The Ins and Outs of Digital Nomad Life in Budapest
Budapest has quickly become one of the biggest digital nomad hubs. In fact, Budapest is one of the most popular destinations for anyone traveling in Europe at the moment, and for good reason. With a combination of fascinating history and a culture where East meets West, the Hungarian capital is boasting with charm and opportunities, but also recent struggles and a backwards political system. So what is it like to actually live in Budapest?
In an attempt to answer that question we have written a digital nomad guide to Budapest based on our experience living as digital nomads in Budapest for 1 month. We will cover everything from accommodation and transportation, to food, thermal baths, and the world famous Budapest nightlife.
Budapest Accommodation and Housing
We have good news for anyone looking to visit Budapest whether you’re a digital nomad planning to stay for awhile or a tourist visiting Budapest for a few days. There is plenty of accommodation offered from short to long-term and everything in between including a multitude of hotels in all price classes as well as a variety of affordable apartments.
Since we were planning to stay in Budapest for a month we only focused on apartments to rent. As per usual, we ended up using AirBnb, use our link for $40 off your first stay, but there are of course other ways to find apartments to rent. Facebook groups remain one of the best channels for finding apartments to rent pretty much anywhere we've stayed in the world. These are some of the best Facebook groups we found for Budapest:
What’s nice with Budapest is that many apartments are very cheap if you’re planning to stay for a few months. As a matter of fact, Budapest's affordability, especially when it comes to accommodation, is one of the many reasons why digital nomads flock to the Hungarian capital.
Unfortunately, the apartment we ended up renting on Airbnb was far from ideal mostly due to a somewhat shady landlord that hadn’t paid the electric bill when we moved in. But more about that another day. We definitely overpaid for our Budapest rental at almost $1,100 a month but that is the price you pay to in a central location short-term. In fact, the only redeeming factor was that our apartment in Budapest was located as central as you could get - literally a 2 minute walk to the Central Market.
Accommodation Pricing and Where to Stay in Budapest
From what we’ve seen 1-2 bedroom apartments in Budapest rent out for everything between $400 to $800 a month depending on location, time period, how many bedrooms, amenities, and the channel used to find it (AirBnb tends to be more expensive in most parts of the world).
Keep in mind that the Hungarian capital is a big city and the areas differ a lot so depending on why you are visiting Budapest, certain areas might suit you better than others. If you’re looking for culture, tours, and history staying around the central market can be a good choice. For a more laid back experience Buda can be recommended instead of Pest, and if you’re looking to party the old Jewish Quarters might fit you well.
We suggest that you do some research on where to stay in Budapest before visiting to make sure that you end up in an area that you like.
Transportation in Budapest
It’s not the end of the world if you end up living in an area that’s not perfectly suited for your needs or plans since Budapest has a solid transportation system in place. If a part of the city isn’t covered by the metro, we can assure you that there will be a tram you can take.
The first line (M1) opened in 1896 which makes it three years younger than the London subway, and effectively the second oldest subway in the world. Since the opening of the first line, there have been several add-ons and there are currently four open metro lines with new stations being opened regularly. In addition, there are five lines in the suburban railway network.
Note that most lines are available on the Pest side of the city and that other means of transportations are more accessible in Buda. Although both M2 and M3 cross the river from Pest into Buda.
A single ticket for the Budapest subway system cost 350 HUF ($1.4), and it can be used for 80 minutes without interruptions which means that you can transfer lines but cannot leave the system without buying a new ticket. We used the metro on several occasions and can assure that it’s quick and reliable.
The Budapest tram is a very important part of the Budapest infrastructure and with 30 lines covering more than 155 km, it is one of the largest tram networks in the country. This system consists of a mix of older and newer cars depending on which line you’re traveling on and they are a very effective means of transportation in Budapest.
A tram ticket also cost 350 HUF ($1.4).
Note that all citizens of the European Union that are aged 65 or older can travel for free on all transport systems in Budapest as long as they carry a valid ID with them.
Taxis are available in all of Budapest and they are usually okay with driving on the meter. Uber is also available but we never used it.
Getting To and From the Budapest Airport
All in all the transportation in Budapest is easy and cheap and it makes it easy to travel around the city. The only downside is that the Budapest airport isn’t well connected. You either have to take a fixed and overpriced taxi or a crammed bus plus a metro to get from the airport to Budapest’s city center. It’s a small hassle and we definitely recommend taking a taxi to the airport.
Budapest Coworking Spaces
We belong to the group of digital nomads that prefer working from the comfort of our own home. Really, we don’t even work from coffee shops or libraries, solely from home. It might have to do with the fact that we both started working from different hotel rooms around the world and that we just got used to it, but it’s mostly because of the lack of distractions.
With that said, we do know that many people prefer working from offices and get inspired working along other fellow digital nomads, which is why we did our homework and read up on the best coworking spaces for digital nomads in Budapest.
The Hungarian capital is littered with coworking spaces to the point where you're rarely more than 15 minutes walking from one.
The most popular coworking space for digital nomads in Budapest is the Kaptár Coworking Office. It is located in the heart of Budapest, only a stone's throw away from the Opera and they offer plenty of practical amenities. The space looks really comfortable and they pride themselves on being the safest coworking space in Budapest. Prices range from 2,500 HUF for a half day and 3,500 HUF for a full day. Kaptár Coworking Office also offers monthly 4-13 day passes as well as everyday flexi passes ranging from 13,000 to 88,000 HUF with perks such as lockers, private desks, website development courses, etc.
Impact Hub is another popular coworking space in Budapest located at the well-connected Ferenciek tere metro station. This coworking office is a part of the global Impact Hub Network and you need to become a member to use their services. As a member of Impact Hub, you get access to all the necessary tools you need to work such as high-speed WiFi, comfortable workspaces, meeting and conference rooms, and much more. Obviously, it offers benefits if you're a digital nomad in Budapest but you also gain exclusive access to travel to other Impact Hubs with price deals and even free work days.
Other notable Budapest coworking spaces:
- Colabs Startup Center has offices in both Buda and Pest with several available coworking spaces and private offices.
- Loffice is another immensely popular coworking space in Budapest with modern and edgy interior design and practical work areas.
- Komodor Coworking is a smaller but very modern looking coworking space located in the Budapest city center.
The weather in Budapest is similar to the rest of central Europe with hot summers and cold winters. The best time to visit based on the Budapest weather is between April and October, although we’ve heard from some people that the summer months can get brutally warm without much escape from the heat. Therefore, it's probably best to visit Budapest in spring or fall.
We spent a month in Budapest from mid-September to mid-October and the weather was mild with a few really cold days and a few days that were warm and pleasant. At the end of our stay, the amount of rain increased drastically. We would probably try to come back to Budapest during the spring and summer.
Restaurants, Coffee, and Supermarkets
Budapest has an exciting and upcoming vegan food scene with a focus on greasy burgers and fast food. The Hungarians seem obsessed with vegan cheese and we loved it! Who wouldn’t? You should, of course, not miss the flagship vegan restaurant Napfenyes where you can indulge in everything from vegan pizza to traditional bean goulash, freshly made desserts and everything in between.
As a counterbalance to all the fast food, there are a few healthier options and a couple of spots that serve salad, stews, and even a few raw vegan places. We have covered the best restaurants in Budapest and written a vegan food guide to the city in a separate post.
Overall, meals out were very reasonable costing on average between $4-8 (1,000-2,000 HUF) per meal.
There are plenty of coffee shops in Budapest where you can get your daily java fix. Madal Coffee was our favorite spot and we found that they served some of the best coffee in Budapest including seriously creamy cappuccinos. Madal Coffee offers both oat and rice milk for the coffee as well as a few vegan desserts. Madal is quite the well-known establishment and a hotspot for digital nomads in Budapest as well as local students. Though prices aren’t exactly cheap at 650 to 850 HUF ($2.4 to $3.2) a pop. But Madal is only one of the many coffee shops in Budapest in what seems to be an expanding scene of speciality coffee.
Groceries and Supermarkets
Grocery shopping wasn't always the easiest in Budapest. We lived within walking distance to a Tesco Express, a Spar, and large Lidl, as well as the Central Market, but we still felt like we weren't always able to find what we were looking for. Fresh products where often hard to locate since most parts of the supermarkets where dedicated to either alcohol, processed foods, or sweets. However, the advantage of these discount supermarkets is that prices are quite cheap for most everyday items, but high-quality healthy products and fresh produce weren't readily available.
Luckily enough, we happened to live close to an organic store called Bio ABC that sold many of the staples we needed as well as several vegan products such as tofu, vegan cheese, and some of the best vegan sausages that we've ever had. All in all, the prices were very affordable and we managed to live quite cheaply by mostly eating home cooked food.
Budapest Nightlife and Alcohol
Lately, Budapest has made a name for itself as a city with its famous ruin bars and bustling nightlife. There is a wide selection of alcoholic beverages and beers in Budapest. It is also very cheap with a pint of beer never costing more than a dollar.
In terms of alcohol, you can find many Central European beers with a focus on Czech beers. There are also a few Hungarian specialties that you should check out. Unicum is a local liquor very similar to Jagermeister, there are also multiple local beers and several Hungarian wines.
Budapest Nightlife and Ruin Bars
The nightlife in Budapest is exciting to say the least with bars and nightclubs spread out all over the city. However, Budapest is mostly famous for their quirky and unique ruin bars.
A ruin bar is exactly what it sounds like - it’s a bar located in an old and rundown house (aka a ruin). These bars are a must try for anyone visiting Budapest and most of them are open from midday to early morning, seven days a week. Some even serve food and function as a marketplace during the day.
The Budapest ruin bars come in all shapes and sizes from the massive several story location Szimpla Kert to smaller more intimate bars with a few odd tables. All in all, the Budapest nightlife is one of the most exciting in Europe and it is definitely one good reason to visit Budapest.
Things to do in Budapest
One of the major reasons why Hungary has become such a popular destination for digital nomads and tourists alike in the past few years is because of the abundance of things to do for digital nomads in Budapest.
History, art, culture, and spas. Budapest has it all!
As a cultural hub with some of the most gruesome history in the world, there is plenty of museums to visit for both the art and history enthusiast.
The Buda Castle is a must and a great place to enjoy a view over Budapest, and for the more adventurous travelers, there are tours that take you underneath the castle in the labyrinth system that has served as both shelter from occupying forces and a medieval prison. In fact, it was underneath the Budapest Castle that Dracula, who later came to inspire the famous vampire story with the same name, was kept for years until he finally lost his mind. Unfortunately, these chambers were closed when we visited and we never got to see them.
The most memorable museum we visited in Budapest was the House of Terror, the former Nazi and KGB headquarters where some of the most terrifying acts against humanity were orchestrated. For over 80 years, Hungary was under fascist rule and it was all controlled from this one four-story building that has now been turned into a museum.
The Hungarian Parmaliament Building
The Parliament Building in Budapest is one of the most visited attractions in the city. This massive Gothic Revival building was finished in 1904 and it is an absolutely incredible construction set at the Danube Bank. Today, only small parts of the Parliament are being used and no outside visitors are allowed in.
Budapest Thermal Baths
A highlight for most people that come to Budapest is a visit to one or several of the city's old thermal baths. There are several of these historic spas scattered all around the city and they are well worth a visit for a relaxed day.
- Gellert Baths
The Gellert thermal bath is the oldest operational thermal bath in Budapest, and it’s located on the Buda side of the river in the same building as the renowned Gellert Hotel. We happened to live just across the bridge from the Gellert baths which made it very easy visit. This Budapest spa has a wide selection of thermal baths with different temperature waters, saunas, and spa treatments on offer. Prices are from 5,900-6,500 HUF depending on what day of the week it is and what facilities you use.
- Szechenyi Baths
The Szechenyi baths are one of the largest bath complexes in all of Europe located in the Budapest city park. Most of their thermal baths are located outside and they have recently started hosting pool parties here on the weekends. Prices are from 5,500-6,200 HUF depending on what day of the week it is and what facilities you use. A ticket to the pool party is €50.
- Rudas Baths
Rudas bath is one of the most famous thermal baths in Budapest and it has been around since it was founded by the Turks during the Ottoman occupation in the 1550s. Here you can enjoy spa treatments and hot springs in several pools, including a rooftop pool with a view overlooking the city. Prices range from 3,500-5,100 HUF depending on what day of the week it is and what facilities you use.