Explore Budapest’s culture and exceptional beauty on a budget with Marco Polo’s top money saving tips:
EU citizens can visit the Hungarian Parliament Building for free. The enormous structure is very aesthetically pleasing and says a lot about the state of the Hungarian national pride at the time it was built. The building, which took over 100 years to build, compromises of 27 gates, 29 staircases and almost 700 rooms. The architecture is of a gothic revival style and was partly inspired by the Houses of Parliament in London. Tickets from ticket offices | V, Kossuth Lajos tér | Tel. 1 4 41 49 04 | Underground 2: Kossuth Lajos tér | Tram 2
The car-free Margaret Island is a leisure space in the middle of the Danube in central Budapest that costs precisely nothing to visit. The island, which is 2.5km long by less than 500m across, is the city’s most popular recreational space. It is a lovely place to have a picnic and the paths and gardens are perfect for extended walks. Some pretty destinations in the northern part of the island are the water tower and the Japanese garden. It is worth lingering by the fountain to see the water show accompanied by classical music, which takes place every quarter of an hour. Music can also be heard at the fountain in the northern Japanese garden (every hour on the hour). Trams 4, 6 (Margaret Bridge) | Buses 26, 34, 106 (Árpád Bridge)
Fisherman’s Bastion: Situated high up above the Danube on Castle Hill, this famous terrace provides a magnificent view of the city that can enjoyed for free. The neo-romanesque complex with its walkways, archways and towers, was built at the end of the 19th century. The name ‘Fisherman’s Bastion’ is a reminder of the fact that there were once defensive walls here that were secured and defended by the guild of fishermen. I, Szentháromság tér | Bus 16 (Castle bus/Várbusz)
In the Great Market Hall (1st floor) you can buy delicious savoury or sweet langós for €2 (flat bread made from a yeast-potato dough.) IX, Vámház körút 1–3 | Trams 2, 47, 49
Only a stone’s throw from Liszt Ferenc tér is Kiadó. It has a nice pub atmosphere and offers tasty dishes for between €3 and €6. Daily from 9am | VI, Jókai tér 3 | Tel. 1 3 31 19 55 | Underground 1: Oktogon
Menza is a restaurant that merges downtown sophistication with the relaxed atmosphere of a 1960s coffee bar. The diverse menu lists many soups and salads and offers many main dishes including: penne, lángos (deep fried flat bread), duck and goose liver. There are also many inexpensive daily specials. Open daily | VI, Liszt Ferenc tér 2 | Tel. 1 4 13 14 82 | Underground 1: Oktogon
Lovers of crystals will find them for reasonable prices at Ajka Kristály.
If you enjoy shopping for handicrafts and embroidered pieces such as tablecloths, you will find them at the Folkart Centrum for less.
Haggle for food and souvenirs at the Great Market Hall, which has a huge variety of stalls and offers competitive prices. IX, Vámház körút 1–3 | Trams 2, 47, 49
You can get tickets for the Opera House for between €3.20 to €4.40 if you’re willing to sit up in “the gods”.
There are cheap tickets available for the operetta theatre with prices ranging from €3.60 to €10 euros, depending on the performance. You can’t see the entire stage from these seats, however there is still a good view.
There is a big firework display over the Citadel on the evening of August the 20th. On this day the whole of Budapest is transformed into one big party.
The good location and special discounts make Hotel Medosz a popular place to stay. Students up to the age of 18, accompanying parents and pensioners get a 10% discount. With the 10% discount it costs approximately €54-60 euros for a double room, which includes a buffet breakfast. 70 rooms | VI, Jókai tér | Tel. 1 3 74 30 00 | Trams 4, 6 | Underground 1: Oktogon
Ibis Centrum: The service and the entire ambience of this hotel in the Ráday utca pedestrian zone is very friendly. It’s also excellent value for money. 126 rooms | IX, Ráday utca 6 | Tel. 1 4 56 41 00 | Underground 3: Kálvin tér
Buy the Budapest Marco Polo Guide.