Are you coming to Budapest in 2023? What should you do? What are the essentials that you must see? What are the things you can’t leave Budapest without eating and drinking? Here you will get helpful travel tips to help you prepare to visit Budapest.
Budapest is a city with approximately 2 million inhabitants. Since Hungary has a population of 10 million, it is easy to see that about 20% of the population lives within the borders of Budapest. These people see the beauties of fantastic attractions such as the Parliament, the Castle, the National Theater, the bridges, the Gellert Hill, and the Danube daily. They are so used to it that they quickly forget how beautiful the city is. But, when you come to discover the beauties of Budapest, you will see the city with different eyes and, hopefully, travel back home with fantastic memories.
Where should we start? We have so many recommendations. Before we write about what you should see and do, we will share general information about topics such as COVID, crime, the local currency, and more. Let’s get started!
Budapest Travel Tips in 2023.
2020 and 2021 were disastrous years for tourism in Budapest and Hungary. Many hotels and restaurants closed their doors, and the sad thing is that they haven’t opened since. Popular restaurants that have been landmarks in Budapest, such as Matyas Pince and Karpatia, fell victim to this period. Luckily, most restaurants and hotels were able to reopen, and 2022 showed us that life is returning to the streets of Budapest once again. It isn’t the same as before COVID, but it is getting closer.
When we all thought life was back to normal, Russia invaded Ukraine, and this caused more trouble. Many people criticize how the Hungarian government handled the crisis and its close relationship with Russia. For some reason, inflation levels in Hungary are far higher than elsewhere in Europe, making it even harder for ends to meet for families and businesses. This has caused prices of electricity, gas, food, and other products to increase greatly. If you compare the prices of simple products such as spaghetti and cheese, prices have increased by more than 100% between January 2022 and January 2023. As a result, food prices and hotel prices have increased a lot.
In the same period, the Hungarian Forint suffered compared to other European currencies. At the worst, you had to pay 440 HUF for 1 USD and 430 HUF for 1 EURO. It seems as if things are improving by the start of 2023, but it is hard to predict what lies ahead in 2023.
What does this mean for you and your trip to Budapest?
There is no need to worry about COVID-19 as you plan your trip to Budapest. You don’t need to wear a mask anywhere in Budapest (except for in hospitals). All programs are available as they were before COVID-19. Some people still wear masks in stores, but that is purely based on their own decision and not because they have to.
Prices and payment methods.
Prices in Hungary have increased a lot. But, compared to many countries in western parts of Europe, it is still relatively cheap to enjoy different programs in Budapest. The local currency is the preferred payment method everywhere, but most restaurants, hotels, and stores accept payments in euros. Even though you can pay with euros, it is wiser to pay with the local currency. Why is that? Using bad exchange rates for euro payments is normal, which results in you paying much more than you would if you used the local currency.
Crime in Hungary.
This isn’t something you need to worry about. The crime rate in Budapest isn’t higher than elsewhere, and it is normal to see police officers in the streets. If you take care of your valuables, you shouldn’t fall victim to anything. The city center of Budapest is a safe area, but it is always a good precaution to never walk alone in the darkness. Once again, Budapest is a safe city, and there is no need to worry. Take care of yourself and your valuables, use common sense, and everything should be okay.
The situation in Ukraine.
Hungary is a border country with Ukraine, and many Hungarians live on the Ukrainian side of the border. As the war started, tens of thousands of refugees came to Hungary (most of them traveled further on in the direction of Austria). Since then, this has calmed down, and as a tourist in Budapest, you will not notice any differences.
Should you bring an umbrella?
Hungary has a wonderful climate. Budapest seldom experiences temperatures below 0 Celsius in the winter, and spring arrives early. The summer can get very warm, and it is quite common to have 3-4 weeks with temperatures around 35 Celsius during the daytime in June, July, and August. It isn’t raining much in Hungary, and whenever it starts, it will normally end by the time you finish your coffee in a café.
The wisest thing, however, is to look at the weather forecast for Budapest before your trip and prepare accordingly.
There are lots of events and concerts in Budapest. You can read more about different events in Budapest in our Budapest calendar. In 2023, some of the biggest highlights are the upcoming Christmas markets, the Sziget festival, and of course, the World Athletics Championships.
It is easy to travel in Budapest with the metro. You can see a metro map right here. The metro will take you to the most important areas. There are lots of buses and trams you can use as well, but if you plan on spending your days in the center of Budapest, you will not need those.
Budapest has many taxis if you need to get from A to B. A popular service for ordering taxis is Bolt (you can find the application in your app store), or you can order taxis via your hotel or restaurant. If possible, avoid jumping into taxis waiting on the street. These are often private taxi drivers who take heavily overpaid for rides.
Budapest Travel Tips – What to see?
Many of the beautiful attractions in Budapest are located along the Danube. Honestly, the Danube is an attraction in itself, and a river cruise on the Danube is one of the most popular activities you should experience. As you walk along the Danube or buy a ticket for a river cruise, you will see beautiful attractions such as the Gellert Hill (with the beautiful liberty statue on the top), the famous Gellert hotel, the National Theater, the Palace of Arts, the Castle, the Hungarian Parliament, the Margaret Island, and many other attractions. For some, it is enough to see these buildings and areas at a distance. If you want even more, you should go on a tour inside the Hungarian Parliament, buy a ticket for an event in the National theater, visit the National Gallery within the castle’s walls, and take a stroll on Margaret Island.
This might sound like a lot, and if you visit all these attractions in a day, you will be exhausted in the evening. But Budapest isn’t an extremely big city, so it is possible to walk around and discover all these attractions in one or two days. While walking between different locations, you will discover other beauties and gems. You should also take some breaks in cafés and bars where you taste local food and drinks to make the experience more authentic.
When you have finished discovering the attractions along the Danube, head to St. Stephen’s Basilica and walk from there to Heroes Square and the City Park. This will take you through other beautiful areas on the Pest side, and you will see famous buildings such as the Opera House along the way.
Budapest Travel Tips – What to do?
Enjoy a trip on the Danube.
Seeing beautiful architecture and standing amazed at the Danube panorama is one thing. Another thing is to join activities and programs in Budapest that will let you experience even more. We have already mentioned different tours on the Danube as one of the best activities available in Budapest. These are available throughout the year, from early morning until late evening. The evening tours are the most popular due to the fantastic illumination of the different buildings along the Danube after sunset.
Visit the Gellert Hill.
Another awesome experience in Budapest is visiting the top of Gellert Hill, where you can enjoy the most fantastic view of Budapest. The view is stunning, and the walk toward the top will strengthen your heart. The nicest way to get to the top is to walk from the Gellert Hotel towards the top or cross the Elisabeth bridge and climb the hill. It isn’t very steep, but you might need some breaks if you aren’t used to walking a lot.
Important to know if you want to visit the Gellert Hill in 2023.
Heavy construction work is currently taking place at the top of the Gellert Hill. As a result, it is very limited how much you can see and experience from the top. Ask the receptionist at your hotel whether it is possible to walk around the Citadella or not before you do the trip. If the construction work is still happening, you should find something else to do instead.
Travel to Szentendre.
Would you like to see more of Hungary than just Budapest? Szentendre is a fantastic city 30km north of Budapest. It is unlike all other Hungarian cities due to its architecture, making it feel more like a Greek village or something like that. Here you can also buy products from local artists and producers. Some will also enjoy the fact that you cannot find big stores of brands such as Zara and H&M in this city. The city center of Szentendre is all about the locals and the local products (and, of course, lots of souvenirs for tourists). If that sounds fun, we can assist you with trips to Szentendre, including transfer, short sightseeing, a visit to the local Marcipan museum, free time, a big wine tasting, and a three-course lunch. You can read more about the trip here.
Get some fresh air and use your legs.
This isn’t a traditional tip in a Budapest Travel Guide, but if you want to climb a tiny mountain in Budapest, you will find some only 10km from the city center. The area is called Budaörs, and here you can find stores such as IKEA, Auchan, and Decathlon. A very nice little walk is to climb a hill called Köhegy. At the top, you will find a chapel, a big cross, and a very nice view.
It isn’t easy to get here with public transportation. The coordinates for where you can start the trip are 47.466283,18.959811. You can walk to the top and either return on the same path or down the main stairs from the chapel and return on the normal road. The nearest bus stop is Templom tér, and you need to walk about 750 meters to get from the bus stop to the trip’s starting point.
If you want something a bit more challenging, climb the Odvashegy. It isn’t a tough tour if you are used to walking, but for some, this will at least make their heart pump a little bit faster. The view from the top is beautiful!
It is ideal to start and end the trip from the coordinates 47.464846,18.938132. The nearest bus stop is called “Budafok városhaza,” and you must walk approximately 1000 meters from the bus stop to the trip’s starting point.
Eat and drink local food.
This is extremely important. Some would say that tasting the local cuisine is just as important as discovering the attractions of a city. When you come to Budapest, you better prioritize programs where you taste local food and drinks. The most famous food is the Hungarian Goulash soup, and if you travel home without tasting it, you cannot say with good conscience that you have been to Budapest. If you are a vegetarian, several restaurants serve “Fake Goulash,” the same soup without meat.
Hungarians like to make stews of all sorts, often served with homemade dumplings. The stews are often prepared with chicken, pork, or cow meat. There are incredibly tasty and very popular.
Hungary is a great place for sweets, and you should taste the local strudel variants.
It is possible to drink soft drinks in restaurants, but when you come, do not forget to taste the local drinks such as wine produced in Hungary, Unicum, Palinka (Hungarian fruit spirit), and everything Hungarian. We cannot guarantee that you will like everything you taste, but you will be one experience richer after tasting (making it worth the try).
You can read even more about what’s worth tasting in our article about the Christmas markets in Budapest.
Don’t forget your swimsuit.
No matter when you come to Budapest, you should bring your swimsuit. Hungary is known for hot springs, ensuring guests can swim outside in warm water throughout the year. The most famous and popular thermal bath is the Szechenyi Thermal bath. Have you ever seen a picture of people playing chess in a pool in Budapest? Those pictures all originate from the Szechenyi thermal bath. There you can enjoy three outdoor pools and more than ten indoor pools. The water is full of minerals, making sure that you feel good and that it has a good effect on your body simultaneously.
If you want to visit a different thermal bath, you should consider the Rudas bath or the Gellert bath.
These are just a couple of tips for activities in Budapest. The list could go on if we included all the fantastic museums in Budapest and other opportunities. If you want more fun, activities such as the Labyrinth, the Palvolgyi dripstone cave, escape rooms, guided tours, hop-on-hop-off buses, VIP cinemas, shopping, fantastic fairs, and other programs can always be recommended.
Do you have any questions left?
We have tried to include lots of useful information in this short article with Budapest Travel Tips. If you have any questions left after reading this article, write them in the comment field below, and we will do our best to answer them.