Updated November 5, 2022.
It was time to update this post. I first compared Prague and Budapest in 2015. At that time we had spent a total of 3 months in Prague, a total of 2 months in Budapest.
Since then we’ve returned to Prague four times, Budapest twice. It’s not just that we know the cities more now that we did in 2015. It’s also that both cities have changed with time. Prague was already very popular back then, Budapest was known but it was much less travelled to and, let’s be honest, a bit rough around the edges. In the last 7 years both cities have gotten more cosmopolitan and both now count on many visitors (I read somewhere that in 2019 Prague received 8 million visitors, Budapest 5 million). Both cities are among the most visited in Central Europe.
So which should you visit?
I’ll use the same criteria that I used in my 1st comparison in 2015, that is to compare all the similarities, differences and things that are unique to Prague and Budapest. I’ll leave my earlier analysis – but will update with my latest thoughts based on how each city has withstood changes over the last 7 years.
Similarities between Prague and Budapest. Which wins out?
There are many similarities between Prague and Budapest. Both cities are situated (and are split) by famous rivers, both have castle districts, famous bridges, outstanding churches and beautiful squares.
Let’s compare them head to head:
1) River Views
Prague has the Vltava River, Budapest the Danube. The Danube is much wider. In both cities, the Castle District lies on one side while the other side was historically where most of the city’s inhabitants lived. Visually, which city’s river is more appealing? Arguments can be made for both.
In Prague, the narrower river between the Old Town and Lesser Town makes the scene more appealing – stand on either side and you’ll see a skyline of domes,spires, monuments and towers. Fantastic views.
In Budapest the views are less attractive: the Pest side has tram lines and boats docked along the shore, along with a mix of old and modern (some not so attractive) buildings. The Buda side has a large embankment on the side of the river. Not as visually appealing. I will say this though: Budapest at night has some of the most beautiful views you’ll see anywhere. The lights transform the city.
Winner: Prague. There’s just more of a ‘Wow’ factor along the Vlatava in Prague than there is over the Danube in Budapest.
Update: Haven’t changed my mind with any of the above. Prague’s views are maybe the best anywhere.
2) Castle Districts
Prague has the largest Castle District in the world. Highlights include St. Vitus Cathedral, the Rampart Gardens, the Castle Gates, the Golden Lane. All very beautiful and everywhere you go you have great views of the Vltava river and the Old Town.
Budapest has Mathias Church, Fisherman’s Bastion, the Royal Palace (containing the excellent National Gallery). Great views over the Danube, especially over Parliament from Fisherman’s bastion.
Winner: Prague. I almost went with Budapest but then I remembered just how spectacular Prague’s Castle District is as a whole. There’s just much more to see. And although Fisherman’s Bastion has great views and the Royal Palace is beautiful, Prague’s St. Vitus outshines Mathias Church. You can walk up to the Strahov Monastery and enjoy the fabulous views from there and even continue on to the Petrin tower. The whole district is view after view, full of gardens and parks. Also, just walking up through Prague’s Lesser Town to get up to the Castle District is fabulous. Lower Buda doesn’t compare in that respect.
Update: No change in my views.
3) Famous Bridges
Prague has the Charles Bridge, Budapest has the Chain Bridge. The other categories above might have been tight, but this one isn’t. The walk along the Charles Bridge is among the most spectacular walks anywhere (do it early before the tourist hordes).
Winner. Prague. Easy.
Update: Somebody mentioned to me the other Budapest bridges. Like the Liberty bridge and the Margaret bridge. Great bridges. But Prague also has the Legion’s bridge (Most Legii) and Manes Bridge (Manesuv Most). I think these other bridges even out. The Charles bridge is so above everything else though that you have to give it to Prague…
Looking for accommodation in Prague? Remember that public transport in Prague is excellent and as long as you’re close to a tram line or metro you’ll be able to get into the city center in minutes. A couple of suggestions in the mid-range category: The Blue Oak. It has a perfect location on the castle side of the river. Another very nice hotel at a good price is Dolce Vita Suites on the Old Town side of the river. Both are excellent. A great Budget choice is the Czech Inn Hostel.
4) Beautiful Squares
Prague has some incredible squares including one of Europe’s most beautiful: the Old Town Square. A huge square with the Tyn Church on one side and the Old Town Hall Tower on the other, it is the most beautiful square in either city.
Budapest on the other hand, has Kossuth Lajos Square (in front of the Parliament building) and Heroes Square next to City Park. They are huge, open squares with massive monuments. You can see from the photos above that the styles are very different. It’s like comparing apples to oranges.
Winner: Prague (again, sorry). This one is a tight decision but I had to go with Prague because of the Old Town Square. No kidding, it’s like stepping into a Disney movie full of colourful gingerbread houses. There’s a reason it is consistently listed among the most beautiful squares in Europe.
Update: Yup, I stick with the above
Both Prague and Budapest have fantastic transport systems of metros, trams and buses. I personally love trams and a great experience in both cities is hopping on a tram and seeing the world go by. In Prague tram line 17 and in Budapest tram line 2 run parallel to both city’s rivers and offer some of the best views. Video on Budapest’s tram #2 here.
Draw (see below). Both have excellent transport systems and once you’ve figured out the lines you’ll be sailing.
Update: After spending a lot of time in each city, I think I was generous giving Budapest a draw. Prague has a more efficient and more expansive system, especially in the center. I have to give this to Prague. Winner: Prague
Below: I love trams. Here are a couple of videos I made of trams in both cities.
There are many other similarities between Prague and Budapest that even out. Both cities have fantastic statues everywhere. They both have a Communism museum (Budapest’s is better than Prague’s – but we weren’t big fans of either). Both are known for naughty nightlife (but Prague more so), and both have Thai Massage houses everywhere you look (which I never quite understood).
Differences between Prague and Budapest
Prague is known for great, inexpensive beer. If you’re a beer drinker you’ll love Prague (tip: go to the Strahov Monastery Brewery for home made beer).
Budapest is known for wine and you’ll find wine bars everywhere (DaVino is a great wine bar). So really what wins out depends on your taste. One thing though – you’ll always find Czech beer in Budapest bars. They seem to be the favorite beer on tap.
Winner: Budapest. Beer is great, but nothing beats good wine. And in Budapest you can drink both.
Update: I’ll stick with the above. Hungary has good wines – if you need proof go to Eger (we spent a week there, it’s famous for wine and thermal baths).
7) Overall beauty of the city
Here is something everyone visiting Prague and Budapest should know. Both cities have equal amounts of beauty, but Prague’s beauty is more concentrated. In Budapest it is more spread out.
In Prague everything from the Old Town and Lesser Town, all the way up to the Castle District, is gorgeous. You’ll see beautiful buildings everywhere, churches, statues, and always a spire or a tower. It’s a large area but the beauty is concentrated. You won’t find one ugly building. But step outside the Old Town into the newer town and you’ll see the unattractive buildings that mark every city.
In Budapest everything, including tourist sites of interest, are more spread out and interspersed with buildings old and new, some quite unattractive. Budapest is grittier, poorer, and less manicured than Prague. You’ll see the same beauty but you’ll have to look for it a bit harder.
Winner: Prague, just because of the sheer concentration of beauty.
Update: Yes, Prague no contest
Both photos above are of Prague. Look at the number of people on the Charles Bridge. I’ve mentioned the concentration of beauty in Prague – the problem with that are the sheer number of tourists walking exactly the same route. It basically starts at the Powder Gate, goes down to the Old Town Square, continues to the Charles Bridge and across to the Lesser Town and up the hill to the Castle District. It can be crazy and maddening.
You won’t see the same concentration of crowds in Budapest just because of the way the city is spread out. The largest numbers you’ll see will usually be at Fisherman’s Bastion, on touristy Vaci street and in the bar-packed Jewish quarter.
Winner: Budapest, because of the lack of crowds.
Update: I’ll stick to the above but on our last visit to Budapest we were shocked by all the tourists packing the streets of the Jewish quarter. Budapest has become much more popular among foreign tourists in recent years and both cities now get crowds.
9) Friendliness of locals
We didn’t find locals in Prague very friendly. I examined that in this post. They’re generally a little detached and grumpy (although we did make a few friends).
Budapest was very different – we found much people much more engaging. The level of English among younger people is very good, something you don’t see in Prague. We met a lot of really nice people in Budapest that we already miss. (The man next to the taxi above was our Airbnb host, Lazslo. Sweetest guy).
Winner: Budapest. Easy.
Update: I’ll stick to the above but I’ll also mention that the ‘friendliness spread’ is not what is used to be. Czechs can be friendly (outside the center) while citizens of Budapest have maybe gotten tired with the foreign party-goers flocking to the city.
10) International flavour, food and the general feel of the city
Although you can find almost anything in Prague, it doesn’t measure up to Budapest in terms of international flavour. Sure you can find Irish pubs, fish and chip restaurants, even a few Indian restaurants – but mostly you’ll see the usual Czech fare of sausages and other different forms of pork. If you’re vegetarian you might find yourself stuck with fried cheese. Prague feels Czech (and I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with that 🙂 ).
Budapest feels international and cosmopolitan. There’s more of an ethnic mix in the people. You’ll find anything food wise: Turkish kebab restaurants are on almost every block, you’ll find sushi, Indian food and lots of other international cuisine. Within 2 minutes walk from our apartment we had a gym and a yoga studio. Budapest is young, cool, hip & happening.
Winner: Budapest. In many ways Lissette said that it reminded her of New York.
Update: again, I think both cities have become more cosmopolitan in the years since my 1st comparison. But I’ll stick with Budapest.
Things unique to each city
11) Budapest – Thermal Baths
Budapest is the city of Thermal Baths. There are 15 in the city open to the public, some dating back to Ottoman times. Water temperatures generally range from 34 – 42C. We made it to the Széchenyi, Rudas, and Gellert baths on this trip (Rudas was our favorite). We loved Budapest’s thermal baths and the city wins points for this unique characteristic.
Point to Budapest for Thermal Baths.
12) Prague – Towers
I’m a tower freak. The first thing I look for in a city is for a tower to climb. Prague has lots of fabulous towers with fantastic views. I did a whole post about them here. The only comparison in Budapest is the dome of St. Stephen’s church. No comparison to Prague.
Point to Prague for Towers.
13) Budapest – Cafés and Ruin Bars
Prague has some nice coffee houses, but no city has coffee houses that match the ones in Budapest (I did a whole post on them here). As far as ruin bars go, they’re unique to Budapest. You could have a whole vacation doing nothing but exploring ruin bars (a post on ruin bars here). Overall, Budapest is a great place to sit down with a coffee or beer.
Point to Budapest for its cafés and ruin bars.
Looking for accommodation in Budapest? My preferred area is around the Astoria area (you’re centrally located and in walking distance to the Old Town sights as well as the ruin bars). An excellent budget suggestion is K9 Residence. Two great Mid-range options are City Centrum Apartman and Roombach Hotel Budapest Center.
14) City with more ‘must see’ sites.
I’ve covered in passing most of the Top sites in Prague: the Old Town Square, Charles Bridge, and the Castle District. This Top 3 are not only the top sights in Prague but also among the top sites in all of Europe. In Budapest I’ve mentioned the Royal Palace, Fisherman’s Bastion, Heroes Square and the Chain Bridge. And I have a photo up there from Gellert Hill. But one city has a few more additional ‘must see’ sites.
Budapest has the Parliament building (the largest building in Hungary), St. Stephen’s Basilica (a beautiful church – the views from the dome are the best in Budapest), and the Great Synagogue (the 2nd largest in the world).
Point to Budapest for being the city that has more ‘must see’ sites.
Update: Both cities have so many sites and listing them and ranking them against each other is very subjective. Since our first post we’ve explored both cities in much more detail and honestly I don’t know which has the most “must see” sites. I do think however that Prague’s highlights are just a bit more impressive than Budapest’s highlights. I’ll give this category a DRAW.
Therefore, according to my very subjective criteria, Budapest squeezes out a win over Prague by 7-6.
Update: My new tally above makes Prague a 7-6 winner over Budapest.
Does it mean I prefer Budapest to Prague? No. Actually Lissette and I have had arguments about our favorite of these two cities. Prague just impresses me more. Budapest may have more sites of interest but the overall beauty of all of the Old Town and Lesser Town in Prague is incredible. Prague is a fairy tale city and if you go by ‘things to see’ the quality beats out the quantity in Budapest. I remember writing our feelings after our first month in Budapest. We honestly felt underwhelmed because we were comparing it to Prague. It felt dirty and there were too many bums on the street. But it’s funny how quickly perceptions change: we met locals we really got to like and started exploring more cultural things like cafés, ruin bars, thermal baths and wine bars. Budapest is fun and I slowly got to really like (maybe not love) the city. Lissette on the other hand will tell you that she much prefers Budapest to Prague: it reminds her of New York. The city is multi-cultural and cosmopolitan. And decadent. A few more months here and she says she would always be out drinking and smoking. And she’d probably get a tattoo. It’s that kind of city.
So even we can’t agree.
UPDATE 2022: We now both agree that we prefer Prague. We never tire of Prague, it’s a place we’ve been to 6 times for a total of 7 months. We love the district of Vinohrady where we rent an apartment from a journalist friend. We could live in Prague.
Budapest is a great city but we’ve tired of it honestly. Our last two visits we were a bit disgusted by the young partygoers who’ve ‘discovered’ the city. We also found the city more dirty than ever, again (I believe) because of the number of tourists. It’s still a great city but recent visits have taken the shine off for us.
So, my recommendation?
If you have to choose:
Go to Pragueif you only have a few days and want to see one of the most beautiful cities anywhere. You can’t beat Prague’s highlights. See my list of 50 Things to Do in Prague.
Go To Budapest if you have a little more time and want to spend time doing cultural stuff (as well as sightseeing). Budapest is really a fun place and nothing beats drinking in ruin bars or soaking in thermal baths. What to see and do (and what to skip).
But, if you can, visit both cities. They’re both fantastic and only 7 hours away from each other by train.
Update: that hasn’t changed. Both great cities, both should be visited.
Prague or Budapest? What’s you favorite city?
Related: 3 Days in Prague
Related: What to See and Do in Budapest (and what to skip)
Related: Our Best and Worst “Slow Travel” Bases over 5 years of Full-time Travel
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As someone who has lived in both cities I can say they are both beautiful. The one aspect that was left out in this article is the sights that can be seen on a day trip away from the city center. I would have to give Prague a bit of a bonus on this side of things. The transportation in Prague is just much easier to use. Also there is the issue of communications for those who do not speak Czech or Hungarian. If you are in Budapest one place I would definitely recommend is Nagyvásárcsarnok or the Great Market Hall, and Erzsébet-kilátó or Elizabeth Lookout however, not speaking Hungarian will make this more difficult. Near Prague Karlštejn Castle or Hrad Karlštejn and also Sedlec Ossuary or Kostnice v Sedlci near Kutná Hora are definitely worth seeing.
Thanks for the comment. Yes, I was focusing more on the cities themselves. But I agree there’s more to see in the vicinity of Prague (I’ve covered many of them on the blog).
Prague is a wonderful city, but Budapest is just something else. Everyone I know who has visited both answers the same word when asked Which city did you expect to be more beautiful? Prague. But the answer to Which city did you like the most? is ALWAYS Budapest. For me, Budapest is among the 10 most beautiful cities in the world.
Tough question. But my answer is still Prague to both. Since writing this post we’ve been back to Prague 3 times. It’s my favorite city in the world.
But I can understand people who vote for Budapest as well 🙂
I think you didn’t see the huge amounts of historical streets in Budapest. People usually visit the main tourist points like the castle or the big synagogue, but that’s not the real and the most charming face of the city. I should show some pictures about the worth visiting other places.
What historical streets are you talking about Adam? The Jewish quarter? The small streets on the Pest side?
Hi Frank! Fantastic comparison of these two cities. I’ll have to visit both when I finally make it to Europe. But man seeing those crowds of tourists in Prague really puts me off. Fun for a visit but Budapest seems better for a long term stay. Keep up the great work on the blog. Live it up.
Actually Prague is our usual long-stay place, we come here every year to do our dental/medical. But you have to stay in a neighborhood outside the center – like in Vinohrady which has become our favorite neighborhood. Prague is beautiful EVERYWHERE and even in this neighborhood you’ll find tons of beauty.
Vinohrady, Karlovo Namesti, and Namesti Miru are where wealthy Czechs live….you picked one of the nicest neighborhoods in Prague. And yes, Prague is the top of the world. Budapest is more like the opposite. Not exactly a fine group of people that the city of Budapest is made up of. A little rough on the edges. Prague is just beautiful. That doesn’t even describe it properly.
We just got back from a week-long trip to Budapest, easily our favorite city to visit in the continental Europe! We visited Prague also for a week back in 2007 and although we liked it we didn’t fall in love with it. I have to agree with your assessment that Prague is more impressive visually but in a Disney everything is too perfect way. Budapest on the other hand is more eclectic, its got a bit everything- sights, food, drinks and most of all people. We were blown away with how friendly and welcoming the Hungarian people were, absolutely some of the most helpful and nicest local people we’ve ever met (perhaps only after Costa Ricans). They make you feel welcome, many people offered help without asking, all we had to do was stand there looking confused haha. Vendors never pushed you to buy things, had many interesting conversations with them and learned a lot about Hungarian culture through these conversations. Six days in Budapest and we never ran out of thing to see or do, just found out we missed the ruin bars and now we must go back just to do that! We spent three days seeing and doing all the touristy parts of Prague and then had to fill our days with day trips to towns outside the city like Kutna Hora and Csesky Krumlov ( which is more amazing than Prague I think). We spent a whole afternoon exploring the central market in Budapest alone. I would say both cities are worth seeing for at least once in your lifetime but as for going back for repeat visits- hands down Budapest!
Thanks for the comment Liz. You know, we go back and forth on Budapest/Prague. Just this summer we spent a month in Prague and I just recently came back from a week in Budapest. I think overall Prague is more impressive and if we had to choose a city to live in it would probably be Prague – there’s tons to see and do, a good expat community, and the transport around the city is great. Budapest is also fantastic and the people I think friendlier. For a tourist visit it’s basically a toss up, they’re both great. So as you can see we’re still not decided 🙂
What’s your recommmdeation for which city to go to as we will be travelling with our son who will be 11 Months old then. We visiting Germany and plan to go Prague and not sure if we must spend 3 nights in Budapest or spend those 3 nights in another city/town in Czech Republic.
Is Budapest worth the 7 hr train ride to Nuremberg.
Hi Jannes – Budapest in great but I would recommend Prague, I think it is easier seen on foot than Budapest (sights are more concentrated). But you can’t go wrong with either.
By the way, you can fly Ryan air from Nuremberg to Budapest. My mom did it a couple of weeks ago.
nice piece on the two cities.
prague is very studied in its approach to tourism.
the czechs figured out 30 years ago that the only reason for the city’s existence, was english speaking visitors.
most people in the service trades, have functional english.
it is pretty in a disney kind of designed way.
the chances of running into czechs in central prague doing work a-day stuff–slim.
like stepping into a formal living room, with furniture covered in plastic.
budapest is like walking into a friend’s house, redolent of cigarette smoke, broken dishes, the television blasting.
real, not contrived.
budapest is really where east, west, south & north met in terms of cuisine.
it is cheap, varied, to eat well.
young people, in service, want to become more proficient at english.
anyone over forty grew up in a near stalinist mentality; english was not be learned, and are now resentful.
architecturally, budapest by far.
a great mix of all sorts of styles, all over the city.
beats paris hands down.
anyone who waxes on about czech/hungarian beers–they are all weak, watery, and exist through being cheap.
prague for two days as a tourist, and check that off of your list.
two weeks there, and learn a neighborhood, and the city.
and the rivers?
one is the danube, and the other some unspellible name.
the charles bridge is like a street fair in manhattan–every 100 yards, you get a repeat of what you saw before.
i split five months a year between the two.
Excellent comparison, thanks for your feedback. They’re both great cities and maybe it just boils down to personal preference. I still think Prague perfect for a short getaway (one of the most beautiful places anywhere, Disneyish but in a real way) while Budapest is deeper and needs a bit more time to fully appreciate.
Thank you 🙂
Sorry I cannot agree on the River and the Bridges point.
I think always even comparing with Wienna or even Paris, that the majesty as the Danube has in Budapest has no comparison in Europe. And the Charles Bridge, let it be wonderful how it is, is always covered with hordes of tourists and there is no other interesting bridge in Prague. Meanwhile in Budapest, Margaret bridge is equally beautiful, and you can have the most stunning view of the city from there, with the Parliament, Castle hill and Gellért hill all in picture frame. You have the lady-bridge, Elizabeth, with the white elegance it has. And also have the Liberty Bridge that was frequented by locals and tourist equally this year, sitting on the Bridge and having a drink while watching sunset. Liberty bridge was even closed for cars this summer, hosting salsa night, and even a yoga class on the Bridge. How could you beat that with one Charles Bridge which is always crowded?
I actually only compared the two main bridges, the Charles Bridge and the Chain bridge. But if we took all the bridges in both cities for comparison then I would have to agree with you!
I agree. 🙂
and the island somehow captures budapest.
not really organized; lots of noise to no particular end; peaceful; pretty.
Well I live in Budapest and I have lived my entire life in Budapest… 🙂 And it’s interesting to see how other people rate my city. I’ve been to Prague only once. I think my city – especially the downtown – has a real city atmosphere (20% of the people of Hungary live here…) whilst Prague’s center reminds me of a smaller town. But beautiful town… I’ve been there with my mother and I made her walk a lot because I didn’t want to miss anything. Poor mom.
If you come to Budapest, you can find some really old roman ruins here in Northern-Buda and the European continent’s oldest underground (still in service) from 1896. Make some friends on the internet and you can get to places where not all tourists can go.
Thanks for the tip Judit. You are very right 😉
I live in Budapest and I really agree with everything you wrote about it, It’s fair and correct. We just spent 4 days in Prague this summer and really liked that city. I think the best decision is to visit both of them. 🙂
Thanks so much Balazs! I wrote this post after our visit to Budapest last summer – but we came back in February to see the city in winter and loved it again. Then we went straight to Prague for the month of March and also loved it again. Love both cities, both for different reasons.
I’m on my first solo trip as a woman over 50. I just spent 5 days in Prague, and while I loved the sites and felt safe by myself, I hated the massive crowds. It totally spoiled it for me. That, and the lousy food. Beautiful, but I won’t go back. Two days in Vienna, and suggest if you go to visit that you take out a second mortgage before you go – totally hated everything about Vienna. I’m now in Budapest and every time I look up, I am simply amazed! Yes, it’s gritty, but the beauty is everywhere. So glad I’m spending a few weeks here, and am wishing I could live here permanently!
Thanks for taking the time to comment Anne. I’m happy you like Budapest, great city. Prague – yes, the crowds are the biggest drawback.
Ha! We feel the same way about Vienna: https://bbqboy.net/vienna-beyonce-kind-similar/
I actually loved Budapest more than Prague. I actually expected Prague to blow me away. It’s undeniably pretty and have more sites to explore than Budapest, but I think Prague is overrun with tourism and has kinda lost a bit of its magic. Budapest’s strength relied mainly on the Hungarian Parliament Building, Buda Castle and the amazing view from Fisherman’s Bastion—but these three were so strong they just left a huge impression on me. But hey, we can agree to disagree. Prague is still a gorgeous city, after all. =)
Thanks for your opinion!
We just recently spent another month in Prague and I have to say that it still impresses me more than Budapest. It is, in my opinion, an incredible city.
But I totally agree with the number of tourists – we spent March there and even then it was packed.
Interesting analysis. I agree with you on many points, but we had the opposite experience regarding the friendliness of the locals. We thought most of the people in Prague were happy and friendly. We had a lot of run-ins with grumpy people in Budapest, especially at the thermal baths. If I had to choose, I would give the edge to Prague just because I enjoyed it a bit more, felt more of a connection to it. Nothing against Budapest though. And you’re right, the night views along the river are hard to beat!
Thanks Rhonda! Oh well, they say that experiences are personal. But for us, after 3 months in Prague and 2 in Budapest, there was no comparison in the locals. Much friendlier in Budapest.
But like you I really loved Prague…
It’s a tough one, so many similarities yet also very different.
Czechia is my beloved destination and Prague is on the top. Difficult to compare medieval city (Prague) and city, which grew up in 19th century (Budapest). From architectonic point of view Prague is much more interesting, because of its unique gothic and baroque face, mysterious lanes and melancholic atmosphere, which I love. Budapest is a little bit puffy with overdimensioned buildings (Parliament and many more) in some “eclectic” architectonic style, logically looking more interanational and openminded. In Czechia you can visit many amazing places and nice landscapes, not only Prague, but in Hungary only a few. Hungarians are more temperament people, Czechs look reserved, but it is only a peel. Czech and Hungarian girls are both pretty, however both nations have their own “types” (if I can judge as a girl :-). I prefer place with specific nature and in that direction is Prague no.1. If you enjoy entertainment you will prefer Budapest, if you like atmosphere you will love Prague 🙂
Thanks for input Marja! I tend to agree (mostly) with you 😉
Marja, do you know why the Hungarian Parliament is that big? Do you know how big was Hungary when it was built?
Oh yes, as part of the Austro Hungarian empire. But we saw the one in Vienna which was quite smaller – they didn’t have to make the one in Budapest so incredibly huge, I think it was more about making a statement then about practicality. Incredible building.
At the time it was built Hungary was more than three times bigger than today (not the Austro-Hungarian empire, only Hungary). Those territories were taken after loosing World War l. And in the late 19th – early 20th century Budapest was really booming, so they wanted to build something impressive indeed.
this is a city rumble 😛
I immediately thought ‘Budapest’ when I saw the title. you can find yourself on your own there, in Prague the crowds, as mentioned by your goodself, are just too much for me. But I’ve always desired the quiet life…..
Ha! I thought of you because I know you love to do those city rumbles (which I always love). But in this case I’ve had the post in mind since before we arrived in Budapest for the simple reason being that everyone asks “should I go to Prague or Budapest?”.
But you know what? Maybe I’ll start doing city rumbles too 🙂
We have been to Prague, but have always wanted to visit Budapest as well. Those thermal baths looks amazing!
Thanks Jenny. The thermal baths are great and for us it was like having a spa holiday every weekend.
Great analysis. We just visited both and Budapest wins hands down because the restaurants and bars are non-smoking whereas in Prague it almost seems like smoking is required. That makes a huge difference for us.
Interesting, I never noticed that they smoke in bars and restaurants in Prague. Maybe because we were there in the summer and we were always sitting outside? Hmmm.
But yes, we are in Romania right now where everyone smokes, all the time. Its worse than any place we’ve every been. So I totally get it, we hate that as well.
Thanks. Very informative in the most practical aspects for a tourist. Beautifully explained. Both appear to be must visit places.
Now, l am more curious to visit Prague. After 2 visits to Budapest, l can’t imagine liking anyplace more , but your pictures make Prague look so inviting. We have to squeeze it In soon. I’m so glad that Budapest grew on you, and really glad that Spanky loves it. Yeah..we could totally live there too. I still see it at some point 🙂 . Great post..have to keep this handy for when we eventually make it 🙂 .
Its funny, we weren’t that impressed with Budapest in the beginning. It really grew on us. We have friends there now and we actually miss them.
Prague is more superficial but so impressive. We were there twice last year and look forward to seeing it again.
Different but both wonderful cities.
Fantastic comparison Frank. Your photo’s alone make me yearn to be in Prague. It’s at the top of my list. When is the next flight out lol. Budapest was just a city of interest. Now I’m really interested to see for myself which I prefer. Both seem to offer a lot. I’ll be sure to stay a fair amount of time.
Age demographics plays a role. At 50yo the inner architect seems to emerge. Not too many 20 somethings are choosing a bridge over a bar.
I’ve always thought it odd that millions of tourists pay thousands of dollars to fly half way around the world to look at bridges, buildings and colorful roofs but that’s where the mainstream market is. A lot of people must be closet architects.
Oh, you’re very right Tom. I have a pretty big following on Pinterest – and it’s very predictable: bridges, nice buildings, islands. Florence, Santorini, Rome, Prague…that’s what people like.
But I can understand it because we also want to see beauty in the world. We’ve had this conversation before: do you go somewhere because of the beauty of a place or because of culture and getting to know people. Most people have the unfortunate reality of working all the time and having a couple of weeks holiday. They want to see the prettiest places in the world during the time they have off. We used to travel the same way and we would probably do the same if we had only a couple of weeks to see something.
You’re an expat so you’re looking for something different and I understand that as well. We’ve realized while travelling that the places we want to come back to are most likely not the most touristy places, the reason being that the touristy places can be pretty cold to the traveller. Oversaturated.
So I understand where you are coming from but I also totally get what the majority is looking for. And honestly, some places like Prague are so beautiful that you can’t help but wanted to go back despite other factors…
Always appreciate your input Tom 🙂
It was interesting to see how many times Prague won in your list. I have been to Prague only, never visited Budapest. I usually dislike overcrowded cities like Paris or London, but I just fell in love with Prague. The little streets, colorful building, fairy tale-like atmosphere. I loved the overall “coziness”. Comparing to Prague, cities like Paris, Vienna, London, Belgrade seem to be cold and more “official” for me. And I love the red roofs in Prague. The only drawback would be the crowds… But I got up early in the morning and saw the Charles Bridge without tourist at the sunrise – what a view! Have you been to other places similar to Prague – like Krakow or Bratislava?
You’re right – Prague won many of ‘tourist highlights’ points, Budapest won the cultural points. What you say about the ‘coziness’ of Prague is exactly right. I love Prague and as mentioned I think it’s actually my favorite of the two for a visit.
Prague wins beers but overall looks like Budapest. Czech people are normally pretty cold. Look at the tennis players – robots.
Yeah, I don’t know if that’s a very scientific study you got there Tom 🙂
Sarah (Jetsetting Fools)
I love the detailed comparison! I breezed through Prague in one day during my first trip to Europe 15 years ago…and I’ve wanted to go back ever since! We feel in love with Budapest during our two week stay and – even though my visit to Prague was a fly-by – I agree with the points you’ve made about the two. Still, can’t wait to get back to Prague someday 😉
Thanks for the feedback Sarah!
Hello Frank, sorry to squeeze in years later. But I was trying to go to the link of your Airbnb guy on the post but it only takes me to the sight, not the place. Any help there? We’re going mid October to both places. We’ll stay in Prague, train to Vienna for a day to pick up bicycles and ride to Budapest. We have about 10 days between the two cities before a conference in Zagreb. Do you think that time of year we can book rooms last minute? Not sure how long to stay in both locations yet.
I see what you mean about Lazlo’s apartment, guess he’s no longer renting.
But our last time in Budapest we stay here for a month. Really liked it and recommend: https://www.airbnb.ca/rooms/682646
For, we were back last August and stayed here for a full month: https://www.airbnb.ca/rooms/7719476 Loved the neighborhood!
I hate planning in advance and usually do my bookings 1-2 months before I intend paying there (plus by biggest peeve is that Airbnb takes your money up front like a bank). Both cities have lots of options and October is out of high season. I personally wouldn’t book anything until late August, early September.
Hope that helps!
Hello Frank, thanks for the reply. I see you’re in Thialand now, we live in Thailand. We’re in Koh Chang until end of April and then go to Koh Samui in May for the summer. Any chance you’re coming this way? We’d love to pick your brain more.
Unfortunately we won’t be in either of those places. We’ll be in Bangkok Apr 8-10 if ever you’re also passing through?
But don’t be shy to write me personally if there’s anything I can help you with.