- Capital and highest populated city of Hungary (1.7 million residents).
- Consists of two parts (Buda and Pest), united into one city in 1873.
- One of the most beautiful cities in Europe, with many UNESCO heritage sites.
- Famous for its spas, the city has largest thermal water system in the world.
- Nicknames: City of Spas, The Pearl of the Danube, Paris of the East.
- Currency: Forint (HUF) and Euro (EUR).
- Spoken languages: primarily Hungarian (English spoken by many foreigners).
- Best time to visit: from March to October (mild, continental climate).
- Arriving via airport: options include the bus (320 HUF if you buy from the airport or 400 HUF from the driver), minibus or taxi (the best company is Főtaxi, with prices from 14 to 24 EUR, depending on the end destination within the city).
WHERE TO STAY
Accommodation in the city center (District V) is the most expensive, especially as you get closer to the Danube. For best value, try to find something close to (but not in) the center – Districts VI, VII or VIII. Many visitors prefer to stay on the Buda side, as it has better air quality (closer to hills and forests).
- The public transport in Budapest is operated by BKV and there are plenty of options: buses, trolleybuses, trams, subway and trains.
- Tickets must be bought prior to boarding, except at night above ground. The tickets are available at stands, some shops, vending machines and subway stations. A single ticket, known as jegy, costs 350 HUF (450 HUF if purchased directly from the driver). It is valid on all public transport vehicles for one uninterrupted trip.
- The best option is to buy a tourist Budapest Card that offers unlimited public transport. The card also offers free entrance to museums, sights, tours and more. There are cards for 24, 48 or 72 hours, starting at 4,500 HUF.
- All taxis in Budapest must have the word Taxi on them and a yellow registration plate, as well as the company name. Most of them have a basic fee, per kilometer charge and a waiting fee. It is a customary to leave a 10% tip for the taxi driver.
- Drinking age is 18, no official last call (some clubs are open at night).
- Start your night out at one of the cafes on Linzt Ferenc Square.
- Most clubs and bars are located on the left bank of the river, between the Terez krt. Street, the Rakoczi ut. Street, Karoly krt. Street and the Bajksy-Zsilinszky ut. Street.
- Hip/local scene: visit 3rd, 5th and 7th districts.
UNIQUE LANDMARKS TO VISIT
- The Parliament Building, a stunning neogothic building overlooking the Danube. Entry is only allowed via a guided tour (free for EU residents, 3,500 HUF for non-residents). Buy tickets in advance as they sell out early. It’s also worth it to come back and check out the area at night – marvel at the view of the Parliament, mirrored in the water.
- Heroes Square. Consisting of the Millennium Monument, this is an often overlooked part of the city.
- Another UNESCO site in Budapest is the Buda Castle District, with some of the oldest and most romantic monuments in Hungary. The Castle, a royal residence of European rank, is one of the most visited landmarks in the country. Located within the Buda Castle District, the Royal Palace features interesting museums and galleries. There is also labyrinth located under the Castle.
- The Danube is an attraction in of itself. One of the most well-known sights of Budapest, the river runs through three other capital cities.
- Take a long walk up the Gellert hill until you reach the Citadel, where you will be treated to a spectacular panoramic view of the city.
- Stroll along the Duna korzó riverside embankment on the Pest side.
- Wander through the Jewish district and visit the largest synagogue in Europe (the second largest in the world).
- With so much to see and explore, some of the most interesting and unique areas do not get nearly enough attention from visitors. One example is Obuda, the oldest part of Budapest.
- Relax, Budapest style: try one of the city’s many public baths and thermal springs.
- Tips are usually left on the table. If possible, add a 10% tip at restaurants, cafes, taxis, etc.
- Where to find good cheap eats: food is generally more affordable in Budapest than in other European cities. For budget eating, check out the Raday utca district.
- Dangerous areas: Easter and Western railway stations, where pickpocketing could be an issue. Also, avoid Districts 8 and 9 at night, as well as the unlit areas along the river banks.
RECOMMENDED BUDAPEST GUIDE BOOKS
Recommended trip duration: 2-3 days