Planning Your Budget Trip to Beautiful Budapest
Széchenyi Chain Bridge over the river Danube
Budapest is steadily growing in popularity as a holiday destination, thanks in part to the beautiful scenery, vibrant nightlife, and rich culture on offer.
Another major reason for Budapest being such a popular tourist destination is price. Flights from the UK are very cheap; fantastic apartments are available in central areas of the city at a budget price; and the cost of entertainment is also very low, if you avoid the tourist traps.
Nevertheless, it makes sense to put together your plan for visiting Budapest before you go. This will help you to avoid unnecessary expenses, and ensure you get the most from your holiday. As nerdy and dull as it sounds, putting together an itinerary can be a big part of the fun of travelling. It allows you to start looking forward to your trip, and discover amazing things about the city before you even set off.
Flights and Accommodation
Flying to Budapest from London starts at just £26, which can be less than the price of a train journey across the UK. Some of the budget airlines that fly to Budapest include Ryan Air, Jet 2 and Wizz Air.
Hotel rooms are on average around £80-90 per night for a 4 star hotel, which is a fantastic price for capital city. However, if you go for one of the cities’ central apartments, you could pay just £40 per night for a very comfortable stay. Some examples include Central Passage Apartments and 7 Seasons Apartments, both of which are near Deak Square, not far from St. Stephen’s Basilica. Or for even better value, try the Nova Budapest Apartment Hotel, which is a little bit further out, but still close enough to walk to many of the main tourist attractions.
The Main Attractions
It is worth mapping out the sites that you want to visit before you go, as will help you to plan the shortest journey possible between them.
The city is split into two by the majestic river Danube; to the west of the river is Buda, and to the east is Pest. A series of bridges connect the two sides, but the smart traveller will plan to visit the attractions on the Pest side of the river on a different day to their exploration of Buda; as trips back and forth could seriously eat into your time and budget.
The Hungarian Parliament is the huge building that stands on the river bank in Pest. Other monuments and attractions on this side include St. Stephens Basilica; the Hungarian National Museum; Dohány Street Synagogue; the Central Market Hall; Liberty Square, where you will find the Soviet War Memorial; and the City Park where you will find the Széchenyi Thermal Bath, Vajdahunyad Castle and the botanical gardens.
The main sights in Buda include Buda Castle, which houses the national library and several museums; the Hungarian National Gallery; Fisherman’s Bastion; Buda Botanical Gardens; and Gellért Hill, where you will find the Citadella and Gellért Thermal Baths.
More information about the main sights to visit is provided in the infographic below from LoveMyVouchers.co.uk. From there, you can also do a little more of your own research into each of the attractions to discover what in particular you are interested in seeing at each of them.
The View from the Fisherman’s Bastion
Filling in the Gaps
Once you have decided upon your not-to-be-missed attractions, it is time to fill in the gaps, and work out what your options are for food, drinks, shopping, and generally taking in the view. Here are a few hot tips for things to do.
Around the city are bronze statues, and it is fun to look out for them while you are walking around. Look out for the Fat Policeman; the Shoes on the Bank of the River Danube; and Columbo (yes – the famous detective!), among others.
The Best Views at Sunset
The Fisherman’s Bastion in Buda offers the most amazing views of the city as it is directly opposite the spectacular Hungarian Parliament building, looks down over the river, and offers views that stretch across Pest. There is a cafe within that is not the cheapest, but if you can stretch your budget to allow you to go for one drink at sunset, it is well worth it. The views can be enjoyed for free from within the fairy tale Bastion too though, and you can even be serenaded by street musicians while you take in the view.
Local Tours and The Ruin Pubs
Local people offer tours of the city, and one of the best ones is a tour of the ruin pubs. If you want to sample the buzzing night scene in Budapest, then the ruin pubs are a must, but some of them are difficult to find. With a tour such as this one from Budapest Flow, you can get an insider to show you the best bars, and give you a little history behind them.
A visit to Budapest would not be complete without a trip to the Spa baths. As there is a fault line in the limestone below this great city, natural hot springs are in abundance, and the great baths around the city have made use of this feature. The Gellért Thermal Bath is one of the most popular on Gellért hill in Buda. Although the springs have been used there since the 13th century, the current building opened in 1918, and is a fine example of Art Nouveau architecture. The waters are said to have healing properties, and much scientific research has been carried out to support this notion. Adult tickets start at around 5100 HUF, or about £14. When you are planning your trip to any of the baths, you may wish to check first whether men and women can go together at the same time, as there are certain sessions that are gender specific.
Prices can vary wildly depending on where you are, and it can be difficult to keep track of how much you are spending as the currency is so different. It can feel a bit like Monopoly money, and once you get used to handing over notes with so many zeros on them, you can start to lose track of how much they are really worth. For this reason, it is useful to have a system in mind that simplifies converting the currency, and allows you to keep track of how much you are spending. It depends on the currency rates when you travel, but something along the lines of removing the last two digits of the Forint value, then dividing the figure by four, will give you a rough idea of where you are in sterling terms. This is particularly useful when you are visiting restaurants as some fantastic restaurants are mind-blowingly cheap, and may lull you into a false sense of financial security. Then you can visit restaurants such as Spoon, The Boat Restaurant moored on the bank on the Danube, and can unwittingly pay a small fortune, if you are not paying attention.
For more information, check out the infographic from LoveMyVouchers below. It provides you with the basic financials and a few other useful bits and pieces to help you plan the rest of your trip, and get the most out of your budget.