Budapest is a fantastic city, and it isn’t a coincidence that you found this article. You are looking for information and inspiration because you want to visit Budapest in the future. The enchanting capital of Hungary awaits, but there are a few things you should think through before you arrive. This article will give you tips on six mistakes you should avoid making in Budapest!
There are different ways to define a mistake. Not all the mistakes you make in Budapest are bad, and if you look at an error from the proper perspective, it might make you more prosperous and come home with even more memories. Read on, and you will soon understand what we mean!
Six mistakes to avoid in Budapest.
Are you ready? Here we go!
Don’t be too proud to ask for help and advice.
There are things locals know that you don’t know. What is evident to them may be unclear to you. It is a joy to discover a city on your own, and many find it charming to spend hours trying to find a location only to discover that they could have reached it in 5-10 minutes had they asked the receptionist at the hotel or some other local.
Many tourists love to travel by public transportation from the airport. It is much easier to travel with a taxi, but it feels more authentic to travel the way the locals do. As a result, only some people want the easiest solutions and the fastest ways between A and B.
However, sometimes pride can be too big, and you spend way too much energy and time on something that would have been much easier with some tips and advice from a local. Maybe you plan on using a bus to reach an attraction that you could have reached much easier using a tram or a metro line. Or what if you spend all day trying to reach a shopping mall where you can find a Zara store, only to realize that one was located a few hundred meters from your hotel?
What do we mean? It is often wise to ask locals for advice and help. It is fun to discover a city on your own and make mistakes in the process. You often see much more due to your mistakes, which is one of the most charming experiences during a holiday in Budapest. But be humble enough to realize when enough is enough, and it is time to ask someone for help!
Don’t change money in the shopping street or at the airport!
The local currency in Budapest is HUF, Hungarian Forint. As Hungary joined the European Union in 2004, it was expected that the Euro would be introduced within a few years. We were wrong! We are far into the 2020s, and the Euro is nowhere, at least not as an official currency.
It is possible to pay with Euro in most stores, but you will often pay more than you would using the Hungarian Forint. The exchange rates used by stores are poor, which means that you, as a tourist pay a higher price for the same product if you decide to pay in Euro.
Consequently, it is wise to pay with the HUF whenever possible. How can you get some HUF in your wallet? The easiest is to use an ATM or an exchange office. But if you decide to use an exchange office, do not use those at the airport or in the shopping street Váci utca. The exchange rates there are unfavorable, making you pay much more than elsewhere. A good piece of advice is to compare the prices at 2-3 exchange offices and select the one with the best rates based on what you see. Otherwise, using an ATM is often easy and quick, and you get a good exchange rate.
We should mention that the Hungarian Forint is quite strong at the time of writing. The price of 1 Euro is about 370 Forint. Not all restaurants and cafés have remade their menus to reflect these changes. As a result, you will find a few places in Budapest where they wrote banners and menus during a weak Forint period in which 1 euro equalled 430 Forint. This is interesting because they created a banner that said that a Chimney Cake’s price is 800 HUF or 2 Euro. Back then, you would have paid more for the product if you paid in euros. The banner still says the same, but today 2 euros is only 740 HUF. In other words, you get the product cheaper if you pay in euros.
In other words, look at the exchange rate before you arrive because knowing it will give you an advantage whenever you decide whether to pay with Euro or with Forint.
Only use a taxi whenever needed, and choose your taxi wisely.
Ten years ago, the taxis in Budapest had a terrible reputation. Things have improved, but there are still things you should watch out for whenever you use a taxi in Budapest. But let us also tell you one thing first… you don’t need to use cabs in Budapest frequently. Why is that?
Budapest’s most important sights and attractions are located in the fifth district of Budapest or very close to the district. It is easy to reach this district and area using any of the four metro lines in Budapest and getting off at stops such as Astoria, Kalvin tér, Fövarm ter, Deak Ferenc tér, or Kossuth tér.
Once you are in this area, all other attractions in the area are available within less than 2 kilometers of walking (most are much closer). Here you will find fantastic restaurants, cafés, bars, and of course, popular attractions such as the St. Stephen’s Basilica, the Parliament, the Danube, the most famous bridges, and by walking across the street into the seventh district of Budapest you can see the Great Synagogue and the Hungarian National Museum.
What are we trying to say? The inner city of Budapest is fantastic and if you have some energy in your body, you can easily walk around on foot without using public transportation or taxis.
Two popular areas fall outside this category: the City Park and the Castle area. If you want to visit them, consider using a taxi. But if you visit Budapest, you should travel with the second-oldest subway in Europe! This metro dates back in 1896 and it connects Vörösmarty tér (the end of the shopping street) with the City Park. As a result, you can experience the fantastic metro and see the City Park simultaneously. Isn’t that cool? Not only is it a nicer way to travel to the City Park, it is also cheaper! Do not forget to validate your ticket beforehand; if not, you might make another mistake that the controllers love to punish!
A nice way to go to the castle area is by walking across the Chain Bridge (the oldest bridge between Buda and Pest) and then walk up the hill yourself. It is possible to use the funicular, but it is unnecessarily expensive and you spend more time standing in line than the time of the ride itself.
Once you have reached the castle area, feel free to travel by taxi back to the Pest side. Another option is to walk, or you can use one of the castle buses connecting the castle area with Deak Ferenc tér on the Pest side.
If you decide to use a taxi in Budapest.
You don’t need to use taxies a lot in Budapest. But if you need one, is there anything you need to watch out for?
Generally, it is wise to order a taxi from the hotel you live in or via the restaurant you are in. They have partners who guarantee normal fees on your taxi ride.
Another option is to use the Bolt application. Here you order the taxi yourself and you get an estimated price making it an easy-to-use application with few surprises. The prices are good, making it one of the cheapest taxi options in Budapest.
You should be careful catching cabs on the street just waiting for passengers to come. If you still do, look for one with a big phone number and a brand name on the side of the taxi. If all you can see is a yellow cab with a taxi sign on the roof and nothing else, you should look for another taxi instead.
Take some risks whenever you eat!
It isn’t dangerous to eat and drink in Budapest. Some people believe that the tap water is dangerous in Budapest, but it isn’t. You can drink and enjoy life without worrying. What do we mean then?
It is easy to choose the safe road as you visit a restaurant or buy food at a market in Budapest. The Wiener Schnitzel is fantastic, and so is a good Italian pizza, but we have seen it before and tasted it before. Still, many people end up ordering the safe and well-known instead of taking some risks. It is understandable, especially if you travel with kids, but leave your comfort zone and try something new!
When you return to work after your trip to Budapest, people will immediately ask you: “What was it like? Did you enjoy the city? What did you eat and drink?”
What sounds cooler, if you tell them that you ate a Big Mac in McDonald’s, a pizza in Vapiano, and drank some Coca-Cola next to your meals, or if you tell them that you ate a “hen testicle stew with homemade noodles”, or that you tasted the special Hungarian sausages, some fried goose liver, or maybe a real authentic Hungarian Goulash soup? Then you can tell them about the Hungarian Fruit spirits (Pálinka), followed by a Hungarian liquor named Opium (which contains poppy seeds), or that you have tasted the world-famous sweet white wine from the Tokaj region. There are endless opportunities, but you will only discover them if you leave your comfort zone and dare to order some risky food at restaurants and markets you visit.
Don’t think Budapest goes to bed at 24:00.
It is amazing to accompany people to the airport after some days in Budapest. Some have barely been sleeping, while others say all lights were turned off, and bars and restaurants were closed at 24:00. As a result, they went to bed like everyone else.
What is the difference between the two stories and the two impressions? Haven’t they been to the same city? The answer is that they have all been to Budapest, but if you don’t know where to look, it may feel as if Budapest goes to bed at midnight.
If your goal is to discover Budapest by day and sleep at night, just skip the next part of this article. If you, however, want to experience Budapest by night, the following information is crucial.
While the fifth district of Budapest is the most popular during the daytime, it gets quite quiet and dead after midnight. Would you like the party to go on? Leave the fifth district and enter the seventh district (close to the Great Synagogue). Here you can find some of the best bars in the world, including Budapest’s super-famous ruin bars. The most famous of them all is Szimpla Kert which is located in Kazinczy utca. Walk up and down this neighborhood and you will meet crowds of people walking between bars and nightclubs in an excellent mood.
If you use GPS, here are some popular locations you should visit to have fun after midnight.
- Szimpla kert
- Gozsdu Udvar
Now you know where to find the parties after midnight! But remember to get some sleep because Budapest has a lot to offer during the daytime as well!
Plan ahead! Do you have any special desires for your days in Budapest?
During our guided tours, we often share information about exciting programs and activities in Budapest, and we also talk about popular restaurants, cafés, bars, and other places worth visiting in Budapest. Many guests start to discuss which programs they want to try themselves, but often we have to tell them that this restaurant is fully booked for the following days, or that the given program must be booked days ahead.
You can visit the famous thermal baths of Budapest every day without any preliminary booking. The same is true about the New York Confectionary. You might need to stay in line to get your ticket or entrance, but if you are patient, you will get in!
The same is only sometimes true regarding popular restaurants in Budapest. These are often fully booked days ahead, especially during holidays and big events. Suppose you come in the middle of the summer, or during the Formula 1 weekend, or during the Easter holiday, or during the Christmas market season. In that case, restaurants are frequently fully booked days ahead.
Finding a restaurant with a free table in Budapest isn’t hard. Still, suppose you have a burning desire to eat a medieval meal accompanied by belly dancing in Sir Lancelot. In that case, you might find it disappointing to eat a Goulash Soup accompanied by Gypsy music in a traditional Hungarian restaurant instead, as there were no free tables in Sir Lancelot.
Budapest has six restaurants with Michelin stars. Are you eager to dine in one of them? You should reserve your table months in advance. Does it sound amazing to eat your dinner on the Danube while enjoying the spectacular view of Budapest by night? The most popular boats are fully booked days in advance. Once again, if you have a particular desire for your stay in Budapest, don’t make the stupid mistake of not reserving!
Welcome to Budapest!
We have tried to give you some good advice in this article. We hope you have found the information useful. If you have any questions, comments, or further advice, please use the comment field!