Budapest finally happened. I had been planning this trip to Europe for the past 1 year. This was my first time outside India.
The following are the details of my 18 days stay in Budapest, Hungary in the month of June 2019.
Budapest is located in Hungary and Hungary is signatory to the Schengen Agreement. Hence, once needs a Schengen visa to travel to Budapest.
I applied for my Visa via Embassy of Hungary, Mumbai and got it in 2 days. I did take help from StampmyVisa for Visa application as this was my first visit.
Travel Insurance is mandatory for visa application. I got one from Religare for Rs. 1,200
Show as much money as you can in your bank account. Minimum 2 lakhs if travelling alone.
Flights to Budapest
I flew Mumbai – Doha -Budapest – Doha-Mumbai via Qatar airways. The entire return journey cost me Rs. 46,000.
The total journey time (including transit) was 12 hours one way.
Accommodation in Budapest
I stayed in an Airbnb during the entire duration of my stay. It was located right in the city center on the Pest side near Elizabeth Street.
It cost me a total of 300 Euros per head ( for a 20 days). It was a shared accommodation between 3 of us (me and 2 other friends). So that works out to Rs. 24,000 per head for 20 days. or Rs 1,200 per day per person. Pretty reasonable.
Managing Money while in Budapest
The currency of Hungary is the Forint.
1 Indian Rupee is about 4.2 forints.
You can carry USD or Euros and convert them into Forints upon reaching Hungary.
Very Important Note – Do not exchange currency at the airport. The exchange rates are awful.
There are many currency exchange desks in the city center. They display the rates outside their shop. I exchanged my Euros at Deak Ferenc area.
Credit and Debit cards are accepted everywhere. So no worries there.
June is the beginning of summer in Europe (Northern Hemisphere). This is a pleasant time to be in Europe.
Getting around in Budapest
After clearing Immigration, you have 2 options to travel to center of the City,
Taxi or Shuttle Service (22 Euros)
Bus (Public Transport)
You can find ticket vending machine just outside the airport gate. You need to travel to your left once you exit towards Bus stop for 200E Bus number.
Use your Debit/Credit/Travel Card to make a purchase. I bought a 15 day pass for 6,500 Forints (Rs. 1,500) which lets you travel on any bus and metro in whole of Budapest. Also, you need to mention your ID, in this case Passport (Not applicable for 3 days or less) while buying the pass as it is printed on the pass. Make sure to carry your passport with you coz your pass and ticket will be checked together.
The city is very much connected via public transport and I used this pass for my entire stay in Budapest.
Things I did in Budapest
We went to Buda Castle (you can see the whole city from the top of castle), Obuba district, Margaret Island, Hot baths and other popular places.
An evening walk by river Danube is very relaxing. The Buda side is usually quieter than Pest side.
A typical street in the city has lots of pubs and bars which easily tells you that the city is quite dependent on tourism for its economy. Also, lot of kebab shops run by Iranians and Turks.
You’ll also find numerous Indian restaurants in the city. You can easily find the list of places to visit with a simple google search.
Cost of Living
I spent about Rs 1,000 per day on food and beverages. The average cost of a Starbucks coffee is about Rs 300 when compared to what it costs in Mumbai (Rs 200).
A pack of Strepsils with 20 tablet cost me Rs 450. In India, it costs about Rs 100. Carry your medicines from India when travelling to Europe.
I went to locksmith to get my duplicate key made and it costs me Rs 600 where as it justs costs us Rs 100 – 200 in Mumbai.
There is shopping market near Deak Ferenc metro station. They have Zara and H&M stores. They were cheaper than stores in India.
Plugs and Pins
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The first thing I noticed was that they drive on the right side of the road. So you need to be careful while crossing the road. The traffic lights are followed very diligently.
You can drink water directly from tap.
The most popular super market is SPAR. You’ll find them everywhere in the city.
The toilets are dry. Take wet tissues.
Get a portable Umbrella to avoid getting wet in rain.
Carry Sunscreen and swimwear.
Tip your waiter at restaurants. This is a very common practice in Budapest.
People and Culture
Hungarians in general are introvert. You might think they are depressed. Youngsters do not speak english. Speak slowly when you talk to people who do not speak English properly. Use google translate.
I also noticed that very young kids 16, 17 and 18 smoke and drink a lot, I mean a lot. It was sad to see that at this very tender age they are destroying their bodies. Yet, people were slim and seem fit.
During my stay, there were lot of tourists from UK. They are infamous for hooliganism. Well, that’s what I saw. Every night there were so many English outside of the club shouting slogans. There were Police cars outside every club. The streets were quite dirty due to them throwing cans, wrappers and plastic bags.
I also came across many Chinese tourists travelling in groups.
Overall, the trip was fun. As I was meeting friends after many years, it was a special trip for me. I will be visiting Budapest again next year for Sziget Festival and F1 GP.