Credit

Courtesy of Tanatat pongphibool ,thailand/Getty Images

Why Go To Budapest

Welcome to Budapest. To put it simply, if you haven't been here, it's time you make plans to do so. The city appeals to many: You can step out of a thermal bath and right into a nightclub (and then back into the bath). In a city that dates back to the Old Stone Age, visiting history buffs can take their pick between Roman, neo-Gothic, Renaissance and Ottoman architecture at sites like Buda Castle and Fisherman's Bastion.

Budapest is more than just the political capital of Hungary – it's also the commercial and cultural nexus. From its multifaceted restaurant scene to its rich Jewish heritage, culture extends from nearly every inch of the Pearl of Danube. Split by the Danube River and composed of three main regions – Pest, Buda and Óbuda – Budapest meshes modern conveniences with ancient architecture and grassy parks. Whether you're searching for cuisine, shopping or museums, a multitude of all await you in Budapest. And prices are fair enough that you won't have to choose – you can indulge in them all. 

READ MORE 

Find Flight and Hotel Deals

FLIGHTS
HOTELS

Press the down arrow key to interact with the calendar and select a date. Press the question mark key to get the keyboard shortcuts for changing dates.

Press the down arrow key to interact with the calendar and select a date. Press the question mark key to get the keyboard shortcuts for changing dates.

Rankings

The U.S. News & World Report travel rankings are based on analysis of expert and user opinions. Read more about how we rank vacation destinations.

Best of Budapest

Budapest Travel Tips

Best Months to Visit

The best times to visit Budapest are from March to May and September through November. These shoulder seasons are when the weather is idyllic and the city isn't overcrowded with tourists. However, the climate is always relatively mild, with temperatures rarely exceeding bearable levels. July and August experience average highs in the upper 70s, while average lows in January rest in the mid-20s. Tourists flood the city in summer, despite it being the hottest and wettest of time of year.

Weather in Budapest

Switch to Celsius/MM
Average Temperature (°F)
34.2
24.8
40.1
28.9
50.4
35.1
61.3
43.3
70.5
51.4
75.9
57
79.7
59.7
78.8
58.8
71.8
52.7
61
44.1
46.6
35.8
37.6
28.8
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
Average Precipitation (in)
1.26
1.22
1.14
1.5
2.17
2.48
2.05
2.01
1.57
1.3
2.05
1.57
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
See details for When to Visit Budapest

Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center

What You Need to Know

  • Bring your swimsuit The thermal baths are open year-round and are likely to be one of the highlights of your trip.
  • Footwear is crucial Walking is a great way to experience Budapest. Bring your most comfortable shoes but also pack some fashionable kicks if you plan on tackling the nightclubs.
  • Plan ahead Budapest hotels are affordable, but they fill up quickly. Make reservations well in advance.

How to Save Money in Budapest

  • Get acquainted with public transport Budapest has a number of cheap, easy mass transit options, starting with its excellent metro service.
  • Buy a Budapest Card Found online here or at most hotels, this card will save you a bundle on public transportation and top attractions around the city.
  • Rent an apartment For longer stays, consider renting an apartment. It's a more cost-effective option, especially for those traveling in groups.

Culture & Customs

Budapest has a rich heritage and tons of culture to go along with it. From sophisticated events, such as operas and symphonies, to a trendy nightlife scene to the historic Castle Hill region, the city offers something for everyone. District VII's Elizabeth Town neighborhood is a must-visit for culture hounds, as it's where the majority of Budapest's Jewish residents reside. Elizabeth Town also hosts the city's annual Jewish Cultural Festival.

Many Budapest residents speak English (especially the younger generation), so you shouldn't have trouble communicating during your visit. Hungarian has a reputation for being an extremely difficult language for English speakers to master, but a little effort can go a long way – throw in a "köszönöm" (or thank you, pronounced "kur-sur-nurm") when you can.

The forint is the currency of Hungary. One forint equals approximately $0.004, or less than one American penny. Exchange rates tend to be advantageous for Americans, though the rate may fluctuate, so it's best to check the current exchange rate before you go. ATMs are readily available, especially in the city center, and credit cards are also widely used in the central areas of Budapest.

Although tipping isn't expected here like it is in the U.S., it is more common to leave tips for waiters, taxi drivers and other service workers in Hungary than in other countries in Europe. Tipping 100 to 400 forints (or $0.50 to $1.50) is the norm at thermal baths, while it is customary to give each hotel employee 200 to 500 forints ($1 to $2). Ten percent of your fare or bill is fine to leave for taxi drivers and restaurant waitstaff, though 15 percent for fine dining establishments will be well-received. Make sure a service charge hasn't already been added to your dining bill.

READ MORE 

What to Eat

Dining in Budapest is all about diversity. Have a traditional Hungarian dish for breakfast, American for lunch and authentic Italian for dinner. Experience upscale European fare at traveler favorites like Caviar & Bull and Arany Kaviar Restaurant. For cheaper but just as tasty eats, visitors recommend sitting for a meal at Italian-focused Comme Chez Soi or Greek-inspired Mazi. Fast casual options like Hoppacska and Bors GasztroBar also earn rave reviews from diners.

Two staples of the Hungarian dining experience are gulyá(or goulash, a paprika-flavored soup loaded with meat and potatoes) and paprikás csirke (chicken in a creamy paprika sauce). And you can't really go wrong with either. Street food is also popular here. You'll find items like lángos (a large piece of fried dough topped with sour cream and cheese), rántott sajt (fried cheese) and kürtoskalács (or chimney cake, a hollow bread often rolled in cinnamon, nuts or cocoa) sold at markets and food courts throughout the city. And wine lovers, rejoice: Hungary has a proud wine tradition dating centuries back. Try the Egri Bikavér (Bull's Blood) if you're looking for a full red.

READ MORE 
Explore restaurants

Safety

While Budapest is a relatively safe big city, you should still exercise general safety precautions, especially in light of recent terrorist activity throughout Europe. Make sure to take extra care on public transportation and at major tourist attractions, where pickpockets are more prevalent. Also, do not walk alone at night and avoid political rallies and demonstrations. For additional safety tips, visit the U.S. State Department's website.

Getting Around Budapest

The best ways to get around Budapest are on foot and by public transit. The city's neighborhoods are walkable, and you'll be able to admire the historic architecture as you stroll. But when it comes to getting across town, rely on Budapest's extensive public transportation system. However, if you're making your way home after a night out, avoid getting lost by simply taking a taxi or an Uber.

The city is serviced by the Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport (BUD), which is located roughly 15 miles southeast of downtown. Taxis are the quickest way to get from the airport to your hotel, but they are also the most expensive – expect to pay about 6,500 forints (about $25) for a ride. Airport miniBUD shuttle service is cheaper but isn't as efficient. The most affordable (and most time-consuming mode of transportation) from the airport to the city is the 200E bus, which drops passengers off at the Kobánya-Kispest metro station and costs 350 forints (less than $1.50) per person. There's also the direct (but pricier) 100E bus. Another popular option is the train. Many of them make the three-hour connection through Vienna.  

Learn about Neighborhoods in Budapest

Entry & Exit Requirements

Americans are required to have passports valid for at least three months beyond their planned date of departure, though six months validity is recommended. One blank passport page is needed for each stamp. Visas aren't necessary for stays lasting less than 90 days. Visit the U.S. State Department's website for the latest information about Hungarian entry and exit requirements.

Photos

Budapest
Budapest
1 of 51

The aptly named House of Terror Museum sits within the former State Protection Authority headquarters, where political dissidents were tortured between the 1920s and '40s.

Adam Szuly/iStock / Getty Images

Explore More of Budapest

Recommended

The 20 Best Michigan State Parks

Two peninsulas, four Great Lakes and innumerable natural highlights elevate Michigan's state parks.

Zach WatsonApril 18, 2019

50 Awesome Vacation Ideas for Every Type of Traveler

Consider these vacation ideas for your next getaway.

Holly JohnsonApril 11, 2019

The 13 Best National Parks in California

You won't regret adding one of these national parks to your California itinerary.

Rachel CenterApril 10, 2019

10 Beautiful Places to Visit in the South of France

Plan a getaway to these special destinations to soak up culture, cuisine and quaint atmospheres.

Gwen PratesiApril 8, 2019

Best Carry-on Luggage of 2019

U.S. News rated the best carry-on luggage, considering recommendations from experts and consumers.

Lyn MettlerApril 3, 2019

The 11 Best Utah National Parks and Monuments to Visit

From birding to bouldering to boating, Utah's national parks have it all.

Zach WatsonApril 2, 2019

The 30 Best Zoos in the U.S.

Get an up-close look at wild creatures in natural settings at America's top animal parks.

Kyle McCarthyMarch 28, 2019

15 Scenic Train Rides to Add to Your Bucket List

Climb aboard these locomotives for jaw-dropping views.

Christine SmithMarch 26, 2019

13 Top Places to Visit in Tuscany, Italy

Ditch the crowded streets of Rome or Milan and head to Italy's picturesque countryside.

Lyn MettlerMarch 25, 2019

10 Excellent Educational Vacations for Families

Make sure your next getaway is both enjoyable and informative.

Holly JohnsonMarch 14, 2019