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Difference between revisions of "Budapest"

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===Wifi Networks===
 
===Wifi Networks===
The most up-to-date list of wireless internet hotspots (both paid and free) is available on [http://hotspotter.hu/en/ Hotspotter.hu].
 
  
 
* <listing name="T-Com Hotspot" address="" phone="" email="" fax="" hours="" price="Prices as of Jan-2007: 0.5hrs =500ft; 1hr =1500ft; 5hrs=3900ft; 24hrs=8900ft" url="http://www.t-com.hu/english/residential/internet/hotspot.vm">Seems to operate only on prepaid cards. Covers many restaurants and other public places (total 87, as of Jan 2007).</listing>
 
* <listing name="T-Com Hotspot" address="" phone="" email="" fax="" hours="" price="Prices as of Jan-2007: 0.5hrs =500ft; 1hr =1500ft; 5hrs=3900ft; 24hrs=8900ft" url="http://www.t-com.hu/english/residential/internet/hotspot.vm">Seems to operate only on prepaid cards. Covers many restaurants and other public places (total 87, as of Jan 2007).</listing>
 
  
 
* <listing name="HotSpotSystem.com " address="" phone="" email="" fax="" hours="" price="" url="http://hotspotsystem.com/index.php?lang=en">Has both Free and paid (Pro) types of service--chosen by operating (restaurant, hotel etc.). For paid access, internet time can be purchased by credit card right from your browser at the point of connection. Prices are set by operating business  but can be like this (example taken from Hotel Astra) 1hr =600ft, 2hrs =960ft, 24hrs =1950ft. Time can not be purchased in other slots, and should be used at once (you can't pause it, nor to use it in several intervals during several days). For Pro access, speed is: 384 / 128 kbit/s incoming/outgoing traffic, and unlimited traffic within paid time. And the time left is only shown in popup that opens right at the start of connection--if you close it, you can't check how much is left.</listing>
 
* <listing name="HotSpotSystem.com " address="" phone="" email="" fax="" hours="" price="" url="http://hotspotsystem.com/index.php?lang=en">Has both Free and paid (Pro) types of service--chosen by operating (restaurant, hotel etc.). For paid access, internet time can be purchased by credit card right from your browser at the point of connection. Prices are set by operating business  but can be like this (example taken from Hotel Astra) 1hr =600ft, 2hrs =960ft, 24hrs =1950ft. Time can not be purchased in other slots, and should be used at once (you can't pause it, nor to use it in several intervals during several days). For Pro access, speed is: 384 / 128 kbit/s incoming/outgoing traffic, and unlimited traffic within paid time. And the time left is only shown in popup that opens right at the start of connection--if you close it, you can't check how much is left.</listing>

Revision as of 02:36, 30 January 2007

The Danube River and the leafy hills of Buda

Budapest [1] is the capital city of Hungary. Home to some 1.8 million inhabitants, it is the country's commercial and administrative center.

Contents

Districts

Districts of Budapest

Although Budapest is administratively divided into 23 numbered districts, always written in Roman numerals, it can most simply be divided into the two cities of which it is comprised (Buda and Pest) and one historic district:

  • Buda - the hilly west side of the Danube (Districts I-III, XI-XII)
  • Castle Hill - District I of Buda, the oldest part of the city containing the eponymous Castle and many of Budapest's best-known attractions
  • Pest - the flat east side of the Danube, covering the modern commercial core of the city (Districts IV-IX)

Understand

Regarded by many as one of World's most beautiful cities, Budapest (the "Paris of the East" and the "Queen of the Danube") has become the most popular travel destination in Central Europe along with Vienna and Prague. Millions of tourists visit the city every year. Located on both sides of the Danube River and featuring both the rolling hills of Buda (on the west bank) and the organized, gridlike layout of Pest (east bank), these two very different cities united by convenience into one city offer the traveller a Viennese-style aura at half the price. But Budapest (pronounced "BOO-dah-pesht") is still very much its own city. The people are charming, and for the most part very helpful. They are proud of what this ancient capital has to offer, and proud of their contributions to European culture, especially in the field of music, a universal language one doesn't need to speak to appreciate.

History

Budapest first appeared on the world map when the Romans founded the town of Aquincum around 89 AD in what is today Óbuda. It soon became the capital of the province of Lower Pannonia, and the Romans even founded a proto-Pest known as Contra Aquincum on the other side of the river.

The Romans were eventually driven out by the Bolgars from present-day Bulgaria, who left behind the name Peshta (today's Pest), but were replaced around 900 by the Magyars, who went on to found the kingdom of Hungary. The Mongols dropped in uninvited in 1241, but the Magyars bounced back and built the royal castle that still today dominates Buda in 1427.

In 1541, Buda and Pest fell to the Ottomans and stayed in the hands of the Turks until 1686, when the Austrian Habsburgs conquered the town. Now at peace, both sides of the river boomed, and after an abortive Hungarian revolution in 1848–49 the great Compromise of 1873 made Budapest the united capital of the Hungarian half of the Dual Monarchy of Austria-Hungary.

Budapest emerged from World War I battered, but now the capital of an independent Hungary, and its population reached one million by 1930. Air raids and a terrible three-month siege towards the end of World War II resulted in the death over 38,000 civilians, and 20-40% of Budapest's Jewish community of some 250,000 were murdered during the Holocaust.

After the war, the city recovered and became a showcase for the more pragmatic policies of Hungary's relatively mild Communist government. Today's Budapest is by far the wealthiest and most cosmopolitan city in Hungary and increasingly popular with tourists. In 1987, it was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List for the cultural and architectural significance of the Banks of the Danube, the Buda Castle Quarter and Andrássy Avenue.

Tourism

  • Tourism Office of Budapest, 1056 Budapest, Március 15. tér 7., Phone: +36 1 266-0479, [2].

Get in

By plane

Ferihegy International Airport [3] (BUD, Ferihegyi nemzetközi repülőtér; pronounced "Fery-hedj'") is the country's largest airport and the hub of the Hungarian national carrier Malév. It has two terminals a few kilometers apart, imaginatively entitled Terminal 1 and Terminal 2.

As of September 2005 the small but renewed Terminal 1 (originally opened May 7, 1950) is being used by discount air companies. There are numerous low-budget airlines serve Budapest including, EasyJet, Wizz Air, Sky Europe, Air Berlin, Germanwings, Malmo Aviation, Norwegian Air, Sterling and Jet2.

The more spacious Terminal 2 (dated November 1, 1985) is further split into terminal 2A, used mostly by Malév, Air Malta, Moldavian Airlines, CSA Czech Airlines, Carpatair and 2B, used by everybody else.

One way of getting to and from the airport is to take the Airport Minibus, a "shared taxi"-type operation that rounds up passengers going in the same direction and will take you to or from anywhere in Budapest for a flat fee of 2100 Forint (approx. 8 or 9 EURO) per person. Join the queue at the airport and you'll be on your way in 15 minutes; for the trip back, call the center (pref. with 24h advance notice) and they'll be there to pick you up.

Another option is to take a normal taxi. It's somewhat faster than the Airport Minibus and if you're not traveling alone it will also be cheaper; the official fare if you ask for an Airport Transfer is around 4000-5000 forints per car, depending on whether you go to Buda or Pest. Unless you do so, it can cost a fortune for a foreigner, especially when you choose a freelancer for your trip. As of 2006 a taxi company named Zóna Taxi won monopoly for the right to take passengers from the airport, please only trust this company (unless you have a pre-ordered taxi from a different company you or your host trusts). You will have to pay the price in advance at the stand, where you will get a receipt, this eliminates any rip-offs.

The cheapest way is to take Bus No.200 from Terminal 2 or Bus No. 93 from Terminal 1 to Kőbánya-Kispest, from where you can continue on to central Pest with the blue metro for a total cost of two tickets (370 forints at time of writing). Note: Bus No.200 replaces "Reptér" Bus as of April 14, 2006.

There is an even cheaper way of getting into the city and to destinations east of Budapest (Debrecen, Romania) from Terminal 1: Take a local train from Szemeretelep. This station is about 800 meters from the Terminal. A ticket to Budapest-Nyugati or Budapest-Zugló cost 198 Forint. Kőbánya-Kispest - about 100 Forint. If you take a train east, consider taking the hourly local train to Monor, then the next local train to Szolnok or Cegléd, where different IC trains or international trains are available. Find your connection at: http://www.elvira.hu or http://www.bahn.de. Train staff will sell you a ticket without an extra fee for the normal price because Szemeretelep is neither served by a vending machine nor by a ticket office.

Season Promotions

In winter time (Dec 1-Mar31) Malév offers discounted fares for international flights to Budapest, and its 45 partner hotels provide 4 nights accommodation for a price of 3 ([4]: see Hotel List for a list of 3..5-star hotels).

By train

Budapest has a number of train stations (pályaudvar), the main ones being Keleti (Eastern), Déli (Southern) and Nyugati (Western). Be sure to check where your train is leaving from! The stations aren't named for their geographic location in the city, nor for the direction of the destinations served by each. For instance trains to Vienna leave from Keleti. Transferring is fairly painless, as Keleti and Déli are both on the subway red line, while Nyugati is just a few stops away on the blue line.

The online timetable of Hungary's state railway company is located at http://www.elvira.hu.

By boat

There is a scheduled hydrofoil service on the Danube to and from Vienna and Bratislava daily between early April and early November operated by Mahart [5].

Get around

Public transportation in Budapest is run by BKV, which has a useful English-language site. As of January 2006, single tickets cost 185 Ft a pop, or 210 Ft if you buy them on boarding. It's probably best to get a day pass, one-day travel card (1150 Ft)or a discount coupon book (10 tickets for 1665) or a three-day travel card (2500 for 3 days) rather than try to understand the byzantine system of transfers, however, or risk getting fined (currently you have a chance that you can buy a tourist ticket instead of paying the fine which is 2500). Most up-to-date information about tickets and prices can be found on BKV's ticket and pass information site. One ticket is good for only one direction on one line. Ticketing is apparently based on the honour system, but they do check tickets at major exits quite frequently.

The Budapest Card is an excellent discount card for travel in the city. There are 2 and 3 day versions, and besides allowing free travel on all public transport, it gives you discounts at museums, restaurants, etc. The 2-day card is 5200 HUF, and the 3-day card is 6500 HUF.

You might get lost in Budapest or be unable to find a bus or tramline using the maps found in some foreign published guidebooks. Many tourists experience this problem. Buy a map of Budapest published in Hungary, which may help prevent problems. You can get them at Budapest bookshops (könyvesbolt or könyváruház in Hungarian) for about 1000-1300 HUF (4-5 €).

By foot

Car drivers generally respect pedestrians and give advantage on a cross-walk even if there's no traffic light.

Don't wear high-heeled shoes in the downtown as there's lots of stone pavements, especially in the Castle Hill.

By metro

Budapest's metro, consisting of three main lines M1 (southwest-northeast) from Mexikói road, to Vörösmarty sqare; M2 (east-west) from Southern railway staion, to Örs vezér sqare and M3 (norh-south) from Újpest-city center, to Kőbánya-Kispest. It's in good condition and an excellent way to get around the city. The yellow M1 line sometimes still uses old wooden metro cars, and is a fun change from the ordinary, Soviet-style steel metros seen elsewhere in Central Europe. Sometimes called the Millenary Metro, because it was built to celebrate the thousandth year of Hungarian nationhood in 1896 along with the Millenary Monument, the yellow line was recently renovated for its hundredth anniversary. It is the first underground in the European dryland (if we tell the truth: it's the second in the World, just afterwards the first, built in London, UK). The stations covered in white and dark brown-red ceramic tile signs are the originals. They are easily distinguished from the Soviet-style metro stations and cars on the other two lines, the red M2 line and the blue M3 line.

Be careful of ticket inspectors who prowl the platforms and stations of Budapest's metro and seem particularly keen to target tourists. You must have a ticket for each trip or interchange on the metro; pleas of ignorance will go unheard. If you're issued with a fine by one of these blue-green armbanded officers, it is cheaper to pay on the spot (HUF 2,500, or about USD 12) than later by mail (HUF 7,000, or about USD 35, if paid within 30 days). The transit authorities have no power of arrest. The ticket inspectors usually speak enough English, German or Russian to get their point across.

The city council started to build the M4 from the Kelenföldi railway station to Bosnyák Square. The Kelenföldi railway station-Eastern railway station fare stage should be done by 31 December, 2009 and the Eastern railway station-Bosnyák sqare fare stage in one more year. The path will connect south Buda, and northeast Pest (southwest-northeast line).

All the metro lines are well represented on maps scattered on platforms. A midlet for Java enabled mobile phones is also available here.

By tram

Trams are a tourist-friendly way of getting around, slower but more scenic than the subway and particularly useful on the nearly subway-less Buda side of the river.

The two lines serving along the Danube (no. 19 on Buda and no. 2 on Pest) are considered a part of the cityscape. Let yourself ride the yellow trams and enjoy the view from them.

The 4-6 tram is easily the most useful tram in the city, following Pest's inner ring road, providing access to all three metro lines at multiple stations, and crossing over to Buda on the Margaret Bridge - another beautiful view. Although technically two lines, 4 and 6 only diverge for their last two stops, which the tourist is unlikely to visit.

This year, in 2006, the world's longest trams are starting their service on lines 4 and 6.

By bus

Where the trams don't go, there are buses. Budapest has a dense bus network, which also connects to the surrounding cities. (Note: you have to validate an extra ticket if you leave Budapest.) In some case there are red (rapid) and black (normal) lines; they can be hard to distinguish because sometimes red lines are only marked with a framed number. An "A" marker means a slight difference between the "black" (normal) bus path, and an "E" marker means that it has only 2 stations: the starting and final station.

By trolley-bus

There are 13 trolley bus lines in north-east and central Pest (mainly in the XIV, VI, VII districts). Some of them pass through the Városliget (City Park) and cross Andrássy Road, giving you beautiful views while using this eco-friendly mode of transport.

Nightbuses

Budapest has a good night transportation system. Nightbus line numbers are triple-digit, starting with number '9'. Buses run every 15-60 minutes from around 11 p.m. until 4 a.m.; you need the same ticket that you do during the daytime. The main linking points of the nightbus network are Moszkva tér and Astoria, but you can find a night line in any tourist part of the city. It's a good idea to buy a map of the nightbus network (available at BKV ticket offices), because there are 29 lines leaving for several parts of Budapest. Don't expect to see ticket inspectors on night buses.

You can also use BKV Plc.'s site for checking the actual lines.

By train

HÉV suburban railways connect central Budapest to several suburbs but are of little use to most visitors, with the notable exception of the line to scenic little upriver Szentendre. The same train takes you to Sziget Fesztivál, Central Europe's biggest summer festival. Connect from Batthyány tér on the subway red line.

By car

Apart from the summer holiday Budapest has a heavy traffic with long-lasting traffic jams in the morning and in the afternoon. If you don't want to spend your visit to Budapest in a traffic jam, leave your car in the hotel's garage, and use the public transport.

If you drive across downtown, plan your journey otherwise you can get into tough situations. For example you cannot turn left in most of the crossings of the Great Boulevard (Nagykörút) or on the main avenues like Andrássy út, Váci út, Üllői út or Rákóczi út.

By taxi

Use one of the taxi companies with English speaking switchboards, e.g. City Taxi - these are efficient and reasonably priced. When you call from a telephone box, they may be able to tell your location from the number, which saves having to work out how to pronounce "Nagymezo".

Taxis hailed on the street or at taxi ranks often charge foreigners inflated prices.

See also: Hungary#By taxi.

Orientation

The Chain Bridge and a view of Pest

Aside from the river itself, the best reference points for orienting yourself are the bridges crossing the river. From north to south, they are:

  • Árpád Bridge (Árpád híd), a modern bridge linking to northern Margaret Island. The longest bridge in Budapest at 973 meters.
  • Margaret Bridge (Margit híd), easily identified thanks to its distinctive shape: It makes an approximately 35 degree turn half way across, at the southern tip of Margaret Island. Trams 4 and 6 cross the Danube here
  • Chain Bridge (Széchenyi lánchid), completed in 1849, the oldest, arguably most beautiful and certainly the most photographed of Budapest's bridges, floodlit at night
  • Elizabeth Bridge (Erzsébet híd), completed in 1903. Originally it was a chain structure bridge like the Chain Bridge. It was destroyed by the Germans in 1945, and substituted by a modern cable bridge opened in 1964.
  • Liberty Bridge (Szabadság híd), elegant but simple, it opened in 1896; it connects the Gellert Baths in Buda with the Great Market Hall in Pest
  • Petőfi Bridge (Petőfi híd), for a long time, the southernmost bridge, with quite a lot of traffic, it links the Great-boulevard of Pest with Buda.
  • Lágymányosi Bridge (Lágymányosi híd), the newest bridge in Budapest, with modern architecture and a spectacular lighting system where mirrors reflect the beam of the upward facing floodlights.

See

Most of Budapest's famous sights are concentrated on Castle Hill on the Buda side, in downtown Pest and along the riverside walkways.

The Chain Bridge with Buda Castle Hill in the background

The main sights on Castle Hill are:

  • The Royal Palace (Királyi palota). The most popular attraction on the hill.
  • The National Gallery (Nemzeti Galéria)[6], inside the Royal Palace wings B, C and D houses an astounding collection of paintings.
  • The Fisherman's Bastion and lookout terrace (Halászbástya). For great view across the Danube to Pest.
  • Matthew Church (Mátyás templom, aka Church of Our Lady). Dominant neogothic church crowning Budapest's cityscape - nowadays is under reconstruction.

Other museums on the Castle Hill:

  • The Historical Museum of Budapest[7]
  • The Music Museum includes a collection of musical instruments and and the Bartok archive.
  • The Military Museum [8]

The Danube Bridges, especially the Chain Bridge (see Orientation above) are really attractive and make it worthy to promenade along the river bank. You can have a superb glimpse over them from the Citadella on the top of Buda's Gellert Hill (Gellérthegy). Riding a boat is very recommended since you can enjoy both riverbanks at the same time - they are very spectacular at night.

Margaret Island (Margitsziget) and its large parks (see Buda) is a very pleasant place to relax and wander. Perfect for a sunny afternoon!

The Parliament Building

Downtown (Belváros) of Pest is the administrative and business centre of Budapest and the whole of Hungary. The main sights here are:

  • The Parliament Building (Országház). A neogothic jewel, beautifully situated overlooking the Danube.
  • St. Stephen Cathedral (Szent István Bazilika). The main church of Budapest is an important example of neoclassical architecture, recently renovated.
  • Great Synagogue and the Jewish Museum (Dohány utcai Zsinagóga) The biggest Synagogue in Europe.

Museums in at the city centre:

  • Museum of Ethnography[9]
  • National Museum[10]
  • Museum of Applies Arts[11]
  • Natural History Museum[12]
  • Ludwig Museum of Modern Art[13]
  • Holocaust Memorial Centre[14]


The Andrássy út boulevard in Pest stretches from Downtown (Belváros) to the City Park (Városliget). It is listed on UNESCO's World Heritage List and has some important sights along it, including:

  • The State Opera House
  • The House of Terror (Terror Háza) [15]. Housed in the secret police headquarters, this museum objectively documents the terror of the Nazi and communist eras. Visiting is hard work, but essential for anyone wishing to understand Hungary's recent past.
  • The Hopp Museum of East Asian Art [16]
Heroes' Square
  • The City Park (Városliget) at the far end is probably the most pleasant of Pest's districts and features several interesting if low-key attractions which are often overlooked:
    • Heroes' square (Hősök tere) - with the Millenium Monument
    • Museum of Fine Arts (Szépművészeti Múzeum)[17] has an incredible range of European artwork from Greek and Roman times to the present. Especially valuable is its collection of Spanish Baroque painting.
    • Vajdahunyad Vára is a castle on a little island on a lake built for the 1898 World Fair. In the winter, the lake is turned into the city's biggest ice rink.

On Buda side there are:

  • Aquincum was a city in the Roman times, it's remains are turned into a great open-air museum. It's situated in the Óbuda district of northern Buda.
  • Gül Baba Türbéje is the shrine where Gül Baba (literally Rose Father, from whom the Rózsadomb (Rose Hill) was named) lies. He was a rich turkish merchant in the Ottoman times. When I visited the place hosted a modern art fair. Also offers a nice view and the little street which leads down the hill from there contains more houses that won the "House of the Year" award.
  • Victor Vasarely Museum shows many works of the famous Hungarian-born post-modern painter Vásárhelyi Győző (1908-1997).


A great day trip is Visegrad, a town on the Danube Bend, where there is an impressive castle. It is about 30-50 minute hike up to the castle from the base. You can take trains from Budapest to Visegrad pretty regularly (note that the train station in Visegrad is on the opposite side of the river from the castle so you need to take a 5-minute ferry ride across once you arrive). There also are excellent ferries connecting Budapest to Visegrad, although they take longer than the train.

Do

Inside Szechenyi bath
  • Budapest is a famous spa city, so go "bathing"! The most famous spas are the "Gellért Baths", which is the tourist option, on the Buda side, or the "Széchényi Baths" right next to the Zoo on the Pest side where the locals go. That's much cheaper! Also, Rudas on the Buda side provides an authentic Turkish feel with its 16th century dome (parts of Schwarzenegger movie Red Heat was shot here).
  • Catch the opera at Pest's spectacular State Opera or a performance of classical music at any of Budapest's many concert halls.
  • Cinemas (mainly in Pest) are a favourite pastime. Not just the big American blockbusters showing in badly subtitled versions all over the continent, but also smaller art films most people in their countries of origin haven't seen. Films are almost always subtitled rather than dubbed, which makes movie-going convenient for non-Hungarians.
  • Cave walking in the Buda hills. Another way of passing a few hours is to visit the Caves on the Buda hills. There are 2 major caves, Pálvölgy Cave and Szemlő Hill Cave. Some of the guides do not speak any English but they give a free English pamphlet for the tour.
  • Buda Hill Labyrinth. The Labyrinths are accessible by two points on the Buda hills. Originally parts were formed from hot water springs and then during WW2, they were linked with some of the cellars on the hill to create an air raid shelter for up to 10,000 people and a military hospital. The labyrinth is now a popular tourist attraction.
  • Enjoy the many cafés all around Budapest. High concentration of popular cafeterias are found in Ráday utca and Liszt Ferenc tér. Or board the A38 boat (at Petőfi Bridge, Buda side) for a beer and various music performances. It is floating on River Danube and considered as one of Europe's coolest clubs.
  • The Sziget Festival at Obudai Island (=Sziget) attracts rock fans, world music hippies and the usual festival crowd every year in august. with cheap beer, great acts and a multitude of cultural, culinarian and musical offers, it's definitely a good deal. Day ticket are highly affordable, a week's ticket is about euro 100,-. More infos at http://www.sziget.hu


Gellert Bath

Learn

  • Budapest University of Technology and Economics, [18] B.Sc. and M.Sc. engineering courses available for foreigners in English, French and German language at the International Education Center of the university.
  • Eötvös Loránd University, [19] The oldest University in Hungary, B.A, B.Sc., M.A, M.Sc. and Ph.D level programs are available in English language.
  • Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music, [20] world-famous music academy in the heart of the city.

Work

  • Teaching English is a popular profession for travellers and people moving to Budapest.

Buy

Paprika and more, Great Market Hall

Most of the visitors from far away end up shopping in Pest in the middle of the city: Váci utca and nearby. It is historically the most expensive part of the city. You'll find Hungarian linens and lace, pottery, and other items, in souvenir shops. Also, chain stores can be found along the strip (C&A, H&M, Clinique, Estee Lauder, New Yorker, etc). Off of Vaci, away from the river, you'll find a small cafe, named Gerloczy Cafe, which is a nice place for coffee. (During the warmer weather, have a meal at one of the outside tables.) From there, walk down a side street and you'll find a small shop called "Hollo Muhely." Be intentional about looking for it because it's easy to pass by. There are nice painted eggs, wooden boxes and candlesticks, and even furniture there. If you are in town for a while, have the man there personalize your egss or jewelry box with your name- it's free. You definitely want to visit the "Nagy Vásárcsarnok" at "Fővám tér" the recently renovated markethall with essential atmosphere (it's at the south end of Vaci). The prices aren't set in stone, so be sure to bargain.

There are hypermarkets like "Auchan, Tesco, Cora" where daily stuff and food is cheap, and they offer an usually wide range of goods. (If you want to take some paprika as a souvenir, buy it here. It's much cheaper!) The "plazas" are usually good for buying clothes, but prices may vary wildly even in shops next to each other; if you are looking for international clothing shop chains like Mango or Zara, you can find them here. For electronics the cheap supermarkets like Electro World and Media Markt are good targets, but the quality is on par with the prices.

Eat

Local specialties include paprikás, gulyás, Lake Balaton pike-perch (fogas), pörkölt (a goulash-like stew with lots of onions), halászlé (fishermen's soup served differently by regions), stuffed cabbage, and liberal use of paprika. There is also a great variety of wonderful pastries, many of which you will recognize if you are familiar with Viennese pastries. As in other spheres, the Hungarian approach to food combines pride in their own traditions with a readiness to accept outside influences. The result is a vibrant restaurant scene where an Asian-Hungarian fusion restaurant may well be of genuine interest.

Liszt Ferenc Tér, close to Andrássy Út and Oktogon, has several trendy restaurants and bars popular with tourists and locals; it's a nice place to stroll around while choosing. Another place gathering many restaurants is Raday ut.

Coffeehouses

Coffeehouses (kaveház) are a Budapest institution and a visit to one should be on every traveller's agenda. As the name implies, these are places for a cup of coffee and a delectable pastry, not a full meal.

Tea is often accompanied with a small bottle of lemon juice.

International

  • Iguana: between Parliament and the American Embassy, off of Szabadsag ter. Mexican.
  • Wasabi: close to Nyugati station, excellent Japanese and Korean food. http://www.wasabi.hu

All-you-can-eat

Several all-you-can-eat restaurants are available in the city:

  • Pasta Dost in the downtown, under 57 Street Rákóczi, near the Keleti Train Station
  • Fantastic Mongolian Restaurant (don't wear a tie!) which is not far from the Déli Train Station
  • Trófea Grill The best among all-you-can-eat. Has 4 locations, (1) near Nyugati Train Station (Visegrádi u. 5), (2) at the final station of Metro line 1 (Erzsébet királyné út 5), (3) downtown by Margaret Bridge (Margit körút 2), and (4) in the XIth district (Hauszmann Alajos / Szerémi út). Book a table in advance.

Unsorted

  • Pozsonyi kisvendéglő, traditional Hungarian cuisine, cosy atmosphere - friendly staff, cheap and excellent menu. Near Margaret bridge on the Pest side, corner of Pozsonyi út and Radnóti utca (Radnóti Miklós utca 38.)
  • Stex pub, restaurant and casino, at the corner of Street Baross and Boulevard Jozsef. Try for a good-quality, low-budget (1-3.000F) food.
  • Colombo's (after the American TV character of the same name) The restaurant offers very good quality food for cheap (500ft-2.000ft). It's off of Vorosmarty Utca in district VI, a block north of the subway station of the same name & two blocks south of Nyugati.
  • Berliner restaurant, Raday Utca. Try for high-quality, medium-budget (>3.000ft) food.

Top-notch quality food (1st category restaurants) charge a wide range of prices (from starters around 1000F, main courses around 3.000ft-10.000ft, and menus from 5.000ft). Some of the most famous ones are:

Drink

Budapest offers plenty of places to drink, from cool and ultra-hip to rowdy and downmarket. One particularly Hungarian experience is to visit a borozó (wine pub), where cheap but tasty Hungarian wine is available on tap, at ridiculously low prices if you find one off the tourist circuit.

  • See the Buda and Pest articles for detailed nightlife listings.
  • Dokk Beach +36 20 91 999 91 [21] is an open-air club that's a popular hang out for locals and foreigners alike. It is an island in the middle of the Danube that has been converted into a club that makes you feel like you're in the middle of a music video. With 6 different themes including a beach club, a club on the bridge, a club with a bed theme, a club with nothing but dancers in their underwear, and a rave club below the boat themed club, attendance can reach 10,000.
  • Cha Cha Cha [22] is the place to go for something completely different. By day it's a cafe in the Kalvin Tér metro station (underground); by night it becomes a bar full of every type of Budapest local. The music is whatever the DJ (local and international) feels like and other than that, anything goes! In summer, focus switches to their open bar on Margit Sziget (Margaret Island). A more recent addition has been a ski chalet during winter! Check out an Eastern European take on post-modern.
  • Szóda [23] is an other place to go out. By day it's a cafe in the old Gettho, close to the Shul but night it is a strange good bar for dancing and enjoy Budapest by night! Check this real hungarian place

Sleep

Budapest offers a wide range of accommodation in all price classes, although the costs of staying here are notably higher than elsewhere in Hungary. The most expensive digs are on or near Castle Hill, while backpacker hostels are mostly across the river in the suburbs of Pest. Arriving trains are often met by touts offering free rides to hostels, as well as little old grannies offering their apartments for rent. Try to figure out exactly where you're going before you choose - or, better yet, visit any of the many travel agencies to browse the many options in a more comfortable environment.

See the Buda and Pest articles for detailed accommodation listings.

Contact

Mobile phone seem to work perfectly in metro even in tunnels between stations, at least in the central part of the city.


Wifi Networks

  • T-Com Hotspot, [24]. Seems to operate only on prepaid cards. Covers many restaurants and other public places (total 87, as of Jan 2007). Prices as of Jan-2007: 0.5hrs =500ft; 1hr =1500ft; 5hrs=3900ft; 24hrs=8900ft.
  • HotSpotSystem.com, [25]. Has both Free and paid (Pro) types of service--chosen by operating (restaurant, hotel etc.). For paid access, internet time can be purchased by credit card right from your browser at the point of connection. Prices are set by operating business but can be like this (example taken from Hotel Astra) 1hr =600ft, 2hrs =960ft, 24hrs =1950ft. Time can not be purchased in other slots, and should be used at once (you can't pause it, nor to use it in several intervals during several days). For Pro access, speed is: 384 / 128 kbit/s incoming/outgoing traffic, and unlimited traffic within paid time. And the time left is only shown in popup that opens right at the start of connection--if you close it, you can't check how much is left.

Stay safe

Budapest is one of the safest cities in Europe, however as with all big cities you have to look out for the following:

  • Beware of the pickpockets (virtually everywhere you go nearby humans but especially on crowded trams and subway).
  • Watch your steps: most of the pathways and grassy places are covered with dog feces.
  • Policemen never speak English and they always try to take advantage of foreigners. Try not to mess with them, cause if that's the case, they respect you. If you break the law, they'll treat you very bad, worse than local people.
  • Don't walk alone in the night in dangerous districts, such as 7.,8. and 9. as these are shady areas. Buda is totally safe and so is the downtown, everywhere next to the Danube.

Cope

Get out

  • The attractive towns on the Danube Bend (Dunakanyar): Szentendre for its artistic community, Visegrád for its castle and Esztergom for its cathedral, imposingly sited on a hill overlooking the Danube.


  • The Hungarian Open-Air Museum (skanzen) [26], just outside Szentendre (40 minute train ride from Budapest) is easily reached by bus from the Szentendre HÉV (communal train) station. This is a huge tract of land to which ancient buildings have been moved from all parts of the country. Small farm villages, mostly with thatched roofs, now dot the landscape, along with barns, outbuildings and even churches. Many are furnished inside. Buy the English guide book, some of the attendants are very knowledgeable (and some not so) but few speak English. You could spend a whole day there (even several) and still have things left to see. There are many ongoing events offered, especially for families with children.
  • Statue Park Rather than smash the statues of the Communist era, the Hungarians arranged them with a twist of irony in a park to the south of the city Buda. Visitors may well interpret this as an assertion that the Hungarian spirit is stronger than communism.



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