I recently visited Budapest with my boyfriend, and whilst it was cheaper than the UK, it wasn’t really the “so cheap you can eat out every night” kind of city that I had been expecting. My head was filled with my friends telling me how inexpensive Budapest was, how I would be drinking £1 beers and stuffing my face with fine foods for next to nothing. It wasn’t the case at all, so I guess I shouldn’t really take the advice of people who have never actually been there too seriously! When it comes to travel, I try to keep costs as low as possible, and I am fortunate enough to have met my boyfriend who has the exact same mentality. If I do splash out, it is much more likely to be on a entrance fee or tour than on an expensive meal. However, I am also a firm believer that inexpnsive food can be just as amazing as fancy little portions that cost the earth, so here’s my guide to finding cheap food in Budapest.
Use your own kitchen
The ultimate money saver is of course cooking your own food. If you are staying in a hostel, go and familiarise yourself with the communal kitchen and make sure you have a look for a free food shelf! If I travel alone, it’s always a dorm bed for me, however when I have the boyfriend in tow, we try and get an apartment through AirBnB. (If you still haven’t signed up for AirBnB, sign up here to get a discount off your first booking) We got so lucky in Budapest, we had a lovely apartment in an amazing location, right near the famous ruin bar Szimpla Kert, and short walks from many big attractions. To top it off we had a kitchen, and an ALDI next door! For around £20 a night, you can’t complain!
Stay out of the tourist traps
Kind of a no brainer when it comes to finding cheap food in Budapest, but I was shocked by some of the prices I saw, particularly around the castle and Buda Hill area. Looking for a rather lousy looking sausage in a piece of limp bread? Head to the top of Buda Hill! Don’t be scared to head away from the main streets and find those tiny little bakeries, the food is just as good, half the price, and the localas usually love to practice their English with you!
A search on Google Images for Chimney Cakes, and you will see why a girl like me with an insatiable sweet tooth was on a mission to find the best chimney cake in Budapest. Think thick cake batter, wrapped into a cone shape, cooked over hot coals right in front of you, rolled in all manner of sweet delights such as nuts, coconut and sugars, and then filled with ice cream, oh and drizzled with chocolate sauce. I had seen countless images, and so I was getting pretty stressed when I couldn’t find one for less than 6 euros, and that was without ice cream! Take the time to walk away from tourist areas for a Chimney Cake, and you’ll be rewarded with a super sweet treat for half the price and they wont leave out your ice cream!
This was an accidental discovery, but I guess a Hummus Bar in Budapest is an easy place to stumble upon as they currently have 13 locations in the city. The name is a big giveaway, this place is all about the hummus. A dream come true for a veggie like me, you can buy individual falafel, and we were given free homemade lemonade on arrival! There are also meat dishes on offer and prices are very cheap. I got a pita stuffed with falafel, hummus and salad for less than £2. When it comes to cheap food in Budapest, this place is a real winner for me!
Within stumbling distance of the infamous ruin bar Szimpla Kert, Karavan is a cute little courtyard of food trucks, complete with fairy lights and a bar. Shout out to Las Vegan’s where I had the worlds best burger, the Forest Burger, made of wild mushrooms and topped with a vegan garlic mayonnaise that was out of this world. For the meat eaters, there’s Mexican, Italian and of course, traditional Hungarian goulash served in a big bowl made of bread. Open day and night, it’s the perfect place for solo travellers to grab a bite, join a table and make some conversation.
It’s certainly not for the calorie concious, but this famous hungarian deep fried bread is cheap, available all over the city and of course delicious. You’ll see little hole in the wall type cafes selling the famous Langos with all kinds of toppings, but my personal favourite is soured cream and cheese. Perfect for when you are on the go and need something quick and easy to stroll down the river with!