If you’re like me, you’ll look up which sights to see and how to get to the airport on time before traveling. But you also forget to look up which currency is used at your destination. So here’s your guide to Budapest: everything you need to know before traveling to Budapest.
I learn more every day. That’s why I’ll keep adding to this post, so it’ll always be up to date. If you have any questions or if you’re missing anything, don’t hesitate to contact me. A message through Facebook or Instagram is the fastest, you can also email me at email@example.com.
Hop in the right cab
So nice, after a night of dancing and partying. Flag down a cab and you’ll be home in no time. The next day you count your money and you find out you almost paid Western European amounts of money for your cab. Huh? Just so you know: cabs have a starting rate of 450 HUF (around €1,50) and cost 280 HUF (around €0,90) per kilometer.
There are a ton of cabs driving around Budapest. Although there are a few trustworthy companies, the names are way too hard to remember. In general: don’t flag down cabs on the street, but call for one. Getting one off the street is practically the same as paying too much.
Fötaxi is the official taxi partner of Budapest Airport, and they have the best reputation. The app Taxify is also used a lot. Taxify works the same as Uber.
Phone number: +36 1 222 2 222
Getting around with public transport
Although Budapest is small enough to walk around, some tourists prefer using public transport. Of course, some of the public transport has great stories behind them. Metro 1 is the oldest metro service in mainland Europe and tram 2 is like a tourist train along some of the best sights. But how does it work with the tickets?
You can buy tickets at the airport, as well as almost all tram stops and metro stations. There are ticket machines everywhere, and offices at the airport and many metro stations. 24-hr tickets are sold for 1650 HUF (around €5,50), single tickets cost 350 HUF (a little over €1) and you can buy 10 single tickets for 3000 HUF (almost €10).
When you’re making five or more trips, it’s cheaper to use a 24-hr ticket instead of single tickets. Single tickets can’t be used from point A to B (like from the airport to your hotel), but you need a new ticket every transfer. So to get to the city, you’ll need at least two single tickets (first the bus, then the metro) and maybe one or two extra to get to your hotel. Or a special ticket for bus 100E, plus a single ticket to get from the central square to your hotel. You will need to validate single tickets; get them stamped at the machines in the buses and trams, and at the metro entrances.
My advice? Either walk or get a day ticket. In that case, you won’t have to worry about tickets and validating.
From the airport to Budapest
Very important: how to get from the airport to the city. The easiest thing of course is taking a cab. As I mentioned before, Fötaxi is the official partner of the airport. So get to the Fötaxi counters, and don’t go with the recruiting drivers. You can also book at shuttle at miniBUD starting at 1900 HUF (around €6,50).
Using public transport is cheaper, and you’ll dive into the local life right away! Bus 100E will take you straight to the central square Deák Ferenc tér from the airport (with a special ticket costing 900 HUF/around €2,95). Bus 200E will take you to the metro station (end stop of the bus), from where you can take metro 3 (blue) to the city center. Depending on the location of your hotel or Airbnb, you’ll have to transfer somewhere else as well.
The forint is used in Hungary, the HUF. One euro is about 300-310 forints. Personally, I always use 300 HUF to calculate, because my math skills are not the best. (Just to be sure, I have a currency app on my phone).
Many places in Budapest allow you to pay with euros, but you’ll get your change in forints. Besides that, the shops/restaurants don’t have the best exchange rate. Instead of getting 310 HUF for your euro, they’ll only give you 295 HUF.
Oh, and how to get your forints? Just go to the bank. Make sure your card can be used in Europe and you can get your money at the bank. Personally, I avoid getting money at the smaller ATM’s you see all over the city and make sure to go to the bank. You don’t have to go to the employees, there are ATM’s behind the first doors. Always get them to take the money off of your account in forints. That way you don’t have to pay extra conversion fees (or at least, I don’t have to).
The same goes for using your card in stores, sometimes the machines ask you if you want to charge your account in HUF or your home currency. You can also pay wireless nowadays, ask for ‘PayPass’. This can be done without a pin code up to 5000 HUF (around €16). At some stores, you will need to pay with cash though.
How expensive is Budapest?
It’s known that Budapest is one of the cheaper destinations in Europe. You can have a nice dinner for €25. For two people! Budapest is less suitable for a shopping trip, the clothes are about the same price as the rest of Europe.
Below is a short list of some essentials and starting at-prices.
Food and drinks
- Beer: 200 HUF, €0,60
- Coffee: 500 HUF, €1,60
- Sandwich: 450 HUF, €1,45
- Street food: 750 HUF, €2,50
- Main course + drink: 3500 HUF, €11,30
- Hostel: 3700 HUF, €12
- Hotel: 9000 HUF, €29
- Private room through Airbnb: 4600 HUF, €15
- Single public transport ticket: 350 HUF, €1,10
- Taxi: start rate 450 HUF, €1,50, per kilometer 280 HUF, €0,90
- Bike: 500 HUF, €1,60 for a 24 hr-ticket. First half hour is free, then it’s 500 HUF, €1,60 per half hour.
Who, what, where?
Maybe you know this already: Budapest is made up of two former cities, separated by the Danube. On the west side is the hilly and historic Buda, the east side is the touristy, flat Pest.
Go to Buda for your hill training, fantastic views over the city, and historic buildings as the Buda Castle.
I expect you will spend most of your time in Pest. This is where you’ll find most sights, museums, bars, restaurants, etc. Erzsébetváros (or district 7) is the place to be if you want to go out partying. Go shopping in Váci utca or WestEnd City Center. Sights are spread out over Pest.
– Read more: 7x of the most popular tips for Budapest
Whew, a lot (if not everything) you need to know before traveling to Budapest.