Why visit Budapest and why visit Hungary at all?
A city with centuries-old history is considered to be one of the most beautiful in Europe. The variety of architectural styles, such as baroque, neoclassicism, modernism, and secession are harmoniously combined in the Hungarian capital, creating an amazing atmosphere that attracts tourists from all over the world.
Should you plan your own visit? Absolutely and try to spend at least 2 days in Budapest.
Why Visit Budapest?
Because of the Affordability
From our experience, Budapest is one of the most affordable touristy cities in Europe. Everything from accommodation to your personal expenses is going to be cheaper than in other Western European countries. Prague, for instance, is considered to be cheap as well, but we felt more comfortable with the same amount of money in Budapest than in Prague. Some surveys show that Budapest is also one of the cheapest holiday destinations in the world.
We were spending on average 50 dollars per day as a couple during our trips to the capital of Hungary. This expense included accommodation, meals, public transportation, and a ticket to thermal baths. We had two different types of accommodation there.
In the beginning, we rented a very nice room in a cute flat through Airbnb right near the city center, paying 21 dollars per night. Afterwards, we rented a modern one bedroom apartment with a kitchen, washer, and a beautiful living room. This deal cost us 34 dollars per night. On food, we spent between 10-15 dollars per day because we mainly ate vegetarian and cooked at home. If you are planning to eat out and have meat or seafood then this same number is going to multiply.
Since we lived in a city center, we walked a lot and didn’t really use public transportation. A few times when we did we paid two or three dollars per day for taking a bus and a subway. The main expenses in Budapest are accommodation and food. If you are a party person who looks to save on rent, take a look at these cute but cheap hostels in Budapest.
The city is very compact and you can walk it around. There are plenty of attractions in Budapest you can explore and visit for free or on a low budget, so no need to spend lots of money on entertainment.
Unique Architecture of Budapest
The entire city center is a unique collection of historical monuments and architecture. It will take you at least three full days to explore the main attractions of Budapest. During this time you can visit the Royal Palace, with its secret dungeons, the Széchenyi and Gellért baths, the Fishermen’s Bastion, the Museum of Fine Arts, where a unique collection of canvases is displayed, beautiful panorama of the Danube seafront, and the UNESCO World Heritage Site Heroes’ Square.
Why visit Budapest? Because of the Thermal Bath Culture!
One of the best Budapest activities includes a trip to a spa where you can relax in mineral waters.
From the centuries-old Turkish baths to upscale hotel spas, the choice is yours. No matter which place you choose, all of the springs in Budapest have healing powers and await visitors in historical settings. Diseases of the joints, circulatory problems, post-traumatic treatments, respiratory issues, nerve pain can be relieved with a thermal bath. The waters are beneficial for everyone and can be very relaxing after a long day of walking and exploring the city. As many times as I was in Budapest as many times, I was returning to Széchenyi Baths.
Mark and I went at 6 o’clock in the morning to avoid crowds and enjoy the peacefulness. We checked a few other hot springs and our favorites are:
Rudas Thermal Bath and Swimming Pool – the coolest part about this thermal bath is that it has a panorama pool on the roof and offers a stunning view of the Danube river and the city.
Gellért Baths – upscale, luxury and at the same time historical thermal bath. Celebrities and prime ministers prefer Gellert to all other hot springs. What we like most about this place is the ability to experience luxury without paying a lot of money. This bath complex is part of a famous hotel with lots of history behind its walls.
If you are visiting Budapest in winter, going to thermal baths is absolutely obligatory. It is such an incredible feeling being outside in cold weather while soaking in a hot pool with healing waters and watching snowflakes fall onto your face.
You won’t find that many cities in the world with such an amount of walkable bridges. They are not only considered to be a piece of art you should see with your own eyes.
Walking on them lets you receive a totally new perspective of the city and the Danube river. On your trip to Budapest, go to one of 8 bridges and walk from a flat part of the city Pest to a hilly part of Buda.
In the 19th century, those two were different independent cities. Hilly, liberated Buda and sleepless, pompous Pest. They united 140 years ago, but until this day the Hungarians from Buda do not want to exchange the peace of their mountain houses for the life on the Pest side, and the inhabitants of Pest shout that they will die of boredom if they move across the river to Buda.
If you have time, walk all of the bridges, but the most famous and impressive one is the Széchenyi Chain Bridge. The most unique bridge is considered to be the Liberty Bridge. Go there during the day to contemplate life or sit atop its beautiful architecture. Go in the evening for a beautiful sunset or to enjoy a view of a night city.
A few words about the food…
Some people recommend traveling to Budapest for a dining experience. Honestly, we are not big fans of Hungarian food. For us, it’s just a bit heavy and too meaty. When we visited we cooked a lot of our own meals and took a fancy to Mediterranean and Asian food restaurants.
It doesn’t mean though you shouldn’t try famous Hungarian Goulash, Debrecener or Fatányéros. There are countless eateries, bistros, and taverns around Budapest where you can try traditional Hungarian food, as well as international bites. I write more about it in my guide to Budapest.
On average you should pay between 5 and 8 euros for a decent size portion.
Just keep in mind the next. Areas such as St. Stephen’s Basilica, Liszt Ferenc Square, Gozsdu Court in the Jewish District, Ráday Street are very touristy and all the restaurants and cafes there target tourists with overpriced menus. Seriously, you can have a very fulfilling meal in Budapest for 5 or 6 euros. There is no need to overpay, especially for a touristy type of experience.
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Tourists who are traveling to the capital of Hungary for the first time will be surprised to find the pomposity and splendor of the city. Budapest amazes and impresses, exceeding everyone’s expectations.
There is no best season when to visit, but summers sometimes get muggy and stuffy, making it difficult to enjoy hot springs or walk for extended periods of time. Don’t skip this city when visiting Europe.
And don’t ask yourself a question why visit Budapest. Just come and see how beautiful it is. Enjoy your time and have fun!