid reputation, and it’s incredibly diverse. You have the famous sweet dessert wines from the Tokaj region, the dry, crisp whites from Badacsony, and the rich reds from Eger or Villány. The beer scene is growing, so if you want to sample some Hungarian craft beers, an excellent place to try them is Élesztő, a ruin bar with 20 local brews on tap. If you’re feeling adventurous, maybe you can try some pálinka, a potent fruit brandy, or Unicum, a bitter herbal liqueur.

Budapest has six Michelin-starred restaurants   and plenty other award-winning dining establishments. You can still find more traditional restaurants scattered around town, but street food, craft burgers, and chic bistros are popping up more and more in Budapest’s Inner City and Jewish Quarter.

For more culinary inspiration, see our guide to the top restaurants in Budapest and Hungarian dishes you should try .

Where to Stay

Castle District: The Castle District puts you among some of the city’s most famous sites and charming bistros. If you like to sleep on quiet streets, this is a perfect choice as there are no clubs and very few late-night bars up here.

Inner City: You’ll find the best hotels in the Inner City in Pest’s V District. Not only will you be around the top shops and restaurants, but you can find the best hotels like the Four Seasons, the Aria Hotel, the Intercontinental, the Kempinski, and more in this district. You are also only minutes away from the main transport hubs, like Deák Ferenc tér, where you even have a direct bus to the airport.

Jewish District: If you want to be at the heart of the action, and don't mind having late nights, then you may want to stay in the Jewish District. You’ll find many hostels here—most of them party hostels—so it’s a part of town buzzing with youthful energy. Some of the hostels even have their own ruin bar.

Palace District: The Palace District is close enough to downtown to be within walking distance from the major sites, but is also a much quieter neighborhood than the neighboring Jewish District.

For more about accommodations, see our guide to the city's best hotels.

Getting There

Budapest’s Ferenc Liszt International Airport (BUD) offers direct flights to and from New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago via major airlines like LOT Polish Airlines and American Airlines.

From the airport, it's a 30 to 40 minute drive to downtown. You can rent a car, use a rideshare like Bolt, hail a taxi, or take the 200E bus directly to Deák Ferenc Tér in the center of the city, or take the 100E bus which connects you to the metro line 3.

Money-Saving Tips

  • Come to Budapest during the off-season. Since hotel rates can be very high in the height of summer or around Christmas, you can save a lot by visiting at a quieter time like April or October.
  • If you’re planning to use public transport a lot and hit many of the museums, you may want to invest in a Budapest Card. This card gives you free public transport access, discounts or free entry to some of the museums and even the entrance to the Lukács Baths. 
  • Go for the lunch menu. Most restaurants, even the high-end ones, will offer a good value lunch menu. You can also eat out pretty cheaply by opting for street food or picking up a picnic from one of the local market halls and heading over to the Danube Banks or one of the many parks in the city. 
  • Take one of the free walking tours in the city center to get your bearings and learn a little about Budapest’s history.

Budapest Festival & Tourism Centre . "The Caves of Budapest Open to the Public."

Budapest Festival & Tourism Centre . "Baths."

MICHELIN Guide . "Budapest Restaurants."

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Paris Guide: Planning Your Trip

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The Best Time to Visit Budapest

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10 Reasons to Visit Budapest

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Budapest   Travel Guide

Courtesy of Tanatat pongphibool ,thailand | Getty Images

tips to travel to budapest

19 Best Things To Do in Budapest

Updated May. 8, 2023

The thermal baths are king here, but there are plenty of other ways to kill a day. World-class museums, island parks, shopping and cafes are available in spades. Foot it around Castle Hill for a taste of medieval Budapest or spend an afternoon

  • All Things To Do

tips to travel to budapest

Fisherman's Bastion (Halászbástya) Fisherman's Bastion (Halászbástya) free

Located in the historic district of  Castle Hill , Fisherman's Bastion is a neo-Gothic terrace that looks like a structure taken straight out of a fairy tale. Designed and built in 1905 by Frigyes Schulek – the same architect who built the adjacent Matthias Church – Fisherman's Bastion is named after the medieval guild of fishermen who protected Budapest from invasion.

Visitors say Fisherman's Bastion's gleaming white structure provides panoramic views of the city: From here, you can snap some breathtaking pictures of the Danube River , Margaret Island and Pest. Also save time for exploring the sight's seven ornate turrets, which symbolize the tents of the seven Magyar leaders who settled the Carpathian Basin, ultimately leading to the existence of modern-day Hungary. 

tips to travel to budapest

Danube River Danube River free

Dividing the city's Buda and Pest sides is the impressive Danube River. Flowing roughly 1,770 miles from west Germany through Austria, Slovakia, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova and, of course, Hungary, before meeting the Black Sea in southern Ukraine, this sprawling river is the second longest in Europe. Along its Budapest shores, travelers will find iconic sights like the Hungarian Parliament and Buda Castle .

Recent visitors highly recommend checking out the Danube River on foot or by boat. If you decide to go for a stroll, consider doing so at the Danube Promenade, which offers picturesque views and the must-see Shoes on the Danube Bank Holocaust memorial, according to past travelers. Many also suggest signing up for an evening sightseeing cruise through local operators like Legenda Sightseeing Boats and Portum Lines .

tips to travel to budapest

Castle Hill (Várhegy) Castle Hill (Várhegy) free

Located on the west side of the Danube River , Castle Hill is a must-see district for any Budapest visitor. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987, the area's iconic Buda Castle was constructed in the 13th century. Walk the cobblestone streets, take in the medieval atmosphere and dive deep into Budapest's history.

From the castle to  Matthias Church  to the underground Castle Labyrinth to  Fisherman's Bastion , you'll find there's almost no end to what you can learn about Budapest's past. The lack of vehicle traffic also lends an old-world charm to the area. Plus, travelers say you'll discover sweeping city panoramas from multiple locales in the neighborhood.

tips to travel to budapest

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Széchenyi Chain Bridge (Széchenyi Lánchíd) Széchenyi Chain Bridge (Széchenyi Lánchíd) free

It's hard to miss the nearly 1,250-foot-long Széchenyi Chain Bridge. Originally built in the 1800s by English engineer William Tierney Clark, this stunning suspension bridge was mostly destroyed during World War II. Though it was badly damaged, it still features its original pillars and stone lions that flank its entrances. Since being reconstructed in the late 1940s, visitors have flocked here to walk, bike and drive across it.

Travelers rave about this impressive bridge, saying it's a superb subject for photos. For the best views, visitors suggest arriving at night when lights illuminate the bridge and surrounding attractions. Sights you can see from the Széchenyi Chain Bridge include Buda Castle and the Hungarian Parliament .

tips to travel to budapest

Heroes' Square (Hosök tere) Heroes' Square (Hosök tere) free

Heroes' Square is one of Budapest's grandest landmarks. In fact, it's the largest public square in the city. Swing by this area to take a picture of the Millenary Monument, which was erected in 1896 to celebrate Hungary's 1000th anniversary.

The square and the monument are dedicated to those who lost their lives while fighting for the country's independence. At the base of the famous column (topped with the Archangel Gabriel) are statues representing seven Magyar chieftains – considered to be the founders of the Hungarian nation. Behind the column are matching colonnades with 14 statues of royalty and other important figures in Hungarian history.

tips to travel to budapest

Hungarian Parliament (Országház) Hungarian Parliament (Országház)

Completed in 1902, the Hungarian Parliament is one of Budapest's most famous landmarks. The Hungarian National Assembly still meets here, but visitors come mainly to take in the building's architecture (primarily Gothic Revival-style) and beautiful statues and paintings. According to many, there is no structure in Hungary that serves as a better symbol of the country's independence and commitment to democracy. 

Travelers and locals alike say this structure is a must-see for any visitor's first trip to Budapest. It not only features incredible architectural details but also stunning Danube River views and significant artifacts, such as Hungary's crown jewels. If you're interested in touring the inside, visitors suggest booking well in advance since tours – which are the only way to gain interior access – fill up fast. Photography is permitted during a tour; however, taking pictures inside the Dome Hall (where the crown jewels are located) is not allowed.

tips to travel to budapest

St. Stephen's Basilica (Svent István Bazilika) St. Stephen's Basilica (Svent István Bazilika) free

One of downtown Budapest's most popular sights is St. Stephen's Basilica. Featuring two clock towers and an impressive cupola, this historical church, which was dedicated to Stephen I (Hungary's founder and first king) upon completion in 1905, took more than 50 years to build. Visitors flock here to catch a glimpse of its main attraction – the Holy Right. This mummified, jewel-adorned right hand of the property's namesake rests inside an ornate golden reliquary in the church's Holy Right chapel.

Past travelers praised St. Stephen's Basilica's stunning architecture and interior, as well as the breathtaking city views from the cupola's balcony. Visitors can explore the church on their own, but for more insight about its history, reviewers recommend paying for the guided tour, which includes looks at the Holy Right chapel, the on-site treasury and the cupola.

tips to travel to budapest

Buda Castle (Budai vár) Buda Castle (Budai vár) free

As its name implies, Castle Hill 's main attraction is its medieval castle. Built in the 14th century to accommodate various kings, the structure now features Baroque and neo-Baroque details added during various restorations. It's also home to the Hungarian National Gallery, the Budapest History Museum and the National Széchényi Library.

Like Gellért Hill and the  Széchenyi Chain Bridge , Buda Castle boasts picturesque city panoramas, according to past visitors. However, previous travelers had mixed feelings about using the Buda Castle Funicular. Some enjoyed riding it to the top, while others bemoaned its pricey fees and suggested walking. If you are not keen on walking but want to avoid paying 1,200 forints (about $5) for a one-way fare or 1,800 forints ($7) for a round-trip ticket, consider using the No. 16 bus. Each ticket costs 350 forints (roughly $1.50) when purchased in advance; to get a ticket on board, expect to pay 450 forints (less than $2). For Budapest Card holders, rides on public transportation are covered.

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Budapest Danube River Candlelit Dinner Cruise with Live Music

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Matthias Church (Mátyás-templom) Matthias Church (Mátyás-templom) free

The neo-Gothic Matthias Church in  Castle Hill  has been around for centuries and, in many ways, its history corresponds to that of Budapest itself. Built in the 13th century, Matthias was the city's first parish church. However, it was transformed into a mosque during the 1541 Ottoman occupation and remained an Islamic place of worship until the Turkish expulsion nearly 150 years later. Today, tourists come to admire its imposing architecture, take in its historical symbolism and spend some time studying its impressive artwork.

Recent visitors said the church's architecture is striking and the informational place cards throughout the property give you a sense of its expansive history. Don't forget to check out the Ecclesiastical Art Collection, also housed inside. You can see the medieval crypt where 10th-century King Béla III and his wife Agnes are buried, as well replicas of royal jewels and other religious artifacts. And if you enjoy organs, the church's (with 7,771 pipes and 18 bells) is regularly the star of on-site concerts and shows.

tips to travel to budapest

Dohány Street Synagogue (Dohány utcai Zsinagóga) Dohány Street Synagogue (Dohány utcai Zsinagóga) free

Also referred to as the Great Synagogue, this place of worship is the largest synagogue in Europe and the second-largest in the world (only Temple Emanu-El in  New York City  is slightly bigger). Opened in 1859, this building features Romantic and Moorish Revival-style architecture and can accommodate up to 3,000 people.

Travelers suggest you visit for the atmosphere and to learn of the synagogue's historical significance  –  particularly its connection to the Holocaust.  In 1939, the synagogue was bombed by a Hungarian pro-Nazi party, and between 1944 and 1945, Dohány Street itself constituted the border of Budapest's Jewish ghetto. Visit the adjacent Hungarian Jewish Museum and Archives to learn about the history of Hungarian Judaism and to pay your respects at the Garden of Memory in its courtyard.

tips to travel to budapest

Museum of Fine Arts (Szépmuvészeti Múzeum) Museum of Fine Arts (Szépmuvészeti Múzeum)

Located in City Park by Sz é chenyi Baths and the Budapest Zoo & Botanical Garden, the Museum of Fine Arts showcases Hungarian art dating back to the Middle Ages, plus Egyptian antiquities and 13th- to 19th-century European paintings. Exhibitions feature medals, prints, drawings, wooden sculptures, altarpieces and modern art – all of which contributed to Hungarian history and art development.

Previous museumgoers heap praise on the Museum of Fine Arts, adding that the renovation it underwent until October 2018 is beautiful. Some past visitors specifically raved about the informative displays, noting that they're so well-done that you don't need an audio guide.

tips to travel to budapest

Thermal Baths Thermal Baths

A soak in a thermal bath is a quintessential Budapest experience. (It hasn't cultivated a reputation as the "City of Spas" for nothing.) These baths, or fürdok in Hungarian, are heated by natural thermal springs and usually include on-site massage services, as well as steam rooms.

With more than 100 thermal springs, the various baths around the city cater to different tastes – from relaxation to cures for illness – and some transform into pulsating dance clubs at night, so if you're bathing with your family, you might want to do so during the daylight hours.

tips to travel to budapest

Gellért Hill (Gellért-hegy) Gellért Hill (Gellért-hegy) free

Across the Danube River from the Inner City lies Gellért Hill. Measuring 771 feet high, this neighborhood is best known for its 19th-century citadel, but the area is also home to an arboretum, a church built into a cave and various statues, such as the Liberty Statue (a traveler favorite) and one of the region's namesake, Saint Gerard. Legend has it that the Italian monk was pushed off of the hill to his death in the 1000s.

On a sunny day, visitors say Gellért Hill offers jaw-dropping views of the river and downtown Budapest. Travelers also praise the neighborhood's statues but recommend learning more about their histories before arriving to supplement your visit. What's more, some caution that the walk up the hill is exhausting, but limited parking is available by the citadel for a fee. You can also take the No. 27 bus most of the way up to the Búsuló Juhász stop.

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Hungarian State Opera House (Magyar Állami Operaház) Hungarian State Opera House (Magyar Állami Operaház)

Central Pest's Hungarian State Opera House has been an institution in Budapest since its opening in 1884. Featuring a neo-Renaissance style, the opera house holds more than 1,200 seats and has a reputation for its exceptional acoustics. But the building's main draw is its opulent architecture –  inside and out.  Marble columns, gilded vaulted ceilings, an enormous bronze chandelier, and murals and frescoes depicting Greek mythological scenes provide a romantic setting.

According to recent visitors, the opera house's exterior justifies a stop, even if you don't head inside for a guided tour. If you do decide to take a tour, keep in mind that the building is currently undergoing renovations. Some past travelers bemoaned not being able to see the auditorium during their visits. 

tips to travel to budapest

House of Terror Museum (Terror Háza Múzeum) House of Terror Museum (Terror Háza Múzeum)

Located in the Terézváros neighborhood in Pest's District VI, the House of Terror Museum is a jarring but important museum that documents the dictatorial oppression Hungary faced during its fascist and Stalinist regimes. Once the headquarters of the State Protection Authority (similar to the Soviet Union's KGB), the building was where brutal interrogations and the torturing of countless political activists and dissidents took place throughout the 20th century. Tour the chillingly realistic prison cell replicas in the basement, and brace yourself for the powerful and moving exhibit on Hungary's post-World War II years leading up to the 1953 uprising against its Soviet-controlled government.

Recent visitors said this museum's exhibits are thought-provoking and informative. However, a few lamented the no photography policy inside. Another drawback: the Hungarian-only displays. To understand the material presented in each exhibit, you'll need to ask for handouts with English translations or pay an extra 1,500 forints (roughly $6) for an English audio guide. You can also reserve a guided tour with an English-speaking guide at least 10 days in advance for 8,000 forints (about $31).

tips to travel to budapest

Hospital in the Rock Nuclear Bunker Museum (Sziklakórház Atombunker Múzeum) Hospital in the Rock Nuclear Bunker Museum (Sziklakórház Atombunker Múzeum)

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Budapest Zoo & Botanical Garden Budapest Zoo & Botanical Garden

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Taste Hungary Taste Hungary

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Guided Tours in Budapest on MonsteRoller e-Scooter

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Budapest Highlights Sightseeing Cruise

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Legenda Sightseeing Boats Legenda Sightseeing Boats

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Travel Guide for Budapest: A Cheat Sheet for First-Timers

Budapest is a true European gem with a casual, hip vibe.

Despite a turbulent past, reflected in the city’s culture, food, politics, and architecture, Budapest shines through the grit and will dazzle you with its stunning sights and squares near and along the banks of the Danube River and up along its hilly slopes.

It’s a must-see city if you’re traveling to Eastern Europe. So, in this travel guide for Budapest, you’ll find ideas about what to do in Budapest, get helpful Budapest tips, and advice on where to stay in Budapest especially if it’s your first time in the city.

Ready to visit Budapest? Let’s go!

As a Budapest visitor, you’ll see evidence of Budapest’s past in the form of its architecture, culture, monuments, religious and political buildings, and even the city’s overall layout.

Budapest was formed officially in 1873 when the 3 adjacent cities of Buda, Pest, and Obuda joined into a single capital city. Today when you visit Budapest, you’ll see the Danube River. Pest was on the east side of the river where the Parliament Building sits. Buda and Obuda were on the west side, where Fisherman’s Bastion and Castle Hill are.

The Chain Bridge links the 2 sides, having served as a connecting point since the mid-1800s.

Where is Budapest?

Budapest royal palace at night with illumination, Hungary, Europe. Travel outdoor european background

Budapest is the capital of Hungary. The country is bordered by Slovakia, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, and Ukraine. Budapest is well connected by train to many other European cities.

Budapest to Vienna is only 2 1/2 hours on the high-speed train. Bratislava from Budapest is about the same if you take the fastest trains. Prague is 6 1/2 hours away by train.

This is why a common trip to Prague, Vienna, and Budapest goes in that exact order. Fly into Prague and depart from Budapest with time in Vienna in between. The train trips between Prague and Vienna and then Vienna to Budapest are more than reasonable. It’s exactly what I did with my hubby on my first trip to Budapest.

What to Do in Budapest

Spending 2-3 days in Budapest will give you enough time to see and do first-timer musts. It’s likely, though, after spending time in this still (somewhat) off-the-beaten-path city, you’ll be thinking about your next visit to Budapest. (I was so happy to return!)

Start by Riding the #2 Tram.

This tram goes along the Danube on the Pest side of the river and gives a sense of how the former cities of Buda and Pest are situated. Tickets are easily purchased in a metro station. The ride will give you a glimpse of Budapest’s major sights, too, including the Buda hills where Castle Hill is, the Parliament building, and the Chain Bridge.

Budapest Tram

If you prefer a guided tour to orient yourself, check out Budapest Free Walking Tours .  They offer daily tours at 10:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. that depart from Elisabeth Square, not far from the Budapest Eye Ferris wheel. This Budapest Tour is meant to help you understand the basics of Budapest.

You can reserve a spot on their website and no obligation to stay for the entire tour. Just remember, that if you’re happy with your guide, make sure to tip them what you can at the end of the tour.

Don’t Miss the Views on Spectacular Castle Hill.

View on Parliament form Fisherman's Bastion, Budapest

After this introduction to the city, walk across the Chain Bridge. From there walk or take the funicular up to Castle Hill . The funicular is on the Buda side and is undoubtedly easier than the walk. However, the walk up is not overly difficult and scenic along the way.

Once at the top, though, you’ll be rewarded with sweeping panoramic views of the city and the Danube. The views are absolutely breathtaking!

Do Some Castle Hill Sightseeing.

On Castle Hill, spend the morning or afternoon visiting the Royal Palace, Mathias Church, and Fisherman’s Bastion.  You can walk around independently or go on a Buda Castle Walking Tour with a guide for more context.

Fisherman’s Bastion is part of Buda Castle and history says that fishermen back in the Middle Ages lived just below the castle walls and served as a line of defense protecting the castle. Today, the terraces along the walls that stretch opposite the Danube provide the lookouts over the river and city below.

Fisherman's Bastion Budapest Hungary

Matthias Church is a Catholic church built in the latter part of the 14th century in a Gothic style, replacing an even earlier Romanesque-style church dating back to the 11th century. 

Also on Castle Hill is Buda Castle, a Baroque palace built in the 1700s.

The original structure dates back to the 1200s and was the residence of the Hungarian Kings throughout the years. Today, the palace houses the National Gallery and the Budapest History Museum, both of which have traditional daily hours. However, the Castle’s courtyards and surrounding grounds are open 24/7.

If you arrive on the hour between 8:30 and 5:00 p.m., you’ll also see the Hungarian Changing of the Guard at the castle. Or you just might want to head underground to explore the caves below Buda Castle which served as many things over the centuries including a medieval prison, wine cellars, and bomb shelters.

If you’re looking for some non-touristy things to do in Budapest, check out this Hospital in the Rock Tour . This is a guided tour of an underground WW2 bunker that was used as a top-secret military hospital!

Fisherman's Bastion Budapest Hungary

Tour Budapest’s Grand Parliament Building .

This ever-present architectural gem on the shores of the Danube is another of the many things to see in Budapest. You can opt to see it just from the outside but I recommend taking a guided tour of the inside. (You cannot get in without being part of a tour.)

The Parliament tour and its setup logistics take about 60-90 minutes. You can buy tickets online here and combine your visit with a city tour or get them through the official website . The website is in Hungarian but there is a way to switch the language to English at the top. Look for a tiny “HU” in the menu bar. this is where you can toggle between languages.

A limited number of same-day tickets are also sold at the Visitor’s Center below the Parliament building itself. Depending on the time of year you visit, this could be a long line and you’re at the mercy of whatever remaining tours that day have space.

Hungarian Parliament Building in Budapest

Take a Moment at the Shoes on the Danube Memorial.

Along the river, near Parliament, a simple but impactful bronze shoe exhibit stands as a memorial remembering Jewish people who were killed less than a day before the Soviets came to “liberate” the city.

Residents were told to take off their shoes and place their valuables inside of them. Then, they were shot execution-style along the river so their bodies would be swept off in the current.

Budapest Shoe Memorial

Soak in Budapest’s Thermal Baths.

Budapest is also famous for its thermal baths. Gellert Spa and Thermal Bath and  Széchenyi Thermal Bath are the two most popular. With a ticket , you’ll have access to the baths and can also arrange spa treatments like a massage.

Budapest Gellert Spa

If you’re planning a visit to Budapest in summer, avoid the crowds and plan ahead . The baths are a major draw for visitors and can sell out during popular times.

Traveling to Budapest soon?

I had a comfortable stay and fantastic service at the Radisson Blu Beke . Research and book other great Budapest hotels on Hotels.com  or Booking.com .

Budapest Hungary St. Stephen's Basilica

Visit Budapest’s Religious Sites.

Visit St. Stephen’s Basilica and D ohany Street Synagogue for a look at Budapest’s prominent religious structures. The architecture is unusual and the history, particularly of Budapest’s Jewish residents, is fascinating.

In fact, the Dohany Street Synagogue is the largest in all of Europe and the 2nd largest in the world. If you’ve traveled to other European countries and visited World War II sites like those in Normandy , it’s an altogether different perspective to what citizens of Budapest experienced, especially the Jewish population. The Dohany Street Synagogue played witness to all of this and more.

Walk along Andrassy Avenue.

Budapest Hungary Opera House Andrassy Avenue

Andrassy Avenue is a place in Budapest where you can see the mix of old and modern. Just a walk along the avenue is an architectural tour from the renovated and refreshed, as well as mansions that are crumbling.

It’s along this walk where you can see both the grittiness and rebirth of Budapest over the past decades. The State Opera House is along Andrassy Avenue and guided tours are also possible. It’s absolutely one of the most gorgeous buildings you will ever see.

Visit Budapest’s Most Iconic Square.

Heroes Square in Budapest, Hungary

At the end of Andrassy Avenue where City Park begins is Heroes Square. The arc-shaped memorial centered around a tall column with the Archangel Gabriel on top remembers the 7 Hungarian tribes and their leaders who established the country of Hungary.

It was constructed in 1896 to commemorate the 1000th anniversary of these tribes conquering the land of what is now modern-day Hungary. Today, it’s one of the most visited and most photographed squares in Budapest. In 2002, Heroes Square and Andrassy Avenue were declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Swoon over Budapest at Night!

After dark, be sure to see Budapest’s city lights from the water . It’s easily one of the best things to do in Budapest!

Boats operate from piers along the Pest side of the Danube. You can and should pre-arrange to take a sightseeing tour that loops past Budapest’s main sights and under its bridges or opt for a lengthier cruise with music and drinks.

Budapest Hungary Parliment Building

No matter how many days you have in Budapest, seeing the city from the water at night is a must. Have your camera ready! Budapest absolutely sparkles at night!

Spend a Night Out in Budapest’s Ruins Bars.

Wondering what to do in the evening in Budapest? After seeing the city dazzle from the water, have a Hungarian Beer at the Budapest Ruins Bars . The touristy but, still, fun Szimpla Kert plays different music in each room and the decor is fashioned with old computers, a car, and other odd salvage bits.  

Getting To & Into Budapest

amazing building of Parliament in Budapest and ships in front of it

Budapest’s main train station is Keleti. Trains from Vienna are 2 1/2 hours while trains from Prague are just under 7 hours long. As you research your train options, plan to buy your train tickets ahead of time , as prices tend to go up the closer the departure date gets.

I’d read a few reports about Keleti Train Station’s sketchiness, particularly because of pickpockets. I’ve been through this station twice, once as a solo female traveler, and never felt unsafe. Still, it’s always important to be alert and keep your belongings within reach at all times.

If you’re arriving by plane, train, or cruise, book a transfer with Welcome Pickups . I’ve used them repeatedly for my transfers in Europe and around the world and have always had a great experience.

Never hail a taxi or get in a taxi parked at a taxi stand outside. There are numerous taxi scams to be aware of in Budapest. The best way to avoid this is to book your transfer in advance as mentioned above, use an app like Bolt (Uber in Budapest), or have your hotel arrange a pickup.

If you’re arriving at the airport, Budapest has also added a shuttle bus to transfer to the city center.

The 100E bus takes visitors from the airport to the Deák Ferenc tér central metro station. You can purchase a ticket for 3€ or 900 HUF at the vending machine or at a customer service desk in the arrivals area of the airport. Then wait for the bus between 5 a.m and half past midnight at the BKK stop conveniently situated between the arrival terminals.

Where to Eat in Budapest 

Visit the Great Market Hall  and walk through aisle after aisle of fresh meats, bread, and produce. Head to the upper level to order a Langos and other Hungarian specialties, like Goulash. The market is as much a sight to see, as it is a place where locals shop for food. 

You can enhance your authentic Budapest foodie experience by   joining locals for a Hungarian dinner or cooking classes. 

Budapest Great Market Hall

Enjoy Budapest’s colorful food scene with everything from Hungarian classics to restaurants serving cuisine from around the globe. Of course, you’ll want to taste some local specialties like roasted meats and hearty meat and bean soups served at favorites like Kispiac Biztro.

Budapest Hungarian Goulash

The area in and around the Ruins Bars is also a foodie area of Budapest. You’ll find cuisine that ranges from traditional Hungarian to tacos to Kosher vegetarian. Trofea Grill is not far from the Ruins Bars and has an eclectic array of foods from all over the world.

Where to Stay in Budapest

Staying along the Danube or within a 5-10 minute walk to the river will give you the best access to the sights you’ll want to visit on both the Buda and Pest sides of the city. The #2 tram also runs along the river and is a quick and easy way to get from Parliament to the Great Market Hall.

There are several well-situated properties if you’re hoping to use hotel points for award nights. IHG’s Intercontinental and the Budapes t Marriott are right along the shores of the Danube.

Hotel Clark Budapest and the Hotel Moments Budapest are also highly-rated and centrally located.

the chain bridge in budapest in the evening. attractions in hungary.

We stayed at the Radisson Blu Beke Hotel . It was a 10-minute walk to Parliament. The hotel lobby was open and bright, the staff was super helpful, and the rooms were comfortable. Since my stay, the rooms have been updated and are more in line with other Radisson Blu hotels where I’ve stayed.

If you have Radisson points, you can redeem them for a stay.

Travel Guide for Budapest FAQs

How many days is recommended in budapest.

For a first trip to Budapest, I recommend 3 days. This will allow you to see the city’s sights and spend part or all of a day relaxing at one of the thermal bath spas. With careful planning and a constant pace, it’s possible to see Budapest’s main sights in only 2 days.

What is the best month to travel to Budapest?

The months of May, June, September, and October are the best months to travel to Budapest. The weather is pleasant and the crowds of summer have eased. That being said, I did once visit Budapest in February, and although it was chilly, prices were lower and there was never a line to wait in. Not to mention, the Hungarian cuisine is perfect for warming you up on a cold winter’s day.

Is Budapest expensive?

Visiting Budapest is much less expensive when compared to other European cities. In particular, the costs for a hotel and food are quite affordable.

Is Budapest safe?

Yes, overall, Budapest is safe. You should still remain alert, though. Like other touristy cities, Budapest does have petty crimes like pickpocketing and scams.

Is Budapest worth visiting?

Absolutely, yes! The city is full of history, gorgeous architecture, and a vibrant cultural scene. If you’re planning a trip to Eastern Europe, in particular, add Budapest to your itinerary!

Bottom Line: Visiting Budapest is Unforgettable!

Budapest is a gorgeous city with incredible history and architecture. It’s not to be missed when planning a trip to Eastern Europe. Even long after your trip is done, Budapest will still dazzle in your memories!

So, what questions do you have about this travel guide for Budapest?

Like this post? Please share it on social media using the share buttons below.

Budapest at night

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56 thoughts on “travel guide for budapest: a cheat sheet for first-timers”.

tips to travel to budapest

stunning Pictures of castle!! looks like an amazing place.lots of useful information you have shared. Appreciative Work.

tips to travel to budapest

Thanks so much, Maggie. Budapest is such a great city. Thanks for commenting. 🙂

tips to travel to budapest

Hi Jackie! I went to Budapest a few years ago and loved it. You’re right once you visit it, you already make plans to visit it again. Went to a medieval restaurant and had great food there and also tried local desserts, sooo good! Can’t wait to visit again. So glad you wrote about Budapest.

Hi, Melanie! I’m so happy to hear you went to Budapest and loved it! No doubt the food you had was delicious! I was actually excited to find there is a Hungarian food truck here in NYC. 🙂 Will definitely be heading back to Budapest!

tips to travel to budapest

Budapest is one city I would really love to visit! Your photo of the rose is so evocative!

Thanks, Carol. 🙂 You’re sure to love Budapest when you make it. Great sights, delicious food, and fascinating history.

tips to travel to budapest

Budapest is stunning. I went there a couple of years ago for a few days. Although it was a work trip, I managed to use a good amount of time to explore the city.

The views from the top of the hill are beautiful. Also did the Parliament tour and although it was a bit short, it was a great to see it from the inside. What an amazing building.

I found the city great for walking as well.

So well said, Hugo! I thought the city was made for walking as well and would love to go back again and really just stroll through and explore different areas and quieter streets. 🙂

tips to travel to budapest

Budapest looks so gorgeous. I’m really going to try and finally make it there when I’m in Europe this fall. The Parliament building is stunning!

Oh, Mags, you’ll be happy you did! Budapest is great! Definitely worth using some of your time in Europe to explore Budapest. 🙂

tips to travel to budapest

Budapest is one of my favourite cities and after two visits there are still a few things on your list that I have not seen. Just means I’ll have to return again 🙂 Thanks for linking up this post with #TheWeeklyPostcard

It’s never a bad thing to have a reason to return somewhere, Lyn, especially a gorgeous city like Budapest! ?

tips to travel to budapest

You’ve described it very well. Budapest is vibrant and there’s always something to do and see. We’ve enjoyed Gellert, the local food and the views all around this city too. Definitely worth a visit for a couple of days. PS: we liked Budapest a lot more than Prague…a bit boring… 😉

Definitely worth a few days of a European itinerary, Jempi. You’re so right when you mention the pulse of Budapest. It feels really alive and trendy. 🙂

tips to travel to budapest

Hmm, haven’t made it to Budapest yet but it looks gorgeous in your pretty pictures!

Thanks so much, Lotte. Add Budapest to your European must-sees for sure. It is a true gem of a city. 🙂

tips to travel to budapest

Brilliant. Thanks for this – we are going to attempt Budapest with toddlers in the next year. It’s been on the top of my travel wish list for a little while now. Thanks

Great, Katy! The #2 tram is cheap and easy to hop on and off and will leave you with convenient access to most sights. Really easy to manage with the kiddos! 🙂

tips to travel to budapest

This guide is just what I need as I plan a trip around Central Europe. I can’t wait to visit some of the famous thermal baths!

Fantastic, Brianna! Definitely have 2-3 days for Budapest, especially if you want to linger for a half day at the baths. Have a great trip! 🙂

tips to travel to budapest

Very interesting! Would love to see your posts in the Practical Mondays Link Up:)

Thanks so much! I’ll be sure to check out the link Up. Thanks for the invite. 🙂

tips to travel to budapest

That is one heck of a packed itinerary and you’ve picked great things to do. My favourite are the baths – I’ve checked out just about every thermal bath in Budapest and never get tired of them. Concerts are another great activity in this musical city for sure.

That’s 1 thing we wish we had done, Carol! We went to a jazz club in Prague and a classical concert in Vienna but didn’t have time to fit it in… We did spend a night in the ruins bars debating politics with a NATO soldier, but that’s a whole different story (lol)! 🙂

tips to travel to budapest

Excellent tips, Jackie. We visited Budapest last year and the city has so much to offer that it’s hard to decide what to fit in. Definitely agree about staying near the river. We stayed at the Budapest Marriott and were really happy with our decision. Thanks for linking to #TheWeeklyPostcard.

Thanks, Linda! I saw that Marriott and it is very nicely located. Glad to hear you enjoyed Budapest and got to see many of its fantastic sights. 🙂

tips to travel to budapest

The story behind the memorial is really painful. I’m glad there is something to remember them by, and reminds us never to do something like that again.

I couldn’t agree more, Mar. The more you stand “in their shoes” the more the horror reveals itself to you.

tips to travel to budapest

I love Budapest, Jackie, and your post is doing a lot of justice to the beautiful Hungarian capital. I like how you caught the essence of what to do and see in Budapest and also I like your pictures. Great post!

Thanks, Anda! I’m in good company for sure. I just fell in love with Budapest.

tips to travel to budapest

I’m thinking about making a trip to Prague, Vienna, and Budapest in July or August by myself. I love to just wander and take photographs. How safe do you think Budapest is for a 60 year old woman traveling alone? I’m a pretty seasoned traveler and use public transportation to get around, but I’ve always had a travel companion before. I’ve rented apartments in France and Italy, but haven’t been to the east.

Thanks for reading, Robin. How fantastic to be planning a trip to Prague, Vienna, and Budapest! I took this exact trip in February and loved it! I found Budapest to be really safe. Even in February, there were plenty of people walking around and sightseeing. I took a free walking tour and the guide’s only warning was to beware of pickpockets. My advice would be to use common sense and keep your wits about you just as you would in any city. I would happily and comfortably return to Budapest on my own. With your traveling experience, too, you’ll really enjoy the city. It’s a true gem!

tips to travel to budapest

Thanks. Your suggestions were very helpful. We particularly liked the House of Terrors, the museum about the unbelievable atrocities the Russians and the Naziis wreaked on the Hungarians. It’s depressing but well worth your time. The cathedral is beautiful and the city at night is not to be missed. And don’t miss the market!

Thanks, Maureen. I’m glad you enjoyed your trip to Budapest! I missed the House of Terrors, so thanks for the tip. As a history buff, these museums are so interesting even if the content is hard to understand.

tips to travel to budapest

Planning a trip for September! Do most places take the forint? I thought Hungary was in the EU thus would use euros?

Hi Sandy, although some places take the Euro, prices are all in Forints. The exchange rate is better this way, too. It makes Budapest a very affordable European city to visit. Forints are easy to get once you arrive.

tips to travel to budapest

A friend and I are going to Budapest next month and would love to take an evening boat trip to see the Parliament building lit up. But I’ve read that the boats don’t start running until April Do you know if this is true? Your photos are lovely and we can’t wait to visit.

Hi MagsA, Thanks for reading. From my experience, this is not true. I was there in February and took a night boat ride. It was cold but gorgeous. An absolute must while in Budapest. 🙂 Happy travels!

tips to travel to budapest

That’s a really great cheat sheet, It seems to us you know our beloved city as well. Thank you for coming and sharing your deep experiences. You are always welcome back. And great pics, btw.

Thanks so much for your kind words. I loved Budapest and hope to return someday. Please understand, while I appreciate your suggestions, I do not post comments with links in them, so have edited the last line of your comment. Thank you again for reading. 🙂

tips to travel to budapest

I loved my trip to Budapest last fall. We enjoyed the cave tour where Vlad the Impaler was imprisoned, under the castle on the Buda side. Spooky. We found several great self-guided walking tours. (LINK EDITED OUT) We were lucky to see the Christmas markets as well.

Thanks for reading, Baranie. So glad you had a great trip to Budapest! 🙂

tips to travel to budapest

We will be in Budapest for a few days in 2020 and this was by far the best information I have read about visiting for the fist time, Thank you so much for all the wonderful information and the stunning pictures,

Thanks for reading, April. So glad the post will be helpful for your Budapest trip in 2020. It’s a fantastic city! Happy travels. 🙂

tips to travel to budapest

Great article, glad to see that I’m not the only one in love with the city.

I wouldn’t recommend Apostolok restaurant though, it’s a tourist trap. Use Google maps to check the ratings and reviews and you can find a good place to eat anywhere in the city.

Or pick from these : Kiosk, Divin porcello, Gettó Gulyás, Kazimír bistro, Fat mama, Tukory… The food scene is amazing in Budapest

tips to travel to budapest

Thanks for reading, Matyas. Great restaurant tips and couldn’t agree more about the amazing food scene in Budapest.

tips to travel to budapest

Your transportation segment needs to be updated. From the airport, there’s now a shuttle bus, leaving every 20 minutes, that gets you into town in @ 30 minutes. Cost is $3.

Thanks for reading, Rich. I appreciate the info. Yes, the post is scheduled for an update. 🙂

tips to travel to budapest

Hi Jackie – we found your article very helpful. Thank you. One concern I have is that I am not a lover of meat or game type menu’s. I know in this part of the world they are not very health conscious, but could you recommend a great place for optional items that might be more health generated such as some gluten free or vegan options or we love fish. Just trying to find a variety on the menu instead of so much meat/potatoes. I know this is a tall order…thank you so much.

Thanks for reading, Cindy. Unfortunately, I can’t recommend a specific restaurant but I can tell you I’m a vegetarian and had no problem finding great food to eat. Budapest has a fantastic food scene. So, even if you’re not looking for traditional food which does include a lot of meat, there are all kinds of cuisine options, not to mention vegetarian alternatives for classic Hungarian dishes. Thank you again for reading! Happy eating in Budapest. 🙂

tips to travel to budapest

Thanks, Jackie. I’m headed to Budapest next fall with my wife. Your information and ideas will help make our four days fruitful!

Thanks for reading, Bob. 🙂 Enjoy Budapest!

tips to travel to budapest

Thanks for the information Jackie, me and my wife are going next week for a few days and we’re both really looking forward to visiting this lovely city.

Thanks so much for reading, Paul. Enjoy Budapest.

tips to travel to budapest

Planning to visit Budapest and Debrecen. Bookmarking this article for when I get to Budapest.

Thanks for reading and bookmarking, Sarah.

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kate storm and jeremy storm posing at the top of fishermans bastion with parliament in the background in budapest hungary

The Ideal 3 Days in Budapest Itinerary (+ Travel Guide)

When we first spent 3 days in Budapest in 2015, we immediately knew that we would be back–and after many trips to Budapest over the years, it’s safe to say we were right!

Budapest grabbed us hard right from the start, and we quickly fell for the city’s beautiful architecture, amazing river views, and unique repertoire of things to do (the lower-than-usual prices for exploring an epic European capital city helped, too!).

At this point, we’ve cumulatively spent several weeks visiting Budapest during most seasons of the year, getting to know the city a bit deeper on each visit–and each time we say goodbye, we find that we’ve fallen in love with it even more.

Planning a trip to the capital of Hungary for the first time?

This 3 days in Budapest itinerary is designed to make the most of your first trip!

Table of Contents

The Perfect 3 Days in Budapest Itinerary

Where to stay when visiting budapest, getting around during 3 days in budapest, how many days in budapest, more than 3 days in budapest, read more about visiting budapest (and beyond).

3 Days in Budapest Itinerary: Book Cart

Some links in this post may be affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Please see our disclosure policy for more detail.

Day One in Budapest Itinerary: Parliament, the Danube, Fisherman’s Bastion + Beyond

Visit the epic hungarian parliament..

Nestled right up against the Danube, Hungary’s incredible Parliament building is known as one of the most beautiful in the world for good reason!

If you’d like to take a tour inside the building, you’ll need to book a tour at least a few days in advance .

Kate Storm in a black coat standing in front of Budapest Parliament in November.

When updating this post in 2023, I was surprised to see how far in advance tickets are booked out–so the further ahead you can plan this visit, the better!

(If tickets are sold out for your dates and you want to be sure to visit, another option is booking a third-party guided tour like this that includes a visit to Parliament.

If you’d rather not fork over the forint, admiring the building up close from the outside is definitely still worth stopping by .

We make a point to walk by several times during all of our trips to Budapest!

3 Days in Budapest Itinerary: Parliament

Stop by the Shoes on the Danube monument.

If you leave the Parliament Building and walk along the edge of the Danube River toward the Chain Bridge, you’ll soon notice dozens of bronze shoes on the ground, facing the water.

These represent a memorial to people (many of them Jews) who were murdered along the banks of the Danube in Budapest between 1944 and 1945.

Before being shot and having their bodies fall into the Danube to be swept away, victims were forced to remove their (valuable) shoes, so as not to waste them.

It’s a very moving tribute and a must-see spot when visiting Budapest.

What to Do in Budapest: Shoes on the Danube Monument

Stroll across the Chain Bridge.

After reflecting at the Shoes on the Danube Memorial, it’s just a short walk to the Chain Bridge.

Complete with its iconic lion statues, the Chain Bridge is one of Budapest’s most famous landmarks, and no visit to Budapest could be considered complete without walking across it.

The views of the river and the Parliament are beautiful–be sure to stop for plenty of pictures!

Photo of the Chain Bridge with yellow leaves from fall in the frame above it. Essential sight to see even with only one day in Budapest!

Enjoy the views from Fisherman’s Bastion.

Justifiably Instagram-famous, beautiful Fisherman’s Bastion is home to some of the best views in Budapest (though not the very best in our totally biased opinion).

We love climbing all over the towers and through all of the viewpoints–in many ways, Fisherman’s Bastion is a bit of a grown-up’s castle jungle gym!

If you’re hoping to snap photos… well, you’ll be sharing the view with a few hundred friends.

If dreamy Fisherman’s Bastion photos with no crowds are on your Budapest wish list, consider shuffling this Budapest itinerary around and arriving around dawn.

To get to Fisherman’s Bastion from the base of the Chain Bridge, you can either catch a local bus, ride the funicular up Castle Hill, or make your way up via a long and steep walk!

Affordable European Getaways -- Budapest, Hungary

Step inside Matthias Church.

Directly behind Fisherman’s Bastion sits one of the best places to visit in Budapest: the colorful and striking Matthias Church.

W ith its brightly colored tiled roof, detailed painted interior, and architectural splendor, it’s no surprise to learn that this building has quite a history.

Dating back to the 13th century (with significant changes and rebuilds at several points dating into the 19th), Matthias Church has, among other highlights, played host to royal weddings, the coronations of two Hapsburg Kings, and spent 150 years as a mosque.

close up of colorful rooftop tiles of matthias church, one of the best places to visit with a few days in budapest hungary

Walk to Buda Castle.

Buda Castle is an iconic landmark in the city and features gorgeous views of the Danube and the city from the free-to-access terraces in front of the castle.

Whether you want to visit just for some of the beautiful views from the grounds and to enjoy the exterior of the building or you feel like ducking inside the Hungarian National Gallery or Budapest History Museum, Buda Castle is a must-see item on any Budapest itinerary.

We visited the National Gallery during our first trip to Budapest and greatly enjoyed it–eventually, we’ll make it to the Budapest History Museum, too!

view of buda castle with chain bridge and the danube river in the foreground

Take a cruise on the Danube River.

… And for best results, take one at sunset.

On our first trip to Budapest, we watched the sun go down and the city lights come on from the water, and it was one of those magical travel moments that ended up sticking with us for years.

Whether you opt for an extremely affordable sightseeing cruise or a dinner cruise featuring Hungarian food and folk dancing , it’s definitely worth the splurge to hit the water while in Budapest.

Book your Danube River cruise today!

3 Days in Budapest Itinerary: View from Citadel

Day Two in Budapest Itinerary: Central Market Hall + Thermal Baths

Begin at central market hall..

No 3 days in Budapest itinerary would be complete without a stop at Central Market Hall–honestly, this is one of our favorite spots in Budapest!

We love markets of all kinds, and this one is particularly large and beautiful.

The ground floor is made up of groceries and is a great place to pick up some Hungarian paprika (and yes, you should definitely get some) to take back home.

What to Eat in Budapest: Kolbász

The second floor (or first floor for Europeans) is home to souvenirs, and, more importantly, the prepared foods section.

Be sure to try a Hungarian langos while you’re there!

They serve them in just about any way imaginable these days, but for your first taste, go traditional: fried bread, sour cream, and cheese.

Sounds a little strange (at least it did to us), but it is amazing.

traditional hungarian langos with sour cream and shredded cheese, one of the best foods in budapest hungary

Make your way across Liberty Bridge.

After filling up at Central Market Hall, take a quick walk across the Liberty Bridge!

Also known as Freedom Bridge, this is one of the best-known bridges in Budapest after the iconic Chain Bridge.

The views are pretty and the walk is likely necessary after binging on langos, but the real purpose of this walk is to make it to the other side of the Danube, where the rest of the day awaits.

green iron liberty bridge in budapest, a fun stop on a itinerary budapest 3 days

Visit the Cave Church.

Almost directly across the street from the Liberty Bridge sits Cave Church, which is literally exactly what it sounds like: a church in a cave.

Set literally inside Gellert Hill, the church is (clearly) remarkable in appearance and makes for a very interesting stop in any Budapest itinerary.

There’s also plenty of history here, including surrounding WW2 and the Communist Era in Hungary.

Unusual Things to Do in Budapest: Cave Church

Relax the afternoon away at the Gellert Baths (or the Szechenyi Baths ) .

Luxurious thermal baths in a building that makes you feel like Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan are about to wander through the door at any moment–what could be better than that?

We love the architecture inside the Gellert Baths , and can easily spend hours there.

… A nd that’s without even splurging on a massage, which we’ve promised each other we will do next time!

The baths also have an outdoor section that is more like a community pool than anything, but we prefer to stick to the indoors most of the time.

close up of tiled details in gellert baths as seen when visiting budapest hungary

If you’d rather make the Szechenyi Baths part of your 3 days in Budapest (those would be the ones with the yellow building in the background that you see all the time on Instagram), they are all the way across town on the Pest side of the river.

For that reason, if you’re headed there, you may want to consider shuffling this Budapest itinerary around and starting your morning there before going to Central Market Hall.

Whichever bath you choose, one thing is certain: spending an afternoon relaxing in thermal baths is one of the absolute best things to do in Budapest!

Grab tickets for the Gellert Baths or Szechenyi Baths today!

view of Szechenyi Thermal Baths from under an arch in budapest hungary

Enjoy sunset at the Citadel.

Remember how I mentioned that the view from Fisherman’s Bastion wasn’t our favorite view in Budapest?

Well, this one is–especially at sunset.

The Citadel is set at the top of Gellert Hill, and watching the sun go down over the Danube from that vantage point is a remarkable experience.

Be sure to stick around long enough to watch the lights come on over the city!

There’s nothing like seeing Parliament, Buda Castle, the bridges, and more lit up and glowing in the night sky.

view of danube and budapest at night, a great view that may influence your decision to visit budapest or prague

Alternative: enjoy a Hungarian wine-tasting class.

One of the most memorable wine tastings we have ever done (and we’ve done more than our fair share!) is this evening wine tasting in Budapest .

Put on by Taste Hungary, everything from the wines to the charcuterie to the atmosphere was perfect–and I will never, ever forget the flavor combination of blue cheese and Tokaj wine.

Throughout the tasting, we sat with one other couple as our sommelier, Gergely walked us through details of not only the sparkling wine but also one other white and two reds.

Gergely was an expert, and he used a map of Hungary laid out in front of each of us to show us the regions that each wine came from (he was also the one who taught us that Hungary has 22 distinct wine regions!) and taught us different facts about the taste and history of each wine.

For most of the year, taking this class would mean missing sunset at the Citadel–but for foodies and wine fans (no expertise required), it’s an incredible experience.

Book your Hungarian wine-tasting class today!

Prague or Budapest: Tasting Table Budapest

Day Three in Budapest Itinerary: Caving, Viewpoints + Ruin Pubs

Spend the morning adventuring through budapest’s cave system..

It may not be the most traditional sightseeing activity, but climbing and crawling our way through some of the caves under Budapest is, hands down, one of our favorite things we have done in the city.

Adventurous travelers will love, love, love the opportunity to explore these caves!

W e seriously can’t recommend this experience enough, and even with only 3 days in Budapest, it deserves to be on the itinerary.

If you are interested in experiencing the caves but don’t think that an intense adventure tour is for you, there are walking tours available in more accessible parts of the cave system as well.

people climbing into a cave in budapest hungary

Head to the Szabo Ervin Library.

I’ll be honest: this library is a tiny bit out of the way from the rest of the stops lined up for the afternoon, but if you’re a book lover, it is so worth it.

Nestled on the fourth floor of the Szabo Ervin Library sit several absolutely beautiful rooms that had me just about squealing.

If you grew up dreaming of having thousands of books or of replicating Belle’s Beauty and the Beast library for yourself, well… it’s in Budapest, and the ticket to get in is just a handful of forint.

3 Days in Budapest Itinerary: Szabo Ervin Library

Stop by the gorgeous Central Cafe.

Budapest is famous for its glitzy, glamorous cafe scene–most famous, of course, is the New York Cafe.

Beautiful 19th-century cafes can be found all over Budapest, however, and we’re partial to the lovely (and much less crowded) Central Grand Cafe .

Their Esterhazy cake is one of my favorite cakes in the world (the traditional Dobos cake, pictured below, is fantastic too).

We stop here at least once on every trip to Budapest!

Slice of Dobas Torta on a white plate as served at Central Cafe in Budapest

Tour the Hungarian State Opera House.

Majestic and beautiful, the Hungarian State Opera House is well worth a visit.

Guided tours run 3 times per day in the afternoons, or you can check for shows running during your visit if you’d like to spend an evening at the opera!

Visit St. Stephen’s Basilica.

One of the two tallest buildings in Budapest (it’s tied with the Parliament building), St. Stephen’s Basilica is remarkably beautiful and ornate, both inside and out.

If you’d like to add a gorgeous view to your list of things to see in and around St. Stephen’s Basilica, be sure to climb the tower!

Couple on roof of St. Stephen's Basilica, Best Things to Do in Budapest

Take a ride on the Budapest Eye.

Had enough incredible views of Budapest yet (seriously, it’s an amazing city to look at)?

Hopefully not, because just a short walk away from St. Stephen’s Basilica sits the Budapest Eye.

Far less famous than the London Eye (though with what I imagine are much shorter lines), the Budapest Eye is a great way to get a bird’s eye view of the city .

I have a deep-seated and highly irrational fear of Ferris Wheels, but even with that, I can confidently say that riding the Budapest Eye was worth it (once).

Prague or Budapest: St. Stephen's Basilica

Stop by a ruin pub.

The ruin pubs are one of Budapest’s unique features and are a must-stop on any 3 days in Budapest itinerary.

The pubs are set up in what used to be abandoned buildings in Budapest’s old Jewish Quarter (technically called District VII).

The ruined buildings, mismatched furniture, funky art, and, of course, the bars themselves all make the atmosphere wonderful and a spot you can’t afford to miss in Budapest.

The oldest and largest of these ruin pubs is Szimpla Kert, which makes a great first stop on any ruin pub crawl.

If you’d like to make your way through several ruin pubs and prefer a group experience, a ruin pub crawl can be a fun way to wrap up your visit to Budapest!

Prague or Budapest: Szimpla Ruin Bar

Trying to decide where to stay in Budapest ?

Be sure to first decide whether or not to stay in Buda or Pest! We break down that decision here.

Luckily, there are plenty of options for any budget on either side of the river!

Here are a few well-reviewed picks for where to stay in Budapest.

Best Things to Do in Budapest: For Sale Pub

Jackquaters  — Located right next to Vaci Utca and only 100 meters from the Danube, Jackquaters is the perfect location for anyone visiting Budapest.

Budapest highlights like the Chain Bridge and Great Market Hall are within easy walking distance.

Check rates & book your stay at Jackquaters!

Best Things to Do in Budapest: Imre Nagy Statue

Hotel Erzsébet  — With Central Market Hall and Vaci Utca at your fingertips, you definitely won’t go hungry while staying at the beautiful Hotel Erzsébet!

With modern interiors, easy access to the metro, and a central location, this well-reviewed property is a reliable and cozy place to stay.

Check rates & book your stay at Hotel Erzsébet!

Hotel Mika Superior  — Not only does Hotel Mika Superior offer beautiful rooms, fabulous service, and a delicious included breakfast, but it’s also located in the old Jewish Quarter of the city, near the Dohany Street Synagogue and Hungarian Opera House.

This is one of our personal favorite neighborhoods to stay in while visiting Budapest!

Check rates & book your stay at Hotel Mika Superior!

Best Things to Do in Budapest

Budapest has a great public transportation network comprised of trams, a metro, and buses.

You can buy single tickets, a group of 10 tickets, a 24-hour pass, a 72-hour pass, or a 7-day pass to the transportation system.

Personally, we always buy the passes.

It tends to work out to be cheaper and is also more convenient–we don’t want to worry about forgetting to validate a ticket and end up with a hefty fine .

T hey do watch tickets very carefully in Budapest–we had ours checked several times.

Best Things to Do in Budapest: Tram #2

As many days as you have in Budapest, that’s how many you can spend in the city ( here are our suggestions if you only have one day in Budapest ).

I n our minds, Budapest is perfect for longer stays , which is why in an ideal world we like to stay for a week or more.

T here is enough to do that you can’t get bored, and so many things that are wonderful about the city (looking at you, thermal baths) can be enjoyed over and over again.

However, if you’re trying to work Budapest into a greater European itinerary, 3 days in Budapest is the perfect amount of time for a first overview of the city.

Y ou’ll see the bulk of the major sights and attractions, get a taste of the nightlife, and have enough time to fall just enough in love with the city that you leave planning your next trip back.

Unusual Things to Do in Budapest: Street Art

If you have more than 3 days in Budapest, you’ll find that there’s plenty more to see!

Consider taking a trip out to Margaret Island to enjoy a bit of green space, visiting the Hospital in the Rock, dropping by the Pinball Museum (high on our list for our next visit), or visiting the House of Terror.

Don’t confuse the House of Terror with the cheesy medieval museums that pop up across Europe: this is an in-depth look at the pain and fear spread by the back-to-back fascist and communist regimes in the 20th century.

What to Do in Budapest: Vajdahunyad Castle

Other options include visiting Heroes Square and Vajdahunyad Castle, touring the Dohany Street Synagogue, and relaxing in one of the many other thermal baths in the city.

Looking for day trip ideas?

Consider heading out to the beautiful town of Szentendre !

For even more ideas for how to enjoy more than a few days in Budapest, check out our guide to 50+ fun things to do in Budapest .

What to Do in Budapest: Visit Ronald Reagan Statue

Ready to keep planning your trip to Central Europe?

We’d love to help!

You can browse all of our Hungary blog posts here , or check out these guides:

  • The Best Food in Budapest: What to Eat & Experience
  • The Perfect 2 Days in Krakow Itinerary
  • 5 Reasons to Go Hiking in Slovakia’s High Tatras
  • Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Beyond: An Epic Central Europe Itinerary
  • How to Spend One Magical Day in Munich (Itinerary + Travel Tips!)

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Epic 3 Days in Budapest Itinerary: #budapest #hungary #europe #travel

About Kate Storm

Image of the author, Kate Storm

In May 2016, I left my suburban life in the USA and became a full-time traveler. Since then, I have visited 50+ countries on 5 continents and lived in Portugal, developing a special love of traveling in Europe (especially Italy) along the way. Today, along with my husband Jeremy and dog Ranger, I’m working toward my eventual goal of splitting my life between Europe and the USA.

50 thoughts on “The Ideal 3 Days in Budapest Itinerary (+ Travel Guide)”

The ruin pubs sound awesome, I remember having a sneaky drink on a Soviet bar in Buda when I was about 15 and had escaped from my parents with some young locals!

Always good to find a mix of cultural a d fun and it seems Budapest has exactly what you need to make that possible.

Next time I head to Budapest I’ll be sure to use your itinerary for odeas.

Haha, what a cool memory from Budapest! I’m sure you had a great time!

It seems as wherever you goin Budapest you have an amazing view of the city! Look at that first photo of the Hungarian parliament! What a building! The Matthias church is beautiful aswell. A romantic sunset moment at the Citadel doesnt look bad either, one must come back with a beautiful sunset of the city right!? Budapest has been on my wish list for some time now but to be honest I am not sure whenever I will get the chance to explore the city. But that day I do, I would surely be happy that I have stumble upon your post!

It often feels that way–there are sooooo many amazing viewpoints in Budapest!

So glad to hear you fell in love with Budapest too! Has a magic pull doesn’t it! the views from Fisherman’s Bastion were some of my favorite in the city, and then taking a Danube river cruise to see the Parliament building and the city lit up – awe inspiring! Was so glad to see each of these on day one of your recommended itinerary 🙂

It definitely does have a magic pull–I’m sure visit #3 isn’t too many years away for us!

Oh, the shoe thing just gets me. We just visited the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC and the bin full of shoes made me cry. Budapest is a beautiful city and your photos are gorgeous. I didn’t realize Budapest had an Eye. That’s something that the hubby and I would have to do just to see the view. Thanks so sharing your itinerary.

Oh, I know. 🙁 The first time we visited Budapest was just days after seeing Auschwitz-Birkenau, and it was even worse seeing them with those memories so fresh as compared to this most recent time. Such a sad spot.

Apart from the (obvious) Parliament, I also like the architecture of Fisherman’s Bastion, your pictures are amazing! I had a friend who visited Budapest and wasn’t really impressed and since then, I’ve been a little unsure about placing it in my list of countries I’d like to see but I do like your suggestions and it seems like the sort of place I’d love to explore as a solo traveller. I might just fly there for a long weekend, thanks for sharing this 3-day itinerary, it’ll be super useful for me if I do that.

I agree, Budapest would make a great long weekend! I love Fisherman’s Bastion, too–we’re not really winter people, but if I could be guaranteed to see snow falling on Fisherman’s Bastion, I’d probably make the trip during the cold!

Wow, Budapest looks so gorgeous through your pictures. I have never been and it is definitely on my list for my next European adventure. I am someone who went and cried at Anne Frank’s house in Amsterdam. So I definitely would be crying if I saw the bronze shoes by the river too. Thank you for sharing your itinerary.

I know, they are so very sad. 🙁

Thanks for the details and the info on how many days to spend in Budapest. For people like me who travel a long way with a long bucketlist it is really helpful to know how many days to spend in each place .photps are really good as well ?. Great post

Thank you! I agree–especially back in the 9-5 days, one of the hardest parts of travel was deciding how many days to spend where!

This is a great itinerary and includes tons of things I did not do when I was there. I am now thinking I need to return too. The story about the shoes is especially poignant and tragic!

There’s always a reason to return, right? That’s one of my favorite things about Budapest–even “big” items like the thermal baths can easily be enjoyed again and again.

You gave a very detailed overview of Budapest. My favorite, the library. I LOVE libraries, and love visiting them as I go around, so seing that photo was super captivating for me. And the photo of the Citadella was enough for me to follow you on Instagram. So intrigued by your travels ?

Aw, that’s awesome Karen! Glad to have you on Instagram. 🙂 I agree, we adore libraries (and bookstores, and books in general) as well–it’s actually a subject I’m hoping to blog more about in 2018!

I was in Budapest three months back and I fell madly in love with the city, it is so beautiful and rightly called the “Paris of the East”. I loved the Buda Castle and Fisherman’s Bastion. Unfortunately, I couldn’t visit the Cave church. Hopefully I’ll be able to do it this year.

There’s always a reason to go back, right?! Budapest is an addicting city, I swear. 🙂

Superb guide to Budapest, Even though it was cold and windy in Budapest, the Budapest Eye was enclosed and gave protection from the wind. It was a great view from the top of Budapest. A great place to get some sceneic photos over the city and the rooftops. Or even a great place to sit and watch the wheel go around.

Agreed! I imagine it must have been quite the reprieve from the cold if you visited in the winter–I wonder if they’re let you bring mulled wine on board? 🙂

Sunset at the Citadel definitely looks like a highlight. Would have to witness it one day!

It definitely is!

Budapest looks so stunning! Would love to visit one day!

I live in Budapest and it was really nice to read how much you love our places here.:) I must admit neither I have been to all of them.:D However, I’d suggest visiting some beautiful places in the countryside too, we have a lot to see there as well.

I agree! We’d love to make it to the Hungarian countryside and to some of the smaller towns and cities–maybe our next trip will finally be the time we head out there. 🙂

hi Kate, We are planning a trip to Budapest and feel lucky to get hold of your itinerary. Plan to make best use of it. After completing 11 days medical treatment for our son in Poland (Mielno Town near Gdansk), We want to cover 2 places, 3 days each, in Europebefore we head back to our home in India. Which is the other city you would recommend in addition to Budapest. We were thinking of Berlin. What’s your view on that ? But i am afraid if we go to Berlin we will miss the train ride – we were originally thinking of doing a train ride between Berlin – Prague. Any inputs will be helpful. Thanks, Rishi

Not sure what you mean by catching the train–you mean you’ll be taking a train ride to Prague to head back to India?–but I’m afraid I can’t offer much guidance on Berlin, as we’ve never been there.

As far as options near Budapest for your second city, Vienna and Prague are both very popular and easy to access, and not as far from Budapest as Berlin.


Glad we could help, Desiree! If you’re asking if you could do Prague as one of your three days in Budapest (so two in Budapest and one day trip to Prague), I wouldn’t recommend it–it’s further than it looks, and Budapest has a lot to see! Better to save Prague for a different trip, or visit before or after seeing Budapest.

Thank for all the time you spend in putting this three day itinerary together. We are head there in August/September before the start of a river cruise to Linz. Any suggestions on a private tour of some of the sites using Viatour? Thank you. Rev. Alan

Thanks, Alan!

We actually use Get Your Guide instead of Viator, but they offer similar services. I’ve linked some options in the post, but they are generally group tours. If you’re looking for a private experience, you’ll likely find options with similar itineraries available on both sites!

Hope you have a great trip!

Thank You, Especially How Many Days To Spend . For People Like Me Who Travel A Long Way Thanks Useful Tip

Glad we could help!

Hi Kate, I love your blog – it’s definitely help me with planning my trip to Budapest. Can i ask which caves you visit in Day 3 – all the crawling and climbing, I’m interested in doing those as well. Thanks!

Hi Kaylee! I’m actually not sure of the exact name of the caves, but we went with a small company called Caving Under Budapest on their adventure tour (so not one of the caves with marked paths). You can find their exact link in our Things to Do in Budapest post. 🙂 The tour was amazing, and we highly recommend it! Definitely among the most memorable things we have done while traveling.

I’m traveling to Budapest and Vienna next week thanks for the suggestions my first solo trip

Glad we could help, Anna!

Hope your first solo trip is absolutely fantastic!

Very good and helpful, thank you. One question . On public transport can you get a combined ticket for bus and Train. We also want to go out of the city. We are in Budapest for 7 days. Susan

Yes, the public transport tickets are good for buses, trains, and trams, but you will need separate tickets for your specific destination when taking a trip outside of Budapest. Within Budapest though, the tickets are combined. 🙂

Thanks for the itinerary. How is shopping in Budapest? Do you get all the international brands at a reasonable price or is it only Hungarian brands that sell the most? Which would be a good place for shopping?

Vaci Street is considered Budapest’s shopping street that is most popular with tourists, and you’ll find all the usual international brands there.

Not sure on the price comparisons–haven’t paid too much attention to those myself.

Hi Kate, We are a group of 4 and are planning to visit Budapest in February 2020 (middle of the coldest month). I liked your 3 day itinerary and can extend to 4 to 5 days. Please advice: 1. Will February be too cold to visit all the sights in Budapest? 2. Is a wine tour or a trip to Margaret Island possible in February?

Not sure about the trip to Margaret Island, but I’d think so. The wine tasting we did in the cellar in town runs year-round last I checked.

I would say that February won’t be too cold for sightseeing but absolutely bundle up–if you come from a warm climate, bundle up about twice as much as you might expect! Of course, you’ll want to check the exact weather for your dates as things get closer.

Hey Kate! What a wonderful descriptive itinerary! Kudos. I read every bit of it and fell in love with Budapest. I will be travelling Solo in 2nd week March this year. Request you to suggest about Danube cruise/ferry, how costly is that, can we buy tickets at counters there or need to purchase it online.

Many Thanks!

Thanks so much, Jonnie!

The cruises vary a bit in price, but depending on inclusions can be very affordable–certainly under $20 USD/person. I have a popular one linked in the post that should give you a good idea of price.

You can definitely buy tickets from various tour companies on the ground, personal preference as to whether you want to book in advance or not!

I visited Budapest in December, but it is impossible to explore this city only for 3 days! Especially in winter, it was a bit cold to walk a lot through the city 🙁 Thank you very much for this itinerary, it is very helpful! I noted some new spots for my next trip in summer! 🙂

I’m delighted to see this fantastic 3-day Budapest itinerary! Budapest is undoubtedly a city that captures the heart of every traveler with its stunning architecture, rich history, and vibrant culture.

The recommendations here, from exploring iconic landmarks like the Parliament building and Fisherman’s Bastion to indulging in the thermal baths and visiting ruin pubs, promise an unforgettable experience.

Whether you’re a first-time visitor or returning to this enchanting city, Budapest has something new to offer every time. Happy travels!

Thanks so much, Eve! Enjoy Budapest 🙂

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My Ultimate Guide to Spending 48 Hours in Budapest

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May 15, 2024

My Ultimate Guide to Spending 48 Hours in Budapest

I have now visited Budapest 3 times, and it has become one of my favorite cities in Europe. the vibrant capital of Hungary is full of amazing bars & restaurants, history, and of course incredible thermal baths. With its stunning architecture, plethora of activities, and lively atmosphere, 48 hours in Budapest will only leave you wanting more. However, if you have only 2 days on your hand here is how I would spend it…

Buda Castle District

On day one, we are going to kick-start the trip by exploring Buda Castle District. Here you can marvel at the grandeur of Buda Castle and take in panoramic views of the city from Fisherman's Bastion. Don’t miss Matthias Church, known for its intricate Gothic architecture.

We are then heading to try some local Hungarian Cuisine Satisfy your hunger with some traditional Hungarian cuisine. Head to a local eatery and indulge in goulash and a chimney cake for dessert. I’m vegan so I went to Kosmoz Vegan Restaurant and I would 100% recommend to those who are meat-free or not! 

Danube River cruise

After filling up on a tasty lunch, it is time to set sail on a Danube River cruise for a leisurely afternoon. Admire Budapest’s iconic landmarks, including the Parliament Building, Chain Bridge, and Margaret Island as you glide along the picturesque river.

Ruin Bars in the Jewish Quarter

After stepping back onto land, it’s time to hit up the Ruin Bars in the Jewish Quarter. This is the best place for a lively night out and Szimpla Kert is a must-visit, with its quirky decor and amazing atmosphere.

 The Thermal Baths

You might be feeling a little worse for wear the next day after visiting the ruin bars, so it’s time to do my favorite experience in Budapest: The Thermal Baths. Here you can relax and rejuvenate at one of Budapest’s renowned thermal baths. I would recommend the Széchenyi Thermal Baths or Rudas Thermal Baths for a quieter experience. 

Heroes' Square

In the afternoon, we are going to head to Heroes' Square, a historic square adorned with statues of Hungarian leaders. From there, stroll through City Park and visit Vajdahunyad Castle, a fairytale-like structure. Before finishing the evening dining with a view. Either choose a restaurant with a view of the city skyline, such as Fisherman’s Bastion or the rooftop bar at Aria Hotel Budapest or grab some street food for those on a budget and enjoy it by the river. 

I loved Budapest and so will you. So pack your bags and get ready for an unforgettable adventure in the heart of Hungary!

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tips to travel to budapest


Budapest travel guide, essential information to plan your trip to budapest.

Are you thinking of traveling to Budapest? The Hungarian capital is a beautiful city with stunning architecture, a vibrant nightlife, and delicious cuisine.

Use our Budapest travel guide to plan your visit well.

Here we collected all the information you need for a carefree vacation from

  • Choosing the best time to visit, and
  • Best way to get here, to
  • How to get around the city along with other
  • Essential tourist information about Hungary’s capital.

text installation "Budapest" lighted up in the national tricolor: red, white and green in front of the Millennium Monument at Heroes' Square.

We’ll also give you some tips on why you should visit and how long you should stay. Let’s get started on planning your visit with our guide!

Table of Contents – Budapes Travel

Budapest travel info & facts.

girl in hotel room - budapest accomodation

Budapest Accommodation

Choosing the right Budapest  accommodation  is very important to really enjoy your stay in the Hungarian capital. Many  new hotels , apartments and pensions have been built …

Why visit Budapest

Why Visit Budapest?

Many travellers might ask the question “Why visit Budapest?”, and what to do in Budapest that one should include it in her/his travel plans.

Budapeast Information

Budapest Information

Learn about some essential information about Budapest for a carefree vacation. The  Basic facts  give you the bare bone essentials.

Budapest Weather

Budapest Weather

When is Hungary’s Capital the Most Favourable For a Visit? The weather in Budapest is definitely not boring.

Shopping and Prices

Costs, Prices in Budapest, Currency in Hungary

Price of Food, Eating Out, Transportation and Other Services See how much the most …

Public Holiday

Public Holidays in Hungary – National Days

Shops, food markets are closed in Budapest on public holidays and National Days.

Safety Tips

Safety in Budapest

Although Budapest is safer for tourists than most big cities, there are some common tourist traps..

Basic Budapest Facts

Basic Budapest Facts

The following information about Budapest covers the basic facts one should know when …..

Budapest For Fisrt Time Visitors

Budapest for First Time Visitors

Browse our guide to to help you get the most of your stay!

Budapest Travel Passport and Visa Information

If you’re planning a trip to Budapest, you may need to check the visa requirements based on your nationality .

EU and EEA (European Economic Area) citizens don’t need a vis a to visit Hungary or stay for up to 90 days.

Citizens of some other countries like the USA, Canada , and Australia are also allowed to stay for up to 90 days without a visa. However, it’s essential to check the latest visa requirements before traveling, as regulations can change at any time.

If you do need a visa, you can apply for a Schengen visa , which allows you to travel to any of the 26 Schengen countries, including Hungary.

The application process may take several weeks, so it’s best to apply as early as possible.

What Will You Need For Your Visa Application?

You’ll need to provide documentation like

  • a passport,
  • flight tickets,
  • travel insurance, and
  • proof of accommodation to support your visa application.

The embassy or consulate of the country you’re applying from can provide more information on the requirements and the application process.

Who Needs What Document To Visit Budapest/Hungary?

  • Visitors form the U. S. and Canada need a valid passport to enter Hungary.
  • Visitors from the European Economic Area can enter with valid personal identification card (no passport is required) and can stay for 90 days without visa.
  • These countries are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Netherlands, Poland, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Rumania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain.
  • Swiss travellers , though Switzerland is not member of the ECA (European Economic Area), but member of the Schengen zone, can also enter with a personal ID card.
  • Denmark, the United Kingdom, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, and Norway don’t issue personal identification cards, so people from these countries can visit Hungary and Budapest with a valid passport.
  • Swedish citizens can enter Hungary either with a valid passport or a personal ID card issued after 1. October 2005. For up to date information on entry and visa requirements to Hungary please visit the official site on the

Best Ways to Get Here – By Air, Train, Ship or Bus

Flights to Budapest

Flights to Budapest

Best Air Travel Options to Hungary’s Capital Many international airlines ..

Budapest Airport

Budapest Airport

lights to Budapest land at  Liszt Ferenc International Airport  (BUD) some 25 km far from the city centre.

Airport Transfer

Budapest Airport Transfer

This  affordable  and reliable Budapest airport transfer service will take you to your  hotel  …

Flights, Cheap Airlines In Europe

Due to the Central Europena location Budapest can be easily accessed from most European cities by air within around 2 -3 hours .: Paris, London, Dublin, Edinburgh, Barcelona, Moscow, Kiev, Brussels, Warsaw, Vienna, Prague, Rome, Amsterdam, Helsinki, Zurich, Lisboa, Istanbul

Many European airlines offer flights to Budapest, including budget airlines like

  • Wizz Air, and
  • easyJet (Berlin, London, Paris),
  • Jet2 (from Manchester, New Castle, Birmingham, and Leeds Bradford),
  • germanwings (Cologne-Bonn and Stuttgart).

Other airlines like Lufthansa, British Airways, and Air France also operate flights to Budapest.

Flighst From The U.S.

Direct flights to Budapest are available from two cities of the US:

  • New York, and

Airlines from North America fly via major European capitals (American Airlines via London or Helsinki, Delta via Paris or Amsterdam).

Budapest has fairly efficient airport, the Ferenc Liszt International Airport , which lies about 16 kilometers southeast from the city center.

Flights land at and depart from the Terminal 2 .

Budapest Travel: Getting To Budapest By Train

If you prefer traveling by train, Budapest has good railway connections with other European cities.

Trains are an affordable and comfortable way to travel to Budapest from neighboring countries like Austria, Slovakia, and Croatia or go on daytrips to these countries.

Main Train Stations

The city has three international railway stations, all of them accessible by one of the 4 metro lines of Budapest and other public transport:

  • Déli Pályaudvar = Southern TS – M2 (red) metroline
  • Nyugati Pályaudvar = Western TS, and
  • Keleti Pályaudvar = Eastern TS). M3 (green) metroline termini

Trains are available to Hungary’s countrys ide and other countries on intercity and express railway lines. You can reserve tickets online or buy them at the ticket offices at the stations.

a red and white inetrcity train in Budapest's Keleti Railway Station

See more on the National Railway Company’s (MÁV) website.

Travelling To Budapest By Coach/Bus

Probably the cheapest way to come here is with an international coach service.

Coaches arrive at the central bus station at Népliget.

The Népliget station is on the blue metro line so you can easily get to your Budapest hotel or other place in the city. See our Metro page .

You can also take tram No. 1 to get to your destination within Budapest.

More information on international coach travel and tickets at Volanbusz Transport Company’s website .

the metal grey building of Budapest's main coach/bus station at Népliget

Getting To Budapest by Car

Motorways are in good conditions so you can reach the capital city quite quickly from all directions.

Most lower-level roads in Hungary however are in bad condition and especially during summer, road construction works slow down the traffic.

Not to mention bad driving manners, particularly in Budapest. You’ll also have problems finding parking space in the Hungarian capital.

travel to budapest by car

If you must come by car I suggest you leave your car in one of the P+R parking places (if you aren’t staying in a hotel where you can leave your car in the hotel’s garage) and use public transportation for travelling within the city.

TIP: If you however need to park somewhere in the city centre check parking prices here.

Travel To Budapest By Boat


Certainly the most romantic way to come here is by ship on the Danube.

If you are already in Europe, you can take a river cruise from Vienna or Bratislava to Budapest.

There are also several companies, the best known is Viking Cruises that offer river cruises from other European cities such as Amsterdam, Paris, and Bucharest, which include a stop in Budapest.

Hydrofoils used to run between Vienna and Budapest from April to early November run by Mahartpassnave company, but sadly they ceased to operate the service in 2017.

It took you to the downtown in 5-6 hours. You can admire the breathtaking Danube bend during your journey. Schedule in 2013: From Vienna: 29. Apr – 26 Sept: Tuesday, Thursday at 9.00, at 14.30

FAQs About Visiting Budapest

When is the best time to visit.

You will most likely enjoy your visit to Budapest between March – May and September – November.

Visiting this time will reward you with more pleasant weather (not to hot not too cold), less crowd , and lower accommodation prices than in peak season (June-July-August).

Is Budapest safe for tourists?

Budapest is a fairly safe city for tourists, no less safe than other big cities in Western Europe. Use your common sense and you will be quite alright.

Notwithstanding the Hungarian capital has its share of pickpockets and scams, especially in crowded areas like major tourist attractions and public transportation. Read our detailed guide to how to stay safe in Budapest!

How long should you stay in Budapest?

Budapest offers plenty of things to do, and how long you stay depends on your interests.

You can spend 2- or 3 days or a weekend in Budapest, but if you want to explore the city fully and perhaps go on a daytrip to visit nearby cities like Szentendre or Lake Balaton, we recommend staying for at least five days .

This will give you enough time to see the main attractions and experience the local culture, nightlife, and cuisine as well as a bit of other parts of Hungary.

Nomadic Matt's Travel Site

Travel Better, Cheaper, Longer

Budapest Travel Guide

Last Updated: January 5, 2024

The massive Hungarian Parliament building beside the Danube River in Budapest, Hungary

Budapest, known for its fascinating history and its rocking nightlife, is a popular budget-friendly backpacker destination located on a beautiful stretch of the Danube River in Hungary .

This vibrant capital is home to spacious parks, grand historic buildings, bustling food halls, hip underground bars, and centuries-old thermal baths.

The city is popular with budget backpackers as well as with European vacationers and river cruisers looking to explore beyond the confines of Western Europe.

Beneath Budapest’s somewhat drab exterior and you’ll find a hip, cool city packed with affordable accommodation and cheap eats that fit quite nicely into even the tightest of budgets.

Budapest has everything you’ll find in Western Europe but for a fraction of the price (and with a fraction of the crowds too). Personally, I think it’s one of the most exciting cities in Europe!

This travel guide to Budapest can help you plan your trip, save money, and make the most of your time in this underrated city!

Table of Contents

  • Things to See and Do
  • Typical Costs
  • Suggested Budget
  • Money-Saving Tips
  • Where to Stay
  • How to Get Around
  • How to Stay Safe
  • Best Places to Book Your Trip
  • Related Blogs on Budapest

Top 5 Things to See and Do in Budapest

The famous Széchenyi bathhouse in beautiful Budapest, Hungary

1. Tour Parliament

Home to the National Assembly, this Gothic Revival building designed by Hungarian architect Imre Steindl is absolutely stunning. Opened in 1902, it’s right on the river and, to this day, remains the largest building in the country. Over 100,000 people worked on the construction of the building, and it took just under 20 years to complete. 40 million bricks, 500,000 precious stones, and 40 kilograms (88 pounds) of gold were used in its creation. Tours are available daily for 8,400 HUF.

2. Admire the National Gallery

Established in 1957, this art museum is located inside Buda Castle. Once one of the most glorious royal residences in Europe , Buda Castle dates to the 14th century and was restored in the Baroque style in the late 1700s. World War II damaged the palace severely and it was restored again in the 1960s before becoming home to the National Gallery in 1975. It has works from prominent Hungarian and European artists as well as a collection of Medieval altarpieces from the 15th century. During your visit, you can also check out the underground Habsburg Palatine Crypt and climb to the top of the iconic dome for panoramic views of the city. Admission is 3,400 HUF and an audio guide is 750 HUF.

3. Visit the baths

Budapest is famous for its thermal baths. The thermal waters from deep below the city have been an important part of Hungarian culture for thousands of years. Believed to possess a variety of health benefits, the waters are rich in zinc, calcium, and magnesium which can soothe muscle soreness, reduce inflammation, and improve skin. The oldest bathhouses in use date back to the 1600s. Széchenyi is the most famous, with indoor and outdoor pools, saunas, and dunk baths. It is one of the best experiences in Budapest and is the biggest medicinal bath in Europe. Other baths, such as Lukacs and Gellert are also worth a visit. Admission starts at 3,800 HUF.

4. Cruise the Danube

Many hostels organize weekly boat parties that cruise the Danube (the Budapest Party Hostel group is famous for theirs). Experience sweeping views of the city while dancing the night away. It’s the perfect way to combine partying with sightseeing and you can enjoy iconic landmarks lit up in all their nighttime glory. Other boat tours are available with or without dinner and drink options as well. Prices vary but expect to pay at least 7,000 HUF for a 4-hour trip.

5. Hit the Ruin bars

Other things to see and do in budapest, 1. take a free walking tour.

If you want a complete overview of Budapest, take a free walking tour. It’s how I start all my trips to a new city. There are daily tours available from companies like Free Budapest Walking Tours , Strawberry Tours , Trip to Budapest , and Generation Tours . These tours are the best way to learn about the city’s history, culture, and architecture. Just remember to always tip your guide at the end!

2. Visit the House of Terror

This building is a museum and memorial to the thousands of people who were tortured and brutally killed under Hungary’s fascist and communist regimes. The exhibit takes you through the resettlement and deportation of thousands of Hungarians, including an interrogation chamber and displays of propaganda. There is also an exhibit on the Nazi and Soviet occupation of Hungary. From there, you can see reconstructed prison cells and information on the 1956 revolution. It’s not a light way to spend your afternoon but you’ll get massive insight into Hungary’s turbulent history. Admission is 4,000 HUF.

3. Go caving

Budapest has around 200 underground caves, all of which are on the Buda side of the city. Caving Under Budapest runs tours where you can climb up walls and squeeze through incredibly narrow spaces within the sprawling 30-kilometer (19-mile) cave system beneath the city. Tours start from 12,000 HUF.

4. Wander through the Great Market Hall

Built in 1897, this market is the largest (and one of the oldest) in Budapest. Heavily damaged during World War II, it remained that way until the 1990s when it was restored and re-opened in 1997. Don’t miss the Gothic Revival entrance and patterned tiled roof as you enter. Spanning 10,000 square meters (108,000 square feet), the market has vaulted glass and steel beam ceilings and three floors of stalls selling fresh fruits and vegetables, cheeses, sausages, spices, and local handicrafts. There is a food court inside the market on the second floor if you want to grab a bite and people-watch.

5. Visit the Royal Palace (Buda Castle)

Originally constructed in the 13th century, the huge Baroque complex you see today was built between 1749 and 1769. The palace’s days of being a luxurious living space ended in World War II when Nazi (and then Russian) troops looted it. Today, it’s home to a collection of museums, including the Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest History Museum, House of Houdini, Museum of Military History, Museum of Music History, Museum of Telephones, and the Golden Eagle Pharmacy Museum. Beneath the castle, there’s also a labyrinth that was used to imprison Vlad the Impaler!

6. Relax on Margaret Island

This popular island is smack in the middle of the Danube, connected by the Margaret and Árpád Bridges. It used to be a royal hunting reserve but has since been turned into a public park with lots to see and do. You can walk or drive golf carts (or scooters) around the island, explore the immaculate Japanese garden or the rose garden, chill on the beach, visit the small zoo, or visit the ruins of an ancient Franciscan Monastery. Margaret Island also has its very own thermal baths (Palatinus), complete with wave pools, swimming pools, and a water slide. Admission to the pools starts from 2,900 HUF. Exploring Margaret Island is free!

7. Take a day trip to Lake Balaton

For about 6,000 HUF, you can get a round-trip train ticket from the city to Lake Balaton. This is the largest lake in Central Europe (often called the “Hungarian Sea”) and a rich wine region that is also a hub for outdoor activities, especially cycling. There are also thermal baths here, with admission costing 3,800 HUF for three hours or 6,500 HUF for the day. You can also hike around the extinct volcanic landscape in the nearby Tapolca Basin, walk through lavender fields, and look for wildlife like deer and osprey in Balaton Uplands National Park.

8. Visit the Cave Church

This unique underground church is on the Buda side of the city. It was built in the 1920s in a cave that had been previously used by a hermit. The entire church was sealed up behind a wall of concrete until 1989 when the Berlin Wall came down and the church was reopened. There are lots of interesting relics, including a replica of the Black Madonna from Poland. Admission is 600 HUF which includes an audio guide.

9. See the Shoes on the Danube

Erected in 2005, this small monument is the creation of film director Can Togay and sculptor Gyula Pauer. During World War II, fascist militia rounded up 3,500 citizens (800 of which were Jewish) and ordered them to take off their shoes before they were executed and thrown in the Danube. This monument of bronze shoes represents the shoes taken off and left behind prior to the executions.

If you want to learn more about the history of Budapest’s Jewish population, take a self-guided audio tour around the Jewish Quarter . It takes just over an hour and includes 8 stops, including the stunning Dohány Street Synagogue.

10. Hike Gellért Hill

Named after Saint Gerard, this 235-meter (770-foot) hill overlooks the entire city. The climb up isn’t too taxing and the sweeping view over the entire city makes it worth the effort. At the peak, you’ll find a few vendors selling snacks and drinks. Look for the Szent Gellért Monument dedicated to Saint Gerard, who was the first Bishop of Csanád in what was the Kingdom of Hungary in 1030 CE. It’s popular to come here at sunset.

11. Visit the Budapest History Museum

This museum covers four floors of Buda Castle and offers a comprehensive overview of the city’s entire history. Some rooms date back to the 15th century, including the old cellar, which you’re free to explore. The museum also offers an insightful overview of the historical sites around the city center and their role in Hungarian history, from prehistoric times right up to the present. Admission varies by season (2,000-2,400 HUF).

12. See Matthias Church

Located near Castle Hill, the original church in this location was built in the 11th century. The current building was constructed in the 14th century over its ruins, seeing significant renovations in the 19th century. Some parts of the church still date back 500 years, however, including the carvings over the south entrance. The colorful roof of this church almost looks like it was built from Lego. Once inside, don’t miss the vaulted ceilings and ornate décor. In the Royal Oratory, you’ll find the Matthias Church Collection of Ecclesiastical Art, which has stunning artifacts like chalices and replicas of the Crown of St. Stephen. Admission is 1,800 HUF.

13. Admire St. Stephen’s Basilica

This is the largest church in Hungary. Its exterior is covered in ornate Neoclassical architecture propping up a tall dome. The inside is covered in gorgeous artwork and sparkling marble. Don’t miss all the little chapels inside, as well as St. Stephen’s mummified hand. Entry is 1,200 HUF, and it costs 2,200 HUF to visit the tower for views over the city. Remember to dress respectfully as it is a place of worship.

14. Hungarian Presidential Palace

This is the home of the Hungarian president. The palace is called Sándor-Palota (Alexander Palace), and while it’s not terribly eye-catching compared to the surrounding buildings, you can see the changing of the guard at the top of each hour for free (from 9am-5pm, excluding Sundays). Occasionally, the palace is open for tours in the summer (you’ll have to inquire in person about prices and hours as they occur infrequently).

15. See the Hungarian State Opera House

Designed by Miklós Ybl towards the end of the 19th century, this is the second-largest opera house in Budapest. It took almost 10 years to complete and is a Neo-Renaissance masterpiece that has welcomed world-class composers such as Gustav Mahler (he directed the opera from 1888-1891). Tours are 2,900 HUF and tickets for performances vary but expect to pay around 12,000 HUF.

16. Tour Heroes’ Square

Located at the end of Andrássy Avenue, Heroes Square is actually the largest square in the country. Its centerpiece is the Millennial Memorial featuring a 36-meter (118-foot) pillar topped with the Archangel Gabriel, surrounded by 14 statues of Hungarian kings (as well as other historical figures). The monument was built in 1896 to celebrate Hungary’s 1,000th anniversary. At this time, Hungary was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire ruled by the Hapsburgs, and space was left for statues of future Hapsburgs leaders.

Budapest Travel Costs

A view overlooking Budapest, Hungary from above, featuring historic buildings and the beautiful Danube

Hostel prices – Budapest is famous for its hostel culture so you’ll find tons of budget-friendly options here. In peak season, dorm beds start at 3,000 HUF for an 8-10-bed dorm. Private rooms cost around 14,230 HUF per night, though they can be found for as little as 11,600 HUF if booked early. In the low season, you can find dorm rooms for as low as 2,100 HUF per night, while private rooms can be as low as 5,000 HUF.

Free Wi-Fi is standard and a couple of hostels also offer free breakfast. Most hostels have a kitchen if you want to cook your own meals.

For those traveling with a tent, camping is available outside the city. Expect to pay around 5,500 HUF for a basic plot for two people without electricity.

Budget hotel prices – Budget hotels with air conditioning, TV, and Wi-Fi can be found for as little as 11,000 HUF per night if booked early. But for most rooms, expect to pay at least 15,800 HUF per night.

Airbnb is also available in the city, with private rooms starting at 7,500 HUF per night (though they average closer to 17,000 HUF). For an entire home or apartment, prices begin around 15,000 HUF per night (though expect to pay at least 28,000 HUF unless you book early).

Food – Traditional Hungarian food is inexpensive and hearty. It’s very much a “meat and potatoes” country, with popular dishes being meat stew, smoked meats, casseroles, and dumplings. Túró is a popular local cheese and fruit pastries are a popular (and traditional) dessert. Be sure to try halászlé , a hot and spicy fish soup with paprika.

In Budapest, a meal at a restaurant serving traditional cuisine costs around 3,200 HUF. For a multi-course meal and a drink at a restaurant with table service, expect to pay closer to 7,000 HUF. For fast food (think McDonald’s), a combo meal costs around 2,200 HUF.

You can find pizza for around 2,100 HUF for a medium while Chinese food costs around 2,900 HUF. Thai food is around 3,000-4,000 HUF while pita or falafel costs 1,500-2,200 HUF.

Beer costs around 500-800 HUF while a latte/cappuccino is 700 HUF. Bottled water is 370 HUF.

If you plan on cooking your own meals, a week’s worth of groceries costs around 12,000-15,000 HUF. This gets you basic staples like rice, pasta, seasonal produce, and some meat. Lidl, Penny, and Aldi are the cheapest supermarkets to shop at if you’re on a budget.

For a variety of tasty eats, check out Street Food Karavan, a food truck lot with tons of delicious options. For hearty local eats, head to Hungarikum Bisztro. For vegan/vegetarian eats, check out Vegan Garden or Las Vegan’s. For dessert, La Donuteria has fancy vegan and non-vegan donuts.

Backpacking Budapest Suggested Budgets

On a backpacking budget of 11,500 HUF per day, you can stay in a hostel dorm, cook most of your meals and eat a little fast food, limit your drinking, use public transportation to get around, and do free activities like walking tours or exploring the market. If you plan on drinking, add another 600-1,200 HUF to your daily budget.

On a mid-range budget of 29,500 HUF per day, you can stay in a private hostel room or Airbnb, eat out at cheap restaurants serving traditional cuisine, have a few drinks, take the occasional taxi to get around, and do more paid activities like visiting museums and lounging in the thermal baths.

On a “luxury” budget of 48,000 HUF per day, you can stay in a hotel, eat out anywhere you want, drink as much as you want, rent a car for day trips, and do more guided tours and paid tours. This is just the ground floor for luxury though. The sky is the limit!

You can use the chart below to get some idea of how much you need to budget daily, depending on your travel style. Keep in mind these are daily averages — some days you’ll spend more, some days you’ll spend less (you might spend less every day). We just want to give you a general idea of how to make your budget. Prices are in HUF.

Budapest Travel Guide: Money-Saving Tips

Budapest isn’t an expensive place to visit. If you stick to local food markets, dorm rooms, and public transportation, it’s really hard to break the bank. Just limit your drinking. Sure, the beer is cheap but twenty of them add up!

Here are some other high-impact ways to save money in Budapest without sacrificing your trip:

  • Take a free walking tour – There are plenty of free walking tours available, making for a great introduction to the city. This is the best (and cheapest!) way to explore while getting a detailed overview of the city and its culture and history. Just be sure to tip!
  • Stay with a local – Couchsurfing allows you to stay on people’s couches or in their spare rooms for free. It’s a great way to save money while meeting locals who can share the ins and outs of their city.
  • Cook your own meals – While eating out isn’t too expensive here, if you’re on a budget it’s cheaper if you cook your own meals. Head to a local grocery store and save your money!
  • Get the Budapest Card – The Budapest Card is a travel pass that provides discounts and deals on attractions and activities in the city. You get free public transport, entry to the Lukács thermal baths, and admission to 17 museums. A 24-hour card costs 11,870 HUF, a 48-hour card costs 17,600 HUF, and a 72-hour card costs 23,000 HUF.
  • Bring a water bottle – The tap water here is safe to drink so bring a reusable water bottle to save money and reduce your plastic use. LifeStraw is my go-to brand as their bottles have built in filters to ensure your water is always clean and safe.

Where to Stay in Budapest

Budapest has lots of great hostels and budget hotels. Here are some of my favorite budget-friendly places to stay:

  • Carpe Noctum Original
  • Pal’s Hostel

How to Get Around Budapest

A yellow tram rolling along on a sunny day in Budapest, Hungary

Public transportation – Budapest has an expansive network of buses that connect the whole city. Additionally, Budapest has a large network of streetcars/trams as well as trolleybuses with over a dozen routes. The city has a modern metro system too.

Tickets are valid on the bus, metro, trams, and trolleybuses, and can be purchased at any metro station with a single ride costing 350 HUF. If you want to avoid standing in the queues at the stations, you can also buy tickets at most newsstands, street stands, and ticket vending machines.

One standard ticket is good for one trip. That means if you need to transfer, you need a new ticket (unless you bought a transfer ticket).

You need to validate tickets before riding. If you are caught using public transport without a validated ticket you are liable for an on-the-spot fine.

If you know you are going to be using public transport while in Budapest then it may be worth purchasing a 24-hour transit pass for 1,650 HUF. You can also get a 72-hour card for around 4,150 HUF.

If you have a Budapest Card, public transportation is free.

Train – There are three main railway stations in Budapest that connect the capital with other cities in Hungary as well as to other neighboring countries. The 2.5-hour ride to Vienna can be done for as little as 3,680 HUF while the 2.5-hour trip to Bratislava costs around 4,500 HUF. The trip to Pecs also takes around 2.5 hours and costs around 4,500 HUF.

Ferry – There are two forms of public water transport in Budapest: the Danube River Ferry Service and the Riverboats (which only operate from May-September). The Danube River Ferry Service runs between Újpest and Millenniumi Városközpont while the Riverboats operate the services between Boráros tér and Pünkösdfürdo. The Riverboats depart every 90 minutes between 8am and 8pm with ticket prices ranging from 250-1,000 HUF

Taxi – Taxis start at 1,000 HUF and go up by around 400 HUF per kilometer. Avoid the taxis if you can as they can add up quickly and you can easily walk or take public transportation everywhere. There are no ridesharing services here like Uber.

Bicycle – Budapest is very bike-friendly and has over 200 kilometers (124 miles) of bike lanes. You can find rentals for around 1,200 HUF for 1 hour or 5,500 HUF for 24 hours.

Car rental – Car rentals can be found for as little as 6,500 HUF per day for a multi-day rental. Unless you’re planning some day trips, however, you won’t need a vehicle. If you’re driving, make sure to bring an International Driving Permit (IDP) — you’ll need one for any car rental.

When to Go to Budapest

Peak season in Budapest is June-August, when temperatures rise to 27-30°C (82-86°F). Budapest experiences a huge influx of visitors during this time and prices increase as well.

However, while the summer is the most popular time to visit, I think the best time to visit Budapest is the shoulder season in the spring and fall (April-May and September-October). It’s still warm, with temperatures hovering between 12-16°C (54-62°F), and there aren’t as many crowds. Prices are cheaper too.

Winter is from November to March. During this time, there is a lot of rain and snow, with many tourist attractions shutting down. Temperatures regularly drop below freezing. That said, November-December is fantastic for the Christmas markets. If you want to see the holiday markets and visit the museums then winter is a fun time to visit. Just dress warmly!

How to Stay Safe in Budapest

Budapest is a pretty safe city and violent crime is rare. However, scams and pick-pocketing can occur, especially around high-traffic areas and on crowded public transportation. Always keep your valuables secure and out of reach just to be safe.

One scam to be mindful of is the “large bar and restaurant bill” scam. It’s mostly solo male travelers who are the target of this scam. The scam starts when you are approached by a group of women who ask for a light or directions. They then ask if you want to come for a drink in a nearby bar. When the bill comes, it is very expensive and they will be unable to pay their share. This is a very common scam as the women are working for the bar. If you aren’t sure if it is a scam or not, try suggesting you all go to a different bar than the one they suggest.

Additionally, avoid this by checking the prices before ordering.

You can read about other common travel scams to avoid here if you’re concerned.

Solo female travelers should generally feel safe here, however, the standard precautions apply (never leave your drink unattended at the bar, never walk home alone intoxicated, etc.).

If you experience an emergency, dial 112 for assistance.

The most important piece of advice I can offer is to purchase good travel insurance. Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past.

Budapest Travel Guide: The Best Booking Resources

These are my favorite companies to use when I travel. They consistently have the best deals, offer world-class customer service and great value, and overall, are better than their competitors. They are the companies I use the most and are always the starting point in my search for travel deals.

  • Skyscanner – Skyscanner is my favorite flight search engine. They search small websites and budget airlines that larger search sites tend to miss. They are hands down the number one place to start.
  • Hostelworld – This is the best hostel accommodation site out there with the largest inventory, best search interface, and widest availability.
  • Booking.com – The best all around booking site that constantly provides the cheapest and lowest rates. They have the widest selection of budget accommodation. In all my tests, they’ve always had the cheapest rates out of all the booking websites.
  • HostelPass – This new card gives you up to 20% off hostels throughout Europe. It’s a great way to save money. They’re constantly adding new hostels too. I’ve always wanted something like this and glad it finallt exists.
  • Get Your Guide – Get Your Guide is a huge online marketplace for tours and excursions. They have tons of tour options available in cities all around the world, including everything from cooking classes, walking tours, street art lessons, and more!
  • The Man in Seat 61 – This website is the ultimate guide to train travel anywhere in the world. They have the most comprehensive information on routes, times, prices, and train conditions. If you are planning a long train journey or some epic train trip, consult this site.
  • Rome2Rio – This website allows you to see how to get from point A to point B the best and cheapest way possible. It will give you all the bus, train, plane, or boat routes that can get you there as well as how much they cost.
  • FlixBus – Flixbus has routes between 20 European countries with prices starting as low 5 EUR! Their buses include WiFi, electrical outlets, a free checked bag.
  • SafetyWing – Safety Wing offers convenient and affordable plans tailored to digital nomads and long-term travelers. They have cheap monthly plans, great customer service, and an easy-to-use claims process that makes it perfect for those on the road.
  • LifeStraw – My go-to company for reusable water bottles with built-in filters so you can ensure your drinking water is always clean and safe.
  • Unbound Merino – They make lightweight, durable, easy-to-clean travel clothing.
  • Top Travel Credit Cards – Points are the best way to cut down travel expenses. Here’s my favorite point earning credit cards so you can get free travel!
  • BlaBlaCar – BlaBlaCar is a ridesharing website that lets you share rides with vetted local drivers by pitching in for gas. You simply request a seat, they approve, and off you go! It’s a cheaper and more interesting way to travel than by bus or train!

Budapest Travel Guide: Related Articles

Want more info? Check out all the articles I’ve written on backpacking/traveling Europe and continue planning your trip:

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Top tips for getting around Budapest (on both sides of the river)

Jennifer Walker

Mar 28, 2023 • 7 min read

The women exploring Budapest on bicycles

Exploring Budapest on foot or by bike is like a free architecture tour © AzmanJaka / Getty Images

Thanks to plentiful buses, boats, trams and Metro trains, getting around Budapest is easy. The Hungarian capital is highly walkable, and for the times when you need to go further afield or get somewhere quickly, there are plenty of options.

Budapest Közlekedési Központ (BKK) runs the city’s transport network, which includes metro lines, trams, buses and even boats in the summer. BKK has a handy app for journey planning, so you can see when the next bus, tram, boat or metro is scheduled to arrive – it's particularly useful in winter, when temperatures regularly drop below -1°C (30°F).

Whatever time of year you come, here are the best ways to get around Budapest.

Pick up a travel card or transport pass for cheap journeys in Budapest

On Budapest public transport, you can buy a ticket for a single journey or buy a travel pass valid for anything from 24 hours to a month, covering all forms of public transportation run by BKK. Prices start at 2500 HUF for 24 hours. The Budapest Card also includes travel on public transport, as well as free entry to sights and attractions; it costs from €29 for 24 hours.

You can buy tickets for public transport from ticket offices in metro stations or at the purple self-service ticket machines at most metro, bus and tram stops. If you get a single ticket, make sure you validate it when you enter the metro station or get on board the bus or tram.

Keep the ticket with you until the end of the journey. Ticket inspectors tend to work undercover, dressed as normal passengers until the purple armband goes on, and there are steep fines if you don't have a valid ticket (the fine doubles if you can't pay on the spot). Other than when changing metro lines, tickets cannot be used for transfers.

People walking on Vaci utca in Budapest

Walking is the best way to see Budapest's gorgeous architecture

Walking is by far the best way to explore Budapest. It’s not the fastest way to get around the city, but it's certainly the most enjoyable. A walk through the backstreets of Budapest could lead to the discovery of your new favorite cafe, and every stroll feels like a spontaneous tour of beautiful Budapest architecture.

Budapest is a safe city to walk in, but be aware that bikes and pedestrians share the same paths on some sections of the Danube Banks, particularly in Buda, so watch out for cyclists.

Biking around Budapest is easy and inexpensive

Budapest is a very cycle-friendly city. You’ll find bike paths crisscrossing the center and winding through the outer districts, with the Danube-side cycle paths in Buda being some of the most popular routes for visitors.

It’s easy to rent a bike in Budapest; just look out for the green stations of the MOL Bubi bike-sharing scheme. You can rent bikes easily and cheaply using the app, with costs starting at 40 HUF per minute; when you’re done, simply return the bike to one of the many bike stations dotted around the city to stop the meter.

Zip around Budapest on the metro

The metro is the quickest way to get around Budapest, and it comes into its own during the frosty winter months. There are four metro lines, with Metro Line 1 (also known as the Yellow Line) being the oldest underground railway in continental Europe – and a Unesco World Heritage Site.

Metro line 1 runs from Vörösmarty tér to City Park, below Andrássy Avenue . Metro Line 2 (red) goes from Déli pályaudvar in Buda to Örs Vezér tér in Pest. Line 3 (blue) crosses Pest from north to south, but the line seems to be in a state of permanent construction, so you may need to get a replacement bus. The gleaming modern Line 4 (green) goes from Keleti train station to Kelenföld train station.

Yellow tram on the streets of Budapest

Budapest's trams offer great city views

The tram network covers most of downtown Pest and Buda and extends out into the suburbs. Trams are quick, easy to use and usually much faster than buses – and you also get to see some of this famously beautiful city as you travel, unlike riding the metro underground.

Tram 2 is one of the most beautiful tram routes in Europe, skirting the Danube banks on the Pest side of the river and rattling by the Hungarian Parliament with views of Castle Hill on the other side of the river. Trams 4 and 6 link Buda and Pest from Petőfi Bridge to Margit Bridge, crossing the Grand Boulevard in Pest.

Take the bus for good connections to the suburbs

Buses and electric trolleybuses cover the city all the way to the outer suburbs. The regular blue buses that run all over the city are a good option if you want to go up to the Buda Hills or the Castle District. Buses 16 and 16A bus will deliver you to the castle, while buses 21 and 21A go to Normafa – the highest part of the city, popular for its parks and hiking trails. On the Pest side, red trolleybuses link downtown with neighborhoods beyond the Grand Boulevard.

Suburban trains are great for day trips from Budapest

The suburban train network known as HÉV (Helyiérdekű Vasút) is great for day-trippers looking to visit the fascinating small towns just outside of Budapest, such as Szentendre , a picturesque town that was once home to a substantial Serbian community and thriving art colony.

The easiest way to get to Szentendre is to take HÉV H5, which runs from downtown Buda. Other useful lines for travelers include the HÉV H8, which runs to Gödöllő – home to the elegant Baroque Gödöllő Royal Palace – and the HÉV H7 going south to Csepel Island.

The Hungarian Parliament building and the Danube in Budapest

Summertime boats run along the Danube

In the summer months, BKK runs a special boat service along the Danube, connecting various stops on the riverbanks. The ferry can get you to some of the city’s most prominent landmarks , including the Castle Garden Bazaar , the Hungarian Parliament and Margaret Island .

The boat is not the fastest way to travel, but if you want a city tour on a budget, it’s worth the 750 HUF ticket price to enjoy the city from the water. Additionally, shorter ferry trips cost 170 HUF for a single ticket. Check that the service is running before heading to the riverbanks because it can be erratic.

Ride-sharing apps are handy for late-night rides

If you need to get back to your hotel late at night and prefer to avoid the gamble of taking a cab on the street, download the Bolt app (formerly known as Taxify). It works the same way as Uber (which no longer operates in Hungary), and you can get a ride in a matter of minutes in most parts of the city.

Use reputable taxi firms to get around Budapest at night

Conventional taxis are commonplace in Budapest, but it’s best to use a reputable taxi firm such as City Taxi , Főtaxi , 6x6 Taxi or TaxiPlus . Don’t flag down a cab on the street because there are some unsavory taxi drivers  – although there are fewer of these characters nowadays than there were in the past.  You can easily order a cab by phone or via the companies' apps, or most restaurants and hotels will happily order a cab for you.

A rental car is only really useful for day trips out of Budapest

It’s not really worth renting a car in Budapest unless you plan to take long-distance day trips out of the city. Big international rental-car companies, such as Hertz and Avis, have offices in some large hotels and at the airport.

Accessible transportation in Budapest

Accessible transportation in Budapest has improved in recent years, but there’s still a long way to go. Metro Line 4 is wheelchair-accessible across the entire route, but the older metro lines only have a few stops with elevators and wheelchair access.

Tram lines 4 and 6 are step-free and accessible for wheelchairs, but many other tram lines have quite a few steps between the street and the tram. Travelers in wheelchairs can use most buses, and drivers will lower the bus and extend a ramp. HÉV trains are old and have steep steps that are challenging even for those without mobility issues. 

The BKK website has a guide to accessibility on Budapest’s public transport . For more information on accessible travel, see Lonely Planet's accessible travel resources .

This article was first published Dec 23, 2021 and updated Mar 28, 2023.

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Budapest Guide: hotels, restaurants and things to do

Y ou likely know of at least one person who's been to Budapest on a city break in recent years. A tale of two cities in one – Budapest is split down the middle by the Danube river, with Buda on one side and Pest (pronounced ‘pesht’) on the other – it's the ideal place to visit if you've only got a long weekend to spare.

Combining the friendly, edgy and arty vibes of Berlin , with a dash of unique history and truly stunning architecture, there's also a shedload of decent spots to party if that's your vibe. Of course, we can't talk about Budapest without mentioning the world-famous spas . No, we're not talking about the type where you go for a bikini wax pre-Tinder date, but rather gigantic bath houses where members of the public and tourists alike visit to make the most of the numerous pools and the accompanying health benefits.

It’s also home to one of our favourite ever festivals, Sziget, so well worth ticking off your dream destination list. Oh, and it doesn’t break the bank either which is always a bonus, eh?

Where to stay in Budapest

We would highly recommend treating yourself to a stay at the newly-opened W Hotel . With hotels in only the chicest of destinations worldwide, the W's opening in the heart of the city (on the Pest side, just a stone's throw from the river, to be precise) is a fitting addition to its portfolio. Housed in the historic Drechsler Palace, previously the Institute of Ballet, you'll be floored at the sight of the exterior alone. Flanked by designer shops and with the Hungarian State Opera (architecturally even more stunning, if you can believe) across the road.

When you actually make it inside, you'll find drool-worthy interiors in line with W's signature elevated and sophisticated design. The 151 stylish rooms and suites, as well as three innovative dining areas, have all taken inspiration from the building and country's rich history. With luxe colour palettes and attention to detail given to every corner, you won't be short of potential selfie spots. Document your stay with dinner at W's in-house pan-Asian restaurant Nightingale by Beefbar (order the Rock Corn, trust us!) then head to Society25, the basement speakeasy, for bespoke cocktails.

What to do in Budapest

Relax at Széchenyi Thermal Baths

Budapest is famous for its thermal spas, the biggest of which is the Széchenyi Thermal Baths with 15 indoor baths and three outdoor pools, plus saunas, steam rooms and even a rooftop spa greenhouse, too. Located further out of the city centre, it's easy to reach on the metro – though we'd definitely advise booking in advance to avoid waiting in long queues.

Don't forget to bring your own towel and flip flops. The more prepared visitors even had dressing gowns in tow to make transitioning between baths more comfortable as it can get pretty cold in the winter months. There are quieter baths in the city centre if you want to avoid the tourist hot spots, but Széchenyi is *very* picturesque, which made it worth the trip IMO.

Go sightseeing

Budapest has some amazing historical landmarks that are definitely worth visiting, even if just to snap a selfie in front of. On the Buda side, make sure to take in Buda Castle and the Fisherman's Bastion. The architecture is truly astounding, with so much attention to detail. Plus, there are breathtaking views at both of these points that look back over the other side of the city.

On the other side of the river, take in the Houses of Parliament for even more stunning architecture. Just a stone's throw away you'll also find the Shoes on the Danube Bank, a truly moving memorial to the Hungarian Jews who were killed in this location during WWII.

Party at Sziget

If you’re torn between doing a festival or taking a holiday, then heading to Budapest when Sziget festival is on is the dream solution. In 2024, it takes place between the 7th – 12th August, FYI. Quite possibly the happiest, prettiest and twinkliest weeklong festival on the planet (it all goes down on the secluded Óbuda Island on the Danube river, known locally as ‘the island of freedom’) it's one of the largest in Europe and has a cracking line up – with previous performances from Rihanna, MØ and Sia bossing it on stage. We can hands down say this festival has some of the greatest vibes going and the weather is *usually* on point (so don’t forget your sun cream ). The forest is absolutely magical at night and the island's snoozy beach spots are the perfect place to recover from antics the following day.

Visit Hospital in the Rock

One of the creepiest (in a good way) places we’ve ever been. This museum is part of a 6-mile long row of caves and cellars under Buda Castle Hill (which is also very pretty, while we're on the subject) and is a former nuclear bunker and emergency hospital. So, y’know, has some real Batman and Robin meets World War 2 feels going on.

Where to eat and drink in Budapest

Szimpla Kert

Budapest is most famed for its ruin bars and pubs that sprung up in the early '00s, in buildings and factories set for demolition. Okay yeah, they’re now a tad touristy but for good reason – they’re cool (and Instagrammable) as hell. Grab a beer under the disco ball (and a host of other assorted novelties lurking in the ceiling rafters, from bikes to plants) in one of its most famous watering holes, Szimpla Kert, where you can expect to find old bathtubs doubling up as sofas and mermaid murals mingling with rough graffiti. We spent a happy couple of hours perched up with an apple shisha and people watching until we were cross-eyed. There’s also a great farmers market on every Sunday from 9am till 2pm, with an all you-can-scoff brunch if you’re after something a little more wholesome.

This restaurant serves up plate after heavenly plate of non-pretentious (yet still fancy) food and gigantic pálinkas (the national Hungarian spirit, a fruity brandy that’ll blow your cobwebs clean out) for a decent price, making it a must-visit dinner spot. It’s also only an 8-minute walk from Buda Castle and is close by to the city-splitting river (which you can see from certain tables), which makes for a nice post-munch stroll.

Spinoza Café

Our breakfast spot of choice (those pancakes though) in the city’s cool Jewish district, which in the evenings also has a live piano player – it’s authentic Hungarian and independent, so a bit of a gem.

If you’re after a proper dance-y night out, we recommend heading to Instant, a former apartment building turned nightclub. Where better to get blisters than dancing in a 26-room bar with gigantic owls hanging from the ceiling, that stays open until an eye-watering 6am? (Answer: literally nowhere).

Things to know before you travel to Budapest

Heads up, most of the city’s many museums are closed on a Monday so maybe spend that day wandering around the city or relaxing in your hotel instead.

Depending on how long your trip is, investigate getting a CITYPASS which gives you access to all the city's buses, trams and the metro. It also gives you free/discounted entry to the spas (and includes travel on boats to and from Sziget festival too).

Planning a city break to Budapest? We've got you covered with everything you need to know, from where to stay, sights to see and what to do, eat and drink.

The Ultimate Guide On How To Travel From Budapest Airport To The City Center

  • Last updated May 16, 2024
  • Difficulty Beginner

Michaela Krajanova

  • Category Travel

how to travel from budapest airport to city center

Budapest, the capital city of Hungary, is a vibrant and cultural hub that attracts millions of tourists each year. Upon arriving at the Budapest Airport, travelers are often left wondering how to navigate their way to the city center. Luckily, this ultimate guide is here to provide all the necessary information and tips on how to make the journey from the airport to the bustling heart of Budapest, ensuring a seamless and stress-free travel experience. Whether you prefer public transportation or private transfers, this guide will cover all the options available, allowing you to start your adventure in Budapest on the right foot.

What You'll Learn

Budapest airport: arrival and transportation options, public transportation: buses and trains to the city center, taxi services: getting to and from budapest airport, shuttle services: convenient transportation from budapest airport.


Arriving at Budapest Airport can be an exciting start to your journey in this beautiful city. Once you have gone through customs and claimed your luggage, you might be wondering how to make your way to the city center. Here are some transportation options for you to consider:

  • Airport Shuttle: Budapest Airport offers a convenient shuttle service called Airport Shuttle-Minibusz. This service will take you directly to your hotel or any other designated address in the city. The minibuses depart from the terminal every 20-30 minutes, so there is no need to worry about waiting for too long. The cost of the shuttle depends on the distance, but it is relatively affordable and can be booked in advance online or at the airport.
  • Public Transportation: Budapest has an efficient and well-connected public transportation system. To reach the city center, you can take bus number 100E. This bus runs from the airport to Deák Ferenc tér, which is a central hub in the city. The buses operate every 10 minutes during the day and every 30 minutes at night. Tickets can be purchased at the airport or from the driver. Be sure to validate your ticket once you board the bus.
  • Taxi: Taxis are readily available at the airport, and they provide a convenient and comfortable way to get to the city center. The taxis in Budapest are metered, and the fares are regulated. You can find official taxi ranks outside the terminal, and it is recommended to use these instead of approaching drivers inside the airport. It is advisable to ask for an estimated fare before starting your journey to avoid any surprises.
  • Airport Transfer: If you prefer a more luxurious and personalized option, you can book a private airport transfer. Many companies offer this service, and you can choose from a range of vehicles including sedans, minibuses, and even limousines. The driver will meet you at the airport and take you directly to your destination. This option provides hassle-free transportation, especially if you are traveling with a group or have a lot of luggage.

No matter which transportation option you choose, it is always a good idea to plan ahead. Check the schedules and fares in advance, and consider factors such as your budget, the number of people in your group, and the amount of luggage you are carrying. With these options to choose from, you can easily and comfortably travel from Budapest Airport to the city center, and start your adventure in this vibrant and charming city.

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When traveling to Budapest, Hungary, one of the first things you'll need to figure out is how to get from the airport to the city center. Luckily, there are several convenient and affordable options available. One of the most popular methods is to take public transportation, specifically buses and trains.

Budapest Airport is located approximately 16 kilometers southeast of the city center. To get to the city center by bus, you can take the 100E airport shuttle bus. This bus operates between Terminal 2 and Deák Ferenc tér, which is in the heart of the city. The bus runs every 30 minutes, and the journey takes approximately 35-40 minutes. The 100E bus operates from early in the morning until around midnight, ensuring that you can catch a ride no matter what time you arrive.

Alternatively, you can also take the regular bus line 200E, which connects the airport with the Kőbánya-Kispest metro station. From there, you can transfer to metro line M3 and reach the city center. The bus runs every 7-10 minutes, and the entire journey takes around 40-45 minutes.

If you prefer to take a train, you can catch the Airport Shuttle Minibus service that will take you to Nyugati Railway Station. From there, you can easily access other parts of the city via the metro or bus. The journey by train takes approximately 25-30 minutes.

It's important to note that to use the public transportation in Budapest, you will need to purchase a ticket. Tickets can be purchased from vending machines located at the airport or at the bus stops. Make sure to validate your ticket upon boarding the bus or train to avoid fines. Tickets are valid for a certain duration, usually around 80 minutes, allowing for transfers within that time frame.

When traveling from the airport to the city center, it's a good idea to check the timetable beforehand, especially if you arrive late at night or early in the morning. This will ensure that you can plan your journey accordingly and have a smooth transition from the airport to your destination in Budapest.

Overall, using public transportation, such as buses and trains, is a convenient and cost-effective way to travel from Budapest Airport to the city center. The schedules are reliable, and the journey is comfortable and efficient. So next time you visit Budapest, consider hopping on a bus or train and explore the city with ease!

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When it comes to traveling from Budapest Airport to the city center, there are several transportation options available. One of the most convenient and reliable options is using a taxi service. Taxi services at Budapest Airport provide a quick and comfortable way to reach your destination in the city center.

Upon arrival at Budapest Airport, you will find a designated taxi rank outside the terminal building. It is important to note that official Budapest taxis are yellow and have a taxi sign on the roof. Make sure to only use licensed taxis to avoid scams and overcharging.

To catch a taxi, simply join the queue at the taxi rank, and a dispatcher will guide you to an available taxi. Alternatively, you can also book a taxi in advance through online platforms or by calling a local taxi company.

The journey from Budapest Airport to the city center typically takes around 30-40 minutes, depending on traffic conditions. The distance is approximately 22 kilometers. It is advisable to have the address or name of your destination written down to show to the taxi driver, especially if you don't speak Hungarian.

When taking a taxi from the airport, it is important to know that the fares are regulated by the government. There is a fixed basic fee, and additional charges may apply for luggage or traveling during peak hours. The current rates are displayed in the taxi and should be clearly visible to passengers.

It is also common practice to tip the taxi driver in Hungary. While there is no strict rule, it is customary to round up the fare or add an additional 5-10% as a tip. Tipping is a way of showing appreciation for the service provided.

If you prefer a more personalized experience or have specific requirements, you can also consider booking a private car transfer or a premium taxi service. These services typically offer a higher level of comfort and flexibility, with options such as larger vehicles or English-speaking drivers.

Overall, taking a taxi from Budapest Airport to the city center is a convenient and hassle-free option. It provides door-to-door service and allows you to avoid the hassle of public transportation or navigating unfamiliar roads. Just remember to use licensed taxis and follow the local regulations to ensure a safe and comfortable journey.

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If you're planning a trip to Budapest, one of the first things you'll need to figure out is how to get from the airport to the city center. Fortunately, there are several shuttle services available that can make your journey quick and convenient.

One highly recommended option is the shuttle service provided by the Budapest Airport Shuttle. This service operates 24/7 and offers door-to-door transportation to and from the airport. To book your shuttle, simply visit their website or go to one of their counters located at the airport.

Another popular choice is the MiniBUD shuttle service. This service operates on a fixed schedule and is available from early morning until late at night. The MiniBUD shuttle is a shared transportation option, meaning you may have to wait for other passengers to arrive before departing. However, it is a cost-effective way to travel to the city center.

If you prefer a private transfer, you can book a taxi or a private shuttle service. Taxis are readily available at the airport, and you can easily find them at the designated taxi stands. Make sure to only choose licensed taxis and ask for an estimated fare before getting into the vehicle.

Alternatively, you can arrange a private shuttle in advance through various online platforms or by contacting local transportation companies. This option offers the most flexibility, as you can choose your own pick-up time and location.

No matter which shuttle service you choose, it's important to plan your journey in advance and consider factors such as travel time, cost, and convenience. Most shuttle services offer a variety of options to suit different budgets and preferences.

When you arrive at the airport, make sure to look for signs directing you to the shuttle service pick-up points. The staff at the airport will be happy to assist you if you have any questions or need further directions.

Overall, shuttle services are a convenient and hassle-free way to travel from Budapest airport to the city center. Whether you prefer a shared or private transfer, there are plenty of options to choose from. By using a shuttle service, you can start your trip on the right foot and explore all that Budapest has to offer with ease.

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Frequently asked questions.

There are several options to travel from Budapest Airport to the city center. You can take a taxi, use public transportation, or book a private transfer.

The approximate cost of a taxi ride from Budapest Airport to the city center is around 25-30 euros.

You can take bus line 100E or bus line 200E followed by metro line 3 to reach the city center from Budapest Airport.

Yes, you can pre-book a private transfer service from Budapest Airport to the city center. This option provides convenience and peace of mind, especially if you have a lot of luggage or want a comfortable and direct transfer.

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    Aerial view of the top of Buda Castle Hill. 📍 Google Maps | Phone: +36 1 458 3000. Taking a tour of Buda Castle should also probably be on your list of activities in Budapest. But my favorite thing to do at this UNESCO World Heritage Site is actually just to climb up Buda Castle Hill to the free-to-enter grounds, where you can enjoy spectacular view of Pest at sunset.

  10. Budapest.city

    Welcome to Budapest, the heart of Hungary and the crown jewel of the Danube! Our comprehensive travel guide, www.budapest.city, is your essential companion in uncovering the layers of history, culture, and vibrancy this city offers. Whether you're a history buff, a culture vulture, or a spontaneous traveler, we've got you covered.

  11. Experience Budapest

    Here are our best tips for exploring Budapest with kids. Read article. View more. Articles Latest stories from Budapest. Read more articles. LGBTQIA+. 21 things only Budapest locals know (that you really should know, too) Mar 6, 2024 • 8 min read. Pronounce "é" correctly. It's the difference between toasting "good health" and toasting ...

  12. Travel Tips For Budapest: A Complete Guide

    Before checking out our travel tips for Budapest, have a look at this list of the best things to do in Budapest and we're sure your question will be answered. Relax at the best Budapest spas. Have drinks at one of Budapest's famous ruin pubs. Visit the Hungarian Parliament building. Wander around Fisherman's Bastion.

  13. Budapest Guide: Planning Your Trip

    See the city from the river on a boat tour or take the local public transport boat for a couple of dollars. Bar hop in the Jewish District. Explore Budapest's most famous ruin bars by night. Grab a drink at Szimpla, the first ruin bar of the city, and head over to nearby Instant-Fogas. Visit a thermal bath.

  14. 19 Best Things to Do in Budapest

    Kyle McCarthy|Sharael Kolberg December 4, 2023. Ranking of the top 19 things to do in Budapest. Travelers favorites include #1 Fisherman's Bastion (Halászbástya), #2 Danube River and more.

  15. Travel Guide for Budapest: A Cheat Sheet for First-Timers

    Castle Hill lighting up the Danube. Budapest is the capital of Hungary. The country is bordered by Slovakia, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, and Ukraine. Budapest is well connected by train to many other European cities. Budapest to Vienna is only 2 1/2 hours on the high-speed train.

  16. A Local's Guide to Planning a Trip to Budapest

    Written By Go Ask A Local. Budapest is one of Europe's great cities, but technically this is actually a tale of two cities; split down the middle by the Danube River, for most of history these were two separate towns - peaceful Buda on the west bank and bustling Pest on the east. It was only 150 years ago that they combined to form a single city.

  17. The Ideal 3 Days in Budapest Itinerary (+ Travel Guide)

    Getting Around During 3 Days in Budapest. Budapest has a great public transportation network comprised of trams, a metro, and buses. You can buy single tickets, a group of 10 tickets, a 24-hour pass, a 72-hour pass, or a 7-day pass to the transportation system. Personally, we always buy the passes.

  18. The Ultimate Guide for a Perfect Weekend in Budapest

    Day 2. You might be feeling a little worse for wear the next day after visiting the ruin bars, so it's time to do my favorite experience in Budapest: The Thermal Baths. Here you can relax and rejuvenate at one of Budapest's renowned thermal baths. I would recommend the Széchenyi Thermal Baths or Rudas Thermal Baths for a quieter experience.

  19. Budapest Travel Guide

    Budapest Travel Passport and Visa Information. If you're planning a trip to Budapest, you may need to check the visa requirements based on your nationality.. EU and EEA (European Economic Area) citizens don't need a visa to visit Hungary or stay for up to 90 days.. Citizens of some other countries like the USA, Canada, and Australia are also allowed to stay for up to 90 days without a visa.

  20. 10 Tips for Your First Trip to Budapest • The Blonde Abroad

    Tipping is Customary. Unlike other places in Europe, it is standard to tip your server at least 10% when at a sit-down eatery. Many restaurants include a 12.5% service fee or "szervidij" which counts as the tip so be sure to check the bill before you leave. At more casual spots, there might be a tip jar or you can round up to the nearest ...

  21. Budapest Budget Travel Guide (Updated 2024)

    Last Updated: January 5, 2024. Budapest, known for its fascinating history and its rocking nightlife, is a popular budget-friendly backpacker destination located on a beautiful stretch of the Danube River in Hungary. This vibrant capital is home to spacious parks, grand historic buildings, bustling food halls, hip underground bars, and ...

  22. Visit Budapest: Travel Guide to Hungary

    The 100E bus costs HUF 1,500 and will take you directly into Budapest (Kalvin ter, Astoria, and Deak ter) in 30-45 mins. It runs every 20 mins with the last bus leaving the airport at 1:20AM. Before exiting the arrival terminal, there's a booth on the far left side where you can purchase tickets to the 100E bus.

  23. Top tips for getting around both sides of Budapest

    The Budapest Card also includes travel on public transport, as well as free entry to sights and attractions; it costs from €29 for 24 hours. You can buy tickets for public transport from ticket offices in metro stations or at the purple self-service ticket machines at most metro, bus and tram stops. If you get a single ticket, make sure you ...

  24. Budapest Guide: hotels, restaurants and things to do

    Things to know before you travel to Budapest Heads up, most of the city's many museums are closed on a Monday so maybe spend that day wandering around the city or relaxing in your hotel instead.

  25. The Ultimate Guide On How To Travel From Budapest Airport To The City

    The journey from Budapest Airport to the city center typically takes around 30-40 minutes, depending on traffic conditions. The distance is approximately 22 kilometers. It is advisable to have the address or name of your destination written down to show to the taxi driver, especially if you don't speak Hungarian.