Tips on How Not to Spend a lot of Money during Visit to Krakow and BudapestRuss Bily
Magical, fabulous and unique European cities Krakow and Budapest are like a motley kaleidoscope. These cities are one of the most popular destinations, beloved by tourists. And if you want to see all their facets without spending too much money, just follow simple recommendations in my today’s post.
I’m proceeding with my series of tips on how not to spend money during a visit to the most popular Eastern European cities. If you’re planning your trip to Europe, it might be interesting for you to view my previous posts: Tips on how not to spend a lot of money during your visit to Vienna and Salzburg, Tips on how not to spend a lot of money during your visit in Prague and Cesky Krumlov, Tips on how not to spend a lot of money during your visit in Berlin and Munich.
In this article, I’m going to tell you how to save money in Krakow and Budapest. My recommendations will be especially important for those tourists who have the language barrier, which does not allow to learn about promotions, special offers and other ways of saving.
There are 4 types of Krakow Tourist Cards.
1) Krakow Tourist Card for 3 days. It includes admission to more than 40 museums and attractions, unlimited public transport, transport from & to the airport, transport to & from Wieliczka Salt Mine and discounts at restaurants, cinema, and Avis car rent.
Its current price is $ 32.
2) Krakow Tourist Card for 3 days. It includes admission to more than 40 museums and attractions, unlimited public transport, transport from & to the airport, transport to & from Wieliczka Salt Mine and discounts at restaurants, cinema, and Avis car rent.
Its current price is $ 26.
3) Museum & Attraction Pass for the adult for 3 days.
You receive admission to more than 40 museums and attractions, as well as discounts at restaurants, cinema, and Avis car rent.
It costs $ 18.
4) Museum & Attraction Pass for students for 3 days. It gives admission to more than 40 museums and attractions, as well as discounts at restaurants, cinema, and Avis car rent.
It costs $ 16.
Budapest Card is a discount system specially designed for tourists, which allows saving a lot of time and money with its reasonable use. The owner of the card can use all types of public transport for free, visit a number of museums in Budapest without paying for the entrance, as well as take part in a free walking tour. Also, Budapest tourist card gives the right to receive discounts in the most diverse places of the Hungarian capital—from bathing in hot springs to restaurants.
There are three types of Budapest Card and they differ from each other only by duration and respectively, price. This card is for 24, 48 and 72 hours. Budapest Card for 24 hours costs €19, for 48 hours – €29, and for 72 hours – €37. There are no other differences, that is, all three cards provide the same discounts and rights to their owners, just in different time intervals.
Budapest Card includes:
– free public transport (including a river tram);
– travel in all Budapest zones;
– free entry to Buda Castle;
– free entry to Szent Lukács Baths;
– guided tour Buda 2hours;
– guided tour Pest 2 hours;
– top museum entries: Museum of the Hungarian Finance Guard and Taxation History, Bela Bartok Memorial House, New Budapest Gallery, House of Hungarian Photographers – Mai Mano House, Robert Capa Contemporary Photography Center, Ferenc Hopp Museum of Asiatic Arts, Vasarely Museum, Guided Tours at Liszt Ferenc Academy, Hungarian National Gallery, Dorottya Diamond Palace – Caprice, Budapest History Museum, Aquincum Museum and Archaeological Park, Kiscelli Museum, Hungarian National Museum, Memento Park – Statue Park;
– free mobile application with 12 thematic excursions (in English).
In addition, Budapest tourist card gives the right to receive discounts from 10 to 50% in some cafes, restaurants, baths, theaters, museums, water park. Also, a discount is given for a number of entertainments. For example, a trip on an amphibious bus will cost 10% less.
A full list of discounts can be found on the official website of Budapest Card
Here you can view the benefits and accept places of Budapest Card
Free Attractions in Krakow
Free walking tours
Every day at 10 am, 2 pm and 4 pm there is a free walking tour of the Old Town, while at 10:30 am, 1:30 pm and 4.30 pm you can find out about the other side of Krakow by going on the walking tour around the Jewish quarter. Every Saturday at 1 pm there is a free tour focussing on specific themes connected to the city. Finally, those who are over 18 years old can take part in a tour, which brings to life the dark secrets of the city – Krakow’s Macabre Free Walking Tour is not for the faint-hearted.
The meeting point for old town tours is between the Barbican and St Florian’s gate.
For Jewish Kraków – the meeting point is in front of the Old Synagogue on Szeroka street, Kazimierz district.
Museums and Galleries
The average ticket price in the Krakow museums is 5 zl (Vavel museums are 1.5-2 times more expensive). But if you are a student, and you are not more than 25 years old, you can buy tickets at a discount (usually – 50%). To do this, you must have an international student ID – an ISIC card. However, the card itself costs € 8, so its purchase will be justified only if you are going to visit a dozen museums.
But there is another way how to visit Krakow museum for free. Many of Kraków’s museums and galleries have special days with free admission as part of their weekly opening hours. So you just need to check the website of a particular museum to find out the date.
For example, on Mondays, you can visit the Pharmacy ‘Under The Eagle’ History Museum. From there you could go and explore Krakow’s Jewish past by visiting the Old Synagogue Museum, which is also free on Monday. The permanent exhibition Krakow Nazi Occupation 1939-1945 at Schindler’s Factory is well-worth visiting on Tuesday for free. Next to this is MOCAK, Museum of Contemporary Art, which is often free on Tuesday. The Rynek Underground History Museum in the Market Square is free on Tuesday, except the first Tuesday of every month
On Sunday you can visit the Ethnology Museum, the Main Building of the National Museum, the Botanic Museum, the Cloth Hall National Museum and also Szolajski House, which has an art exhibition.
However, it is not so easy to get to Wawel museums this way. The fact is that on a free day you still need to take a ticket at the ticket office. This is, of course, a free ticket, but their number is strictly limited. So on a free-of-charge day, there are long lines to the ticket offices. If you still want to visit the royal castle for free, you need to come early in the morning.
Important: Please note that days and time of free admission changes, so I recommend you to use the following link to check the days and time when you can visit Krakow museums for free.
Other free attractions
You may climb Kopiec Kraka for a stunning view of the whole city. If you would like to go for a cycle, a very popular route is the one to the Tyniec Abbey, which follows the Vistula River out of the city. Another place worth visiting for its picturesque scenery is Zakrzowek, an old stone quarry, which was filled with water. Las Wolski is another nature escape from the hustle of the city. Blonia is a massive green area also not far from the city center where people go jogging, walking or take part in other activities. The River Vistula is very close to the center of the city and is also a popular place.
Free Budapest Highlights
Free walking tours
Many of Budapest attractions are free to visit. You can take a look at the well-known Budapest landmarks in various free walking tours. Please visit https://www.freetour.com/budapest, http://www.triptobudapest.hu/ or http://www.freebudapesttours.hu/
– Fisherman’s Bastion on the Castle Hill is free of charge. You only pay if you go up to the top of the turrets, extra 3 meters in height. But walking along the ramparts is free, and you will get amazing views from there too.
– It is free to enter the Castle District on top of the Castle Hill. You can walk about the woods, or take a look around the Buda Castle for free.
– The courtyards of the Buda Castle are not only free to visit but can be visited even at night. There you can see wonderful statues, fountains, and views of the city. Unfortunately, entering the 6 museums on the Buda Castle Hill is not free, but still very cheap.
– You can visit Central Market Hall or Vasarcsarnok for free.
– St Stephen’s Basilica, a magnificent cathedral in the heart of the city, is free to enter.
– St Michael’s Church by Vaci utca shopping street, downtown Budapest – fantastic main altar.
– In Szabadsag Square you can see nice buildings, like the Hungarian Art Nouveau House, interactive fountains, a statue of Ronald Reagan in front of the US embassy. There you can have a free picnic and enjoy the free attractions around.
– Margaret Island with its parks and ruins is free to enter. There is a small zoo with ducks, peacocks, horses, open from April 15 to October 23.
– You may also visit Citadel, Water Fall, the Statue of Liberty on Gellert Hill, as well as Cave Church on Gellert Hill for free.
– Paris Courtyard is a currently abandoned building with an amazing 19th-century interior, one of the hidden gems in Budapest
– Chain Bridge and the Danube Promenade, including the famous ‘Shoes’ Holocaust monument, as well as Liberty Bridge, spanning between the Central Market Hall in Budapest and Gellert Baths, are free.
– Erzsebet Lookout Tower on Janos Hill can be visited for free.
– Danube Carnival, an international folk dance festival on Vorosmarty square with folk dance shows in downtown Budapest is free of charge. Although there are several programmes where the entrance fee is charged, most open-air events on Vorosmarty square are free.
– Terfilmzene Festival is an open-air free summer cinema.
– Kapcsolat Festival is a one-day event with open-air concerts
Free for EU citizens under 26:
– Hungarian National Gallery: every 3rd Saturday of the month for visitors under 26 and for children (under 18) accompanied by two close relatives;
– Museum of Fine Arts: every third Saturday of each month visitors under 26 and children under 18 with max. two accompanying adults.
Free for all on Hungarian national holidays:
– Museum of Fine Arts: free visits on 15th March; 20th August; 23rd October;
– Hungarian National Gallery, Buda Castle: free visits on 15th March; 20th August; 23rd October;
– Hungarian National Museum: free visits on 15th March; 20th August; 23rd October;
– Museum of Hungarian Agriculture: free visits on 15th March; 20th August; 23rd October.
- Annual Night of Museums usually takes place in Budapest in June. Please check the official website of Budapest Night of Museums (Muzeumok ejszakaja) for the actual date.
Accommodation in Krakow and Budapest
Cheap and affordable accommodation in Krakow
A double room, booked through a travel company, will cost at least € 50. However, on special booking sites, you can find a hotel or apartments for every taste and purse. I advise you to use the search for cheap hotels in Krakow here.
Consider one more option. If you want to save, pay attention to the student hostels (Domy studenskie). They rent out rooms with facilities, as well as a fridge, TV and necessary utensils for tourists. Everything is extremely simple but clean and tidy. An average room will cost 30-60 zl (€ 7-15) per person per night for a double or triple room or about 90 zl (€ 20) for a single room.
Cheap and affordable accommodation in Budapest
There is a wide selection of cheap hotels in Budapest’s downtown area (districts V., VI. and VII) which offer good value for money. Moreover, if you stay in one of the hotels located at any of these districts, you’ll have many top attractions within easy reach or even within walking distance.
Please have a closer look at the following options:
– Three Corners Hotel Art *** at Királyi Pál utca 12. district V;
– Central Green Hotel ** at Szív u. 13., district VI;
– City Hotel Pilvax *** at Pilvax köz 1-3., district V;
– City Hotel Mátyás *** at Március 15. tér 7-8., district V;
– Elite Studios & Apartment * at Wesselényi utca 12. district VII;
– Agape Guesthouse** Akácfa u. 12-14., district VII
Please also find the cheapest options here.
Related: Travel from Krakow to Budapest
Cheap eating in Krakow
You can easily find inexpensive restaurants in Krakow, where it is quite possible to have a lunch or a good dinner with a glass of wine for only 30 zl (€ 7). Here are some examples of such cheap Krakow cafes and restaurants:
– Milkbar Tomasza at św. Tomasza 24, Stare Miasto;
– Pod Filarkami at Starowiślna 29, Kazimierz;
– Bar Mleczny at Os. Jagiellońskie 7, Bieńczyce;
– Bar Pod Okrąglakiem at Plac Nowy 4B/1, Kazimierz;
– Calavera at Biskupia 4/1, Stare Miasto;
– Przystanek Pierogarnia at Bonerowska 14, Stare Miasto;
– Kuchnia u Doroty at Augustiańska 4, Kazimierz.
Besides the cafes, there are many student cafes in Krakow. For example, in the popular network “Rozowy slon” (Pink Elephant) a normal 3-course dinner and dessert will cost only 12 zl (€ 3).
In addition, near the center of the city, you can find many small and cheap snack bars. They are located on the first floors of houses, and outwardly their facades almost do not differ from the nearby shops. There are usually 3-5 tables and the dining room occupies one small room. Menu written in large letters hangs on the walls. On average, a salad, soup, a second course and a drink will cost 10 zl (€ 2.5).
Be sure to try “obwarzanki” with poppy seeds, sesame, cheese or sugar – they are sold almost at every step and cost 1.5 zl. You can drink beer in numerous cafes around the central Market Square – one glass will cost 6-10 zl.
For those who wish to save a lot of money, you can arrange a light homemade breakfast or dinner: a couple of yogurt, pudding, a few sandwiches with juice or beer will satisfy your hunger. Such a set for morning and evening will cost no more than 6 zl (€ 1,5). Thus, taking into account the above, you can spend only 18 zl, i.е. € 4,50 on food per day. So for 5 days, you will spend on food only 23 €.
Most grocery stores in Krakow are open until 7-8 pm, so it’s better to buy everything in advance. However, there are several round-the-clock (for example, the chain of supermarkets «Kefirek»). Many institutions on the Market square work only until 10-11 pm, but on the adjacent streets, there are many night cafes and clubs.
Cheap eating in Budapest
The most expensive restaurants and cafes are located near the famous tourist attractions: the Royal Palace, Fisherman’s Bastion, Andrassy Avenue, Vaci Street and the waterfront. It is worth to move away from them a little, turn to the neighboring streets, and you can find good inexpensive establishments.
The range of cheap eateries in Budapest consists of a few old-style, self-service restaurants, food stalls in markets and some really good street food, such as burgers and hot dogs, or Kolbice – grilled sausages in a cone-shaped bread.
Vendéglő-s and önkiszolgáló-s, self-service restaurants, are the best cheap restaurants in Budapest. These places have the unpretentious interior, usually with the plastic or checkered textile tablecloths. Large portions, not typically low-carb, low-fat food.
There are some vegetarian food bars too, like Főzelékfaló restaurants where you can try a typical Hungarian dish, the főzelék, a kind of vegetable stew thickened with sour cream.
Many restaurants hang out the menu outside, so you can see the prices before entering. But even on the tourist streets of Budapest, you can have a tasty lunch. Many restaurants during lunch hours, from about 12 to 15 pm, offer a comprehensive daily menu “Napi Menu” or “Tzedek”, which means “cheap lunch”, which consists of 3 dishes: soup, main course, and dessert.
Cost of food in cheap restaurants in the following: soups 300-500 HUF (€ 1-2), main dishes (poultry, pork, pasta): 1 200-1 500 HUF (€ 4-5). In the most self-service restaurants’ daily menu (soup and main dish) starts from 700 HUF (€ 2).
Here are some examples of cheap eateries in Budapest:
– Kisharang Étkezde at Október 6. utca 14., v. District;
– Karcsi Vendéglő at Jókai utca 20., VI. district;
– Lugas Étterem- behind the Basilica at Bajcsy-Zsilinszky E. út 15. , district V;
– Platán Restaurant at Klauzál tér 9., VII. District;
– Pozsonyi Kisvendéglő at Radnóti Miklós utca 38., district XIII.;
– Erzsi Mama Konyhája at Pajkos utca 60., district XI.
The desire to save money is absolutely natural for every person. But often people do not know how to do it or do what is wrong. In general, remember that prices can vary depending on where you are booking from, so try the links above to get the cheapest deals for tickets and accommodation.
Use tourist cards to save a lot of money on public transport and city attractions. Finally, you can eat tasty national food without spending too much money if you use my recommendations.
By the way, if you want to go to Krakow, Budapest, and other Eastern or Central European cities without wasting money but with a lot of comfort and fun, you can choose a private car with a local English-speaking driver using our service.