Budapest: Savvy Travel Guide for Exploring the Heart of Hungary

Welcome to Budapest, the enchanting capital of Hungary! Nestled along the banks of the majestic Danube River, this dynamic city effortlessly weaves together its rich heritage, embracing both its ancient past and modern charm. From exploring iconic landmarks to relaxing in world-renowned thermal baths or savoring the flavors of traditional Hungarian cuisine, Budapest will capture your heart and leave you yearning for more. Embark on an adventure through the winding streets and hidden treasures of this mesmerizing city on a wallet-friendly way!

Walking vs Public Transport

Many of Budapest’s top attractions are within a comfortable walking distance from each other. Cross at least one of the eight bridges over the Danube River or simply stroll the pedestrianized shopping district at Váci Street. Whether you’re enjoying the riverside views or discovering hidden treasures, lace up your best pair of sturdy shoes and embrace the beauty of Hungarian capital’s vibrant atmosphere.

You’ll hardly find another city on the planet with a UNESCO World Heritage metro and funicular. YES, the Budapest Metro is the second-oldest underground railway system in Europe, after London’s Tube. Luckily, the public transport system in Budapest is really affordable if you want to get further or rest your weary legs! Tickets for the metro, bus or tram cost 350 HUF (€0.95) from the ticket machines, or 450 HUF (€1.20) if you buy tickets directly from the bus drivers. You can also 10-tickets block for 3000 HUF (€7.90), or get 72-hour Budapest travelcard comes at 4,150 HUF (11.90)

Uber unfortunately was outlawed in Budapest a few years back. Taxis can be quite pricey, but if you do need one be sure to negotiate the rate prior to the trip.


If you speak to the locals about weather, they are likely to reply that Budapest has two seasons: Summer and Winter. Spring and Summer are very hot whereas Autumn and Winter are quite cold. I visited the city around late May and was mostly in my t-shirt and shorts. Spring and Autumn are probably the best time to visit Budapest as they are less rainy than other major European cities. Do bear in mind that Budapest is often windy due to the city’s location on the banks of the Danube River.


Even though Hungary is part of EU, the country has its own currency (for now). The currency used is Hungarian Forint, abbreviated as HUF or Ft. Banknotes and coins are issued in various denominations, including 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, and 50,000 forints. A banknote of 1,000 HUF currently trades for about €2.65, making Hungary an inexpensive destination to travel. While some larger establishments in Budapest might accept credit cards or major foreign currencies, it is advisable to have some Hungarian Forints on hand for small purchases, especially in local vendors or taking public buses.

Note: When withdrawing cash, avoid the Euronet ATMs. Don’t be fooled by the “No ATM Fee” as their exchange rates are the worst. Instead, search for a bank and use its cash machines to withdraw Forints.

Accommodation in Budapest

This is the moment when most travellers have a hard time choosing between Buda or Pest. Separated by the Danube River, each operated independently until 1873 when they joined together to form the city we know as Budapest. Today, there are a total of 8 bridges to cross between these two areas.

Buda is generally quieter and less crowded compared to the bustling Pest side. It’s an ideal choice if you prefer a more relaxed and peaceful environment. Buda is also known for its hilly landscape and offers stunning panoramic views of the Danube and Pest side. The Castle Hill area is particularly picturesque, with historical landmarks like Buda Castle, Matthias Church, and Fisherman’s Bastion. Pest is the heart of Budapest where you’ll find the city’s commercial center, shopping districts and thriving nightlife scene. Many of Budapest’s iconic landmarks, including the Hungarian Parliament Building, St. Stephen’s Basilica, and the Great Market Hall, are located at this side.

If you’re traveling with children, you might love Margaret Island (Margitsziget). Located in the middle of the Danube River, this tranquil oasis is a quiet recreational area. Thermal baths, well-maintained gardens and sports activities will entertain the whole family. The island is easily reachable from both Buda and Pest sides by tram and bus, so you won’t miss the sightseeing.

Ultimately, whether you choose Buda or Pest or Margaret Island during your stay in Budapest, you’re sure to be captivated by the city’s unique blend of history, culture, and modern allure.

Food & Drinks

My all-time advice to travellers: Eat where the locals eat! This will allow you to save a lot of money compared to the touristy restaurants. Hungarian dishes are known for its rich flavors and hearty dishes, especially with their creative use of paprika. With traditional cooking methods, Hungarian foods reflect the originality of its people to create satisfying and memorable dishes that have stood the test of time.

Compared to many other European capitals like Vienna, eating in Budapest is relatively economical, making it a budget-friendly destination for food lovers. Street food like lángos (fried flat bread topped with sour cream and cheese) or traditional soups like goulash provide a cheap and hearty meal. Kürtőskalács (chimney cakes) is a must-eat but they can be quite overpriced. My favourite is Flódni, a Hungarian-Jewish pastry, which is so filling I usually have it as a meal itself.

Budapest is famous for its unique ruin bars where usually can be found in abandoned buildings or courtyards. They offer a bohemian atmosphere and are an excellent place to enjoy a variety of drinks and experience the city’s nightlife. Tap water in Budapest is healthy and safe to consume. You can order a glass of tap water in restaurants without additional cost, just make sure it’s not the only thing you order.

In sit-down restaurants, it is common to leave a 10% tip on top of the bill. However, you can choose not to if the establishment has already charged you a 12.5% service fee (szervízdíj).

Places of Interests in Budapest

Great news is, most notable attractions allow visitors to marvel the beauty of Budapest without spending a dime. Exploring the street arts, admire St. Stephen’s Basilica or hiking up Buda Castle Hill are one of the many free things to do in the city. One of my favourite activities in new places is to join free walking tours. It helps me to orientate the city, explore secret places with a local and make new friends! Apart from these free stuff, there are definitely some experiences worth paying for, such as soaking in the thermal bath! If you want to make the most of your time in Budapest, you might consider purchasing a Budapest Card for the duration of your visit. These cards entitled unlimited public transport around the city and free pass to Lukács Thermal Bath! It also include free entry to several museums and 50% discounts at cafes/restaurants.

Is it Safe for Solo Female Traveller?

Budapest is generally considered a safe city for female travellers. In fact, Hungary as a whole has a lower crime rate compared to many other European countries. During my stay, I had met a couple of other females who travelled by themselves and had no issue. However, like any other destinations, no city is entirely risk-free. Trust your lady’s instinct, being aware of your surroundings and taking basic safety precautions, you can have a wonderful and worry-free experience exploring this beautiful city.

Lastly, if you want to keep a track of all my photos and travels, remember to follow @wanderrsaurus on Instagram!

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Aloha! I'm Bunzy, a curious dreamer who is passionate about roaming around the world getting lost, experiencing new cultures and meeting the locals. My superpower is to be able to sleep anywhere, anyhow!

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