Money-Saving Budapest Travel Tips and Hacks | First-timers in Budapest

Budapest is a treasure trove of architecture, beautifully balanced between natural and man-made elements and divided by the Danube River.

Each half of Buda and Pest has different characters that can make it hard for you to choose your favorite half.

But whatever part you visit, the city’s epic tales and thriving culture draw a diverse crowd worldwide.

The transitioning blend of Western and Eastern culture, healing hot springs, ruin bars, and Art Nouveau architecture makes it like no other European city.

This article will help you find all the budget-friendly things to do in Budapest and make the most of your visit.

How to Save Money in Budapest – Explore Budapest on a Budget

This city can easily be walked through on a shoestring budget if you are a solo traveler. 

But you may need expert tips and tricks to make the same money in Budapest. Here are some tips:

Get your Hands on Budapest Card

Budapest card
Image: Getyourguide.com

The Budapest Card aptly describes two words – Unlimited Savings. 

This card provides free and unlimited public transportation access throughout the city and considerable discounts for many attractions. 

You can purchase a 24, 48, or 72-hour pass depending on your usability. 

This card is an absolute money-saver when discovering Budapest on a budget.

Apart from the public transport, you will also get entry to selected museums and complimentary tours.

A Budapest Card unlocks lots of fun things to do in Budapest, like visiting grand buildings and museums and even swimming in thermal baths.

It saves you money and time, so you can explore the city quickly and make the most of your trip, even if you only have a short stay.

Use the Hop-on Hop-off Bus and Boat

Hop on Hop off bus Budapest
Image: Getyourguide.com

If you don’t want the hassle of arranging vehicles and want to do touristy things, we recommend you purchase Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tours.

This tour is super-efficient and offers well-connected routes. You only need to pick and choose the places you want to explore. 

Whether you choose a bus or boat, you will see Budapest’s best with HOHO.

Want to have some fun? Various Segway and cycling tours are available to take you around the city. 
So, if you want to add adventure to your day, these tours can best fit you.

Don’t Forget the Free Things

Many iconic landmarks in Budapest are free to visit. If you are a budget traveler, you should definitely not miss such places.

Some of the free attractions in Budapest are St. Stephen’s Basilica, Margaret Island, Heroes’ Square, Chain Bridge, and Fisherman’s Bastion.

Also, many museums around the city offer free entry to the public on selected dates.

Insist on Using the Meter in a Taxi

Meter taxi budapest
Image: Dailynewshungary.com

Taxi drivers in Budapest are notorious for overcharging visitors. Hence, insist on asking for a meter. 

While taxis are an easy way to get around any city, they are also one of the most expensive modes of transportation. 

If you want to use the public transit system as your primary source of transportation, consider purchasing the Budapest Card, which provides unlimited public transport.

Skip the Fancy, Go Local

Forget those touristy restaurants with hefty prices. 

Instead, follow the locals to tiny hidden gems where the food is authentic and the wallets stay happy. 

Look for places buzzing with Budapest life, like the stalls in the Great Market Hall. 

You can also grab some steaming langos (deep-fried doughy goodness) and enjoy it with a scenic picnic.

Remember, the best food often comes from the humblest stalls, so keep your eyes open and your taste buds ready for something truly special.

Eating in Budapest

Bread and bakery items in Budapest are quite inexpensive when compared to other items. 

Get your breakfast at a local bakery and indulge in a pastry that is practically regarded as part of the Budapest morning.

Several restaurants in Budapest offer a less expensive tourist menu. It serves modest servings of a three-course meal, enough for one.

The central market steam tables are an excellent spot to sample anything from stews to strudels on a budget. 

Keep an eye out for merchants who are immediately identifiable near the market’s entrance.

If you want Chinese takeout in Hungary, Kinai Bufes (cheap Chinese steam tables) will introduce you to some wonderful Asian cuisine in Budapest.

Read our article on the best restaurants in Budapest that you should not miss.

Go for Hostels, Instead of Hotels

We recommend you ditch the pricey hotels and experience Budapest’s vibrant hostel scene. 

You’ll find places that feel like boutique hotels but cost a fraction of the price. 

Plus, you’ll be surrounded by fellow travelers with stories to share and adventures to plan. 

Hostels like Pal’s, Lavender Circus, Animation City, Treestyle, Fifth, and GoodMo House are all highly rated and offer a chance to save big and make new friends.

Bonus tip: Walk, walk, walk! Budapest is a city to be explored on foot. 

Not only is it free, but you’ll stumble upon hidden squares, charming cafes, and stunning views you wouldn’t find from a bus window. 

With these tips, you can explore Budapest without breaking the bank. So go forth, explore, and experience the “City of Spas” like a local—on a budget.

Money and ATMs in Budapest

Budapest has a dense network of ATMs that accept most foreign debit and credit cards (including Visa, MasterCard, Plus, Maestro, Cirrus, and others). 

Most establishments in Budapest accept credit cards, with the exception of mom-and-pop retailers. 

You’ll also see a sticker outside shops and restaurants that accept credit cards. 

If this sticker needs to be visible, it is recommended that you inquire with store management concerning card payments before completing a transaction.  

Though Hungary is a member of the European Union, it has not welcomed the euro as its currency.

Therefore, exchanging your euros in Budapest will lower conversion rates. 

It is preferable to save enough liquid currency in HUF and utilize your card for the remainder.

Useful Phrases in Hungarian Budapest

Here are some useful phrases in Hungarian for your trip to Hungary:

  1. Hello: Szia!
  2. Good morning: Jó reggelt!
  3. Good afternoon: Jó napot!
  4. Good evening: Jó estét!
  5. How are you?: Hogy vagy?
  6. Good/Not so good: Jól/Nem túl jól.
  7. I’m from (the U.S/ Hungary): (Az Egyesült Államokból/Magyarországról) jöttem.
  8. Do you speak (English/ Hungarian)?: Beszélsz (angolul/magyarul)?
  9. Just a little: Csak egy kicsit.
  10.  Sorry! (or: I beg your pardon!): Elnézést!
  11.  Nice to meet you: Örülök, hogy megismertem (errel-oek hodge megh-ish-merh-them)
  12.  Please: légyszi (ledge-see)
  13.  I’d like a beer: Kérek egy sört (Keh-rack a-j chert)
  14.  Cheers: Egészségedre! (Ag-esh-sheg-ad-reh)

These phrases will help you navigate your way around Hungary and communicate with locals. 


How do I get around in Budapest?

There are several ways to move around Budapest. The most popular method is to take public transit, which includes buses, trolleys, and the metro. 

You can also stroll or bike through the city. If you wish to take a cab, choose a reputed business.

What are some of the must-see attractions in Budapest?

– Hungarian Parliament Building
– Buda Castle
– Hungarian National Museum
– Széchenyi Chain Bridge
– Heroes’ Square
– St. Stephen’s Basilica
– Széchenyi Baths

Where can you find good food in Budapest?

Budapest has numerous excellent restaurants. 

For classic Hungarian cuisine, try Gundel, Bors GasztroBár, or Kispipa. For foreign cuisine, visit Carpe Noctem Vitae, Costes Downtown, or Spíler. 

There are several good cafes and bakeries across the city.

What are some tips for shopping in Budapest?

Shopping in Budapest includes visiting the Central Market Hall, the Vaci Street pedestrian area, and Andrássy Avenue. 

Good deals can also be found at malls throughout the city, such as Arena Plaza and Allee. 

Check for hand-painted Easter eggs, traditional ceramics, or Hungarian folk art for mementos.

What should I know about the nightlife in Budapest?

Budapest’s nightlife is dynamic and diverse, with something for everyone. Ruin pubs like Szimpla Kert and Instant and clubs like Doktor House and Akvárium are popular nightlife destinations. 

Numerous bars and cafes remain open late.

What are some other tips for visiting Budapest?

– Download a translation app
– Pack for all-weather
– Be mindful of scams
– Remember, the city offers something for everyone, so personalize your experience and make the most of your trip.

How can I make the most of my time in Budapest?

There are several ways to make the most of your stay in Budapest. 

Purchasing a Budapest Card is one way to enjoy free or discounted entry to numerous city attractions and free metro, bus, and tram service. 

You can also take a walking tour or enjoy the Danube River Cruise. 

If you want to experience the city like a local, try visiting one of the baths or taking a culinary class.

Featured Image: MasterLu / Getty Images

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