Budapest has long been a favourite among travellers of all ages and travel styles, and for good reason! The capital of Hungary has a wealth of history, art, culture and cool things to do regardless of your age, budget or timeframe.
Due to its location pretty much smack bang in the middle of Europe, it’s easy to get to on the interrail network as well as via low cost airlines from within Europe. There’s also tons of river cruises that go into Budapest travelling along the Danube, so all in all, it’s a great city to visit as a single trip, or as part of a larger European adventure.
Whether you’re travelling to Budapest solo or with friends, a great way to stay in the city on a budget is by staying in a hostel. Not only are hostels an affordable option, they’re often in super central locations, with helpful local tour desks and offer a space to socialise with new friends – and with HostelPass you can save even more off your Budapest adventure!
For just £29.99 a year you can save up to 40% off dorm or private rooms in hostels all across Europe and experience extra discounts off tours, transport and more! Leaving you with more money to spend on excursions, souvenirs, or even more trips.
So, now that Budapest has just got even more affordable, let’s see what’s the best things to do in Budapest!
1. Thermal Pools
If you’ve ever seen a photo or Instagram post of Budapest, chances are that you’ve seen the hundreds of thermal pools and open air spas that are dotted across the city. These historic spas are fed by geothermal springs so they always run at a nice toasty temperature, regardless of the air temperature outside – in fact it’s a really popular thing to do when it’s snowing outside!
There are loads of thermal pools all over the city ranging in price, size and available activities – it’s quite common to see friends playing chess on a floating board in the middle of the pool. In fact, there are some thermal pools that are entirely free to enter, or massively discounted if you’re a young person or a student. Of course, given their historic status, some of the thermal spas are beautifully ornate, so don’t forget your waterproof camera cases!
2. Danube Bike Ride
The mighty Danube river runs through the heart of Budapest, as it does through several major European cities such as Vienna, Belgrade and Bratislava – you can actually use this as inspiration for your European multi-city itinerary. However if you’re looking for a shorter excursion along this beautiful river, one of the best ways to experience it is on two wheels.
If you haven’t bought your bike along with you, don’t worry. You can either hire a bike at one of the many cycle shops, find one of the pay-by-the-hour bike docking stations around the city centre or, in some cases, your hostel might have some bikes available to borrow for the day. Along the banks of the Danube, you’ll be able to see loads of the big Budapest landmarks including the Széchenyi Chain Bridge and Buda Castle.
3. Buda Caverns
If you’re looking for something completely different during your time in Budapest, you can get away from the crowds at street level and explore the impressive and historic Buda Caves under the Old Town area of the city. Legend says that within the extensive network of tunnels, caves and crevices is the location where notorious Romanian Count, Vlad the Impaler, was kept under lock and key.
Aside from holding vicious tyrants, these cave networks were commonly used for storage and shelter over the years and even has a little church inside it from a time when locals took sanctuary down in the caves. It’s definitely a cool way to walk through history and discover more about the culture of Hungary while taking in the natural beauty of these subterranean caves.
4. Food Tour
You can learn a lot about a culture through its food, and honestly visiting food markets or taking part in a food tour is an amazing way to experience a city like a local. Budapest has dozens of great food markets that you can visit including the main one, Central Market Hall, where you can get groceries, lunch, speak to suppliers and try new cuisines and drinks.
You can also head to an old ruin pub called Szimpla Kert which hosts a weekly farmer’s market in a cool, repurposed industrial setting – in fact there’s loads of these derelict units that have been transformed into pubs and taverns across the city and they often also serve some kind of food to soak up the beer. From Hungarian cheeses and wines, to spicy goulash, paprika chicken & palacsinta pancakes there are plenty of delicious things to eat and drink all around Budapest.
5. Lucky Monument Tour
If you’re looking for a free way to explore different areas of Budapest while enjoying some quirky local customs, then have a look at the Lucky Monument tour. There are statues all across the city that the locals throughout history have deemed “lucky” if you rub a certain part of the statue.
Each statue brings the person good luck for a different facet of their life. For example, there’s the Fat Policeman on Zrínyi utca which brings you good fortune if you rub it’s shiny belly, or if you want to improve your writing, you can touch the pen of the Anonymous Szobor in City Park. There are loads of these around the city and it’s a fun thing to look out for as you’re wandering around beautiful Budapest.
So there you have it – five fun and varied best things to do in Budapest. Whether you’re travelling as a couple, on your own or in a group, there really is something for everyone in the capital of Hungary – and as a notoriously affordable city, you’ll have plenty of money leftover to plan more and more adventures!