Updated: Sep 18, 2022
My cousin and I spontaneously booked a trip to Budapest in January and we spent a week discovering this amazing city. I wasn't expecting much prior to my arrival, I had heard great things about the place and was curious but I definitely didn't think this week would turn out to be one of my most cherished and memorable trips. I was afraid that visiting Budapest in winter would be a bad idea, however, it gave us the opportunity to discover this European city without the crowds and queues which made this trip feel even more authentic! Plus, I loved being able to walk around the city in my big fluffy coat. That being said, I thought I'd share what we got up to in case you were considering visiting this incredible city. Hope this helps!
Budapest: a safe city
Budapest is a female-friendly city
First and foremost, Budapest felt incredibly safe traveling as a woman. I started my trip solo and was joined by my cousin on day two. I hadn't traveled by myself in a while and I honestly felt very at ease. My cousin, who arrived at 1 am the next day, also had no issues walking around the streets by herself. We were together for the remaining of the trip and everything went really well. We rented an Airbnb in the heart of the city but you can easily find female-friendly hostels. So if you're a woman wishing to solo this city, definitely go ahead!
Regarding general safety, I felt incredibly relaxed in Budapest. I had a backpack when visiting and wore some nice jewellery and never had any issues or worries about pickpocketing or theft, whether that be in the streets or in public transport. Obviously, one always has to be careful, but I was never preoccupied with my belongings when out.
Getting around Budapest
Airport shuttle bus
The 100E bus regularly runs between the city centre and the airport. A one-way ticket costs 900FT (approx 3€) and you can buy them directly at the airport or through metro ticket machines in town.
Budapest has a great transport system: buses, trams, trolleybuses, and the metro. Stops are announced in English. A single ticket costs 350FT (approx 0,97€). In order to find your way around easily, I suggest you read this little practical guide that's well done and easy to read.
Regarding the metro, it is useful to know these two things :
To enter the metro, there are no turnstiles, if you travel with a single ticket, you will have to validate it in the orange machines once on board.
The single ticket is valid for 80 minutes (120 minutes at night) and only allows you to make connections in the metro, it is not possible to use the metro ticket for other transport.
To be honest, though, you can easily get around on foot. That's what we mainly did and it's a great and authentic way to discover the city.
Frequently asked questions :
I don't speak a word of Hungarian. How much of a barrier is it? Everyone speaks very good English in Budapest, so it's very easy to communicate. I read that Hungarian is one of the hardest languages to learn so the locals don't expect you to speak their language, although it's always polite to learn the basics in my opinion.
How is the weather in winter? Temperatures in Budapest are quite low during the winter. I was there for a week in February and the temperatures averaged between 3°C and 7°C. Not going to lie, the cold was a bit hard to handle at the beginning as I live in the south of France where temperatures rarely go under 10°C but I quickly got used to it. In fact, I remember even finding it warm when it went up to 7°C! We were lucky with the weather as it was practically always sunny. Basically, the cold won't get in your way, just make sure to pack warm clothes!
How many days would you say is recommended to stay in Budapest? I spent a total of seven days including two days of travel and one chill day meaning we did most of the sightseeing in 4 days and it was more than enough. We left feeling satisfied and ready to go home.
Are there any Covid restrictions in Budapest? Masks were mandatory indoors (museums, baths, shops, transport) but that's it. They didn't ask for any passes or proof of vaccination except for the baths where you need to show a valid pass. Please make sure to regularly check local government requirements as restrictions and safety measures change all the time. These restrictions applied for February 2022.
As a fellow traveller, I'd love to hear about your experience in Budapest, and if you haven't been yet, I hope this article convinces you to go!