Budapest Travel Guide
This architectural treasure trove is one of the most under-rated big cities of Europe. Budapest has something for everyone – deep rooted history, sprawling thermal baths delicious Hungarian food and crazy night life. You would easily need 3-5 days to revel in the Paris of the east. Here are some tips, that will help you plan your trip to Budapest.
Things to do in Budapest
- Visit thermal baths: Your trip to Budapest is incomplete if you don’t visit one of the many thermal baths. Its a perfect way to begin your day with a refreshing spa, the sparties (spa-parties) in just the evening activity you need, and what better way to end your day after all the walking! So basically no matter what time of day or mood thermal baths is the right answer. My favourite was Szechenyi Bath.
- Visit Ruin pub: Its safe to say that Budapest and night life go hand in hand. And what better than the ruin pubs of Budapest. Whats started as a cheap underground post-war drinking place turned out to be one the most stylish and lively places to visit in Budapest. While you are out exploring ruin pubs do go to Szimpla, it is the mecca for ruin pubs.
- Visit the Buda castle: The sprawling UNESCO world heritage site is amongst the most beautiful castles of the world. It now houses Hungarian National Gallery and the Budapest History Museum. A great place to view the Pest side across Danube river.
- Fishermen’s bastion: A seven tower expanse that gives great views of Pest and the Danube river. This is probably the most photographed place in Budapest. Built 19th century in the Neo-Romanesque style Fishermen’s bastion will take teleport you to a Hungarian fairytale land.
- St. Stephens basilica: Over 5 decades, 3 architectures and several misfortunes later, we have the St. Stephens Basilica as we see today. This 96 m tall building is the tallest in Budapest. The Budapest parliament building is also the same height, this was to signify that both church and the government body are equal. Also no other building can be taller than them, by rule. The Basilica is home to St. Stephen’s mummified hand along with many other holy relics.
- Danube Promenade: The walkway between Chain bridge and Elizabeth bridge. Situated on the Pest side, this beautiful esplanade is spotted with many cafes, restaurant, hotels and stores. As you make your way along its length, pause to enjoy the fabulous views of Buda Castle, the Citadel, Gellért Hill and a few of the city’s bridges.
- Ecseri flea market: Time travel with Ecseri flea market. this flea market is a shoppers paradise, more so if you love unique antique items.What is it you’re looking for? Vintage clothes, old hats, gramophones, badges, paint rollers, pots? You’ll surely find it there. Note that this is not a fixed price store, so get your haggling game on to get the best price for that item.
- Central market hall: Central market hall is a one stop solution for all things Budapest! Right from local produce, local food to local art and crafts. You name it they have it. And the best part? They don’t have “tourist-prices” like many flea markets. Central market hall is as reasonable as it gets.
-Cost of staying: If you are on a budget Budapest won’t disappoint. Hungary is much more affordable as compared to other European countries. A bed in a good hostel will cost you EUR 10 a night. There are much cheaper options available if you look further. A budget hotel is EUR 30-50 a night and an apartment will be 40-60 EUR. For a 5 star hotels you would end up paying EUR 100 and upwards. I recommend Flow Hostel in Budapest, if you are looking for a rather loud party scene check out Madhouse Budapest.
-Cost of internal transportation: Budapest is a bit spread out, while most of the life is in the downtown and near river Danube. There is enough and more to see away from it. Great things is like any other European country Budapest is well connected with public transport. For single ticket you would pay 350 HUF one way journey using any (or multiple) public vehicles. It is better to take a travel pass. A 24hr travel card is 1650 HUF, 24hr group (upto 5 people) is 3300 HUF, 72 hr card is 4150 HUF (recommended if you are staying for that long). Note that a travel pass/card is not same as the Budapest city card.
-Cost of food and drinks: Again, Budapest is a travellers paradise. Budget and luxury alike! Hungarians love their wine a bottle from grocery store will cost you EUR 3 and above (the higher the price the better! believe me.) A regular beer will be around EUR 1.5 same from supermarket will be EUR 0.8 and at a fancy place about EUR 4. Standard coffee will cost you EUR 1.4, same at a fancy place like New York cafe will have you shell EUR 10! Meal for 2 at a budget restaurant will not cost you more than 5 EUR. Whereas a meal for 2 at a fancy place will be EUR 20 and upwards.
Money saving tips
-Take a free walking tour: It helps you know the city better. You can always come back to the monuments that interests you and spend more time there. Guides of such tours give out local recommendations, places that do not have “tourist prices”. I had booked one with Sandemen Tour.
-Cook your own meal: Most of the hostels are equipped with proper kitchen, it always help save the cost. Cost of 1 weeks grocery in Budapest would be an average of 20 EUR.
-Take a public transport pass: Public transport is possibly the best way of seeing any city, especially when it is well connected as in the case of Budapest. You can also choose to walk from one place to another, this doesn’t only give you more time to soak in the vibe but also saves you that extra buck!
-Visit the central market hall: Central market hall is a one stop solution for all things Budapest! Right from local produce, local food to local art and crafts. You name it they have it. And the best part? They don’t have “tourist-prices” like many flea markets. Central market hall is as reasonable as it gets.
-Skip New York cafe: We all love cafes don’t we? And Europe stands out for its cafe culture. New York cafe is one of the most iconic cafes of Budapest and for all the right reasons. You wouldn’t have seen cafe so extravagant. But paying 10 EUR for an average cappuccino I’d pass.
-Use student ID card: If you are a student use your ID card to get discounts at various attractions.
Hope my Budapest guide helps you plan your trip. If you have any questions comment below! if you have visited Budapest, what was your highlight and whats that one tip you would give fellow travellers?