How to Spend an Awesome 4 Days in Budapest on a Budget

Budapest is an up and coming European getaway. Along with Sarajevo, Budapest is one of our favourite cities in Europe. With all the beautiful buildings, delicious foods, spa facilities, and booming nightlife, Budapest is the ideal place for a European trip. Here’s how to spend 4 days in Budapest for FREE (well…almost)!

The archways at St. Stephen’s Basilica in Budapest, Hungary

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Day 1 of 4 days in Budapest

Hang out by St. Stephen’s Basilica

Saint Stephen’s Basilica is home to the Bishop of the Roman Catholic church. It is considered one of the most important religious sites in Hungary. The Neo-classical building is in the heart of the city and cannot be missed on a trip to Budapest.

St. Stephen's basilica - Budapest, Hungary
St. Stephen’s Basilica at sunrise

Shop at the Great market hall

The Great Market Hall is one of the largest markets in Budapest. You will find everything from fruit & veg to clothes at this market. It’s a great place to get a feel for local life in Hungary, even if you don’t plan to buy anything.

Climb Liberty Bridge

Located right next to the Great Market Hall, you will find the popular Liberty Bridge, that separates the Buda and Pest side. You can climb on it, take a few snaps of the Danube River, or just sit and watch the sunset.

Liberty bridge - Budapest, Hungary
Climbing on Liberty Bridge

Get lost in thought along the river Danube

The Danube River is a beautiful place to take a stroll during sunset, but it’s also the location of the ‘Shoes on the Danube’ artwork created by Can Togay. It’s a significant but heart-breaking memorial to honour the Jewish victims that were told to take off their shoes before being shot into the river during World War 2.

Shoes along the Danube river - Budapest, Hungary
Many shoes along the Danube River

Day 2 of 4 days in Budapest

Marvel at the Parliament building

The parliament building is the largest in Hungary and one of the oldest in Europe. The structure and design of the building are fascinating; you could marvel at this building for hours. The architecture in Budapest is just one example of why you should add Budapest to your Europe Bucket list.

Parliament building - Budapest, Hungary
The Parliament Building of Hungary

Feel like a princess at Fisherman’s Bastion

Located on the Buda side of the Danube is Fisherman’s Bastion. Its name derives from the fisherman’s guild that was assigned by the king to protect the city walls. Now, it is known for its beautiful whitewashed towers fit for a princess.

Fisherman's Bastion arch in Budapest, Hungary
Fisherman’s Bastion arch

Gaze at Matthias Church

Matthias Church is located next to the Fisherman’s Bastion. The church dates to 1015 but still stands in excellent condition. The colourful roof placed on top of the white bricks make the beauty of the church stand out.

Matthias Church in Budapest, Hungary

Get lost among the walls of Buda Castle

Buda Castle is undoubtedly one of the greatest castles in Hungary. To get to Buda Castle, you can take the funicular up and down, but to see Budapest for free, the only way is to walk! Whilst it is located on a hill, the walk is easy and enjoyable with views of the Danube River below.

Day 3 of 4 days in Budapest

Relax your body at one of the thermal baths

Budapest is well-known for its thermal baths, so visiting one of Budapest’s thermal baths is a must. No matter the weather, whip off your kit and get into your swimwear, ready to ease your body at one of the thermal baths. The most popular baths are Szechenyi Spa and Gellert Spa. Both are great options, so research for yourself before you choose which one to go to. The cost to enter Szechenyi Spa starts from 5,200 HUF ($17.41). The cost to enter Gellert Spa starts at 6,200 HUF ($20.76).

Szechenyi Spa outdoor pools in Budapest, Hungary
Szechenyi Spa outdoor pools

Heroes Square

Heroes Square is a little out-of-the-way of the other attractions, but if you are going to the famous Szechenyi Baths then make sure not to miss it. The main attraction of Heroes Square is the Millennium Monument that stands in the middle. Between the pillars also stand important statues of historical figures.

Heroes Square in Budapest, Hungary
Heroes Square is a popular attraction

Set your quirky side free in a ruin bar

After a long day of exploring Budapest, it’s time to grab a well-earned drink! There are many ruin bars in Budapest, particularly in the Jewish quarter. Ruin bars are up-cycled buildings that had previously been left rotting after the war. In 2002 the most famous bar, Szimpla, was opened and has since become a big attraction. Each bar has quirky colourful objects inside them, such as an abandoned car, and sewing machines that have been turned into seats.

Drinks at the Ruin Bar in Budapest, Hungary
Drinks at the Ruin Bar with new friends we met at our accommodation

Day 4 of 4 days in Budapest

Wander around the Jewish Quarter

The Jewish Quarter provides a great insight into the history of the Jewish community and culture in Budapest. Make sure to pass by the Great Synagogue; the second largest synagogue in the world, behind New York’s Emanu-El Temple. The Great Synagogue stands at a nice 174 feet tall. In the garden of the Great Synagogue, you will also see a very important memorial; the Tree of Life. The Tree of Life is a commemoration of the people who risked their lives to protect the Jewish people in Budapest during World War 2.

The Great Synagogue in Budapest, Hungary
Outside of the Great Synagogue

Stroll along Vaci Street

Vaci Street is a popular street in Budapest. It’s lined with plenty of eateries and bars, making it the perfect place to grab some lunch or a few beers in the evening. You will be spoiled for choice! However, if you don’t feel like spending money in the many restaurants, it’s still worth strolling down to take in the vibe, both during the day and in the evening.

Jake posing with a statue in Budapest, Hungary
Jake posing with a statue

Take a romantic river cruise

In the evening, hop aboard one of the boats for a cruise up and down the river. A river cruise is a great way to end the day, whilst allowing you the opportunity to see Budapest lit up at night time. Of course, the parliament building lit up at night looks incredible. Prices of cruises start from as little as 3,000 HUF ($10) and include a welcome drink. It’s a bargain for those travelling to Europe on a budget!

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Walking vs Hop-on, hop-off buses

The first step in creating a 4-day Budapest itinerary is deciding how you are going to get around. When you first arrive, it can be tempting to buy one of the many hop-on, hop-off bus deals that are on offer. Admittedly, this was us on our first trip to Budapest. We ran straight off the airport shuttle bus and into a hop-on, hop-off bus office and were rearing to buy a ticket.

A Citsightseeing bus that travels all around Budapest

Whilst these tickets do come in handy when you are planning to go to all the museums and attractions (due to the offer discounts), they are not worth the price if you don’t intend to go to every museum. Furthermore, if you’re on a wider trip around Eastern Europe, you will want to save your dosh for other awesome activities. To see Budapest on a budget, we fully recommend walking. Walking around the city is easy, and most of the sites in this itinerary can easily be seen on foot.

Where to stay in Budapest

So, you have decided on your trip to Budapest, but are you still looking for a place to stay? We fully recommend Pal’s Hostel. Pal’s Hostel is not a typical style hostel, but a chain of apartments across the city. Each apartment is centrally located. Our apartment was located directly on Saint Stephen’s Basilica Square. We had the pleasure of a balcony that we could sit out on and enjoy a cup of tea with a view of the Basilica each morning.

Pal's hostel bedroom - Budapest, Hungary
Cosy private bedroom at Pal’s Hostel

The apartment was super clean and well-equipped with a TV, kitchen, and cooking equipment. It felt like a home away from home! We even joked that if we ever decide to live and work in Budapest, we would see if we could rent this apartment long-term; that’s how much we loved it! Furthermore, the staff at Pal’s Hostel are very friendly and will help you with anything you need.

Pal's hostel living space - Budapest, Hungary
The shared living space at Pal’s Hostel

Tips for travelling in Budapest

Look into public transport from the airport – There is no need to splash your cash on a taxi from the airport. Look into taking the airport shuttle bus instead. To get to Pal’s Hostel, you can take bus 100E from outside of the airport terminal into the centre of Budapest (a 2-minute walk to Pal’s Hostel). The cost of the bus is a set price of 900 HUF ($3). Tickets can be bought from the ticket machine at the bus stop.

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Change your old currency before entering Budapest – If you have money left from your previous destination, that is not Great British Pounds, US Dollar or Euro, exchange it before you leave. We had some Kazakhstan Tenge left over but nowhere, not even banks would exchange it. We also met another couple that had $40 worth of Croatian Kuna but was unable to exchange this into HUF in Budapest.

Prepare for lots of walking – Walking is the best way to see the city, not only is it cheap, but it’s a great way to get a feel for local life. As you will be walking around all day, we recommend investing in a good pair of sneakers to keep your feet comfortable throughout the day.

Drinking water – The water in Budapest is drinkable, so there is no need to keep buying water bottles. Save your money and save the Earth by investing in a good water bottle, or just refill one of your plastic ones with tap water.

Validate tickets – Last but not least, if you do decide to take public transport at any point in your journey, make sure to VALIDATE your ticket by putting it into the orange validating machines. You need to validate your ticket as soon as you step onto any form of public transport. DO NOT get caught out! If you fail to validate your ticket, you could end up with a hefty fine; Now that is hardly a way to see Budapest on a budget is it?

Have less time but a bigger budget? Check out this 2-day itinerary!

Essential resources for travelling in Hungary

Travel Insurance – No matter where you’re travelling to, it’s a good idea to make sure you’re covered for any accidents or losses. We spent days and weeks searching for insurance, but most insurers would not allow us to take out a policy as we were already abroad. Our personal choice is Safteywing. You can opt for automatic monthly payments, just like a subscription. More importantly, it is available in 180 countries and can be purchased whilst already travelling. There is no cap on the duration of travel.

Visa – Before you travel to any country, make sure to check if you need a visa. iVisa is a fantastic website that is super easy and quick to use. Just type in where you are from. and where you are going. to check if you need a visa. If you do, you can quickly make an application online.

AccommodationBooking.com is our go-to when looking to pre-book accommodation online. Booking.com tend to almost always have the best rates and a FREE cancellation policy for most properties.

Overland transport – Our go-to website for overland transport is Bookaway. Bookaway offers multiple forms of transport, from buses, mini-vans, trains, and ferries. The routes on offer are extensive and certainly cover most of the backpacker trails. Bookaway works a little like Skyscanner but for overland transport. You will find plenty of transport options from a range of companies. All you simply need to do is book online and receive your ticket by email. The email will contain essential information, such as where the bus leaves from and departure and arrival times.

Tours & Activities – If you want to book tours and activities online, make sure to check out Get Your Guide. Get Your Guide takes the stress out of booking activities abroad. You will also find a range of benefits, such as skip-the-line passes, lunch included in your tours, and so much more.

Travel tips ebook -Before you head off on your adventure, make sure to download our free ebook. It has a whopping 109 budget travel tips to help you make your hard-earned cash go further. Click here to download your FREE ebook.

We hope you enjoyed this 4 days in Budapest itinerary on a budget. If you’re leaving Europe from Budapest, then why not head to Kazakhstan? Kazakhstan is well-connected to Budapest and you can easily find cheap direct flights.

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Awesome Free Things to do in Budapest, Hungary

*We were hosted complimentary by Pal’s hostel and gifted Baabuk shoes. All opinions are our own, based on our experience.*

12 thoughts on “How to Spend an Awesome 4 Days in Budapest on a Budget

  1. eli says:

    Budapest was definitely one of my favorite cities to explore because there are so many free attractions. It’s such a good city to just walk around in because you can stumble into so many amazing things

  2. Snita says:

    These are really great tips! I love Budapest when I visited – it’s such a great city! Will certainly keep these in mind on my next trip!
    Thanks for sharing!

  3. followingtherivera says:

    This is very useful for me as I want to visit Budapest this year! I think the parliament building is one of the most beautiful in the world, and strolling along the River Danube would be a must for me!

  4. Sam says:

    it’s posts like this that make me realise how little of Budapest i really saw – just means i have to go back right!? 😛 such a cool guide, you’ve got me planning! <3

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