Budapest

5 days in Budapest: Budget Breakdown

Budapest, the Pearl of the Danube, is another enchanting destination that recently found its way into our hearts and travel diaries. From its majestic thermal baths to the grandeur of the Parliament Building, our 5-day adventure in the Hungarian capital was an unforgettable experience. And of course, we couldn’t resist the temptation of Hungarian cuisine either. In this blog post, we’ll give you our budget breakdown for 5 days in Budapest. We also share some valuable tips to help you make the most of your own Budapest adventure without breaking the bank.

How much did our trip to Budapest in September 2023 cost? Here’s our budget breakdown for 5 days in Budapest:

Flights

We booked our flight tickets 3 months in advance through Wizzair. They had the best flight times – arrive early, return (semi-)late. To save some money, we chose carry-on only and no seat selection. Fortunately, when we checked in, we were seated next to each other for our outbound flight. Flying back home however, we had to ask people to switch places because they did not seat us next to each other this time.

We did pay extra for Priority, because otherwise we were only allowed to bring a backpack and nothing else. With Priority, you can take an additional trolley of maximum 10 kg, which is ideal for a 5-day trip. In addition, we could also check in and board with Priority, it was nice to finally board the plane as one of the first people. 😉 For the Belgians among us, we did have to leave from “Brussels South” (Charleroi) instead of Zaventem. Let us tell you, our ride back home took over 2 and a half hours so that was the only downside. Our total cost for the flights was € 227,24. The price we paid was fair, although it could’ve been lower if we hadn’t opted for Priority.

Total cost of flights: € 227,24

Accommodation

When it came to choosing where to stay in Budapest, two key factors topped our list: location and affordability. Our research led us to the vibrant Jewish Quarter. This neighborhood is known for its amazing restaurants and proximity to many must-see attractions like the Dohány Street Synagogue, St. Stephen’s Basilica, and Szimpla Kert.

We booked the “Deluxe Suite” at Loft Astoria through Expedia. Its location couldn’t have been more convenient, right next to a bus and subway stop, and most places were just a stroll away. The bus that dropped us off from the airport (more on that later) stopped right in front of the apartment! At € 90 per night for both of us, the price was very reasonable. The suite itself was impressively spacious, a definite plus to not have to worry about where to store your luggage. We also loved that there were separate areas for eating, sleeping, and “relaxing”.

While our stay was enjoyable, we had some minor concerns, like dust on the furniture, a shortage of towels, and wall stickers peeling off. It’s definitely a good spot to stay, but a little more attention to these details could make it even better. If we return to Budapest, we’d definitely opt for the Jewish Quarter again, though perhaps not the same place at Loft Astoria.

Total cost of accommodation for 4 nights: € 356,94

Transportation

We put our money-saving tips from our other budget breakdowns to work and chose public transport over taxis. Yep, you heard it right – no cabs for us! 😳 Most of the time, we got around on foot or hopped on buses and subways. What a difference compared to our other trips! In total, we spent a mere € 35,11 on transportation. The biggest expense in this category was the bus ride from the airport to the city center and back, which was € 12 per person (€ 6 each ride). The 100E Airport Express was super convenient and we’d definitely do it again! The bus waits for you in front of Terminal 2 at the airport, where you can choose to either pay with cash at a vending machine or by card on the bus. Only 35 minutes later you will find yourself standing on the Deák Ferenc square!

Everything other than the Airport express, like subway and bus rides within the city, was a steal at just € 1 each. Budapest’s public transportation made getting around not only easy but also super budget-friendly!

Total cost of transportation: € 35,18

Food

Food in Budapest

If you’ve been following our adventures, you probably already know that we’re real foodies. For us, no city trip is complete without exploring the best food hotspots. We explored trendy brunch spots, romantic dinner places, bustling food markets, and quick lunch joints in Budapest. Yes, we’ve done it all!

The grand total for this category? € 375,66. Sounds like a lot, but when you break it down per day, it’s only € 37,50 per person, covering all our meals from breakfast to dinner. In comparison, back in Belgium, that amount would barely cover one meal. Budapest, on the other hand, left us pleasantly surprised with its affordability. Even our most expensive dining experience, which included two appetizers, two main courses, and two glasses of wine, cost us just under € 60. Imagine enjoying delicious, high-quality cuisine in a beautiful setting without breaking the bank. Budapest truly exceeded our expectations!

Total cost of food: € 375,66

▶️ Discover 12 food hotspots in Budapest.

Drinks

From drinks at the outdoor food court Karaván to cocktails at 360 Bar, a gorgeous rooftop with a panoramic view of Budapest, we can confirm that cocktails in Budapest are very affordable. Where we’re normally used to prices of € 15 or more for a cocktail, we now found that you can get great cocktails for well under € 10. We also couldn’t resist ordering a Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks on a rainy morning. It took us back to our time in New York, where we drank a Pumpkin Spice Latte every morning! In total we spent € 92,44 on drinks. Compared to other trips, this amount is very low!

Total cost of drinks: € 92,44

Sightseeing

5 days of sightseeing in Budapest

Budapest has many wonderful landmarks, such as the Parliament Building, Dohány Street Synagogue, and Buda Castle. To visit the interior of these sights, you must buy tickets. Since the exteriors of these buildings are also already very spectacular, we recommend admiring the buildings from the outside. This is free, and just as impressive! 

However, we bought tickets in advance for Széchenyi Thermal Bath and Gellért Thermal Bath. We also booked the cheapest evening river cruise along the Danube, which turned out to be the highlight of our trip! Last but not least: we also bought tickets on the spot for the panoramic terrace of St. Stephen’s Basilica. These 4 tickets came out to a total of € 190,95, of which € 152 was spent on thermal baths.

Total cost of sightseeing: € 190,95

▶️ Read all about the best things to do in Budapest.

Other

This category includes miscellaneous expenses such as supermarket purchases. We went to the supermarket twice, where we bought some drinks and snacks to take to the thermal baths. We also ordered some food after a long day of sightseeing. Use the apps Wolt and Foodora for this, by the way!

If you’ve read our previous budget breakdowns, you know by now that the “Other” category usually includes shopping, luggage storage, and souvenir shopping as well. Not this time! We did not buy any souvenirs, nor did we go shopping. On our last day, we still had 2 hours to kill before going to the airport. Since luggage storage for 2 hours is easily € 20, we decided to spend 2 hours in a McDonald’s right next to our Airbnb. So the cost of chicken nuggets is also included in this category, although it is much lower than a luggage storage. 😉 The total cost for the “Other” expenses came out to € 61,12.

Total cost of other expenses: € 61,12

Total of our 5 days in Budapest

Here is our budget breakdown for 5 days in Budapest in September 2023:

Total per category for the two of us

✈️ Flights: € 227,24
🛏️ Accommodation: € 356,94 (€ 89,24 per night)
🚎 Transportation: € 35,18 (€ 7,04 per day)
🥙 Food: € 375,66 (€ 75,13 per day)
🍹 Drinks: € 92,44 (€ 18,49 per day)
🏰 Sightseeing: € 190,95 (€ 38,19 per day)
🛍️ Other: € 61,12 (€ 12,22 per day)

💰 Total excluding flights: € 1 112,29 | € 222,46 per day for 2 | € 111,23 per day per person
💰 Total including flights: € 1 339,53

Excluding our flight expenses, we spent € 222,46 per day for the two of us, which translates to € 111,23 per person per day. This pleasantly surprised us, as it’s the most budget-friendly city trip we’ve had! For context, in Barcelona, we spent around € 140 per person per day, in Rome approximately € 225, and in Paris an even heftier € 265. Budapest is undoubtedly a budget-friendly destination.

Our largest spending category in Hungary was food, amounting to a total of € 375,66. But when you break it down, it’s just € 37,50 per person daily, covering all our meals from breakfast to dinner – still a fantastic deal!

A reasonable daily budget per person (mid-range) for a trip to Budapest, including food, accommodation, transport, and miscellaneous expenses would fall between € 90 and € 100. This, of course, depends on how often you dine out, what kind of cruise you go on, how many thermal baths you visit, and so on.

Our time in Budapest was nothing short of amazing! We’re thrilled to have experienced all the city has to offer without breaking the bank. We can’t wait to come back one day!

Tips and tricks for saving money in Budapest

Although this was our cheapest city trip yet, we still want to offer some recommendations on saving money while in Budapest:

1. Accommodation

The first tip we’ve got for you is where you should stay during your time in Budapest, whilst also saving money. The best place to stay in Budapest is definitely District V, the heart of Budapest and close to major attractions like the Deák Ferenc Square and St Stephen’s Basilica. The reason we’re recommending staying in the inner city in Pest, is that you will be able to do lots of things on foot. No need to hail taxis all the time, or waste time with public transportation. You’re as close to everything as you can get! There are also a lot of hotels, Airbnb’s and hostels located in and around the inner city, which makes the prices go down even further since they’re all competing with each other. Win-win!

Districts II and XII in Buda are where you can find the more expensive accommodations. They’re also located further away from the center of the city. Take into account that you’ll have to rely heavily on taxis or public transportation if you’re staying in those districts, or Buda in general!

2. Transportation

We already mentioned that we were super delighted with how the Budapest public transport works, and with how affordable it was. This remains our number one tip: use public transportation! You won’t regret it. If you decide to take it up a notch, make sure to follow our next trip as well. Tickets for public transport in Budapest will set you back a little over € 1. If you know in advance that you will be relying on public transport a lot, it might be worth it to look into the Budapest-travelcard.

There are 3 kinds of travelcards available: 24 hours, 72 hours, or 24 hours (group). The first two are self-explanatory. You buy the card, and for 24 or 72 hours you can freely hop on as many buses, trams or subways as you’d like (100E Airport Express excluded). The price of the 24 hour card is around € 6,50. The one for 72 hours will set you back a little over € 14. Knowing that 1 ticket is around € 1, it’d be advantageous if you take more than 6 trips in 24 hours, or 14 trips spread over 3 days.

But we didn’t talk about the third card yet, which is the 24 hour group travelcard. The principle is the same, you can travel without limits for 24 hours. But the nice thing about it is that you can travel with up to 5 people at the same time! As long as you’re traveling together, you can make use of it! Any group of friends, or people with children can benefit greatly with this card. The price for this card is exactly twice as much as the 24 hour “single person” card (€ 13). Once there’s 3 or more people in your party, you’re making profit! You won’t have “bigger” profits compared to the regular card if you’re traveling as a couple, but it’s still nice to only worry about not losing one card instead of each holding on to your own.

3. Sightseeing

In the same fashion as we promoted the travelcards, we want to promote the Budapest Card. This city pass is the best way to get the most out of your stay. Not only do you get access to unlimited public transportation travel, it also includes numerous entries to attractions, sightseeing tours and discounts.

This card comes in 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 day versions and prices are € 33, € 49, € 63, € 77, € 92. On top of this, there’s also the “72h plus”-card, which has all the benefits we mentioned before PLUS things like a door-to-door airport transfer, a Danube river cruise, return ride on the Buda Castle Funicular, access to Matthias Church, etc. Although the price is steeper compared to the travelcards, we still think it’s worth it! Especially if you’re interested in visiting lots of museums and a thermal bath, you will get your money’s worth! The only reason we didn’t go for this card ourselves is because we didn’t know it existed. So here we are, spreading the word so you don’t make the same mistake as we did.

More helpful budget breakdowns

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