How Much Does it Cost to go to Budapest?

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Budapest may not be the hidden gem it once was, but it’s still one of the best destinations in Europe. With its rich history, party atmosphere, and low costs, the city appeals to travellers of all types. The question is, how much does it cost to go to Budapest?

The city is not as cheap as some spots in Eastern Europe, but compared to other major cities such as Paris, Barcelona, and London, it’s very affordable. The best part is, you don’t even need to go out of your way to save as costs are low across the board.

Although the city has tons of attractions, I’m going to suggest three nights in Budapest. It’s a good amount of time to get a feel of everything without getting bored. I’m also pricing things for a solo traveller, so adjust your estimates based on how many people you’re travelling with.

Budapest Trip Cost

 Estimated cost
Airfare$650
Accommodations$300
Local transportation$65
Attractions$50
Food and drink$105
Random spending$100
TotalUS $1,270

The above estimate is in American dollars, so please use xe.com to find out the average costs in your home currency. Note that the official currency in Budapest is the Hungarian Forint. Euros are accepted in some shops, but you’re better off paying with the local currency. Credit cards are accepted pretty much everywhere.

If you’re Canadian, you may want to consider applying for one of the best travel credit cards in Canada to help offset your costs by collecting points. For example, the American Express Platinum Card gives you a signup bonus of up to 105,000 American Express Membership Rewards points which have a minimum value of $1,050 (potentially more if you transfer your points to Aeroplan or Marriott Bonvoy). There’s also the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite card that has no foreign transaction fees and it comes with airport lounge access.   

Airfare

I’ve estimated airfare at $650, but that’s based on the average price of flying from the east coast of North America. If you’re flying from North America, the odds are you’ll be travelling to other cities too such as Vienna and Prague. The idea here is just to give you an estimate.

Realistically speaking, most people who travel to Budapest for 3 nights will be coming from within Europe. It shouldn’t be too hard to find flights for no more than $200 with a discount carrier. For reference, Wizz Air is an ultra low-cost carrier based out of Budapest, so check their site first.

Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport is the only airport that services Budapest so you’ll be flying in/from there.

How much does it cost to go to Budapest?

Accommodations

Hotels in Budapest are very budget friendly. You shouldn’t have too much trouble finding a room for about $100 a night in the more popular areas of District V and VI. If you’re willing to stay a bit further out in District VII, you can save even more.

Transit is pretty good in Budapest, but it’s also a very walkable city. Paying a bit more for convenient accommodations is likely worth it. There are also plenty of apartments for rent if you want a bit more space. Here are some hotel recommendations:

Hostels / budget

Midrange

Luxury

If you have the right credit card, you can save a fair amount of money on hotels. Americans should strongly consider the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card since you can earn up to 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy points and $200 back at U.S. restaurants as a welcome bonus.

Canadians should consider the Marriott Bonvoy American Express which gives you up to 70,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. That’s enough points for up to five free nights at some hotels which could easily have a value of over $500. There’s also the BMO World Elite™* Mastercard®* since it typically has a sign up bonus worth more than $200 and the annual fee is normally waived for the first year.

Local transportation

As mentioned, Budapest is a very walkable city. Even walking up to Buda Castle from the Pest side won’t take that long. Generally speaking, if you’re staying in District V, you could end up walking everywhere.

That said, if you’re going to take public transportation, Budapest has buses, trams, and subways that will get you just about everywhere. The cost of a ticket is about $1.15 – $1.50 a ride. It’ll cost you less if you buy bulk tickets, but you’ll likely only need to take transit once or twice so just pay the cash fare.

Most people take a taxi from the airport which should cost about $27 and takes 35mins to get to the city centre. There is also the 100E bus that costs only $3 but takes 50mins to get into town. Wizz Air offers a shuttle service, but the times are limited and the savings minimal.

I recommend budgeting $65 for public transit but most of that will be spent on taxis from/to the airport.

Budapest trip cost

Attractions

Budapest has plenty of attractions depending what you’re into. How much you spend on attractions is really up to you, but I recommend budgeting about $50. 

Generally speaking, every museum and art gallery has an admission fee of about $5 to get in. If you want to go into parliament, it’s about $10. The Dohány Street Synagogue will cost you $16.50. Going to a thermal bath will run you $25-35 for a day pass.

There’s obviously no need to pay for every attraction. Quite often you can enjoy them without ever going inside. It doesn’t cost you anything to walk around Fisherman’s Bastion, the Hungarian Parliament Building, or Népliget (People’s Park). Hopping around the ruin bars is also a popular thing to do.

If you want to combine transit with attractions, consider getting the 72-hour Budapest Card. Be sure to see if the included attractions actually appeal to you before purchasing it. Other attractions worth considering include:

Food and drink

Overall, I would say food and drink in Budapest is relatively inexpensive. You can get a spritzer or beer for $2-$3. A slice of pizza is often $1.50 – $2.50. I had takeout pasta (some of the best in my life) for as little as $5. Obviously, you’ll spend more if you eat or drink more. Generally speaking, you should budget the following for your meals:

  • Breakfast – $5
  • Lunch – $10
  • Dinner – $20

That works out to $35 a day or $105 for your three nights in the city. That’s likely more than you need, but that’s because Budapest has an excellent coffee and cafe culture. Some of the best cafes in the world are found here so you should not hesitate to stop for a drink or a slice of cake.

It’s worth noting that the quality of food can vary quite a bit in the city. Many of the restaurants cater to tourists where the food is mediocre at best and can be more expensive than local spots. Do some research in advance and make sure you ask your hotel for recommendations. Even if you spend a bit more on food, it likely won’t be a big deal.

Budapest trip cost parliament

Random spending

The shopping is nothing special in Budapest. The city does have a major mall with many international retailers, but the prices are the same so you wouldn’t be saving any money. 

If you’re going to spend some extra money, it’ll likely be on thermal baths or additional attractions. You may also spend more on food. Budgeting another $100 for random spending is a good idea, but you may not need it.

Final thoughts

So how much does it cost to go to Budapest? For a three-night trip, I estimate you’ll spend US $1,270. Mind you, that includes airfare from North America and it’s highly unlikely you’ll be flying over just for three nights. If you remove airfare, you’ll only be spending about $200 a day.

How Much Does it Cost to go to Budapest?

About Barry Choi

Barry Choi is a Toronto-based personal finance and travel expert who frequently makes media appearances. His blog Money We Have is one of Canada’s most trusted sources when it comes to money and travel. You can find him on Twitter:@barrychoi

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