A quick and easy Budapest budget travel guide: including the best time to visit, how to get around, where to stay, the best cheap activities, and more!
The magnificent capital city of Hungary offers lots of different experiences due to its division of cultures.
The Danube River splits the city into two sections.
“Buda” is the older, more historical area packed with monuments, steep hills, and majestic castles.
“Pest” is the flatter, more modern area consisting of spacious boulevards, nice hotels, and restaurants.
Budapest is a gorgeous city in Europe, and it is very affordable to visit!
With this Budapest budget travel guide, I’ll list some useful budget travel tips for visiting the Hungarian capital city.
I’ll also list some general information like when to visit Budapest, how to get around, where to stay, the best things to do in Budapest, and what to eat and drink, all for affordable prices of course.
Here is your ultimate Budapest budget travel guide!
Budapest Budget Travel Guide
This Budapest budget travel guide will cover the following:
- General information about visiting Hungary
- The best time to visit Budapest
- Transportation in Budapest
- Cheap accommodation
- The best and most affordable Budapest activities
Get ready to explore the beautiful and lively capital city of Hungary on a budget!
General Information About Hungary
Language: Hungarian, though English is common in touristy areas. German is also spoken a little bit near some mountainous areas of the country.
Currency: Hungarian Forint (HUF). 1 Euro = 418 HUF, and 1 USD = 397 HUF
Religion: Christianity, with Catholicism and Protestantism being the two most popular denominations.
Visas: Most travelers do not need a visa if staying in Hungary for less than 90 days. Hungary is part of the European Union and the Schengen Area, meaning there is no border control between Hungary and other member countries of the Schengen Area like Germany or Poland.
(I always check iVisa for visa requirements before a trip, just to be safe!)
The Best Time To Visit Budapest
The best time to visit Budapest is shoulder season: spring or autumn.
The summer months of July and August have the warmest weather. But this is European school holidays, so flight prices are higher and there are more crowds.
Visiting Budapest in December means you get to experience the charm of Christmas markets and the beauty of sparkling holiday decorations scattered throughout the city. But, it will be very cold.
May and June, or September and October, will still have nice weather with fewer crowds than summer, so this is the best time to go.
Budapest Budget Travel Guide: Transportation
Here is everything you need to know about traveling to Budapest, and getting around the city on a budget.
Many budget airlines fly to Budapest from other popular European destinations, including RyanAir, EasyJet, and Wizzair.
The airport is located a short, 20-minute drive from the city center. Cheap taxis are available for hire just outside the airport.
Trains are also popular ways to access Budapest from nearby European cities like Vienna or Prague.
Getting a Eurail train pass is a super popular way to travel. You can buy a train pass for a certain number of days and countries.
But I find that sometimes just buying individual train tickets for your journeys is actually much cheaper.
Hungary is a pretty affordable country, so you might be better off just buying train tickets for each journey rather than getting a rail pass.
I recommend comparing transport prices on the following websites to find the quickest and cheapest methods of travel.
These websites compare planes, buses, trains, ferries, cars, and anything else available so you can find the best way to travel.
Transport Within Budapest
Walking is the best form of transportation inside the city center. Most major Budapest attractions are close to each other and you should not miss out on any of the beautiful architecture and scenery.
I’d say 3-4 days is enough time to explore all the attractions on foot, without rushing.
There is also cheap public transport in Budapest if you don’t want to walk.
Check the local transport website for more info on trams, metros, and buses.
Taxis are available, and they are actually pretty cheap. But to explore Budapest on a budget, try to stick to walking and public transport most of the time.
Budapest Budget Travel Guide: Accommodation
There are so many cheap hostels in Budapest!
The average cost of a dorm bed in Budapest is around 10 – 16 USD per night.
I stayed in Avenue Hostel which had dorm rooms for as cheap as 10 USD per night.
This hostel is centrally located and has 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.
The Best Budapest Attractions
Here are some of the best things to do in Budapest, Hungary. Many of them are free! The activities that do cost money are still pretty cheap, and they are all worth it.
From wine tasting, to river cruising, to castle viewing, here are some of the best things to do in Budapest on a budget.
Located next to Matthia’s Church on the “Buda” side of the Danube River, the towers, balconies, and terraces of Fisherman’s Bastion make for a perfect viewpoint over the city.
Fisherman’s Bastion is overflowing with impressive neo-Gothic architecture and stunning photo opportunities.
Not to mention, it’s completely free to wander around these gorgeous grounds.
Széchenyi Thermal Baths
Many people come to Budapest to visit the huge outdoor Széchenyi Baths.
A general admission ticket to all the pools at Széchenyi Thermal Baths costs 32 Euros.
It is definitely worth booking a Skip-The-Line ticket for Széchenyi Baths in advance. The lines can get super long, and it’s the same price as a normal ticket!
Rudas Thermal Baths
For a less touristy experience, you can visit the Rudas Thermal Baths.
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.
At Rudas Baths, 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.
Danube River Cruise
The best way to experience the scenery of Budapest is to take a river cruise along the Danube.
Marvel at the city’s impressive scenery while sampling enjoying dinner or drinks or some live, classical folk music.
The best part of this experience is the up-close view of the golden Parliament Building from the river.
Some of the best Danube river cruise options include:
- A daytime cruise
- Evening sightseeing cruise
- Sunset cocktail cruise
- Pizza and beer river cruise
- Candlelit dinner cruise with live music
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.
This is another free Budapest attraction!
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.
This is another one of the best things to do in Budapest for free.
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.
It costs 16 Euros to enter, and you can find more info on the official website.
If you book your ticket in advance with Get Your Guide, you get to skip the line and the price is basically the same. Here is the link.
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.
Walking across the Chain Bridge is another one of the best free things to do in Budapest.
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.
Book a guided walking tour of Buda Castle for just 10 Euros!
Budapest Budget Travel Guide: Food and Drink
Here are some of the best places to eat and drink in Budapest.
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.
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.
If you only have a short time in Budapest and want to see all the best sights in a few hours, you can always book a Guided Sightseeing Tour. This will help save you all the hassle of navigating and planning.
But if you’re a true budget traveler, or you have a decent amount of time to travel in Budapest, it is pretty easy to tour the city on your own.
Before you travel to Hungary…
- Check iVisa.com to see if you need a visa!
- Get decent travel insurance, just to be safe! As a budget traveler, I look for cheap plans that only cover emergency medical expenses. I use Squaremouth Insurance for that, and they fully reimbursed me the last time I had medical bills abroad, so I highly recommend them.
- Consider doing a work exchange in Budapest to save money! Work in a hostel or volunteer with a local family in exchange for free accommodation. Visit Worldpackers to learn more.
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That concludes my ultimate budget travel guide to Budapest, Hungary!
For more budget travel guides around Europe, check out these articles:
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