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Budapest Card

We will be in Budapest for 12 days. Probably not ALL days, but for at least a week to begin with. Is is worth it to purchase the card? We will mostly be walking and are used to doing a lot of walking. How useful are they? How have you used them? Thanks!

Posted by
1972 posts

When I researched the Budapest City Card in 2018, I did not find it to be of sufficient value for my sightseeing interests. I did, however, buy and make very good use of a 7 day Travelcard; especially using Tram 2 for some casual hop-on/hop-off sightseeing. Even with that, I still logged a lot of walking miles.

Posted by
14409 posts

In doing research for my trip which starts tomorrow, I read that the Budapest Card doesn't have all the perks it did a few short years ago. Don't underestimate distances in Budapest (and the hills on the Buda side), trams and metro can save you time.

Posted by
19187 posts

I researched pretty carefully for my 2018 trip and decided the card would pay off for me. My interest in taking the two included walking tours was a significant factor; without those tours, it would have been a definite "no". I did save a bit of money with the card, but not much. I bought a 4-day card mid-morning on my first full day of what turned out to be a six-day stay (with another 2 days later in the trip). There were quite a few places I wanted to see not covered by the card, and three important museums normally covered by the card were closed at the time of my visit. I know at least one of them, the Applied Arts Museum, is still closed. But as of 2018 the card did cover a great deal.

The challenge with big-city sightseeing cards is that they have rather high daily prices, thus requiring you to hit a lot of places fairly fast. They work best for people who want to spend just a bit of time in each museum, etc. You're planning a long visit and may prefer more in-depth exploration of the sights you choose. (That's definitely my sightseeing approach.) You may also want to adjust your plans each day, based on the weather. Or maybe you'll learn of some special event you want to take advantage of.

There's also the trade-off between maximizing the use of the card and being an efficient sightseer. What if there's a free or not-covered sight you're interested in very near a covered sight? Or perhaps you pass an interesting-looking street on your way to a covered museum--are you not going to stop and explore it? The logical thing is to explore neighboring points of interest sequentially, but maximizing card usage means skipping the free/not-covered sight and returning to that same area on a later day, after the card expires. I figure time is a traveler's most precious commodity.

I have a strong suspicion that only a small percentage of first-time visitors end up saving significantly with a big-city sightseeing card; it's a lot more likely they'll lose money (though probably not very much). But the biggest issue for me is the likelihood of wasting time, trying to make the card pay off. (I had a nightmarish time trying to make the Berlin Welcome Card work for me.)

On the other hand, I've had positive experiences with several sightseeing cards available in smaller towns. They seemed to be priced to encourage visits to secondary sights, and their validity periods were long enough to allow visits to all the covered sights if the purchaser wanted to see them, along with a lot of free time for walking around and going to non-covered sights.