From lighthearted vagabonds to upscale holidaymakers to long-term residents, people from all walks of life want to make the most of their stay in Budapest. Regardless of our backgrounds, everyone has one thing in common: we all appreciate free things to do. Luckily, the Magyar metropolis has an exciting mix of attractions that provide priceless experiences without costing a single forint, including visiting major landmarks that have no entry charge, prowling great galleries gratis, or attending complimentary concerts at Budapest’s ruin bars, among many other amazing no-budget activities.
Sample local treats at farmers’ markets
The movement to promote a healthy lifestyle is experiencing a renaissance in the Magyar metropolis, and ever-more farmers’ markets are popping up at unexpected locations citywide, offering organic, non-processed, and natural foodstuffs to city dwellers. Week after week, local producers gather at many of the city’s hippest hangouts to sell their goods, and they oftentimes offer free samples to marketgoers who can happily feast on a mix of treats during just one market visit, including slivers of scrumptious homemade cakes, dabs of creamy vegan dips, tastes of piquant truffles, chunks of succulent cheeses, splotches of sweet marmalade, or even nibbles of smoked ham and sausages. Farmers’ markets are happening every Saturday at Czakó Kert, and every Sunday at Szimpla and Élesztő, while on one Sunday every month, Anker’t transforms into a vegan food festival.
Discover the city’s artful galleries
Most of the museums in Budapest require visitors to pay entry fees – except on the national holidays of March 15th, August 20th, and October 23rd, when some museums offer free entry – but the Hungarian capital has lots of art galleries that cost nothing to enter. From classic canvases that Hungary’s most revered painters used to express emotions in centuries past to surreal installations by contemporary artists from Budapest and beyond, many types of art styles can be admired in these mini-museums that offer inspiring cultural escapades. There are entire thoroughfares in both Buda and Pest that are lined with a selection of charming art galleries, including Falk Miksa Street in District V and Bartók Béla Avenue in Buda’s District XI.
Hopp Ferenc Ázsiai Művészeti Múzeum
Hidden in plain sight on Budapest’s Andrássy Avenue, a slice of Asian culture is encapsulated at the Hopp Ferenc Museum, where temporary exhibitions provide insight into centuries-old Asiatic artworks. While visitors must pay to view the collection inside the building, the museum’s recently refurbished Oriental garden is open all year round and is free to visit on an ordinary day, when no special program is organized in the courtyard. Featuring a restored Jain shrine from India, a statue of Brahma, and a Moon Gate from South China, a visit to this sedate spot is a spirit-lifting jaunt, where anyone can take a few moments to themselves and break out from buzzing city life for awhile.
Attend free concerts in ruin pubs and at open-mic nights
Budapest’s revered ruin bars – including the guidebook-superstar Szimpla, the unpretentious ELLÁTÓház, or the recently merged Fogas Ház and Instant clubs – offer free entry to guests, and evenings inside these dilapidated hangouts are often enhanced with concert programs of local and international musicians. Thanks to an initiative that supports talented performers from around the world, every week from Sunday to Friday open-mic nights spice up the scene at many of the city’s popular locales, where anyone can stand in the spotlight for a few minutes while performing music, comedy, or poetry on stage, with no two events ever being the same. For the detailed schedule of these programs, visit the Budapest Open Mic Facebook page.
Visit major Budapest landmarks
The Hungarian capital boasts many monumental sights for visitors to discover, and even those who live in the city always find attractions that shine anew after a thorough refurbishment or after being improved with a fresh addition. Luckily, many of the city’s postcard-superstar landmarks cost nothing to see – even inside – including several churches like St. Stephen’s Basilica, while numerous sites are popular destinations for their panorama, history, or architecture. Among these attractions, you can leave your wallet behind before paying a visit to the statuesque monument at Heroes’ Square, to the cobblestoned Castle District and its panoramic Fishermen’s Bastion, to the Citadel atop Gellért Hill surrounded by sweeping city vistas, or to any of the city’s beautiful bridges connecting Buda and Pest.
Explore the city during free walking tours
The easiest way to explore Budapest is by signing up for a sightseeing program with a trained guide that takes groups around major Budapest landmarks. Guided excursions are organized by many tour companies that take visitors on buses, boats, or on foot in front of several city sights, but free walking tours are your best bet if you are navigating Budapest without a deep pocket. Free Budapest Walking Tours offers complimentary strolls multiple times a day to key sights, while during thematic tours, groups are provided with glimpses into Budapest’s communist past or into the secrets of the city’s Jewish Quarter – and additionally, Free Budapest Tours also organizes similar expeditions around town. However, if you take one of these tours and found the excursion worthwhile, your tour guide will certainly appreciate any tip you can offer.