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Michigan State University

Education Abroad: Budapest

Merger of Three in 1873: Óbuda, Buda & Pest

Budapest, Hungary 

This guide will help you prepare for life in Budapest.

Here, you will find resources that help you learn more about:

Culture  ♦  Tourism  ♦  Transportation    

Food  ♦  Travel  ♦  Climate  ♦  Education     

Quick Facts

City Length (N-S): About 25 km (15 miles)
       City Width (W-E): About 29 km (18 miles)     

Budapest is known colloquially as the "Spa Capital of the World" (400+ public spas).   

The city is almost ten times larger than the second largest Hungarian city, Debrecen.

Budapest accounts for more than one third of all economic activity in Hungary.

Hungary shares borders with seven countries: Slovakia, Ukraine, Romania, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia and Austria.

Brief History

For four decades starting in 1949, Hungary was under a Soviet-controlled socialist regime. In 1989, Hungary became an independent country and formed a democratic parliamentary republic. In 2004, Hungary became a member of the European Union.


The Hungarian language (‘Magyar’) belongs to the Finno-Ugric language group although the similarities between Finnish and Hungarian are quite distant. Once the Hungarian’s settled in the Carpathian Basin at the end of the 9th century, the language became mixed with other speech communities (Slavic, German and Turkic) and one can see the borrowing of words from these language groups. Hungarian is said to be one of the most challenging languages to learn.

Parks and Leisure

There are many green spaces scattered throughout Budapest that allow for a quiet respite away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Margitsziget (Margaret Island) and Városliget (City Park) are the biggest and most popular parks in Budapest. Margitsziget is a 1.6-milelong island in the middle of the Danube that is a great place to go for a picnic, or for a jog around their running track which circles the entire island. Városliget houses a variety of monuments and attractions, including Vajdahunyad Castle, Hősök tere (Heroes Square), Széchenyi baths, the zoo, and an outdoor ice skating rink during the winter months.

Cost of Living

The cost of living in Budapest is very affordable for those coming from the U.S. The Hungarian currency is known as the Forint (HUF) and $1 USD is currently around 295 HUF. Credit cards are accepted in many stores and restaurants, but definitely not all, so it is best to carry cash. Eating out liberally costs approximately $350-600/month and rent is generally $350-500/month maximum.

Culture Notes

Hungary has Type C & F electrical outlets so be sure to bring the right power adapters for your devices. Electrical voltage is 230V and the standard frequency is 50Hz.

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