Budapest Travel Guide: How to Plan Your Trip

As you may have seen in my latest vlog, last weekend we jetted off on our first trip of the year to the Hungarian city of Budapest. Despite only having 48-hours there we saw a crazy amount of the city, so here’s everything you need to know about planning your own trip to Budapest.

Things to know about Budapest

Where is Budapest: Budapest is the capital city of Hungary, which borders Slovakia, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Romania and Ukraine.

The city divide: Budapest is divided into Buda and Pest by the River Danube. If you’re looking towards the parliament building, Buda is on the left and Pest is the right. It’s pretty easy to remember because Buda Castle is in the Buda county.

Currency: the national currency is the Hungarian Forint. At the time of publishing, 1 GBP equals approximately 361 HUF.

Tipping: a 10% tip is expected however they also whack service charge onto you bill, so be prepared for this. And apparently if you say “thank you” when handing over the bill, that often means “keep the change”.

What you’ll spend: Budapest is a very cheap city, for food, accommodation and attractions. It’s an ideal place to go if you’re trying to keep your travel costs down.

Quiet Sundays: a lot of places don’t open on Sundays, however most of the main attractions do. Just expect quieter roads, especially first-thing in the morning.

Exploring at night: like anywhere there are crowds of people you might want to avoid. We were exploring about 9pm and were approached twice by drug dealers. Just keep your wits about you. Otherwise, Budapest felt like a very safe place.

When to visit Budapest

Being a European city I imagine Budapest is beautiful at any time of year, especially because of the River Danube. I loved our visit in January as the weather was chilly and there was snow on the ground. This does however mean you need to pack more layers, which is tricky if you’re only taking hand luggage. I’ll be sharing a packing guide soon to help you only take what’s essential!

Where to stay in Budapest

Budapest is a cheap city so affordable accommodation won’t be hard to find. We actually booked an Airbnb for our one-night-stay which was a great choice, so I’d recommend doing the same. There are loads of really amazing ones out there. However if hotels are more your style, check out your options here.

Top things to do in Budapest

I’ll be writing a more detailed post on where to visit soon, but for now here are the top things to see and do on your trip to Budapest:

  • Gellért Hill (Citadella & Liberty Statue)
  • Buda Castle & Funicular
  • Matthias Church
  • Fisherman’s Bastion
  • Chain Bridge
  • Margaret Island
  • Hungarian Parliament
  • Danube Promenade
  • St Stephen’s Basilica
  • Széchenyi Thermal Bath
  • Heroes’ Square
  • City Park
  • Budapest Ice Skating Rink
  • Central Market Hall

Getting to and from Budapest airport

The most cost-effective way to get into the city is to hop on the 100E bus that stops right outside Terminal 2. This takes about 40-minutes and stops at a few places in the city. We got off at the first stop, Kálvin tér so we could head straight over the bridge to Buda county. It’s not a pleasant ride as it’s rammed both ways, but ideal if you want to save money on taxis.

Tip: purchase the airport shuttle ticket (not the single ticket which is for the metro) from the purple machine by the bus stop. An airport shuttle ticket will cost 900 HUF each way which is approximately £2.50.

How to get around Budapest

My favourite way to explore a city is to walk, but there are plenty of bus and metro routes available too. One day we ended up getting the metro because we were short on time, so we purchased two single tickets for 700 HUF which is less than £1 each for one single journey.

Tip: look for the purple machine again to purchase your ticket.

What to pack for Budapest

This of course depends on when you go, but you’re best to pack the following items for a city break in Budapest:

Comfy shoes: for all the walking you’ll be doing

Layers: temperatures will fluctuate as you walk in and out of places, so be prepared to wrap up and strip off throughout the trip

Backpack: this is ideal for exploring in the day and doubles up as hand luggage

Camera: you’ll need it for all the stunning sights you’ll see

Phone: an obvious one, but it will come in handy for using Google My Places

Money: either in the form of the local currency or your debit card (just be wary of small exchange rate charges)

What we spent in Budapest

As it was a two-day break in a cheap city, we really didn’t spend a huge amount. Here’s a breakdown of our outgoings for the entire trip:

  • £20 airport parking
  • £35 Airbnb (one night)
  • £138 return flights from London Luton
  • £20 dinner (day one)
  • £12 breakfast (day two)
  • £25 lunch/snacks (both days)
  • £12 public transport (both days)
  • £32 Széchenyi Thermal Baths

Total trip cost: £294 / £147 per person


I hope this helps you when it comes to planning your own trip to Budapest! Soon I’ll also be sharing a post on things to do in Budapest with plenty more photos, a snapshot of our Airbnb and a guide to some of the city’s amazing cheap eats.

Have you been to Budapest before? Or would you like to visit the city now you’ve read this post?

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