Budapest is becoming a more popular travel destination year after year. Rightfully so, the city is beautiful with its gothic architecture. There’s a hip vibe that can be felt right throughout the city and it’s one of Europe’s cheapest capitals to visit. So, you’re visiting the city for the first time? Take a read of our ultimate Budapest travel guide to find out everything you need to know about travelling in this wonderful European city.
It doesn’t matter if you’re planning a short trip or an extended stay, our guide can tell you everything you need to know. From what to eat, where to eat, when to visit and what to see & do in Budapest, we’ve got you covered!
So, what do we cover in our Budapest Travel Guide?
Ultimate Budapest Travel Guide:
Why Should You Visit Budapest?
The Hungarian capital, located in Eastern Europe and sitting on the river Danube, is probably best known for its epic parliament building. Be assured that the Parliament of Budapest is amazing, but it isn’t unique. There is wonderful gothic architecture to be found right throughout Budapest. The architecture is one of the things that makes Budapest so special to visit.
Besides the cool buildings you’ll see, did you know that Budapest is one of Europe’s cheapest capitals to visit? Everything from the accommodation, transport, food and most importantly…beer is noticeably cheaper than other capital cities.
Overall, the city is very well connected, making travelling around Budapest easy, even for the most novice travellers. The city is very safe to travel in and the summers boast great, hot weather. The nightlife is amazing and there’s a lot of free things to see and do in the daytime.
Taking all of this into consideration, you’ll start to understand why Budapest is such a popular place to visit.
We’re glad to tell you that we think a trip to Budapest will be a great trip for all kinds of travellers. From the young to the old, the couples to the families, the solo travellers to the backpackers and even stag & hen parties. Everybody who visits falls in love with Budapest’s charm.
In summary, Budapest is great for:
- It’s amazing architecture
- The lower cost of travel in comparison to other European capitals
- How safe the city is to visit
- Being easy to navigate and get around with the good public transport links
- The awesome nightlife
- Having a lot of great things to do and places to visit
How Long Should You Spend In Budapest?
Clearly, there is no way for us to tell you the perfect amount of time to spend in Budapest. It ultimately boils down to your own personal style of travel. How long do you have? How much time do you want to spend in the city and how much are you willing to do and see in one day, before you get tired?
For most people, we would say a 3-night stay with 2 full days would be a good amount of time to visit Budapest. But this would require a pretty hectic schedule if you want to cover all the highlights. For a more relaxing trip and the opportunity to fit in more sights, we’d recommend a 4-night and 3 full-day visit to the city.
So far, we’ve visited Budapest 4 times and one of our stays was 2 weeks long. We’re not bored yet and still find it exciting to explore. If you’re interrailing, why not come here for a few days and stay a little longer if your schedule is flexible enough?
When Should You Visit Budapest?
When it comes to visiting Budapest it’s all down to personal preference. The city has a unique charm all year round and offers something different to those who visit at different times of the year.
January-March: Early in the year it will be very cold, with much shorter days and more opportunity to experience/view Budapest by night. Which is arguably when the city is at its prettiest.
April-June: The shoulder season, before the peak tourist season of the summer. The earlier in this window will be cooler and less busy. The later you visit, the warmer and more touristy it will be. A great time for visiting overall and the prices of accommodation will be lower than in peak season.
July-August: The peak of summer, there will be lots going on, great weather and Sziget festival. The weather will be the best, but prices will be higher, and the city will be much busier.
September-October: Like the April/June window. The shoulder season of summer heading into Autumn. The weather will be gradually getting cooler, but the city will be less busy and the accommodation prices cheaper.
November-December: The run-up to Christmas, the weather will start getting a lot colder and the days shorter. But the Christmas spirit will start to creep in and give Budapest a unique vibe that will make your visit a memorable one.
Where Should You Stay In Budapest? Buda or Pest?
You might not know this, but Budapest was, once, divided into two cities, Buda and Pest. Upon the joining of the cities, the new larger city was aptly named Budapest.
The division still exists today with the split of the Danube river. Buda sits on the west banks of the Danube and Pest on the east. So, which side should you stay on?
To be blunt, we’d highly recommend staying on the Pest side of the city. It’s the side that we have stayed in during all our visits to Budapest. It is what you could describe as the ‘happening’ side of the city. The majority of the city’s hotels, bars, restaurants and shops are in Pest.
The Buda side of the city is much more residential. It is, however, home to some of Budapest’s top attractions and sights. These include Buda Castle, Fisherman’s Bastion, Matthias Church, Gellert Hill and Gellert Spa. However, these landmarks are all located close to the riverfront and very easily accessible from Pest. You can get there via public transport or simply walking across one of the many bridges that connect the two sides of the city.
Great Places To Stay In Budapest
So, now you know which side of the city to base yourself on. But where should you actually stay for the night(s)? We’ll recommend you some of our favourite places to stay in Budapest below.
Hotels in Budapest
As a bustling, multicultural, capital city, Budapest is not short of luxury hotels. You won’t have any trouble finding a luxury 5-star hotel if that’s what you’re looking for. In this price bracket we can recommend to you:
Sofitel Budapest Chain Bridge – We stayed here during our first time in Budapest and it might be one of the reasons we love our time in the city so much. Every aspect of the hotel is well thought out. The beds are, to this day, the comfiest we’ve ever stayed in. Above all else, the location of the Sofitel is perfect, close to the river bank and overlooking the Budapest chain bridge. The centre of the city and the famous Vaci Utca are just a few minutes walk away.
AirBnb’s in Budapest
These days we like to stay in a lot of Airbnb’s. They give a good balance of quality, price, comfort, privacy and amenities such as a kitchen. It’s almost too easy to find a great AirBnb in Budapest and below we’ll recommend you two that we have stayed in before.
Casa Dolce Vita – This is a simple one bedroom with en-suite bathroom set up. The room itself is very cozy and exceptionally clean. Guests have access to a microwave and coffee machine, instead of a fully equipped kitchen, but we didn’t find this to be a problem. The main draw of this AirBnb is the location, right in the city centre and only a few minutes’ walk to the popular Jewish quarter. The host, Gabriella, is easy to communicate with and always on hand if you need anything. It’s also super cheap!
Nepsinhaz – We stayed here during our recent 2-week visit to Budapest. The apartment is spacious, has fast wifi and a good kitchen set up for you to prepare meals. Even though it’s located a little further out of the city centre, getting around was easy enough. There are good public transport options on the doorstep and walking from the apartment is also an option.
Want to save £25 off your first Airbnb Booking? Use our referral code!
Hostels in Budapest
We haven’t stayed in any hostels in Budapest, however, we’ve stayed in other hostels around the world by the same chain. We’re confident that both the Budapest hostels will be up to the same high standard as the ones set in other cities.
Meininger – They like to call themselves a hotel, but in truth, they’re a kind of hotel/hostel hybrid. There are private rooms and shared dormitories on offer and from experience, we found them to be clean and comfy. The Budapest Meininger is in a great location, a few minutes walk from Central Market Hall and Liberty Bridge.
Wombats Hostel – Similarly to Meininger, you’ll find private rooms and larger dorm rooms here too. The Wombats hostel is in a different part of town, the Jewish Quarter and is closer to some of the cities best ruin bars. We found Wombats in other cities to have a younger, upbeat party crowd. Though it’s nothing too crazy, definitely not a ‘party hostel’ and a place where you can still have a comfortable nights sleep.
Ultimate Budapest Travel Guide:
Budget & Money Information
How Much To Budget In Budapest – Typical Costs
Airbnb: £25-£40 a night
Food: £20 a day
Transport: £5 a day
Entertainment: £10 a day
Daily Budapest Budget: £55pppd
We’d recommend a budget of approximately £55 per person per day for a couple. Keep in mind that this is eating cheaply and not splashing out on expensive meals or going out partying. These are two things that are easy to do and will blow your spending money in any part of the world. We tend to cook all of our own breakfasts and choose to stay in nice but basic accommodations to help keep costs down.
You can see a detailed budget breakdown in our ‘Is Budapest Cheap?’ blog post.
Currency & Managing Your Money
What Currency Is Used In Budapest?
The official currency used in Budapest and throughout the rest of Hungary is the Hungarian Forint (HUF). At the time of writing the exchange rate is approximately £1 to 350 HUF. So, when you calculate how much local currency you have, it will almost certainly run into the tens of thousands. Check the latest exchange rate here.
It should be noted though that a lot of places do accept Euros as payment too. We wouldn’t advise relying on using Euros in Budapest though, as not everywhere accepts them. The exchange rates are also terrible, and you’ll spend way more than if you’d have simply used the local currency.
Exchanging Your Money Into Hungarian Forint
You might be wondering, when and where should you exchange your home currency into the Hungarian Forint. Of course, you can do it in your home country. The Hungarian Forint is readily available at most money exchangers, in the UK at least. Alternatively, you could bring your money with you and exchange your money when you arrive in Budapest.
But, which option will give you the best exchange rate? To be honest, we have no idea, because we very rarely exchange our cash for foreign currency.
Instead, we rely on our Transferwise travel card. It offers the best exchange rates that we know of and converts them into the local currency for over 50 different currencies. This then allows us to withdraw money and make purchases in the country as if we were using a local bank card.
You can learn more about Transferwise on their website here.
How & Where To Exchange Money In Budapest?
If you do decide to exchange your cash in Budapest, then you’ll want to get the most for your money. We can help you with that too.
There are so many money exchange shops and booths all over the centre of the city. It can, of course, be hard to choose the best one. They all promise the best rates and 0% commission, but not all of them are 100% honest. We have a few tips for choosing where to exchange your money in Budapest.
- Avoid exchanging money at the airport, hotels or banks. Even though these are entirely legitimate, they always charge more for their services and ultimately offer worse exchange rates. You can get a better deal for your money somewhere else guaranteed.
- Research the mid-market exchange rate. If you ask google to show you the current exchange rate for your currency, it will display the official mid-market exchange rate. You’ll never get this exact figure, as currency exchanges need to make money. But you’ll at least have an idea of what rate to expect. Be wary/avoid any places that are advertising rates better than this.
- Be wary of places that offer 0% commission. Obviously, shops need to make money to stay open. If somewhere is offering you a 0% commission exchange, they must be making their money elsewhere. Always be sure to double-check the exchange rates they are offering.
- Ignore the random guys on the street. It’s quite common to be approached by a stranger in public who offers money exchange services. Ignore these guys, you’ll undoubtedly be scammed out of your hard-earned cash.
- Shop around. Don’t always choose the first money exchange counter that you can find. Shop around, find at least 3 and choose the one with the best rates.
- Double count your money. Never rely solely on the cash desk to count your money for you. Always give your currency a quick count to make sure they’ve handed over the correct amount. Some vendors purposely scam people, others simply make mistakes. In any case, it’s wise to check before you leave.
Using Your Card In Budapest & Where To Withdraw Money
You might decide to use your bank card to manage your spending money in Budapest instead. Whether you’re planning to use your card for making purchases or withdrawing money, we’ve got some tips for you.
- Always check if the place accepts payment by card. In Budapest, not every vendor, restaurant, shop or bar accepts bank card. Make sure you ask before you order anything. Because of this, it’s always wise to carry some cash with you.
- Withdraw your money from OTP Bank ATM’s. You’ll see many ATM’s throughout the city. Most of them are ‘Euronet’ and charge around £4 each time you withdraw some cash. Seek out ATM’s operated by OTP instead as they offer this service free of charge.
- Always choose to be charged in the local currency. When you’re making a purchase or withdrawing cash using your bank card, always choose to be charged in HUF. If you choose to be charged in your home currency the exchange rate will be much less favourable.
- Check your bank fees before using your card. The ATM may not charge you a fee for withdrawing your cash but your bank might! Your bank will most likely charge you a set fee for withdrawing in a foreign currency. Be sure to check these fees before you go using your card abroad, to make sure you’re getting the most for your money.
- Withdraw large amounts less frequently. If your bank is charging you fees for withdrawing foreign currency then you might be best withdrawing larger amounts. This will minimise the amount of times you need to withdraw cash and the amount you pay in fees.
- Be careful where you use your bank card. Card skimming is a worldwide problem. You’d be wise to not use your bank card in an ATM that’s located on a quiet road with little CCTV. We generally choose to use the ones located within the banks.
Ultimate Budapest Travel Guide:
Budapest Transport Information
The next section of our ultimate Budapest travel guide covers all things related to transport. We have a look at how to get to and from Budapest as well as getting around in Budapest itself.
Getting To and From Budapest
Hungary is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe which means it is easily accessible by rail or road from the neighboring European countries. Budapest itself has its own airport, the Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport. So, if you’re visiting from a little further away, Budapest is easily accessible through its airport.
Getting to or from Budapest by train –
Travelling to/from Budapest by train is a viable option if you are already in or planning to visit one of the nearby European countries.
Other European capitals and hotspots easily accessible from Budapest via train are Bratislava, Belgrade, Zagreb, Ljubljana, Vienna and even as far away as Krakow.
Most, if not all, of these routes, are included as part of an Interrail and Eurail passes. So, Budapest is well placed to make it into your summer interrailing plans.
If you’re travelling to or from Budapest via train, you can expect to arrive at one of the cities main railway stations. These are Keleti, Nyugati, Deli and Kelenfold railway stations. Onward travel from each of these stations to the rest of the city is easy.
Getting to or from Budapest by coach –
Another great option for travelling around Europe and to/from Budapest is via coach. There are many coach services around the area, though we have found FlixBus offers the best combination of price and quality.
Flixbus has many direct and some indirect routes (involves transfers) from Budapest to the neighbouring countries. Obviously, coach travel is slower than train travel, but it’s usually a lot cheaper.
For example, if you book in advance, you can get a 7-hour FlixBus coach from Budapest to Krakow for £14. That’s not bad at all!
You can technically get the coach from Budapest to as far away as London. Though considering the cost and time it would take, you’d be better off flying…
Flixbus coaches tend to arrive and depart from Budapest’s Nyugati and Kelenfold rail stations.
For more information and routes, visit FlixBus.
Getting to or from Budapest by flying
Obviously, for us, flying to Budapest is the standout option. Budapest is one of the cheapest places we can fly to from the UK. Flights sometimes dipping as low as £30 and usually takes around 2.5 hours.
You’ll find that airlines such as WizzAir and RyanAir offer cheap flights connecting the city to the rest of Europe.
If you do fly to Budapest then you’ll arrive at the Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport. The airport is located approximately 27km’s outside of the main city centre and has good transport links to the city.
Top Resources For Finding Transport To & From Budapest
How To Get From Budapest Airport To The City Centre
As mentioned, Budapest airport is located some way outside of the city centre. Don’t worry though, because getting to and from the airport is easy. You have two main options: Taxi or Bus.
The most convenient way to get to or from Budapest Airport to your accommodation is by taxi. Leaving the airport, you’ll find a taxi counter outside the main doors of the terminal.
You simply need to tell the counter where you’re going, and they will provide you with a receipt. The receipt has your taxi cabs ID number on it, wait in line for your taxi to arrive.
Generally, Taxi rides to and from the airport will cost somewhere between 7000-8000HUF (£18-£22).
It goes without saying, but only use the official taxi counter desk. Don’t accept a taxi service from anybody offering unofficially in the airport terminal.
Another way to get from Budapest airport to the city centre is via the airport bus, which departs every 30 minutes. The bus 100E directly links the airport with the city and is much cheaper than a taxi. It costs 900 HUF, approximately £3 and takes around 35 minutes.
The bus has 3 major stops in Budapest city center: Kalvin Ter M, Astoria M and Deak Ferenc ter M. All stops are central, which makes it easy to get around the city centre to your accommodation.
The airport bus service runs all day and most of the night, operating between the hours listed below:
- From the airport: 05:00 – 01:20
- From the city: 03:40 – 00:40
How To Get Around In Budapest
Fortunately, getting around Budapest is super easy, which helps you to make the most of your time in the city. During your time here you will be able to navigate the city using one of the following options:
Walking is a great way to get around Budapest. The city is pedestrian-friendly, flat and a lot of the landmarks are within walking distance of each other. If you’re staying in a central location, then don’t be surprised if you pass on other forms of transport and use your feet instead.
Even the landmarks on the Buda side of the river Danube are easily accessible by foot. You can access them by taking a short stroll across one of the many bridges.
Not only is walking a great form of exercise but it’s also free. It’s also a fantastic way to see more of the city that you’d otherwise miss in-transit.
Budapest public transport is amazing. It is made up of buses, trams and a comprehensive metro system. Generally, using just one of these modes of transport will get you from A to B. However, sometimes you may need to use a combination of the two to reach your destination.
There are many fares to consider when taking Budapest public transport. A single ticket costs 350 HUF, approximately, £1. Though, there are many other options available.
You can buy tickets in blocks of 10 or travel passes that last for a certain number of days. For example, the 72-hour travel pass costs just 4000 HUF (£11) and gives you access to the entire public transport system.
Regardless of the ticket you choose, make sure to validate your ticket. If you’re caught travelling with a ticket that hasn’t been validated you WILL be slapped with a heavy fine.
BuBi bicycles are the cities network of shared bicycles. They are perfect if you want a faster alternative to walking, that offers more exercise than public transport.
We believe you need to register online to use the bikes. Once done, they can be hired for 500 HUF (£1.50) per day.
We haven’t personally used BuBi, but they offer a great way to get around the city. You can find out more information on their website.
Taxis offer another way to get around the city. Obviously, taxis can be the most convenient mode of transport, taking you from door to door.
Despite being convenient, they are the most expensive form of transport. The fare is made up of a base fee and a fee relating to the number of kilometres you travel.
We only use taxis late at night when walking or public transport isn’t an option. Instead of heading to the street, you can use an app like Fotaxi to order the taxi to your door. You can be comfortable knowing that these taxis are legitimate, licensed and always charge by the taxi meter.
Never use a taxi that asks for a set fee and refuses to use the meter. If this happens, get out of the taxi and find another.
For More Information On Getting Around Budapest, Use The Following Resources:
- Visit Budapest – Getting Around
- IntroducingBudapest – Transport Tickets
- Welcome Pickups – Airport To City
- BuBi Bicycles
- FoTaxi – Application
Ultimate Budapest Travel Guide:
What To See And Do
If you’ve ever rocked up to a city without knowing what you should see and how you should spend your time then this section is for you!
Top Things To See In Budapest
Fortunately, Budapest isn’t short of amazing places for those of you who love to go sightseeing. Below we’ve given you some of our favourite things to see in Budapest.
The Budapest Parliament Building
We can almost guarantee you’ve seen this building 1000 times before. The parliament building is famed for its epic architecture and is now synonymous with Budapest itself. The parliament is so large that it’s best viewed from the Buda side of the river, where you can fully appreciate it. You should wait until night-time, to watch it light up and dominate the river Danube.
Another famous landmark that is on every visitors ‘must-see’ list. The Fisherman’s Bastion is located high up on the hill over in Buda. It looks like it was pulled straight out of a Disney movie and the architecture is often referred to as being ‘fairy-tale’ like. There are amazing views right across the city and it’s an epic sunrise spot!
The Buda Castle is the historical castle and palace of Hungary. It’s hundreds of years old, but the Baroque style building remains as stunning as ever. The sheer size of the Buda castle makes it unmissable from anywhere along the waterfront. Like the parliament building, Buda castle really glows at night-time when the lights come on.
The Szechenyi Chain bridge
There are currently 8 bridges that link the Buda and Pest sides’ of the city. Though, the Chain Bridge is the oldest and arguably the most beautiful. It’s at the heart of the city and Budapest’s ‘Kilometre zero’ sits at the end of the chain bridge in Buda. No trip to Budapest would be complete without strolling across this bridge at least once.
Gellert Hill & Citadella
Gellert Hill, at 235 metres high, is the highest point in the city of Budapest. The towering statue of Saint Gerard, located on top of the hill, can be seen from all over Pest. Also located at the top is the Citadella, a fort that was built way back in 1854! The walk up might be slightly challenging, but the panoramic views of the city are totally worth it.
St Stephens Basilica
This Roman Catholic basilica was named after the first king of Hungary and is another important Budapest landmark. The basilica features Neoclassical architecture and is one place you want to visit if you’re looking for great photo opportunities! The surrounding square is lined with cafes, making this the perfect place to grab lunch with a view.
The Old Jewish Quarter
The historical Jewish quarter of Budapest that was once home to over 70,000 Jews! The area’s main Synagogue is said to be the largest in Europe and is another of the city’s top landmarks. Today, the Jewish quarter is known for its hipster vibe, narrow lanes lined with ruin bars, street art, and street food. To start your journey, head to the heart of the Jewish Quarter, Kiraly Utca.
Top Things To Do In Budapest
We get it, sightseeing isn’t for everybody. We can only handle so much of it ourselves. If you prefer to be doing something other than strolling around for hours visiting landmarks, then you’re in luck. Because Budapest has a ton of fun activities to do as well.
Relax at the famous thermal baths
There are dozens of thermal baths in Budapest that make use of the hot springs which lay underneath the city. At one point in time, the thermal baths were a part of everyday life for the locals. These days, they’re frequented more by tourists, but don’t let that put you off. Many of them have multiple pools that vary in temperature, some as hot as 36 degrees Celsius!
Take a nighttime river cruise down the Danube
We honestly believe that Budapest becomes more beautiful by night. The stunning buildings that line the waterfront light up and become even prettier. So, why not combine some of your sightseeing with a river cruise on the Danube? There are cruises including dinner and then there are some which are ‘booze cruises’. Whichever you choose, it’s sure to be a lot of fun.
Visit the ruin bars
Cheap beer in old pre-war buildings? Count us in. There’s now a number of these cool drinking spots located in the Budapest Jewish quarter. Each of them has its own unique vibe and reason for visiting. If you’re like us, you’ll want to visit them all. You know…just to ‘check them out’ ?
Go shopping on Vaci Utca
The pedestrianised street is lined with restaurants, cafes and shops. You’ll find shops like Zara, Hugo Boss, Mac and Swarovski here. It might be tourist-central but if you’re looking for somewhere to go shopping, this is your place.
Check out a beer spa
For a unique experience why not head to Budapest’s beer spa? Here, you can bathe in beer-infused water whilst drinking a cold one at the same time. Did we mention that you have your own beer tap located next to your bath? It’s available for unlimited use during your 45 minutes in the spa.
Go on a free walking tour
If you want to learn more about Budapest history whilst you sightsee then check out the free walking tours. The tours run multiple times a day and focus on different parts of the city. You can learn about the Jewish District, Communism walk, or even Budapest’s street art. It’s a great way to stay active, sightsee and learn at the same time. Best of all, it’s free! Unless you do (and probably should) tip a little something at the end.
For more information check out our 14 Things to do in Budapest post HERE.
Ultimate Budapest Travel Guide:
What & Where To Eat
So far you know where to stay, what to see and what to do in Budapest. The next section focuses on another essential piece of travel information. What to eat and where to eat in Budapest?
Budapest is a capital city with a long history and a mixture of cultures. Understandably, there’s a range of cuisines and restaurants found throughout the city. But how do you filter the good ones from the bad and how will you avoid the tourist traps? By reading this section of our Budapest travel guide, that’s how!
What To Eat In Budapest
Obviously, another reason to travel is to experience new, interesting foods. Hungary has a unique cuisine that the locals are very proud of. So, if you’re a foodie and looking to try some local dishes then you’re in luck. Be prepared though, it’s a very hearty affair that will leave you full. Below we’ve listed some of the most popular dishes that you absolutely must try!
Probably the most famous Hungarian dish is the Beef Goulash. It’s essentially a beef and vegetable stew flavoured with paprika and is usually served with potato dumplings and bread. The hearty dish is a must-try for all visitors as it’s one of Hungary’s renowned national dishes!
This chicken dish is another local favourite. It’s cooked in a paprika based sauce and is served up with dumplings and/or bread. We’re yet to try Chicken Paprikash ourselves, but it always looks and smells delightful.
A Hungarian street food specialty. Langos can only be described as a thick, deep-fried dough that can be eaten plain or with toppings. It’s best eaten freshly cooked and still warm. Authentic toppings usually include sour cream and cheese. However, some vendors offer everything from sausages to jalapenos as toppings.
Another Hungarian sweet treat and our favourite food on this list. Kürtőskalács, also known as chimney cake, is a cylindrical cake that is cooked on a spit. They originate from Hungary, so they don’t come any more authentic than this! Kürtőskalács are usually dusted with vanilla, cinnamon or chocolate. Though some companies add a modern twist and fill them with ice cream as well as other toppings. In our opinion, they’re best eaten warm, fresh and straight from the spit.
Where To Eat In Budapest
Okay, so we’ve told you what to eat, but where is best to try these foods? Our next focus is to tell you all about the best places to eat in Budapest. We’ve split this section into two parts. Where to eat local food in Budapest and other great places to eat in Budapest.
Where To Eat Local Food In Budapest
If we’re entirely honest, finding great local food in Budapest is hard. That’s because there are so many places with jacked up prices and low-quality food. Essentially, they’re tourist traps, looking to take advantage of the curious tourists who just want to try goulash. Below are some of the top places to eat local food in Budapest, that we can recommend.
Regos Tavern – @RegősVendéglő
This restaurant is located a little further outside the city centre but well worth the trip. The inside has a unique tavern vibe and their Hungarian food is delicious. We were drawn here by the outstanding reviews and weren’t disappointed.
Ruben – @RubenRestaurant
We checked out this place because of their great reviews and well-priced menu. You’d be hard-pressed to find a goulash as cheap and as good as they serve here. The restaurant is very central too, making a visit all the more convenient.
Kisharang – @Kisharang
This restaurant comes full of praise from our local Budapestian friends. Looking at TripAdvisor, it seems like a great place to try Paprikash. Unfortunately, we haven’t tried this place but will be sure to on our next visit to the city. It’s also recommended on the ‘eat like a local – Budapest’ website, so it must be good.
Central Market Hall
The Budapest central market hall is a great place to visit anyway. Though it’s food court makes it more appealing. You’ll find many stalls here offering a range of authentic Hungarian dishes at good prices.
Retros Langos Bufe – @RetrosLangos
We haven’t visited this eatery yet, but only because we were short on time. A quick search online will show you that it’s widely known as Budapest’s best Langos joint. If you’re looking for great Langos, this has to be where you find it.
Molnars Kurtoskalacs – @MolnarsKurtoskalacs
Possibly the best-known place to find some warm fresh chimney cake in Budapest. Molnars is right in the tourist epicentre of Vaci Utca, but their Kürtőskalács is top quality. You can get the simple dusted Kürtőskalács or one filled with ice cream. We’d advise you to try both ?
Street Cakes – @Street_Cakes
If you’re looking for a modern take on Kürtőskalács then head to street cakes. They get creative and allow you to go crazy with your toppings/fillings. The cakes may no longer be 100% ‘authentic’ but they are still 100% delicious.
Other Great Places To Eat In Budapest
We’d be lying if we told you that we only ever ate local food when we travel. Sometimes a place just catches our eye, other times we just like to treat ourselves. Besides, local food isn’t always the cheapest option. With that in mind, here are some of our other favourite places to eat in Budapest.
Smart Kitchen – @SmartKitchenBudapest
Let’s be honest, it’s always a good idea to eat Asian food. This small kitchen offers quick, cheap, healthy and delicious noodle/rice boxes. Simply pick your mix of ingredients, they’ll throw it in the wok, work their magic and off you go.
Black Cab Burger – @BlackCabBurger
There are days when you don’t want to eat anything but a great burger, right? Well if you find yourself in that predicament in Budapest then head to Black Cab Burger. They offer well-priced burgers that you can customise everything from the size of the patty to the toppings.
Karavan – @StreetFoodKaravan
The Karavan compound is a street food venue. Inside you’ll find a number of street food trucks offering everything from Langos to woodfire pizza. The prices are a little higher than usual, but the quality of the food reflects these prices. Here you’ll also be able to grab a beer and listen to live music.
Kao Niaw Ping Kai – @KaoNiawPingKai
If you’re looking for great Thai food in Budapest then trust us, they serve it here. This small restaurant offers authentic Thai dishes at great prices. We tried their Pad Kra Pao and Thai Green Curry. After spending so much time in Thailand, we can promise you this is as authentic as you’ll find.
Indigo restaurant – @IndigoRestaurantBudapest
Indigo is, in our opinion, the best Indian restaurant in Budapest. We’ve tried several, but none of them come close. Indian restaurants in Europe are notoriously expensive. So, don’t come here expecting a cheap eat. Having said that, it’s totally worth the money, which is why we visit every time we come to Budapest.
Bors – @BorsGasztroBar
You could easily walk past Bors without noticing it. But that would be a mistake. This small, hip kitchen is famed for its amazing soups and sandwiches. Other than the food, the music and vibe of the staff inside the shop will keep you entertained and wanting to return. We seriously recommend this one!
Okay, this isn’t a specific recommendation, more of a collective one. Budapest is filled with small Gyro shops. They offer very cheap, delicious, plate fulls of gyros with accompanying rice, chips or pita bread. All things considered, they’re a great place to eat if you’re on a budget.
Ultimate Budapest Travel Guide:
No Budapest travel guide would be complete without telling you the best place to grab a nice cold beer. So, the next section of our travel guide shows you where we think it’s best to drink in Budapest. Admittedly, we aren’t into massive night clubs. We much prefer bars, where you can grab a chilled beer or cocktail, and our list reflects this.
Where To Drink In Budapest
Szimpla Kert – @SzimplaKert
The king of Budapest’s ruin bars. Szimpla Kert is a large bar with many rooms and set over two floors. Each room is different from the other, all decorated in their own wacky way. Despite its popularity, Szimpla Kert still offers cheap beer, making it a great place to drink during both day and night.
Anker’t – @AnKertBudapest
This bar is a chilled-out courtyard by day and music venue by night. In the day you can come here for a chilled beer and some woodfired pizza. By night, the DJ’s arrive and you’re free to party.
Csendes Vintage Bar & Cafe – @CsendesVintageBar
Another Budapest ‘ruin bar’, Csendes is a smaller, single room bar that is well worth visiting. The high ceilings, chandelier and funky decoration give this bar a unique vibe. The atmosphere is very chilled out, making it a great place for a quiet drink. And…their extra cheap wine is also a selling point.
Ellátó Kert – @EllatoKert
If you’re looking for a great bar to visit when the sun is shining, then this is it. Ellátó Kert has a large outdoor seating area, sells cheap beer and Mexican food. What more could you want?
Kőleves – @Koleves
Another great outdoor bar. Kőleves is essentially just a beer garden with a bar in the middle of it. Around the garden, there are tables to sit at and even a few hammocks to laze around in. We really liked chilling at Koleves, for the open-air vibe…and their crazy cheap prosecco!
Rumpus Tiki-Tiki Bar – @RumpusTikiBar
This bar is a must-visit if you’re looking for great cocktails in Budapest. As is the case with cocktails, they’re expensive, but you get what you pay for. The cocktails here are top quality and strong as hell, so go easy on them!
Pontoon – @Pontoon_Budapest
Sitting on the bank of the River Danube, right next to the chain bridge. Pontoon is an epic place to grab a beer, listen to some live music and watch the sun go down. Given its location, we expected it to be crazy expensive, though it’s surprisingly well priced. When the sun goes down, it turns into an open-air nightclub where you can party the night away!
Ultimate Budapest Travel Guide:
Things To Know & Watch Out For
It’s always wise to travel prepared and to keep your wits about you. This line of thought should be applied when travelling anywhere. Budapest is no exception. So, we want to end our Budapest travel guide with things that you should know and watch out for when travelling in Budapest.
These things range from general pieces of information to more serious matters than can keep you safe. We hope our tips can keep you safe and help you to enjoy your time in this amazing city.
- Make sure you don’t travel on public transport with an unvalidated pass. It’s strictly controlled, and you will be fined.
- Don’t smoke indoors in cafes, restaurants or pubs. It’s against the law.
- The standard of English in Budapest varies. Younger locals tend to have very good English. Whereas the older generation is more hit and miss. In any case, you won’t struggle to get by.
- The locals don’t tend to smile as freely as the locals of other countries. This doesn’t mean they aren’t friendly. They are always more than willing to help if you have a question to ask.
- Along with the lack of smiles, the customer service is notoriously bad. Waiters aren’t warm and welcoming, but very to the point. This may be seen as rude, but in Budapest it’s normal. Trust us, just look at the reviews of ANY restaurant. Don’t complain, if your food comes and tastes good, then that’s great service.
- When you pay in a café or restaurant, saying ‘thank you’ generally means you don’t expect any change back.
- Buying alcohol in shops is prohibited after 11 pm.
- Tobacco products can only be bought in the ‘Nemzeti Dohanybolt’ shops. They’re all over the city and strictly for people over the age of 18.
- It’s illegal to take somebodies photograph without permission. Even though this rule is rarely applied it’s worth knowing, in case somebody does ask you to delete their photo.
Safety & Scams
- Always make sure you are using an authorised taxi. Insist that they use the meter, or you risk having them making up a random fare. Our best advice would be to use an app to call one so that you’re certain it’s legit.
- Watch out for pickpockets in crowded places, especially the metro and trams.
- Double-check your money, every time you pay for something. It’s a common trick to hand over notes with a much lower value i.e. 200 instead of 2000 and 500 instead of 5000. This rule applies everywhere from taxis to money exchangers.
- Avoid bars that have ‘beautiful ladies’ outside tempting you in. They’ll seem interested and insist they want a few drinks with you. These drinks are then charged at extortionate prices (literally 200 euros) and the bouncers won’t let you leave. Not until the bill is paid at least.
- Also, avoid the many ‘beautiful ladies’ that approach you on the street. They may even straight-up offer you sex, but make sure they don’t get too close to you. Some are professional pickpockets working in organised crime groups. Don’t get into altercations with them, simply walk away. The above scams are particularly common around Vaci Utca, the main tourist area.
- There are a lot of homeless and rough sleepers! They are often very drunk and can be threatening. So, be careful when walking home at night and only stick to the main roads that are well lit.
HOWEVER. We don’t want to end our Budapest travel guide on a sour note. Every city has it’s common scams and things to watch out for. Budapest is no different. We just want to double assure you that Budapest is totally safe to travel in. Again, it’s always wise to travel prepared and to keep your wits about you!
Did You Enjoy Our Ultimate Budapest Travel Guide?
We know, we chucked a lot of information at you in this guide. But we wanted it to be as comprehensive and helpful as possible. We’d love to know what you think about it, if you’ve used it and if you had an amazing time in Budapest? If so, you can let us know in the comments!
Heading to Budapest? Check out more useful tips.
Pin It For Later
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links in this post may be affiliate links. This means that if you make a purchase through these links, we will earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you. We only ever recommend products and companies we use ourselves. This helps us to continue providing free travel tips and advice. Thank you!