Budapest is easily one of the best cities in Europe, but to call it one of the best for travellers is a big claim. But if you plan to go backpacking in Europe then backpacking in Budapest is the perfect place.
Here’s why you should go backpacking in Budapest
So I figured it would be good to explain the thought process behind this. I’m all about the inspiring, so hopefully I can persuade you to visit Budapest.
I’ve personally visited Budapest three times and spent over a month living there. I’m writing this in a cute little cafe in the bar/restaurant in the 7th district of Budapest. But that’s not that relevant to this post. Well except that they have some of the best coffee in the city, that is keeping me focused on writing this, for you, the backpacker/traveller.
Sometimes you know I think about what posts people may be interested in reading. I have started to like doing more personal posts, I enjoy them. This isn’t one of those, but a personal opinion post.
Hey, maybe some of the thoughts and ideas I have about places may be similar to yours, and if you know my mindset at least a bit, then there’s a very high chance you will like what I like.
Which is why I figured I would do this post for you, in case you are travelling or looking for a weekend getaway city to visit if you are in Europe. Anyway, bla bla bla, I’ll get to why I think Budapest is perfectly suited as possibly the best city in Europe for travellers.
I should say that I have visited almost every country in Europe, including all the capital cities within them, so am very qualified to give my opinion on European cities. Well maybe not very, but we shall say at least competent enough. Probably.
No fuck it, I’m an expert.
Naturally this post is just an opinion. Everyone will have different tastes, and every city has something to offer. Well almost – sorry Oslo you were shit, I tried you out 2 times and you just didn’t do anything for my city vibe. But Norwegians themselves are awesome. But your beer is insanely expensive!
When you are in that whole area then you can easily visit some other great cities nearby like travel to Prague and Vienna.
Right, so why the hell did I fall in love with Budapest and recommend it so much for travellers.
Well, before coming here for the 3rd time I was living in Kiev in Ukraine, which is also one of my favourite cities in Europe, for various reasons.
If anything else on my blog I always want to be honest with you, no hiding anything, that way you can trust what I have to say about things. Call me the truthful blogger.
Right, my original plan was to visit some friends in Amsterdam for a week then head back to kiev. But I decided to city hop back there via Berlin, Prague, and Budapest.
Budapest stopped me in my tracks.
It’s easy to like a place depending on your company there, but Budapest was so much more than just meeting some cool people. Although there are plenty of them.
No Budapest is special for multiple reasons.
It’s a beautiful fairy tale city in parts, I should say that is mostly on the Buda side, with the old buildings on the hill lit up at night.
Many cities in Europe have that fairy-tale look, such as Prague’s castle area, but Budapest is way up there with the best.
Budapest is separated by a river with one side called Buda and the other Pest. The Buda side is the more richer area, with grand old buildings, but Pest is the cheaper cool side.
Fuck richer, I like Pest better. But hey I like to chill and get a good vibe and Buda for me was just about pretty buildings.
Pest on the other hand has a really cool bar/restaurant scene in the 7th district, which is also the Jewish quarter. It’s one of the most vibrant and fun areas of any city I’ve been to in Europe. All the bars and restaurants are so close together it’s easy to get around to them all.
It’s also famous for it’s so called ruin bars, set in old decrepit buildings transformed into some epic party places.
And you should definitely add trying some authentic Hungarian food to your Europe bucket list while there!
Yes Berlin also has a great bar and club scene for example, but don’t forget we are adding everything up that makes a city great for travellers.
There is also live music everywhere in the bars which can be hard to come by in other cities, such as Amsterdam.
One of the absolute best things is the thermal baths in Budapest spread out all over. Yes in the middle of a city you have natural thermal baths, some of which are located in beautiful historic buildings, such as the Gellert Baths.
One of the most popular thermal baths is the Széchenyi Spa, although I liked the Gellert Baths more, it’s still definitely worth checking out the others.
Been out partying hard in the 7th district? Then head to one of these thermal baths and soak it up for 4-5 hours and get all of it out of your system. I call it the vodka sweat out 🙂
Unless you were unlucky enough to try the local spirit drink called palinka, in which case call it the palinka puking session. Ughhh!
You can always head into the nearby mountains for some hiking near Budapest as well for a nature fix.
Budapest on a budget
Oh this is a big one for travellers I know. If you’ve been visiting London, Amsterdam, Paris etc, even Prague, then coming to Budapest is absolute bliss.
It’s really cheap.
This post is for traveller’s coming to Budapest. For locals is a different story.
A 0.5 litre beer in a cheap bar around the 7th district will set you back 1 euro 30 cents. Soprani is the best local cheap beer, in my opinion, give it a try.
Now drinking-wise the beer is nowhere near on par with Belgium, Prague, and so on, but it’s decent enough.
You can be cultural and go to the opera for example. Hell I haven’t been to the opera in my life, but Budapest apparently has one of the best opera houses in the world, and it’s reasonably priced again compared with London etc.
So yeah I went to the opera. How was it? A beautiful building for sure, but seriously weird. Partly because it was “modern opera”.
It made me laugh as well. I went out and had a beer for 10 minutes, came back in and asked my friend what I had missed. She replied that a man had slowly walked down the stairs and that was it. I thought she was joking. She wasn’t.
Yeah opera… weird.
But I’ll go to the opera again to see a more traditional one and give it a second chance.
Anyway as I am prone to doing, I have digressed Back to the cheapness part – it seriously is.
Cheap kebab – 1 euro 50 cents.
Good pizza slice 70 euro cents.
Some amazing soup for only 1 euro 80 cents from gastro chefs at a famous small eatery called Bors in the 7th district. If you go to Budapest check it out for sure. It’s some of the best fast food in Budapest for the hungry backpacker.
Most bars/clubs around the 7th district will be free to get into and have fun dance floors, or live music.
Man you can go out and spend fuck all if you do it right.
Off course if you head to the clubs and start pounding shots then things will get more pricey, but that’s the same anywhere in the world, and it’s still cheaper than the more expensive cities.
The thermal baths will set you back around 15 euros, but you can stay in them as long as you want. You could do a 12 hour thermal session if you so felt like it!
Although your skin may melt off you afterwards.
Look at a map. See where Budapest is?
Head north and you get into Slovakia/Poland and Czech Republic for Prague.
Head south and your in the Balkans/Romania.
Head west and you’ve got the Croatian coast and the Alps Mountains in Austria and Switzerland.
Head east and the Carpathian mountains of Ukraine wait for you, along with more thermal baths hidden away.
You have literally everything you could want.
This is another part of the reason I could live in Budapest, it’s in a great location to see and do things around it.
Budapest is small but powerful
But to the size of Budapest. It’s a pretty decent sized city, kind of in the middle ground so is actually easy to walk around everywhere. That way you can see the city more and save on transport costs.
Walking cities is the best way anyway. Unless you’re lazy!
It’s also very unique in the sense that there are no tall modern buildings. None whatsoever.
Now I love massive cities like Tokyo, in fact Tokyo is my favourite city in the world, but it’s nice to have a medium sized city like Budapest that has the old school charm, without to much modernity.
It’s such a beautiful city to photograph as well, especially at night. You could spend hours walking around on a photography mission.
I got a new lens for my camera while in Budapest and have enjoyed very much using this as the city to get a good feeling for it.
I love backpacking in Budapest
Yes I’m guessing you got that I love Budapest already. If you didn’t then I’m sorry I can’t help you.
You should know by now why I rate this as one of the perfect cities for travellers.
Having spent over a month now partying hard, chilling hard, eating hard, exploring hard, I absolutely love it.
Almost every traveller I have met that went there was absolutely surprised and taken back by how much of a surprise the city was to them.
Many travellers extend their stay for at least a few more days. A friend spent an extra week than planned and she didn’t have that much time left to spare on her trip.
It has a special pull.
It’s like the perfect storm –
Vibrant fun nightlife.
Beautiful and old.
Thermal baths everywhere (fuck yeah)!
Budapest has almost everything
It has almost everything a traveller would love.
Like I said this is a personal opinion, but also the opinion of sooooo many travellers I have met there.
Most local people I have met love it as well.
I’ve been travelling and living around the world for over 18 years now and have seen a hell of a lot. Really I could go on forever about what I’ve seen around the world, and I’ve secretly been searching in my heart for somewhere I could at least call a semi home over the last few years.
To put at least a few roots down.
Budapest is high on the list as one of those places in Europe. That’s saying a lot coming from a long term traveller.
All the people I have met there have been so great. From the travellers just passing through for a few days, to the locals that I have got to know.
Budapest absolutely rocks. Go and visit. Trust me. No seriously, trust me on this one.
Useful resources for backpacking in Budapest:
Some of the best hostels in Budapest can be found here –Find good prices on hostels and hotels here.
Take the Lonely Planet Budapest & Hungary (Travel Guide) to help plan your time in Budapest and Hungary.
Be sure to take travel insurance when you’re backpacking around, just to be safe! I use WorldNomads and it saved me 1000’s of dollars in medical expenses when I had a serious emergency.
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