A Travel Price Comparison for Families, Couples, and Backpackers Istanbul vs. Budapest for Attractions, Food, Backpackers, and Nightlife

Should you visit Istanbul or Budapest?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

If you're trying to decide where to visit between Istanbul or Budapest, this travel comparison, which includes costs, can help. The overall cost of travel is usually a consideration when deciding where to go next, and the cost comparison down below can help you decide based on the average prices from other travelers along with your own travel budget.

Istanbul

Istanbul is a diverse, beautiful, and historic city. With plenty of activities and things to do, it's a huge city that draws plenty of visitors. The beauty of this spot is also one of the main reasons why visitors come. Visitors also love the museums, nightlife, and food.

Budapest

Budapest is a artistic, historic, and authentic city. It's an amazing and huge city with tons of activities and things to do. This is also a very beautiful destination which attracts plenty of visitors. It's also known for nightlife, shopping, and museums.

Istanbul and Budapest: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Popular for food and cuisine
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Big city activities
  • Impressive beauty
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Big city activities
  • Impressive beauty
Cons
  • Less popular for food


How is Istanbul different from Budapest?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Budapest and Istanbul. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Is Istanbul or Budapest Better for Museums and Historical Sights?

Istanbul
Budapest

Both Istanbul and Budapest have interesting landmarks and museums for visitors.

Visitors will find world class museums and historical sights in Istanbul that are not to be missed. With such a long and diverse religious and political history, it has many museums, mosques, churches, and archeological sites that you can visit. Some of the most famous sights include the Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Sarayi, and the Blue Mosque.

You'll find a good number of museums and monuments packed into Budapest. Famous sights include the Buda Castle and Castle Hill, the Hungarian Parliament Building, and St. Stephen's Basilica.


Is Istanbul or Budapest Better for Food?

Istanbul
Budapest

Most foodies will appreciate the restaurant options in Istanbul a bit more than Budapest.

Known for it's food and restaurant scene, Istanbul is always at the top of any foodie's travel list. From Turkish classics to sweet desserts the city has it all. Popular dishes include Turkish style pizza, kebabs, and doner, which you'll find everywhere for affordable prices.

You'll find the standard options when it comes to food in Budapest. Traditional dishes tend to be heavy on the meat and bread. They make good comfort food and are very filling meals. The city also has many great pastry shops. Make sure you check out the stuffed cabbage, goulash, and chimney cake.

Is Istanbul or Budapest Better for Nightlife?

Istanbul
Budapest

Evening events are similar in both Istanbul and Budapest.

Istanbul has plenty to do after the sun goes down. Dancing, dining, and partying have all become part of Istanbul's culture. Top nightclubs in the city include Reina, Sortie, and Supperclub.

Budapest has a lively atmosphere and nightlife is popular here. The city's active nightlife includes dance clubs, local pubs, and cultural festivals throughout the year.

Is Istanbul or Budapest Better for Shopping?

Istanbul
Budapest

Both Istanbul and Budapest are good shopping destinations.

Istanbul is an extremely popular place for shoppers. It is the capital of culture and fashion in Turkey, and there are many shopping areas that carry all kinds of brands. For a more traditional, but touristy experience head to the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Market. For modern brands, Istiklal Caddesi is the most popular area for shopping.

Budapest is well-known for its shopping. The city has a diverse shopping scene that you can experience by visiting the Central Market or Váci Street.

Is Istanbul or Budapest Better for Families?

Istanbul
Budapest

Istanbul and Budapest are both fun destinations for the whole family.

Istanbul is a family-friendly place to visit. The city has several kid-friendly museums, a couple of aquariums, and fun theme parks.

Budapest is a family-friendly city. The city has the typical trampoline parks and playgrounds, but kids will also enjoy the baths and pools around town. Do take note that most of the museums are less hands on than kids prefer.


Is Istanbul or Budapest Better for Couples?

Istanbul
Budapest

Istanbul and Budapest are both fun to visit as a couple.

Istanbul is a very popular place to visit for couples. Couples who enjoy history, culture, and vibrant neighborhoods will enjoy a romantic stay here.

Budapest makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. With it's many beautiful neighborhoods, and unique entertainment options including the opera, this is a fun city for couples. The baths and spas also make for a great experience for couples.

Is Istanbul or Budapest Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Istanbul
Budapest

Both Istanbul and Budapest are popular destinations for backpackers.

Istanbul is a mecca for backpackers and budget travelers. There are plenty of hostels and budget accommodation options, and there's also plenty of ways to meet other travelers. You'll find plenty of hostels concentrated in the Sultanahmet area.

With so many budget-friendly offerings, Budapest is extremely popular for backpackers. The city is more affordable than many large cities and it has a number of fun hostels to choose from. There's a good backpacker vibe around town with many places to meet and hang out with other travelers.

Is Istanbul or Budapest Better for Students?

Istanbul
Budapest

Istanbul and Budapest are both good destinations for students and younger travelers.

Istanbul is a great city to visit as a student. Students appreciate the city's vibrant neighborhoods, constant activity, and diverse population.

Budapest is a very popular city for students. The city has a great international vibe with several good universities that are welcoming to international students that are studying abroad.

Is Istanbul or Budapest Better for Public Transit?

Istanbul
Budapest

Both Istanbul and Budapest offer public transit options.

Public transit in Istanbul is top-notch. It has a comprehensive and diverse public transit system that includes buses, trams, minibuses, ferries, funicular, and more.

Budapest has an effecient and thorough public transportation system which can take you anywhere in the city. The metro, trams, and buses make it easy to get around town.


Is Istanbul or Budapest a more walkable city?

Istanbul
Budapest

Istanbul and Budapest both are comparable when exploring on foot.

Istanbul is very walkable. Although it is huge, most of the neighborhoods that tourists visit are incredibly walkable and pedestrian-friendly.

It's very easy to get around on foot in Budapest. Pest is very flat, making for an easy stroll, while Buda is more hilly.

Should I spend more time in Budapest or Istanbul?

How long in Istanbul or Budapest?

In either Istanbul or Budapest, you'll find plenty of activities to fill your time. Most visitors tend to spend more time in Istanbul than Budapest because of the overall number of sights and activities.

The ideal length of time for a trip to Istanbul is 3-7 days, and the ideal length of time for a trip to Budapest is 2-5 days.


  • How many days in Istanbul or Budapest? Ideal Length of Stay
    Istanbul 3-7 
    Budapest 2-5

One day in Istanbul or Budapest?

Istanbul is a big city with plenty to do. Exploring the old town is a popular activity. With so much to do, one day is probably not enough time to see everything. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.

The beautiful city of Budapest offers nightlife and shopping. With so much to do, one day is probably not enough time to see everything. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.

A weekend in Istanbul or Budapest?

Istanbul is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. Make sure you visit the old town while you're here. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than a weekend exploring. Take your pick from the many activities offered here.

Budapest is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. If you have a weekend, this city makes for a great vacation. While some people choose to spend more or less time in Budapest, a weekend is sufficent for most. Take your pick from the many activities offered here.

Five days in Istanbul or Budapest?

Istanbul is a popular choice for travelers. Five days here is typical. While some people choose to spend more or less time in Istanbul, five days is sufficent for most. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

Budapest is a popular choice for travelers. Five days here is typical. While some people choose to spend more or less time in Budapest, five days is sufficent for most. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.


A week in Istanbul or Budapest?

Istanbul is a great place to explore. It is common to spend one week here. Visiting the old town is also a must. One week is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Istanbul has to offer. This city offers something for everyone.

Budapest is a great place to explore. One week is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days. This city offers something for everyone.

Which city is cheaper, Budapest or Istanbul?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Istanbul is $43, while the average daily cost in Budapest is $67. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each city. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Istanbul and Budapest in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Istanbul $27
    Budapest $37
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Istanbul $54
    Budapest $74
Compare Hotels in Istanbul and Budapest

Looking for a hotel in Istanbul or Budapest? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Istanbul


Hotels in Budapest


Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.


Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Istanbul Hotel Prices and Budapest Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Istanbul $2.53
    Budapest $7.95
Typical Local Transportation prices in Istanbul

Some typical examples of transportation costs in Istanbul are as follows:


  • Ferry
    $0.15
  • Local Bus
    $0.16

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Istanbul

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Istanbul:

  • Private Transfer from Istanbul to Bodrum: $1,244
  • Istanbul 5-Day City Package with Hotel, City Tours and Airport Transfers: $722
  • Transfer From Istanbul to Bodrum: $722
  • Transfer From Istanbul to Izmir: $653
  • Transfer From Istanbul to Kusadasi: $647
  • 2-Hour Bosphorus Yacht Cruise with Transfers: $500
  • 4-Day Wonderful Istanbul Including Accommodation Plus Transfer: $474
  • Istanbul Airport to Kartalkaya Transfer: $460
  • Safe Istanbul Airport Transfer in Luxury with English Speaking Chauffeur: $355
  • 4-Day Istanbul City Package including Full-Day Istanbul City Tour plus Airport Transfers: $350
  • Istanbul to Bursa Uludag private minivan transfer service: $348
  • From Pamukkale Day Tour With Flights and Transfers: $334

Typical Local Transportation prices in Budapest

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for transportation costs in Budapest:


  • Short Taxi Ride
    $6.49
  • Metro Pass
    $3.56

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Budapest

Also for Budapest, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Private Airport Transfer Service in Budapest, Hungary: $18
  • Budapest Private Transfer: Hotel or Apartment to Airport: $19
  • Transfer from Train Station/Pier to Hotel: $19
  • Budapest Private Transfer: Airport to Hotel or Apartment: $20
  • Budapest One Way Private Transfer to or from Airport: $20
  • Private Departure Transfer: Budapest City - Budapest Airport: $21
  • Private Arrival transfer from Budapest Airport to Budapest City Center: $21
  • Private Transfer from Budapest City Center to Budapest Ferenc Liszt Airport(BUD): $22
  • Private Airport Transfer: from Budapest to Budapest International Airport (BUD): $22
  • Budapest Airport Private Departure Transfer : City to Airport: $22
  • Private Transfer from Budapest city to Budapest Airport - departure: $22
  • Private Transfer from Budapest Airport to the city - arrival: $22

Is it cheaper to fly into Istanbul or Budapest?

Prices for flights to both Budapest and Istanbul change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    Istanbul $11
    Budapest $17
Typical Food prices in Istanbul

Some typical examples of dining costs in Istanbul are as follows:


  • Juice
    $0.11
  • Turkish Delight
    $0.03
  • Dessert
    $0.46
  • Pastries
    $0.08

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Istanbul

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Istanbul.

  • Istanbul Dinner Cruise & Show: $29
  • Istanbul Dinner Cruise Show: $30
  • Bosphorus Dinner Cruise Inc. Dinner and Belly Dance Show with Hotel Transfer: $34
  • Alaturca Ottoman Dramatic Stage Show & Dinner Cruise ( Non - Alcoholic ): $35
  • Bosphorus Dinner & Show Cruise (All Inclusive): $36
  • Bosphorus Dinner Show Cruise With Non Alcoholic Menu ISTANBUL Dinner cruise: $36
  • Bosphorus Dinner Cruise An Unforgettable Experience in Istanbul: $36
  • Bosphorus Dinner Cruise & Night Show from Istanbul: $37
  • Istanbul Cruise&Show with Dinner: $37
  • Dinner Cruise on the Bosphorus: $38
  • Istanbul Dinner Cruise & Show: $39
  • Istanbul Dinner Cruise with Sema Ceremony: $40

Typical Food prices in Budapest

Here are some examples of typical meal expenses from previous travelers to Budapest:


  • Lunch
    $3.17

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Budapest

For Budapest, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • Lángos (hungarian streetfood) cooking class: $19
  • Dinner & Cruise on the Danube in Budapest: $23
  • Traveling Spoon Hungarian Goulash Private Online Cooking Class: $27
  • 3-Hour Dinner Cruise and Piano Battle Show: $31
  • Vegan Food Tour / Local delights: $36
  • Private Budapest Food Tour with a Local Foodie: $37
  • Live from Hungarian Online Cooking class: $39
  • Bitemojo Self Guided Food Tour Night & The City Budapest: $47
  • Food Tour in Budapest: $50
  • Bitemojo Self Guided Food Tour of Trendy Budapest: $51
  • BBQ dinner and a Quiz Night - welcome shots (hungaricums) and 88 craft beers: $52
  • 2-Hours Strudel Cooking Class and Wine Tasting in Central Budapest: $53

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Istanbul $16
    Budapest $17
Typical Entertainment prices in Istanbul

Some typical examples of activities, tours, and entrance ticket prices in Istanbul are as follows:


  • Bosphurus Boat (for 2)
    $1.08
  • Yerebatan Cistern for Two
    $1.08
  • Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts for Two
    $0.54
  • Hagia Sofia entrance
    $1.61

Tours and Activities in Istanbul

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Istanbul are as follows:

  • 1 Day - Istanbul Tour: $315
  • 1 Day Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Tour From Istanbul: $300
  • 1 Day Istanbul & Ephesus Tour By Plane - YK230: $419
  • 1 Day Regular Cappadocia Tour by Plane - YK0011: $384
  • 1 Day Tour - Sapanca: $300
  • 1 Night 1 Day Cappadocia Tour from Istanbul - Including Hot Air Balloon Tour: $496
  • 1 Night 1 Day Cappadocia Travel from Istanbul - Including Hot Air Balloon Tour: $509
  • 1 Night 1 Day Cappadocia Trip from/to Istanbul - Including Hot Air Balloon Tour: $513
  • 1 Night 1 Day Trip from Istanbul to Cappadocia - Including Hot Air Balloon Tour: $490
  • 1 Night 2 Days Cappadocia Trip from/to Istanbul - Including Hot Air Balloon Tour: $521
  • 1 Night 2 Days Ephesus, Kusadasi, Hierapolis & Pamukkale Tour from/to Istanbul: $372
  • 1 Night Cappadocia Trip with Hot Air Balloon Tour: $525

Typical Entertainment prices in Budapest

For Budapest, here are some examples of average entertainment and activity prices from previous travelers:


  • Entrance to the Baths for Two
    $6.37

Tours and Activities in Budapest

Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Budapest.

  • Budapest Private Tour: Buda Castle District Exploration Game: $3.72
  • Discovering Explore the city's hot pools and heroes on an audio tour: $5.00
  • Private Budapest Ghost Tour: Haunted City Exploration Game: $5.65
  • Digital 100-Sights City Tour: $5.67
  • Urban Tour of the Outer viii district Budapest: $6.22
  • Guided Tour in Budapest Castle District: $6.22
  • The Legendary Vampires at the Castle's Court Audio Tour: $6.59
  • Alternative Street Tip Based Walking Tour of Budapest: $6.77
  • Aeropark Admission Ticket: $6.91
  • Budapest Downtown and Inner City E-Scooter Tour: $7.46
  • Skip the Line: Aeropark Aviation Museum Entrance Ticket: $8.01
  • Robert Capa Contemporary Photograhy Center Visit Ticket: $8.71

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Istanbul $3.88
    Budapest $12

Sample the Local Flavors in Istanbul

Some specific costs for nightlife related activities in Istanbul:

  • Daily Tekirdag Wine Tasting Tour from Istanbul: $427

Sample the Local Flavors in Budapest

Also in Budapest, these are the prices for nightlife and alcohol related activities from various tour providers:

  • Bingo Bar Crawl: $15
  • Bingo Bar Crawl: $15
  • Original Budapest Pub Crawl and VIP Club Entrance: $16
  • Ultimate Ruin Pub Crawl: $18
  • Generation Pub Crawl Budapest: $19
  • Ruin Pub Crawl - Your Keys to the Nightlife of Budapest: $21
  • Budapest Pub Crawl: $24
  • Pest side Pub Crawl - Unlimited drinks for an hour, discover hidden ruin pubs: $25
  • Re-opening Pub Crawls 2020 Summer-Autumn: $25
  • Budapest Pub Crawl with Skip-the-Line Access: $26
  • Epic Local Insider Pub Crawl in Budapest - Every weekend: $30
  • Party Cruise with Pub Crawl option: $37


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Istanbul and Budapest, we can see that Budapest is more expensive. And not only is Istanbul much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Istanbul would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Istanbul and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Budapest would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Budapest than you might in Istanbul.


When is the best time to visit Istanbul or Budapest?

Both places have a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. As both cities are in the northern hemisphere, summer is in July and winter is in January.

Should I visit Istanbul or Budapest in the Summer?

The summer brings many poeple to Istanbul as well as Budapest. Most visitors come to Istanbul for the city activities and the family-friendly experiences during these months. Additionally, the summer months attract visitors to Budapest because of the city activities and the family-friendly experiences.

In the summer, Istanbul is a little warmer than Budapest. Typically, the summer temperatures in Istanbul in July are around 24°C (74°F), and Budapest is about 21°C (70°F).

The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Budapest. People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Istanbul this time of the year. In the summer, Istanbul often gets more sunshine than Budapest. Istanbul gets 333 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Budapest receives 278 hours of full sun.

Istanbul usually gets less rain in July than Budapest. Istanbul gets 19 mm (0.7 in) of rain, while Budapest receives 45 mm (1.8 in) of rain this time of the year.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Istanbul 24°C (74°F) 
    Budapest 21°C (70°F)

Should I visit Istanbul or Budapest in the Autumn?

Both Budapest and Istanbul are popular destinations to visit in the autumn with plenty of activities. The autumn months attract visitors to Istanbul because of the city's sights and attractions, the shopping scene, and the natural beauty of the area. Also, the city's sights and attractions, the shopping scene, and the natural beauty of the area are the main draw to Budapest this time of year.

In October, Istanbul is generally a little warmer than Budapest. Temperatures in Istanbul average around 16°C (61°F), and Budapest stays around 12°C (53°F).

Istanbul usually receives more sunshine than Budapest during autumn. Istanbul gets 169 hours of sunny skies, while Budapest receives 152 hours of full sun in the autumn.

In October, Istanbul usually receives more rain than Budapest. Istanbul gets 71 mm (2.8 in) of rain, while Budapest receives 34 mm (1.3 in) of rain each month for the autumn.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Istanbul 16°C (61°F) 
    Budapest 12°C (53°F)

Should I visit Istanbul or Budapest in the Winter?

Both Budapest and Istanbul during the winter are popular places to visit. The museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine are the main draw to Istanbul this time of year. Also, many travelers come to Budapest for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine.

Be prepared for some very cold days in Budapest. Istanbul is much warmer than Budapest in the winter. The temperature in Istanbul is usually 6°C (43°F) in January, and Budapest stays around -1°C (31°F).

In the winter, Istanbul often gets more sunshine than Budapest. Istanbul gets 75 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Budapest receives 61 hours of full sun.

Istanbul usually gets more rain in January than Budapest. Istanbul gets 99 mm (3.9 in) of rain, while Budapest receives 42 mm (1.7 in) of rain this time of the year.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Istanbul 6°C (43°F) 
    Budapest -1°C (31°F)

Should I visit Istanbul or Budapest in the Spring?

The spring attracts plenty of travelers to both Istanbul and Budapest. Many travelers come to Istanbul for the activities around the city and the natural beauty. Also, many visitors come to Budapest in the spring for the activities around the city and the natural beauty.

In the spring, Istanbul is around the same temperature as Budapest. Typically, the spring temperatures in Istanbul in April are around 13°C (55°F), and Budapest is about 12°C (53°F).

Istanbul usually receives around the same amount of sunshine as Budapest during spring. Istanbul gets 180 hours of sunny skies, while Budapest receives 178 hours of full sun in the spring.

In April, Istanbul usually receives more rain than Budapest. Istanbul gets 49 mm (1.9 in) of rain, while Budapest receives 42 mm (1.7 in) of rain each month for the spring.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Istanbul 13°C (55°F) 
    Budapest 12°C (53°F)

Typical Weather for Budapest and Istanbul

Istanbul Budapest
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 6°C (43°F) 99 mm (3.9 in) -1°C (31°F) 42 mm (1.7 in)
Feb 6°C (44°F) 67 mm (2.6 in) 2°C (35°F) 39 mm (1.5 in)
Mar 8°C (47°F) 62 mm (2.4 in) 7°C (44°F) 35 mm (1.4 in)
Apr 13°C (55°F) 49 mm (1.9 in) 12°C (53°F) 42 mm (1.7 in)
May 17°C (63°F) 31 mm (1.2 in) 16°C (62°F) 62 mm (2.4 in)
Jun 21°C (71°F) 21 mm (0.8 in) 20°C (67°F) 69 mm (2.7 in)
Jul 24°C (74°F) 19 mm (0.7 in) 21°C (70°F) 45 mm (1.8 in)
Aug 24°C (74°F) 26 mm (1 in) 21°C (69°F) 56 mm (2.2 in)
Sep 20°C (69°F) 41 mm (1.6 in) 17°C (63°F) 39 mm (1.5 in)
Oct 16°C (61°F) 71 mm (2.8 in) 12°C (53°F) 34 mm (1.3 in)
Nov 12°C (54°F) 89 mm (3.5 in) 6°C (42°F) 59 mm (2.3 in)
Dec 9°C (47°F) 122 mm (4.8 in) 1°C (34°F) 48 mm (1.9 in)


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Istanbul vs. Budapest Travel Comparison

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