When traveling by yourself, or moving abroad by yourself, it can be hard to meet people and make new friends. So many are just passing through, and locals mostly have a complete group of friends already. You don’t know anybody, you don’t speak the language (well), and people who’ve been here longer already have their group of friends. I already knew some locals before moving to Budapest, but I really wanted to meet more people. Also when I was still visiting the city, I loved meeting new people. But where do you find them? There are a lot of people asking about this, so here it is: how to meet people in Budapest.
There’s a difference between meeting people when you’re traveling through, or when you’re living somewhere (temporarily). In the last case, you don’t want to have to find new people to hang out with every week, but you want to try and build a social circle. That’s why I’ll be making a difference between traveling and living in Budapest.
Traveling in Budapest
Free walking tour
A free walking tour is an easy way to do something by yourself and meet people in Budapest. Some people are nervous to go out and have dinner by themselves, but there’s nothing to be nervous about when joining a walking tour by yourself. There will most probably be more solo travelers! During the walk, you’ll see some of the most important sights of Budapest, and you can meet other (solo) travelers. After that, ask them to join you for a drink or dinner, or to visit another sight.
There are several organizations organizing bar/pub crawls. This means you’ll visit several bars in a night, and often get discounts on your drinks. Besides organizations planning crawls, there are also (party) hostels organizing their own crawls.
These are usually busy nights, and it’s a lot more casual to start talking to strangers. The best opening to a conversation? Asking where somebody’s from and where they’re traveling to (and where they’ve been)!
I actually met two solo travelers during a free walking tour and then we went on a pub crawl together. Good times!
Hostels are known as the spot to meet other travelers. Pretty much all hostels have some communal areas where you can lounge, play a game, cook, or work. This is where you meet other travelers. The same goes here: just ask them where they’re from and what their travel plans are. Every traveler loves to talk about this!
Living in Budapest
About a month before I moved to Budapest, I searched Facebook for relevant groups. I ended up in a few expat and digital nomad groups. This is where you can ask all kinds of questions about moving and living in Budapest, but there are also often people asking if anybody wants to go for drinks. Perfect to meet people in Budapest! Some groups that I’m in:
There are also several meet ups where you can show up by yourself and leave with a whole group of new friends. Both International Meeting Point, as well as Digital Wombats Budapest, have bi-weekly meet ups.
IMP (International Meeting Point) always has their meet ups at Anker’t. They have free welcome shots for the first few dozen visitors, a raffle where you can win a bottle of champagne, or sometimes even tickets to events. Every once in a while there’s live music. Most people talk and drink, but there’s also a dance floor.
The Wombats (not to be confused with the hostel) has bi-weekly meet ups in other weeks (when there’s no IMP). I have to say I’m prejudiced since this is where I met most of my friends and since our Wombat-in-Chief left Budapest, I’ve taken over the group. We have meet ups at different locations and with different activities, like a board game bar, a picnic, dinners, or just a bar. If you’re interested in joining us, feel free to apply on Facebook (or send me an email and I’ll connect you).
Digital Wombats Budapest
Okay, I have more to say than what’s above. The Digital Wombats Budapest is not only a meetup group. It’s a helpful group of international Budapestians where you can ask questions, people share (free) events on the page, or if they’re planning something will ask if people want to join.
A lot of plans are made during the meet ups, and people also meet outside of the ‘official’ meet ups. Like I said, it’s where I met most of my friends. And if I didn’t meet them here, I definitely at one point took them along to a meetup or two.
Activities and events
There are a ton of events in Budapest, also for internationals and (partly) in English. Don’t be scared to go to an event by yourself, you’re sure to meet people with the same interests (otherwise they wouldn’t be there). Some events I like are the hikes from Budapest Hikers, or the monthly 5k run around Margit-sziget. You’re bound to meet new people!
In my experience, it’s easier to make friends with other internationals, since they need new friends as well. After five months, I still regularly hang out with people I met during my first meetup! You don’t have to be lonely in Budapest, you just have to try a little.