Budapest Basics Food and Drink Bars and Nightlife Activities Lifestyle Moving to Budapest

Budapest on a Budget

July 7th, 2020

 

Budapest has gained fame in travelers' circles for being cheaper than many other European cities. Perhaps that's even why you've chosen to travel to Budapest in the first place! Arriving in a city where a huge part of the economy is based on tourism, it's not always easy to find something to do that doesn't cost an arm and a leg.

However, here are some of our favorite things to do in Budapest that are completely affordable or even free. Here's our recommendations on how to experience Budapest on a budget!

 

Food

What is the first thing we do when you arrive in a city? Look for somewhere delicious (yet affordable) to eat of course! No doubt we can all relate to taking out our phones right after we've checked in at reception and searching; “Best cheap eats”.

Here are some of our favorite places to eat when our wallet is looking thin. Pick one of these places and you'll be saying "Enjoy your meal!" In no time!

 

Drum Cafe

entrance to Drum Cafe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Located in District 6, on the corner of Dob Utca & Károly Krt., Drum Cafe is a local restaurant that serves a delicious menu of authentic Hungarian meals. You'll enjoy it especially if you're a visual eater - they have pictures of their entire menu posted outside, so you can decide exactly what you want to eat before you even sit down.

For the price of around 2000HUF (6 €) you can get a 3 course meal, which includes a soup, followed by a main course, and finally a dessert (we'd recommend the somlói galuska - basically the Hungarian version of tiramisu).

 

Bors Gasztro Bar

outside view of Bors Gasztro Bar

Next, also located in District 6, on Kazinczy Street, right next to the famous ruin bar Szimpla Kert, is a street food restaurant called Bors Gasztrobár. Bors may be small, but its reputation makes sure that there's always an enthusiastic line. Their motto is “Not fast food, quality street food”, and they’re not wrong.

For the price of 1900HUF (6 €) you can get a unique Bors style soup and sandwich. Everyday they have a different variety of savory and sweet soups, as well as a unique variety of sandwiches. They also have salads and pastas on the menu if sandwiches aren't your thing. But trust us - a sandwich from Bors Gastro Bar is unlike any other! 

 

Falafel Bar

evening outside Falafel Bar

You'll likely see locations of the popular chain, Hummus Bar, sprinkled around Budapest. However, if you have a craving for a falafel, but don’t want to spend too much money, the lesser known Falafel Bar is a cheaper alternative.

There are two locations, one on Wesselényi Utca and the other on Bajcsy-Zsilinkszky Utca so you'll never be far if you need some falafel after a night out in the party district. Although a smaller chain, many find it to be the tastiest falafel in Budapest, as well as one of the cheapest places.

For under 1000ft, around 3€, you can get a delicious falafel wrap with all of the works. Add on a side of fries for a measly 500HUF more.

 

Grandio Hostel & Bar

entrance to Gradio ruin bar

Lastly, we present to you Grandio Hostel & Bar. Although it is a hostel all year round, during the day and night they have the bar open to customers. If you're yearning for a big juicy burger with some gooey cheese fries, this is your place.

Grandio serves mostly “American Style” food such as burgers, wings, quesadillas, salads, etc, but they also have some Hungarian options as well as a fully stocked bar. All for a cheaper price in comparison to its competitors. Not a bad place to go for some greasy food and a drink.

 

If you're looking for something quicker or on the go, there’s plenty of kebab or pizza shops around the city that are incredibly cheap. So it really just depends on what you're craving at the time - it’s quite easy to get away with spending very little on food in Budapest. 

 

Activities

After you’ve had a delicious meal and a nice cold beer, you'll be fueled up and ready to go! But the question is, what can you do in Budapest on a budget? Luckily for you there’s plenty to choose from! 

Fortunately, Budapest is a beautiful city and it’s completely possible to spend 3 days exploring and sightseeing without spending any money. The beautiful Hungarian monuments that are worth a visit are scattered all around the city and they're definitely wallet friendly and the perfect place to start if you're looking for cheap or free things to do in Budapest.

No matter where you start your adventure from, there will be a monument close to you!

 

St. Stephen’s Basilica

St Stephens Basilica
Florin Corbu / Unsplash

This big and beautiful church is located on the border of district 5, along Bajcsy-Zsilinkszky Utca. It is in front of a big beautiful square where you can take the perfect selfie of you and the church. If you want to enter inside to see the amazing architecture and art, it only costs 200HUF (just under 1€)--a steal considering the vast and breathtaking interior.

You could spend an hour inside just gaping at the ceiling. Check the church's website for the different program occuring during the week. Maybe your visit will coincide with a morning mass or an evening organ recital.

If you'd like to see the church (and all of Budapest) from a different angle, you can pay another 500HUF or so to make the long climb up the church's tower. The Basilica is one of Budapest's tallest buildings, so you know the view will be spectacular!

 

Hungarian Parliament Building

Parliament on the water at night
Dan Novac / Unsplash

Visiting Parliament is the quickest way to step into a Budapest postcard. Budapest’s parliament building, being Hungary’s largest building, is one of Budapest’s most beautiful sights. Day & night, close up & from a far, this building is worth making a trip to. In order to gain entrance you must buy a ticket for a guided tour.

Tickets start from €9. If you plan ahead to be in Budapest during one of Hungary's national holidays, you can stand in line to gain entry for an abbreviated tour for free! Only a short walk from St Stephen’s Basilica.

 

Buda Castle

Buda Castle lit up at night
Thomas Winkler / Unsplash

Located on the Buda side of the Danube, just across Budapest’s famous chain bridge is the Buda Castle. It’s definitely worth making a trip over to the other side of the river to see this beauty.

As well as housing much of Hungary's history, the castle is also home to the Hungarian National Gallery, which hosts exhibitis of international acclaim. Museum entry costs 3200HUF (€9). Once there it’s a short walk to Matthias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion. 

 

Matthias Church & Fisherman's Bastion

sunset at Fisherman's Bastion
Paul G / Unsplash

After checking out the Buda Castle, you can take a stroll over to Matthias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion. They’re both located in the same spot, up on the hill looking over the river with a great view to the Parliament Building. 

 

Heroes Square & Budapest City Park

vintage photo of castle at city park
Von Klinkoff / Unsplash

At the end of one of Budapest’s main streets Andrassy Utca, is Heroes square and Budapest City Park. It’s worth it just to take a stroll up Andrassy as the street is filled with shops and a great view all the way up until you get to heroes square.

Once there you can take some photos with the statues, or go for a stroll in the park, and check out the castle hidden within. All great activities to do Budapest on a budget.

 

Budapest Citadel & Liberty Statue

Géllert hill
Adam Hornyak / Unsplash

If you're feeling like a bit of a hike, you can make your way up to The Citadel & Liberty Statue. Located on the Buda side of the Danube, at the top of Gellert Hill, from there you can get a great view of the entire Pest side of Budapest. 

 

Honorable Mentions

Check out Budapest's Central Market Hall. Head to Deák Ferenc Tér and have a picnic beside the fountain. Take a walk up Andrássy Street and check out the National Opera House. Head over to Szimpla Kert - one of Budapest's famous ruin pubs - and take a wonder at all the quirky decor inside. 

 

These are just a handful of things you can do in Budapest on a budget. And don't forget - the beauty of Budapest is that everything is within walking distance, so there is no need to pay for transportation if you have the energy! No matter if your wallet is full or empty, Budapest is the city for you!

 

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