Photo courtesy Budapest Card

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Budapest is an amazing city full of interesting things to see and do. But what is the most cost-effective way to experience all the awesome things this city has to offer? I tried out the Budapest Card to see how it faired. Here are some of the top things to do in Budapest while trying to answer the question: is the Budapest card worth it? (Spoiler alert: it is!)

The Budapest Card is like a one-stop shop for entry into all the top attractions in the city. The card not only comes with free tickets to tons of monuments, museums, and galleries, but it also gets you free use of Budapest’s public transit system and unlocks great deals in shops and restaurants all over the city. (For a full list of all the card’s perks, check out the city’s website.)

The card is available for 24- to 120-hour time increments, which makes it super customizable to your trip. There’s even a 72-hour Plus card with access to even more attractions like the Buda Castle Funicular and comes with free airport shuttles – just make sure to check that the card you have covers the stuff you plan on visiting!


The Best Things To Visit Using the Official Budapest Card


St. Lukács Thermal Baths
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A trip to Lukacs Thermal Bath is a must with the Budapest Card (Photo: Federico Fioravanti / Shutterstock)

Hungary has a strong culture built around thermal baths, which explains the many bathhouses around the capital. Originally introduced by the Romans, these spas use geothermal energy to heat their pools and create a relaxing bathing experience that is a staple in the lives of many locals – and you’ll feel like a local after taking a soak at St. Lukàcs Baths.

The Budapest Card gets you free entry into St. Lukàcs, which has around a dozen different pools to try out. My favourite was the outdoor leisure pool, which has tons of different jets and benches to relax in while you soak up some rays – it even has a lazy river! There’s also an indoor area with a series of medicinal pools, all kept at different temperatures for you to cycle through. And, of course, I had to try out the Finnish sauna and cold plunge tank.

To perfect your thermal bath experience, I would recommend splurging for the changing cabana over the public change room. And remember to bring your sandals, as you’ll need them to move between the pools.


Walking Tours
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Hungary’s famous chimney cakes can be enjoyed at Mulnar Kurtoksolaks during your walking tour (Photo: Roberto Binetti / Shutterstock)

One of the best things I did with my Budapest Card was join one of the daily walking tours around the city. They run on both sides of the river in Buda and Pest and are a great opportunity to get a deeper understanding of the city’s complex history.

I joined the Pest walking tour, which started with a free sample at a Budapest institution: Mulnar Kurtoksolaks, the original chimney cake shop. From there we walked through the historic downtown and waterfront, all the way up to the Parliament building. The tour had great variety in its content, ranging from history to local culture to architecture and lots of details you would never be able to get from a guidebook, which was perfect for a first-time visitor like me.

The walking tours were a great first stop on my Budapest Card, both to get my bearings and to get some context for the city.


Take a Ride on the World’s Oldest Electric Metro
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Publics transit is available to Budapest Card holders (Photo: Ungor / Shutterstock)

With all the perks of the Budapest card, the one I found myself taking the most advantage of was the free public transit.

The Budapest card has perks and discounts at locations all over the city, and there’s no better way to get around than on the city’s excellent public transit system. Between the four subway lines and the countless tram and bus routes, it was easy to get pretty much anywhere I wanted to go. And really, it’s no wonder the city has perfected public transit since it has the world’s second-oldest underground metro system and the oldest electric one.

It’s easy to take advantage of the free public transit – there’s no need to worry about carrying and validating tickets, you simply show your Budapest card to the fare inspectors when asked and you’re good to go.


Visit the Budapest History Museum
Royal Palace on Castle Hill, Budapest, Hungary
Admission to top attractions like the Royal Palace on Castle Hill and its museums is included with the official Budapest Card (Photo: Xuanlu Wang / Shutterstock)

This institution is actually many locations spread around the city, each with a different area of focus, and all accessible for free with your official Budapest Card. The Buda Castle Museum centers around the medieval history of the castle and the monarchy it housed, which was the branch I visited. I loved learning about the history of the castle and seeing some of the artifacts and architecture from its construction.

If you’re interested in more modern history, the Kiscelli branch of the museum focuses on how current events have shaped the culture of the city. The Aquincum Archeological Park focuses on the Roman history of the city, and the Budapest Gallery focuses on exhibiting the work of contemporary Hungarian artists. Plus, in addition to the permanent collections, all branches of the Budapest History Museum have rotating exhibitions that are well worth checking out.

The Budapest Card also gets you entry to other museums and galleries all over the city, so there’s something for everyone.


Take Advantage of the Amazing Discounts
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The Budapest Cards even include discounts of classic Hungarian treats like  lángos (Photo: József Koller / Unsplash)

The official Budapest Card doesn’t only get you free entry into some of the city’s top attractions – it also gets you some amazing discounts. One of my favourite discounts was 20 percent off at Mulnar Kurtoksolaks. After the free tasting on the walking tour I had to go back for more, they’re that good.

It’s not just chimney cakes, though.  You also get discounts at a bunch of other local restaurants and bars, including a traditional lángos joint (a chewy, crunchy fried savory pastry that goes great with an ice-cold pint of Saproni. And for a fun night out, take advantage of the discounted entry into the Flipper Muzeum, which displays over 130 pinball machines that you can actually play.

The verdict? All in all, there are plenty of awesome things to do with the Budapest Card that make it worth it for any time frame. That said, with so many cool things to try out, I would definitely say the longer the better.

To learn more, visit the Official Budapest Card website at




Contributor Charlie Wagner-Chazalon is a travel enthusiast who splits his time between Muskoka and Toronto, Ontario.