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Hungarian Parliament Building in the sunset

18 Things To Know Before Traveling To Budapest

May 30, 2020 //  by  Linda Malys Yore //   Leave a Comment

Are you traveling to Budapest? Are you searching for information so you are more prepared once you arrive in Budapest?

You have come to the right place because I have visited Budapest several times. Here I have listed 18 of my favorite things to know before traveling to Budapest.

Budapest has reemerged at one of Europe’s great cultural capitals. She is divided by the romantic Danube River and connected by the iconic Chain Bridge.

Hillside and historic Buda is on the western banks and cosmopolitan and trendy Pest is on the east.

Read  how to avoid getting sick on a plane if you are flying into Hungary and are looking for tips on remaining healthy to enjoy your holiday.

If you are flying a long distance while traveling to Budapest, read my 7 tips for surviving long haul flights . 

Look here is you need airport transportation: Budapest: Shared Airport Shuttle Bus Transfer . Or here: Private Transfer from Budapest to Liszt Ferenc Airport

The epic Hungarian history and the jaw-dropping scenery, the delicious food, and thermal baths are all reasons to explore, discover, and visit Budapest!

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

Americans traveling to Hungary are not required to obtain a visa. However, only a 90-day stay is permitted within all of the European Union. 

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

Read my Ultimate Two Days in Budapest Itinerary for tips and suggestions of things to do and see when traveling to Budapest.

Check Your Passport Before Traveling To Budapest

You will need a current and valid passport to enter Hungary.

Your passport’s date must extend longer than three months past your departure from Hungary.

Also, Hungary requires one full blank page.

Check your passport dated and empty pages well in advance of your trip because expedited handling fees to renew your passport are quite expensive.

Fishermans Bastion is a great place to visit when traveling to Budapest

Purchase A Hungarian SIM Card For Your Phone

When traveling to Budapest, one of the best pieces of advice I can share with you is to purchase a Hungarian SIM card for your smartphone before you leave the airport.

With the new SIM card, the cell towers will recognize your phone as Hungarian and you will have improved cell service and much-improved Wifi.

Your phone number will be new as well. So it is best for you to remain in contact with your family and friends through Facebook Messenger or the What’s App.

Look for Hungarian SIM cards at the airport kiosks upon arrival, or in Budapest.

Look here: Budapest City Sightseeing Tour

Look here: Budapest Parliament 45-Minute Guided Tour

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, only the Hungarian forint is 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, that can last a longer period of time, so you do not keep having to pay the transaction fees.

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 you as well.

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

Fisherman's Bastion is a great location to see when traveling to Budapest

Use Budapest Public Transportation 

It is very easy to make your way around Budapest when you are out exploring.

By  subway.  Did you know that Hungary’s capital city of Budapest is home to mainland Europe’s first subway system?

It was constructed in 1896 to celebrate Hungary’s Millenium celebration. It was commissioned to run underneath Andrassy Avenue so as not to detract from its charm and beauty.

Today Hungarians and tourists alike use the Millenium subway system to get around town.

By  Tram or trolly . Budapest has an extensive tram and trolly system operating in the city since 1866. It is one of the largest in the world.

If you use the tram you can head out and about town and see just about all the sights and attractions that interest you.

Look here: Budapest: 1-Day Unlimited Cruise Ticket

Look here: Budapest Daytime Sightseeing Cruise

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 . The funicular runs from the foot of Castle Hill to the top of the Castle District.

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

Let me start out by saying my family and I were robbed in broad daylight in  Paris France.  That would be 3 out of 4 of us. All in the same day. At different locations. So we are aware of unsafe circumstances.

We always felt safe everywhere when in Budapest.

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

Hungary's Statue of Liberty stands tall on top of Budapest.

Most Hungarians Will Understand Your English

Hungarian is the main language spoken by those living in Budapest.

However, English is widely spoken in Budapest. You will have no problems being understood by the shop keepers, or in bars, and cafes in the main tourist spots.

Look here: Buda Castle: History & Myths Evening Walking Tour

Look here: Budapest: Matthias Church Guided Tour including Admission

There are smartphone applications to download, like Google Translate. I never had any problem communicating in Budapest with the locals.

Through hand gestures and a phone translation app, I believe you will be fine too.

Bathe With The Hungarians To Experience Their Culture

Soaking in the warm thermal waters that flow through Budapest is an everyday way of life for Hungarians. 

When my family and I visited Budapest, a local 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. 

Studies have been conducted that document how the mineral waters have curative and restorative properties for those suffering from degenerative diseases. 

When traveling to Budapest, the minimum amount of time you want to budget for this Hungarian experience is two hours. But you can easily spend much more time there if you so choose.

For more information read these  10 Useful Tips for visiting the Rudas Baths . You will not be disappointed!

Tickets here:  Budapest: Rudas Spa Wellness and Dining Experience

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 of your devices. You must bring one (or some) of your own.

If you have multiple devices to charge every night, as we did, you will want to bring along several devices just in case, to fit into the  standard European plugs .

Look here: Budapest: Grand City Tour with Parliament Visit

Look here: Budapest: House of Parliament Visit and Grand City Tour

Paprika Is The Symbol Of Hungarian Cuisine

Initially introduced to Hungary by the invading Turks in the sixteenth century, these days paprika is the dominant spice in Hungarian foods.

And no one grows it better than in Hungary due to their favorable growing conditions.

From sweet to spicy, from bright red to orange, when traveling to Budapest, seeking out Hungarian paprika is a great idea.

You can purchase it all over town, but your best bet would be to head to the Central Grand Market, where there are numerous stalls selling it. 

Visit Grand Market Hall to buy paprika

Should You Tip When In Budapest?

There is a tipping culture in Budapest.

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. Check your bill carefully so you do not leave anything additional unless you want to. 

Book Attraction Tickets Online To Save Money And Skip The Lines

It is generally wise to select which major iconic attractions you want to visit and secure tickets online before traveling to Budapest.

If you have only a short time, read my Ultimate One Day In Budapest Itinerary for suggestions.

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

This is a great convenience especially if your schedule is jam-packed with things to do when traveling to Budapest.

You will have more time to spend at the attraction since you will not be waiting in the entrance line. Also, you can better pace yourself during your busy days.

The Chain Bridge was the first to connect Buda with Pest

Is Drinking The Water Safe in Budapest?

Yes. Yes it is indeed safe and healthy to drink tap water in Budapest.

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

Bottled water is still offered in pubs and restaurants. However, now you know that when traveling to Budapest you do not have to worry about the quality of the drinking water.

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

Yes, it is fun to visit as many restaurants as possible for breakfast, lunch, and dinner when you are traveling to Budapest. However, that may put a strain on your budget.

There are grocery stores in Budapest you can visit.  You can buy sandwiches and snack foods to carry along in your backpacks for the long days of touring. Which was exactly every single day for us.

Fresh fruits, such as apples and oranges are sturdy enough to last several hours in a backpack and remain intact. Plus, they are much healthier than sugary and salty. Granola is another tasty snacking alternative.

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

matthias Church is on top of Castle Hill in Budapest

Notify Your Credit Card Company 

Call your credit card company to notify them of your dates that you will be traveling to Budapest. And out of your home country. This is for your safety.

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.

Look here: Skip the Line: Széchenyi Spa Full-Day Entrance Pass

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

The neighborhoods in Budapest are as varied as its residents! Choose one that fits your needs the best. based on your tastes and your budget. Here are a few suggestions:

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 also is a hub of tourist activity.

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

Situated on the Pest side of the Danube River, this densely populated area has lots to offer. Including the famous Andrassy Avenue .

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.

You will also find synagogs, religious sites, and cultural locations.

Belvaros (District V) a great choice to be near some of the most famous attractions Budapest has to offer. It is located on the Pest side of the Danube, 

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

Right across the river is the Castle District. This is a solid choice as it is near a lot of attractions and you will not tire yourself out exploring them all.

The Shoes on the Danube is a somber monument

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. Not only is walking the best form of exercise, but it is also a great way to explore Budapest up close and personal.

Everyone walks about in Budapest. You can meander the various neighborhoods, look at the lovely cafes, or simply people-watch.

Packing Tips When Traveling To Budapest

I think that using these useful packing tips will enhance your trip to Budapest and help you remain organized while there.

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

A  concealed travel pouch may be one of the most important items you bring with you when traveling to Budapest. This unisex RFID blocking concealed travel pouch is  lightweight and comes in several colors.

It has lots of organization to give you peace of mind. You can keep your most valuable documents safe and secure next to your body.

You may have a pouch already and may not want to or need to invest in a new one, like me. If it does not come with the  RFID protection , these  RFID  sleeves  would be handy to prevent identity theft.

This configuration comes with enough passport and credit card sleeves that the entire family would be protected. They are slim too, so they will easily fit into your current pouch or wallet.

These are the kind my family and I use not only when traveling but at home as well.

If you are planning on taking a lot of pictures with your phone you will definitely want to consider an  external charging battery . This  Anker high-speed phone charging battery  is the exact one I carry with me on all of my trips .

It can be used on a variety of phones, not just an iPhone like I have. And wow is it fast! I like that it holds its charging capabilities for several uses so I do not have to worry about it while out and about.

And if I forget to recharge it at night, it will still be good to go the next day.

Freedon Square is a monument to see when traveling to Budapest

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.

It is made of durable aluminum and is very lightweight and easy to carry. I love mine and I think you will enjoy it too!

Don’t forget to bring along a  universal power adapter  on your trip to Hungary.  This  worldwide   power plug  is a great example and will charge your phone at the end of your busy days.

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

This is what you will need when there are several people traveling in your group, or if you bring several electronic devices on your trip that require charging at the same time.

I was never a fan of  packing cubes  until I tried them out! Now  I am sold .  These Bagail packing cubes   are  the exact ones I use whenever I travel . I cannot believe how much more organized I am now! And I never leave without them anymore.

Hydration is so important. When I visited Budapest it was warm and having water with me was very important. You want to remain hydrated to support your immune system which in turn will be stronger to fight off any germs you will encounter during your one day in Budapest.  You will want to bring your own  refillable water bottle  with you. 

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. 

Perhaps you are traveling a long distance and packing space is a premium. Then this  set of collapsible silicone foldable water bottles  would work well for you. Would not take up much space in your suitcase at all. And you will be receiving a set of two.

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.

It is very affordable and is available in many color options for you to choose from. The fact that it folds down into a zippered pouch will make it easy to pack.

Perhaps you need a more substantial  backpack  for your international travel. This  antitheft backpack   has a charging port, is water-resistant, and can comfortably carry up to a 15.6″ laptop.

It comes in a range of colors to choose from and it is inexpensive as well. 

You will be walking more than usual during your one day in Budapest. A  sturdy and comfortable pair of walking shoes is  a must-have. These  waterproof all-season shoes  are extremely affordable and yet fashionable. 

Mostly everyone is familiar with the Skechers brand, and these   Air Run high fashion sneakers  come in a lot of colors to match your outfits and are still affordable.

I know from experience you need sturdy shoes when navigating the cobblestoned streets of Budapest.

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.

You may want to bring along  beach towels.  But you do not want to add anything heavy or bulky.

  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.

It comes in several patterns and two sizes to pick from.  Or you could opt for this  mesh swim backpack bag   that has separate areas for dry and wet items. 

Bring a lightweight scarf or shawl . Scarves and shawls are very popular in Europe and Budapest is no different. Both men and women wear scarves, both decoratively and as a layering piece to keep warm.

This  cotton   unisex lightweight  scarf is versatile and can be worn in any season. I like this  colorful oversized scarf  too. So many colors to select from!

And here’s another option to consider: this  lightweight sunscreen shawl scarf   would do double duty to protect you from the sun in the warmer seasons as well as being a fashion accessory layering piece.

This  Coolibar sunscreen scarf   has USB 50+ protection from the sun’s rays & comes in great colors.

We all need to  protect our eyes  from the sun’s harmful UVA/UVB rays. 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. I like polarized sunglasses because they remove the glare off the water and help you to see things more clearly. This will be very helpful in Budapest.

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

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

 I know my 18 tips will help you when traveling to Budapest. If you are reading and you have already visited Budapest, please add any tips in the comments section below that helped you travel to Budapest! 

Linda On the Run  is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, designed to provide a means to earn fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com

Other affiliate links for Get Your Guide are included here as well to help you plan and organize your trip.

Fishermans Bastion is a great place to visit when traveling to Budapest

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33 Travel Tips

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

  • Post author: Naddya
  • Post category: City Travel
  • Post published: January 27, 2021
  • Post last modified: April 18, 2023
  • Post comments: 2 Comments

Budapest Travel Tips Pin 1

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!

Start Planning Your Trip to Budapest with Our BEST Recommendations:

⭐ 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.

Note : This article contains affiliate links . In case you purchase something through one of these links, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost for you. Thank you for helping us keep creating the free content on this website!

Things to do Before You Visit Budapest

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:

Language Tips - Hungary

  • 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.

Best time to visit Budapest

Weather – When Is the Best Time to Visit Budapest

Budapest in Spring

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.

Budapest Panorama with the Parliament

  • 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 for Budapest

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

Hungarian Forints

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. 😉

Open-air Restaurant Budapest

  • 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 and Drinks tips for Budapest

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

Hungarian Goulash

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.

Langos with Different Toppings

  • 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.

Ruin Bar Budapest

  • 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.

Ground Transportation

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

Tram Crossing the Liberty Bridge Budapest

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 .

Buda Castle Funicular

  • 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

Residential Area Budapest

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 .

Jewish Quarter

  • 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.

Best BudapestTravel Tips

Which Are Your Favorite Budapest Travel Tips?

Night Panorama with Chain Bridge Budapest

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?

Budapest Travel Tips Pin 2

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This post has 2 comments.

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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Headout Blog

16 Budapest Travel Tips & Hacks | The Holy Grail For 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.

Save €6 on your first booking with Headout when you use promo code GOBUDA


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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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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.

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The Present Perspective

Budapest Travel Guide: The Best Things to Do in Budapest [2023]

· everything you need to know to travel to budapest and have a great time without breaking the bank. ·.

drone shot view of budapest parliament building and river

Budapest is epic. Central and Eastern Europe have recently exploded onto the radars of American travelers, and for good reason. Cities like Prague , Vienna , and Krakow are incredible cities that come with a much more affordable price tag than their western European counterparts. However, in all of my travels through Eastern and Central Europe spanning over 11 countries, I’d easily call Budapest one of the three most beautiful cities I’ve visited in the region.

With magnificent architecture, mouth-watering food, a resilient culture, and an extremely interesting history, the capital of Hungary is a city I could return to time and time again, and I always enjoy it just as much. This Budapest travel guide will cover all of the best things to do in Budapest, plus how to get around, the best airports near Budapest, and more.

This post contains affiliate links through which we may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own.

We have some sippets from Budapest In this YouTube video.

Best Things to Do in Budapest

Budapest is incredible, and it is especially cool for people who like a little bit of history and culture. While the buildings in Budapest are beautiful and unique, the history behind each of them tends to be even cooler. This list will cover the top Budapest attractions, including some fascinating museums, some unique attractions, and some spots with epic panoramic views.

The city is split by the River Danube into two parts: Buda on the west and Pest on the east. Until the mid-1800s these two sides were actually separate cities, and a newly-built bridge connected them and spurred them to officially unite under the new name of Budapest. Nowadays, although well-connected by both the Margaret Bridge and the Széchenyi Chain Bridge, each side retains its own unique characteristics.

Since the two sides are different, I’ve split this section into two parts – one for Buda and one for Pest.

Best Things to Do in Buda

1. absorb the city views from the fisherman’s bastion.

The Fisherman’s Bastion is one of the most epic-looking places in all of Budapest, and it sits at the top of Castle Hill in the Buda Castle District. The area around the banks of the Danube River and Margaret Island is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Fisherman’s Bastion provides some of the best views of it.

While getting up to the Fisherman’s Bastion requires a bit of a hike, there is a restaurant and a Starbucks within the bastion where you can grab a drink or a bite to eat. Due to this prime real estate and the epic views, I commonly reference this Starbucks as one of my favorites in the whole world.

Stopping into Matthias Church is also a must-do while at the bastion. The Fisherman’s Bastion allows free entry for visitors to walk around and explore its spectacular views.

tips to travel to budapest

2. Descend into the Buda Castle Labyrinth

The Labyrinth under Buda Castle is a nifty place to check out. While walking through it doesn’t seem too scary or ominous, there is one detail that makes this place unique; Dracula was once imprisoned there. Now, Dracula the vampire wasn’t actually a real person, but the character was created in the image of Vlad the Impaler, a Romanian ruler from the middle ages.

This guy, though widely regarded as a Romanian hero, was hated by the Ottomans that were in control of Budapest, and thus thrown into an underground prison. This is that prison. Visiting the Labyrinth is definitely a unique experience!

dark underground brick tunnel

3. Admire the Grandeur of Buda Castle and its Museums

Built originally in the 13th century, Buda Castle dominates the Buda side of the city, as it sits on the top of a steep hill and overlooks everything. Buda Castle can be toured, and there are endless cool rooms and chambers to see within its walls. The Hungarian National Gallery and the Budapest History Museum are both located within the castle, too.

One of the best things about Buda Castle actually isn’t even inside of it; it’s the view you get from outside! From the top of Castle Hill, you can see the entire side of Pest as well as a large amount of Buda and Margaret Island off in the distance. The best views of the city and the Danube promenade are easily found here, at the Fisherman’s Bastian, and at nearby Gellért Hill.

The best views of the city and the Danube promenade are easily found here, at the Fisherman’s Bastian, and at nearby Gellért Hill.

exterior of white buda castle with green dome

4. Check Out the Church in the Cave

Inside of Gellert Hill, you can find a Catholic church run by Pauline monks. This cave was rumored to have been the home of a hermit monk who used mud to heal people centuries ago, and its history only developed further from there. The Pauline monks built this church into the cave and ran it until 1951. Nowadays it sometimes goes by the name Rock Church.

crucifix and church altar in a dark cave

In 1951, the communist government threw the monks into labor camps, executed the head monk, and sealed the cave behind concrete. In 1989 the Pauline monks reclaimed the church, broke down the concrete wall, and reopened it to the public.

To add to the mysterious feel of the church, there is a famous Black Madonna painting located inside. This little church is so unique that it is absolutely worth a visit, even if you only have a little time in the city.

Best Things to Do in Pest

1. take a bath in one of budapest’s famous thermal spas.

If you didn’t know this, Budapest is known all around the world for its natural thermal baths, or hot springs. The water in these thermal springs is supposed to be very good for your skin and body and has been used for healing purposes for centuries.

While there are baths on both sides of the city, the best ones are in Pest.

people swimming in budapest baths with yellow building during daytime

We went to the Széchenyi Thermal Baths , and it quickly became one of our favorite things we did on our trip. You pay an entry fee that gives you access to all of the spas on site as well as a locker for your personal belongings. You can also add on additional services if you wish.

The spas are co-ed, and you must bring a bathing suit. You can rent towels on-site at most of the spas, but the bathing suit must be your own. Right next door to Szechenyi baths is a Thermal Beer Spa , which is basically the same as the regular spas, except with a lot of beer. We didn’t have the time to go, but wow. That sounds really cool.

2. Look at Jaw-dropping Architecture on a Free Walking Tour

The Pest side of the city is a lot busier and more urban than the Buda side, but that doesn’t take away from its charm. The Hungarian Parliament Building is absolutely striking and is one of the most iconic and recognizable postcard images of the city. St. Stephen’s Basilica, the Hungarian State Opera House, the Royal Palace, the Central Market Hall, and the Great Synagogue are all stunning, too.

black statue in front of white concrete parliament building in Budapest with terracotta roof during daytime

Wandering around in Pest you’ll find endless eye-popping buildings, and one of the best things to do in Pest is to simply admire your surroundings. There is no better way to do this than on a free walking tour with a local guide who can add context about all of the stunning buildings. After your guided tour, the perfect place to grab a bite to eat is the Great Market Hall, which is loaded with delicious food options.

3. Learn About the Country’s Sad Past at the House of Terror

The House of Terror is not a Halloween-esque haunted house; it’s a former torture facility. The period during and after World War II was a very rough time in Hungarian history, as the country struggled immensely with problems stemming from fascist and communist regimes.

exterior of museum with the words terror plastered on the side

The House of Terror was a torture facility used by the secret police forces of these same fascist and communist leaders that hosted the torture and death of countless Hungarians as the country navigated itself back to democracy. The museum is extremely informational and staggeringly sad, but it is absolutely worth a visit. This is one of the best cultural sites to visit in all of Budapest.

4. Grab a Drink in One of Budapest’s Ruin Bars

What is a ruin bar you might ask? It is exactly what it sounds like: a bar made out of ruins. Recently, developers have started buying up old, abandoned buildings and turning them into trendy bar spaces. We spent an evening at Racskert and really loved it, but there are so many great places to choose from including the internationally famous Szimpla Kert .

View this post on Instagram A post shared by szimplakert (@szimplakert)

These ruin bars offer cheap drinks, a great, uniquely bohemian atmosphere, and often even live music. Hanging out at a ruin bar is a great way to enjoy a night in Hungary’s capital city, and it is also a great place to meet local friends.

5. See St. Stephen’s Mummified Right Hand in St. Stephen’s Basilica

St. Stephen was the first king of Hungary, and the Catholic cathedral in the city center is dedicated to him. The church itself is gorgeous, is the largest church in Hungary, and it is easily one of the best places to check out in Budapest. However, something that makes this basilica especially worth visiting is that it houses the mummified hand of St. Stephen himself, preserved in a glass observation box on the right-hand side of the church.

St. Stephen is regarded as one of the greatest Hungarian kings to ever live, and having a church dedicated to him in the Hungarian capital is the perfect testament to his legacy.

a gorgeous cathedral between two rows of buildings on an overcast moody day

6. Walk Around the Old Jewish Quarter

Budapest used to have a huge Jewish population, and walking around the Old Jewish Quarter is a testament to that. From seeing Jewish restaurants and bakeries to the massive Dohány Street Synagogue , there are a lot of nifty things to do in this area of the city that make it pretty unique.

Dohany Street Synagogue is the largest synagogue not just in Hungary, but in all of Europe. This Moorish-style building can fit up to three thousand people at once, and it is a sight to behold. While the synagogue itself is very pretty, there are two additional parts of it that I recommend checking out.

Interior of a grand golden synagogue with long aisle and pews

Firstly, there is a Holocaust Memorial located within the synagogue that I recommend checking out. Hungary’s Jewish population was very affected by the Holocaust, and this memorial is an incredibly solemn place to visit. You can learn more at the Hungarian Jewish Museum and Archives , which is also located within the synagogue complex.

7. Get Some Fresh Air at Heroes’ Square

Heroes’ Square is a city park located on the eastern end of Pest. This is where the Széchenyi Thermal Baths are located, and it is also where you can find the famous statue of Archangel Gabriel. If you are interested in local Hungarian history, I recommend checking out Vajdahunyad Castle , which is a history museum and is where our Budapest YouTube video begins!

There are a couple of other museums located here, like the Museum of Fine Arts , but I recommend just going for a walk around the park after spending an afternoon at the thermal spas. Heroes’ Square offers a refreshingly different angle of Budapest as a city.

man in backpack looking at hungarian castle

How to Get to Budapest

Budapest is a big city, and regionally it is very well connected. Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport (BUD) serves many regional flights as well as a handful of direct flights to countries outside of the region, like the United States. Since Budapest is a lot less popular than a major hub like Paris , you’ll probably need to have a layover if you’re coming from anywhere outside of Europe.

For example, there is currently only one direct flight from the United States to Budapest, and that is out of New York City. Still, a quick stop in London, Munich , or Paris isn’t the worst thing in the world! Since Budapest isn’t a major hub airport, a flight from the United States may be a bit more expensive than a flight to a bigger European city. For some tips on saving a little money on your flight, I’d recommend that you check out my detailed guide to finding cheap flights .

tips to travel to budapest


If you do decide to fly right into Budapest, the best way to get from the airport to your hotel is by booking a private transfer with our partners at Welcome Pickups . Welcome Pickups offers personalized, private, comfortable rides from the airport into the city for about the same price as a standard taxi. They monitor your flight status while you are in the air, and a driver will be waiting for you holding a sign with your name on it as soon as you arrive.

If you’re already in Europe or will be when you travel to Budapest, things get much easier and cheaper. Firstly, flights to Budapest from within Europe are extremely affordable thanks to budget airlines like Ryanair and Easyjet.

Using these airlines is one of my favorite parts of European travel because they make it so affordable! You can find flights for as little as $15, and as long as you don’t need luggage, there are no more fees. A carry-on won’t cost you much, either.

For tips on using budget airlines, check out my post on flying with budget airlines.

If flying on a budget airline doesn’t sound appealing to you and you’re close enough to Hungary, you should consider taking a bus. Flixbus is an awesome, reliable bus company that offers very competitive prices. Like, $5.

I’ve ridden with them many times and only had great experiences. I actually took a Flixbus from Bratislava to Budapest once, and it was fantastic. They even have free wifi.

tips to travel to budapest

– R E A D –

How to Get Around Budapest


When it comes to how to get around Budapest, you have three main options: taxis, public transportation, and electric scooters. Unfortunately, there is no Uber or Lyft in Budapest. If you want to use taxis, download the Bolt or Taxify apps. Both of these function similarly to Uber, but they call you a true taxi instead of a privately owned car.

These apps are perfectly safe, and they make the trip much easier as you don’t need to negotiate prices in Hungarian! We used Taxify and had nothing but positive experiences.

There is no Uber or Lyft in Budapest.

As far as public transport goes, the metro system of Budapest is actually the oldest in Continental Europe and the oldest in all of Europe other than London’s Tube. It is decently connected, but pretty pricey compared to your other options. A single ride on the metro costs 350 HUF, or a bit over a dollar, and a 24-hour pass costs a bit over $5.

If you plan on using the metro line several times a day, you can’t beat the day pass. They also sell passes that can be used over a 72-hour period if your trip is a bit longer. If the metro stops are convenient to your origin and destination, I’d recommend using the metro, but if there’s a lot of walking involved, just grab a taxi or a scooter.

The third option is my favorite, not just in Budapest, but everywhere that has them – electric scooters. If you haven’t heard of or used shareable electric scooters before, I have written the internet’s most comprehensive guide to using them. Basically, these are battery-powered scooters that travel up to ~20 miles per hour that can be unlocked and used within city limits with an app on your phone.

We love them because they’re fun to use and connect you directly from point A to point B without any waiting or negotiating in between. These scooters are everywhere in Budapest, and for getting around the main parts of the city, they are the best way to get around.

tips to travel to budapest

Budapest Card: An All-Access Pass to Budapest

What is a budapest card.

A Budapest Card is a tourism pass offered in Budapest that gives visitors unlimited access to public transportation, free entry into several museums and a thermal bath, and steep discounts on many other attractions, like river cruises.

Is a Budapest Card worth getting?

Budapest Cards offer extreme value to visitors who want to see as much of the city as possible in a short time span. They are quite cheap given all that they include, and they are sold at 24, 48, and 72-hour durations.

Where do you get a Budapest Card?

Budapest Cards are sold online on the official Budapest Card website , as well as in convenient locations around the city, like in the airport. I recommend purchasing one online in advance if you have the time.

Best Time to Visit Budapest

While every season offers a different perspective on Budapest, the best times to visit are during the spring and the fall. Hotel rates drop during these seasons, crowds diminish, and the weather remains fairly pleasant until November and after February.

Many visitors prefer to capitalize on the city’s beautiful weather in the summer or the Bohemian Christmas vibes in the winter, but the overarching best time to visit is while crowds are at their smallest during the spring and fall.

woman eating Trdelník sitting under arches of fishermans bastion

Is Budapest Worth Visiting?

Budapest is one of the most beautiful cities in all of Europe. When you add in the great museums, unique attractions, delicious food, and bustling nightlife, there is no doubt that Budapest is one of the top cities to visit in all of Europe.

Budapest is one of the top cities to visit in all of Europe.

Budapest is a city that has a little something for every kind of traveler. The thermal baths are as fun as they are iconic, the ruin bars are unique and enjoyable, and the architecture and heritage within the city are enough to please anyone. Few cities in Europe pack as much of a punch for tourists as Budapest, and Budapest does it at an affordable price.

ground shot of white concrete building

That’s all we have for you about traveling to Budapest! Hopefully, this Budapest travel guide helps you to plan an unforgettable trip and save money next time you head to Hungary’s capital city. If you have any questions about planning your own trip to Budapest, be sure to drop a comment!

Hi, I'm Greg. I'm an avid traveler who has traveled to over 50 countries all around the world with my wife and kids. I've lived in Italy, Mexico, China, and the United States, and I dream of moving abroad again in the future. With this blog, I provide my audience with detailed destination guides to my favorite places and pro-tips to make travel as stress-free as possible.

Haha! That is awesome. I’m so happy my post was useful…for both of you! Thanks for reading!

Budapest will always hold a special place in my heart. It was where I had my first solo travel experience, and I fell in love with the city’s beauty and charm.

That is so precious! Budapest is so amazing. I hope we both get back there some day!

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Travel Europe on a Budget

The Savvy Backpacker

City Guides .\33 a132798-3f3b-4585-954d-7e70cf863447{fill:#231f20}

Budapest travel guide — how to visit budapest on a budget.

Everything you need to know about visiting Budapest — where to stay, what to see, what to eat, and more.

tips to travel to budapest

They call Budapest the Paris of the East and we certainly think it lives up to its reputation. It has elegant boulevards. It has so much beautiful architecture. But it has much more grit and edge thanks to its years under communist rule. Walking its streets you can quickly tell that Budapest is a dynamic and living city.

One thing that makes Budapest so dynamic is its mix of Western and Eastern Europe. The city is still transitioning, so more and more young Hungarians are breathing new and youthful life into this great city. It’s still a little rough around the edges but that just adds to its charm.

[We’ve also written travel guides for Amsterdam , Barcelona ,  Berlin , London , Paris , Rome and multiple other cities .]

What You’ll Find In This Budapest Travel Guide:


  • How Long To Visit Budapest
  • The Good And Not-So-Good Things About Budapest
  • Budapest’s Must-See Sights and Attractions
  • Cheap Eats and Drinks
  • Best Budapest Hostels
  • Budapest Nightlife

More Resources To Help You Plan Your Visit On A Budget

  • Public Transportation

How Much To Budget For Visiting Budapest

Budapest is a very affordable destination for budget travelers — and the dollar keeps getting stronger so it keeps getting cheaper.

We recommend budgeting $20-$45/day if you’re on a backpacker’s budget — you can easily spend more and you might be able to spend less, but this is a good range for planning purposes. You can view our Budapest Daily Price Guide for more in-depth cost details.

How Long To Visit Budapest: 3-5 Days

Want to hit the highlights? We recommend a minimum of three days. Don’t want to feel rushed? Try to stretch your time to four or five days.

When To Visit Budapest & Weather


Summers tend to be nice with temperatures averaging in the high 60s to low 70s — but there are a handful of days in the 90s. Summer is obviously the high time for tourism — however, Budapest doesn’t get overrun with tourists so summer is still a great time to visit.

Spring and Fall both tend to be nice as well. In fact, September and into October have average temperatures in the low 70s. April and into May both tend to be nice with temperatures in the mid-60s.

Budapest winters are cold. December average high temperatures hover around freezing and nighttime lows are in the single digits. And it’s gloomy and snowy, so this might not be the best time to visit.

The Good And Not-So-Good Things About Budapest: A Quick Overview


Danube River . The banks of the Danube are listed as a Unesco World Heritage site so it’s a joy to take a stroll along the Danube (especially at night when everything is lit up).

The Thermal Baths. Budapest is world famous for their natural thermal baths and they’ve been attracting visitors since the Roman times. They’re still a popular draw for both tourists and locals alike.

Nightlife. Parties love Budapest — especially for the unique Ruin Bars (which we talk about more in depth later on) and the club scene.

The Not-So-Good

The Language Ain’t Easy. Hungarian is a tough language and while the alphabet looks similar to English, the letters are pronounced much differently — so don’t expect to read many signs or menus.

Crooked Taxi Drivers.  Taxi drivers have a reputation for ripping off tourists so beware when using taxis. Always use real taxis and insist they use the meter.

Scams and Pickpockets. There are a handful of common scams popular in Budapest. One scam is for a beautiful to invite tourists into a bar and ask them to buy her drinks — however, the drinks end up costing hundreds of dollars. Then the bouncers escort you to the ATM. And of course, there are the usual pickpockets that you have to watch out for.

Budapest’s Must-See Sights And Attractions

Danube promenade.


The banks of the Danube river are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site so you should spend some time visiting the Danube Promenade. It’s also a great place to see many of Budapest’s best sights.

Castle Hill


Perched above the city, Castle Hill is a must-visit neighborhood of Budapest. Some of the buildings date back to 14th and 15th centuries. Set aside a day to discover its winding cobble stone streets. The area also contains many of Budapest’s top attractions like Trinity Square, Matthias Church (Mátyás templom), Fishermen’s Bastion (Halászbástya), and Buda Castle.

Great Market Hall


Built in 1894, this massive indoor market draws a major crowd looking for  fruits, vegetables, prepared foods, and random souvenirs. It is a bit of a tourist trap as the prices are a lot higher than what you’d find over on the Buda side of the city. However, it’s a nice place to go for small bites and to look at the architecture of the hall.

Great Synagogue

The Great Synagogue is not only a beautiful structure, it’s also the world’s second largest synagogue. Visit Website .

House of Terror


The House of Terror is a museum detailing Budapest’s time under Nazi and communist rule — specially it focuses of the secret police of both parties. It’s housed in the secret police’s former headquarters (which was also their torture site). It’s a very interesting museum and it’s one of the cities most visited attractions.  Visit Website .

Hungarian Parliament

This iconic building is the largest building in Hungary and it’s the third largest parliament in the world. It’s a treat to admire from the outside but you can also admire the inside by taking one of the daily tours (in English) for around $14.

Memento Park


The communist loved building statues and monuments so Budapest was full of them during their years behind the Iron Curtain. Once communism in Budapest ended the people tore down almost all these statues and put them in a park in the outskirts of town. Now it’s a fun place to go visit and get selfies with Stalin. It’s a bit of a pain to reach via public transport so a tour might be easier. Visit Website .


City Park is where people of Budapest go to escape the city (it’s also where you’ll find the Széchenyi Baths). In this 302 acres park, you’ll also find a zoo and a replica Transylvanian Vajdahunyad Castle. It’s a fun place to explore on a nice day.

Heroes’ Square

The largest square in Hungary and it celebrates the thousandth anniversary of Hungary. It also marks the entrance of City Park so you’re sure to come across this monument.

Hungarian State Opera House

This neo-Renaissance opera house is one of the finest in the world. Better yet, you can actually score some cheap tickets to see an opera if you’re into that. If nothing else, you can also take a tour if the inside. View Website .

Andrássy Út (Andrássy Avenue)

This grand tree-lined boulevard runs through Budapest is a UNESCO Heritage Site and is best explored on foot. It connects the Opera House and City Park, and it runs by many of the city’s most expensive real-estate.

Saint Stephen’s Basilica (St. István’s Basilica)


Not only is Saint Stephen’s Basilica the largest church in Budapest but it also contains St. Stephen’s mummified right hand. Possibly more impressive are the views from the top of the church as it also offers the highest 360-degree views of the city.

Margaret Island

This 2.5km long island in the middle of the Danube is a nice landscaped park and it’s a popular recreation spot.

Ecseri Flea Market

This is one of the biggest flea markets in Central Europe and it sells just about everything you can imagine. It’s a good place to pick up a unique souvenir. It is located about 40 minutes outside the city but it is easily reached via public transportation.

Take a (Free) Walking Tour

You’ve got to take a walking tour of Budapest. They’re a great way to explore and learn more about the city from the POV of a local. I like to take one on my first day in a new city as I find it’s an excellent way to get my bearings and it gives me an idea of where I want to revisit.

The free walking tours are great for overviews. You’ll probably have to pay for a tour if you want a better quality guide or more specialized information (food tours, etc.).

Below is a list of the free walking tours:

  • Trip To Budapest
  • Free Budapest Tours
  • Original Europe Tours: Budapest 

If you’re looking for other free and paid tours we recommend checking out  Trip Advisor .

Thermal Baths


Budapest is known for its natural thermal baths — in fact, even the Romans enjoyed the city’s thermal baths. Some say the thermal springs which fill these baths have healing powers. I have no idea if there is any scientific evidence to back up there claims but I do know that they sure are relaxing — which is why you’ll find people of all ages enjoying these warm waters.

Budapest has a handful of different thermal bathhouses — some are barebones and others are quite opulent. Most all have multiple small pools, each with different temperature water (some can be quite hot so be careful).


Széchenyi , built in 1913, is probably the most popular and it’s a beautiful neo-baroque bath complex that consists of 11 medicinal pools and eight swimming pools. It’s also one of the largest spas in Europe. A ticket (including a cabin or locker) will cost around $15-$20.

Gellért is another popular option. Built in 1918, this opulent thermal bath complex features four thermal-medicinal pools, six other indoor pools, and two outdoor pools. Expect to pay around $20 for entrance and a cabin or locker rental.

The best source for more information about Budapest’s baths is BathsBudapest.com  — here you’ll find locations, hours, prices, and other helpful information. 

Helpful Information:

  • Be sure to bring your own bathing suit and towel. Some places will rent you a towel but some won’t, so you’ll want to check.
  • None of the spas we’ve visited seem to be very organized and the staff is grumpy. Buying tickets is confusing and a little complicated… it’s all obviously catered toward locals. But hey, whatever. It’s all part of the fun.
  • Remove your jewelry. The sulfur in the water can damage or discolor certain metals.
  • Most places give you a wristband when you buy your entrance ticket. You scan the wristband on the entrance turnstile to gain entry.
  • Pay for a changing cabin if you want extra privacy.

Cheap Eats in Budapest


Budapest is an international city so you can find just about anything but we recommend trying some traditional Hungarian food. Even better, you can still find plenty of cheap, yet quality, lunches for under $5 and a dinner for under $10 if you know where to look. Hungarian food is often hardy and contains pork, beef, veal, or poultry. Paprika is a national treasure so expect to find it in most dishes.

Looking for something traditional? Check out these dishes:

  • Gulyásleves – goulash soup with meat and vegetables.
  • Pörkölt – meat stew in a paprika sauce.
  • Kolbice – grilled Kolbász sausages in a wheat-bread cone.
  • Lecsó – vegetable stew.
  • Paprikás Csirke – creamy chicken paprikash with paprika and a chicken leg.


Of course, avoid restaurants in the tourist centers, especially Váci utca, because you’re almost guaranteed an overpriced and low quality meal (they’re also known to add all kinds of weird charges to rip tourists off).

When it comes to finding the best budget restaurants I always guide out guides written by locals. Here are a few of our favorite guides and online resources: 

  • Budapest By Locals: Cheap Restaurants
  • Everything Budapest: Cheap Restaurants 
  • Spotted By Locals: Budapest
  • Be Budapest: Food Guide
  • Funzine: Food
  • We Love Budapest: Cafes and Restaurants

Budapest Nightlife and Drinking


Budapest has that great combination of being a large youthful city that also has plenty of cheap alcohol and lots of large, cheap buildings — which is why this is one of the best cities for nightlife in the world.

Budapest is most famous for its Ruin Pubs … which are exactly what they sound like — pubs built in abandoned/ruined buildings. Basically, after WWII many of Budapest’s buildings in the Jewish neighborhood were destroyed. Years later people moved into (i.e. squatted) these buildings and turned them into secret underground pubs and bars. Many of these bars still exist and they each have their own vibe. The three main ruin pubs are Szimpla Kert, Instant and Fogas Ház

Check out RuinPubs.com for the most updated information on Budapest’s ruin pubs.

Budapest also has a ton of great nightclubs if that’s something you’re into checking out.  Club Studio   and  Club Dokk are three of the most popular clubs. These can be a little expensive (by Budapest standards) so you may want to pre-party before heading out.  

Budapest Hostels and Accommodation


Most hostels in Budapest cost around $9-$22/night per person for a decent hostel — although many hostels raise their prices on the weekend or during holidays. Remember, these prices are for bed in a shared dorm room. If you want a private room expect to pay $40-$70.

Note: Some hostels are known for being “party” hostels so be sure to read the reviews before you book to find the hostel that best fits your travel style. 

I’ve always used Hostel World to book our hostels so you’ll want to poke around there to find the perfect hostel. Here are a few of the best-rated hostels:

  • Pal’s Hostel
  • Big Fish Budapest Hostel
  • Avenue Hostel
  • Central Backpack King
  • HomePlus Hostel
  • Maverick City Lodge

Traveling Around Budapest


Budapest has a good network of trams, buses, and subways. They’re all affordable but be sure you always validate your ticket because they do check tickets often (you don’t want to get fined — which is $30-$60).

Download the SmartCity Public Transportation app for your smartphone as it gives you offline maps/routes for all the public trans in Budapest .

Single Ticket:  350 HUF ($1.30)

Book of 10 Single Tickets: 3,000 HUF ($11)

Unlimited Day Pass:  1,650 HUF ($6.15)

Train Ticket Between Airport and City:  400 HUF ($1.50)

Other Random Practical Travel Tips

  • Take a ride on Tram #2 for a ride with amazing views along the Danube and a number of Budapest’s major sights. In fact, taking any tram around the city is a nice way to see the city.
  • Head to the river at night to get beautiful views of the city lights.
  • Keleti Train Station is fairly sketchy and is a popular spot for pickpockets and crooked taxi drivers. I don’t recommend hanging around there any longer than needed.

I’m still a fan of ol’ fashion guidebooks as it gives you a quick and easy way to research your destination. If nothing else, head to the library or bookstore and spend an hour or so thumbing through a guidebook — it’s worth it. We’ve also listed a few websites/blogs that will help with your planning.

  • Rick Steves Budapest
  • Lonely Planet Budapest
  • WikiVoyage: Budapest
  • In Your Pocket: Budapest

Packing Help


  • Backpacking Europe Packing List For Women  – Our famous packing list that’s specifically for the ladies.
  • Backpacking Europe Packing List For Men  – Our famous packing list that’s specifically for the dudes.
  • Best Travel Backpacks For Europe  – We review our favorite travel backpacks, luggage, and other packing aides.

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tips to travel to budapest

Travel Tips For Budapest: A Complete Guide

This image shows a panoramic view of the Hungarian parliament lit in the blue hour.

Last updated on September 16th, 2023 at 09:29 am

If you’re planning to visit Budapest soon, we’ve compiled this thorough list of useful travel tips for Budapest to help you plan your trip.

With its diverse dining scene, beautiful architecture and unique spa culture, Budapest is one of the best places to visit for a city break in Central Europe. In this guide, you’ll find all the Budapest travel tips you need to plan your escape to the Hungarian capital.

Some of the links in this article are affiliate ones. This means that if you click through them to make a purchase, we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you . Also, this article contains sponsored content. For more information, visit our Disclosure page .

Top 10 Things To Do in Budapest

Is Budapest worth visiting? you may be wondering. 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
  • Walk along the Danube River
  • Join a river cruise
  • Taste and buy the best paprika
  • Explore the city’s coffee culture and diverse dining scene
  • Step inside the oldest metro in mainland Europe
  • Ride the UNESCO-listed Buda Castle Hill Funicular

This list is only an appetiser. For the main course, click here to read our detailed and carefully planned 3-day Budapest itinerary!

To fuel your wanderlust even more, here’s our Budapest YouTube video!

Resources & Travel Tips For Budapest

  • Find the best deals for your flight to Budapest here .
  • Get to Budapest by Flixbus here .
  • Get to Budapest by train here .
  • Find the best deals for your accommodation in Budapest.
  • Buy your Budapest Card here .
  • Book the best guided tours with GetYourGuide or Viator in Budapest.
  • Venturing out of Budapest on a road trip across Central Europe? Rent your car here!
  • Grab your Wise Card and make your transactions in foreign currency simple!
  • Travel without worries.  Click here  to buy your travel insurance.

Where Is Budapest

Known as the Spa Capital of The World, Budapest is the capital of Hungary , a landlocked country in Central Europe. Budapest is in the northern part of Hungary, close to the border with Slovakia.

Budapest is the second largest city on the Danube River. The latter divides Budapest into Buda and Pest. Buda is on the western side and Pest is on the eastern side of the river. Together with Obuda in the city’s north, Buda and Pest were unified to form Budapest in 1873.

This image shows Buda Castle. The photo was taken from a boat cruise on the Danube River.

Best Time To Visit Budapest

Given that summer can get hot in Central Europe and, apparently, you’re not going there for the beaches – you would probably go to our home country Greece for that – the best time to visit Budapest is either spring or autumn. April, May, September and October are the best months to plan a trip to Budapest, especially for first-timers, since the weather is mild and crowds are fewer then.

However, if you’ve visited the city before and done the bulk of your Budapest sightseeing, you could easily visit Budapest in winter to spend most of your time at the numerous thermal spas that are scattered across the city. We know we will at some point.

This image shows a blooming cherry tree on a street in the Buda Castle Hill district.

How Many Days in Budapest

Many people consider Budapest a typical weekend destination. However, you need three days in Budapest to make sure you enjoy all the main attractions at a slow pace, making time for a relaxing day at one of the best thermal baths in Budapest, too.

One of the great things about Central Europe is that you can combine more than one city on the same trip. One of our favourite travel tips for Budapest is that you can pair it magnificently with some other Central European capitals, such as Vienna , Bratislava and Prague . Budapest is about 240 kilometres from Vienna, 185 kilometres from Bratislava and 500 kilometres from Prague.

Read our guide to the best photo locations in Prague here!

Is Budapest Safe?

Like most cities in Europe, Budapest is safe for tourists. Petty crime, like pickpocketing in crowded places and touristy areas, isn’t uncommon. Yet, Budapest is a safe city to visit for everyone, solo female travellers included, as long as you use your common sense when it gets dark and avoid sketchy places.

To feel safe when travelling, buy your travel insurance for your trip to Budapest.

This image shows a panoramic view of the Hungarian Parliament behind the arched windows of a turret at Fisherman's Bastion.

Money in Budapest

Even though Hungary is a member of the European Union, the local currency isn’t the Euro but the Hungarian Forint . You may find that some shops or restaurants accept other currencies, like US dollars or Euros. However, it’s always best to pay in Hungarian forints to avoid scams and overcharges.

If you want to exchange some money to have cash, compare and double-check rates at the various exchange offices before you do.

That said, it’s always best to use a credit card to avoid crazy conversion fees and commissions. You can pay by card almost everywhere in Budapest. During your trip to Budapest – and everywhere else in Europe for that matter – we recommend a card like Wise to top up, exchange currency at the best rates and pay for everything easily through your mobile app.

Grab your Wise card and travel without worrying about foreign currency.

Tipping in restaurants and bars is not mandatory in Budapest but expect to be prompted to use the tip button on the POS device. Usually, tips are around 10% – 15% of the bill.

This image shows a canteen selling chimney cake. A woman in the canteen prepares the cake while two customers are waiting.

Languages Spoken in Budapest

Hungarian is the official spoken and written language in Budapest. It’s one of the hardest languages for foreigners to learn. Thankfully, compared to the past, after the fall of communism and the rise of tourism in the years that followed, English is widely spoken by Hungarians.

What To Pack For Budapest

As rain is very common in Budapest throughout the year, packing a raincoat and a travel umbrella is essential. If you travel in spring or autumn, pack light clothes for the warm temperatures during daylight and warm layers for the night. Don’t forget to pack your plug adaptor if you come from the UK or the USA.

Whatever season you plan to travel to Budapest, pack a swimsuit and flip-flops for the thermal baths. Keep in mind that a swimming cap is mandatory in the swimming pools of spa complexes, so pack your cap if you are an avid swimmer. Otherwise, you can buy one at the spa complex, as there’s usually an on-site shop there.

This image shows the swimming pool at Szechenyi Baths. People are swimming and wearing their swimming caps. In the foreground, two swimmers are relaxing and chatting.

Read our guide to the best Budapest spas here!

How To Get To Budapest

Budapest has one international airport, located 16 kilometres from the city centre. It’s a big hub for Ryanair and Wizz Air, Hungary’s low-cost airline, and it’s connected with almost every country in Europe. Find the best deals for your flight to Budapest.

You can get from the airport to Budapest city centre by bus. The direct airport bus line is 100E and runs every 30 minutes. Alternatively, you can book an inexpensive airport transfer to drop you off right at your hotel.

As mentioned above, Budapest is usually combined with other major cities in Central Europe on the same trip. Budapest is well connected with Bratislava, Vienna and Prague by bus and train. Check out prices and routes with FlixBus or travel sustainably and comfortably by train within Central Europe.

If you’re visiting Budapest as part of a long road trip across Central Europe, find the best deals on the most reliable search engine for car rentals here .

This image shows a train before it departs from the train station.

Read our guide on how to travel more sustainably here!

How To Get Around Budapest

Budapest is a flat city, very easy to explore on foot. While Pest is completely flat, in the Buda part of the city, you’ll inevitably have to climb up Buda Castle Hill and Gellert Hill at some point.

Buda Castle Hill is home to some of the main attractions in Budapest, such as Buda Castle, Matthias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion. Apart from walking, you can get there by riding the historic Buda Castle Funicular or by hopping on the Budapest Castle Bus which is free with a Budapest Card . On Gellert Hill, you can’t miss the Cave Church, the Citadella and the Gellert Baths.

Although walking is the best way to get around Budapest, sometimes the weather conditions may not be ideal or you may want to save some time. In those cases, public transport can take you everywhere in Budapest.

Trams in Budapest are frequent and quick. On a rainy day, you can hop on tram 2 for a fun and relaxing sightseeing ride along the Danube River. Tram line 2 is one of the most beautiful tram routes in the world.

There is also a reliable metro system in Budapest. Apart from a means of transport, metro line M1 is also one of the main Budapest attractions, as it’s the oldest metro line in mainland Europe. If you plan to use public transport in Budapest, it’s worth purchasing a Budapest Card . Among other benefits, Budapest Card holders can use public transport for free.

This image shows the back of a tram crossing the street in front of Liberty Bridge.

Is The Budapest Card Worth It?

This question comes up a lot and our travel guide for Budapest couldn’t leave it without an answer. As mentioned above, Budapest Card holders enjoy unlimited public transportation for free , including transfers to Buda Castle with the Official Budapest Castle Bus.

Moreover, the Budapest Card includes free entrances to main Budapest attractions like the Budapest History Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Buda Tower and many more, free entrance to the Lukacs Thermal Baths and two free sightseeing walking tours , one in Buda and one in Pest.

In addition, by purchasing a Budapest Card , you get discounts on several other activities, entry tickets and thermal baths. Depending on how many days you plan to spend in Budapest, you can buy a Budapest Card which is valid for 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 days. The most popular version is the 72-hour Budapest Card , valid for three days.

Apart from the regular Budapest Card, there is also the Budapest Card Plus , which comes in a 72-hour version only. Some of the extra benefits of the Budapest Card Plus are free airport transfers , a free Danube Cruise , free entrance to Matthias Church and free return tickets on the Buda Castle Funicular .

Make sure you check the list of all Budapest Card benefits on the official website , as new Budapest activities and attractions are added frequently.

In our opinion, buying a Budapest Card is worth it not only because it helps you save time, money and the trouble of standing in line to buy tickets every once in a while, but also because it inspires you to visit some of the lesser-known Budapest attractions included in the card, most of which you probably wouldn’t think of visiting otherwise.

One thing we didn’t like was that the Hungarian Parliament, the top place to visit in Budapest, wasn’t included in the Budapest Card. Hopefully, this will change before too long. Other than that, though, the Budapest Card is great value for money and buying one is one of the best travel tips for Budapest.

Check out the latest prices and grab your Budapest Card here!

This image shows two 120-hour Budapest cards. Buying a Budapest Card that combines sightseeing with public transport is one of the best travel tips for Budapest.

Where To Stay in Budapest

The first decision you have to make before booking your stay in Budapest is whether to stay in Buda or Pest. Buda is situated on the western side of the city. It’s home to many historical attractions and it’s an overall calm residential area.

On the other hand, Pest is on the eastern side of Budapest. It’s flat and easy to walk around, vibrant and full of bars and restaurants. Some of the most famous attractions in Budapest are located in Pest. In our opinion, downtown Pest is the best area to stay in Budapest.

Below you will find our suggestions for the best hotels in Budapest. In any case, try to avoid booking an Airbnb for your stay in Budapest. If you’re wondering why, have a look at this article we wrote about the Airbnb effect .

Situated near Chain Bridge and the Danube River, the 4-star Prestige Hotel is set in a renovated historic building, ideal for a luxurious and unforgettable stay in Budapest. Book a luxurious room at Prestige Hotel here or read the hotel reviews on TripAdvisor here .

Stories Boutique Hotel , a 4-star boutique hotel in the heart of Pest, is the ideal hotel to create your own story in Budapest. Find the best deals for your stay at Stories Boutique Hotel or read the reviews on TripAdvisor here .

A few steps from Saint Stephen’s Basilica, the 4-star Hotel Moments Budapest is one of the most imposing buildings on Andrassy Avenue. Check available dates and prices for a unique stay at Hotel Moments Budapest or read the reviews on TripAdvisor here .

This image shows the dome and the tower of Saint Stephen's church.

What To Eat & Drink in Budapest

Although traditional Hungarian cuisine is heavily meat-based, Budapest is a pleasant surprise for vegetarians and vegans. The city’s diverse food scene abounds with vegan and vegetarian options. You can even find the country’s national dish, goulash , in its vegan version in Budapest.

Goulash may be Hungary’s national dish but langos is probably the most popular comfort food in Budapest. If you haven’t tried langos before, you don’t know what you’ve been missing. Langos is a sinful piece of deep-fried dough, topped with sour cream, cheese and any other topping of choice, like veggies or olives.

Apart from traditional Hungarian dishes though, in Budapest, you can try cuisines from all over the globe. The city is home to exquisite restaurants that feature ethnic food from all corners of the world.

Moreover, Budapest has a remarkable coffee scene, with several independent cafés taking great pride in their top-quality brews. From the famed New York Café – often called the most beautiful café in the world – and the gorgeous Café Gerbeaud with its fancy cakes to more down-to-earth yet utterly cosy cafés, such as Madal Café and Flow , Budapest has a coffee place for everyone.

In terms of dessert, Budapest won’t disappoint. While in Budapest, don’t miss the chance to try the iconic kürtőskalács (chimney cake) or the lesser-known palacsinta (Hungarian pancakes) and rétes (Hungarian strudel). Speaking of dessert, a stop at Gelarto Rosa for its Instagram-perfect rose-shaped ice cream is a must.

This image shows a langos with sour cream and grated cheese.

Best Restaurants in Budapest For Veggie & Vegan Food

  • Napfenyes Restaurant for the best vegan version of Hungarian goulash soup.
  • Las Vegan’s and Epoch Vegan Burger for delicious vegan burgers.
  • Retro Langos for scrumptious langos.
  • Dobrumba for mouthwatering Middle Eastern food. We loved the zaatar fries and the harira soup!
  • Mazel Tov for its fantastic setting, the divine grilled cauliflower with tahini and the falafels!
  • Qui if you missed Thai food while travelling.
  • Karavan for a lively food court with many veggie and vegan options, right next to the most famous ruin bars.

For more recommendations, download for free our PDF with our 3-day Budapest itinerary and a Budapest Map with all the points of interest you need!

What To Buy in Budapest

If you’re wondering what to buy in Budapest as a souvenir for your loved ones back home or as a way to keep the memory of your Budapest trip alive for a while longer, here are some suggestions:

  • Paprika: Paprika is an essential part of Hungarian cuisine. In Budapest, you can find top-quality paprika in many types, such as hot, sweet, smoked hot and smoked sweet.
  • Palinka: A traditional liqueur made of fruit.
  • Hungarian Secret Boxes: Carved in wood, these boxes come in various sizes and colours. At first glance, they look like ordinary jewellery boxes. However, their uniqueness lies in the fact that it’s impossible to open them until the shopkeeper shows you the secret way to do it.
  • Rubik’s Cube: You can buy a Rubik’s Cube anywhere in the world. But why not grab one at its birthplace? Erno Rubik, a Hungarian architect and sculptor, invented this game in Budapest in 1974.
  • Hungarian Dolls: Dressed in traditional folk clothes, these dolls are a great gift not only for children but also for collectors.
  • Hand-painted Eggs: Although they are most popular around the Easter holidays, you can find these beautiful hand-painted eggs all year round in Budapest.
  • Lavender: Hungary has its very own lavender fields and lavender-themed items are among the best things to buy in Budapest.

This image shows several different paprika bags on a stall in the Great Market Hall. There's a price tag on almost on every bag. Buying paprika as a souvenir is one of the best travel tips for Budapest.

We hope that this thorough Budapest travel guide helps you plan an amazing trip to the Hungarian capital. Do you have any unique travel tips for Budapest you’d like to share with us? Let us know in the comments!


Disclosure:  The Budapest Tourism Board offered us press Budapest Cards. As media and marketing specialists, we often visit destinations on press tours or as part of marketing campaigns, but under no circumstances does this affect our opinions about the places we visit and the experiences we try. Rest assured that you will find nothing but honest reviews throughout our content.

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Budapest una muy espectacular ciudad

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It is an amazing city indeed! Thanks for your comment!

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I recently visited Budapest and I have to say, it’s one of the most beautiful and vibrant cities I’ve ever been to. The stunning architecture, rich history, and vibrant culture make it a must-visit destination

Hi Alice, thanks for your comment! Budapest is a great city to visit indeed!

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tips to travel to budapest

Budapest travel guide

Where to stay, food and drink.

tips to travel to budapest

Mike MacEacheran

Destination Expert

Thursday June 29 2023, 11:55am

This article contains links from which we may earn revenue. These links are signposted with an asterisk. More information  here .

From modern, momentous Buda on the Danube’s west bank to historic, higgledy-piggledy Pest facing east, Hungary’s capital is a city of two clear-cut halves. It’s said that Buda is the calmer of the two, with Pest the lifeblood of the city. Revel in both, savouring thermal springs, museums, a castle district and extraordinary caves, before crossing the river for buzzing restaurants, nightlife and the city’s symbolic ruin pubs.

So much of the appeal of Budapest lies in simply wandering and discovering on your own: it’s not a one-size-fits-all kind of place. Take a stroll across the twinkly Széchenyi Chain Bridge at night; ride the funicular to the crenellated parapet of Buda Castle; snap photos of the magnificent St Stephen’s Basilica; or attend a festival on Hajógyári Island.

The busiest months to visit are June to August when the city fills up with backpackers and city breakers. In late autumn Budapest becomes wonderfully festive, but, whenever you travel, it’s a wonder year-round — give yourself at least three to four days to discover it all.

Main photo: the Hungarian parliament building overlooking the Danube (Alamy)

If only every day could begin at the gloriously decadent Széchenyi Thermal Baths* near Communist-era Heroes’ Square. The largest medicinal baths in Europe are popular for a reason — there’s no better introduction to Hungarian life than a soak in its labyrinth of neo-baroque pools. It’s also teeming with personalities, and after dipping in and out of calcium and magnesium-infused tubs, you might get lured into a chess game by a pool’s edge. Afterwards, cross City Park to see the Disney-esque Vajdahunyad Castle.

The stirring architectural highs of Buda come next, showing off the city’s best historic sights. Devote a full day to see Castle Hill, the Hungarian National Gallery, the turrets of Fisherman’s Bastion, medieval Matthias Church, and Gellért Hill, rising above the Danube. From there, it’s only a quick stroll across the river to the wedding-cakey Hungarian parliament building.

Budapest is at its best when night falls. Start your evening with sail along the Danube

When evening beckons it soon becomes clear that Budapest is at its best when night falls. Start yours on the deck of a river cruiser with a sail along the Danube*  — there are plenty of operators offering everything from romantic, candlelit affairs to late-night party boats.

In recent years, Budapest’s property developers have opened their arms to almost every luxury hotelier; expect offerings from Hyatt, Anantara, Marriott and Aria, each with five-star stays for less than you might think.

Unsurprisingly, many of the big hitters are in Downtown, with the most popular having rooftop terraces for impressive sweeps of parliament, the opera house and all that faded baroque glory. Addresses such as the Ritz-Carlton* and Four Seasons* , near the Széchenyi Chain Bridge, have been converted from art nouveau masterpieces to the country’s swankiest spots — and most have an in-house spa.

The smart place to bed down if you’re after long lie-ins and late nights is District VII, or the former Jewish Quarter, just east of Downtown. Here the crowds shuttle from hostels and boutique hotels to street cafés and street art-splashed bars and you’ll find a cluster of accommodation options around Rumbach Street Synagogue.

Not every visitor falls immediately for the Budapest food and drink experience — Magyar cuisine tends to be heavy on the paprika. However, it’s one of the cheapest capitals in Europe, and everything from national staples (goulash, kolbász sausage, paprika chicken) to craft burgers and cocktails is easy on your wallet. You’ll hear very few people grumbling about paying £1 for a pint of local beer.

Blow off steam at the ruin bars, Cold War-era relics rebooted as Alice in Wonderland-style drinking dens

The alleys funneling off main pedestrian thoroughfare Váci Utca offer a vision of Hungary’s culinary present, and the Jewish Quarter farther afield is where you can find a window into the past — it’s the spiritual home of terrace cafés and historic dining rooms. In the middle of this is the palatial New York Café, easily one of Europe’s most elegant settings for cake. It opened in 1894 and remains adorned with frescoes, gilded mirrors and stuccoed angels.

Don’t forget palinka — Hungary’s fruit-flavoured schnapps. Blow off steam at the city’s ruin bars , social housing relics of the Cold War era rebooted as Alice in Wonderland -style drinking dens. Best enjoyed well past bedtime, standout bars are Mazel Tov and Szimpla Kert in the ever-trendy Jewish Quarter — the latter is a warren-like place brimming with mismatched bric-a-brac. Otherwise, take your pick from places hunkered on Gozsdu Passage.

It seems right that in a city of this size there is plenty not in the guide book. Even if you’re short on time, the world’s longest and fastest train run by children is one of Budapest’s little-known marvels. Train Line 7 tootles along nearly 12km of tracks from its terminus at Hűvösvölgy and winds through the Buda Hills offering Danube views with distractions. You’ll struggle to find a more unusual journey using public transport.

The House of Terror is equal parts fascinating and horrifying: you’ll need a strong nerve

Meanwhile, other must-sees when visiting Budapest are the Hungarian State Opera House and the sucker-punching House of Terror* — a testament to the dark story of the country’s fascist and communist regimes over the past century. The museum is equal parts fascinating and horrifying, but be warned: you’ll need a strong nerve for stories of interrogation, torture and bloody murder.

For something a little easier on the stomach, Central Market Hall by Liberty Bridge is the buzziest place to pick up a souvenir. Alongside fruit and veg, vendors tout salamis, pickles, cinnamon-topped chimney cakes, world-class Tokaj wines, and paper wraps of Hungarian paprika. All for a few pounds, of course.

Finally, the historic Veli Bej Bath in Hotel Csaszar* Budapest is a long-standing member of city-insider travel guides: the secret is it’s smaller than the more famous thermal baths and not sardine-tin packed with tourists.

Know before you go

The Hungarian forint is the official currency. As for when to visit, May and September are great bets, with ideal weather and more room to breathe than in peak summer. The much-touted Sziget Festival, held for a week every August on the Danube’s so-called “island of freedom”, is the Glastonbury of Eastern Europe.

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Inspired to visit Budapest but yet to book your trip? Here are the best packages from Tui* and British Airways * . These are the best tours of Budapest from our trusted partners*

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Budapest is one of those destinations that gets more and more interesting with each subsequent visit. With a perfect mix of grit and beauty, it’s a city that has so much to offer for many different travellers.

History buffs, architecture junkies, bathing aficionados, outdoor enthusiasts, backpackers, honeymooners, retirees, foodies, and river cruisers alike can all find fulfilling ways to pass time in Budapest. No matter what you’re looking for, you’ll be able to find it in Hungary’s bustling capital.

In This Post

1. spend time by the river, 2. run to the buda hills, 3. get lost in pest, 4. soak in the baths, 5. enjoy hungarian cuisine, 6. sip on hungarian wine, 7. get quirky at ruin bars, 8. twist your tongue with the language, 9. catch the sunrise and sunset, 10. cruise up and down the danube.

The Danube flows through Budapest, and is an iconic symbol of the city. Not only does it bisect hilly Buda and flatter Pest, but many visitors arrive to the city on one of the many river cruises that dock along its banks.

Any visit to the city will surely involve the Danube in some way, shape, or form. That might mean a casual stroll during some sightseeing, a view from above, or a journey on the river by boat.

The bridges that connect the two sides of the city are just as iconic as the river itself. In the heart of Budapest, you’ll find Széchenyi Lánchíd (the Chain Bridge), Margit híd (Margaret Bridge), Szabadság híd (Liberty Bridge), and Erzsébet híd (Elizabeth Bridge).

Many of the city’s sights lie close to the river. If you’re keen to explore Budapest by foot, walk across one bridge, explore, and then walk back along a different one.

For a great perspective of Budapest, head half way across the Margaret Bridge and exit onto Margaret’s Island. From the middle of the Danube, you’ll enjoy views of Buda and Pest. 

Margaret Island has a roughly 5km running track that follows its edge. If you’re looking to work up a sweat, you’ll enjoy sweeping city and river views as you burn some calories.

Just north of Margaret Island on the Buda side is  Római Part, a stretch of eateries and beverage shops that runs along the riverfront. Spend an afternoon here enjoying hot food and cold drinks with friends on a casual stroll.  

On the western bank of the Danube is Buda, which was historically the capital city of the Kingdom of Hungary. In 1873, the two separate cities of Buda and Pest merged to become Budapest.

Buda is the hillier part of the city, and heading up to higher grounds will afford you great views of the area. If you don’t like the idea of stairs or hills, you can always take the metro and use escalators to gain altitude, or alternatively, hop on the funicular at Buda Castle.

The most iconic part of Buda is the Castle Hill area, which sits prominently up from the riverbank. In this area, you’ll find some of Budapest’s most popular tourist destinations, including Buda Castle, Fisherman’s Bastion, and Mattias Church. 

A network of caves with a storied past runs under the castle. The labyrinth has been used as a wine cellar, a torture chamber, a bunker, and, more recently, a tourist attraction.

Buda is known for being the calmer, more residential side of Budapest. Most people wind up staying in Pest and visiting Buda, as it’s easy to access, and most of its attractions are located close to the Danube.

For a taste of the city’s history during the Soviet era, venture out to Memento Park, which is about 20 minutes from the city centre by car or transit. Here, you’ll see a collection of statues that were promptly removed at the fall of communism, as well as historical exhibits.

The livelier side of the city resides in Pest, on the eastern side of the Danube. The majority of tourist accommodations, restaurants, and nightlife are concentrated here. 

You’ll also find many of the city’s most iconic landmarks on the Pest side, including the Hungarian Parliament,  the Shoes on the Danube monument, Great Market Hall, and Deák Ferenc tér, the city’s main square.

You’ll have no problem filling your time strolling around the streets of Pest. It’s a bustling area both throughout the day and well into the wee hours of the night.

Pest is also where you’ll find many of the city’s best ruin bars, rooftop terraces, and restaurants. It’s just as fun to plan out a restaurant and bar tour as it is to duck into places that look interesting as you make your way through the city. 

To speed things up, consider hopping on one of the city’s iconic trams, or use the metro to get to where you need to go. Using public transportation in Budapest is affordable and easy, despite having some station names that are nearly impossible to pronounce.

Budapest is also known for its many thermal baths . The city sits on a fault line, which results in plenty of spring water shooting up towards the earth’s surface.

Officially, there are 12 thermal baths in the city, and even more throughout the rest of the country. They range from dark 16th century Ottoman domes to vast Art Deco bathing complexes, alongside newer additions with rooftop pools.

The baths are believed by many to work wonders for the mind, body, and soul. Whether you’re in need of some pampering or just want to soak up some history, be sure to include at least one thermal bath in your Budapest itinerary.

In my opinion, aim to visit one of the older baths, such as Rudas, as well as one of the newer baths, such as Gellért. You can’t really go wrong, and since the baths are spread out across both sides of the city, you’ll never be far from one.

In the summer, consider bathing at night, where you can soak in the waters well after the sun has set. Many of the baths also have cafeterias and bars, so you can refuel and relax in between soaks in the warm waters.

tips to travel to budapest

One of the best parts of travelling is experiencing authentic food in its best form.

Hungarian food is soulful, spicy, and delicious. From steamy stews to cured meats to delightful street food, Budapest’s food scene showcases the best of Hungarian cuisine at affordable prices.

An orange or red hue adorns many of Hungary’s most iconic dishes, due to the abundance of paprika  in many recipes. Head to one of the city’s markets to find the freshest packets of the spice to stock your cupboards with at home.

Perhaps the most renowned Hungarian dish is gulyás ( goulash), a hearty combination of meat, vegetables, and spices. There are many different variations on the dish, and it’s very easy to come across during your time in Budapest.

Aside from goulash, be sure to try p aprikás csirke   (chicken paprikash) and pörkölt  (meat stew). If you have a sweet tooth, keep an eye out for k ürtös kalács,  a chimney-shaped confection.

As per street food, look no further than lángos,   an indulgent deep-fried dish that consists of flatbread, sour cream, cheese, and a host of other toppings. If you’ve already had or are about to have a big night, a  lángos  will work wonders on your tastebuds.

Hungary is a major wine-producing region in Europe. The country is situated between the 46th and 49th parallels, which is similar to some well-known wine-growing regions in France.

In Hungary, vineyards can be found in most parts of the country, with the exception of the eastern border with Romania. The country’s rolling hills are rich in volcanic soils and limestone, which make for great winemaking soils.

As you’re sitting down to enjoy some great Hungarian cuisine, ask your waiter for some recommendations about wine that pairs well with your dish . Also consider taking part in a guided wine tasting, which can be arranged through your hotel or on your own. 

In Budapest’s Jewish District, which is also known as District 7, there are many abandoned buildings that have been revived with the onset of ruin bars.  A night out in the city is bound to include a stop at these vibrant hubs of food, drink, art, and community.

Rather than demolishing buildings, entrepreneurs in the early 21st century began to convert under-utilized complexes into bars.

You might not expect to find an eclectic mixture of antiques, mismatched furniture, neon lights, music, food, and drink when you pass by the entrance to a ruin bar. Once inside, your world transforms into a fascinating feast for all of your senses.

The original and most well-known ruin bar complex is Szimpla Kert,  located in the heart of Pest. Step inside and you’ll find a dark two-storey labyrinth with bars and eateries.

It’s very easy to spend time here at any time of the day. It’s open until 4am daily, and don’t be surprised if you lose track of time while working your way around the ruin bar.

There are many other ruin bars worth checking out, including the Instant-Fogas Complex (the largest of the ruin bars), Kőleves Kert, and  Élesztő. Each is unique in its own right, so be sure to read up about which ruin bar(s) best suit your fancy.

As soon as you arrive in Budapest, you may find it difficult to figure out any of the Hungarian words. Your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you; rather, you’re just beginning to notice how unique  Magyar, or Hungarian, is. 

While Hungary is surrounded by Germanic, Romance, and Slavic languages, Hungarian is actually related to Finnish, Estonian, and other Finno-Ugric languages. The grammar system is completely unique from any of the neighbouring countries, and works very differently than English.

On your way into the country, try picking up a few pleasantries to use. Greet someone with jó napot , bid farewell with viszontlátásra , say thank you with köszönöm , or raise a glass and make a toast with egészségedre .

If you’re up for a challenge, take a stab at megszentségteleníthetetlenségeskedéseitekért . The phrase, which roughly translates to “Due to your (plural) repeatedly not being possible to be desecrated”, won’t get you very far, but if you can get anywhere close to saying it, you’ll have earned the respect of the locals.

If you’re an early riser, make your way to the Buda side and gain some elevation to be rewarded with a sunrise over the flatter Pest. Get your heart pumping with a hike or jog up Gellért Hill, or find a nice vantage point around the Buda Castle complex.

If you’re in Budapest on a clear night, you’ll definitely want to catch the sunset. Head to the Pest side of the city to watch the sun fall over the hills in Buda.

If it’s nice out, head out for an evening stroll along the river and find a nice place to sit. Along the Danube, there are plenty of steps that lead down to the water, and you’ll likely find locals enjoying the views, too.

Any hotels along the riverbank will have great views, but if you don’t happen to be staying in a place with a great perspective, just head to a rooftop bar. There are a number of patios overlooking the Danube, and you shouldn’t have any difficulty finding one that suits your budget. 

If you’re staying at the Matild Palace , or if you’re up for a bit of a splurge, check out The Duchess for outstanding views and great cocktails.

Cruising on the Danube is a perfect way to take in much of what Budapest has to offer. You don’t have to be on a multi-day river cruise, though, as there are a number of shorter journeys throughout the day. 

Best of all, you’ll have a perfect vantage point of both sides of the city. Depending on the tour operator, you can either be treated to some facts and figures about the various landmarks, or you can sit back, relax, and just soak in Budapest’s wonderful sights.

A sunset or nighttime cruise is likely the best bet, as the city is either bathed in pink hues or illuminated with bright lights.

Most cruises run between one and two hours, and some include unlimited sparkling wine , dinner, or even live music. Consider taking a cruise on the eve of your departure from the city, as you’ll be left with lasting memories of a place that likely has won you over during your stay.

Budapest is a great European destination. With a rich history and a mix of old and new, there’s something special for everyone who visits.

Personally, I don’t always plan on returning to cities that I’ve already been to again and again. An exception to this is Budapest, which I find myself drawn back to year after year. 

Next time you find yourself in Europe, be sure to add Budapest to your itinerary for a short or long visit. It’s a decision you most definitely won’t regret. 

tips to travel to budapest

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9 Things To Know Before Your First Trip To Budapest, Hungary

tips to travel to budapest

  • Destinations

Budapest is high on my list of favorite European cities. If you are planning your first trip there, you will love it. From the time I checked into my hotel on lovely Andrassy Boulevard, I felt a connection with Budapest. The city has heart and a vibe that is historical and full of life. 

It’s a city of contrasts. Culture and quirk are blended together. The beautiful Danube flows lazily right through the middle of the city, which is awash with classic architecture, while just a few blocks away old buildings are in need of repair. Budapest doesn’t flinch from its recent violent past. But it also beckons you to let your cares go as you splash in mineral water pools renowned for their healing properties. 

Read on for information to help you plan your visit. The main problem will be narrowing down what to do during your stay. So a little knowledge ahead of time will allow you to cover what you most want to see. And, like me, you may reluctantly leave Budapest but vowing to return to sample more of its wonders. 

1. Know That The City Has Two Distinct Parts 

Until 1873, Buda and Pest were separate cities, situated across the Danube from each other. As the history of civilization here goes back to the Romans in the first century, that means for most of its existence, Budapest was in two sections. 

One way to plan your visit is to focus on one side at a time. Spend a day on the Buda side, then spend the next day on the Pest side. The Buda side, with its Castle District, is hilly and green. It has open spaces and forested land. The Pest side is a bustling urban center. Both offer notable sights. 

While centering yourself on one side or the other for a day at a time, you may also want to walk back and forth between the Buda side and the Pest side on the amazing bridges. Head to the bridges at sunset to experience the city’s lights twinkling and the changing colors of the Danube. 

The iconic Chain Bridge is the one to be sure to include in your walk. It’s designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. 

2. Relax Because Transportation Is Easy And Fun 

Budapest has a metro system, efficient buses, and bright yellow trams for easy access to any area. I rode all of these and found them simple to navigate. 

Buy your tickets at one of the purple BKK vending machines. You can buy a single trip ticket or passes good for 24 hours, 72 hours, or a week. Check out the options on the transportation website before your trip. 

For a fun ride along the Danube, catch Tram No. 2 . See the sights along the riverbank from the comfort of a soft seat. The line ends at the massive Parliament building. You can get off and get back on and go the other way. A one-way ticket costs about 1 euro, so it’s a thrifty way to enjoy the beauty of Budapest. 

Fishermans Bastion, Budapest

3. Plan For A Castle District Day

The Castle District covers a large section above the river on the Buda side of Budapest.

The winding cobblestone streets and leafy promenades of Castle Hill lead past baroque houses, Habsburg monuments, and cafes. Here you will find the Buda Castle, a palace razed and rebuilt six times over centuries. The current castle, built in 1769, is home to the Hungarian National Gallery and the Castle Museum. 

The Sandor Palace, residence of the president of the republic, sits across from the castle, with guards in the style of Buckingham Palace. Show up outside on the hour and witness the changing of the guard ceremony. 

My favorite part of the Castle District is Fisherman’s Bastion . This neo-gothic structure features wide stairways and seven white turrets along its walls, said to represent the Magyar tribes that lived here in the 800s. Wander through the bastion and its terraces and you will feel you are in a fairytale. It’s also a prime place to view the Danube below and the Pest side of the city across the river. 

Matthias Church Steeples, Budapest.

Nearby is Matthias Church, with its multicolored tile roof and a collection of spires. Parts of Matthias Church are 500 years old, though the building you see today was completed in 1896. 

Pro Tip: If you are coming to the Buda side from the Pest side, take the funicular up the steep hill to the castle level, then when you leave, walk down the hill using the paths. Stop on the bridges at different levels and take in the view. 

Szechenyi Baths, Budapest.

4. Splash In The Famous Baths 

Budapest is known for its natural mineral water springs. Hungary has more than 1,000 natural springs, and several of those are in Budapest. You will want to include a visit to at least one of the baths as part of your Budapest experience. Be sure to pack your swimsuit!

The most popular spring is the Széchenyi Baths in Pest, one of the largest medicinal baths in Europe. Your entrance ticket gives you access to 21 pools in and around a neoclassical sunny yellow building that’s topped with an ornate dome. Move from pool to pool, inside and outside, and test out the different water temperatures. Some of the pools are cooled, and you’ll also find saunas. Enjoy the decor in the different rooms. My favorite is the large outdoor pool because the middle contains a spiral section with water pressure that pushes you around. Everyone going in circles here laughed and screamed with delight. This makes for good, healthy fun in the sun.

On the Buda side, the Gellért Bath is a great choice. The interior is striking, and there’s also a large outdoor pool.

While the baths of Budapest attract visitors, they were opened and exist for their healing properties. The natural waters are said to be therapeutic for arthritis and other joint conditions. Plunge into these pools or sit and linger awhile. You may feel better than ever. 

Pro Tip: I worried more than I needed to about where to change into a swimsuit. At the Széchenyi Baths, I rented a dressing room for a small fee. It’s a one-person, tiny changing room with a door. You can lock your things inside. Leave valuables such as an expensive camera and passport at your hotel. Take your phone with you to the pools to take photos. Leave it in shelving units by the pools while you swim. It was all very easy and safe. 

Shoes On The Danube Monument

5. Pay Respect At The Shoes On The Danube Memorial

This unique memorial on the Pest side of the river is a must-see on your visit. Shoes on the Danube is made of 60 pairs of rusted shoes in the styles of the 1940s, cast out of iron. The shoes represent the Jewish people of Budapest who were killed here during World War II. The shoes are different sizes and styles because no Jews were spared, no matter their age, profession, or status. The baby shoes are particularly poignant. 

Plaques with text in Hungarian, English, and Hebrew read, “To the memory of the victims shot and pushed into the Danube by Arrow Cross militiamen in 1944–45.” People leave flowers here, ribbons, memorial stones, and candles. You’ll find locks of love on the shoes, too. A woman behind me sobbed helplessly, “May we never forget.” 

Hospital In The Rock, Budapest.

6. Marvel At The Unusual Hospital In The Rock 

It’s always fascinating to seek out one-of-a-kind attractions that speak to the history of a city. Take a tour of the strange Hospital in the Rock for this kind of sightseeing in Budapest. 

This actual hospital was hewn into rock and is an amazing system of tunnels that were used to care for patients when the city was under siege during WWII. Bomb proof, the underground facility housed as many as 700 patients. Families and friends of the sick and injured stayed here, too, to be safe from attack. During the 1956 Hungarian uprising against the Soviets, the hospital was once again called into heavy use. 

The hospital was transformed into a nuclear bunker during the Cold War. When you tour, the last 20 minutes will focus on the evils of nuclear war. As this is pointed at those from the U.S., it gave me some interesting food for thought. 

7. Sample A Rose Gelato Treat 

For something different, order a rose gelato from Gelarto Rosa . Your treat will come in the shape of a rose. The founder of this delightful gelataria says that her mission is “to bring delight to people from all over the world with beautiful and delicious ice cream.” Made with organic ingredients, the gelato is not only pretty, it’s also yummy. 

8. Take Some Money With You 

Hungary doesn’t use euros. Its money is the forint. For that reason, I recommend ordering the equivalent of about $50 from your bank before you arrive in Hungary. That way, without getting cash in a strange system, you can pay a taxi from the airport if you need to. You can buy a snack on the street when you arrive in Budapest, as well. For most expenses, such as dining, you can use a credit card. I didn’t use an ATM at all in Budapest, which made the visit easier. 

Danube In Budapest

9. Book An Evening Cruise On The Danube 

If you want a breathtaking view of the banks of both sides of Budapest, book an evening cruise on the Danube . Seeing the iconic Parliament lit up with a thousand points of light reflected in the water below is an inspiring sight. This is a bucket list item for sure.

Budapest displays both its splendor and its dark side for all to see, and you can find plenty of each to fill your days here. Visit the baths to relax on the same day you tour the House of Terror . This museum is in the building that housed political prisoners during WWII and then the Cold War. A literal chain wall section outside is called “The Iron Curtain.” Have a coffee in the shadow of the magnificent Fisherman’s Bastion. Afterward, glide down the Danube on a boat at day’s end. 

Your visit is sure to be one of your most memorable travel experiences.

Image of Sharon Odegaard

As the owner of the travel blog, Exploring Our World , Sharon enjoys taking her readers on a journey with her. Articles often delve into the history of a place, and by adding in a generous number of photos, she inspires others to explore for themselves. In her early travels, she was most frustrated by coming back home and learning that she had missed a fascinating sight or a hidden gem. Now she helps travelers prepare for a trip by passing along travel tips, pointing out lesser known things to see, and alerting them to enjoyable day trips from major cities.

Her travel articles have been published by Stripes Europe Newsletter and the World War 2 Writing and Research Center. Whether she's discovering more about her hometown of San Diego, California or flying to faraway places, she enjoys sharing with travel lovers around the world.

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The Globetrotting Teacher

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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Our Wanders

Our Wanders

130+ Travel Tips For Budapest, Written By A Local

tips to travel to budapest

Are you planning your trip of a lifetime to Europe and want to see the best of Budapest? You’re at the right place. This post is a massive collection of the best things to do in Budapest, including seasonal and lesser-known attractions, what to eat and drink in Budapest and tips for getting around .

We are Hungarians, and Budapest was our home for about a decade. Who knows, maybe it’ll be our home again someday – or it never ceases to be home, because some of our family, friends and part of our hearts are still there. It’s a vibrant, wonderful city, one of the most exciting European cities! Call us biased, but read on: this post is our chance to tell you why.

Budapest has stunning architecture, exciting museums and festivals, rich history, a wonderful river panorama and busy nightlife. It has something for everyone, and we’re here to help you find that something that’ll make you fall in love.

Whether you’ll be here for the first time or the fifth, Budapest never gets boring. Let’s see…

Best place to stay in Budapest:

  • luxury : Kempinski Hotel Corvinus Budapest
  • mid-range : The Magazine Hotel & Apartments
  • budget : Maverick Urban Lodge (hostel)

Best things to do in Budapest for first timers

Walk on Váci Street. It’s the main walking and shopping street of Pest with fashion stores and gift shops. And with amazing architecture. It leads you to Vörösmarty Square. This lively and newly renovated square hosts different festivals throughout the year.

Take a walking tour in the city center. If you prefer to be taken to the most famous spots and told the best stories about them by enthusiastic local guides, choose a guided walking tour. This one is a small group tour that also includes a dessert stop on the way, to taste the delicious Hungarian strudel.

Take pictures of our Parliament from every angle. It’s beautiful! See it from Kossuth Square, from the Danube Bank, from Margaret Bridge, from the Buda side. It’s an iconic building in the Hungarian capital, and you can even see it from the inside…

Budapest, Hungary

Take a tour of the Hungarian Parliament. Yes, you can go inside. Sign up for a guided tour in the visitor center on Kossuth Square. Or book it online in advance, especially if you visit in the summer or on a weekend. If you choose the latter option, buy your ticket directly here – it’s the same audio guide tour everyone else is selling, but for half the price.

Shoes on the Danube Bank. Not a large but a moving monument close to the Parliament. It’s a memorial to the Jews who were killed by the fascists in Budapest during World War II. Why empty shoes? These people were ordered to take off their shoes, then they were shot at the edge of the Danube so that their bodies would be carried away by the river.

Hop on Tram 2 for great views. Every Budapest travel guide mentions Tram 2, we call it “the tourist line”. It’s a regular tram line, but its route is along the Danube, and it offers amazing views of the city all the way. You can get off at the Parliament at the end. Just try to avoid the rush hours.

Look around on Vigadó Square. It’s a lovely square by the Danube River. Its famous concert hall “Vigadó” looks like a palace with its lovely little formal garden, and there are pretty statues in front of the garden. And you have views of Buda Castle and the Danube.

Buda Castle & Chain Bridge, Budapest, Hungary

Walk through Chain Bridge. It’s one of the most famous icons of Budapest. Opened in 1849 it was the first permanent bridge across the River Danube in Hungary. And it’s still the most beautiful of all the Budapest bridges with great views of both Buda and Pest.

Walk up or take the funicular to Buda Castle. Once the seat of Hungary’s kings, it’s not a furnished castle these days. But most of its inner courtyards and gardens are open to the public for free. Its upper terraces look towards the Danube and offer stunning panorama over Budapest. Matthias Fountain is a pretty piece of architecture, and there are other fountains and statues there waiting to be found in the courtyards. Then you can continue to the lower terraces that have been renovated and reopened recently.

Read this, too: The Best Castles In Hungary

Walk in Buda Castle District. Its narrow streets impress with medieval, Baroque and 19 th -century houses and churches. We like taking a walk there in any season. Don’t miss Trinity Square (Szentháromság Square in Hungarian) where Matthias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion stand next to each other. They offer more unique architectural beauties and more amazing panoramas, and they’re among the best photo spots in Budapest.

Buda Castle District, Budapest

Visit St. Stephen’s Basilica. This Neo-Classical church is 96 metres tall – which is the same as the height of the Parliament. They are the highest structures in Budapest. St. Stephen’s Basilica has a stunning interior, and entrance is free. You find the mummified right hand of St Stephen in a glass case to the left of the main altar. Yes, his hand. He is the patron saint of this church and the first king of Hungary.

Visit the second largest synagogue in the world: Budapest’s Great Synagogue . Built in the Moorish Revival style, it hosts the Hungarian Jewish Museum, and there’s a Holocaust Memorial Park in the courtyard. Even if you don’t have time for the interior tour, include it in your walking route as the buildings looks very impressive from the outside, as well.

Join this guided Jewish Heritage Tour that takes you to the important Jewish sights in the city, including the Great Synagogue.

Learn about history at Heroes’ Square. This square played an important role in Hungarian history and has been a place for many political events. Enclosed by two pretty buildings, the Museum of Fine Arts and the Műcsarnok, there’s an iconic statue complex in its center: it features important national leaders of Hungary. In front of it lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier – not a real tomb but a memorial for all the heroes who gave their lives for the freedom of Hungary.

Walk on Andrássy Avenue. This avenue that connects the City Park and Heroes’s Square with the city center is recognized as a World Heritage Site. It’s home to amazing Eclectic Neo-Renaissance palaces, houses and embassies, including the neo-Renaissance State Opera House and elegant boutiques like Louis Vuitton, Ermenegildo Zegna or Gucci. Take a guided tour to see the amazing interior of the Opera House!

Take a walk in the City Park ( Városliget in Hungarian). It’s one of the first public parks in the world, and it hosts some spectacular sights like Vajdahunyad Castle, Széchenyi Thermal Bath or Budapest Zoo. It’s right behind Heroes’ Square.

Relax in a thermal spa. Budapest is the city that has the most spas in the world. Five of them are famous historical thermal baths: the amazing Art Nouveau building complex of Gellért Thermal Bath , Széchenyi Thermal Bath with its 21 different pools, Rudas Thermal Bath with its amazing panorama pool, Lukács Thermal Bath and Király Baths – a small Turkish Bath. Dandár Baths on the other hand is located a bit outside the city center, in an Art Deco building, and it offers a much more local experience.

Margaret Island, Budapest, Hungary

Escape the city by visiting Margaret Island ( Margitsziget ). It’s our favorite park in Budapest. As its name suggests, it’s an island in the Danube. It’s a popular recreation area, and it’s home to medieval ruins, pretty fountains and gardens, running tracks, an open-air theater stage and open-air baths. Cars are not allowed to enter.

See the night lights from the Danube. Cruise along the river after dark. Some cruises even include dinner . Here’s a short one that only takes one hour. Or if you want the views for free, just walk on the Danube Bank, walk on Chain Bridge and Margaret Bridge to see the Parliament and Buda Castle lit up.

Buy the Budapest Card and get unlimited public transport, free museum entries and discounts at restaurants and spas for 24, 48, 72, 96 or 120 hours.

Even more beautiful views in Budapest

Gellért Hill above the Danube, Budapest, Hungary

Walk up to Gellért Hill. This hill is in the heart of the city, and it’s our favorite place to enjoy the panorama of Budapest day and night. The hill itself is especially colorful in spring and autumn.

Climb up to the bell tower of St. Stephen’s Basilica for panoramic views. Check the opening hours here .

Take a walk through Margaret Bridge, then walk to Chain Bridge on the Buda side. It’s a panoramic Budapest walk that offers great views of our Parliament standing proud at the bank of River Danube on the Pest side.

Take a ride on the Budapest Eye. The 65 meters height ferris wheel on Erzsébet Square offers fantastic views. It goes more rounds and you can stay for 5-10 minutes.

Chain Bridge, Budapest, Hungary

Enjoy city views from a thermal pool. 450 years old Rudas Thermal Bath has a unique rooftop panorama pool – and you can’t miss visiting a thermal pool when visiting Budapest, anyway.

Watch the sunset from a rooftop bar. 360 Bar at Andrássy Avenue 39 or High Note Skybar at Hercegprímás Street 5 are popular places to enjoy views above the city while drinking a cocktail – or two.

Hike to Elizabeth Lookout on János Hill. This easy hike in the Buda Hills takes you to a pretty lookout tower with distant views of Budapest. It’s the nicest in spring with all the blooming flowers. János hill is reachable by chairlift, too, if you’d spare the walk.

Read this, too: Your Complete Guide To Danube Ipoly National Park, Hungary

Adventurous things to do in Budapest

Buda Castle, Budapest

Take a driving tour in a 2-stroke Trabant. Trabants were produced from 1957 to 1990 by a former East German car manufacturer, and this was the usual car of everyday people in the Communist era.

Have fun in one of the countless escape rooms. How could one make use of the basement of old houses in the city center of Budapest? By turning them into quirky and exciting escape rooms. Lots of these escape games can be played in English and are suitables for families, as well. As Star Wars fans we really liked the Star Wars game of Magic Rooms Escape Empire .

Crawl through a cave system under Budapest. It’s among the most thrilling, unique things to do in Budapest! Those hot springs that feed the famous thermal baths of Budapest also carved out huge cave systems in the limestone rocks under the city. Pál-völgyi Cave , the most popular one, offers marvelous limestone formations and dripstones, as well. Guided tours start hourly throughout the year.

Join a Pálvölgyi Cave guided tour here.

Go diving in the flooded cellars of a beer factory. Okay, Kőbánya beer factory is not in operation anymore. But as its underground cellars got flooded by water from the wells, it turned into a unique dive site. Most of the tunnels are only accessible to certified full cave divers. They’re worth the effort though, since the pure fresh water offers perfect visibility, and different artefacts which were left behind when the factory closed are still there. Here’s a short video to get a taste of it.

Dive in the underwater Molnár János cave below Buda. This natural thermokarstic cave system is filled with water which is between 20 and 28°C. It’s an actively forming cave even today. There are also cave diving courses organized – more info here . It’s one of the most unusual things to do in Budapest, surely an unforgettable experience.

Have fun at a bath party. Budapest has a lot to offer for party lovers, and the city of thermal spas is home to pool parties, as well. Széchenyi Baths has crazy Summer Sparties with live DJs, a laser show, acrobats and dancers on Saturdays between April and November. Lukács Baths hosts parties in the autumn-winter season.

Go paragliding above the Buda Hills. If you’ve never tried it before, you can choose tandem paragliding with a skilled pilot. Or you can do a course if you have more time.

Csepeli Kis-Duna, Budapest

Go canoeing or kayaking on River Danube. If you long for something more active than just sitting in a boat, enjoy the scenery from a canoe or kayak. You can find most rentals on the outskirts of the city. Kolonics György Water Sport Centre in Csepel has kayak and canoe rentals. Béke Csónakház (on Római Part) is an even more popular place to rent out kayaks and canoes.

Go wakeboarding on Lake Lupa in Budakalász. They call themselves the “seashore of Budapest”, and they do have a long sandy beach. But Lake Lupa offers tons of other fun summer activities, like three wakeboard parks. Different courses are designed for beginners, intermediate and pro wakeboarders. You can also get individual coaching.

Take the kids to the Palace of Miracles. Or become a kid yourself. The Palace of Miracles is an interactive science museum designed for kids. Learn in a playful and fun way!

More museums in Budapest

Hungarian National Museum, Budapest, Hungary

Museum of Fine Arts on Heroes’ Square. Reopened in 2019 after two years of restoration work, this museum is to charm all art lovers. The building itself is very impressive, and the museum hosts exhibitions about the European and Hungarian arts, and also about ancient Egypt, Hellas and Rome. There are exciting temporary exhibitions, too. But what we found the most breathtaking are the two main halls, the Marble Hall and the Roman Hall.

Buda Castle is home to the National Gallery, the Budapest History Museum and the National Széchényi Library. Established in 1957, National Gallery covers Hungarian art in all genres, including the works of modern artists. The Budapest History Museum showcases the city’s history from the Middle Ages to the present day, including traditional rooms in Hungary’s traditional culture or the magnificent Gothic and Renaissance Halls and 14 th -century Tower Chapel.

House of Terror on Andrássy Avenue. This museum inside the building that once headquartered the Communist secret police has exhibits about the fascist and communist dictatorial regimes in the country, and covers everything from Second World War to everyday life in the communist era. Buy your ticket in advance here.

Hungarian National Museum. Again, an impressive Neoclassical building. It hosts Hungary’s most important collection of historical relics such as King St Stephen’s coronation mantle or a piano used by both Beethoven and Liszt Ferenc. There’s a nice garden with statues around the museum.

Museum of Applied Arts. This gorgeous Art Nouveau building decorated with Zsolnay ceramic tiles is home to Hungarian and European furniture collections from the 18 th and 19 th centuries, other Art Nouveau artefacts and objects related to trades and crafts.

Hospital in the Rock. Hospital, bomb shelter, prison, nuclear bunker – this place served several functions throughout the years. Opened in 2008 as a museum, you can learn about the impacts of World War II, the 1956 revolution against the Soviets and the Cold War on Budapest. Admission includes a one-hour guided tour.

House of Music, Budapest, Hungary

the new House of Music in the City Park

House of Music in the City Park. It’s one of the newest museums in Budapest, built between 2019 and 2021. Its permanent exhibits give you an introduction into Hungarian and worldwide music history, and it’s home to various concerts, workshops and other musical events throughout the year. The building itself looks very impressive, designed by Fudzsimoto Szószuke, and it’s one of the best examples of sustainable public buildings in Budapest.

Museum of Ethnography in the City Park. This museum got a new home for its 150th anniversary in 2022, and it’s also in the City Park, a short walk away from the House of Music. It’s a modern building, with a green roof where visitors can walk and enjoy nice views of the City Park and the surrounding area. The interior is home to permanent and temporary exhibitions, but also to a café, restaurant, bookshop, visitor and event center. We visited it for the first time on our visit to Budapest in December of 2022 (the first visit as non-residents…) and found it quite spectacular.

Museum of Ethnography, Budapest, Hungary

the green roof of the Museum of Ethnography

Ruins of Aquincum in Óbuda district. Looking for ancient ruins in Budapest? Aquincum was an ancient city in the province of Pannonia within the Roman Empire. Ruins of houses, baths, courtyards, fountains and sophisticated underfloor heating systems can be seen there today. And Aquincum Museum has a collection of Roman daily life objects and wall paintings.

Vajdahunyad Castle. Modelled after Corvin Castle, a fortress in Transylvania , it hosts the biggest museum of agriculture in Europe. It’s one of the best attractions in the City Park.

Hungarian Railway Museum. A fleet with locomotives of the Hungarian State Railways – of which some are still operational. Hand-powered cars. Soviet Chaika – an automobile that was the official car of a Hungarian Prime Minister once. A ridable miniature railway for children. Many of the exhibits are open-air. It’s one of the best family-friendly museums in Budapest.

Pálinka Museum . It’s actually a museum, shop and bar, and it’s all about pálinka . But what’s pálinka? It’s the national spirit of Hungary, a unique distillate made from fruits, mainly from plums ( szilvapálinka ), apricots ( barackpálinka ), cherries ( cseresznyepálinka ) or pears ( körtepálinka ). In this museum you can learn about the long history of pálinka, its role in Hungarian gastronomy and culture, and you can buy a few bottles, of course.

Flippermúzeum . Another very Hungarian thing: flipper – or pinball. What is it? Well, go figure it out, because Flippermúzeum is the largest interactive pinball exhibition in Europe, with 115 pinball machines and some more old-school arcade games. It’s located in a windowless Budapest basement, illuminated only by the light of the machines. Sure, it has a unique vibe!

Chocolate Museum with chocolate tasting. Learn about chocolate, make chocolate, eat chocolate. You need to book the chocolate tour in advance though. They have English tours, as well – see more info here .

House of Houdini in the Buda Castle District. This small museum is dedicated to the Hungarian-born magician and escape artist Harry Houdini. It features Houdini artifacts and also treats visitors with a short magic performance at the end.

Béla Bartók Memorial House. This small museum is a bit further from the city center, located inside the house where composer Béla Bartók lived before leaving Hungary. You can see his phonograph and metronome on display, and folk clothes and other items that he collected on his trips in Transylvania.

Goldberger Textile Museum. An interactive exhibit about the Goldberger family’s thriving textile manufacturing business which even Habsburg Emperor Franz Joseph paid a visit to in the glory days. Learn about the company’s development, the Goldberger family history and blue-dyeing in this museum.

Places to visit in Budapest for history lovers

Budapest, Hungary

Kerepes Cemetery. Also called Fiumei úti sírkert in Hungarian. You find gravestones of statesmen and national heroes like Lajos Kossuth, Ferenc Deák or Lajos Batthyány, and graves of many who died in the 1956 Uprising. Get a map that indicates the location of noteworthy graves at the entrance.

Explore the Jewish Quarter. Walk on the streets of the former Ghetto, visit synagogues, monuments, kosher restaurants and kosher shops. It’s a colorful neighborhood with a tragic past and a lively present.

Marvel at giant statues in Memento Park. What to do with statues of Lenin, Marx or Béla Kun after the Communist era? Instead of being thrown away, they were moved to Memento Park. Called the “socialist Disneyland”, this park showcases 42 pieces of art from the Communist era between 1945 and 1989. You can also watch old propaganda films in the on-site cinema – funny, or not so much. Buy your ticket in advance here.

Visit some lesser-known, beautiful churches. Like the Neo-Gothic Church of St. Elizabeth with its rose garden on the Square of Roses ( Rózsák tere ). Or the medieval Jewish Prayer House on Táncsics Street in the Buda Castle District.

Reflect on the past in the Holocaust Memorial Centre. It’s in the Páva Synagogue since 2004. The building complex itself is an interesting mix of classical and modern architecture.

Relax in the prettiest parks in Budapest

Vigadó Square, Budapest, Hungary

Sit out on Erzsébet Square. Just a stone’s throw away from majestic St. Stephen’s Basilica and Fashion Street, there’s a lovely park with benches, fountains and playgrounds on Erzsébet Square. Take some time to relax here in the middle of a busy sightseeing day. (You can get drinks and ice-cream, too.)

Have a picnic on the lawn on Liberty Square. Surrounded by some of the most impressive old palaces of Budapest, there’s a nice green park on Liberty Square. Check out the interactive fountain, too!

Visit the cool social space and playgrounds in Olimpia Park. Redesigned and renovated in 2014, it’s only a short walk from the Hungarian Parliament, and also rewards with pretty Danube views.

Millenáris Park, Budapest, Hungary

Take a walk at Millenáris Park. In place of a factory Central Europe’s largest recreational park was built, along with an exhibition and conference center. Walk among its 300+ trees, lie on the lakeshore, marvel at the hanging gardens, the blossoming cherry trees (usually some time in April) and the water displays. Millenáris Park is one of the best parks in Budapest, but even more than that: a social and cultural space.

Enjoy a drink at Kopaszi gát. Located a bit out of the city center, Kopaszi gát is one of the most beautiful places to relax by the Danube. Countless restaurants and bars offer tables outside along the promenade. It’s also a popular place among bikers, runners and yoga practitioners.

Relax in Thurzó Park in Újlipótváros. Haven’t you ever heard about it? Fair enough, it has been recently opened in 2023, and it occupies a place which was home to an old and quite ugly parking area. 80% of this park is covered by green, including 70+ trees. You can choose your bench, sun lounger or hammock, and kids will appreciate the giant wooden swing. It’s one of the lesser-known places in Budapest that locals love and appreciate so much. Moreover, it’s located in Újlipótváros district – a hip area not many tourists know about. Stroll the streets and keep your eyes open for quirky cafés, bookstores and fascinating modernist buildings from the 1930s and 1940s on Pozsonyi Road.

Hidden architecture gems in Budapest

Museum of Ethnography, Budapest, Hungary

Take a walk around Nyugati Train Station. It might not be so hidden since it’s one of the busiest railway stations in Budapest, but it’s not a typical sight that people include in their sightseeing walk. (Except those who travel to Budapest by train.) But you definitely could. This giant iron-and-glass building built in 1877 is quite impressive.

Visit a library that takes place in a palace. Neo-Baroque Wenckheim Palace hosts Szabó Ervin Library since 1931. This is the place where many local students go to study. Buy yourself a day ticket and look around inside.

Take a walk in the Palace District ( Palotanegyed in Hungarian). This area is roughly from Astoria to Múzeum Avenue. This was a prestigious place to live so lots of wealthy families built their palaces here in the 19 th and 20 th centuries. Some magnificent pieces are Festetics Palace (Pollack Mihály Square 3), Károlyi Palace (Pollack Mihály Square 10), Keglevich Palace (Bródy Sándor Square 9), Bókay Palace (Múzeum Street 9) or Eszterházy Palace (Pollack Mihály Square 8).

Palace District, Budapest

See the colorful interior of Kazinczy Street Synagogue. Built in Art Nouveau style, it’s one of the largest operating orthodox synagogues in Europe.

Wander on the streets around Liberty Square. Find the amazing Art Nouveau building of Royal Postal Savings Bank with its colourful tiles and folk motifs (Hold Street), Walkó House, one of the first Art Nouveau buildings in Budapest (Aulich Street 3), the House of Hungarian Art Nouveau (Honvéd Street 3) or the National Bank of Hungary.

Take an interior tour of Liszt Music Academy. Or go for a concert. The interior of this Art Nouveau concert hall has been renovated and is richly embellished with Zsolnay porcelain and frescoes.

Enjoy luxury in the Four Seasons Gresham Palace Hotel . The Art Nouveau Gresham Palace facing Chain Bridge houses this luxury hotel today. If you’re on budget, take a look at it from the outside, that’s worth a photo, as well.

Visit the Cave Church of Gellért Hill. This small chapel was built into a cave on Gellért Hill in 1926. It’s free to enter, and masses are held there regularly.

Royal Postal Savings Bank, Budapest

Hunt for even more stunning Art Nouveau architecture. Find the National Institute for the Blind, Miksa Róth Memorial House, Sonnenberg House (Munkácsy Mihály Street 23), Sipeki Villa (Hermina Way 47) or Fasori Reformed Church – all near the City Park. The Hungarian Royal Geological Institute with its roof decorated by Zsolnay ceramics is a bit longer walk from the City Park. Dob Street High School in the city center (Dob Street 85) has a beautiful, colorful facade. You can even find an Art Nouveau piece in Budapest Zoo: the Elephant House.

Find award winning modern architecture. Namely the Palace of Arts (MÜPA) near Rákóczi Bridge. It’s home to Béla Bartók National Concert Hall, a modern Festival Theatre and a gallery of contemporary art. New additions to the best modern buildings in Budapest are the Museum of Ethnography (opened in 2022) and the House of Music (opened in 2021) – both are in the City Park.

Get romantic at Barabás Villa at Városmajor. This Neo-Classicist building, once the summer home of Miklós Barabás, a famous Hungarian painter, is a popular wedding venue these days.

Walk on the bridges. Budapest has eight bridges. Though Chain Bridge is the oldest and most famous one, there are some more that look pretty and offer pretty views of the city – Liberty Bridge, Elizabeth Bridge, Margaret Bridge or Rákóczi Bridge.

Mihály Kolodko’s tiny sculptures. The tiny statuettes are created by Mihály Kolodko , and they depict random aspects of Hungarian life. Dotted around Budapest, you can find them near famous sights and vantage points. Like big-eared cartoon character “Kockásfülű nyúl” at the upper station of the Funicular, a Rubik’s Cube and a “Sad Tank” along Bem rakpart by the Danube, or a Trabant statue at Margaret Bridge (on the Buda side).

Climb the stairs to the tomb of Gül Baba for pretty views. Gül Baba was a muslim monk who died in 1541, the year when Ottoman Turkey occupied Budapest. You find his tomb ( türbe in Hungarian) on a tranquil hillside in Buda. Start from Mecset Street, walk in the rose garden, and leave on the other side, down to Gül Baba Street.

What to eat and drink in Budapest?

Great Market Hall, Budapest, Hungary

Eat goulash or Fisherman’s soup. They are the most iconic and quite fulfilling Hungarian dishes. Goulash is somewhere between a soup and stew, with beef, carrot, potato and paprika. Fisherman’s soup is prepared from mixed river fish and with a great amount of hot paprika that gives it a typical red color. You can find them in any Hungarian restaurant, but they’re often sold as prepared street food at festivals and markets, as well.

Visit the Great Market Hall to taste some local food. This large indoor food market is close to Váci Street. It’s not only known for the great variety of food offerings, but also for its amazing architecture. Prepared food are sold on the second floor – try stuffed cabbage, goulash soup, lecsó (a local ratatouille), sour cherry soup, lángos (somewhat like a donut, but it’s salty, not sweet) or Hortobágyi palacsinta (a salty version of crêpes filled with meat).

Check out one of the ruin pubs in Budapest – or many of them. What’s a ruin pub? The recipe is as follows: find an old abandoned building in downtown Pest, occupy it (rent it, I should say), fill it with furniture as old and rickety as possible, invite some contemporary artists to decorate the walls, serve some drinks, and people will love it. And well, people do love ruin pubs. They are among the most funky places to visit in Budapest, and locals love them just as much as visitors. Szimpla Kert is the oldest one, but there are dozens more. If you need help, take part in a guided pub crawl or a local guided small group ruin bar tour.

Go where the locals go for fresh produce: Lehel Market. This quirky (or ugly, it depends on your taste) postmodern building is home to one of Budapest’s liveliest markets. Less touristy than the famous Great Market Hall, but full of Hungarian cold cuts, fresh fruits and vegetables, homemade jams and prepared food. Prepare to practice your Hungarian here. 🙂

Taste Hungarian street food. Lángos, roasted sausage with mustard, pogácsa (something like a biscuit, but it’s not sweet), palacsinta, fánk (the Hungarian donut) or kürtöskalács (chimney cake). The latter is an essential part of any Hungarian Christmas Markets.

Budapest, Hungary

Eat typical Hungarian sweet pasta dishes. Not every Hungarian dish has meat as an ingredient. These pastas are cheap (not in the elegant restaurants though) and can be easily made. You’ll unlikely to see any Hungarian eating it in a restaurant, because we eat it at home. And any Hungarian kid can name their favorite – noodles topped with jam ( lekváros tészta ), ground walnuts ( diós tészta ) or poppy seeds ( mákos tészta ).

Spoil yourself with a special Hungarian dessert. Rétes (the Hungarian version of strudel) filled with apple, cherry, cottage cheese or poppy seed is a popular dessert, especially at Christmas time. Somlói Galuska is made of sponge cake, layered with chocolate cream, walnut kernel, rum and whipped cream. Legendary Dobos Cake was invented in 1885 by the Hungarian confectioner József Dobos. It’s made of sponge cake, layered with chocolate buttercream, and topped with crispy caramel. Then there’s chestnut purée – made from chestnut (yepp, they’re not just for roasting).

Cook some easy Hungarian dishes yourself. There are those foods that Hungarians would never order in a restaurant. They’re typical and easy to make. Like layered potato casserole ( rakott krumpli ), green pea stew ( zöldborsó főzelék ) or lecsó.

Cook a traditional three-course Hungarian lunch. This tour takes you through the process, and you can also dive into the secrets of Central Market Hall with your guide.

Try a typical dish – savory or sweet – with cottage cheese. If you ask us, cottage cheese ( túró ) is the best ingredient used in lots of Hungarian dishes. Some of these dishes are savory, some are sweet – and there’s one that can be both (though there could be serious fights in the family about which version is the original 😀 ). Our favorite is cottage cheese dumplings ( túrógombóc ) that you’re unlikely to find outside of Hungary. Then palacsinta filled with cottage cheese is a typical street food. Rákóczi túrós is a sweet-pastry topped with cottage cheese and apricot jam. Baked noodles can also be made with cottage cheese and sour cream ( túrós csusza ) – in certain families it’s a savory dish with crispy pork cracklings, in others it’s turned into a sweet dessert by using powdered sugar instead.

Drink pálinka . It’s a popular and strong Hungarian alcoholic beverage that’s traditionally distilled from different kinds of fruits – plums, pears, peaches, cherries or grapes. When you drink it, it warms you up from the inside.

Taste a famous Hungarian wine. Because Hungary is famous for wines. A sweet dessert wine called Tokaji aszú is an authentic and unique wine from Hungary’s most well-known wine region, Tokaj.

Váci Street, Budapest, Hungary

Try the special sweets and handmade bonbons at Szamos Gourmet Palace and Cafe on Váci Street. It’s one of our favorite places to go for sweets – or delicious ice cream in the summer.

Sip gourmet coffee at New York Café. It’s probably one of the most beautiful places in the entire world to have a coffee. Or hot chocolate. Or tea. Or apple pie.

Visit a milk bar. Yes, it’s a thing in Budapest. Offering a large selection of pastries and dairies, they’re great places to have a delicious breakfast. The most well-known milk bar is Cserpes Tejivó .

Buy Túró Rudi in any supermarket. This chocolate bar is filled with sweet cheese and also available in flavoured versions, like with different jam fillings. Pöttyös is the most popular brand.

Taste the best lángos at Ufo Lángos . It’s a small business run by mother and son, and they offer a variety of this popular Hungarian street food: the traditional ones with garlic and cheese-sour cream, but they also have unique ones, topped up with lecsó or bacon.

Seasonal goodies in Budapest

Hungarian Parliament, Budapest

Visit the Christmas Markets in December . Marvel at the decorations, try delicious meals, drink hot mulled wine and share some good laughs with your friends.

Go ice-skating on the rink in front of Vajdahunyad Castle in the City Park. This is a lovely artificial lake in summer and an open ice rink in winter.

If it’s cold outside, treat yourself with a hot chocolate. Here are our favorite places to get one!

We could continue the above advice differently: if it’s cold outside, drink mulled wine. Sweet, spicy and hot. It’s not only popular at Christmas markets but anytime in winter.

Have a fröccs in the summer. Though this drink exists throughout the year, people usually drink it on hot summer days. It’s red or rosé wine mixed with different quantities of soda water.

Have fun at Sziget Festival in August. Each August the island of Óbuda turns into one of the largest music festivals in Europe: Sziget Festival. It offers more than a thousand different performances and a unique atmosphere.

Go roving in front of Vajdahunyad Castle in the City Park. Ice rink in winter, lake in summer. It’s not just New York’s Central Park where you can go roving even though that’s what we usually see in movies. 😀

Marvel at fireworks over the Danube on the 20 th of August. This national holiday celebrates Hungary’s first king, St Stephen, and the foundation of our state. It ends with spectacular fireworks in the evening.

Visit one of the open-air bars in Budapest in the summer. Some of them are truly quirky – like Pagony, AnKERT or Fellini Római with its own little beach.

Spring walk in Hungary

Stroll beneath blossoming trees in spring. Blossoming cherry trees included. Some nice places for a spring walk are Baross Street, Reviczky Street, Gellért Hill, Kopaszi-gát, Erzsébet Square, Károlyi Gardens or the streets of Buda Castle District. Or you can visit Füvészkert, the botanical garden of ELTE University.

Visit Budapest Spring Festival in April. Taking place at multiple venues across the city, you can enjoy concerts, listen to readings or see theater shows.

Experience a traditional Hungarian Easter at the Open Air Ethnographic Museum (Skanzen) in Szentendre. Take part in Easter activities like egg painting and other arts and crafts.

Get impressed by unique architecture pieces during Budapest100 each May. It’s an annual celebration of 100-year old buildings in the city, first held in 2011. You may visit residential houses, schools, museums and offices that are otherwise closed to the public.

Gellért Hill, Budapest, Hungary

Enjoy wildflower blooming in the Buda Hills in spring. Countless popular trails start from Normafa, Hűvösvölgy or Csillebérc.

Marvel at the countless shades of autumn in the city parks and in the Buda Hills. Budapest has four seasons, and autumn can be just as spectacular as spring blooming. You already know the parks and trails, but what’s the best time? Usually, autumn is the most colorful in October.

Read this, too: Why Should You Visit Budapest In Autumn?

Choose your festival for autumn. Several festivals take place in Budapest in autumn. Budapest’s Pálinka and Sausage Festival. Budapest Wine Festival. Two-weeks Café Budapest Contemporary Art Festival that’s focused on contemporary arts like film, dance, music, photography and theater.

Best photo spots in Budapest

Pose next to a Trabant in Memento Park. Trabant is the famous “people’s car” of the communist era, it was made of pressed plastic units.

Liberty Square, Budapest, Hungary

Take a picture with Ronald Reagan on Liberty Square. The statue honors Reagan’s efforts to end the Cold War. Ironically, it looks directly to the monument commemorating the Red Army.

Sit next to The Little Princess. This statue of a little girl sits on the railings of the Danube promenade at Vigadó Square.

Hug the Fat Policeman. The statue of a policeman stands on the corner of Zrínyi Street and Október 6 Street since 2008. It’s said that patting his belly will bring good luck.

Join Attila József, a famous Hungarian poet, staring at the Danube near the Parliament. He is one the most significant Hungarian poets whose poems are taught in every school. He had a difficult life and committed suicide at the age of 32.

Stroll the Ecseri Flea Market. This will be a cultural experience, and you’ll see the quirkiest things offered, including retro clothing, artworks and staff from the Communist era. If you like photographing weird subjects, you’ll be obsessed with this place!

Fisherman’s Bastion, Budapest

Get your shot at Fisherman’s Bastion. One of the most popular Instagram spots in Budapest is definitely Fisherman’s Bastion. With the views and the architecture, it’s not really surprising.

Take a picture with a historical tram. Several lines run on the streets of both Pest and Buda. Famous tram 2 running along the shore of the Danube is also a historical tram.

Take a picture with Columbo near the National Comedy Theatre. What the greatest detective of all times has to do on a street in Budapest? Peter Falk, the actor who played Columbo, was born from a Jewish Hungarian mother.

Take your shot with the Millennium Underground Railway. Metro Line 1. It’s the oldest metro line in Budapest, having been in operation since 1896. Both its trains and stations have a retro look.

Get your retro shot at Csepel Művek. Csepel is famous for being the working-class borough in socialist Hungary, with several factories. Though this neighborhood changed a lot since that era (and for the better if you ask me), you still find places that have that vibe. Like Csepel Művek, once a busy iron and metal factory, today merely a shadow of it. This abandoned feel is what makes it special.

Watch the sunset over the city from Liberty Statue at the top of Gellért Hill. And, of course, don’t forget to take tons of pictures.

Budapest travel tips for getting around

Parliament, Budapest, Hungary

You don’t need a car, public transport is good. Actually, a car only causes headaches because of crazy traffic and limited parking. Public transport is okay even during the night. Tram 4 and Tram 6 have a 24 hours service; otherwise night lines have different routes and timetables than regular ones so check it if you need to use them.

Get the Budapest Card for getting around and visiting the best places in Budapest. This tourist card offers unlimited public transport, free museum entries and discounts at restaurants and spas. Cards are available for 24, 48, 72, 96 or 120 hours.

Get to Budapest from Liszt Ferenc Airport by public transport, too. 100E is the express bus from the airport to Deák Ferenc Square, you need a special ticket for it. Bus 200E and metro line M3 also takes you to the center with regular line tickets or passes. Between 12 am to 4 am in the night, check the night service.

Plan public transport routes in Budapest with the BKK Futár app. Alternatively, you can plan with Google Maps, as well, it’s pretty accurate for Budapest public transport.

Budapest, Hungary

Use Mobiljegy app to buy tickets and passes for Budapest public transport. Metro stations and most of the main bus and tram stops have ticketing machines where you can pay with card or cash. But if it’s not working or there’s no machine, you can buy your ticket or pass on your phone with Mobiljegy app. As a last resort, you can buy it when getting on the bus, but it’s more expensive then – and drivers rarely have change, so you need the exact amount in cash.

Parking is usually free in the city center on weekends. No guarantee though that you actually find a free spot anywhere, and there are a few parking zones where a fee is charged even on weekends. We prefer public transport.

Use the Simple app to buy parking tickets with your phone. Of course, the app tells you whether you’re in a toll zone or whether a toll is charged on that particular day. You can also use this app to pay for toll roads, taxi, or buy different kinds of tickets.

Várkert Bazár, Budapest, Hungary

Über is not available in Hungary, but you can use Taxify/Bolt. Download the app to your phone, request a taxi and pay through the app. It’s the safest way to get a taxi for a reasonable price.

Easy to get around by bike. The city center of Budapest is quite walkable, but there’s also a bike-sharing system that you can make use of if you prefer exploring it by bike. More info about “MOL Bubi” bike-sharing and their available tickets here .

Now you tell us, what did you like the best in Budapest? Or what would you like to see the most, if you haven’t been yet?

Disclosure: Please note that affiliate links are used in this post, and at no additional cost to you, we earn a commission if you make a purchase.

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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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tips to travel to budapest

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.

tips to travel to budapest

Classes & Workshops

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Hungarian Cooking Class in Budapest - Foodapest

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tips to travel to budapest

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.

tips to travel to budapest

Water Tours

tips to travel to budapest

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

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Travel Tips for Budapest

Budapest Travel Tips and Practical Information for First Time Visitors

Last Modified: July 3, 2023 //  by  Anda //   12 Comments

Budapest is one of the most desirable and cheapest destinations in Central Europe , with stunning architecture, great restaurants , and a cool vibe. But you probably heard that already, which is why you want to see it for yourself. Visiting Hungary’s capital for the first time may be a little intimidating, but fear not. In this guide I’ll give you all the tips and information you need to make your travel safe and take the stress out of your trip to Budapest.

Table of Contents

Practical Information and Travel Tips for Budapest

Tips for parking in budapest, tips for getting around in budapest, tips for using public transportation in budapest, hungarian currency, safety in budapest.

  • Where to Stay in Budapest 

Separated by the River Danube into the Buda and Pest, corresponding to the two major cities of which it is comprised, Budapest is administratively divided into 23 numbered districts written in Roman numerals. The two parts of the city could not be more different, with very distinctly different personalities.  

Buda is the historic part of the city where you’ll find the main attractions in Budapest : the Buda Castle ( Budavári Palota ), the Fishermen’s Bastion ( Halászbástya ), and  Matthias Church ( Mátyás Templom ).  Located on a hill on the left bank of the river Danube, Buda displays breathtaking panoramas of all the downtown buildings and the famous eight bridges of Budapest.

Budapest travel tips:

Pest  is the flat, more modern part on the east bank of the Danube. Here is where Budapest really comes alive, where the social life takes place, where all the shops, museums, fancy restaurants, and art galleries are located.

Here is where you can enjoy a more modern experience as opposed to the more historical side of Buda. Tourist attractions on the Pest side of the Danube are far more numerous (the Hungarian Parliament building, Opera House, Szént Istvan Basilica, Gellért Baths, just to name a few.

How to Get to Budapest

Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport ( Ferihegy International Airport ) is located approximately 25 Km (about 40 minutes drive) from the city center.

The airport has three main terminals: 1, 2A and 2B. Passengers go between terminals 2A and 2B on foot, but there is bus service to Terminal 1, which is further away. 

The major airlines operating flights to Budapest use Terminal 2A, while low-cost European airlines (such as Wizz Air, RyanAir, EasyJet) use Terminal 1 and 2B.

Ferihegy International Airport

Getting To and From the Airport

Two bus lines operate between the airport and Kobánya-Kispest metro terminal. From there passengers can take the M3 metro towards Újpest Központ to reach the city center. 

The Airport also operates a door-to-door shuttle service ( Minibus ) that is very convenient and relatively inexpensive (7500 HUF/person ($23) for a one way ticket and 12990 HUF/person ($40) for a round trip. 

There are three main international railway stations in Budapest providing direct links with other European cities: Keleti pályaudvar, Nyugati pályaudvar, and Déli pályaudvar, and all three of them are connected with the underground metro system.

Budapest travel tips: traveling by train

For people who want to explore Budapest by train they offer Eurail Hungarian Pass and InterRail Hungary Pass, for international traveling.

Budapest can be easily reached by car from almost anywhere in Europe. There are motorways and expressways. The main differences between the two is that motorways have emergency lanes and the maximum allowed speed limit is 130 km/h (81 mph), while expressways do not and the speed limit is 110 km/h (68 mph).

While the city itself is difficult to navigate, reaching Budapest by car is actually quite easy.

Budapest is a big port of call for many international shipping lines and cruise ships. You can also get to Budapest by bus or by car.

Budapest travel tips

PLANNING A TRIP TO EUROPE? READ NEXT : How to Dress Like a European – Packing List for Europe 12 Tips for Traveling to Europe Like a Pro

Like all big cities in Europe, Budapest is no exception when it comes lack of parking. There are several parking garages located in the city center, malls and hotels. 

Street parking in Budapest is very tricky. Spaces are scarce and in most areas you can’t leave your car for more than 3 hours. Also, be careful on smaller streets where there are no parking meters. Parking may be assigned for the residents or for certain business in the area. 

tips for parking in Budapest

If you plan to drive in Budapest and are not staying in a hotel, try to make an arrangement for parking with a nearby hotel. Sometimes, if they have space available, they may allow you to park your car there for a fee. 

Budapest subway

Getting around in Budapest if fairly easy and convenient. Choices of public transportation include buses, trams, taxis and a very well organized metro system.

Walking is by far the best way to visit the city. However, since there is a lot to see in Budapest, you will also need to use public transportation. 

Taxis are not the most reliable mod of transportation in Budapest. There are several cab companies and each charge different tariffs, so you can get scammed very easily.

Use cabs only if there is no other way to get to your destination. Also, be aware that taxis hailed on the street charge higher rates than those reserved by phone.

TRIVIA: there is only one metro system in the world that has been designated an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Do you know which one it is? If you guessed Budapest Metro, you guessed it right. The system was opened in 1896, making it the second oldest in the world, after the London Underground. 

If you plan to stay longer than 3 days in Budapest , your best bet is a seven-day metro pass (HUF 4,900 / $20). The pass is good for all means of public transportation in the city (except for the funicular). No validation is necessary.

Public transportation in Budapest

Ticket inspectors wear a red/blue armband and a photo badge. They can ask to see your ticket even after you get off, so hang on to it. Hungarian senior citizens as well as European Union senior citizens  travel free on Budapest public transportation. They should be able to present a personal ID card or passport if there is a ticket control.

Although a member of the European Union , Hungary does not use the Euro. However, many of the big businesses and hotels in tourist areas accept Euros. The official currency is the Forint (symbol: Ft, code: HUF). Due to the very small value the fillér coins are no longer in circulation.

Hungarian currency

Because it doesn’t use the Euro, Budapest is a bargain compared to other European cities. There are many options for currency exchange in Budapest.

You can use ATMs, banks, or exchange kiosks located in tourist areas or shopping malls. Be aware though that the exchange rate may vary dramatically depending on the location.

The worst locations for exchanging money are the airport, train stations, Váci utca, and Buda Castle area. You can get better rates farther away from the tourist areas (there are two very good exchange kiosks located on Szt. István körút, between the Nyugati terr and the Danube).

Budapest is probably one of the safest places to travel in Europe.  But, like in any big city, you can expect theft incidents and scams. Especially in tourist areas. Violent crime is quite rare.

Staying safe in Budapest

Like anywhere else, exercising common sense is the best way to avoid being a victim. However, here are a few tips that can help you stay safe while you travel in Budapest:

Beware of “officials” who do not have identification or badges. Bribing is a very common scam even among official policemen. They may try to unjustly charge you with an infraction just to offer you a lesser fine if you pay cash.

Travel tips for Budapest

Never exchange money on the street unless it is an authorized change kiosk. We’ve been cheated once by a guy who posed as a tourist trying to get rid of some left over currency, so watch out!

READ NEXT : 2 Weeks in Europe – 10 Amazing Itineraries to Choose From

Where to Stay in Budapest  

There are many options for lodging in Budapest, from very reasonably priced apartments ,  to bed-and-breakfasts, hotel rooms, and hostels. You can choose to stay either in Buda or in Pest , depending on your tastes and interests.

To find the best deal and compare prices  you should check TripAdvisor,  which is also a good source if you want to read what other travelers have to say about these places.

Another good option to keep in mind is  VRBO – Vacation Rentals By Owner , also a great resource for affordable accommodations.


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Travel tips for Budapest

Anda is an award winning travel writer, avid globetrotter and passionate photographer. She is the voice behind "Travel Notes & Beyond," a collection of stories and travel impressions from her wanderings around the world. When she is not busy writing, traveling, or editing photographs, you can find her hiking in the foothills behind her house together with her husband and their dog.

pouring wine in a glass for tasting

Reader Interactions

March 20, 2015 at 9:52 am

I never made it to the gardens when I was there – damn, looks like I have to go back. Thanks for linking up with us for SundayTraveler.

March 18, 2015 at 10:33 am

I’ve always heard that Budapest is the most gorgeous city in Eastern Europe, and that it even outshines Prague, which is my favourite city.

I’m moving to Berlin in the near future, so I think I’ll make a train trip to Budapest for one week or something to see the famous city with my own eyes!


Anda Galffy

March 18, 2015 at 10:46 am

I’m sure Budapest will not disappoint you, Olga.

March 15, 2015 at 7:55 pm

I’ve never been to Budapest, but I feel like it’s the kind of city I could easily be comfortable in – beautiful, historic, and filled with interesting things to see.

March 15, 2015 at 6:42 am

I love, love, love Budapest as well. I want to go back and ride the Children’s Railroad in the summer! Thanks for the UNESCO tip!

Sabastian Laurent

March 15, 2015 at 4:54 am

I love all of the architectural photos you have. Thanks for the tip about hailing taxi’s. Nobody likes to be ripped off.

March 15, 2015 at 1:02 pm

Thanks, Sebastian, hope you found the information useful.

Elaine J. Masters

March 14, 2015 at 8:30 pm

Budapest is high on my bucket list. Can’t wait to see it and hopefully soon.

March 14, 2015 at 7:43 pm

Hungarians need to get rid of their President – he’s doing everything to undermine nearby Ukraine, because some of the territory once belonged to Hungary. Just recently, when Merkel came to visit, everyone turned out in Budapest in support of her vision of a united Europe, and against Orban’s divisiveness – that is still not a strong enough message to that demagogue.

melody pittman

March 14, 2015 at 5:10 pm

Great post. This is either #1 or #2 (changes weekly) on my bucket list! Hope to get there in 2016. Loved all the history about the country and will certainly save for my travels there. Love the changing photos. Clever.

Meg @ Mapping Megan

March 14, 2015 at 4:56 pm

Budapest for me was also love at first sight! Such an underrated city, and so breathtakingly beautiful with so much to offer! Thanks for this great write up!

March 14, 2015 at 4:59 pm

I think people are just starting to discover this great city.

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13 of the best things to do in Budapest

Jan 28, 2023 • 7 min read

Five people looking out over Széchenyi Chain Bridge in Budapest, Hungary, at night.

Experience Budapest with our guide to the best things to do © Balazs Kofarago / Getty Images

There are many fantastic experiences to be had in Budapest . From soaking in muscle-melting waters at centuries-old thermal baths to romantic meeting points above the city and traveling back in time at a 19th-century coffeehouse, this guide to things to do in Hungary’s  vibrant capital will keep you busy.

Here are some of Budapest's best activities.

1. Visit Budapest's neo-Gothic Parliament building

Budapest’s neo-Gothic Parliament building dominates the curve of the Danube and is a true postcard superstar. It houses the Holy Crown (used to crown the country’s monarchs since the 12th century), as well as other royal jewels.

Not too far from Parliament, you’ll find one of the city’s most moving memorials – the Shoes on the Danube . The poignant monument honors the victims of the Holocaust who were marched to the riverbank on a dark winter’s day and ordered to remove their shoes before being shot and falling into the fast-flowing river beneath. 

Planning tip:  English guided tours are available, but it’s best to book ahead.

A huge outdoor spa pool with plenty of people in it

2. Soak at one of the city's incredible thermal spas

Budapest sits on a patchwork of thermal springs – mineral-rich water spouts from the ground – hence the abundance of thermal spas, many dating back to Turkish times. These waters are said to be capable of curing just about anything, and soaking in a thermal pool is a top Budapest experience. 

The world-famous Széchenyi Baths is the biggest spa complex in Europe, and while the location is certainly a “tourist trap,” its majestic architectural elements and outside pools still make it an unmissable place to visit. Other spas dotted throughout Budapest also hold special amenities, such as a rooftop hot tub at Rudas Baths .

Planning tip:  Gellért Baths , with stained-glass windows and colorful porcelain tiles, is a wonderful place to go if you want more peaceful plunging. However, it's due to close for renovations at some point in 2023, so be sure to check in advance.

Early morning panoramic aerial of Buda Castle Royal Palace with Szechenyi Chain Bridge, St.Stephen's Basilica, Hungarian Parliament and Matthias

3. Explore the Castle District

The Buda side's rolling hills are crowned by the former Royal Palace , one of the city’s most emblematic landmarks. Razed and rebuilt several times through the ages, today it houses the Hungarian Natural Gallery and major temporary exhibitions. 

Other iconic landmarks include  Fishermen’s Bastion , with an unparalleled panorama of Pest's skyline over the Danube. The Gothic Matthias Church is steps away on twisting cobble-stoned streets. 

For coffee and cake , be sure to stop by Ruszwurm , the longest-running confectionery in Hungary. The Hospital in the Rock Museum , packed with wax figures and original medical equipment, was once a functioning hospital beneath the Royal Palace. The vintage funicular – one of the oldest funicular railways in the world – whisks you up to the palace in minutes. Alternatively, hop on bus 16, which has many stops throughout the city, or just hike up (it’s not as far as it seems, we promise).

4. Take a ride through downtown on Tram 2

Frequently cited as the most panoramic tram journey in the world, Tram 2 travels all along the Danube shore between the Margaret Bridge (Jászai Mari tér) and south Pest. It chugs alongside everything you need to see downtown, all for the price of a regular public transport ticket. 

Planning tip:  A boat trip serves as a lovely alternative to the tram. If you don’t want to spend money on a sightseeing cruise, you can use the public boats with a regular transport ticket. 

Four female tourists taking photos of Budapest with the basilica in the distance

5. See the religious relics of the Basilica

The ornate St Stephen’s Basilica is the city’s biggest church, found steps away from Deák Square. The Basilica hides inside the country’s most revered (and eerie) religious relics – the embalmed right hand of St Stephen, the founding king of Hungary. Climb the 193 steps (or take the lift) to the basilica’s dome for some of the best views of Budapest. 

6. Stroll along Andrássy Avenue and City Park 

Full of fancy shops, cafes and gorgeous buildings, tree-lined Andrássy Avenue is Budapest’s version of the Champs Élysées. It begins behind the basilica and stretches all the way to Heroes’ Square , one of the city’s most famous monuments. Along the way, you’ll see the Hungarian State Opera and the harrowing House of Terror Museum , the former headquarters of the secret police, where victims of cruel regimes were once tortured. 

Where the avenue ends, City Park begins. The Pest side's biggest park is home to a rowboat-filled lake, which is an ice rink in winter, fairy-tale Vajdahunyad Castle and Széchenyi Baths.

Planning tip: Should you find the walk too long, the Millennium Underground, the oldest metro in continental Europe, runs the whole length of Andrássy.

The wildly ornate interior of the New York Cafe in Budapest. There are marble columns, golden light fixtures and plush crimson chairs

7. Have a coffee at a historical coffeehouse

Budapest’s coffee-drinking culture dates back centuries, and its classic coffeehouses are a sight to behold. Many were cradles of culture and haunts for Hungary’s literary greats. The most prominent is New York Café , once chosen as the most beautiful coffeehouse in the world, where gilded and marble surfaces, crimson colors, crystals, frescoes, chandeliers and often live Hungarian music bring back that fin-de-siècle finesse. Gerbeaud Café , Hadik or Centrál are equally great choices for a trip back in time. 

8. See the city from a viewpoint or rooftop bar

With the curving Danube, beautiful bridges and stunning landmarks, Budapest is especially beautiful – and photogenic – from up above. If you fancy a bit of a walk, climb up to the Citadella and Budapest’s Statue of Liberty on Gellért Hill for a rewarding view. If you’d rather sit back with a drink and enjoy a front-row seat to all of Budapest, try any of the city’s many rooftop bars . 

Planning tip:  Several areas of the Citadella are under renovation and may be closed to visitors.

9. Spend a day on Margaret Island

Margaret Island is Budapest’s biggest green oasis – accessible by foot from the middle of yellow Margaret Bridge. The whole island is a huge park, home to the ruin of a medieval church, a lovely Japanese garden, century-old towering trees and endless picnics.

Planning tip: Head for the centerpiece of the island – a large fountain that lights up and “dances” to music every hour from spring to winter. The 9pm show is enhanced with a multimedia screening that displays images of Hungary’s greats projected onto a water curtain.

10. See the distinctive architecture of the Great Synagogue

The largest Jewish place of worship outside New York City, the Moorish-style Great Synagogue is one of Budapest’s most eye-catching buildings. Built in 1859, the distinctive structure, with its crenelated red-and-yellow glazed-brick facade and two enormous towers, stands next to the Hungarian Jewish Museum. In the courtyard is the poignant Holocaust Tree of Life Memorial, designed by sculptor Imre Varga.

A bar in the evening with people sat at mismatched furniture

11. Experience the best nightlife at ruin pubs and garden clubs

Budapest's nightlife is world famous, and a visit during the long, hot summer is not complete without an evening in one of the city's many so-called kertek , literally "gardens," but in Budapest, any outdoor spot that has been converted into an entertainment zone. These often rough-and-ready venues, including courtyards, rooftops and romkocsmák (ruin pubs) that rise phoenix-like from abandoned buildings, can change from year to year and are seasonal, but some of the more successful ones, like Szimpla Kert , are now permanent and open year-round.

12. Explore history in Memento Park

Containing statues and other memorials from the communist past,  Memento Park can only be described as a cemetery of socialist mistakes, or a well-manicured trash heap of history. In southern Buda, it’s home to about four-dozen statues, busts and plaques of Lenin, Marx and home-grown henchmen like Béla Kun. Ogle the socialist-realist "art" and try to imagine that some of the monstrosities were still being erected in the late 1980s and remained in place until the early 1990s.

13. Ride the rails in the Buda Hills

They may be short on sights – though Béla Bartók’s house , where he spent his final year in Hungary, is open to visitors here – but the Buda Hills  are a very welcome respite from the hot, dusty city in the warmer months. Perhaps their biggest draws are their unusual forms of transport: a narrow-gauge cog railway dating from the late 19th century will get you up into the hills, a train run by children takes you across them, and a chairlift will glide you back down to terra firma.

This article was first published February 2020 and updated January 2023

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Europe ‎ > ‎ Hungary ‎ > Budapest > Top Ten Tourist Tips For Budapest

‎ Budapest Tourist Tips ‎ | Suggested Itineraries For Budapest

  • Central Pest Walking Tour
  • Jewish Quarter Walking Tour
  • Castle Hill Walking Tour
  • City Park Walking Tour
  • Gellért Hill Walking Tour
  • More Sights
  • Best Day Trips
  • Helpful Visitor Tips
  • Suggested Itineraries

Top Tourist Advice For Budapest

Tourist Tips For Budapest:

1. Planning & Dividing Your Time : Although there is a ton to do and see in Budapest, many of the main sites are spread out among several neighborhoods making it confusing at first. It can be hard to prioritize what are the most important things to see and how to maximize your time, so we decided to do the work for you. Whether you are only in town for 1-3 days or more than a week we’ve come up with the best plan of action to get your started. Check out our Suggested Itineraries For Budapest .

2. Best Time of Year To Visit Budapest : With the underground metro connecting most of Budapest there really isn’t a bad time of year to visit.  We prefer to visit toward the end of Summer or beginning of Fall for the best weather.  It is also a good time to go as there are a ton of festivals going on like the Sziget Music Festival.  Around the holidays Budapest does not have as large of Christmas markets as you would see in nearby Austria, but you can get a taste of Krampus in the small villages near Budapest.

3. Hungarian Language Tips :

Hello is Helló ( Hell-oh ) or Szia (SEE-a)

Good Morning is Jó Reggelt ( Yo Reg-gaet )

Good Day is Jó Nap ( Yo KNap )

Good Evening is Jó Estét ( Yo Est-Ate )

Goodbye is Viszontlátásra ( VEE-sont-la-tash-ra )

Thank You is Köszönöm ( KO-so-nom )

Do you speak English is Beszél angolul? ( BE-seyl AN-go-loul? )

Cheers for drinking is Egészségedre (E gg-ace-Shag-Edre )

How Are You is Hogy Vagy? ( Hodj Vadj )

4. Getting Around Budapest : For as spread out as it is, Budapest is a very easy city to get around in thanks to its well made metro system.  The heart of the metro are the 4 crisscrossing underground subway lines that take you pretty much anywhere you need to go.  The first line was opened in 1896 and the newest was added in 2014.  In addition to the metro there is a historic funicular that goes up Castle Hill and tons of cable cars connecting the city including along the river front.  We have included the important metro lines on all of our walking tour maps.  Here is an overview map to help you out.

5. Where To Stay In Budapest : Hotel options in Budapest are endless from the budget inn to world-class properties like the Gresham Palace.  We prefer to stay within walking distance of one of the city’s convenient subway lines so you can easily connect to any neighborhood.  One of the best places we had stayed in terms of value is the Easy Hotel near the main train station.  The hotel is part of the same company as the popular budget airline Easy Jet.  The rooms are super cheap if you book them ahead of time.  Keep in mind that the rooms are quite small but they are clean, safe, in a good location and very affordable.

Top 10 Things To Do In Budapest:

1. Visit The Hungarian Parliament Building 2. Go To The Fishermen’s Bastion 3. Check Out Vajdahunyadvár Castle 4. Tour St. Stephen’s Basilica 5. See the Buda Castle & Chain Bridge at Night 6. Visit A Bathhouse 7. Explore Momento Park 8. Take In Heroes’ Square 9. Visit Gellert Hill 10. Go To The Zoo

Bonus: Day Trip To The Danube Bend

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Disclaimer: Information on this page and in our walking tours were deemed accurate when published, however, details such as opening hours, rates, transportation, visa requirements, and safety can change without notice. Please check with any destinations directly before traveling.

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Where to Stay in Budapest: The Best Neighborhoods For Your Visit

The stunning parliament building along the Danube in Budapest, Hungary

Budapest is one of the most fun — and most underrated — cities in Europe . While it’s become more popular in recent years, it still sees only a fraction of tourists compared to London or Paris (about 80% fewer, to be exact).

Popular with backpackers who come to enjoy the lively nightlife, it is also bursting with incredible historic sights, lots of cheap eats, and a plethora of relaxing thermal baths. There’s a ton to see and do , and it’s super affordable compared to Western Europe.

Since it actually comprises three cities (Buda, Pest, and Obuda), picking the right area to stay in is important. While Budapest isn’t massive, you’ll waste a lot of time in transit if you don’t pick the right area for your plans.

To help you save time and money, here’s my list of the best neighborhoods, so you know exactly where to stay in Budapest. These are the areas I stay in myself, because they are close to all the action, so you never have to travel far to get around.

Table of Contents

Where to Stay for Sightseeing: Castle District (District I)

Where to stay for convenience: parliament and belváros districts (district v), where to stay for a local vibe: terézváros (district vi), where to stay for food & nightlife: jewish quarter (district vii), get your in-depth budget guide to europe.

The massive Buda Castle on the hill near the Danube River in Budapest, Hungary

Best places to stay in the Castle District:

  • BUDGET : Hotel Orion Várkert – This is a small three-star hotel with simple but comfortable rooms featuring desks, electric kettles, and a small fridge. A simple but varied breakfast buffet is included, but what I loved most was the location. It’s right near the castle and the Danube, and just a short walk to all the major sights.
  • MIDRANGE : Monastery Boutique Hotel – Located in a 300-year-old abbey, this modern four-star hotel boasts original exposed brick in many of its rooms. The beds are all large and comfy and the showers have good water pressure. There are desks and electric kettles in each room too. Breakfast is delicious, featuring fresh pastries, fruit, and yoghurt. The hotel is right near Fisherman’s Bastion and Castle Hill.
  • LUXURY : Hotel Clark – This five-star property is for adults only. The rooms are huge and have multiple sections, featuring desks, flat-screen TVs, and plenty of outlets. The beds are comfy and plush and the showers have strong pressure. There’s a bar on-site with a chic, stylish atmosphere, and while the hotel’s location is perfect, I especially loved the breakfast (the chef will cook you eggs to order).

A quiet street near St. Stephen's Basilica in Budapest, Hungary

Best places to stay in Parliament & Belváros:

  • BUDGET : Central Market Hall Hostel – This chill, cozy hostel is right near the huge Central Market hall. The beds are comfy and have decent mattresses, privacy curtains, and individual outlets. I really liked the common area — it’s social while still feeling like you’re just hanging out at a friend’s house. There’s free tea and coffee too.
  • MIDRANGE : Bohem Art Hotel – Staying here feels like you’re staying in an art gallery. The lobby has a retro feel to it and I loved the art in the lounge and rooms. The beds are comfy and the rooms have desks and plenty of outlets (as well as an electric kettle). The breakfast is great and has lots of options (including a freshly-squeezed orange juice) and the showers are super powerful too. It’s right near the river and the Váci utca pedestrian shopping street.
  • LUXURY : Matild Palace – This luxe five-star hotel looks like a palace. The breakfast spread is amazing and has lots of options, and there’s a large gym with a sauna and multiple restaurants on-site. The rooms are super lavish and ornate, with stylish chairs and sofas, comfy beds with thick mattresses, and a large bathroom with beautiful tiles. You’ll feel like royalty staying here.

The Museum of Terror building in the Terézváros area of Budapest, Hungary

While there is plenty to see and do, the neighborhood is not crammed with hotels like other areas. That means you get a good mix of convenience (you can still walk downtown) while also experiencing a bit more of the local pace of life.

Best places to stay in Terézváros:

  • BUDGET : Silver Hotel – This three-star hotel is right near the Andrássy Avenue shopping street. The rooms are basic but bright and airy, and the beds are comfy. There are plenty of outlets as well as desks in case you need to work. The tasty continental breakfast has a good variety of food but the real highlight is eating out on the balcony and enjoying the view over the city.
  • MIDRANGE : Mirage Medic Hotel – The rooms here may feel a bit dated, but they’re clean, spacious, and the beds are comfortable. There’s a desk and electric kettle and the shower pressure is good too. There’s a simple free breakfast of bread, coffee, and cereals each morning too. The main draw, however, is how close this hotel is to Széchenyi, the most popular thermal spa in Budapest.
  • LUXURY : W Budapest – I really liked the large and colorful rooms here. Each had a unique interior design, with different colors and styles, including hardwood and parquet floors. The bathrooms are huge and gorgeous, with beautiful tile and walk-in showers with perfect water pressure. The lounge has a retro chic atmosphere and since it just recently opened everything is fresh and new. There’s an indoor pool too.

The huge synagoge in downtown Budapest, Hungary on a busy summer day

Once underground party venues hidden away in abandoned buildings, they are now a massive part of the city’s thriving nightlife. The bars are unique and eclectic, unlike any other bar you’ve been to — a must for first-time visitors. The most popular (and coolest) bar, Szimpla Kert, and the massive Instant-Fogas Complex (a ruin bar and club) are both in this district.

The popular Karaván outdoor food market (right near Szimpla) is also here, offering a wide variety of amazing eats. And if you’re vegan, some of the best veg restaurants in town are nearby.

Best places to stay in the Jewish Quarter:

  • BUDGET : Onefam – This social hostel is perfect for solo travelers as the staff organize all kinds of events, including free walking tours during the day and free communal dinners at night. The pod beds have thick mattresses and curtains for privacy, as well as individual reading lights. It’s the perfect mix of being social without being too wild. It’s also right near the Karaván Street Food Market and Szimpla Kert, the famous ruin bar.
  • MIDRANGE : Vagabond Grand’Or – This modern apart-hotel features spacious rooms with balconies and kitchens, perfect for families or travelers who want to cook their own meals. There are sofas and flatscreen TVs, a dinner table if you want to eat in, and free Wi-Fi (with Netflix). The rooms have comfy beds and the overall design is stylish but minimal. There’s a simple continental breakfast offered each morning too (with vegan options).
  • LUXURY : Anantara NY Palace – A lavish five-star hotel with an opulent interior and palatial lobby, the property has an indoor pool, sauna, steam bath, and large fitness center. I really loved the cocktail bar, which has live piano music and great drinks. The rooms are huge, with super comfy beds, desks and sofas, a minibar, and a flatscreen TV. The bathrooms are also huge, with beautiful tiles and massive bathtubs.

While there are lots of other districts to stay in Budapest , these are the neighborhoods most travelers spend all their time in — including myself. If you’re here to see the main sights, enjoy the nightlife, learn about the city’s past, and feast on its incredible cuisine, these are the best neighborhoods to focus on. They won’t disappoint!

Get Your In-Depth Budget Guide to Europe!

My detailed 200+ page guidebook is made for budget travelers like you! It cuts out the fluff found in other guides and gets straight to the practical information you need to travel while in Europe. It has suggested itineraries, budgets, ways to save money, on and off the beaten path things to see and do, non-touristy restaurants, markets, bars, safety tips, and much more! Click here to learn more and get your copy today.

Book Your Trip to Budapest: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight Use Skyscanner to find a cheap flight. They are my favorite search engine because they search websites and airlines around the globe, so you always know no stone is left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the biggest inventory and best deals. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels.

If you’re looking for more places to stay, here is a complete list of my favorite hostels in Budapest !

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance Travel insurance protects 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. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

  • SafetyWing (best for everyone)
  • Insure My Trip (for those over 70)
  • Medjet (for additional evacuation coverage)

Looking for the Best Companies to Save Money With? Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use to save money when I’m on the road. They save you money when you travel too.

Want More Information on Budapest? Be sure to visit our robust destination guide on Budapest for even more planning tips!

Got a comment on this article? Join the conversation on Facebook , Instagram , or Twitter and share your thoughts!

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above may be affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase. I recommend only products and companies I use and the income goes to keeping the site community supported and ad free.

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Lonely Planet Pocket Budapest 5 (Pocket Guide)

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Lonely Planet’s Pocket Budapest is your guide to the city’s best experiences and local life - neighbourhood by neighbourhood. Soak in the Gellert Baths, tour the Buda Hills, and marvel at statues in Memento Park; all with your trusted travel companion. Uncover the best of Budapest and make the most of your trip!

Inside Lonely Planet’s Pocket Budapest : 

Up-to-date information - all businesses were rechecked before publication to ensure they are still open after 2020’s COVID-19 outbreak

Full-colour maps and travel photography throughout

Highlights and itineraries help you tailor your trip to your personal needs and interests

Insider tips to save time and money and get around like a local, avoiding crowds and trouble spots

Essential info at your fingertips - hours of operation, phone numbers, websites, transit tips, prices

Honest reviews for all budgets - eating, sightseeing, going out, shopping, hidden gems that most guidebooks miss

Convenient pull-out Budape st m ap (included in print version), plus over 15 colour neighbourhood maps

User-friendly layout with helpful icons, and organised by neighbourhood to help you pick the best spots to spend your time

Cover s Castle District, Gellert Hill & Taban, Obuda, Belvaros, Parliament area, Margaret Island & Northern Pest, Erzsebetvaros & the Jewish Quarter, Southern Pest and more

The Perfect Choice: Lonely Planet’s Pocket Budapest , an easy-to-use guide filled with top experiences - neighbourhood by neighbourhood - that literally fits in your pocket. Make the most of a quick trip to Budapest with trusted travel advice to get you straight to the heart of the city.

Looking for more extensive coverage? Check out Lonely Planet’s Budapest & Hungary guide for a comprehensive look at all that Budapest & Hungary has to offer.

About Lonely Planet: Lonely Planet is a leading travel media company, providing both inspiring and trustworthy information for every kind of traveller since 1973. Over the past four decades, we've printed over 145 million guidebooks and phrasebooks for 120 languages, and grown a dedicated, passionate global community of travellers. You'll also find our content online, and in mobile apps, videos, 14 languages, armchair and lifestyle books, ebooks, and more, enabling you to explore every day. 

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Visiting Budapest This Winter? Here Is What To Expect When Visiting Its Christmas Market

This winter do not miss THE most exquisite Christmas market in all of Europe in Budapest.

  • Budapest's Advent Bazilika Christmas market has been chosen as Europe's best for the third time, offering a festive environment with artisan exhibitors and authentic culinary delights.
  • The market features regional specialties such as goulash, warm soup, and langos. Admission is free, and customers can purchase goods from market vendors.
  • Visitors should plan their trip for the first two weeks of December when the markets are open and the atmosphere is lively. The marketplaces close after Christmas, but there are still a few market possibilities.

The best Christmas markets in the world and Europe are a great way to kick off the holiday season, and spending a weekend there will make anyone feel joyful. The most incredible and popular Christmas markets are perhaps in Germany and France, but travelers looking for stunning architecture, one-of-a-kind souvenirs, and hearty winter comfort food may also find joy in Prague or Austria.

If tourists are eager to experience activities like ice skating in Vienna, buying ornaments in the French Christmas' Capital, Strasbourg , or trying chimney cakes in Budapest, it is time to book their trips to see the top Christmas markets in Europe for 2023. Before planning their trip and deciding on their destination, they should know that Budapest has been home to Advent Bazilika, a small-scale Christmas market, for the past twelve years .

All they have to do is make reservations for their travel, lodging, excursions, and activities in Budapest , including a champagne-filled nighttime cruise, to see THE most exquisite Christmas market in all of Europe.

Related: Relax!: Intro To Budapest, The Spa Capital Of The World

What Is The Budapest Christmas Market?

After receiving votes from over 300,000 travelers worldwide, the Budapest Christmas market has been chosen as Europe's best Christmas market for the third time by the tourism website European Best Destinations.

Unquestionably one of the most wonderful Christmas markets in Europe is the Advent Bazilika or Basilica, which won the 2020–2021–2022 title of Best Christmas Market in Europe. With the tagline "Where love takes your hand," Budapest's own special Christmas fair, the Advent Basilica, reopens in front of St. Stephen's Basilica, on one of the most striking, lovely, and magnificent squares in the Hungarian capital.

In keeping with the 12-year-old Advent Basilica's history, it offers a distinctive festive environment with 120 domestic artisan exhibitors , authentic culinary delights, heartwarming events, and a ton of other surprises.

  • Regional specialties : Goulash, warm soup, and langos…

Christmas tree in front of St. Stephen's Basilica, Budapest

In addition to the ice skating rink, the modest Christmas market has beautiful lights projected onto the outside of the church.

  • Admission to the Christmas market is free; customers can purchase goods from market vendors.

Travel experts are not the only ones who have complimented the lesser-known Christmas market; travelers have also been gushing about it. There are several Christmas markets in Budapest besides Advent Bazilika such as the Vörösmarty Square Christmas Market.

  • Schedule: November 17, 2023 to January 1, 2024

Advent Basilica, a Christmas market in front of St Stephen Basilica

Tips To Visit The Budapest Christmas Markets This Winter

The four weeks coming up to Christmas are when the Christmas markets take place. The first two weeks in December will be the ideal time to visit. The marketplaces are open, and the atmosphere is lively at that point.

Some of the markets close after Christmas, so this might not be as fantastic as tourists are looking for if they can only visit after Christmas because of school breaks. After Christmas, though, they will still have a few market possibilities!

What To Know About Vörösmarty Square Christmas Market

Located in the center of the city, the Vörösmarty Square Christmas market offers handcrafted goods and regional cuisine. The youngest customers at the market will also be able to ride a little holiday train for free.

The biggest Christmas market in Budapest is located in the center of the city's main square. To begin, Budapest’s winter visitors may go along Fashion Street and take in the lights that hang over the pedestrian walkway. They are a lot of fun! After that, tourists may take their time browsing the square's food and artisan vendors.

  • Schedule: November 17 to December 31, 2023; Sunday to Thursday, from 11:00 AM to 9:00 PM, as for Friday and Saturday, from 11:00 AM to 10:00 PM
  • Two other Christmas markets in Budapest: Obuda and City Park

Related: 10 Christmas Markets Around The World Worth Booking A Flight For

What To Expect From Budapest Christmas Market 2023

The regular light and music performances in front of the basilica are the highlight of this market. Budapest Christmas market visitors can watch the photographs move around the church while they mill about with the other shoppers.

It is a unique experience during the festivities. Additionally, the basilica hosts organ and quartet concerts if visitors enjoy music. Regular concerts take place, but there are also extra performances during the Advent season. The experience offers a unique perspective of the basilica at a fair price.

  • Cost: Around $20

shutterstock_353741201Illuminated tree in Christmas market in St. Stephen's Basilica Square, Budapest, Hungary

There will also be a ton of food, including sausages, fried items, and potatoes. Everywhere tourists look, there are big Christmas trees and lights! Handmade items including decorations, notebooks, pictures, jewelry, ceramics, and more can also be expected at the Christmas market in Budapest.

Finally, one of the things to try in the Christmas markets of Budapest is cider and mulled wine. It is served in reusable cups most of the time and is hot enough to keep visitors toasty while exploring the markets.

What To Buy From Budapest Christmas Markets

The Christmas markets will provide their visitors with a wide selection of ornaments if they are ornament lovers. Before making a decision, they are recommended to consider their possibilities. Some tourists prefer to buy from Vörösmarty Square while others buy from the Advent Basilica.

Without a second thought visiting a Christmas market has no taste without trying some local cuisine. Visitors are recommended to keep an eye out for chimney cakes when in Budapest.

Finally, mementos are a must on any trip. Handmade jewelry and diaries, adorable decorations, t-shirts, and much more are available.

Tourists will enjoy their exploration and discover new things in Budapest!



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