A quick, easy, budget travel guide to the Hungarian capital city.
The magnificent capital city of Hungary offers a wide array of different experiences due to its division of cultures. The Danube River splits the city into two sections: “Buda”, the older, more historical area packed with monuments atop steep hills and majestic castles, and “Pest”, the flatter, more modern area consisting of spacious boulevards and nice hotels and restaurants.
Though summer weather is pleasant in Budapest, visiting the city in December blesses travelers with the charm of Christmas markets and the beauty of sparkling holiday decorations scattered throughout the city. You honestly cannot go wrong in Budapest.
Plane: Many budget airlines fly to and from Budapest from other popular European destinations, including RyanAir, EasyJet and Wizzair. The airport is located a short, 20 minute drive from the city center, so affordable taxis are available for hire just outside the airport.
Train: Trains are also popular ways to access Budapest from nearby European cities like Vienna or Prague. Eurail and Interrail and the easiest companies for fitting Budapest into a European train tour, and goeuro.com can be used for finding cheap transportation between European cities.
In the City: Walking is the best form of transportation inside the city, as most major attractions are close to each other and you should not miss out on any of Budapest’s amazing architecture and scenery.
Located next to Matthia’s Church on the “Buda” side of the Danube River, this conglomeration of towers, balconies, and terraces makes for a perfect viewpoint over the city. The massive area is overflowing with impressive neo-Gothic architecture, is free to enter, and is perfect for stunning photo opportunities. Not to mention, it’s completely free to wander around these gorgeous grounds.
Many people come to Budapest to visit the huge outdoor Széchenyi Baths, and a general admission ticket to all the pools costs about $20. This famous attraction is definitely worth a stop, but the less popular Rudas Thermal Baths offer a much more authentic, less touristy, and therefore relaxing experience. With different price packages varying from around $5 to $15, you can spend the day bathing in soothing warm water, or relaxing in steam rooms and saunas. Certain days are dedicated to women only or men only, so you can happily enjoy the freedom of bathing in the nude with fellow locals.
Because countries like Italy and France are so well-known for their wine, many people forget that Hungary is another top wine producer in Europe. The best way to experience fine Hungarian wines is to take a wine cruise along the Danube, where you can marvel at the city’s impressive scenery while sampling seven different wines and listening to live, classical folk music. Available at 2pm and at 7pm, the cruise is only 20 euros and lasts roughly two hours. The best part of this experience is the up close view of the golden Parliament Building from the river. Book online here.
Liberty Statue atop Gellért Hill
On the “Buda” side of the city, you can embark on a steep yet rewarding hike up 771 feet of outdoor staircases to reach the Liberty Statue and Citadel. At the top, you can catch your breath at this UNESCO World Heritage Site while absorbing the views over the city.
As Budapest’s largest public square, this is a great place for taking a break from a busy day of sightseeing and people-watching. The statues, monuments, and architecture here are impressive and photo-worthy, so make sure your camera batteries are charged.
Dohány Street Synagogue
For a cultural insight into the Jewish population of Budapest, visit this amazing Synagogue. It is the largest Synagogue in Europe and one of the largest in the world, so you can spend ample time exploring the grounds and simply admiring the intricate detail of the design of the building.
While traveling from the Buda side of the city to the Pest side, be sure to walk across this gigantic, sturdy suspension bridge. The views are wonderful, and you can get a great shot of the magnificent Buda Castle.
After taking in the view from the Chain Bridge, be sure to explore the grounds of this historical sight. The original building dates back to as early as the 1200s, but has mostly been restored in the 1700s. The complex is full of hidden passages, mossy staircases, beautiful statues, and of course, great views over the city from the higher elevations.
Avenue Hostel, located at Oktogon tér 4., with rooms varying from $10 to $17 per night. This hostel is centrally located, and exudes a welcoming atmosphere with a communal kitchen and a comfy common area. The beds all have private curtains, and they even provide fresh eggs which you can cook up yourself for breakfast. This is the perfect spot for travelers on a budget who want a friendly, social atmosphere.
Best Food & Drink:
For a quiet afternoon escape from the city, visit this eccentric teahouse and cafe to indulge in high quality, loose-leaf teas and delicious treats. Aside from the sit-down area, the back of the teahouse is home to a cozy area full of bean bag chairs, fancy rugs, and little alcoves. The street address is Bródy Sándor u. 13, and here is the website for more info: http://www.siriusteahaz.hu/teahaz_en.php
Szimpla Kert Ruin Bar
For an exciting night out, visit one of Budapest’s many ruin bars. Built in an old abandoned building, Szimpla Kert has transformed the dilapidated structure into a vibrant party place full of colorful lights and hypnotizing artwork. This is a great place to have drinks after a full day of exploring, and it’s open from midday until 4am at street address Kazinczy u. 14.
Central Market Hall
Visit this giant indoor space to sample all the local cuisines. All the food is super affordable and the vendors are friendly. Try a local favorite, langos, which is basically a savory crepe/flatbread hybrid loaded with whatever toppings you choose.