The Charm Of Europe For Less: Budapest versus London


While many have traditionally associated Europe with the sights of the western part of the continent, there is more to this richly historic place than cities such as London.  While London does have many worthy tourist attractions worth seeing, the gargantuan cost of remaining in this place for any extended period of time is enough to give you headaches when calculating its cost.

It never used to be this way a generation ago, when valuations for meals, accommodations and activities were more reasonable; fortunately, there are places on the European continent where one can sleep, eat and experience the culture of this ancient place without going bankrupt within a month.  These regions are located in the east, and a city that stands out in this area would definitely be Budapest.

At the centre of more than a millennia of inter-continent political struggles, you can wander around and take in the history of a place that would give Game of Thrones a run for its money, while living the good life without having to monitor your spending too closely. If you’re looking to relocate or curious what it costs to live around the world, Budget Direct has  a comprehensive cost of living index they’ve put together.

To prove our point, let’s compare and contrast some common traveler expenses that one would incur on a trip to Europe.



Being one of the preeminent financial centres in the world, eating cheaply in London is often an exercise in frustration, unless you enjoy eating fish and chips for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. On average, you can expect to shell out close to $18-$20 USD for an “inexpensive” meal in the thriftiest sit-down restaurant you can find.

On the other hand, when you are in Budapest, finding a cheap meal is a much easier task, as one can indulge in some hearty Hungarian fare for roughly $6 a plate. Note that restaurants in tourist districts will charge quite a bit more, so make the effort to learn some Hungarian, or bring a phrasebook/translator app along so you can eat at the places where Budapest locals congregate.



Despite the high cost of real estate in London, many budget accommodations here are reasonably priced, with private rooms in hostels and budget hotels starting at $40, and the average hanging around $60-70 a night.  Those seeking something a little less threadbare though can expect to pay at least $80 for a basic hotel with standard amenities, with the average room hovering just under $200 a night.

Budapest is quite a bit cheaper in this department, as private rooms can be had for a little as $9 a night, with the average room coming at just a shade under $20. If you want to splurge on a proper hotel room, Budapest has an assortment of excellent deals, with the cheapest one coming in at $29 a night, with the average price paid per room loitering in the vicinity of $70, a steal compared to England’s capital city!



Where Budapest really shines is in its cultural sights, rich cultural activities, and cheap drink. Opera tickets can be had for as little as $1.35 (really!), one can bike amongst all the finely hewed and built structures of the Hungarian capital for $8/day, and a pint of beer will run you about $1.70.

In London, get ready to be reamed, as a ticket for the theatre will set you back at least $30 (if you get one on a last minute website), and on average, you’ll pay close to $70. Bikes cost over $50 for six hour use through the “Boris bike” renting scheme, and a pint in a pub will snatch about $6 from your wallet … however, happy hours abound in student areas on certain nights, so keep your ear to the ground for news on that front.

Both London and Budapest are historically significant cities in their corners of the European continent.  However, due to differing economic fundamentals, many things are much less expensive in Hungary’s capital, making it a much better place for a budget conscious traveler to spend an extended period.

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