Planning a solo trip to Budapest? Here’s everything you need to know for your visit:
- Capital and highest populated city of Hungary (1.76 million residents).
- It’s pronounced “Buddha-PESHT“!
- 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: for the cheapest option, take the 100E bus (supplementary 900 HUF fee). For 6 Euros, you can also grab a shuttle bus (they leave when full – more information here).
- Taxis from the airport: go to the official Főtaxi booth, with prices from 14 to 24 EUR, depending on the end destination within the city).
WHERE TO STAY
- Best hostel for solo travelers in Budapest: Maverick City Lodge. Clean rooms/beds, friendly staff, and modern facilities. Just a few mins walk from the train and metro stations. City tours organized for residents. Book ahead to reserve your spot!
- 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 Budapest Card is not worth it! You get access to a few second-rate museums and free entrance to Lukács Baths (better alternative exist).
- Instead, opt for the Budapest-travelcard (the 24-hour and 72-hour are the popular ones). More information here. This is by far the most economical way to get around for visitors!
- 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 km charge and a waiting fee. It is a customary to leave a 10% tip for the taxi driver.
- All EU/EEA senior citizens (age 65+) can use Hungarian public transport for free.
- 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.
- Casual nightlife recommendations: DOBLO Wine Bar and Shop, Olimpia Borozó ($ – wine bar), Élesztő ($$ – gastropub), Csendes Létterem ($$), Nappali Kávéház ($$)
- Looking for the authentic Budapest pub experience? Szimpla Kert and Potkulcs Pub are your best bets.
- For dancing, your best bets are the Instant-Fogas Complex (7-level club), AETHER Club, Arzenál, Heaven Club, Ötkert Club, and Akvárium Klub.
- Live music: Dürer Kert, A38 Hajó (a barge converted into a music venue), and Barba Negra Track.
UNIQUE LANDMARKS TO VISIT
- The Parliament Building, a stunning neo-gothic 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.
- Try one of the city’s many baths and thermal springs. Great places to start: Gellért Thermal Bath and Széchenyi Thermal Bath.
- Tips are usually left on the table. If possible, add a 10% tip at restaurants, cafes, taxis, etc.
- Traditional Hungarian dishes to try before you leave (links to what they look like): Hortobágy crêpes, hurka-kolbász (sausage), goulash, langos, and Somló trifle for dessert!
- Chill out for a bite and drink at the Massolit Budapest Books and Café.
- Great Budapest restaurants that locals love: Borkonyha ($$$), Stand25 Bisztró ($$$), Petrus Restaurant ($$$), KönyvBár ($$), Kao Niaw Ping Kai ($$ – Thai), Budapest, Gyros Kerkyra Görög Ételbár ($$), Bors GasztroBár.
- 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 trip duration: 2-3 days