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The Best of Budapest: 5 Affordable Excursions

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Budapest, the capital of Hungary, is a traveler’s dream. Its monuments, people, and history walk visitors through a fascinating combination of both classic and contemporary life in Hungary. Best of all, it’s a city that won’t drain your bank account! While there are countless things to do in Budapest while on a budget, here are five cheap must-do’s for any trip to Budapest:

1. Fisherman’s Bastion and Matthias Church

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Sitting atop the hill on the ‘Buda’ side of the river, The Fisherman’s Bastion is a grand terrace from which you can find some of the best panoramic views of the city. A cheap ticket of under $5 will get you up to the top tier, but it’s not entirely necessary. You can see the same thing from the free lookout points behind the church! 

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Matthias Church, directly adjacent to The Fisherman’s Bastion, was built in the 13th century and served as the site of coronation for many Hungarian kings. It only costs $7 to enter the church ($5 for students) and it is well worth the price, even to enjoy for just a few minutes.  

2.  River Boat Ride Along the Danube

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In my opinion, the absolute best way to see Budapest is by river (and at sunset if you can catch a boat at the right time)! It’s almost as if many of the city’s landmarks were built to be viewed from boats passing by. Book a trip online or head down to the waterfront to find a ferry; there are so many affordable options.

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Looking to either side, you’ll catch amazing views of Buda Castle, Fisherman’s Bastion, and most breathtaking of all: the Hungarian Parliament Building. Hungarians are proud to tell you that they have the third largest house of parliament in the entire world, and they’ll probably argue that it is the most beautiful as well. After sunset, this building still glows with a fire-like brightness.

3. Shopping at the City’s Markets

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Budapest’s indoor and outdoor markets are a great place for buying cheap food and souvenirs on the go. The most popular market, Central Market Hall, is completely indoors which makes it a great rainy-day spot. You’ll find little outdoor food markets like the one above in almost every square.

4. The Chain Bridge and Buda Castle

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If you’re downtown, take a stroll across the Chain Bridge, the first permanent bridge to connect the two sides of the city. The Chain Bridge is also the most popular in the city, so it’s a score for tourists who are looking for a free sight to see.

Once you’ve made it across the bridge, the most fun way to get to the Buda Castle is via the funicular (no pun intended). A trip up the hill in one of these cable cars costs less than $5. Walking around the Castle District is free, and many tour guides will tell you that the castle is best viewed from the outside if you only have limited time in the city.

5. Budapest Thermal Baths

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Budapest has always been known for its many hot spring spas and bath houses. The natural springs are used for both relaxation and medicinal purposes, and today, these baths are one of the main tourist attractions in the city.

Pictured above is the Rudas Bath House, which is situated on the edge of the Danube. They even have a rooftop thermal pool with great views of the city! The largest and most popular bath house is the Szechenyi Bath, with an all-day ticket costing around $22.

You’ve planned, budgeted, and prepared—now all that’s left to do is enjoy!

Search CEA's programs to study abroad in Budapest.

Delaney Bresnahan is the Spring 2019 CEA MOJO Blogger in Seville, Spain, and is currently studying at Liberty University.
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