The ultimate Budapest travel guide

by | Feb 9, 2021 | Budapest, Europe, Hungary

Hi!

Hungary was the first country we visited in Eastern Europe and the truth is that we were amazed. The history behind Budapest, its culture, its gastronomy and its people made us feel like we were at home. We went 4 days and even though it was enough to see everything, we would have liked to spend more time to enjoy this beautiful city.

Travel preparations

Currency

The currency of Hungary is the Florin (HUF) and Budapest, compared to Western Europe, is very cheap. Card payments are accepted in most establishments, but if you would like to have cash and you don’t have a card without commissions, we recommend you change the currency in advance to avoid extra expenses. If you would like to have more information about the cards that we use to travel, click here.

Language

The official language is Hungarian, but being such a touristy city, you will not have any problem when it comes to communicating. Everyone speaks English and most of the visits offer guides in other languages.

Accommodation

Even though we planned the trip one week in advance and that went in the Christmas period, we found it very easy to find a good, centrally located and reasonably affordable accommodation. Although we always recommend booking in advance to save more money.

We stayed at Avantgarde Apartments and we booked it via booking. They are renovated apartments with Wi-Fi connection and their location is perfect. It is located in the Jewish area of Budapest and you can go walking almost anywhere from here. And it is also right in front of the most famous bar in the city, but don’t worry because you won’t hear anything from your apartment.

We stayed 3 nights and we paid 139,74€.

What to visit in Budapest

Budapest is the union of two cities: Buda and Pest. Both of them were separated by the Danube River until the end of XIX Century, when the construction of several bridges took place and both areas got united. Buda was the main city and therefore, It is where the most emblematic buildings are located. While Pest was more for leisure.

Area of Buda

Buda Hill Funicular

The area of Buda is also known for its high hills, so you will have to climb many hills in order to visit the most important buildings of the old town. Luckily for some, there is the Funicular, which is the second to be built in Europe. You will find it at the roundabout in front of the Chain Bridge and it will drop you off at Buda Castle. Tickets can be bought at the box office. The journey costs about 3,40€ approx.

Buda Castle (Royal Palace)

This is the starting point to visit the Buda area. It is one of the best known buildings in the city and here it is also located the Hungarian National Library (Széchényi Library) and the Budapest History Museum.

Fisherman’s Bastion

With no doubt, this is a unique building and it’s probably one of the most beautiful buildings in Budapest. In addition, it is also a viewpoint where you can see the city located on the other side of the Danube River. You can also take advantage of this visit to see one of the best-known statues of the city, the Statue of San Esteban I.

Matthias Church

If you visit the Fisherman’s Bastion, you will see that Matthias Church is right next to it. Royal weddings have been celebrated here and it is one of the most visited churches in the city. You will need to pay approximately 5€ if you want to get in but once inside, you have the chance to see the views from the tower.

Hospital in the Rock

This museum has been one of the most impressive museums that I’ve ever visited and it is located about 3 minutes walking from the Matthias Church.

The main reason why this hospital is different from others, is because militaries or those affected by the bombs in World War II, were treated here. In addition, this hospital was built in underground caves that reach 10 km long, but the hospital occupied only a part of it. This space was later used as a nuclear bunker and its existence was secret until 2002.

All the rooms are still equipped with the beds and utensils that were used at that time to treat the patients. There are also wax dolls that recreate scenes that took place in the hospital in times of war. The rooms which were small, hosted too many patients, and there wasn’t ventilation and equipment for everyone.

The truth is that this museum is very impressive and it to make you travel back in time to put yourself in the place of the people who were there.

Pictures of the interior are not allowed and there is a guide that explains in detail each space in the hospital. The visit takes approximately 1 hour and the entrance costs around 13€ per person.

Without a doubt, it is worthing to visit this museum.

Labyrinth

5-minute walking from the hospital, there are the Labyrinths of Buda Castle. Taking pictures here are not allowed, but the most interesting thing about this place is that you will have to leave the labyrinth completely in the dark. You will have to guide yourself using the railings so it is very easy to get lost. During the tour you will find small rooms with little lights and monuments.

From our point of view, it is not an essential visit but if you want to enter, it costs around 7€ per person.

The House of Houdini

Harry Houdini is one of the best known illusionists in the world. His tricks impressed the world and his hometown wanted to tribute him with a museum in his memory.

It is located a few minutes walking from the Labyrinths. The truth is that we couldn’t visit it because it was already closed when we arrived but we would have liked to go. Anyways, I think this museum is worth it because a few years ago I saw an exhibition about Houdini in Madrid that was very interesting.

Liberty Statue

About 40 minutes walking from the House of Houdini, there is the Liberty Statue. It is located in a park, at the top of a hill and from our point of view it is the best viewpoint of the city. We recommend you arrive before the sunset to see how the city lights up. You’ll love it!

We went in December and a few days before we arrived in Budapest it snowed a lot. It was very cold and it took us a long time to get back down because almost all the way was frozen. We were lucky that there were little Christmas markets to order hot drinks.

Liberty Bridge

It is the shortest bridge of Budapest and you will see it from the viewpoint. Although it is less known than other bridges in the city, it has nothing to envy them. Wait until the nightfall to see it illuminated, it is beautiful.

Margaret Island

This island is located between Buda and Pest. The fastest way to get there is through the Margaret Bridge. Here you can enjoy a pleasant walk, see a musical show at the fountain or visit a Japanese garden. Perhaps the best time to visit this island is in spring and summer when the weather is better. We didn’t visit it because it was very cold and it was frozen but we will not hesitate to go if we return to Budapest.

Area of Pest

Varosliget Park

This park located in the northeast of the city, is one of the first public parks in Europe. You can get to it by walking along Andrássy Avenue, one of the best known streets in the city. In this park you will find the Széchenyi Baths, Heroes’ Square, Vajdahunyad Castle and the Anonymous Statue.

Vajdahunyad Castle and Anonymous Statue

The castle is surrounded by lakes that turn into skating rinks during the winter. The Museum of Agriculture it is located here and you will find the famous Anonymous Statue in front of the castle.

Spas. Széchenyi Baths

Budapest is well known because of the number of spas that there are in the city. The most famous is the Széchenyi Baths.

I have to say that I am not a big fan of spas, saunas and everything that has to do with closed, humid, hot environments and full of people people. But the truth is that visiting Budapest and not going to a spa makes no sense. Despite the fact that this spa is the most touristic and famous of the city, we decided to come to this one because it is the largest and because there are outdoor spaces. Furthermore, our Hungarian co-workers also recommended us to come here. And the truth is that it was a success. We were with our swimsuit, walking at -3ºC (26.6ºF) between blocks of ice to reach the pool that was around 30ºC (86ºF). The contrast of temperature was so strong that it was painful to introduce the feet in the pool.

The price is around 25€ per person and you have access to the changing rooms and lockers to leave your things.

Heroes’ Square

It is located a few minutes walking from Széchenyi Baths and it is one of the most important and largest squares in the city. Since 2002 it belongs to the Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.

The Great Synagogue of Budapest

The Great Synagogue of Budapest it is located in the Jewish area and it’s the second largest Synagogue in the world after the one in Jerusalem.

The Synagogue, like many other buildings in the city, suffered the consequences of the Second World War. During this time, the building was used as a horse stable and as a German radio base.

The guided tour takes around 2 hours and costs 30€ per person.

St. Stephen’s Basilica

15 minutes walking from the Great Synagogue there is the St. Stephen’s Basilica, one of the largest churches in Hungary. It has the capacity to host more than 8000 people inside. The entrance is free, however, if you want to go up to its dome to see the views of the city, you will have to pay 1,40€.

The fat policeman statue

A few minutes walking from the Basilica, there is this curious statue. The legend says that if you rub his belly you will not get fat again and if you touch his mustache it will give you luck. 

Shoes on the Danube Bank

On the banks of the Danube River there is the Monument of Shoes. It was built in memory of the victims of the Holocaust during World War II and represents all those innocent people who were killed and then thrown into the river.

We don’t show pictures of this place because every time we passed by, there were tourists putting their feet into the iron shoes and taking selfies. A lack of respect considering what this monument represents.

Parliament

The Parliament is with no doubt the most famous building in the city of Budapest and it is the biggest building in Hungary. We didn’t visit the interior, but if you want to do so, we recommend you buy tickets in advance because they tend to sell out. They have guided tours in several languages and it costs 17€ per person if you are from the European Union. If you are from abroad, the ticket costs 34€.

From our point of view it is the most beautiful building in the city and it is worth seeing both during the day and at night when it is fully illuminated.

Chain bridge

The Chain Bridge, also known as the Széchenyi Bridge, it’s probably the most photographed bridge in the city. It was also the first point of connection between the area of Buda and Pest. You will be amazed by its lions during the day and by its great lighting during the night.

The legend says that his creator was so ashamed for forgetting the tongues of the lions that he suicided. 

Vörösmarty tér Square and Váci Utca Street

This square is located in the heart of the city and is connected to Vaci Utca street, where the commercial stores are located.

This square is great to take a break, especially if you come in the Christmas period because there are a lot of Christmas Markets.

Danube cruise

One of the first activities we did in Budapest was the Danube cruise. We highly recommend it, especially before the sunset to enjoy the change of the city from day to night.

The tour lasts an hour and there are different entrances that include lunch, dinner or just a drink. We chose the last one and they offered us cava as soon as you entered the boat. But if you want to ask for something else later, you can do it without any problem. For you to have an idea, you could buy a bottle of red wine for 6€.

Without a doubt, the trip was very pleasant. There was a music band playing live and you could also go outside and enjoy magnificent views of the city.

The entrance cost us 19€ each.

Ruin bars

Budapest is also well known for its characteristic bars, which usually occupy an entire building. The most famous is the Szimpla Kert because it was the first ruin bar of the city, but there are many more. Our apartment was right in front of this bar, and despite it is one of the most touristic places of the city, it’s worth going to have a few beers to get to know it. You’ve never been in a bar like this before, their decoration is unique and they also have different rooms of all sizes. If what you want is to have a quiet drink while you have a conversation, or dance until you can’t anymore, you can do it here.

Another well-known ruin bar is the Instant Club, but it is more like a disco. If the Szimpla seemed big to you, this is even bigger. We got lost inside!

Flipper Museum (Pinball)

Not far from the city center there is this curious museum. If you like arcade machines, you will surely enjoy it as much as we did. There are more than 100 pinballs, including the largest in the world and the first one to be made. The hours will pass without realizing it!

Entry costs 11€.

Conclusions and budget

 

We really enjoyed the trip to Budapest and we would say that it is one of the most complete trips we have done so far.

We were able to do cultural activities and see the history that marked the World War II more closely, having the opportunity to learn and discover new things. The city is beautiful and we really enjoy walking through its streets and observing its most emblematic buildings. We enjoyed a good bath surrounded by snow, we took walks in the hills and watched a beautiful sunset. We also got to know a new gastronomy that we loved and we didn’t tried until then, which also allowed us to enjoy when we were resting.

After the sunset, the whole city lights up, turning it into one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. Also, if you still have energy left, you can go out to the ruin bars that you will like it for sure. The city is safe and even though you can visit everything in 4 days, you will wish to stay here more time.

Budapest is very cheap compared to Western Europe. Here is a breakdown of our expenses so that you can get an idea of ​​how much this trip costs:

  • Flights with Easyjet: 120,94€ (two people)
  • Hotel 3 nights: 144,48€ (two people)
  • All our expenses*: 552,09€ (two people)

A total of 408,75€ per person, 4 days.

* Expenses include lunch and dinner in bars or restaurants for 3 days. Entrances to the spa, the hospital, the labyrinth, the pinball museum, the cruise trip and drink at the bars every night.

I hope this guide helps you. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to leave it in the comments.

See you soon!

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