I wouldn’t say we have an accurate idea of how expensive Hungary in general is, but we do know roughly how much it cost us to spend ten days in Budapest. And, just like in any other large city, you can do it on the cheap or you can spend a fortune. You can stay in swanky accommodations and eat at the trendy restaurants if you’re looking to put your wallet on a diet or, you can stay at cost-saving hostels and eat at the local Gyro stand if your bank account is already looking a wee bit underweight. So, Budapest is a city for all budgets, but here’s how we made out.
Our ten day daily average :: $72.88 USD (for two people: one couple) :: 1 USD = 150 HUF
Okay, first of all, the numbers above aren’t completely true because we did have some BIG expenses while we were in Budapest. However, I didn’t include those in the budget because they weren’t essential to traveling in this city. These bigger expenses were Dentistry for Jen, Art Markers for me, and some new technical clothing that we couldn’t find anywhere else. With all those expenses it brings our daily average to $112.53 USD. The numbers above are a truer reflection of a budget traveler’s expenses while staying in Budapest, but bring some extra cash because it’s really easy to spend it here.
Now with that said, here is how we managed our budget.
Hostels :: Hostel avg 2,600 HUF/bed :: We stayed in hostels during our entire stay, and chose the cheapest hostel we could find with good ratings. There are some really cheap rooms in Budapest hostels, but that doesn’t mean the entire hostel is cheap. Make sure you book your hostel early if you want one of these cheap rooms because they fill up quickly and leave you with rooms that cost twice as much. Don’t spend a lot more for a hostel with Breakfast because it’s usually just white toast and jam with coffee and tea. Free laundry doesn’t seem to exist in Budapest so be prepared to pay (roughly 1000 HUF if you’re lucky). Make sure the hostel has a kitchen so you can make your own meals occasionally. Hostels charge per bed so there are no savings for a couple.
Couch Surfing :: We haven’t actually surfed yet, but if you’re on a super tight budget this is a great way to get free accommodation. It seems to be harder to surf as a couple though. Couch Surfing website.
Eating :: Meal avg 700-1500 HUF/person (600 HUF for a Gyro) :: We love to eat and to try new foods, so this is where we do the most research. We always ask locals for recommendations, and we use restaurant guides in the city to find good, authentic, budget restaurants. In Budapest there are plenty of cafeteria style restaurants, gyro stands, and sandwich shops to satisfy your stomach and your wallet. Some places that seem expensive can be a good deal because of the portion size and some cheaper looking restaurants can cost you because they don’t post their prices. Make sure you know the prices before you order and how much you get for that price. Having at least one meal a day at the hostel saves a lot of money as well, and if you plan correctly, two meals a day and snacking is usually plenty.
Drinking :: Beer avg 600 HUF/0.5 Liter :: This is where even the tightest budgets can go through the roof. The people we know who have the biggest budgets usually spend the most money on Alcohol. More drinking = shorter trip.
The Sites :: Just about everything costs money to get into in Budapest. We decided to see most of the sites from a distance to save money. The museums often cost 1,500 HUF, the caves around 1,200 HUF, and the baths can get up toward 2,800 HUF. We did go to the Széchenyi baths, which cost 2,000 HUF each (after the discount for leaving within 2 hours), but was well worth it. Also, we went to Fisherman’s Bastion at night and it ended up being free. A city pass or student ID would save you a lot if you’re planning to really do it up. The public transportation was about 270 HUF per ride and was very nice and clean.
Extras :: To get a dental cleaning it only costs 17,000 HUF, and it was 10,000 HUF for a filling, which is a great price and the services were excellent. Clothes seemed about the same price as the U.S., but Art supplies seemed a little expensive (1,200 HUF for a double-tip Copic Ciao Marker). We usually skip on touristy souvenirs because for us our memories, new friends, photos, and knowledge about other cultures are the best souvenirs. Buying extra stuff can get expensive and tricky. How do you pack it? Ship it? Protect it?
We hope this helps your travels and please feel free to ask us any Budapest budget questions and we’ll do our best to answer them.