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Prague vs Budapest: Which One Should You Visit?

Looking for a lovely trip but hesitating between Prague vs Budapest?

It can be difficult to choose between Prague vs Budapest for your upcoming holiday, the two capital cities of the Czech Republic and Hungary.

These treasures of Central Europe are well known for their magnificent architecture, impressive histories, and dynamic cultures.

I’ve put together a thorough comparison of these two cities to help in your decision-making, looking at a number of different aspects including nightlife, cost, getting around the cities, and must-sees.

See which city might be the ideal location for your next adventure as you read on to learn about the unique experiences each of the cities offers.

A little disclaimer; even though I have lived for over six years in the Czech Republic and my wife being Czech, this comparison is completely unbiased! From my own experience, I love Hungary just as much as a destination.

Prague or Budapest?

Prague or Budapest? That’s the big question here. A lot of travelers who are interested in discovering Central Europe’s natural beauty often ask about this topic.

Both cities are full of culture and history and offer interesting things to do, but which one is the better choice for you to visit?

To help you in making a good choice, I’ll compare the two cities in this blog in a number of ways.

Which destination has better things to do: Prague vs Budapest

Both Prague and Budapest provide a wide variety of attractions to suit all kinds of personal interests. These cities offer remarkable experiences with their gorgeous architecture and exciting nightlife.

Your decision, however, might be influenced by your hobbies and preferences.

Best Things To Do In Prague

The capital city of the Czech Republic, Prague, is known for its charming atmosphere and well-preserved historical landmarks.

Despite the destruction of buildings during the wars, Prague has been able to rebuild and restructure most of the buildings in the original way.

These are some of Prague’s must-see attractions for you:

  • Prague Castle (Hradčany): This is a UNESCO World Heritage monument and has served as the capital of the Czech Republic for many years.
  • Charles Bridge: This is probably one of the most famous pedestrian bridges in Europe. It has numerous along the bridge statues and offers scenic views.
Charles Bridge
Charles Bridge
  • Old Town Square: The Old Town Square is a very lively location with attractive cafes, ancient buildings, and street performers. If you’re looking for some fun and entertainment, this is the place to be.
  • Astronomical Clock: This is a historical timepiece that attracts large audiences every hour because of its exceptional performance.
Astronomical Clock in prague vs budapest
Astronomical Clock
  • Petrin Hill: This is a lush green park with expansive views of the city that’s great for (romantic) picnics and relaxing strolls.
  • The National Museum is a palatial structure that houses substantial collections of works of art, historical artifacts, and natural history. A great place if you’re into art!

Best Things To Do In Budapest

Budapest, the capital of Hungary, is renowned for its luxurious architecture and thermal spas. You shouldn’t miss the following highlights:

  • Fisherman’s Bastion: This is a panoramic terrace with breathtaking views of the city and the Danube River. A great place to wander around and to check out the city from different angles.
Fisherman's Bastion in Prague vs Budapest
Fisherman’s Bastion
  • Széchenyi Thermal Baths: This is Europe’s largest therapeutic spa. The Széchenyi Thermal Baths are excellent for unwinding after a long stroll through the city.
  • Buda Castle: The Budapest History Museum and the Hungarian National Gallery are located in this old Buda Castle. Hard to miss this structure!
Budapest Castle
Budapest Castle
  • House of Horror Museum: This is a sobering museum devoted to Hungary’s history of the 20th century. A very intriguing museum.
  • Gellért Hill: This is a hilltop park with the Citadella stronghold at its peak and will give you stunning views over Budapest and the Danube River.
  • Hungarian State Opera House: this a masterpiece of Neo-Renaissance architecture. You are able to see opera performances here of the highest caliber.

WINNER: I have to admit, it’s a very close call, but Prague edges out with its fairytale-like charm and romantic atmosphere in this category.

Which is better for history and culture: Prague or Budapest?

Despite the fact that both cities are rich in culture and history, they offer different perspectives into the past of Central Europe. Let’s dive into the historical highlights of both cities.

Prague Historical Highlights

The beautiful buildings and monuments in Prague are a testament to its extensive past. History’s most significant moments include:

  • St. Vitus Cathedral: Inside the Prague Castle complex is a Gothic masterpiece that’s really worth checking out.
  • Jewish Quarter (Josefov): This old neighborhood with well-maintained synagogues and the Old Jewish Cemetery is known as the Jewish Quarter (Josefov).
  • Vyšehrad Castle: This is a historic stronghold with a lovely park and sweeping city views. A nice area to wander around.
  • John Lennon Wall: This is a great work of art and a symbol of freedom that is covered in graffiti.
John Lennon Wall
John Lennon Wall

Budapest Historical Highlights

The various architectural types and museums in Budapest will help you to trace the city’s unique history. Some of the top attractions are:

  • Parliament Building: This is the seat of the Hungarian government and a beautiful example of Neo-Gothic design. Nice to visit if you’re into architecture.

  • Heroes’ Square: This is a sizable square with statues of important Hungarian people and leaders that have been important to the Hungarian country.

  • Great Market Hall: This is a historic indoor market where you can buy regional goods and trinkets. Very much recommended if you want to try some local delicacies. It can be very busy so the earlier in the morning you go the better.

  • Memento Park: This is an outdoor museum where numerous sculptures from communist-era Hungary are on exhibit.
Memento Park in Prague vs Budapest
Memento Park

WINNER: I would say that Budapest takes the prize in this category for its fascinating fusion of history and culture, which highlights a variety of architectural styles and historical eras.

Which destination has better food: Prague or Budapest?

Prague and Budapest both have fantastic food scenes that offer a variety of classic cuisines and contemporary innovations.

Best Food In Prague

Hearty and savory dishes are what Prague’s cuisine is known for. Here are some dishes you must try:

  • Goulash: This is a mouthwatering stew cooked with beef, veggies, and paprika. You can choose between different styles of goulash in Prague (or in the Czech Republic in general).

  • Trdelník: This is sweet pastry that is wrapped around a stick of wood and grilled; it is often served with a variety of toppings.

  • Svíčková: this is a classic Czech meal that features braised beef, a creamy cream sauce, and dumplings (we actually served this on our wedding in the Czech Republic). Very tasty and popular dish!

  • Kolače: These are Czech pastries that can be filled with cheese, fruit, or poppy seeds.

Best Food In Budapest

With a focus on meats and spices, Budapest is known for its savory, aromatic food. Here are some dishes you must try:

  • Langos: It’s a bit like the Hungarian pizza. Langos is a deep-fried flatbread with sour cream, cheese, and several other toppings. I really enjoy this food.

  • Goulash: Hungarian goulash is a substantial stew with a distinctive paprika flavor, much like its Czech equivalent.

  • Chimney Cake (Kürtskalács): This is a sweet, sort of cylindrical cake with a variety of toppings and a layer of caramelized sugar on top.

  • Töltött Paprika: These are stuffed bell peppers cooked in a tomato sauce with a mixture of ground beef and rice.

WINNER: Very hard to say, Prague and Budapest both offer unique and flavorful culinary experiences, resulting in a tie in this area.

Which has better nightlife?

Looking for some fun and buzzing nightlife during your stay in one of these cities? The bustling nightlife scenes in both Prague and Budapest are well-known and popular with party-goers from around the world.

Best Bars & Nightclubs In Prague

Prague’s nightlife culture includes a variety of hip bars, clubs, and unusual locations. Some popular locations worth checking out include:

  • Hemingway Bar: This is a chic cocktail bar named after the well-known author.

  • Lucerna Music Bar: This is a great if you’re looking for live music and themed dance parties.

  • Cross Club: this is a unique industrial club with several stages and musical styles. In other words, there is something for everyone.

  • Anonymous Bar: This is quite a specific pub with a Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot theme. Worth checking out.

Best Bars & Nightclubs In Budapest

The ‘ruin bars’ of Budapest’s nightlife, which are located in deserted buildings and courtyards, are well-known and are very popular. Some top spots include:

  • Szimpla Kert: The original ruin bar with quirky furnishings and a buzzing ambiance. I promise it won’t disappoint.

  • Instant-Fogas: This is an enormous building with numerous dance floors and a rooftop patio.

  • A38 Ship: This is a club and bar on the Danube River that features DJ sets and live music. Very nice vibe here!

  • High Note SkyBar: is a rooftop bar with beautiful city views and inventive, original drinks.

WINNER: This award goes to Budapest in this category for its distinctive nightlife, especially its famous ruin bars.

Which destination is cheaper: Prague or Budapest?

While both cities are reasonably priced when you compare them to other European destinations, there are some price variations.

Common Prices In Prague

Prague’s expenses can vary based on your choices, but the following are some typical prices:

  • Hotel: from €70 to €120 a night

  • Hostel: €20 to €35 per night

  • Activities: range from €10 to €30 per person per day

  • Rental car: €35 – €50 per day

  • Food: €10 – €20 for each meal

Common Prices In Budapest

Budapest is typically a little less expensive than Prague. Common expenses include:

  • Hotel: €60 to €100 per night

  • Hostel: €15 to €30 per night

  • Activities: range from €5 to €25 per person per day

  • Rental car: €30 – €45 per day

  • Food: €8 – €18 for each meal

WINNER: This might not come as a surprise looking at the prices but with relatively lower costs for accommodation, entertainment, and dining, Budapest comes out on top in terms of affordability.

Which destination has better transportation options: Prague vs Budapest?

I would say that it’s relatively simple to explore and maneuver through the metropolitan environments of both cities because of their variety of transportation alternatives.

Both cities are also pedestrian friendly in case you feel more like wandering around on foot.

How To Get Around Prague

With trams, buses, and a metro, Prague has an effective public transit system. Here are a few ways to get around Prague:

  • Public transportation: A 24-hour ticket costs approximately €5, while a 72-hour ticket costs approximately €14.

  • Taxi: With a €2 base fee, rates begin at roughly €1,50 per kilometer.

  • Bike rentals: Are offered for €15 to €20 per day.

How To Get Around Budapest

Buses, trams, and a metro system are just a few of the several modes of public transit available in Budapest. These are a few methods for traveling around Budapest with average prices:

  • Public transportation: A 24-hour travel card will run you roughly €6, while a 72-hour travel card will run you around €15.

  • Taxi: Starting at around €1,20 per kilometer with a €2,50 base fare, taxi fares.

  • Bike rentals: A daily bike rental costs between €12 and €18.

WINNER: It’s a tie! With such good public transit systems in both Prague and Budapest, exploring the cities is simple and inexpensive.

Where To Stay In Prague?

Prague offers a wide range of accommodation to meet all your needs, personal interests or budgets. There are plenty of options for when you’re traveling with a family, when you’re a young adult, whether you have a car or not and if you’re looking for a luxurious stay. Here are a few of my suggestions:

📍Best Hotel For Families = The King Charles Hotel

📍Best Hostels For Young Adults = EA Hotel Julis 

📍Best Hotel Without A Car = Deminka Palace (airport shuttle service included)

📍Best Luxury Hotel = The Hilton Prague Old Town

Where To Stay In Budapest?

Budapest also offers a great variety of accommodation choices for all types of tourists. There are plenty of options for when you’re traveling with a family, when you’re a young adult, whether you have a car or not and if you’re looking for a luxurious stay. Here are some excellent options:

📍Best Hotel For Families = The Three Corners Hotel Art 

📍Best Hostels For Young Adults = Maverick Apartments

📍Best Hotel Without A Car = Exe Budapest Center Hotel (airport shuttle service included)

📍Best Luxury Hotel = Kempinski Hotel Corvinus Budapest

The Wrap-Up: Prague vs Budapest

Prague and Budapest both offer memorable and unique experiences, stunning architecture, and a rich cultural heritage in the heart of Europe.

But if you want to enjoy a fairy-tale setting (especially at night or in the winter), beautiful cobblestone streets, and a variety of historical buildings, Prague will be the ideal destination for you.

On the other hand, Budapest offers a great fusion of architectural masterpieces, relaxing thermal baths, and buzzing ruin bars. It is also the better option if you’re looking for a less expensive location. Overall, Budapest is the winner according to the categories that I used!

But both cities are fantastic options for an enjoyable trip to Central Europe. The decision between Prague and Budapest ultimately comes down to your individual tastes and top travel goals.

If you want to know how safe Prague is, you can read more about it here.

And are you curious about the language in Hungary? Check out my post about what language do they speak in Hungary?!

Your restless voyager,

Dustin

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