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Budapest is the capital of Hungary, and it's famous for its stunning architecture as well as its spa waters. In 1987 the centre of the city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site so you can expect a lot of walking after arriving on a flight to Budapest if you want to take it all in!
Budapest is actually two cities that have merged, with Buda on one side of the Danube and Pest on the other. Buda is the older part, whilst Pest is the younger and hipper side, known for its nightlife. It's worth considering what type of city break you are looking for when searching for your hotel in Budapest. It's not that tricky to cross the river, but it will certainly make things easier if you're closer to the main things you want to do.
Thanks to the ready availability of cheap flights to Budapest, we have really seen this city take off as a destination for both weekend breaks and longer holidays. This trend is set to continue in 2014 so get booking your Budapest flight and see what all the fuss is about!
There is so much to see in Budapest that you'll certainly be hopping on another flight soon to explore some more! Highlights include Castle Hill where you will find the Royal Palace and much more, wandering the river bank, Margaret Island, the Parliament Building, the Andrássy út Boulevard, the Aquincum Roman ruins and the spa baths, such as the Széchenyi Spa. For more ideas, head over to our Budapest travel guide!
There are plenty of direct flights to Budapest available, so you won't have to catch an indirect route even if you are hoping for a cheap Budapest flight price. You should expect to be in the air for around two and a half hours, slightly more if you are flying from one of the UK's northern airports.
All Budapest flights arrive into Budapest Franz Liszt International Airport, colloquially known as Ferihegy. The airport lies on the outskirts of the city to the south east of the centre, and there are a number of ways to travel onwards after landing on your cheap flight to Budapest. There are a choice of options for onward travel once you land:
Suburban train - the suburban train network runs trains, called személy, every half hour from the airport to Budapest-Nyugati Station, taking 25 minutes to arrive. This is a good cheap way to arrive and you can buy public transport tickets from the newspaper vendors and at the station itself.
Bus - the bus departs from the Ferihegy vasútállomás stop, and takes around 10 minutes to travel to the Kobánya-Kispest station, where you can transfer to the metro. The bus is the cheapest way to travel from the airport after Budapest flights arrive but you will need to pay again to enter the metro network.
Minibus - operates a regular service to a range of hotels, with services departing approximately every 15 minutes. Quite a bit more expensive than public transport, but a whole lot easier too!
Taxi - the most expensive way, but you'll know the cost up front because you need to queue at the booth, where you will get a written quotation, then you will get a taxi and pay on arrival at your destination.
Car hire - is not a great idea unless you are planning on making day trips. Parking, especially in the centre can be tricky and expensive, and with such speedy options on hand already there is no need to trouble yourself!
Walking around Budapest after your flight arrives is a great way to orientate yourself, and a sure fire way not to miss out on any of the beautiful architecture, especially when it comes to the Old Town. If you're after moving slightly faster though, there is plenty of public transport too. There are three metro lines, plus blue buses, red trolley-buses, and yellow trams and it's certainly worth getting a public transport map to help you use these to your best advantage. If you're planning on travelling a lot then a travel card will help you save money, and beware that it's hard to buy tickets in the evening, so get them early and don't forget to validate them when you step on board!
Cycling is becoming increasingly popular too, with plenty of rental places and a reasonable network of cycle paths. Skateboarding too is popular - look out for longboards rather than short boards and avoid showing off tricks and you won't have any bother from the police! Taxis are of course on hand too, but can be very expensive indeed.
Hungary's national bus network is operated by 28 companies. Connections are frequent; prices are the same as those on non-Intercity trains. Long-distance buses are clean and safe, but often subject to delays. The Hungarian National Railway is MAV and GYSEV. Intercity (IC) trains are the fastest, and they're up-to-date, reliable and clean and link the major cities with Budapest. Pick up Budapest car hire if you want to explore further afield at your own pace.
The climate in Budapest is temperate with distinct seasons. Summers are rarely the same the whole way through: there are prolonged hot periods with highs between 32-35°C and then short, cooler, wet periods. In general the heat is dry, and night-time temperatures are very pleasant especially in the suburbs. In the busy, packed environment of Pest however temperatures above 25°C at midnight are not uncommon. Thunderstorms can occur, some of them violent with heavy gusts and torrential rainfall. Winters are relatively short, moderately cold and usually dry, but sometimes beautifully sunny. The small amount of snow that the city gets usually disappears after a few days.
Spring is undoubtedly the best time to visit Budapest. The summers are warm, sunny and long, but it rains a lot in May and June. Resorts near Budapest are very crowded in late July and August; these two months constitute the main tourist season in Hungary and Budapest is packed with people at the time. July and August are also the months when most of the local festivals take place. Though winter is often cold and bleak and museums and other public places begin to close, the buzzing nocturnal party life of Budapest continues through the season!
Flights to Budapest are relatively cheap usually, especially if you go during the colder months or in the early months of spring.
It is better to obtain Hungarian Forints upon arrival in Hungary than to exchange it with a bank at home, as local Hungarian banks generally work with better rates than those abroad. Exchanging foreign currency into Forints can be done in banks, official currency exchange offices and travel agencies. Changing money at Budapest hotels is not advisable, as their rates are at least 10% lower than what is generally available.
Budapest is not as cheap as you might initially assume. Restaurants can charge a lot, and make sure you watch out for the sneaky trick some employ, which is to tack a bill of £60 per drink onto your bill without your knowledge!
The language spoken in Budapest is Hungarian - known to Hungarians are Magyar.
British citizens do not require visas to enter Budapest but you must have a valid British passport. If you intend to stay more than 90 days, you must register with the nearest regional Immigration Office.