Budapest is the capital city and the economic and cultural center of Hungary.
It is one of the most beautiful capital cities in the world and the 6th biggest capital in the EU.
Budapest is a very popular tourist destination, suitable for a short romantic break, for a family holiday with kids and also for young people looking for a city with great nightlife.
Until 1858, Buda and Pest were completely different entities, and only then the first permanent bridge connecting them was erected: Széchenyi Chain Bridge. Hilly Buda and plain Pest were united and became Budapest.
Most of the shops and many of the restaurants are closed on Sunday.
I recommend you plan your route accordingly.
Costs and the Local Currency
Budapest is one of the most expensive cities in Eastern Europe, but one of the cheapest ones in Western Europe. During our visit to the city we spent on average about 150 EUR per day for a couple on attractions, food, going out and more.
The local currency in Hungary is forint (HUF). Its value: 1 forint = 0.0131 NIS (as of February 2019).
The most simple and convenient way to buy forint for your trip is via Fly Money.
Simply order the money in advance online and pick it up before the flight at Bank Hapoalim at Ben Gurion Airport.
You can pay for the conversion in installments.
To order click here.
Public Transport in Budapest
Public Transport in Budapest is excellent and includes metro, tram, boats, taxis and buses. There are 4 metro lines: Yellow, red, blue and green. Their frequency is high, in peak time it’s every 2-3 minutes and off peak every 4-5 minutes.
The names of the stops are announced and stop near tourist sites are announced in English as well.
In addition, Budapest has many trams and buses, with which you can reach any part of the city.
The cost of a single ride within Budapest is 350 forint (valid for one hour).
You must validate the ticket in the small yellow machines at the entrance to the station. Make sure you validate in the right direction!
Other options for rides within Budapest: A daily pass: 1650 forint; 10 rides: 3000 forint; Daily pass for 5 people: 3300 forint; 72 hour ticket: 4150 forint and a weekly pass: 4950 forint.
How to get from budapest airport to the city center
Bus number 100E goes from the airport to the city center.
The bus stops at 3 places in the city: Kálvin tér, Astoria and Deák Ferenc tér. The bus runs every 20 minutes and the operating times are:
From the airport: 5am – 1:20 am
From the city: 3:40 am – 12:40 am
In addition, bus number 200E goes from the airport to the nearest metro station – Kőbánya-Kispest.
There is a machine next to the bus stop when you can buy tickets and costs 900 forint.
Public transport in Budapest is excellent, so there is no need for taxis.
If you still choose to enjoy a taxi ride, you should be careful. There are many taxi scams in Budapest.
I recommend you avoid Freelancer – their prices are very high.
It’s always best to take a taxi you order through the hotel or the restaurant you’re at. When you enter the taxi, make sure that the driver restarts the meter.
The airport in Budapest has a zero tolerance policy regarding late arrivals.
It’s important to note that after the security check, you reach the first Duty Free – for internal flights within Europe.
If you fly to Israel you also have to go through border control, after which there is another Duty Free.
I recommend you don’t arrive at the gate at the last minute, because they won’t wait for you.
Recommended Attractions in Budapest
Budapest is one of the most touristy capital cities in Eastern Europe.
It’s full of attractions for the whole family. Around the city you’ll find many castles, museums, parks, hot baths and other attractions.
We chose to go up Buda Castle with the shuttle service offered next to the funicular station. The shattles cost about 6 EUR per person and can be used all day long
We strolled on foot in the area of Buda Castle and the Fisherman's Bastion. The area is beautiful and the view is stunning.
You can take guided tours in the area or pay to enter the National Gallery and History Museum inside the Castle.
More attractions the the Buda Castle area:
The Buda Labyrinth – A network of underground caves near Buda Castle that have been converted into a Drakula Labyrinth with a range of wax dolls and scary music, alongside all sorts of historical parts of old buildings. A nice experience lasting 30 minutes to an hour.
Prices: Student: 2000 forint, Adult: 25000 forint and Child: 500 forint
The Hospital in the Rock – It's a real hospital in caverns which was used to save the wounded in World War II and even afterwards. Every hour there is a tour in English lasting one hour, in which you can see the hospital rooms and the real equipment used.
Prices: Under 25s – 2000 forint, Adult: 4000 forint.
While you're in the area, I recommend the famous Ruszwurm bakery. The bakery has been active since 1927. We enjoyed the Hungarian dessert Gesztenyepüre and Cremeschnitte. Worth trying out!
Budapest is known for its many hot baths, with water from over 100 hot springs.
Although I've visited Budapest three times already, I haven't had a chance to go to the hot baths for various reasons, but there's no doubt that this is an attraction you do not want to miss.
Széchenyi Thermal Bath – The most popular in the city and most tourists visiting the city go there. The building was completed in 1913 and they include three swimming pools and 12 thermal-mineral pools with medical qualities in the open air.
There are dozens of excellent escape rooms in Budapest at different levels and locations.
We went to an escape room called E-Exit Room. It had three rooms, we went to the one called Circus. The escape room cost per couple was 10,000 forint.
It was a nice room, but relatively easy (we were out within 40 minutes). There were several tasks in the room that took us by surprise. We recommend this room only for beginners or couples, as it's relatively easy.
A Walk along the Danube
We really enjoyed walking along the Danube and getting across the two parts of Budapest: Buda and Pest.
Don't skip the Shoes on the Danube Bank Memorial and the Széchenyi Chain Bridge
You can also take a boat trip on the Danube.
There are several companies operating boat trips on the Danube, with prices ranging from 8 EUR to 20 EUR.
A cool attraction, especially for kids, is a bus that turns into a boat and goes across the Danube.
Click here to pre-order the boat trip.
The Danube divides Budapest into two parts: Buda and Pest.
On the Danube there are about 8 bridges that connect the two parts.
I recommend walking along the Danube (beautiful day or night).
In the evenings in season there are impressive light shows on buildings along the banks of the Danube.
Dohány Street Synagogue
In Budapest is the second largest in the world (after Emanuel Synagogue in New York). It was built in 1859 and is one of the main attractions in the city. There is a museums and a memorial for the Jewish community at the synagogue.
The building has 3 floors and it is very impressive on the inside, You can see the influence of Christianity on the Synagogue building.
You can enter the synagogue and the museum only with a guided tour.
Prices: Adult 4000 forint, Student: 3000 forint, Under 6 – Free, Age 6-12: 1200 forint.
The downside was the high cost and the tour that wasn't to our liking.
Visiting Margit Island and the Music Fountain
The island is 2.5km long and is in the middle of the Danube River. There are large parks on the island that are very pleasant to relax in.
On the island you can find: an external thermal spa active in summer, a professional Olympic pool, the ruins of a Dominican monastery from the 13th century, a Japanese Garden, a 5 km running track, restaurants, fountains and more.
We got there on a warm day and there were a lot of people mostly near the fountain in swimming suits, catching a tan (there's no access to the water in the grass area). It's nice place for a picnic.
When you enter the city you pass through a fountain. Every hour in the hour there is a musical show (lasting 20 minutes) at the fountain.
At 9 pm there is a one hour show. I recommend you find a seat about half an hour in advance.
The Central Market Hall
A large space with two floors. Delicatessens and grocery stores on the bottom floor and food and souvenir shops on the tops floor.
The place is a tourist magnet, so the prices are not cheap, but it's worth a visit just for the experience.
We treated ourselves to Lángos with sweet toppings (strawberry, Nutella, peanuts and vanilla cream) on the second floor and it was excellent.
Monday 6am – 5pm
Tuesday – Friday 6am – 6pm
Saturday 6am – 3pm
The Parliament Building
The Parliament building was built between 885-1902. Inside the building are 691 rooms and stairs totalling 20 km in length. The dome st the top of the building rises 96 m high.
One of the most impressive buildings I've seen.
During the day there are guided tours in the building every half an hour going through the main halls.
There may be long lines at the entrance of the Parliament building. You can avoid the lines and pre-order tickets via this link.
Every hour on the hour there is a changing of the guard ceremony outside the Parliament building.
April – October: 8 am – 6 pm
November – March 8 am – 4 pm
Guided tours in Hebrew take place daily at 12:45 pm
Prices: Children under 6 – free. Adult 6000 forint Under 24s: 3100 forint.
There is a discount for EU residents.
János-hegy - The Chairlift
Another recommended attraction which I haven’t had a chance to try is János-hegy and The Chairlift. I really wanted to visit it after it made the list of 10 sites worth visiting in Eastern Europe on my blog.
There are different recommended paths at János-hegy, a special children’s train and a chairlift. The site is open all year round.
Ice Skating - A Winter Attraction
If you arrive at budapest during the Winter months, ice skating is a wonderful experience for the whole family. It takes place next to Hősök tere.
It’s a big frozen lake with music and a magical atmosphere, and you skate in front of a huge, beautiful castle.
Note that there is no railing to hold on to, so this will not suit anyone without experience in ice skating.
Monday – Friday 9am – 1pm and 5-9pm
Saturday 10am-2pm and 4-9pm
Sunday 10am-2pm and 4-8pm
Admission: 1500 forint, plus the cost of renting the gear and the deposit: 2000 forint
KARAVAN Food Market - A Summer Attraction
A food market in the Jewish Quarter, with different types of food trucks – Burgers, stir fried, pasta, Goulash, Kürtőskalács and more.
The market has picnic benches where you can sit down and have your food after ordering.
The atmosphere is cool and the local food is very tasty. Ideal for a lunch break.
I was disappointed to discover when I visited in winter that the market is closed during the winter months.
The Discount and Public Transport Card: Budapest Card
The aim of the Budapest Card is to help tourists enjoy their visit to the city.
The main services provided by the card: Free travel on public transport in the city, 2 free tours (in Buda and Pest), free entry to several museums in the city and free entry to Lukács Thermal Bath.
You can order the card in advance and pick it up at the airport or at several collection points around the city. For more details and to order the card click here.
Recommended Tours in Budapest
You can find many excellent tours in Budapest, There are tours in the city and out of the city. In this post I’ll recommend the tours that I liked.
Budapest Free Tour
Free walking tours exist in many European capitals, and there are several tours a day in different languages. I went on tours like this before in Sofia, Riga, Belgrade, Tbilisi and Berlin.
In Budapest there are several companies operating free tours in the city (tip based tours).
There are tours focusing on the Jewish Quarter and there are tours focusing on the history of Budapest.
We took the general tour with a company called Trip to Budapest.
Most of the tour was in Pest, and it helped us get to know the city center and the fascinating history of Hungary.
The tour guide was witty and funny, stressing that Hungary lost in all the wars it took part in.
I recommend taking the tour on your first day in Budapest because you’ll get a lot of tips about recommended restaurants, food you should try and alcohol you should drink.
There are tours like that in Hebrew as well in Budapest.
Tuli runs daily tours departing from the ferris wheel. For more details, visit his Facebook page.
A Tour to the Danube Knee
We went on an organized tour with an Israeli guide called Robert and it was a wonderful trip.
The first town was Szentendre – The beautiful artist village. We visited the Marzipan Museum, the Miniature Museum and the Wine Museum, where we had a taste of Pálinka, a Hungarian drink.
The second town was Visegrád. We enjoyed the mountain sleds and saw beautiful views of the Danube Knee.
The third town was Esztergom, that has the largest Bazilika in Hungary and we also crossed over to Slovakia.
A charming tour, highly recommended!
A Food Tour with the BiteMojo App
If you’re looking for a food tour with a cool concept, I recommend the BiteMojo app.
It’s a cool Israeli app that gives you guided food tours in different destinations around the world (such as Jerusalem, Budapest, Berlin, Ljubljana and more) all through your mobile phone.
Budapest has two tours you can take through the app – A night tour or a tour of trendy Budapest. The night tour focuses on the great nightlife Budapest has to offer and takes you to visit ruined pubs – The coolest trend in Budapest.
The trendy Budapest tour focuses on the Jewish Quarter and gives you a taste of the Hungarian cuisine.
Note the my blog readers have a 10% discount. Use code checkinout after downloading the app and before ordering the tour.
Click here to go to the BiteMojo website.