One of the must-go-to cities in Eastern Europe has to be Budapest. This romantic city is has everything that you are looking for in a city trip; culture, good food, history, and great parties and all of this can be done very well on a budget!
What to see from Buda to Pest
Budapest consists out of two parts, Buda and Pest and in both parts there is a lot to see. In Buda definitely check out the Buda Castle. There is no need to spend any money to see the castle, you can just walk around and enjoy the beautiful castle and views over Budapest. Close to the Buda Castle is the Fisherman’s Bastion. This gorgeous white fortification is one of the most photogenic places in Budapest. It is quite big and most parts are free to enter, for some parts you do have to pay (for example for the upper towers) but when you show your student card or say you are a student it will only cost you 1,4 euros.
On the other side of the Danube is Pest located, this is the more lively part of Budapest where more clubs, restaurants etc. are located. When you are on the hill in Buda you can see the parliament that is located in Pest. You can visit the parliament building every day of the week, but you do have to pay an entrance fee, approximately 3 euros when you are a EU student or under the age of 25.
Also go to the Great Market Hall, the largest and oldest indoor market of Budapest. You can find great souvenirs here or buy some delicious food/drinks. It is huge and beautifully designed. Even if you are not planning on buying anything it is a fun (and free). After the Great Market Hall continue to the Andrássy avenue, the main avenue of Budapest. This place is filled with expensive restaurants, shops, bars etc. so don’t expect to find any budget friendly spots here.
Another must see in Budapest is a spa. I would go to the Szechenyi Baths (located in Pest), this beautiful outside and inside spa offers you all the relaxation that you can ask for. I went there after a hard night of partying and felt amazing when I left the spa. Oh do be aware of the egg smell… I was unpleasantly surprised by it. A ticket does cost about 17 euros, but I would reserve a part of your budget for this! There are also parties at the spa, check the dates here! Next to the spa you can also find the zoo and a big park to take a nice walk.
Since Budapest is quite big and the sightseeing places are located quite far apart I would recommend to use public transportation. When I was in Budapest we arranged a student travel card, you pay about 10 euro’s for this and with this card you have unlimited access to all the different types of public transport within Budapest.
Strong drinks and delicious food
As in most Eastern European countries the typical Hungarian dishes consist of a lot of meat. A typical Hungarian dish is the Goulash Soup, great thing to try! If you are more about exploring the local drinks, try palinka. Do eat something before this or you won’t remember anything from your night 😉 If you want to be more artistic drink some absinth, maybe you will get some great ideas! Both are very strong, so you do need a strong stomach for them!
I can recommend the For Sale Pub for a good dinner. They serve nice food (also typical Hungarian food) and you can stay there afterwards for some drinks (they are open till the early morning). The cool thing about this restaurant is that it is filled with little notes written by the customers! Almost everywhere you look you see paper, and when you eat here they give you a box of thumbtacks so you can pin your own memories to the wall. The prices are maybe a bit above average for Budapest but still very affordable, even if you are on a budget.
Another great restaurant is Spiler. This restaurant is very popular amongst the locals, and I can understand why. The food and drinks are cheap and the atmosphere is amazing. They serve Hungarian classics and Hungarian pizza’s, but also your regular burgers and meat from the grill. Also try the sour cherry beer here (stari meggy in Hungarian), it was one of my favourites when I was in Budapest! At night Spiler turns into a bar, so if you decide to stick around after dinner you won’t be dissapointed!
From hipster bars to the most modern clubs
If you go partying in Budapest you cannot miss Szimpla bar. This funky bar has a cool interior and is very popular amongst students and young people. The drinks are cheap and the music and vibe is good! It is cool to walk around in the bar, there are all these different small rooms where you can sit and meet new people. There is no entry fee, but come a bit earlier on the night to avoid the big crowds.
Budapest is also filled with nice clubs. At most clubs you pay an entrance fee, this can vary from 3 euros to about 10 euros, but most times this entrance fee includes some free drinks. Morrinson’s 2 is cool and not too expensive to get in and neither are the drinks inside.
In summer you could combine a visit to the Sziget festival with your city trip. Tickets are quite expensive though and the prices at the festival itself as well. However the festival always has a good line up and it is one big party!
Where to stay
Budapest consists of different districts and in District V, named Belvaros, is where most action happens. Therefore I would recommend to find a place in this district or close to this district. There are plenty of budget friendly hostels and appartments in Budapest, so it won’t be too difficult to find a place close to here. The main shopping street is located here as well, and it is filled with beautiful historic buildings.
District VII, Erzebetvatos, is also a nice place to stay. Many bars and restaurants can be found here, as well as the Jewish quarter and Great Synagoge. Many tourist locations and hot spots are also around this area, so this can save you a lot of time and money when you want to visit them all.
These were my tips on how to have a great time in Budapest with a small budget! If you have any tips yourself, please feel free to share them!