Hungary is not just famous for its beautiful capital, the Danube river, and delicious goulash but also for being a welcoming destination for international digital nomads who will find cozy cafés to work from in Budapest, plenty of day trips to rural surroundings, and one of Europe's best public transport network.
The country was founded in the 9th century, long before countries like France or Germany were founded. Rich in culture, and history, you will find interesting sites and UNESCO World Heritage sites in all corners of the country. Did you know that Hungary is home to cowboys? You can find them in the rural Puszta, a temperate grassland biome in the Great Hungarian Plain.
🇭🇺 Entry requirements for Hungary
- Visa: Valid Schengen visa.
- Insurance: Travel health insurance that matches the Schengen requirements. Your insurance policy needs a minimum amount of 30,000 Euros of emergency cover.
🌱 Travel health insurance for Hungary
- Additional note: Covid-related entry regulations are lifted on March 7th, 2022. Please check your airline, train, or bus company for additional required documents.
🏡 How to find a place
Hungary, especially its capital Budapest, is one of central Europe's popular travel destinations. In the past 20 years, the country welcomed from 30 million international tourists in 2000 to more than 60 million international tourists in 2019. The tourist arrivals dropped down to 32 million people in 2020. In 2021, around 1.4 million German tourists visited Hungary, followed by nearly 1 million Austrians. About 40% of all overnight stays are counted in Budapest, followed by 20% at Lake Balaton. Between May and September, prices are at their peak due to the tourist peak season.
- Airbnb: You find good short-, and mid-term (up to 3 months) rentals on Airbnb. As longer you plan ahead, as more options you will have. Prices on Airbnb will be highest during July and August, as these months are considered tourist peak season. Alternatively, try Flatio.com. You can expect to pay roughly around 1,000 Euro per month for a flat in Budapest.
- Facebook: An alternative to Airbnb is the local Facebook group on studios, shared and private apartments in Budapest. The group counts more than 45,000 members and is very active. You can find new listings every day. Facebook groups are good for mid-term, and long-term rental places.
- Agencies: If you are looking for a mid-term or long-term rental place, have a look for local serviced apartment agencies, e.g. Tower International. The advantage of contacting an agency is that they can offer you a range of apartments which is time-saving.
- Hotels: Especially when wanting to stay in a very particular neighborhood, street or district, it is useful to check Google Maps for hotels which you then can book on agoda, booking, or other suggested booking platforms.
- Coliving: I haven't found one decent coliving space in Budapest. If you know a space that is worth to be mentioned, please let us know: [email protected]
✈️ How to get to Hungary
- Plane: The international airport in Budapest is well connected with direct flights from South Korea, Iceland, or the United States, and of course, everything in between. You can reach Budapest from every European capital, and many low-cost carriers, for example, Wizz Air, Ryanair, or Eurowings provide service to Budapest. After arrival at Budapest Airport, you can take Fötaxi for about 30 Euro to the city center. You can also take the airport bus for 900 Forint, and purchase the ticket online, by using the BudapestGo!-app, available for iOS and Android. Alternatively, you can use Bolt (similar to Uber) to get to the city center.
- Train: Hungary is part of Eurail, a European railway network that allows travelers to easily cross European countries by train. Good to know: Berlin - Budapest: 11-13 hours, Vienna - Budapest: 2.5 hours, or Warsaw - Budapest: 10 hours. Night trains are available.
- Bus: Similar to the well-organized railway network, Europe comes with a well-connected bus network, too. Find your connection on Rome2Rio or Busbud and get a first overview. An affordable and trusted bus company in Europe is Flixbus.
🚌 Public transport in Budapest
You can purchase daily, weekly, monthly and annual tickets for the public transport network in Budapest BKK online.
- Metro: Budapest has one of Europe's oldest running metros, and it is one of the best forms of public transport in the city. A single ticket is 350 Forint (0.92 Euro) and you can take a bicycle with you. For unlimited transport, you can buy the month pass, which is 9,500 Forint (25 Euro). The metro runs daily between 4:30 am and 11:30 pm with a frequency of 10 minutes. After 11:30 pm, you can take night busses.
- Tram: Budapest's trams run between 4:30 am and 12:30 am. A ticket is only valid for one tram, if you need to change the tram, you need a new ticket. The fares are the same as the metro fares and trams are included in the month pass mentioned above.
- Suburban train: If you want to go further than the metro or tram lines, you can take suburban trains, called BHÉV. With BHÉV trains you can reach the cities of Szentendre, Ráckeve, Csepel, Gödöllő, and Csömör. Especially the artsy town of Szentendre is a famous day trip for tourists interested in museums, galleries, and art.
- Taxi: A safe and reliable form of transport is by taking a taxi, and you can find the yellow Fötaxis around Budapest, at train stations, and at points of interest. You can install the Fötaxi app on your phone and request a ride easily whenever needed.
- Bolt: Alternatively to taxis, you can also book a ride with Bolt (similar to Uber).
- Bicycle: Budapest is one of the most bicycle-friendly capitals in the world, with bike lanes, public city bikes to rent, free transport of bicycles in public transport, and many routes around the city that connect landmarks and points of interest.
🏘 Where to stay in Budapest
Budapest is divided by the Danube river into Buda and Pest. The city is further subdivided into 23 districts. In general, the Buda side of the Danube river is more local, and residential, it provides parks and is quieter. In Pest, you find all the famous points of interest, bars, restaurants, and this side of the Danube is more lively and energetic. Or in other words: busy and loud.
- Belváros: Also known as district 5, downtown, or the city center - this district is for you if you spend a short time in Budapest and if you want to have all the sights, shops, restaurants, bars, nightlife, and events to your doorstep. This district is very busy, most tourists stay there, and prices are accordingly high.
- Jewish Quarter: The most densely populated district in Budapest, also known as district 7, is the place for nightlife, clubbing, bar hopping, and hip eateries. The Jewish Quarter is famous for its Ruin Pubs, and Jewish heritage sites, for example, the Jewish Synagogue.
- Jószefváros: The Palace district, or district 8, is home to the University of Budapest, and is known as the student quarter of the city. Prices are a bit cheaper, you find fewer tourists here, old majestic libraries, the National Museum, and quaint cafés. It takes about 15 to 20 minutes to walk to reach the Jewish Quarter, so you are close enough to discover the buzz of the lively district but far away enough to get a quiet sleep.
- Újlipótváros: This neighborhood is located in district 13, and is quite far from the north edge of the city center but accessible by metro and busses. This district is great if running is part of your daily routine, as the gorgeous island park of Margaret Island is just a stone's throw away. This district is for you if you like to be in a quieter district with access to green spaces.
- Rózsadomb: On the same level as the Újlipótváros district, on the other side of the Margaret Island but on the Buda side of town, you find the Rózsadomb neighborhood, which is a family-friendly and residential district. This neighborhood is for you if you plan to stay at least a month in Budapest, and if you do not plan to go downtown daily.
🧑🏻💻 Where to work from in Budapest
Coworking spaces in Jószefváros
This is the Palace district or district 8 on the Pest side of Budapest.
- Loffice: This coworking space has one location in Vienna and one in Budapest, and the monthly membership cost between 130 and 150 Euro (50,000 to 60,000 Forint) depending on the plan you choose.
- Collabor8district: A modern, bright, and nomad-friendly coworking space is Collabor8district in Jószefváros, near Loffice. The monthly membership is 92 Euro (35,000 Forint) and includes 4 hours of meeting room per day, a skype booth, a shared community kitchen, and event access.
Coffee shops in Jószefváros
- Café Color: Cute little coffee shop, and when you are lucky, the owner's dog is there too. It is a quiet place with decent food and good working conditions.
- Lumen Café: A spacious café in industrial loft character with lots of daylight, and delicious coffee. You will find many working people sitting here. It can be a bit crowded during lunch hours, but mornings and afternoons are quieter.
Coworking spaces in Újlipótváros
This is district 13 on the Pest side of Budapest, close to Margaret Island.
- Kubik Coworking: For 105 Euro per month (40,000 Forint) you can book a month's membership at Kubik coworking space. The flex-desk working area is a bit small and they rent space to startups, businesses, and entrepreneurs with annual memberships. It depends on the season and I would contact them beforehand and ask if they have enough space.
Coffee shops in Újlipótváros
- Madal Café: This coffee shop brand has 3 branches in Budapest, and the one in Újlipótváros is a hidden gem, with vegan food and drink options. It is a good nomad-friendly work spot.
- Fabrik Speciality Coffee - Design - Workshop: Cozy little coffee shop that allows nomads to work, while enjoying good coffee, and decent wifi. Although there were some hiccups with the wifi in early 2022, the problem could be solved now.
Coffee shops in Rózsadomb
This is a residential and a local neighborhood on the Buda side of Budapest.
- Kuckó Cafe: Open from Monday to Friday, this cute coffee shop has not only super friendly staff, cozy corners, and delicious food but also decent wifi and tables to work from for a couple of hours.
- Murok Café Bistro Bar: During the day, this bistro is a great place to work, in the evening hours, guests like to swing by for a sunset beer.
Coworking spaces in the city center
- Kaptar: On the edge of district 6, bordering District 5, you find Kaptar coworking space, which offers different monthly packages, from just a few workdays per week to 24/7 month passes (175 Euro + VAT).
- Liftoff: This coworking space offers a monthly membership for 130 Euro which includes a fixed desk, meeting room usage, and a locker. Liftoff provides a free trial day pass for the uncertain nomad with commitment anxiety.
Coffee shops in the city center
- Madal Café: This coffee shop is more on the expensive side, as it is located in the busy downtown area. However, it is still a good place to work for a couple of hours.
- Espresso Embassy: Local coffee shop where residents go to work for a bit. It is small and can get busy, especially during lunchtime. On the plus side, the prices are a bit less than in more tourist cafés, and they serve delicious pastries.
🚊 How to travel around Hungary
- Train: Hungary is part of the Eurail network and you purchase valid online tickets here. Trains vary from passenger trains that stop at every station and are recommended for short distances. The Express trains service more stops than the Intercity trains and are slower but also more affordable. Lastly, Hungary offers Intercity trains which are the fastest type of train and the most comfortable. They only stop in major cities.
- Budapest - Danube-Ipoly National Park: 1 hour, the ticket is 3 Euro.
- Budapest - Lake Balaton: 1:45 hours, tickets cost between 5 and 7 Euro.
- Budapest - Györ: 1:20 hours, tickets cost around 7 Euro. Györ is a good exit if you want to continue to Bratislava in Slovakia.
- Bus: Taking the bus in Hungary makes sense when train ticket connections are not available. A good bus company is Volánbusz.
- Budapest - Danube-Ipoly National Park: 1:30 hours, tickets cost 4 Euro.
- Budapest - Lake Balaton: 2:45 hours, tickets cost around 5 to 8 Euro.
- Budapest - Györ: 1: 20 hours, tickets cost around 7 Euro.
- Car rental: It is, of course, possible to rent a car in Hungary but with the great railway network and the busses, it is often not necessary, also considering finding a parking lot in Budapest can be challenging. However, you can find all major car rental services in Hungary, like Avis, Europcar, or Hertz. Rates start at around 20 Euro per day. In Hungary, you will drive on the right side of the road.
- Budapest: The historic center of Budapest is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the city is often mentioned among the list of most beautiful capitals in the world. What you must see, includes the Halászbástya, the Fisherman's bastion, reminiscent of the fairytale castles in Disney World, the Shoes on the Danube river, Gellért Hill, Matthias church, Heroes square, the Central Synagoge, and the Jewish quarter, the Hungarian National Museum, and the Anquincum Museum. Budapest is a great place to visit all year round. If you want to avoid the tourist masses, avoid the summer months of July and August. Spring and autumn have fewer tourists, as well as winter months, although winter can be very cozy too, but only when your accommodation comes with heating. To warm yourself up in colder months, visit one of Budapest's thermal spas, for example, the Szechenyi thermal bath.
- Esztergom: A day trip from Budapest is by taking the train to Esztergom, a quaint idyllic town on the Danube river and on the edge of the Danube-Ipoly National Park. You can take the train to Esztergom and visit the castle of Esztergom, the castle hill, and the basilica. The Esztergom Basilica is the church where Hungary's first king, King Stephan, was crowned and it is the biggest church in the country. You can reach Esztergom by train from Budapest, which takes about 1 hour, and the ticket is 3 Euro.
- Danube-Ipoly National Park: If you are looking for hiking trails close to Budapest, you can take the train to Visegrád in the Danube-Ipoly National Park. The train takes about 40 minutes and tickets cost between 8 and 13 Euro. The Visegrád Mountains offer a couple of nice hikes, for example, the Spartacus trail, a 12 km loop, starting in Pilisszentlászló, or the Prédikálószék peak & Vadálló-kövek, a scenic 8 km trail starting in the village of Dömös.
- Lake Balaton: In less than 3 hours, and for only 5 to 8 Euro, you can take the train from Budapest to Lake Balaton, central Europe's biggest lake. Lake Balaton, or Plattensee in German, is one of Hungary's major holiday destinations. I found this list, written by Anna and Ted, of small boutique hotels at Lake Balaton. The best season to visit is summer if you want to take a swim, but it is also the most tourist season with the highest prices. If you want to visit Lake Balaton with fewer tourists and better prices, come in the low season, so spring and autumn. Lake Balaton is not much visited in the winter months, maybe a perfect place if you are looking for solitude and quietness.
💡Good to know
- Internet: The median internet speed for fixed broadband is about 100 Mbps download and 28 Mbps upload speed.
- Sim card: When spending more time in Europe, check out if an e-Sim serves you best. In Hungary, you can choose between Yettel, Magyar Telekom, and Vodafone. Data-only sim cards are available at Yettel. If you need a sim card directly at Budapest Airport, you can only get Vodafone. Magyar Telekom is the best sim card, as it provides the best coverage.
- Digital nomad community: The majority of digital nomads are probably found in Budapest. Check out meetup.com with more than 6,000 members, Eventbrite, and the local Facebook groups to connect with fellow nomads.
- Cost of living: In Budapest, when renting short-term for one month, you won't get any discounts, e.g. long-term rental discounts. You can estimate to spend around 1,000 Euro on rent during the summer months and without searching many alternatives than Airbnb. Rent can be less when living in Buda and getting longer-term rental contracts. You should have a budget of 1,500 Euro per month.
- Currency: In Hungary, you pay with Hungarian Forint. 1 Euro is 358 Forint.
- Climate: Hungary has a continental climate with cold snowy winters and hot and dry summers. The average temperature is 10 degrees Celsius. The summer months are around 25 degrees, and in winter the temperature can drop below minus. Hungary has four seasons, spring, summer, autumn, and winter.
- Safety: The country ranks 19th on the worldwide Global Peace Index, and can be marked as a very safe travel destination.
🚧 What to avoid
- Money exchange at the airport: You will get a lot more Forint for your Euro or USD when exchanging money at the bank in the city.
- Money exchange on the street: Exchanging money on the street in Budapest is a big no. Use ATMs, banks, and official currency exchange booths.
- Tourist scams: Tourist restaurants, taxis, and other shops and services around the historic center (district 5) and the Jewish Quarter are known to rip off tourists. Stay alert, check your bill, your change, and the tax and fees they try to charge you. When taking the taxi, check that the meter is working.
- Clinking your beer glass: When the Habsburger defeated the Hungarian revolution in 1848, the Habsburger executed some Hungarian generals and clinked their beer glasses after the execution.
🚴🏻♀️ How to stay healthy
- Walking Budapest: Budapest ranks 24th as the most walkable city in the world, which was revealed in a study in 2020. You can easily walk between the sightseeing points, and the city provides pedestrian-only areas, wide sidewalks, and many bridges to cross easily from Pest to Buda. There is always public transport nearby or you can sign up for the city bikes. You can join one of the free walking tours, or set up your own.
- Running: No surprise by the great walkability, Budapest has many good running paths too. The city parks, for example, Margaret Island, provide running trails that are well connected to public transport.
- Cycling Budapest: Mol Bubi is the citywide bicycle provider and you can find stations all over the city. If you bring your own bicycle, Budapest's public transport allows you to take your bicycle on the metro, for example, or also on the trains, when traveling to suburbs or rural surroundings.
- Gyms in Budapest: Maybe neither walking nor running is your cup of tea, or you are looking for some additional workout classes or weight lifting? Budapest has many gyms, you can find a list of prices here.
- Hiking in Danube-Ipoly National Park: From Budapest, you take the train to Visegrád in the Danube-Ipoly National Park (40 minutes, 8-13 Euro) which offers many hiking trails, from short and easy to longer and advanced. In the Visegrád Mountains, you can choose between the Spartacus trail (12 km loop), Prédikálószék peak & Vadálló-kövek (8 km), hiking to the Rám-szakadék Gorge (9 km), or to one of the many scenic caves.
- Water quality: In general, you can drink tap water in Budapest. Hungary provides more fresh well water within a day than Hungarians use, and the protection of the water sources is of high standards.
- Air quality: The air quality in Budapest is generally good during spring and summer. The biggest air pollution comes from the rising number of vehicles, construction, and heating. The decline of the air quality starts around September/October when central heating is in use. The moderate air quality lasts until February.
⚓️ Long stay
If you intend to stay longer in Hungary, check out the following possibilities. Please note that the digital nomad visa is not necessary if you are holding an EU passport, as EU citizens enjoy the freedom of work and movement anyway.
Digital nomad visa
- Digital nomad visa: This type of visa is for you if you do not hold an EU passport, and you want to stay in Hungary for 1 year. You need a minimum monthly income from a non-Hungarian company, meaning a source of income outside of Hungary, of 2,000 Euro. The digital nomad visa can not be used to apply for a permanent residency. You can extend this type of visa one more time for another 1 year.
- Temporary residency: This type of residency can be applied for in many Hungarian embassies and consulates outside of Hungary. The applicant must apply for a temporary residency in the embassy or consulate of his/her home country. You can find the forms for the application process here. Please note, that the temporary residency is valid for 1 year and it can not be renewed.
- Permanent residency: This type of residency is possible after living in Hungary for a minimum of 5 years. In order to get a permanent residency, the person needs to apply for a temporary residency first.