Adoration 4 Adventure’s 3-day budget itinerary for Budapest, Hungary.
Let me start by saying that 3 days wasn’t enough to see everything I wanted. Although I had bad luck with the rain, I still would have loved to stay 4-5 days to explore more of this incredible destination.
Budapest is a vast city brimming with history, culture and delicious food. There is so much to do that it can be hard to decide where to start. This post will help you plan out your Budapest itinerary with ease while keeping your costs low.
Arrival and check-in
Check-in to Gregersen Art Hostel
My accommodation of choice was Gregersen Art Premium Hostel, conveniently located on the Pest side. I arrived in the evening and was cheerfully greeted at the reception by Csöpi. After a speedy and efficient check-in, Csöpi asked if I would like an overview of the city. He happily gave me maps, marking out suggested landmarks and attractions. It was a lovely introduction to the city.
Free entrance into most bars in the Jewish Quarter.
For my first evening in Budapest, I decided to check out the famed “Ruin Pubs”. These are basically old buildings in the Jewish Quarter which have been transformed into bars and clubs. Often the bars are below street level and even themed. Based on Csöpi’s recommendation, I headed to the Yellow Zebra which was a low-key pub, with a local feel and a nice atmosphere.
Pick up Budapest Cards
The Budapest Festival and Tourism Centre offers a 1, 2 and 3-day sightseeing cards. These official city cards provide free admission and discounts for heaps of attractions, tours, and restaurants. To make the deal even sweeter, it includes free public transport on all BKK services (this covers buses to and from the airport).
I had the 72 hour Budapest Card and loved how fuss-free it made my visit. I was able to hop straight onto buses or trains, without having to worry about buying tickets. I also had free access to some of the most popular attractions in Budapest.
This card is a very convenient option for visitors to the city, as you can order online and collect from the airport or the Budapestinfo Point in the center of Pest. You can also purchase after you arrive, at one of the various kiosks all over the city (trust me – you will see them everywhere and they are more than happy to help with directions).
For more information and to order your Budapest Card online, go to Buy Now.
Central Market Hall
The Central Market Hall (or Grand Market Hall) is a popular tourist spot. Visitors come here to peruse local produce, buy souvenirs and enjoy a Hungarian meal. Head upstairs to the food vendors and grab a seat, so you can people watch from above while munching on your Langos.
Free Communism Walk
Free walking tour (tips appreciated).
I am a big fan of walking tours. What better way to see the city and hear about history from a local while getting some great exercise. The free walking tours run by United Europe Free Tours, offer a Budapest, Communism and Jewish District walk. They also have 2 tours in Spanish for the general Budapest tour as well as a “Dictators and Religions” tour.
As I had recently gone on a Jewish Quarter walking tour in Krakow, Poland and was taking a Pest Tour the next day, I opted to go with the Communism walking tour at 3:30 pm. During this 2.5 hour tour, our guide provided fascinating insight and knowledge about this difficult period in Hungarian history.
Sweeney Todd Musical
3000 HUF per person.
While on my 10-day backpacking trip of Krakow, Bratislava, and Budapest, I was keen to see a musical performance. By chance, I heard about a Sweeney Todd musical in English (with Hungarian subtitles). The show was presented by Eso Theatricals and held at a theater on the Buda side. It was a wonderful experience to watch a mainly Hungarian cast, with a few International actors, in an intimate setting.
Gregersen Art Hostel can also arrange tickets for musical performances such orchestral, classical, and folk.
Goulash and beers
Free entrance into most bars in the Jewish Quarter.
After a long but fun day in Budapest, I was in need of some sustenance. I headed back to the Jewish Quarter and came across a rock-themed bar called “Liquid Pub”. There I had a blast singing along to rock songs, sipping beers, and savoring a bowl of goulash.
Classic Pest Walking Tour
Free with Budapest Card.
Cityrama operates walking tours for the Buda (2 pm daily) and Pest (10 am daily) sides of the city. I took the Classic Pest Walking Tour and found the guide to be courteous and knowledgeable. There was some overlap with the Communism Walking Tour so, in hindsight, I would have taken the Classic Buda Tour instead. Although hearing two different perspectives on Hungarian events and politics, from the guides, can also be interesting.
The Chain Bridge and Danube River
A must-do for anyone visiting Budapest is to walk across the Széchenyi Chain Bridge. This awe-inspiring construction was the first permanent structure to link the Buda and Pest sides from across the Danube River.
Stroll along the Danube River at both night and day for contrasting views of this picturesque city.
Buda Castle District
Free entrance to Budapest History Museum with Budapest Card.
After crossing the Chain Bridge to the Buda side, you will be in the Buda Castle District. This area contains many fantastic viewpoints as well as attractions including the Budapest History Museum, Royal Palace, and Fishermen’s Bastion. I explored the Budapest History Museum to learn even more about the city.
Heroes Square and Vajdahunyad Castle
Free entrance to the courtyard of the Vajdahunyad.
Take a leisurely stroll up Andrassy Avenue until reaching Heroes Square. A tall column is surrounded by the Seven Leaders of the Hungarian Conquest. An impressive sight to behold. Behind the square, you will find a Budapestinfo Point and the Vajdahunyad Castle.
While in this area, you can also visit the Szechenhyi Baths, the largest and most popular thermals baths in Budapest. Budapest Card holders receive a 20% discount off the entrance fee.
Lukács Thermal Bath
Free entrance with Budapest Card.
For as long as I’ve known thermal baths existed, I’ve wanted to visit one. The whole idea of a bath house seemed so mysterious to me. The closest experience I’d had was during my recent trips to outdoor hot springs in La Fortuna, Costa Rica and Copan Ruinas, Honduras.
Lukacs Thermal Baths are located in Buda and easy to travel to via the tram. I decided to leave this experience until my last evening, so I could relax before flying back to Germany. It was very luxuriating with multiple saunas, steam rooms, indoor and outdoor thermal pools. I stayed for almost 2 hours and could have stayed longer, especially if I had of indulged in some of their wellness services or treatments.
As newbies to the world of thermals baths, I wasn’t sure about what to bring and ended up having to wear my normal shoes to walk around between baths (you can rent flip flops, towels and swim swear if needed).
To help you be better prepared than us, make sure to pack the following for your trip:
- Pair of flip flops/thongs to walk around in
- Swimming costume (bikini, board shorts, etc)
Lockers are available and included with free entrance for Budapest Card holders.
Gregersen Art Premium Hostel
Gregersen Art Point is a fantastic option for high quality, low-cost accommodation in the center of Budapest. The hostel offers single, double, triple and quadruple rooms with a shared bathroom. As well as premium rooms with a private bathroom. This makes it a great choice for all types of travelers from solo backpackers to families.
The hostel rooms and facilities are immaculate, with a shared kitchen to help you keep your food costs down. I appreciated the high-speed WiFi so I could get work done during the nights. The staff were always pleasant and accommodating for any questions that I had.
Location: Budapest, Lónyay u. 31, 1093, Hungary
I was a complimentary guest of Gregersen Art Premium Hostel and Budapest Card, however, my opinion is my own and will always remain unbiased in order to provide the best recommendations to my readers.
Budget breakdown: Budapest
All costs are quoted for two people and in the local currency (HUF). See below for the average daily spend per person including currency conversion to USD and AUD. I always try to find and negotiate the best prices to share with my readers. If you know of a better deal, tell me about it in the comments below.
Accommodation: Gregersen Art Premium Hostel offers multiple room choices for different group sizes. For the full list of accommodations and current prices, please refer to Hostel.
Food: Each morning I would go to the local supermarket to buy pastries for breakfast. Tap water is drinkable in Hungary so I did not have to buy bottled water.
Arrival – 2 beers at the Yellow Zebra (900).
Day 1 – 2 coffees (1400), 2 breakfast calzones from a bakery (840), barbecue lunch at Bel Varosi Disznotoros (950), 2 coffees (1130), 2 ice creams (440), 1 cookie (390), 2 beers and a bowl of goulash (2070).
Day 2 – 2 coffees (930), 4 pastries from the supermarket (595), 2 coffees (790), 1 langos (900), 2 beers at the Street Food Show (1600), 2 ice creams (400).
Day 3 – 4 pastries from the supermarket (362), 2 coffees (880), 2-course lunch with soup and pasta (1100 – shared), 2 slices of pizza (400).
Activities: Tip for communism walking tour (1400), 2 tickets for the Sweeney Todd musical (6000), Budapest History Museum (Free with Budapest Card) and Lukács Thermal Bath (Free with Budapest Card).
Transport: Free BKK public transport (including to and from the airport) with Budapest Card.
Average daily spend: 3912.85 HUF each* ($14.33 USD and $18.79 AUD as of 25 September 2016) excluding accommodation, BKK transport and activities covered by the Budapest Card.
*This daily amount could be reduced by sticking more strictly to street food or cooking your own meals.
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