Digital Nomad Guide to Budapest, Hungary

What I’ve learnt living and working in Budapest as a digital nomad

Tomas Laurinavicius
Nov 3, 2014 · 9 min read

This article originally appeared on Dare With Us.

Budapest is one of the most beautiful European cities and has a lot to offer for occasional tourists as well as digital nomads. I’ve spent 3 weeks in Hungarian capital working from home and exploring the city in my free time and here’s what I’ve discovered about it.

Arriving

Flights
There are many ways to reach Budapest. Wizzair is a low fare airline which operates in the whole Europe and you can pretty much get from anywhere in Europe to Hungarian capital in less than 3 hours. If you book in advance flights can be extremely cheap and definitely the best option, however, if you are traveling with more stuff than you can put into a cabin luggage you may want to buy extra luggage which can cost more than the actual flight.

Buses
This is how me and Justas got here. We took Ecolines from Vilnius, Lithuania to Prague, Czech Republic for 36 EUR each and then Student Agency Bus from Prague, Czech, Republic to Budapest, Hungary for 17 EUR each. Trips with buses take time and sleeping is pretty challenging but mentioned bus services had free WiFi, multimedia player with lots of new music and movies so it was not that miserable at the end. The advantages of taking a bus are of course more space for luggage and lower cost, however Student Agency Bus took a little fee for our luggage which was 200 HUF or around 0.6 EUR.

Trains
Train network is very developed and highly used in Western and Central Europe but in Eastern Europe service is quite horrible, trains are old, very slow and going just 200–300 km can take up to 20 hours in some cases. However if you take longer trips and enjoy siting in a train make sure to check if they have sleeping beds and check exactly how long it takes to go from point A to point B.

Accommodation

Budapest is considered as one of the cheapest European cities but can still be pretty expensive to find accommodation here if you don’t know anyone. Bus from Prague arrived late evening and of course we didn’t have a place to sleep so we quickly opened up Hostelworld iPhone app and reserved a hostel somewhere in downtown, turns out it was Red Fox Hostel which was pretty clean and like other hostels had lockers, shower and free WiFi.

I’d suggest you to find accommodation in advance to avoid stress and time wasted once you get to any place, however, plans don’t always work out so prepare mentally to be homeless for some time. To make accommodation hunting easier get a local phone number, I’ve got Telenor for 1700 HUF (5.5 EUR) and a top-up of 3000 HUF (9.7 EUR) for calls. Once you have a WiFi connection (cafe or hostel) and a phone number, open up some listings like Real Estate Hungary, Just Landed Budapest Rent and Apartments of Budapest and start calling out, in most cases people will not speak English and will hang up but don’t lose faith and keep calling, in the meantime you can send emails to the listings you’re interested in, written English might be easier to understand or at least agents or owners will be able to translate your message. This is how we got our room for three weeks for 200 EUR + 50 EUR deposit which is pretty good price for two people and all the bills included.

If you ever go to Budapest try to call Gabor +36 30 234 9709 a friendly German senior who is renting out flats, usually for students and for long term but he still might have something to offer for you.

Airbnb is also a pretty good option as it gives more privacy and high living standards, you’ll feel like home as everything will be provided. However if you came not to live locked up in a flat it may not be worth spending 20–40 EUR per night.

Gym

We’ve got Iron Gym membership for student price as me and Justas are still young and receptionist believed that we left our student cards in Lithuania. It was 7000 HUF (22 EUR)/month each with sauna included. I’ve been working out 5 times a week and having time off on the weekends. I prefer working out in the morning as it helps me to clear up my mind and get some energy for the day, even if I get tired working out it feels much more productive if I workout rather than not. My workouts were pretty simple trying to cover all muscle groups, below is an example program:

Monday

Warm-up bike or running 10–15 min, stretching.

Chest
Bench press 3x12
Incline press 3x12
Dumbbell flys 3x12

Biceps
Barbell curl 3x12
Dumbbell curl 3x24
Overhead cable curl 3x12

Abs
Crunches 3x30
Air bike 1x100
Feet reach 3x30
Plank 1 min
Dumbbell side bend 3x40

Tuesday

Warm-up bike or running 10–15 min, stretching.

Back
Deadlift 3x12
Bent over two-arm long bar row 3x12
Front lat pulldown 3x12

Shoulders
Upright barbell row 3x12
Dumbbell press 3x12
Dumbbell side lateral raises 3x12

Abs
Crunches 3x30
Air bike 1x100
Feet reach 3x30
Plank 1 min
Dumbbell side bend 3x40

Wednesday

Warm-up bike or running 10–15 min, stretching.

Legs
Squats 3x12
Leg press 3x12
Leg extension 3x12
Leg curls 3x12

Triceps
Rope triceps press-downs 3x12
Tricep pulldown 3x12
Overhead tricep extension 3x24

Abs
Crunches 3x30
Air bike 1x100
Feet reach 3x30
Plank 1 min
Dumbbell side bend 3x40

And then it all repeats, so one week you get to do chest twice, other week legs twice, the other week back twice and so on.

Couple of times I went for a run around Budapest and it was a fun experience, there are not many people running, surface is mostly flat and scenery is amazing especially running by the river. I highly recommend you start running as it is a great way to explore the city in other way which is also good for your health.

Going out

City card
Like many touristic places Budapest has city card specifically for tourists who want to get the most value out of their money. Budapest Card There are three cards available 24, 48 and 72 hours. Prices vary from 14–27 EUR. The card allows you to use public transportation, numerous discounts and free access to museums, thermal bath and more.

Thermal baths
There are quite a lot of thermal baths in Budapest and Budapest is quite famous for that. If you have got city card you can get discount to many thermal baths or even go to Lukács bath for free. It is worth visiting one of these and treating yourself good, there are many different saunas, swimming pools and open baths that work as a perfect relaxation.

Zoo

Budapest Zoo is pretty big, they have animals from everywhere in the world. Lions, giraffes, gorillas, bears, piranha, crocodiles and much much more. Felt good to be a child again, last time I was in zoo was at least 10 years ago. It may be fun walking around the zoo but it’s really big so don’t rush, take your time and get a snack or meal inside the zoo’s restaurant.

Parks
There are quite a lot of beautiful parks in Budapest, great for walking, meeting up or running. Our flatmate Fanni told me she was running in the park which is in the island so that should be terrific, however I’ve just walked around that park so can’t tell how beautiful it is.

Museums
There are museums in Budapest but I can not tell about them because most of the time I don’t go there as I find it exhausting. Other thing is I might need to grow up for museums. Anyway, if you’re into museums you get free access with city card or enormous discounts.
Boat cruises

One of the unchecked to-do list item that I will do next time I visit Budapest. Danube river which separates Buda and Pest is pretty large river that is home to quite a lot of boats, smaller and bigger. Some of the boats offer cruises on the river with bars and restaurants in water. Prices vary from 2100–4000 HUF (7–13 EUR).

Bars and clubs

Restaurants
There are many restaurants and cafes in Budapest. In most places they serve Hungarian food like goulash. Prices are pretty low compared to Western Europe and you can get lunch or dinner for around 3000–4000 HUF (10–13 EUR), including beer.

Beer is around 300–700 HUF (1–2.3 EUR) depending on the place. Go to more remote and not so popular city parts to enjoy cheaper food and beer. Also if you see English welcoming messages or menu it’s most likely targeted to tourists and prices will be higher so avoid these.

Hooters

It is a restaurant coming from USA where they serve burgers, salad and other food. Oh their trademark is that waitresses are really good looking and wear tight uniforms emphasising feminine shapes. Most of the time audience is manly but definitely worth visiting and seeing how Hooters create their unique selling point by creating a different experience.

Food

Eating out is not very expensive compared to Western Europe but cooking at home will save you a lot of money in the long term that you can spend on more expensive leisure experiences.

Me and Justas are on quite strict fitness diet at the moment trying to get into nice shape. Most of time we were eating chicken, rice, pasta, tuna, beef, broccoli, frozen vegetable mix including carrots, celery, peas, cauliflower. Also eating eggs, beans, various fruits.

There are little fast food shops for hot dogs, burgers, pizza that can kill hunger for some time and taste pretty good. We have been eating these mostly on the nights out or on our cheat days.

Pizza slices cost 200–250 HUF (0.65–0.8 EUR), two pizza slices were pretty tasty and enough to kill the hunger so you get good value for money.

Work

If you book an apartment on Airbnb make sure to figure out in advance if internet speed is good enough for you to get the work done. Simply ask your host to do a speed test at speedtest.net and send you a screenshot of the result. You can do the same when renting out from locals or an agent. It is incredibly important to get fast and reliable WiFi connection otherwise you can turn into a screaming little girl that can be as dangerous as hurt beast when you can’t refresh your Facebook feed, see new comment on Instagram or simply make a call with your client.

If you find a place without or with slow internet it’s not a big problem, there are quite a dozen of cafes, restaurants and libraries with free WiFi, so pack up your laptop grab earphones and find one. I found that Foursquare is pretty good tool for discovering new places and seeing reviews makes you make decision quicker.

Co-working places is another option to get the work done on the road but it may cost additional expenses to get a membership into one. However, you’ll meet people, make new connections and have fast internet, most of the time you get free coffee and other drinks and events exclusive for members.

Key takeaways

Budapest is great value for beginner digital nomads or budget travelers.

Establish a routine that you can follow to be disciplined with your workflow.

Plan everything in advance to save money and enjoy travelings more.

WiFi speed is crucial when renting out a place, pay important attention for it.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this article. If you have any questions or simply want to keep up with the things I am working find me on Twitter or Facebook.

Inspire and be inspired.

Written in Podvis, Bulgaria (published in Bali, Indonesia).

If you’ve found this article inspiring I would highly appreciate if you could hit that Recommend button or even better share it with someone who might find it interesting. Thank you.

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    Tomas Laurinavicius

    Written by

    Entrepreneur and lifestyle blogger from Lithuania helping people work independently and live better. 👉 Blog: tomaslau.com

    This Publication is Moved

    Go to https://nomadlist.com/blog

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