Budapest Parliament at night from a river cruise.

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5 Best Budapest River Cruises and Boat Tours in 2023 (personally tested)

Last updated: May 26, 2023

Portrait of Adam Dimitrov.

Author: Adam Dimitrov — Budapester, Hungarian & City Expert/Guide

Summary | Video Guide | Why Go On a River Cruise? | Budapest River Cruise Types | Detailed Breakdown -The 5 Best River Cruises in Budapest | Frequently Asked Questions

Best River Cruise Overall
4.4 (+2600 reviews)

🏆 Editor's #1 Choice

✔️ tested by author

The best all-around sightseeing cruise experience in Budapest. Weather-proof floating dock. Welcome drink and an audio guide included. Spacious, modern ship with comfortable chairs.

Going on a river cruise in Budapest is a must. But with so many options available, it can be tough to choose the best one.

That's where I come in!

I've tried out eight of the top boat tours in the city and spent dozens hours researching and comparing them.

(Some did not make the cut 😢)

From my trips, I've selected the 5 best river cruises that offer a fantastic experience. Feel free to browse through them and choose one you fancy the most. I even have a video to help you.

May I also interest you with a top list of the best dinner cruises in Budapest?

Disclaimer: This website uses affiliate links. I get paid a small commission if you purchase anything through my links. It costs you nothing and makes my job financially sustainable. Cheers!


Best River Cruises in Budapest in 2022

Best Dinner Cruise: Mahart's Sightseeing Cruise



5 Best River Cruises in Budapest in 2023 (Summary)

View All
by Legenda City Cruises
4.4 +2300 reviews
1 hour 10 minutes
by Portum Lines Cruising
4.4 +10300 reviews
1 hour
by Hungaria Koncert
4.2  +1400 reviews
1.5 hours
by Rubin Group
4.7 +1200 reviews
1.5 hours
No public reviews
1 hour


I created this video with detailed footage from each river cruise. Watch it to get an idea of what each cruise is like.

Why Go On a River Cruise in Budapest?

It's simple, really. The best way to marvel at the city’s beautiful sights is via a river cruise.

On most river cruises, you’ll see the following major sights and attractions:

On two cruises (Legenda and Hungaria Koncert), you’ll also see these less famous sights:

What Kinds of Cruises Are There?

Liberty bridge at night, from the perspective of a Danube river cruise.

In addition to sightseeing cruises, Budapest offers a variety of other fun cruise options to choose from, including:

Bonus: For something a little different, try the Amphibious Bus Tour, which combines land and water sightseeing.

5 Best River Cruises in Budapest in 2023 (Detailed Breakdown)

#1: Day/Night Sightseeing Cruise with Prosecco, Lemonade & Audio Guide

Best River Cruise Overall — Legenda City Cruises — 13.50€ (day) /19€ (night)
4.4 +2300 reviews (Getyourguide)
4.5 +1200 reviews (Viator)


✔️ Best All-Around — this cruise has everything you need for a complete sightseeing experience.

✔️ Welcome Drink — choose champagne, wine, beer, a soft drink, or mineral water.

✔️ Great Ship — modern, spacious, and well-maintained, with great views from both decks.

✔️ Audio Guide — with excellent sound quality, with headphones, and available in 30 languages.

✔️ Full Danube Curcuit — the cruise covers everything worth seeing, from Margaret Island all the way down to the National Theatre/Palace of Arts.


❌ Pricy — more expensive than other sightseeing cruises, but also offers more value.

❌ Missing Free Lemonade — it's not highlighted by the cruise company that you only get an additional free lemonade in the summer season.

❌ Tech/Content Issues With Audio Guide — the first set of headphones didn't work, the second set had too short a cable, the headphones aren't comfortable, and the content could be improved.


A standard sightseeing cruise with one welcome drink, complementary lemonade, and an audio guide with headphones.

Unfortunately, their main cruise listing only allows you to book for the evening. However, you can book a daytime cruise (10am-7pm) on a separate listing and it's only 13.50€.

About Legenda City Cruises

Legenda is the oldest and most reputable cruise company in Budapest. They’ve been operating since (at least) 1990 and are still going strong.

Detailed Breakdown

Cruise duration:

The ship:

The top deck:

The lower deck:

Audio guide:

💡 Tip: Immediately put on the headphones once you sit down - so you don't miss parts of the narration as I did.

Quick Facts

How to Get There


#2: Day/Night Sightseeing Cruise with Prosecco

Best Value Sightseeing Cruise — Portum Lines — 11€
4.4 +10300 reviews (Getyourguide)
4.0 +1400 reviews (Viator)


✔️ Best Value — 40-50% cheaper than Legenda with a great experience but fewer nice-to-have amenities (no audio guide, no free lemonade).

✔️ Fun — this cruise attracts younger guests and has a more fun, youthful, relaxed vibe.

✔️ Welcome Drink — options include prosecco, a seasonal cocktail, mulled wine, or a soft drink.


✔️ Great Ship — modern, spacious, and well-maintained, with great views from both decks.


❌ Bad Location — the meeting point is out of the way near Margaret Island, and getting there is a hassle.

❌ Crowded — everyone wants to be on the top deck thus the ship can feel crowded during peak season.

❌ Limited Open Air Seats — the open air tables on the top deck go fast on a first-come, first-served basis


A fun sightseeing cruise with a welcome drink that's popular with young people. It's got a great price, but it gets crowded and has a bad location.

An excellent option for couples or small groups as you get to sit at tables, not rows of chairs.

About Portum

Portum Lines is a solid company operating since (at least) 2014. Their offerings are pretty slim compared to others but still superb in quality.

Detailed Breakdown

Cruise duration:

The ship:

The top deck:

💡 Tip: You must arrive early to snatch the best seats.

The lower deck:

Other observations:

Quick Facts

How to Get There


#3: Buffet Libre Dinner Cruise with Folk Dance and Music

Best Dinner Cruise — Hungaria Koncert — 72€
4.2/5 +1400 reviews (Getyourguide)
4.5/5 +3600 reviews (Viator)


✔️ Buffet Libre — this dinner cruise is a great way to taste various Hungarian dishes.

✔️ Two Welcome Drinks — you can choose from various alcoholic and non-alcoholic options.

✔️ Great Atmosphere — you feel like you're on the Titanic and forget about the outside world for 2 hours.

✔️ Folk Dance and Music Show — features one of the best live folklore music and dance shows with authentic and award-winning performers.

✔️ Full Danube Circuit — the cruise covers everything worth seeing, from Margaret Island all the way down to the National Theatre/Palace of Arts.

✔️ Long Cruise — the cruise lasts 1.5-2 hours, which gives ample time to eat, drink and see the sights at night.


 Not Great for Sightseeing — the views from the ship are mediocre (no 360°, fences blocking the view), spaces for sightseeing are both few/small, the dinner and folk show are more interesting so you'll focus on that and won't see the sights.

❌ Not Fine Dining Quality —The food is fine, but mid-range restaurants (and up) serve better quality food.


An excellent dinner cruise with live Hungarian folk music and dance performances.

‍There's an unlimited buffet of various Hungarian dishes, and the ship's atmosphere is comparable to being on the Titanic.

About Hungaria Koncert

Hungaria Koncert is a cruise operator and organizes different touristic activities. They've been operating since (at least) 1995.

Detailed Breakdown

What's included:

Cruise duration:


Folklore and operetta performance:

The ship:

Quick Facts

How to Get There


#4: Night Booze Cruise with Unlimited Prosecco

Best Booze Cruise (Unlimited Drinks) — Rubin Group — 19.50€
4.7 +1200 reviews (Getyourguide)
4.5 +600 reviews (Viator)


✔️ #1 Booze Cruise — Budapest's most affordable unlimited prosecco cruise.

✔️ Great Ship —it's comfortable, cozy, and spacious inside.

✔️ Unlimited Drinks — you can choose either prosecco or lemonade.

✔️ Long Cruise — being 90 minutes long, you'll have ample time to drink as much as humanly possible (your friends at Prosecco and Co. urge you to drink responsibly)


❌ Assorted Food Platter — it's not worth the extra 10€, as it's lower quality and then advertised, and calling it gourmet is a stretch.

❌ Bad Location — the meeting point is out of the way near Margaret Island, and getting there is a hassle.

❌ Audio Guide — the passengers crowd out the sound, so it's impossible to hear anything, but everybody's getting plastered anyway.


An evening booze cruise with unlimited drinks with a dark, cocktail party atmosphere. It's a great option for couples or groups of friends.

You can buy an optional food platter for $10, but I recommend skipping it.

About RubinGroup

Rubin Group is another solid company, operating since (at least) 2015. They specialize in gastro-themed events rather than standard sightseeing cruises.

Detailed Breakdown

Cruise duration:

The ship:

The top deck:

The lower deck:

Audio guide:

Drinks refills:

Assorted food platter:

Quick Facts

How to Get There


#5: Day/Night Sightseeing Cruise

Cheapest Sightseeing Cruise — BKK-Mahart Zrt. — 4€
No public reviews


✔️ Cheapest Cruise in Budapest — perfect for travelers that value affordability.

✔️ Unlimited Cruises — for the same day with one ticket, excellent in case you have the urge to binge cruise in Budapest.

✔️ Great for Getting Around — there's an option to disembark on Margaret Island or at any of the four other stops.


❌ Low Quality — I'm not mincing words here, this is a bare-bones, low-quality sightseeing cruise.

❌ Smell of Fuel  — a strange smell is often present on the boat.

❌ Five Stops — the boat docks and undocks 5 times during the cruise, which isn't fun.

Crowded — the ship is small and cramped to begin with but wait till the Hungarian pupils on school trips arrive.

Update: This ride is unavailable from 2022 October until Spring 2023.


A dirt-cheap sightseeing cruise that ranks low in quality compared to other options. Great if you're on an extremely tight budget.

Note that this cruise does not have public reviews, as it is a public service boat service operated by a government-owned company (Mahart). Tickets must be purchased on the spot and cannot be reserved in advance.

Detailed breakdown

Cruise duration:

The ship:

Lower deck:

Upper deck:

5 stops:

No pre-booking:

Quick Facts

How to Get There

Frequently asked questions

Is it worth booking river cruise tickets in advance?

Yes, it's worth it. You can purchase tickets in person, but I recommend reserving your ticket in advance to ensure your place on the ship.

How long is a river cruise in Budapest?

Most river cruises are 1-1.5 hours long, while dinner cruises are 1.5-3 hours long.

60-minute cruises are fine, but it may end up being -+10 minutes in either direction.

Seventy minutes feels just right. Dinner cruises of about 1.5-2 hours are ideal. Anything above 2 hours is overkill.

Which sights are covered on a Budapest boat tour?

Most standard cruises cover the distance between Margaret Bridge and just after Liberty Bridge. It covers the major sights of Budapest.

Legenda's daytime and dinner cruise circles Margaret Island, while the Mahart-BKK public service cruise touches the southern half.

(The island is not a remarkable sight from the river - it's just trees. There aren't any sights on the Buda or Pest side either.)

You can optionally disembark on Margaret Island on Legenda's daytime cruise and the BKK-Mahart cruise, stroll around the island, and rejoin the next cruise later.

Some rides go down the river as far as the National Theatre/Palace of Arts. The Palace of Arts is uniquely lit with changing light patterns, but it's not a must-see per se - more like nice-to-see.

What is the best river cruise to go on?

It depends on your preferences.

I recommend going on at least two river cruises to make the most of Budapest.
 One for dedicated sightseeing, another for something thematic, like dinner cruises.

Sightseeing cruises (0-20$) are perfect for just that - you can bask in awe of the gorgeous sights for 60-90 minutes straight without distraction.

Dinner cruises ($50-$100) are centered around more than just the food! Yes, they're about having good food but also about enjoying Hungarian folklore entertainment and the unique "dinner cruise" vibe that's hard to describe.

You can get better food in any mid-to-high-end restaurant if mind-blowing food is your primary goal.

Booze, party, or food cruises ($20-$40) are self-explanatory - sightseeing won't be the focus here either.

Can I buy drinks or food on Budapest river cruises?

It depends — food is seldom included on cheap cruises, as it's not the point - that's what dinner cruises, brunch cruises, or lunch cruises are for. However, snacks and drinks are usually available at the ship's kitchen bar.

Welcome drinks usually come in 80ml glasses.
You can usually choose a sparkling wine, prosecco spritzer, mineral water, or a soft drink.

What is the best time to go on river cruise?

Best seasons: The weather is ideal in shoulder seasons from May-June to September-October. In the summer it's going to be crowded and hot. Winter is also busy from Nov-Dec and cold.

Time of day: About 70% of river cruises in Budapest are held in the evening. This is because the sights are prettiest when lit up at night.

If you're after a sunset cruise, Google "Budapest Sunset Time [Date, e.g., Oct 11th]" to time your cruise.

The main attractions are lit about 30 minutes after sunset. I'd recommend the night cruises over trying to catch the sunset.

Daytime cruises are great in the summer when it's hot. It's a great way to escape the summer heat and have a little breather.

How to have the best seats on a river cruise?

Be early.

It's impossible to reserve the exact seat you want, except on certain high-end cruises (e.g. dinner cruises), usually on the company's website.

Rides don't get overbooked - they can't sell more tickets than available seats. However, most people flock to the upper, open-air decks to see the views and take photos. This causes the feeling of overcrowding.

How to prepare for a river cruise in the winter/summer?

Summer: Have sunscreen, water, an umbrella, and sunglasses at hand for daytime cruises in the warmer months.

In rainy weather, the open-air deck is closed. In stormy weather, cruises are canceled. They'll either refund you or offer an alternative cruise if this happens.

Winter: The windows in the heated cabin are prone to fog up, thus blocking the views, depending on how well the windows are insulated.

You can always go out to get a few photo shots, then rush back to the safety of the heated cabin.

Cold weather and winds make open-air sightseeing less pleasant during the winter. Wear warm clothing, dress in layers, and protect your face.

How to avoid overcrowding on river cruises?

Summer is the high season - everything will be swarming with tourists, including boat tours.

Apart from coming in shoulder or off-season, one thing you can do to avoid the crowds is opt for slightly more expensive cruises.

How to have the perfect views and Instagram-worthy photos on a river cruise?

Choose the ships with the best sightseeing facilities.

In other words, choose ships with large, spacious open-air decks with unobstructed 360° panorama for perfect views and Instagram-worthy photos. Legenda and Portum both meet this requirement.

How to have the best audio guide experience on a river cruise?

If you absolutely want an audio guide, I found Legenda's to be the best executed, but I still experienced some technical issues (see Legenda cruise summary).

Most cruises don't offer audio guides. If they do, it's always pre-recorded and broadcast via headphones or a loudspeaker. Every loudspeaker audio guide was subpar and nearly inaudible. 

I have yet to see any cruise company offer live tour guide commentary, except the Floating Bus Tour.

Common issues with audio guides include un-synced commentary, irrelevant sights/details mentioned, and infrequent or inaudible audio.