Ah Budapest – you truly had me at hello! I’d already heard great things about the Hungarian capital from fellow bloggers, but even so, I was still surprised by how quickly the city took my heart. Just the trip from the airport to the centre of the city had me eager to start exploring as I got my first glimpses of the historic and hilly Buda and the bustling, classical streets of Pest. The city is now a firm favourite mainland Europe destination of mine. Although it’s perfect for a mini-break I have to say it’s also easy to keep occupied in and around Budapest for a week’s holiday or even longer. To help you put together your perfect Budapest itinerary, we’ve created our very own Budapest Travel Guide, pulling together all our articles on the city, as well as some other informative gems from our travel blogging buddies.
Read on to discover the best of what to see and do in Budapest, as well as where to eat, drink and have fun! If you have any tips of your own we’d love for you to share them in the comments below, and if you have any questions we may not have answered, ask away!
Budapest Travel Guide – let’s whet your appetite
In my opinion, one of the fun things about being a part-time traveller is the pre-trip research. I never get bored of heading online to look into what my next destination has to offer and coming across beautiful images of places I just have to see! In all honestly, travel blogs have often been my inspiration for many trips, having booked my weekend escape to Bucharest after seeing a photo of Peles Castle in the snow, and my trip to Penang after seeing one too many photos of gorgeous peranakan food.
Budapest was so picturesque that after just four short days in the city I had hundreds of photos on my camera and phone. I thought a great way to inspire people to visit the city would be to share my favourite photos from my trip, which led to…
I dare you to check out this Budapest post and not want to book a trip there by the end of the post!
Useful tips for visiting Budapest
First up, lets get one of the important things out of the way – money. Although you can use Euros to pay in some places in Budapest I wouldn’t recommend it as you’ll get a pretty poor exchange rate for doing so. The Florint is the Hungarian currency and your best choice. Be sure to get some local money exchanged before you travel or invest in a good travel credit or debit card – my current favourite is Revolut.
If your city breaks are the kind that involve seeing as much as you can then you may want to buy a Budapest Card. Available in 24, 48, or 72 hour versions, they give you free access to public transport, free entrance to three of the city’s main museums and two free guided walking tours.
They also offer discount entry to lots of other attractions as well as money off some of the baths, restaurants, cafes and shops. You can buy your card online in advance if you like to travel prepared, but they’re pretty easy to pick up while you’re there, as they’re available in hotels, tourist offices, metro stations and the airport.
Budapest continues to be one of the most popular city break destinations in Europe, not just for its wonderful architecture, thermal baths and history, but also because of its low cost.
Transport is cheap, and although you can splurge on an expensive meal if you wish, you can comfortably eat out for under a £15 each and the cost of entry to most attractions is quite small.
It’s a really great destination for lovers of affordable luxury. Our Budapest Travel Guide shows you how you can enjoy some of the best the city has to offer on an average budget.
Where to stay in Budapest
Sadly the Grand Budapest Hotel isn’t real, but the Hungarian capital does have a good selection of classical, decadent luxury hotels. Take the Four Seasons Gresham Palace, for example. We only visited to try out its Herend Afternoon Tea, but from what we saw of this old palace turned art-deco luxury hotel, it’s got to be one of the top places to stay in the city. Emma from Adventures of a London Kiwi also shared a great find in her post reviewing Hotel Moments.
Rather than choose a hotel, we decided to book an apartment for our stay in Budapest. We discovered these could also be luxurious, and for a much lower cost. We found a beautiful two-bedroom apartment in central Budapest, which cost us £250 for three nights. Plus it gave me total #interiordesigngoals with its clean, white design and Scandi-styled kitchen. Oh, the giant jacuzzi bath also went down well!
Airbnb also has some great stylish apartments to rent in the city, as the lovely Emily from Cosy Traveller highlighted in this post, so be sure to spend time looking into your options.
Getting around – a Budapest Travel Guide
Budapest has a great transport infrastructure and it’s easy to get around the city via metro, bus, tram or train. Interesting fact for you – Budapest has the world’s second oldest metro system, younger only than London.
Unless you’re taking a one off journey you’re probably best to pick up a travel pass, not just to save money, but to make things simple as it can be easy to get confused and end up being fined!
There is a low-cost alternative to consider though. Uber is available in Budapest, and is relatively cheap, so we mainly travelled around the city this way.
But if you’re only going to take one journey during your visit, make sure you go for a ride on tram 2. This made it into Lonely Planet’s top ten tram journeys, and offers some beautiful views of Buda as you ride along the end of the river Danube.
Things to do in Budapest
There are so many things you can’t miss in Budapest – the list of attractions worth visiting is endless!
We created our ultimate 15 must sees in Budapest, which include the (literally) cool but quirky Hospital in the Rock, a must for history lovers, and the jaw-droppingly beautiful Parliament building, but there’s so much more besides.
For those on a mini-break we’ve put together a great little three-day Budapest itinerary for you check out, but for those staying longer it’s well worth travelling further afield.
On the city’s outskirts you could venture up the Buda hills, taking a scenic train trip up and a slow wander back down, or visit the roman ruins of Aquincum or Obuda caves. Far on the other side of the city you can visit the Memento Park, full of communist era statues and memorials.
Then outside of the city there’s the impressive Hungarian open-air museum, or you could take the opportunity to bobsleigh down the Visegrad Hills (it’s closed on rainy day as the breaks don’t like the wet – eek!)
If you’re after some more inspiration, then I recommend checking out Two Scots Abroad’s article on daytrips from Budapest.
*A quick side note worth keeping in mind if you’re a museum lover – most are closed on Mondays and the occasional Tuesday. So, if you’re visiting the city on those days, be sure to check that your attraction is open!
A guide to Budapest’s thermal baths
Budapest is well known as a spa city thanks to the many thermal springs that provide endless hot water to the city’s numerous baths. A traditional part of life for local Hungarians, the baths have been here for centuries and are a must-do for visitors.
In our first timer’s guide to a Budapest spa visit we talk in detail about two of the city’s most well known baths, Gellért and Széchenyi, as well providing you with a really useful run down of everything you need to know before visiting a Budapest thermal bath. This includes info on whether baths are open during winter, if they are clean, and if towels are provided or you should take your own.
Budapest at night is a real experience, mainly thanks to the city’s unique ruin pubs, or ruin bars, as they are known.
I’d never seen anything like these before, and well, they’re simply ace. Most were shells of old buildings that have been turned into warrens of bars, pubs and club rooms full of upcylced junk that’s been turned into furniture and art, with gnomes hanging from fairy lights on ceilings through to cold-war era furniture turned into cosy spots to chat with friends.
Each ruin bar/pub is one of a kind, with its own style and atmosphere. One place might be a buzzing sea of people dancing to house or techno music, while the other might be a larger, more chilled space, with twinkly lights, trees growing up through the fundations, comfy sofas, chilled tunes and friends sharing a hookah.
Intrigued? Then be sure to read our mini guide to the ruin bars of Budapest.
The Ladies What Travel Budapest Travel Guide
So there you have it, the Ladies What Travel Budapest Travel Guide! We hope you’ve found it useful, but if it’s left any questions unanswered let us know in the comments below and we’ll do our best to respond!
And if you’re interested, you can find all our Budapest posts in one place, right here!
Finally, if you’ve already visited Budapest we’d love for you to add any tips of your own – we look forward to hearing your own personal highlights of this beautiful city!