Things to do in Budapest

A Traveler’s Guide To The City Of Budapest

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Two cities , Buda and Pest divided by the elegant Danube River weaved together fashions the city we know as Budapest. Each half, Buda on the western bank & Pest on the eastern bank has an overt distinct character that makes it hard for you choose your favourite half. However, keep your senses primed and everything about this rustic city will muse you no bounds. Buda & Pest is connected by several bridges, the first and most famous of them being the Chain Bridge built in 1849. Housing the world’s most beautiful cafe, a parliament building that will leave you with a newfangled interest in politics, cruises that will leave your eyes parched in delight and local beer brews that won’t leave your tastebuds for a good while, Budapest is an explorers paradise and taking a wrong turn in this city is highly recommended.


Green & Hilly Buda
The ancient capital of the Kingdom of Hungary, Buda is the hilly half of Budapest offering a broad sweep of the Danube and neighbouring areas. Though Buda houses lesser “attractions” as compared to Pest, you’ll find imperial palaces, Turkish spas and wooded hills here. Some of the most famous landmarks being the Fisherman’s Bastion, Buda Castle,Matthias Church, Gellert Hill and Memento Park. To experience the green & grandeur of Budapest, heading to the Buda, is a fine choice and while you’re here, ride up the Buda Funicular!

Happening Ruins of Pest
Pest is more flatter, larger in size and speckled with trendy ruin bars, landmarks galore, bustling street markets and many thermal baths. Pest is lively and has a pulse that compels you to dance the night away in a ruin bar with the locals, go window shopping in the Central Market Hall for groceries and spend an hour wandering the cemetery of the Dohány Street Synagogue. The Pest half of the city has enough to keep you occupied for 48 hours straight - The Budapest Parliament, Vajdahunyad Castle, the House of Terror, Szent István Basilica and many more gems scattered across the city.

Battle of Baths
Budapest, better known as the City of Baths is bubbling with hot springs that now source the umpteen thermal baths around the city. ‘Taking the waters’ is an experience that is as common as going to the grocers in Budapest and you can choose to take the waters in any of the 150 odd thermal baths around the city. The thermal baths are populated with a good number of locals, bathing their weekly woes away, catching up on a game of chess and casually soaking in the minerals. These baths are apparently the world’s best cure for what the locals call a macskajaj (cat’s wail) – hangover and we cannot agree more!

Being a Magyar
With countless open-air bars , alfresco restaurants, ruin cafes, street food markets and illustrious coffee houses, there’s no dearth of things to tuck and tipple on in Budapest. The gastronomic renaissance in Budapest is supremely exciting ,especially the palette of local beer brews available! They say you’re with a Magyar when you are entertained, well fed and have a drink in hand. Well, that’s how you’re going to feel in all of Budapest; an anti-health lángos , a massive mug of stout and rad music.


Budapest Travel Guide


The dual city of Budapest, made up of Buda on the western bank of River Danube and Pest on the eastern bank is one of the most sought after travel destinations in Europe and quite rightly so. Dubbed the ‘Paris of the East’ & ‘Pearl of the Danube’, venturing through Budapest’s rich history, unique cuisines, rustic ruins and thermal bathhouses is every travelers’ dream. To make those dreams come true in the most beautiful manner, here’s your all encompassing Budapest Guide that will talk about everything from the country’s currency, festivals you ought to attend and tipping culture.

Why Budapest?


Budapest has struck an impeccable balance between the dynamic and slow life. The Pest half of town is lively and upbeat with parties that go on till dawn while Buda is the indolent half who is ideal for a lull stroll and panoramic views. This allows travelers to experience both the extremes without stepping out of the city , making for an ideal vacation.
However, much of Budapest’s charm lies in the unexpected glimpses of the densely lush courtyards and glimmered vistas down cobbled streets.

Budapest Travel Restrictions


Can I travel to Budapest right now? Short answer - Yes. Long answer - there are a few things you should keep in mind before traveling to Budapest. Here's all about the travel restrictions in Hungary.

Top 10 Things To Do in Budapest


Jotted below are a compact list of 10 things you should absolutely do in Budapest, even if you are in the city for just 24 hours. We know just how to fit all of these things into a 1 day itinerary and if you're wondering how you can take a quick look!

Budapest Essentials


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LanguageHungarian

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Time zoneGMT +1 (CET)

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Country Code+36

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Socket Type C & Type F

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CurrencyHUF

Budapest Trip Planner


All you need before you book your tickets and zip your bag!

  • Weather

  • When to visit

  • Budget

  • Visa

  • Flights

  • Travel Tips

Weather in Budapest

The best time to visit Budapest is anytime between April to September as the temperatures average between highs of 21°C and lows of 15°C. However, Budapest experiences occasional showers during summer, so it is advisable to carry a raincoat if you’re heading here in summer. Moreover, many festivals happen during this period, like the Sziget Festival held in August which makes one’s visit all the more enjoyable.
Winters in Budapest can get very chilly and and temperatures hover around freezing. Budapest also receives a good amount of snowfall , hence visiting Budapest during this period is not really recommended. You can check out the current weather in Budapest here and make plans accordingly.
You can check the weather here.

spring in london
Budapest in Spring

With the end of the long and cold winter comes the onset of Spring season. The months of March, April and May make the Spring season and you can sense the city coming back to life after the dreary winter months. The sun is out and about more often and outdoor beer gardens and terrace bars open early. Specifically, there's something magical in the air that imbibes everything with a cheery wide.

summer in london
Budapest in Summer

While the Spring season is a teaser of sorts, the real flurry of activity begins in the month of June, officially marking the beginning of the summer season. The sun's out pretty much throughout the day and it can get pretty hot so you would be better off with accommodation that has an AC. The summer months of June, July and August also see an increase in events and festivals, which in turn brings in more crowds.

autumn in london
Budapest in Autumn

The beginning of autumn is a delightful surprise. The summer season is coming to a close and the heat is slowly fading away, making way for colder days. The desired spot between peak summer and harsh winters is beautifully met during the autumn season. There's a fair bit of rain in the autumn months of September, October and November but the city is still lively and joyous before the onset of the winter slumber.

winter in london
Budapest in Winter

As is typical to most of Europe, winters in Budapest are generally cold and dry. The months of December, January and February are classified as the winter season and witness incessant snow and even some occasional cold snaps. December also marks the arrival of Christmas season and city gears up for the festival with beautiful lights along Andrassy Avenue and the parliament building. There's also a special Christmas tram which goes around the city, spreading some festive cheer.

Detailed Budapest Itineraries


We've done all the hardwork for you! All you have to do is pick the number of days you'd like to visit Budapest for, and find a readymade Budapest itinerary, tailored to suit all age-groups!

Budapest travel guide 1/2 Day
Budapest travel guide 2/3-Day
budapest travel guide 3/5-Day

How to Save Money in Budapest


Transportation

  • 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.

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.

Budapest Cruises


Best of Cruises in Budapest

Cruising River Danube, the fairytale watercourse cutting through Budapest is a quintessential experience once you step foot in Budapest. Locals often say that the best way to feel the romance in Budapest is to take a Danube River Cruise. With every Budpest River Cruise, be prepared to pamper yourself with world class service onboard while passing through years of history and culture during your comfortable journey.

Sightseeing Cruises

Budapest travel guide

This sightseeing cruise can be taken at anytime of day and as many times as you want over a 24-hour period. With one variant, you will also have the ability to choose two drinks from a comprehensive collection of the best beers, champagne, wine and vodka. Don your headphones as soon as you get on the boat and get detailed audio commentary describing all the places you will see on the cruise. Glide past iconic landmarks like the Chain Bridge, the Citadella, House of Parliament and the Great Market Hall. Snacks and Wi-Fi will be available on board.

Read more about Budapest Sightseeing Cruises.

Dinner Cruises

Travel guides

Take a gulp of Hungarian Folk and Culture on a luxurious catamaran while cruising down River Danube. The performance by 30 talented Hungarians in their folk ensemble is the perfect accompaniment to the unparalleled sights on the littoral ; not to forget your 4- course authentic dinner.
Don’t forget to wear your dance shoes during this cruise because the Hungarian tunes are sure to make you tap your feet and groove to the Hungarian folk.

Read more about Budapest Dinner Cruises.

Hop On Hop Off Tours


Budapest Travel guide

Budapest, the beautiful and historical capital city of Hungary is a paradise for visitors. Home to several UNESCO World Heritage Sites, this city was founded about 2000 years ago. Bustling with varied architecture and culture, an astounding array of baths, spas and hot springs, vibrant nightlife and natural beauty, Budapest is best explored on a Hop On Hop Off tour. These tours give you complete freedom to create your own itinerary and you also have the flexibility to enjoy places of your choice at your own pace. The open-top, double-decker buses transport you around the glorious town of Budapest and you can hop on and hop off the buses as many times as you want.

Covering the top attractions of the city like the Hungarian Parliament Building, the Hungarian State Opera House, Andrássy Avenue, Heroes’ Square, Margaret Island, Budapest Citadel etc. these buses have about 26 stops and a decent frequency. Once aboard, you can relax and enjoy the view, get a real feel of the city life and get acquainted with the surroundings through an informative audio commentary/guide.

Day Trips From Budapest


Budapest travel guide

Hungary’s beautiful capital , Budapest offers a plethora to see, eat and experience but it would be a shame to have traveled all the way to Budapest and leave without seeing the snug towns lying a stone’s throw away from the city proper. As and when you’re done cruising the Danube, lounging in the umpteen baths and drinking ridiculous amounts of local craft brews, step out of the city on a day trip to discover other facets of Hungarian culture.

There are at least 50 odd quick day trips from Budapest we could think of, but for the sake of not confusing you further with options, we have narrowed down the ‘5 Best Day Trips from Budapest’ primarily based on ease of conveyance and sightseeing options in each city. We have also take special care to ensure that each of these day trips offer a different experience so, no matter what kind of traveler you are, you will find something to your taste in our curation.

Here are our top picks for the best day trips from Budapest.

Getting Around in Budapest


Budapest has some really fun modes of public transport like the Cogwheel railways, Buda Castle Funicular, Zugliget chairlift and even a Children’s Railway ( operated by children). This is of course barring the usual modes of tram, buses and railways. This PDF here is your one stop guide to the public transport network in Budapest and we'd suggest you download it, print it and keep it dear and close!

A few other things you must know about the Budapest Public Transport system is that most of them shut by 11 PM and post that your only mode of transport are the good ol' pricey cabs. There are few night buses , but they are not as frequent and well connected. Maximum pick pockets happen on these public transports, hence keep a close eye on your belongings. Travelling without a ticket on any of these transports can be heavy on your pocket. The fine can be anything between HUF 6000 to HUF 10,000. The inspector also has the right to ask for your passport if and when you're caught or any offical id.

Budapest on a Budget


It is very much possible to backpack through Budapest on a shoestring budget, but you may need some expert hacks and tricks to do so. Here are a few we found useful.

Get hold of the Budapest Card

Unlimited Savings are the 2 words that aptly describe the Budapest Card. With a 24, 48 and 72 hour variant , the Budapest card is an absolute saver when it comes to discovering Budapest on a budget. You can use free public transportation and and gain considerable discounts for many sights, attractions and programmes around the city. We have gone to the extent of doing a cost benefit analysis of the card here and you must check it out to see how much you can save by buying this €22 card. If you want to see the complete list of attractions you get access to with the Budapest card, head here.

Exploit the Hop On Hop Off Bus & Boat

If you’re looking to do touristy things, the super efficient and well very connected Hop On Hop off tours has your back. You can just pick and choose the places you want to travel to, see the lines they fall on and buy €22 pass that will take you all around the city with just that. Be it a bus or boat that you intend to see Budapest on, the economical HOHO is your best bud.

Do the Free things

Many of Budapest’s iconic landmarks don’t have an entry fee. If you’re on a stringent budget, then choose to visit just these and you’ll have seen a good amount of Budapest anyway. Some of the free attractions in Budapest are St Stephen’s Basilica, Margaret Island, Fisherman’s Bastion, Heroes' Square and the Chain Bridge. You can also admire the Budapest Parliament and Buda Castle from the outside for free. Also, many museums around the city offer free entrance on selected days. Check out the official websites of the museums you wish to see to know when these dates are.

Tuck & Tipple like a local

Avoid the tourist trap restaurants and go for the unsung tiny ones where you see locals flocking in. These are likely to be reasonably priced and are definitely more authentic than the best rated ones on Tripadvisor. Go to the Great Market Hall and shop for groceries and food-to-go like the popular Hungarian Langos and enjoy your meal in a scenic surrounding. Light on the pocket and your tummy! Like they say, you get more bang for your buck from the most modest stall, so hunt for that and go light on your pocket and tummy!.

Go for hostels, not hotels

Budapest has some of the most charming hostels that are hotel standards, but hostel priced. This allows luxury on a budget and since most tourists choose to stay in such places, it makes for amazing company too. Some of the popular and recommended ones are : Pal’s Hostel & Apartments, Lavender Circus Hostel, Animation City Hostel, Treestyle Hostel, Fifth Hostel and GoodMo House.

Useful phrases in Hungarian


Good day! – Jó napot (yoh nu-pot)
Good bye – Szia (see-yah)
Thank you – Köszönöm (khoe-se-noem)
How are you? Hogy vagy? (haw-j-vah-j)
Nice to meet you – Örülök, hogy megismertem (errel-oek hodge megh-ish-merh-them)
Please – légyszi (ledge-see)
I’d like a beer – Kérek egy sört (Keh-rack a-j chert)
Cheers – Egészségedre! (Ag-esh-sheg-ad-reh)

Hotels in Budapest


Hotels are spread out just about everywhere. With that being said, each area caters to specific travelers.

Dining in Budapest


Budapest travel guide

Hungarian dishes are quite exquisite and if you're one who likes experimenting with food, you're sure going to have a lot of new dishes to sample. A few of our authentic Hungarian favourites are:

1. Lángos
This hearty snack is basically a deep fried flat bread that has generous portions of mashed potatoes, sour cream yogurt, grated cheese, ham or sausages (or all of them together) in the center. Lángos is an afforable savoury treat and the best ones are made at Central Market Hall.

2. Kürtőskalács (Chimney Cake)
Also called Chimney Cakes, this dessert delight is made from sweet yeast spun and wrapped around cone-shaped baking material and brushed with butter. It is then slathered with a whole lot of cinnamon, ground walnuts and caramel making it irresistible. They are most popular during festivals,especially Christmas. However, you find good Kürtőskalács in tiny stalls on Andrássy Avenue and Bajcsy-Zsilinszky Street.

3. Gulyás (Goulash)
Popularly called Hungary's national dish, Goulash is a Hungarian dish made from meat stew cooked with onions, paprika, tomatoes and pepper. It is accompanied with fresh white bread and chopped hot paprika on the side. It was traditionally a peasant dish prepared on iron cauldrons over wood fires. It is said that the real taste of Goulash comes with this kind of preperation and certain restaurants still undertake this tiresome process to make quality Goulash.

4. Chicken Paprikash (Paprikás Csirke)
This semi-soup ochre dish earns its name from the copious amounts of paprika used in its preperation and stewed tender chicken leg. Chicken Paprikash is eaten with with sour cream and spätzle, a pasta-like dumpling. It's hearty and the ideal comfort food.

5. Dobos Torta
This Drummer Cake made up of between 5 sponge layers, each spread with chocolate buttercream and topped with a thick layer of caramelized sugar is a sugary treat that everyone in Budapest devours quite often, occasion or not. The sides of the cake are usually coated in ground nuts like hazelnuts, walnuts or almonds and you get the best Dobos Torta in Fröhlich Cukrászda, a kosher bakery in the Jewish quarter that has been baking traditional cakes for over half a century.

Budapest Card


Budapest Travel Guide

Budapest, nicknamed the ‘City of Spas’, is Hungary’s largest city and its capital. This beautiful and picturesque city enchants anyone that visits and hence, has become one of Europe’s best cities to visit. With its rich heritage, incredible architecture, seductive skyline, mouth-watering food, countless thermal spas and electric nightlife, Budapest has a lot to offer to its visitors. Some of the most popular attractions and places of interest in this wonderful city include the Hungarian Parliament Building, Buda Castle, Hungarian National Gallery, Fisherman’s Bastion and many others.

But with so many places to go and things to see, it can get a little daunting and a little expensive for travellers and newcomers to find out what exactly to do and how to go about doing them in their limited time in Budapest. That is where the Budapest Card or the Budapest City Pass comes in. The Budapest Card is the easiest, most cost-effective and efficient way of exploring the city.

Festivals in Budapest


In this Budapest Guide, we will delve briefly into the important festivals in Budapest so that you can plan your visit to Budapest around these celebrations. Be it music festivals, local food fairs, national festivals or art shows, festivals go on year round here, so bookmark these and add them to your calendar so that you can pop by and taste a bit of Hungarian culture. Budapest hosts 7 annual festivals namely Sziget Festival, Budapest Spring Festival, Café Budapest Contemporary Art Festival , Budapest Wine Festival, Budapest Pálinka Festival and Budapest Pride. One of the biggest festivals to look out for is the Sziget Music Festival which brings together a melange of music, theater, circus, art, culture, spirituality and sports, all with a massive spirit! Beer festivals in Budapest are also mightly jolly, so if you're a beer lover, you should definitely head to to the Beer Week, Craft beer festival, the Buda Castle Beer festival or the good ol' Oktober Fest. For a detailed monthly festival guide, you can head to this website or here.

Budapest Culture Tips


Though most of he practises in Budapest are similar to that of the rest of Europe, one peculiar thing most outsiders don't know about this city is that Hungarians do not clink their glasses before drinking beer. Intriguing that a country so famous for its beer does not believe in clinking glasses right? You can clink any other drink, but make sure you don't clink your beer mug!

Budapest locals are extremely friendly and cheerful so be prepared to smile and be greeted a lot.Make sure to learn a few phrases from below to greet them back ! Despite their merry nature, the citizens of Budapest are known to be highly spiritual.They value their traditions dearly, hence be careful not to hurt their sentiments.

Money & ATMs in Budapest

Budapest has a dense network of ATMs that accept most international debit and credit cards ( Visa, MasterCard, Plus, Maestro, Cirrus & others). Most establishments around Budapest, barring the mom and pop stores around the city accept card payments too. You will also see a sticker outside shops and restaurants that accept card payments. If this sticker is not present, it is advisable to check with the store management about card payments before making a purchase.Though Hungary is a part of the European Union, it hasn’t adopted the Euro as currency hence getting your euros exchanged in Budapest will give you a scant exchange rate. It is better to carry enough liquid cash in HUF and use your card for the rest.

HUF exchange rate

Here’s a trusted exchange calculator you can use to check the current exchange rate of HUF to your home currency.

Tipping

Though the tipping as a practise is not ingrained in the city culture, you can add about 10% on the bill if you wish to tip. Most places have a service fee included in the bill. However, tipping is not considered demeaning so you can tip your driver, waiter or hairdresser and they will not shun it.

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Budapest Travel Guide
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