Budapest is without a doubt one of the most popular destinations for digital nomads in Europe. Those that seek to live a location-independent lifestyle here have a surprising tendency to settle down. What is it that makes this historic city so attractive to nomadic workers and expats?
During the last few years I’ve visited and enjoyed an elongated stay in Budapest several times. I always end up extending my stay because I have so much fun every time. In this little travel guide for digital nomads you can find insider tips that I learned from staying in the Hungarian capitol.
The Hungarian Mentality
Hungarians sometimes get a bad rap due to what tourists consider poor customer service. Some people see certain people as being rude or simply indifferent. In my experience, this is true to a certain extent, but not really a problem. Traveling to other less-desirable countries will actually make you appreciate the service in Hungary.
Sometimes, the issue can just be a language barrier. Hungary is in fact the country in the EEA with the least English speakers (22 percent). The good news is that most of these people live in Budapest. If you are relaxed and patient, there’s a good chance that you’ll have a positive impression of both the culture and the people.
Where to Stay
There really is no shortage of accommodation options for digital nomads traveling to Budapest. In many ways, it’s the perfect place for people that are location independent. You can easily choose between a number of affordable short and long-term accommodation options.
For most digital nomads, it’ll probably be best to start of with something short term. There are several possibilities worth investigating in this respect:
In recent years, there’s been an influx in the number of flats available for short term lease on AirBnB. This has made it very easy to find an apartment in almost any part of town. Many flats have good offers for a one month term or longer. This is a nice way to get a cheaper deal if you’re staying in town for a while anyway.
The standard of Budapest hostels is mostly rather good. The best part is that it’s a really cheap option for those looking to spend as little as possible. A dorm bed might not be cheap in the middle of the summer, but can be extremely affordable in the off-season. In the winter I’ve found options for this as low as 5 euros a night on several occasions. This makes for a very low cost of living, especially if you decide to live there for an extended period.
There are plenty of cheap hotels in towns that can be a good option for short visits. If you are looking for a good rate you should e-mail several hotels and see what they can offer you. In the off-season you will likely end up with some very decent offers.
Long term flats
If you’re planning to stay for a while, it might be beneficial to get a long-term rental contract. This option was a lot cheaper a couple of the years ago than it is now. Still, however, you can get a great flat in the city center for an affordable price.
A 50m2 apartment in districts 5 or 6 can sometimes be found for bargain prices if you’re lucky. Expect to pay anything from 300 to 1000 euro for that kind of apartment. It all depends on if you can find the right offer or not.
If the contract is in Hungarian, it’s always advisable to check the text with a professional. The rental company might not always tell you what the contract actually says, and this can be frustrating if you find out later.
If you’re going to take part in the bustling day life of Budapest, it’s always best to live in a walking distance location. District 5 and 6 are great options for those that like to have everything close by. If you love taking part in the nightlife, you should consider one of these two districts, which you’ll find on the Pest side of the river.
Finding a Good Place to Work
Are you struggling to work from home? Then you’ll be glad to know that there are numerous options for co-working facilities and good coffee shops in Budapest.
When I spent some time as a digital nomad in Budapest, I opted for the Green Spaces Co-Working Office at Oktogon Square. This place is more centrally located than any of the other options I found. The place is modern and has all the amenities you need at an affordable price.
In terms of Co-Working Spaces, this is a growing market with many providers to choose from. Loffice and Electic Loft In are other good options for digital nomads in Budapest.
If you’re just looking for a coffee shop, then you could check out Starbucks and California Coffee. These chains have locations all over town, and they’re equip with different types of seating and quality internet.
Another favorite of mine is Massolit Books & Café. This little coffee shop is located inside of an English language book store. Here you can enjoy some great carrot cake and work away on your daily tasks.
Ruin Bars and Long Nights
Budapest has long been known for its restless nightlife. Every day of the week, there will be parties that can easily satisfy even the most demanding visitor. This is particularly true in the summer when the outdoor areas of the city center turns into drinking hotspots for the locals and tourists alike.
If you go to Deak Square in the summer months, you’ll quickly realize that Hungarians love a good party. People will be gathered all over the grassy lawns to drink together on any given day. There’s also an open air bar that is an excellent addition to the rest of this small park.
Ruin Bars: A True Hungarian Invention
In terms of nightlife, there’s no doubt that the ruin bars tend to be a favorite for those that come to the Hungarian capitol. The idea is simple: Find an old building that’s about to fall down and turn it into a retro-style bar. When tourists come to Budapest, this is usually the first type of venue they hear about and the last one they leave before they go home.
In terms of influence, there’s no doubt that Szimpla is the front-runner of all ruin bars. This iconic spot has inspired many of the other venues in town, and is still the one bar visited by the most tourists. The good thing, however, is that Hungarian people also likes this place, and that creates an interesting mixture of people you can find here every night.
If you’re looking for a dance floor, then Instant could be the place to go. This is a grandiose combination of a ruin pub and a club in one place. The building features a number of rooms that allow for casual talking, and three dance floors that all have their distinctive musical profile.
In the summer months, this is your best bet if you want a good party regardless of the night. Other great options for ruin pubs include Kuplung, Fogaz Haz and Ellato Kert.
Clubs Worth Checking Out
Budapest has no lack of good choices when it comes to clubbing either. On the weekends, there’ll be a number of places open in the city center. Among the most famous are those that are located in the Basilica area of the fifth district.
Good spots are Traffic, BoB, Ötkert and Kraft. If you cross the river Danube, you’ll find some good options on the Buda side. An interesting spot is the outdoor club called Romkert. Here you can dance under the stars as you enjoy quality cocktails and trendy music.
The nightlife of Budapest always has something to offer. Even if you’re out on a rather slow day there will be places with a good crowd. In the summer, every night will feel like a Saturday, as the tourists fill up the city in a big way.
Cost of Living
Any travel guide for Budapest will tell you that this digital nomad hotspot is one cheap place to visit. It’s almost incredible what you’ll be able to get for your hard earned cash here.
The local currency, the Hungarian Forint, is known for its rapid decline over the past few years. For anyone coming from abroad, this means a very affordable price. In Budapest, you’ll be able to get by for as little as 500 euros a month if desired. Live it up with a budget of 1000 euros and you’ll be able to enjoy a bit of luxury once in a while.
Digital nomads should of course be aware that short-term costs tend to add up rather quickly. However, as long as you’re conscious about your choices, you should have many options to cut pointless costs. Overall, this is a very cheap European destination for your next digital nomad adventure.
Accommodation is still very affordable here, and you can find great options in both flat-shares, AirBnB and the hostel market. Food is the biggest cost for most digital nomads in Budapest. The food in the supermarkets is still cheap compared to the European average, but not extremely so.
If you go to restaurants however, that will be a completely different story. Sometimes it’s almost cheaper to have somebody prepare your meal instead of cooking it yourself. A good example of this are all the lunch offers that are available between 11 am and 3 pm on weekdays. You can often get a quality two course meal for as little as 4 euros.
If you love nightlife, you’ll also appreciate that this is very cheap in Budapest. A pint of beer can usually be had for 1-2 euros on average. Other types of drinks are not much more expensive. So if you’re a nightlife lover, this place is clearly for you.
Digital nomads will appreciate that the low cost of living comes without a reduction in quality of life. Budapest is a modern city where everything is readily available at all times. It’s easy and affordable to stay here as a nomad.
Attractions You Can’t Miss
Budapest is any tourist or digital nomad’s most incredible dream. The whole city center is simply a show of amazing buildings and a blend of stunning architecture. The attractions are many and strikingly diverse. You can really spend a lot of time sightseeing here without getting even slightly bored.
If you’re only in the country for a short time, then you should make sure that you experience the most important attractions. Some popular favorites are:
#1. Heroes’ Square
This is one of the biggest squares in Budapest, and also one of the most popular tourist attractions. The 36 meter Millenium Monument stands tall at the center of this breathtaking spot. The square itself is right off famed Andrassy Avenue, and surrounded by the Museum of Fine Arts.
#2. The Citadel
This former military installation is located on top of the Gellert Hill. Today, it’s best known as a great place to get a perfect view of the city. Here you can also see the Liberation Monument that is commemorating Soviet soldiers that lost their lives in WW2.
#3. Hungarian Parliament
This landmark building is located in the middle of the fifth district of Budapest. Every digital nomad visiting Budapest should have a closer look at the Parliament. The impressive building is strategically positioned next to the river, and prides itself as being the third largest parliament in the world. The Neo-Gothic structure was completed in 1886.
#4. Margaret Island
Imagine an island in the middle of a river. A scenic park with beautiful buildings and a cheerful crowd. This is Margaret Island, located on the Danube river in the center of Budapest. Here you can enjoy a lazy day in the park, a refreshing walk or even jump into one of the island’s swimming pools. Margaret Island is a great place to enjoy your summer days!
#5. The House of Terror
Hungary has a long history of communist oppression and brutality. Today, the history is told through a modern museum on Andrassy Avenue. In The House of Terror, you can learn all about how it is to live in a totalitarian state. The entrance fee is 2000 HUF, but discounts are available for students and seniors.
#6. The Fisherman’s Bastion
This beautiful Neo-Gothic and Neo-Romanesque terrace is located in the Castle District of Budapest. Go explore the nearby Matthias Church, or just admire the view from the stunning structure overlooking the river.
#7. St. Stephen’s Basilica
The most visited cathedral in Budapest is located in the center of the fifth district. Only a stone’s throw away from Deak Square, you can experience this classic building. The admission is free, but you do have the opportunity to give a small donation. However, if you want to go to the top of the tower, you have to pay. The tip is to go up on a sunny day when you can get the most of the view.
If you have time, there are many more attractions that are well worth a visit. Budapest is the type of city you could spend a month in and not really be done with the sightseeing. It’s amazing to be in a place where you can always discover something new. Budapest has the qualities of being easy to live in and surprising at the same time. This is probably why many people stay longer than they planned when they came here.
Tips for arriving
If you arrive at the train stations at Keleti and Nyugati, it’s simple to find your way into town. These stations are connected to the metro network that takes you virtually everywhere in no time. If you decide to fly to Budapest, there are two good options for getting into the city.
The first one is to catch a bus and a metro to get to the center of Budapest. If you’re a cost-focused digital nomad, then this is your best option. The ticket is only a couple of euros, and all you have to do is ] find the right bus outside of the airport terminal. The bus will take you to the metro station, and you can easily get from there to any location in the inner city.
If you’re new in town, you might want to make things even easier for yourself. In that case, you can book a seat on the shuttle bus service. This can be done from the shuttle booth in the airport terminal. For around 11 euros, you’ll get a ticket for the a minibus that will take you to your final destination.
The bus takes you right to the address of your accommodation. In other words, there’s no chance that you’ll get lost on your first day in Budapest!
When you just arrive in a new place, there’s always some things to take care of. If you like to get around hassle free, you should get a SIM-card that will enable you to pull up Google Maps when necessary.
There are plenty of operators that offer you this kind of service. The three most easily accessible ones are T-Mobile, Vodafone and Telenor.
The T-Mobile basic SIM-card will cost you 4050 HUF, while Vodafone Max-S SIM-cards can be had for 2000 HUF and Telenor for 2990 HUF.
All these providers have stores in multiple locations all over Budapest. Among other places, they can be found in all the major shopping centers like WestEnd and Arena. Remember to bring your ID when you go to buy your SIM-card!
Getting in Shape?
If your digital nomad lifestyle includes working out, there’ll be no problem locating an excellent gym in Budapest.
When I first arrived, I decided to sign up for the World Class Gym in the Marriott Budapest Hotel. This is a quality gym with all the machines and equipment one needs.
The price is a little steep at 19000 HUF a month. However, it’s convenient that they offer short-term plans instead of trying to pull you into a long-term contract. If you’re looking to stay for a while, then you should have a lot of cheaper options in the city center.
Grabbing a Quick Bite
If you want to grab a quick quality meal when you arrive, then just head to the centrally located Lizst Ferenc Ter. In this little square, you’ll find plenty of quality restaurants to choose from. Most of them have affordable lunch menus on weekdays. The top pick is a restaurant called Menza. They offer a two course lunch for only 4 euros. The facilities are amazing and the food is great!
When to Go
Budapest is a great digital nomad destination all year around. The city has a low cost-of-living and relaxed lifestyle that makes location independence exciting.
If you’re looking for the cheapest time to go, then the winter is a clear winner. If great parties and a big crowds are your priority, then the summertime is your best bet.
Personally, I think that it’s best to go either in the spring or autumn. These periods are very affordable, and still pack in a decent amount of sunshine. You avoid the heatwaves of the summer, and you don’t have many cold days. It’s really all about what you’re looking for in a digital nomad destination like Budapest.
In short, Budapest is a great place to go if you want to live the digital nomad lifestyle. It’s the ideal destination for those that are looking to combine the comforts of Europe with a low cost of living.
Budapest is ideal for those that are trying to save money while building a business through a location-independent lifestyle. The Hungarian capitol gives anyone the chance to enjoy life while working on the nomadic dream!