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Prague or Budapest for long weekend

Hi all We're planning a long weekend at the end of May and trying to decide between Prague and Budapest. I actually know Prague pretty well so my question is really whether you think Budapest (which I've never been to) is similar, better of worse. I'd be really interested in views from people who have been to both and especially comments on a) comparitive cost, especially of meals out b) ease of getting around c) relative size of the two places
d) how much traffic there is in the centre Thanks in advance Alan

Posted by
516 posts

Since you've never been to Budapest I would say give it a go. I've been to Prague 4 times and Budapest once. Would not go back to Budapest. Enjoyed my visit but to me Prague is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Yes lots of tourists and crowded but there is a reason for it too. Size, food, and costs about the same. I think hotels are nicier for the money in Prague than Budapest. Food is better in Prague.

Posted by
12323 posts

a. overall Budapest is less expensive and the choices for dining out are greater. Overall i wouldnt be surprised if Budapest was 10% to 15% less than Prague for similar activities. b. Budapest is easy to navigate on foot or with public transportation. Public transportation is inexpensive. c. Prague's major tourist zones are a couple of tight zones; Budapest's tourist attractions are as much the city it's self as anything else so from that point of view Budapest is larger but see paragraph "b." above.
d. Automobile traffic is not terrible but the sidewalks are broad and there are a number of pedestrian zones and the public transportation so the auto traffic is not really an issue as a visitor. Pedestrian traffic is nothing cmpared to Old Town in Prague where the tourists are elbow to elbow.

Posted by
42 posts

I have been to both and I favor Budapest. Some people like Budapest, some don't. Prague is pretty, Budapest is too, but in a different way. Food is better in Budapest in my opinion and cheaper. There are good markets in Budapest besides the Great Market. It is super easy to get around on the subway,etc. Hungary makes great wines also. I don't know I guess I was just put off of Prague b/c of the tourists and cheesy stuff in the old town. Budapest felt more like a real city to me. I suppose it also depends on your interests. I have no desire to return to Prague but would live in Budapest in a second.

Posted by
4660 posts

Both are wonderful but if you already know Prague and haven't been to Budapest I'd pick Budapest. James' summary of the differences is right on. After you've been to Budapest, the next time you have a choice like this you'll have an information base to help you decide.

Posted by
3696 posts

I have been to both a few times. My favorite big city was Prague, until I went to Budapest. They are both still pretty close for me, but I loved the food in Budapest and it seemed cheaper to me. I would branch out and try something new!

Posted by
12323 posts

Danni, we enjoyed Prague as well. Lovely town. Too crowded but very special. Just the same something was "wrong" in Prague and we couldn't quite put a finger on it. Then we found ourselves in Budapest and the source of the feeling in Prague became apparent. Prague was like life in a museum while Budapest was just life. I could live in Budapest as well and we have begun making the necessary plans to make that a reality. They are both great cities; just different.

Posted by
12323 posts

Danni, we enjoyed Prague as well. Lovely town. Too crowded but very special. Just the same something was "wrong" in Prague and we couldn't quite put a finger on it. Then we found ourselves in Budapest and the source of the feeling in Prague became apparent. Prague was like life in a museum while Budapest was just life. I could live in Budapest as well and we have begun making the necessary plans to make that a reality. They are both great cities; just different.

Posted by
1878 posts

I prefer Budapest. We were in both cities in early May 2010. Prague was crazy crowded, overrun by tourists from end to end (to be fair, we were frequenting the areas where tourists go, which makes sense when you are a tourist yourself..) Budapest was nearly empty at all of the tourist sites, a place you could just relax and be there, without fighting the crowds. The areas of interest in Budapest are more spread out, but the transit is very good. Traffic: many cyclists riding around the downtown area, light traffic because I think a lot of people do not find it economic to own a car. Food is not unreasonable in either city.. better tasting in Budapest. Hotels tend to be expensive in Prague but great value in Budapest. For me one of the appeals of Budapest is that relatively few people go there, compared to Prague where everyone goes, and comes back to tell you that you must go too. Prague is not as beautiful as conventional wisdom holds (while still quite nice), but Budapest is much more so than conventional wisdom would hold. There is also some seediness to Prague (strip joints, gambling) that while I am sure it was present in Budapest, we did not witness it so probably much less pervasive. You can probably tell I tend to buck the conventional wisdom. We really liked both cities but if I had to pick one to return to for a long weekend, it would be Budapest.

Posted by
11261 posts

I love to say (so I'll say it here) that Prague, Budapest, and Vienna are apples, oranges, and bananas. Even though they are spoken of as triplets, and of course have geographic proximity and shared history, they are VERY different in feel from each other. So, my first and most important piece of advice is that if you go to Budapest, do not expect it to be anything like Prague. If you do, you'll be unhappy (as my sister was). I enjoyed both, and would happily go back to either. The same way one can enjoy both New York City and the Grand Canyon without having to choose a favorite, I don't see it as a "contest" between them. Budapest is cheaper for food, but their real advantage is cuisine: Hungarian food is delicious (I had some good food in Prague, but you can't compare it to the marvelous flavors of Budapest). Budapest is larger, and the areas of interest are more spread out than in Prague, but with the Metro, trams and and occasional bus, there's no problem getting to everything. Prague is prettier as a whole, and is the clear favorite if you're looking for polish. I agree that if you've never been to Budapest, you should go. Just don't see it through a "Prague lens"; accept it on its own terms, and you'll have a great time.

Posted by
1246 posts

Many thanks to everyone for their insightful replies. That's just the kind of info I was after. Now we'll just have to sit down with a glass of Czech beer, or Hungarian wine, and make up our minds. Cheers alan

Posted by
12323 posts

When ever the Prague or Budapest question comes up this is what you get. this site has more normal well intentioned and just plain good people than average so the result really is constructive and helpful.