Last Updated on: 10th December 2023, 11:52 am

Budapest and Bucharest are different places in Europe. They aren’t even in the same country. This is to answer the question of many people wondering whether Budapest and Bucharest are the same place.

The first and foremost difference between Budapest and Bucharest is that they are capitals of different countries: Budapest is the capital of Hungary, while Bucharest is the capital of Romania.

Is Bucharest in Hungary? No.

Is Budapest in Hungary or Romania? It is in Hungary.

budapest horsemen

No, you can’t ride horses in Budapest or Bucharest. In Budapest, you might see them in tourist spots, though

Budapest locals speak Hungarian, while Bucharest residents speak Romanian

There are no similarities between the two languages.

Romanian is the only Romance or Latin language in the region while Hungarian belongs to the Finno-Ugric family of languages.

There’s not much difference between Bucharest and Budapest when it comes to making yourself understood by locals, as most people in either city speak or understand a little English.

budapest captions views

The Danube river splits Budapest in two: Buda and Pest – This is a view of Pest from Buda

Budapest Is Split by the Danube, Bucharest by the Dâmbovița River

Both European capitals are split by a river. Not by the same river, though. The Danube divides Budapest into two parts, known as Buda and Pest. As the Danube is a generous river, it allows for boat cruises and it creates a magnificent scenery Budapest is well-known for.

The Hungarian Parliament building by Budapest’s riverfront is probably the most famous building in Hungary.

Dambovita, the river that splits Bucharest, is much smaller and not as spectacular as the Danube.

I’ve been living in Bucharest for all my life and I still remember the beautiful Dambovita river in the 70s and 80s, with its old trees and charming natural landscape. It is also true that the water was muddy.

The communist regime decided to enclose the river under concrete slabs. The result is what you see today, a narrow and dull canal crossing the city, with barely any vegetation along its sides.

budapest parliament golden hour cruise

Here’s another boat cruising the Danube in front of the Hungarian Parliament building

Budapest Has the Hungarian Parliament Building, Bucharest Has the Palace of the Romanian Parliament

The Hungarian Parliament is one of the most beautiful buildings in Europe and one of the tallest buildings in Budapest. It is an eclectic mix of three architectural styles, Gothic Revival, Baroque and Renaissance Revival.

The Palace of the Romanian Parliament in Bucharest is the heaviest building in the world and one of the heaviest reminders of communist times in Romania. Formerly known as the House of the People, the Palace of the Romanian Parliament is the second-largest administrative building worldwide, after the Pentagon.

Both buildings are open to visitors. You’ll need to check out the visiting hours and to buy tickets in advance.

Click here to get your skip the line ticket to the Romanian Parliament Palace in Bucharest.

Click here to book a grand city tour of Budapest with Hungarian Parliament building visit.

In terms of looks, the Budapest palace of the Parliament is way more impressive than the Palace of the Romanian Parliament in Bucharest. Communist buildings are all boring and repressive, just like the regime itself.

Difference between Budapest and Bucharest in Terms of Food

Both Bucharest and Budapest boast some excellent restaurants where tourists can try local dishes.

The traditional Hungarian food menu include Goulash (or Gulyas), a tasty stew or soup made from meat, tomatoes, onions and bell peppers. There are many restaurants in Budapest where you can taste goulash.

Traditional Romanian dishes include sarmale (minced meat and rice stuffed cabbage rolls), mici, tripe soup and papanasi.

Difference between Budapest and Bucharest in Nightlife

Budapest is famous for the ruin bars, where tourists can enjoy music, parties and bustling nightlife. I like the neighborhood where these bars are, as it is a pleasant area with cobbled streets that lead you to the Danube.

Bucharest has the Old Town, a pedestrian-only area with cobbled streets, bars, restaurants and night clubs. In the Old Town of Bucharest you can party until late in the night.

When it comes to parties and nightlife, there isn’t a big difference between Budapest and Bucharest. Both are perfect for party lovers.

Difference between Budapest and Bucharest in Entertainment & Leisure

Thermal baths are a very strong point of Budapest. The city counts about 15 public thermal baths. I’ve tried quite a few of them. I liked very much Szechenyi Bath, with its Ottoman architecture and its many pools and saunas.

Bucharest has only one thermal spa, but a very beautiful and welcoming one. Therme Bucharest is located by the outskirts of Bucharest and it is easy to access by bus or taxi.

How Close Are Romania and Hungary?

Hungary and Romania are direct neighbors, sharing a border of 448 km (278 miles).

Both countries belong to the European Union, but Romania is yet to join the Schengen zone, and therefore there’s still a border control alternatively operated by Hungarian or Romanian teams.

These two vibrant capital cities, located in Central Europe and Eastern Europe respectively, often tend to be confused due to their somewhat similar names. However, they possess unique characteristics, rich histories, and distinct cultures that set them apart from one another.

How Close Are Budapest and Bucharest?

The two European capitals are separated by a geographical distance of only 643km (400 miles). The road distance between Budapest and Bucharest is 826km (513 miles).

When you travel from many miles away, confusions are possible. I know of some people traveling to Europe from the U.S. and arriving to Bucharest thinking they are going to visit Hungary’s capital city.

By delving into the details and highlighting the individual attributes of Budapest vs. Bucharest, I hope to help you gain a deeper insight into these captivating destinations.

Budapest vs Bucharest Size & Population

Budapest is bigger than Bucharest. Click here to see a visual comparison of the two cities, as plotted on a map.

The two cities have similar population count. This explains why Bucharest is more prone to traffic jams and air pollution.

However, these aren’t details that should make or break your decision to visit either Bucharest or Budapest.

What are some reasons why Budapest is more popular than Bucharest?

Even though Budapest isn’t one of the most popular destinations in Europe, it surely attracts more tourists than Bucharest.

The main reasons why Budapest is more popular than Bucharest include the better conservation of old buildings, the hills, the majestic Royal Castle, the Fisherman’s bastion, the Danube and its bridges, the leisure-focused Margaret Island, the many cultural and entertainment opportunities, and the spa culture.


difference between budapest and bucharest

What Is the First and Foremost Difference between Budapest and Bucharest?

The key takeaway of this post is that Budapest is in Hungary, while Bucharest is in Romania. Keep this in mind when you book your travels, in order to avoid landing to the wrong country.

Such a mistake could cost you dearly. What if you were supposed to attend a concert in Budapest, and you find out that you’re in the wrong city, in Bucharest, with no means of flying to Budapest on such a short notice?


Violeta Matei