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Prague or Budapest: Budapest view of Danube

Prague or Budapest: Which One Should You Visit?

Czechia Hungary Travel Planning

Prague or Budapest, Budapest or Prague: it’s a common question when planning a Central European trip these days, as both cities have risen in tourism prominence over the last decade or so.

Most people who have been to both have a strong preference for one or the other (including us!), but the truth is, these are both incredibly beautiful, captivating cities that are worthy of a spot on any Central European travel itinerary.

Trying to choose which to visit, Prague or Budapest?

Here’s some advice to help with your (difficult) decision:

Choose Prague If…

… You have just a couple of days.

Time can be a factor when choosing to visit Prague or Budapest, and when it comes to quick visits, Prague makes it easier to cover ground quickly. Prague’s main sites are very compact, and most can be reached on foot fairly easily from the others. We rarely used public transportation in Prague, with the exception of returning to the neighborhood our Airbnb was located in!

Travel Budget for Prague: View from Charles Bridge

… You want to walk around in a fairy tale.

Prague is a city that just oozes beauty, and that beauty is amplified by the fact that its most gorgeous areas are incredibly concentrated. Prague’s Old Town and Castle District lie on opposite sides of the Vltava River, and the Charles Bridge connects the two for tourists (just plan on fighting for elbow room during the crossing unless you’re doing it at dawn!).

How to Find the Absolute Best Views in Prague

… You prefer beer.

Sound silly? Not really–the Czechs take their beer seriously, and Prague is a beer drinker’s paradise. And yes, it actually is cheaper than water.

… You want to visit an older city.

Both Prague and Budapest are technically medieval cities, of course, but Prague has much more to display in terms of older, fairytale-style architecture.

While the “Buda” side of the river in Budapset is quite old, the “Pest” side saw its heyday in the 19th century, which is when famous structures like St. Stephen’s Basilica and the gorgeous parliament building were built. Even in Buda, traveler’s favorites like Fisherman’s Bastion are not terribly dated in European terms.

Prague’s famous structures commonly date back to the Middle Ages, including the Charles Bridge, St. Vitus Cathedral, and Prague Castle. It also famously sustained very little damage in WWll, unlike Budapest.

Viewpoints to Visit in Prague: Old Town Bridge Tower

Where to Stay in Prague


Central Spot Prague Apartments — If you want simple, clean lodging at a budget price and don’t want to sacrifice much on location, Central Spot Prague Apartments is a great option in the city.

Check rates & book your stay at Central Spot Prague Apartments!


Gorgeous Prague Rooms — You can’t ask for a better location than this! Spacious rooms, a perfect location, and a moderate price are a fantastic combination.

Check rates & book your stay at Prague Gorgeous Rooms!


Royal Route Residence — A beautifully decorated apartment just steps from the Old Town Square, plus wonderful views–what more could you ask for in Prague?

Check rates & book your stay at the Royal Route Residence.
Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Beyond: An Epic Central Europe Itinerary

Choose Budapest if…

… You have more time to spend in the city.

While our first trip to Budapest was for three days and definitely worth the visit, we left feeling like we had barely scratched the surface of the city. Contrarily, after four days in Prague, we left feeling like while we certainly weren’t experts on the city and hadn’t gotten off the beaten path, we had covered the tourist highlights pretty thoroughly.

Prague or Budapest: Fisherman's Bastion

… You want to try out the thermal baths, ruin bars, and cafes.

Budapest’s famous thermal baths are an incredible experience that isn’t available just anywhere–we love them and would recommend the experience to anyone.

The city’s ruin bars and cafes have also achieved broader recognition in recent years: the biggest ruin bar, Szimpla, reminds us of Metelkova in Ljubljana, and we have now enjoyed coffee and cake in Budapest in some of the most magnificent coffee shops I can imagine!

The best part of all of these things? They’re not something you do once to check them off a list, they’re experiences you can keep going back to in order to enjoy the city again and again.

The Ideal 3 Days in Budapest Itinerary

Prague or Budapest: Szimpla Ruin Bar

… You prefer wine.

Imagine our surprise when we learned that Hungary (which is smaller than our home state of Oklahoma) has 22 distinct wine regions! True, they’re not all going to gain global recognition, but Hungary produces some tasty wines!

… You’re looking for a cheaper experience overall.

While both cities are known for being affordable compared to European staples like London, Paris, and Rome, Prague certainly comes off as the more expensive of the two from where we are sitting: lodging in Prague was a bit pricier (and had less choice in our price range of aiming to spend $40 or less per night), food is pricier, and tours are less affordable.

We hesitate to make a sweeping judgment about cost based off of only our limited experiences, but Prague definitely left the impression of costing more than we expected (except for the beer–that was cheap!), while Budapest continues to provide amazing value all around.

Prague or Budapest: St. Stephen's Basilica

Where to Stay in Budapest


Jackquaters — Located right next to Vaci Utca and only 100 meters from the Danube, Jackquaters is the perfect location for anyone visiting Budapest. Budapest highlights like the Chain Bridge and Great Market Hall are within easy walking distance.

Check rates & book your stay at Jackquaters!


Hotel Erzsébet — With Central Market Hall and Vaci Utca at your fingertips, you definitely won’t go hungry while staying at the beautiful Hotel Erzsébet!

Check rates & book your stay at Hotel Erzsébet!
Buda or Pest: The Best Place to Stay in Budapest


Hotel Mika Superior — Not only does Hotel Mika Superior offer beautiful rooms, fabulous service, and a delicious included breakfast, it’s located in the old Jewish Quarter of the city, near the Dohany Street Synagogue and Hungarian Opera House–which is one of our personal favorite neighborhoods to stay in while in Budapest.

Check rates & book your stay at Hotel Mika Superior!

Prague or Budapest: Tasting Table Budapest

Ultimately, both Budapest and Prague are well worth visiting–these are gorgeous, historical European capital cities that both deserve your time and attention.

If you have to choose Prague or Budapest, though, there are definite costs and benefits to each–and for every person who has visited both, you’ll likely run into a stubborn opinion about which one is “better”!

I’ve done my best to write this blog post with as fair an outlook as possible–we did enjoy both cities, after all–but the truth is, Prague is likely a one-and-done destination for us unless we stop by again on our way to exploring more of the Czech Republic.

It was incredibly beautiful to look at, and we loved checking out highlights like the Charles Bridge and the Kafka Museum, but we left feeling like we had found everything we had come for in one visit.

Don’t miss the Kafka Museum while in Prague!

Jeremy and I are both fans of Kafka’s writing, and it was fascinating to get a glimpse into his mind in this (strange) museum. The Castle, The Metamorphosis and In the Penal Colony all featured prominently in the museum, along with other works, and the whole experience inside it felt like walking through The Trial!

Best Viewpoints in Prague: Old Town Bridge Tower

55 Best Things to Do in Budapest (+Tips!)

Additionally, Prague’s fairytale buildings paired with the city’s crowds (amplified by how compact the most popular tourist sites are–the bulk of the tourists are generally in the same places!) left us feeling a bit like we were in actual Disney World after a few days.

Don’t listen to any articles that claim that this is still an “underrated” destination: Prague was crowded–with large tour groups, with stag parties, and with independent travelers of all ages.

Budapest, on the other hand, is a city that we expect to return to again and again over the years–a place that feels both comforting and exciting, with more to explore than even a half dozen trips could cover.

While Budapest’s highlights necessitate a bit more travel time between them, as they’re concentrated in a few different areas of the city, that also gives the tourists room a branch out and helps Budapest avoid the Disney World effect that we felt so strongly in Prague.

Unlike Prague, we feel like we can fall into a routine and “live” here, even temporarily, and Budapest’s cultural highlights, from thermal baths to sipping cappuccino’s in some of the world’s most beautiful cafes, never get old no matter how many times we participate.

Even something as simple as the view of the Danube River at night, cutting through the city as Buda and Pest light up on both sides of the river is magical–and even two visits later, we’re not done experiencing it yet.

Don’t visit Prague or Budapest without travel insurance! We use and recommend World Nomads for their affordability, ease of purchasing & the clarity of their contract!

Prague or Budapest: Which One Should You Visit

40 Comments Write a comment

Kate has been traveling the world full-time for more than 3 years. She tries to keep a balance between going on new adventures and exploring favorite destinations (like Italy!) in depth, and is always on the lookout for the next beautiful overlook and delicious meal.


  • Erica September 19, 2017

    A question as old as time! Love how you break down the differences between the cities. Wine and coffee are key for me when I travel, so for me Budapest seems like a clear winner.

    • Kate Storm September 20, 2017

      Speaking my language! The wine and the coffee are both great in Budapest. 🙂

  • Hope September 19, 2017

    What a tough decision between two amazing places! I couldn’t decide when I went so I decided to go to both ? Your tips are great though – Prague is literally out of a fairytale, and nothing beats Budapest’s thermal baths! That last picture you captured is so cool too!

    • Kate Storm September 20, 2017

      Right? The best decision is not having to make one and going to both!

  • Abhinav Singh September 19, 2017

    Ideally, I would like to visit both. But if I had to choose I will pick Prague anyday. Ever since I saw a Bollywood film Rockstar I have longed to go to Prague. I am also a fan of Kafka, so that is high on my bucket list.

    • Kate Storm September 20, 2017

      Interesting, I didn’t know Prague featured in a Bollywood film! Since you’re a Kafka fan, you’ll definitely enjoy tracing his steps through Prague–very cool experience!

  • Heraa Farooq September 20, 2017

    I will try to visit both the places. It’s so hard to decide where to go and where not to go. But certainly sometimes the time is not in our favor and we really would have to choose between Prague and Budapest. I will certainly look into your advice. If I would have to choose between those two i think I would like to go to Prague 🙂

    • Kate Storm September 20, 2017

      Hope you manage to not have to choose! 😉

    • Khurram September 24, 2018

      Hello i am living in Paris and planning to visit those places but more likely i am in favor of Prague kindly let me know what is the best time to go i am planning for next year March first week.

      • Kate Storm September 26, 2018

        Hi Khurram!

        I’m not quite sure what you’re asking–if you are wondering what the best season to go to Prague is, they all have their benefits, but spring and early fall offer good chances with the weather while avoiding the heat and crowds of the summer.

  • Yukti September 20, 2017

    Both places look ideal and because of time limit we chose Prague when we visited eastern Europe. Prague is definitely covered in 1 or 2 days as all tourist places are very near and also it is not very expensive. I missed Budapest during that visit due to lack of time but now whenever I get time, I would surely go there.

    • Kate Storm September 20, 2017

      Timing can definitely be hard! Hope you get a chance to come back this way and check out Budapest as well.

  • Tania Mukherjee September 20, 2017

    Thank you so much for comparing the two cities. I generally travel in tight schedule so I think Prague will fit me better. But I have never heard of ruin bar before, it sounds interesting.

    • Kate Storm September 20, 2017

      They’re definitely interesting! Essentially, they’re bars that started in worn-out, ruined buildings and eventually started turning enough profit that they stayed and the “ruined” buildings simply became part of the motif. Very cool places to grab a drink!

    • Sami November 18, 2017

      You are like me. I can’t plan ahead cause I’m so busy at home, so make a decision and i book 3 days before my flight

  • Shibani September 20, 2017

    I was so sceptical about my Prague visit because many sites state it as ‘underrated’. Well it was kind of nice, as I was overwhelmed by my visit. I agree with your list, I only had 1 day for Budapest(like a day trip) and seriously it was so less that I would want to go again. But I loved Prague more, because of the old town and the architecture – gosh that’s incomparable – I mean seriously. Everyone has their reasons to choose one city over other but both has their own charm and can’t be missed 🙂

    • Kate Storm September 21, 2017

      I love how much opinions vary on this! But yes, you definitely need to go back to Budapest if you can–it needs more than one day if possible!

    • Sami November 18, 2017

      For a guy from Kuwait, do they speak English?

      • Kate Storm November 18, 2017

        Most people who work in tourism do to some extent! We haven’t had any problems getting around in either city using English.

  • Mariella September 21, 2017

    Both are extremely beautiful cities and a must to visit at least once in a lifetime! If I think about it, because of my experience I would choose Budapest! Visiting central Europe in the winter is a very different experience than visiting central Europe in the summer or fall. I hated Prague because I was SO cold I wanted to simply stayed inside the hotel and don’t move, so I didn’t get the chance to admire and enjoy everything the city has to offer. Honestly, I barely remember it because it was frozen. But when I visited Budapest it was so nice out and It was summer time, taking a walk around the city was very lovely and I could actually enjoy the sights etc.

    • Kate Storm September 21, 2017

      Ha, that sounds like me in the winter anywhere! There’s a reason I want to chase summer all the time. 😛

  • Abigail Sinsona September 21, 2017

    What a beautiful dilemma that is! I have never been two both of these cities, but they are both on my bucket list. If I were to pick just one though, I’d probably choose Prague. But just because I have a few items in my bucket list that I want to see in Prague, such as the Charles Bridge and the Prague Castle!

    • Kate Storm September 21, 2017

      Both Charles Bridge and the castle are gorgeous! You won’t be disappointed. 🙂

  • Lexi December 24, 2017

    I’m studying abroad both terms next year (fall ’18, spring ’19) and am definitely doing fall semester in St. Petersburg, Russia! For my spring semester though, I’m torn between Prague and Budapest. My family is Hungarian so I have a bias towards Budapest right now, but I know I can’t decide where to live for 6 months based on just that! I know I could make either work as I’m flexible. However, I think my favorite cities I’ve been to in Europe so far have been Munich, London, and Rouen. What would be your suggestion?

    • Kate Storm December 27, 2017

      Oooh, how fun to get to study abroad for 2 semesters in a row! As you can see, we’re biased toward Budapest too (and I also have Hungarian roots), so I would definitely recommend Budapest over Prague. It’s simply a bigger city, so especially with having a few months there, I think you’ll find more to do. Definitely go caving while you’re there!! I wouldn’t necessarily recommend skipping Prague entirely–but it’s an easy enough weekend trip from Budapest in our opinion. 😉

  • Enrico Paolo Gorospe Cruz January 10, 2018

    Great source of info. Now I’m decided to go to Budapest as I can only choose one.
    Can you recommend a quick itinerary for 4-5 days?

    • Kate Storm January 10, 2018

      Hi Enrico! I’m actually working on a detailed Budapest itinerary right now! It (all 2500 words!) should be out next week–stay tuned! If you sign up for our email list, I send updates & recent post links every Monday. 🙂

  • Yagiz Konus January 19, 2018

    Hello Kate, Thanks for the comparison. One small question; we are planning to go either Prague or Budapest in April, with our 1 year old baby. Considering the kid, which one do you suggest us to go? Thanks 😀

    • Kate Storm January 19, 2018

      Hi Yagiz! We don’t have kiddos, so we’re not completely qualified to answer this, but my gut reaction is that both are fairly similar in terms of handling a one-year-old. Both cities are as stroller-friendly as any European city (so, not very, but they’re workable), and have plenty of parks and cafes for shady/cool resting points when the little one needs a break.

  • Petra July 5, 2018

    “Even something as simple as the view of the Danube River at night, cutting through the city as Buda and Pest light up on both sides of the river is magical–and even two visits later, we’re not done experiencing it yet.”
    – that was exactly the reason why I moved out here <3

    • Kate Storm July 6, 2018

      Isn’t it amazing?? <3

      We would love to consider living in Budapest one day, it's an incredible city.

  • Don Poe August 19, 2018

    Thanks; this is very helpful. My wife and have to make exactly this difficult decision this coming spring. Unless we chuck it all and go to Slovenia instead. Have a blog on that?

    Don Poe
    Charlotte, NC

    • Kate Storm August 21, 2018

      It’s definitely a hard choice, especially once you add Slovenia in!

      Slovenia is one of our favorite countries–we have several posts on it under the destinations tab. 🙂

  • franklin September 1, 2018

    Hi Kate,.
    You really break down those two places in details. Enjoy reading it very much and a tough choice. However you already help me to choose the place i’m planning to visit between Prague & Budapest.

    Thank you…. i will choose Budapest simply because of wine and my favorite coffee.

    best regards..

  • Amit Lolayekar November 18, 2018

    Hi Kate.. I am travelling to Berlin Prague Vienna and Budapest.. But I think of spending more time in Berlin or Budapest… That is about 5 days in Budapest.. Is it worth to spend so many days.. I am interested in snorkeling.. Does this country have such activity.. Secondly about visa which country encourages tourist… So I will make the tour more either in Berlin or Budapest and get visa from that country..

    • Kate Storm November 19, 2018

      Hi Amit,

      You can certainly fill 5 days in Budapest rather easily!

      I think you may have mixed up a word choice with snorkeling, but no, neither Hungary nor Germany is the place for water activities.

      As for visas, I’m not sure of your exact situation, but both places are part of the Schengen Zone.

  • Vik February 14, 2019

    I think that Budapest is still a romantic city, but Prague is not the same. Peoples of Budapest are not rude and there are not so many scammers. Architecture of Budapest is more colossal and romantic, the nature is more beautiful, that wide river with traveling international ships and nice highlands of Buda. But what about that romantic botels (hotels on the river) or just hotels? Yes you will take better service in Budapest. Food at all is more elegant with also that Tokaji tasty wine and even hungarian beer is not such bitter like czech lager beer. Baths of Budapest are gorgeous and that romantic castle Vajdahunyad situated near is very nice. You can feel the difference also using metro, tram or taxi to feel from where you receive more feeling of civilization and romance. And if you like crush of New York or maybe crush of London and that stuffy pubs with no windows and low ceilings then you can select Prague.

    • Kate Storm February 15, 2019

      Thanks for sharing, Vik! I definitely prefer Budapest myself, but I have to admit that as time has gone on I’ve been tempted to revisit Prague as well–if we do, we’ll definitely go well outside of the crowded summer season, though.

  • Cambar July 3, 2019

    I visited both cities, but personally I think that Warsaw is the city that stands out most in the region. It is modern, lively and has great nightlife. The coolest places I have been there are bars near Pawilony and New Orleans Club on Zaira Street.

    • Kate Storm July 4, 2019

      Interesting perspective! We haven’t seen much of Poland yet, only Krakow.

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