A nice holiday or weekend trip always has a lot of costs involved, starting with the flight and ending with your daily needs such as eating and drinking. But also as an expat or student living in Budapest you have a lot of expenses which can be cut. Going budget doeasn’t mean that you need to cut off quality or how much you see and get around. Instead it is about knowing a few little things here and there which save you cash which adds up during the time of your stay. So here we go with 10 tipps on How to Save Money in Budapest.
Arrival to Budapest
1. The cheapest Airport Transfer
Take bus 200E from Liszt Ferenc Airport 2 to Kőbánya-Kispest station from there you can take the metro line M3 to the inner city. The bus starts approximately every 8 to 10 minutes between 5 in the morning and midnight and costs approximately 350 HUF (1 Euro). The Metro line costs another Euro so the total will be 2 Euro from the airport to downtown Budapest. To compare that, the taxi will cost you approximately 20€ and an organized airport transfer starts at 5€.
2. Accomodation in Budapest
What hotel do we book is one of the first questions when travelling abroad. It should be central and nice and of course cheap but that is not the case. Why not use an Airbnb apartment instead? Especially when travelling in smaller groups (family or group of friends) and you share the cost per night you will end up paying 5 to 10 Euro per night for a clean and comfortable place in the city center.
3. The Budapest Card – an instand get!
Get the Budapest Card! That is my first advise for weekend tourists spending 2 or 3 days in the city. Free transportation, free bath entry, free museums and tons of discounts and freebies you will get when investing roughly 20 to 30 Euro. Make a list of things you want to do in Budapest, check if they are available with on the Budapest Card and make yourself a little calculation. But just thinking about the free public transportation it saves you a lot of money and stress
4. The hunt for cheap food
Stop popping into restaurants in the touristic area and hunt for smaller restaurants off the track. Little side roads often hide fantastic places for low money. Another alternative is to have a go for some street food for example in Karaván. It sometimes also saves cash if you get on the public transport and leave downtown Budapest there are a lot of good eateries in the outskirts for little money.
5. The dirt cheap Danube Cruise
This one is a no brainer if you know about it. The public transportation company of Budapest, BKK, offers a boat ride all the way along the Danube, even further then most Budapest River Cruise companies do for a fraction of the money. It is aroun 550 HUF (roughly 2 Euro) for all the way and you see all the beautiful sights and attractions along the Danube (the riverbank itself is an UNESCO World Heritage Site)
6. Free Tours
Free sightseeing tours, only working for tipps, become increasingly popular in Budapest and you get really good information out of them. There are free walking tours (Free Budapest Walking Tour starts daily at 10.30. a.m at the Vorosmarty square (M1 metro stop outside the Gerbeaud cafe at the fountain)), free pub crawls and free guides to show you around the city every day of the week. Usually they start in the same time and place every day and you can just join and walk with them. Many people drop out of the tour once they realize that it is getting to an end to avoid leaving a tip and of course to save money in Budapest you could do the same but I think it is a bit rude. So leave a small tip instead of booking a high priced tour.
7. Free Organ Concert
An Organ Concert in the famous St. Stephen’s Cathedral is a great program and a real experience that you should not miss. Entrance fees start at around 20€ for the 70 minute show however if you would like to experience it entirely for free, at least a shorter version of it, head in there during the Sunday masses which is free of charge. Make sure to be early enough to get a place.
8. Free Internet Connection
The connectivity to the internet has become a first world problem to always check mails, share pictures and experiences on social media or to stay up to date with the news. Well roaming still is a killer when it comes to hidden costs. You use it and use it and once you are back home and get your next bill you have the result on your table. So to get free Wifi you should have a stop in one of the many cafés in Budapest which almost all offer free Wifi. There are the typical signs for it, if you don’t see it go in and ask. In Starbucks for sure you get internet.
9. Avoiding entrance fees in clubs
Some clubs, not many though, are charging entrance to the clubs especially for men. But most clubs want to get a base audience in at night so in many cases the clubs are free until a certain time at night which usually ends around 11 p.m. or midnight and from than on you need to pay. So make sure that you still slip in during the time it is still for free and either start partying or get yourself a stamp which indicates that you have been inside already. Once you have that you can get in and out as much as you want and skip the queue at night.
10. Take the bus home
Once you finished your day don’t jump into a taxi right away. Since the regulation taxis became fairly expensive and easily cost a few thousand Forints depending on where you go. Why not take one of the many night buses? They go all night and in all directions of the city. The night buses are marked with black signes and have very high numbers, in the 900s (except for Nr. 6). They cost the same as the buses during the day but as you anyways have the Budapest Card already you can take them for free as well.
These are the tips to save money in Budapest and if you follow a few of them you will keep a lot of cash in your pocket. If you have more tips and tricks just leave a comment or drop me a mail.