22 Feb Budapest Travel Hacking Tips
Not that Budapest is an expensive city by any means, but it certainly feels good to save a few pennies and do as the locals do when you’re on holiday. Luckily Budapest has lots of those locals-only-know tips and we’re here today to tell them to you.
Forget a boat tour, take the public ferry
There are no shortage of tourists boats plying the river, offering various dinner and entertainment tours, but if you’d rather save the cash – and the fuss of dressing up – then for just a few Euros you can join the locals and take one of the local ferries than sails the Danube.
Buy a single or return ticket and start and end the trip where you wish. There’s plenty of seat space up top, and of the best things, in our opinion, is that there’s a bar onboard in case you get thirsty.
Avoid the tour buses, and take local transport instead
Speaking of touring the city, it’s perfectly possible to avoid the hop on busses as well. Tram line 2 runs the length of the Pest Danube bank from Jászai Mari Square, just past the magnificent Parliament, down past the Chain Bridge – offering panoramic views of the Castle District along the way – and onwards towards the spectacular National Theatre.
And public transport can come in handy again if you’d like a bus tour up to and around the Budapest Castle. Bus number 16 – affectionately known as the ‘Castle Bus’ – goes from Elizabeth Square to Széll Kálmán Square via the Castle District.
Catch a view without paying for it
If you want to get up top and get a skyline view of the city then you’ve got a few options. There are several rooftop bars (they are only open at summer time) in Pest including 360 Bar on Andrássy Avenue, and of course you can climb to the top of St Stephen’s Basilica – but those cost money, and that’s what we’re trying to avoid.
If you want to see for free, you’ve got several options. Close to the city center, you can go up to Fisherman’s Bastion in the Castle District, or climb up Gellért Hill and take in the view from in front of the Liberty Statue. But, if you don’t mind a little hike, then Erzsébet Lookout Tower is a must-visit. Situated in the Buda hills at 526m, on a good day it really does offer the most breathtaking views of both the city and the Danube Bend.
Instead of a tourist menu, tuck into a daily menu
You know the score – a restaurant with a sign outside, offering what it claims to be a ‘great value’ menu of ‘traditional’ Hungarian foods. Take it from us, however much they are charging, it won’t be that cheap, and there is a good chance that the food won’t be anywhere near as tasty as what you’d get if you knocked on the door of a random Hungarian grandma and got invited in for lunch.
If you want to eat like the locals, look for the small side street, hole in the wall places without any signage and just a few basic things on offer. Chances are these places will have on offer a daily menu – which will consist of a soup, and a main – perhaps a desert – selected from a few options cooked fresh that day and offered up for just a few Euros. Check out our recommendation of our favourite daily menus.