The Ultimate Travel Guide for Budapest: A City of Culture, Heritage, and Charm.
July 1, 2021
July 1, 2021
Located in and the capital of Hungary (Central-Eastern Europe), Budapest is a thrilling place of adventure and history, also known for being one of the most photogenic cities in the world!
This city is a vibrant metropolis, being the center of Hungary’s cultural, political, industrial, and commercial industries. It is home to an abundance of UNESCO heritage sites, such as Hero’s Square and the Buda Castle District, and is even famous for having the most thermal baths of any capital in the world!
Discover the best of Budapest by reading this ultimate guide to the city. Additionally, this Budapest travel guide includes a number of travel tips and answers frequently asked questions so that you can have the best experience possible in the city.
Budapest is bisected by the Danube River, the second largest river in Europe, splitting the area into two cities previously known as Buda and Pest, which were united in 1873. The split areas may form one city but have two completely different personalities.
The side of Buda has a reputation for being a quieter, residential side of the city that indulges in a classy aesthetic and environment. It houses many breath-taking sites such as Buda Castle and Rudas Baths. This side is also known for its terrain, which has a lot of hills and an overall mounted nature. It is an area to relax, explore, and take in the beauty of Budapest.
The side of Pest is one of the exciting adventures, with a thrilling nightlife scene and the best bars, clubs, and restaurants. It is full of action and a great place to unwind and have fun after a long day of touring the Buda Mountains. This side also has a flat terrain, making the separated areas not only differ in culture but also landscape!
Buda and Pest are the opposites in every way imaginable, making it a perfect combination that works together to give you the best experience, forming the stunning city of Budapest.
So you arrive at Ferenc Liszt International Airport, what's next? The Budapest Airport (BUD) is located 16 km southeast of the city center, and presents a variety of options that will efficiently get you there!
One of the options is by public bus, and there are 2 specific lines that connect from the airport to Budapest’s city center. Line 100E will take you directly from Terminal 2 to the Deak Ferenc Square in the city. Tickets cost around 900 HUF ($3.00) and leave every 20 minutes. This trip takes roughly 45 minutes, giving you the perfect time to relax after a long flight and enjoy the atmosphere of the city.
Another line is 200E, which will take you to the Kobanya-Kispest railway station from Terminal 2. It leaves every 20 minutes. Once at the station, take Metro line 3 that will head to Deak Ferenc Square. This trip will take around 50 minutes to reach the downtown station.
Tickets for busses can be purchased at the post office, BKK Service points, ticket machines, newspaper stands, and even directly from the driver.
The airport also has a shuttle service that can take you directly to the Népliget Coach Station. You can either pre-book your tickets online or pay at miniBud counters in cash (make sure to carry the Hungarian Forint, HUF, as some may not accept other currencies).
These buses leave every 30 minutes throughout various locations at the airport, make sure to contact the staff to know when and where the next shuttle will be available at. The duration of the trip to the city center also varies on the other travellers and their requested stops.
Another option is to use a regulated taxi service approved by the airport called Fotaxi. This service has booths that are located at terminal 2A and 2B exits. Fotaxi uses a fixed rate for their trips of around 7200 HUF ($24.55), depending on traffic levels, and accepts credit cards. Be aware of non-regulated drivers not a part of the service that can subject you to scams.
Transportation is one of the most authentic ways of feeling like a part of the nation’s community. It is only when you have commuted around like a local that you gain the true experience of the city.
Now that you have arrived, explore the many different things you can do while in the city! With so much culture, history and charm, you will never get bored while here. These are some exciting activities we recommend you to visit during your stay.
A perfect activity to do in the morning. Built-in 1913, Europe’s largest medicinal bath center is an opportunity to relax, soak, and enjoy paradise. Especially great to soothe any aches or soreness that can come from travelling, it will wake you up and set a great mood for the rest of the day. This center has indoor and outdoor thermal pools, saunas, steam rooms, and even spa treatments; what is there not to love?
Have you ever wanted to be in the center of two different worlds? Well, this is the perfect experience to see the opposing sides of Buda and Pest! This short walk between the two bridges will give you great views of the regal sites of Buda, such as Fisherman’s Bastion, Liberty Statue, and Buda Castle, as well as the busy center of Pest. These bridges also carry deep history, with the promenade being home to a memorial to the victims of fascists in World War II, known as the Shoes on the Danube Bank.
Margaret Island is located in the middle of the Danube River, north of the Budapest city center. It is a narrow and long scenic green space that measures roughly 2.5km; it takes 45 minutes to get from one end to another, or an hour and a half for one loop. There are many Budapest locals that come here to unwind, giving you a great moment to be within local life and observe the culture. While here you can rent a pedal car to get around or head to the aviary, maybe even tour the exhilarating medieval ruins nearby!
It is a 45-minute walk from Pest, or to get there quicker take the trams number 4 or 6 for a 20-minute arrival. A popular option is to take a lovely boat ride there, from public boat routes D11 and D12, with the tickets costing 750 HUF ($2.55). Enjoy the ride and the beautiful views!
The Great Market Hall is a historic and lively space that was built in 1897, currently the biggest market in Budapest. It’s central to the city as well, being only a 5-minute walk from the city center! Here you can get lost within city locals, shop for souvenirs, get local fresh goods, and even experience tastings. There are 3 main floors that display the busy atmosphere, with each floor dedicated to certain products. From vegetables to clothes, you will find a huge selection of items to view and buy.
Buda Castle is a UNESCO world heritage site that will take you back in time to the ruling of Hungarian Kings in the 1300s. There is a 300ft long funicular that can take you up to the palace, giving you astonishing sights of the city. The tickets for the tram will cost around 1200 HUF ($4.10). Once at the top you can tour different areas, such as the National Széchenyi Library, the Castle Museum, and the Hungarian National Gallery. It is truly an experience you will never forget.
After a long day of exploring, you must be hungry for some authentic Budapestian food; well we got a place for you that is a must-try! Head to the Karaván, which is an open-air courtyard with vendors that serve the best, local street food in the city.
Getting there is a no-hassle process, with the Karaván being located in the heart of the Jewish Quarter. Take bus lines 133E, 178, 5, 7, 8E, or 9, which will bring you near the street food center. You can also take the train line H5 or metro line M2.
This place is full of culture and delicious smells. The Karaván has something for everybody, from juicy burgers to vegan-friendly options, you will be upset that you can’t try it all at once!
To get the most out of your visit, make sure to try traditional Budapestian dishes such as Goulash and Làngos. Goulash is served as a soup or stew with vegetables and meat, seasoned with many spices. Làngos is a deep-fried flatbread that can be served with sour cream and grated cheese, ham, or sausages. It can also be eaten plain with garlic and butter.
Karaván is a great place to meet and chat with the locals while enjoying traditional cuisine. It closes in winter and often has varying hours, so make sure to plan beforehand.
Budapest has a thrilling nightlife scene, an unforgettable experience that you will be telling your friends about! The best areas to see are ruin bars, a place full of music and drinks in pre-WWII buildings with thrift store furniture.
The outside of ruin bars, or Romkocsma, look like run-down factories and abandoned buildings, with crumbling rubble making the buildings look depleted. However, when you step inside you will feel like you just teleported into a movie, with graffiti across the walls, colourful lights, and intriguing furnishing. Visiting the ruin bars is an authentic experience of Budapest and we have the best ones for you!
A building that was once a factory-made up of connecting courtyards was converted to a lively bar with a minimalistic design. Anker’t is extremely popular among the locals, as it is also home to the Sunday Vegan Food Markets! This bar is known for its pop-up events and even surprise appearances from famous DJs across the world. Expect to see a busy, fun crowd and sometimes even disco nights.
This bar has more of a modernized, upscale take on the ruin bar concept. It uses a lot of greenery and lighting to create a classy atmosphere, one that many find more aesthetically pleasing than the average ruin bar. It is also a popular area among tourists and serves Israeli and Mediterranean cuisine, with patrons!
The bar that started it all, Szimpla Kert is the largest and oldest ruin bar in Budapest with a lavish courtyard and beautifully themed rooms. It is open in the morning and into the night, giving you an opportunity to visit multiple times throughout the day. While you are here, feel free to browse the farmer’s market or just listen to music and grab a drink, you will always find something to do!
The heart and soul of Budapest’s underground culture, this place is made up of two connected bars that are bursting with city culture. It has bars, restaurants, and even party halls each with a different environment and unique attributes. Get into the fun and go through each room until you find the one; from rock to techno music, you will find your crowd! This is the best spot for those who enjoy a crazy concert or party.
Budapest is a city that you must visit, it has a special culture, heritage, and beauty that will make you never want to leave. With this ultimate guide, you are more than prepared to start discovering this remarkable city through your own eyes. If you want to enrich your experience in Budapest even more, you can book a tour with one of our Lokafyers.
Like many destinations around the world, the best time to experience low crowds in Budapest is during shoulder seasons including March to May and September to November. During this period, accommodations are cheapest, and the weather is idyllic, allowing for the escape from the brutal summer heat while avoiding the sub-zero winter temperatures.
In Hungary, the common tipping percentage in restaurants and taxis is 10%-15% of the total bill. It is also common to tip hotel staff and service workers 200-1000FT, depending on the type of service.
Note: Many restaurants in Budapest charge a 12.5% service fee for patrons. In this case, you do not need to leave any additional tip.
Something that evades many travelers is the reminder to validate your metro ticket to avoid on-the-spot fines. To validate your ticket, all one needs to do is insert their ticket into an orange metro machine at any station entrance. After a few seconds, a validation mark will be printed onto your ticket, allowing you to continue worry-free with your travels.
In Hungary, the national currency is the Forint (or HUF). Although Euros are accepted in many parts of Budapest, the conversion rate is usually poor and will most likely result in you paying more.
When dealing with electrical adapters, Hungary uses the typical European type C or F plugs. Plug type C has two round pins while type F has two round pins and two earth clips on the side.
Lokafy is a company based on connecting travellers all over the world with personalized tour guides that we call 'Lokafyers'. Our mission is to make travel personal, as many times tourists do not feel connected to the cities they are visiting and we want to change that, to make individuals feel a part of the culture like a local. We will only see the interconnectedness of all people once we see the beauty of the world through their eyes, and we'll understand the world better by getting to know the planet through the diversity of people and their own personal experiences.
With Lokafy, individuals pick a city they are visiting and are given a list of Lokafyers that can give them a local tour of their city. Different Lokafyers have different specialties; some are interested in food and know the best places to dine, while others may be more knowledgeable about historic and interesting heritage sites. Individuals can choose a Lokafyer that best suits their interests and are given tours catered to their interests.
We currently operate in more than 300 countries and are continuously growing. So the next time your travelling, experience a personalized journey through Lokafy, making an unforgettable trip!
Originally Written: Gabrielle Goldson and Nadim Kassymov
Edited: Vinita Malik
July 1, 2021