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Travel Guide Budget and Itinerary for Budapest

Hungary was a country on my must-visit list for Europe. When I finalized my itinerary, I decided to include Budapest because it was easy to enter by land, whether by bus or train. The city is affordable, full of history, plenty of attractions, several museums, many cafes and restaurants, and is easy to explore on foot or by public transportation.

travel guide budget and itinerary for Budapest

I explored Buda and Pest, and added other places as day trips from the city.


Travel Guide Budget and Itinerary for Budapest


budget and itinerary for Budapest

I was able to travel during the pandemic. When I was planning my route, I had to determine the rules of each country included in my itinerary. I had to follow their guidelines, even if their implementation was arbitrary. I had to be flexible and changed my itinerary a few times, because Covid rules were updated before and during my trip. Thankfully, Hungary only asked for a few requirements during the pandemic when crossing their border by land. I traveled to Budapest from Zagreb, Croatia. 


Getting a Visa

Hungary is part of the Schengen zone, which means that if you get a visa you can visit all the countries in the region. I got a visa through the Austrian Embassy in Manila.


Here's a guide for getting the visa: how to get a Schengen visa for Filipinos


Things to Do and Places to See

Here are some of the things you can do and see when you're planning your budget and itinerary for Budapest.


Hungarian Parliament Building


budget and itinerary for Budapest


The parliament building is probably the structure you'll often see after doing a quick search of Budapest on Google. It really is a striking piece of architecture. The area just around it also has other impressive looking buildings. The area is a great place to walk around in whether day or night. You can take photos of the building from the Buda side or overlooking ones from Fisherman's Bastion or at Matthias Church's tower.


Buda Castle


budget and itinerary for Budapest


Buda Castle is another impressive building. The castle dates back to the 18th century and is part of the UNESCO-listed historic complex in Buda. Visitors can roam around the courtyard for free.


Matthias Church


budget and itinerary for Budapest


This historic church finished construction in 1269. It later became a mosque when the Turks occupied Hungary. The coronation of Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria also took place in the church.


Fisherman's Bastion


budget and itinerary for Budapest


Visitors will immediately notice the beautiful colonnades, towers and courtyards of Fisherman's Bastion as they approach it. This is a popular destination for both tourists and locals. It provides visitors with beautiful views of the Danube and the city. You should definitely add this destination to your budget and itinerary for Budapest.


St. Stephen's Basilica




This church was dedicated to St. Stephen, the country's holy king.


Central Market Hall 




This market is the oldest (dates back to 1897) and biggest in the city. There's plenty of shops, food kiosks and vendors in here. You can try some local delicacies while you're here.


Dohany Synagogue




This is the largest synagogue in Europe and was built in the 1850s. There are museums within the complex which have displays of Jewish culture and the history of Budapest's Jewish Quarter. 


Heroes' Square and the Millennium Monument




The square has statues that represent Hungary's important historical figures, a figure of Archangel Gabriel, and a memorial to the unknown soldier.


Széchenyi Thermal Bath




One of the main draws of Budapest is the thermal bath. Szechenyi is the most famous one. You can spend an hour or so here relaxing in the hot bath. A ticket with locker use costs 5600 Forints (weekdays) and 6200 Forints (weekends). For some people, this is a must-add to their Budapest itinerary.


Szechenyi Chain Bridge




This bridge opened in 1849 and was the first permanent bridge that linked Buda and Pest in the country. It was considered an engineering marvel at the time of its construction. 


Vajdahunyad Castle




This castle dates back to 1896. Located in the city park, visitors can walk around the courtyard for free. 


Shoes on the Danube




One of the best places to walk around in Budapest is along the Danube Promenade. The promenade provides scenic views of the city at night and during the day. During your walk, you'll see steel sculpted shoes. These are a chilling reminder of the Jews the Nazis shot along the Danube. 


Night Walks


budget and itinerary for Budapest


budget and itinerary for Budapest

budget and itinerary for Budapest


I loved walking around Budapest at night. The main monuments were lit up and there were fewer people. I felt safe (but still avoided dark alleys) walking around. I usually take long walks in the day at night just to see the city. Budapest has plenty of beautiful buildings from different parts of its history.


Cafe Hopping


budget and itinerary for Budapest
New York Cafe


budget and itinerary for Budapest
New York Cafe



budget and itinerary for Budapest
Gerbeaud-Haz Cafe


Budapest has a vibrant cafe culture. There are establishments decades or even more than a century old. They serve drinks, dessert and others serve full meals. One of the most famous cafes is New York Cafe. I was able to walk-in and have dessert. The dessert was expensive and so-so, but the beautiful interiors of New York Cafe made it worth it. Gerbeaud-Haz Cafe also had pretty interiors and more affordable desserts. There are also hole-in-the-wall cafes in various parts of the city where you can just hang out and chill while drinking coffee and eating a pastry. 


Try Local Food


Hungarian Sausage


Langos


I tried the sausage (really good!) at a kiosk just outside Matthias Church. There are probably other cheaper places to try it in, but it was the closest one I found after a few hours of walking around. The Langos is pretty good too. Its deep fried flatbread with your choice of toppings on it. You can try both of these in the Central Market Hall. 


Other places of interest include:

  • Hungarian National Gallery
  • Budapest History Museum
  • Gellert Hill
  • Hungarian National Museum
  • Museum of Fine Arts
  • Other churches in the city
  • Ruin bars (Szimpla Kert is the most famous one)
  • Cruise along the Danube (depending on the season)


Budapest is a beautiful city that caters to varying tastes, if you like museums, there's plenty of them here, if you like to party, there's plenty of choices too, and if you just want to walk around and admire the architecture and soak in the history, there's plenty for you to do as well. I spent a lot of time just walking around Buda and Pest, admiring the architecture and lingering in some places. I only spent 6 winter days in this vibrant and beautiful city and just scratched the surface. When preparing your budget and itinerary for Budapest, you can add a bit of everything you're interested in.



Getting Around Budapest

Budapest is a "walkable" city, most of the attractions are within walking distance from each other. You can do a day each for Buda and Pest at an enjoyable and leisurely pace. However, this means walking the whole day. You can also buy day passes for the subway, trams and buses that go to different parts of the city. You can purchase 24, 48 or 72 hours day passes from the machines near bus and metro stations. Day passes cut the travel time between places you want to see. 


Day Trips

I always try to visit another city or a couple of towns whenever I visit a new country. This provides me with a different perspective of the country I visited. I had enough days in Budapest to do some day trips to other places in the country.


Eger


Eger

Eger


Eger is a historic city with plenty of charm. It's also a famous wine destination during the right season. The town square has lovely buildings and churches. Go up the castle ruins to get a beautiful overlooking view of the square.


How to go: There are regular trains departing from Budapest to Eger. It costs 2394 Forints for a train ride from Budapest to Eger. The return ticket costs 2520 Forints.


Szentendre


Szentendre


Szentendre is a popular day trip destination from Budapest because of its proximity and accessibility. It's home to many cafes, art galleries, souvenir shops, restaurants, and quaint buildings. 


How to go: Make your way to Batthyany Square Metro Station, you can easily get to this area by bus, tram or metro. Once there look for the HEV train station (this is underground). You can purchase tickets at the booths or the machines. I bought a round trip ticket for 620 Forints.


Esztergom


Esztergom


Esztergom used to be the capital of Hungary. It's home to the largest church in Hungary, the Esztergom Basilica.


How to go: There are direct trains traveling from Budapest to Esztergom. I paid 1064 Forints from Budapest to Esztergom and 1120 Forints for the return trip.


You can check this website for train schedules and tickets whenever you plan to visit different parts of Hungary: https://www.mavcsoport.hu/en 


When taking the train or bus, check which part of Budapest it departs from, there are stations in Buda and in Pest. It's more convenient to depart from a station that's at least in the same part of the city as your accommodation.


Where to Stay in Budapest

You have plenty of options when choosing accommodation in Budapest, whether you're backpacking on a budget or spending luxuriously.


Budget 

Netizen Budapest Centre: Rates and Availability

Maverick Hostel and Ensuites: Rates and Availability

Hostel One Budapest: Rates and Availability

Wombat's the City Hostel: Rates and Availability


Mid-Price

easyHotel Budapest Oktogon: Rates and Availability

Marmara Hotel: Rates and Availability

Soho Boutique Hotel: Rates and Availability


You can look for and book accommodation through Agoda:




How to Go to Budapest

By Air

Budapest Liszt Ferenc International Airport is easy to get to by public transport to and from the city. You can book a shuttle online or take the bus from different parts of the city. You can easily find flights to Budapest from major cities in Europe. 


By Land

Hungary shares land borders with Croatia, Austria, Ukraine, Serbia, Slovakia, Romania, and Slovenia. It's easy to get into the country (straight to Budapest) from the countries mentioned. I took the direct bus from Zagreb to Budapest, but you also have the option to take the train.


I took Flixbus, link here: https://www.flixbus.com/ 

*You can buy your tickets online and just show it to the conductor before boarding.


When I was planning my trip, I often checked OBB for train tickets and schedules, link here: https://tickets.oebb.at/en/ticket


Budget for Budapest

This list below outlines what I spent for 6 days and 5 nights in Budapest.

Everything's in Hungarian Forints:


22375 - 5 nights Netizen Hostel (dorm bed)

22883 - Food and drinks

3300 - 2x 24 hours transportation pass

4150 - 72 hours transportation pass

4200 - Matthias Church and Tower

200 - St. Stephen's Basilica (more of a donation)

5760 - Miscellaneous (laundry, etc)

7000 - Dohany Synagogue

1064 - Train to Esztergom

225 - Bus fare in Esztergom

1120 - Train from Esztergom to Budapest

620 - Round trip train tickets for Budapest-Szentendre

2394 - Train to Eger from Budapest

2520 - Train to Budapest from Eger

2400 - Eger Castle entrance fee

1500 - Cab fare

900 - Bus fare for airport shuttle                                         

82611 - Total for 6 days and 5 nights


You can either spend more or less than what I did depending on what you like doing, where you eat, how you get around the city, and where you stay. There's plenty of budget and higher end options for everyone who'll stay in the city. 


I visited Hungary during the winter, some places were closed or offered reduced prices. Prices may vary depending on the season you visit. 


You might also want to visit these destinations in Europe: 


***Hungary was part of a longer trip in Europe that included Austria, Croatia, Spain and Ukraine.


Itinerary for Budapest

Here's a sample Budapest itinerary for your trip:


Day 1

Parliament Building

St. Stephen's Basilica

Jewish Quarter

Central Market Hall

Hungarian National Museum (if you like museums)

Danube Promenade


Day 2

Buda Castle and Castle Hill

Fisherman's Bastion

Matthias Church


Day 3 

City park (Vajdahunyad Castle, Hero's Square and Millenium Monument)

Szechenyi Thermal Bath (if you like baths)

Cafe hopping


Day 4

Day trip to other cities (Eger, Szentendre, Esztergom, or others)


This is just a rough itinerary which you can change as you please. We have different tastes and interests. It's possible to visit the main highlights of Budapest in one hectic day, but that means you'll just rush through places. I suggest doing one full day each for Buda and Pest to get a general feel of the city. 



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