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===By bus===
 
===By bus===
  
Arriving to Budapest by bus is an easy and painless option. '''Eurolines,''' ''+36-1'' 318-2122 [http://www.eurolines.com/], connects the city to Austria, [[Belgium]], [[Bulgaria]], Czech Republic, [[Denmark]], [[France]], Germany, [[Great Britain]], Greece, Italy, [[Lithuania]], [[Netherlands]], Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and the Ukraine. Although most of connections are not as frequent as they were before the low-fare airlines revolution, they still run two or three times a week; from Austria and Slovakia daily. '''Orangeways''' [http://www.orangeways.com/hu/] ''36-30'' 830-9696, a low fare bus company offers cheap tickets from and to Austria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Germany, Netherlands, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia. Book online.
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Budapest’s long distance bus stations are located outside the city centre, but are very well connected to the rest of the city. Main stations are:
  
 +
* '''Népliget Bus station''' (''Népliget autóbuszállomás'', metro 3, ''Népliget station'').  Buses from abroad and most of Western Hungarian destinations arrive (and depart) here. Fairly modern station with reliable facilities. Do not forget to check in if you travel abroad.
  
{{infobox|How to check the domestic long-distance bus timetable|You can plan your travel checking Volán’s online timetable [http://www.menetrendek.hu/cgi-bin/menetrend/html.cgi]. It is available only in Hungarian, but easy to use: '' “honnan” '' means ''‘from’, “hová”'' is ''‘to’''; write your departure date in format ''year/month/day'' after ''“mikor”''; leave the other parameters alone and press ''“keresés”, ‘search’''. The results appear on the next page. (''“Autóbusz állomás” '' will mean '' ‘bus station’, “naponta”'' is ''‘daily’, while “munkanapokon” is ‘on workdays’ ''). }}
+
* '''Stadion Bus Station''' (''Stadion autóbuszállomás'', formerly known as ''Népstadion autóbuszállomás'', metro 2 ''Stadionok station''). The biggest hub for Eastern Hungarian destinations, quite modern but somewhat dirty station built underground.
  
Budapest’s main bus stations are located in outer zones, but they are safe, relatively clean and well connected to the rest of the city. Most useful bus stations for travellers are following:
+
* '''Árpád Bridge Bus Station''' (''Árpád híd autóbuszállomás'', metro 2 ''Árpád híd station''). A smaller station for some Northern destinations and suburban traffic; use it to and from [[Szentendre]], [[Esztergom]] or [[Visegrád]].
  
* '''Népliget Bus station''' (''Népliget autóbuszállomás'', metro M3, ''Népliget station'', tram 1 and 1A).  Buses from abroad and most of Western Hungarian destinations arrive (and depart) here. Fairly modern station with reliable facilities. Do not forget to check in if you travel abroad.
+
* '''Etele tér Bus Station''' (''Etele téri autóbuszállomás'', bus 7E fast, 173E). A newly built station next to Kelenföld Railway Station, at the future terminus of metro line 4, useful for getting to Statue Park and some suburban destinations.
  
* '''Stadion Bus Station''' (''Stadion autóbuszállomás'', formerly known as ''Népstadion autóbuszállomás'', metro M2 ''Stadionok station'', tram 1 and 1A). The biggest hub for Eastern Hungarian destinations, quite modern but somewhat dirty, station built underground.
+
International bus routes are operated by '''Eurolines''' ''+36-1'' 318-2122 [http://www.volanbusz.hu/en/#indexmainpage]. Although most connections are not as frequent as before the low-fare airlines revolution, they still run two or three times a week; from Austria and Slovakia daily. '''Orangeways''' [http://www.orangeways.com/en] ''36-30'' 830-9696, a low fare bus company offers cheap tickets from and to [[Austria]], [[Czech Republic]], [[Croatia]], [[Germany]], [[Netherlands]], [[Poland]] and [[Slovakia]]. Check timetables on company sites.
  
* '''Árpád Bridge Bus Station''' (''Árpád híd autóbuszállomás'', metro M2 ''Árpád híd station''). A smaller station for some Northern destinations and suburban traffic; use it to and from [[Szentendre]], [[Esztergom]] or [[Visegrád]].
+
Hungary’s national bus network is operated by '''Volán Association''' [http://www.volan.hu/]. If you arrive to Budapest from another Hungarian city, bus is often the best option. About services, discounts, schedules and on-line booking possibilities check [[Hungary#Get_around]].
 
+
* '''Etele tér Bus Station''' (''Etele téri autóbuszállomás'', bus 7 fast, 173 fast). A newly built station next to Kelenföld Railway Station, at the future terminus of metro line 4, intended mostly for agglomeration traffic. It is useful for getting to Statue Park.
+
 
+
Use your common sense and sit only in taxis logoed by bigger companies.
+
 
+
Hungary’s national bus network is operated by 28 state run companies, united in '''Volán Association''' [http://www.volan.hu/]. If you arrive to Budapest from another Hungarian city, bus is often the best option. Connections are frequent, prices are identical to those on non-Intercity trains. Long-distance buses are clean and safe, but often subject to delays. Buy your ticket at the station ticket desk before boarding; if you do not take your bus at a main station, purchase a ticket from the driver. It is a good idea to reserve your tickets for national holidays, Friday and Sunday evenings beforehand. Online booking is available only in Hungarian [http://195.56.180.187/online/index.php].
+
  
 
===By boat===
 
===By boat===

Revision as of 09:41, 18 January 2009

Budapest is a huge city with several district articles containing sightseeing, restaurant, nightlife and accommodation listings — have a look at each of them.
Central Budapest with the Buda Castle

Budapest [1] [2]is the capital city of Hungary. With green filled parks full of charming pleasures, museums that will inspire, and a pulsating nightlife that is on par to its European counterparts, Budapest is one of Europe's most delightful and enjoyable cities.

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, travelers are quickly recognising the appeal of Budapest, with a tourism growth of approximately 20 million visitors per year.

Consisting of two very different cities,Buda on the west bank of the Danube River and Pest on the east bank, Budapest (pronounced "BOO-dah-pesht") offers travelers Viennese romanticism at an affordable price. However, Budapest is unique in its own right. Hungarians are proud of what this ancient capital has to offer and its contributions to European culture, especially in the field of music, a 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 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 1872 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 up to 40% of Budapest's Jewish community were murdered during the Holocaust. A total of 400 000 Jews in the area were murdered by the Nazis and their Nyilas sympathizers. One man noted in history was Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish humanitarian sent to Hungary under a diplomatic cover, who tried to make a difference by distributing Swedish passports to as many Jews as possible.

After the war, the city recovered and became a showcase for the more pragmatic policies of Hungary's hard- line Communist government. It was, however, site of the 1956 Hungarian uprising against unpopular policies such as collectivisation. The revolution against communist rule only ended when the Soviets sent in the tanks as they felt Hungary slipping out of their influence and control. Today's Budapest is by far the wealthiest and most cosmopolitan city in Hungary and is 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.

Official Tourism Information

  • Tourism Office of Budapest [3], 1056 Budapest, Március 15. tér 7., tel: +36 1 438-8080.

Quality of life

Homelessness is a big problem in Budapest. People who are homeless are commonly seen in the inner city metro stations and sleeping in doorways in both Buda and Pest.

Get in

Budapest Opera

By plane

Budapest (Ferihegy) International Airport IATA: BUD [4], Ferihegyi Nemzetközi Repülőtér; (pronounced "Ferry-hedge") is the country's largest airport, located about 16 km (10 miles) southeast of the city center. Ferihegy has two terminals, Terminal 1 and Terminal 2, often called Ferihegy-1 and Ferihegy-2, respectively. Terminal 2 is the hub of the Hungarian national carrier, Malév [5].

The airport’s central telephone number for information is: +36-1 296-9696 or on +36-1 296-7000. Luggage services can be contacted on +361 296-5449 in connection with flights into and out Terminal 1 and +36-1 296-5965 for Terminal 2.

Terminals

  • The small, renovated Terminal 1 (gates 1-10; opened in 1950) is used by low-cost airlines (such as EasyJet and RyanAir) both from Schengen and Non-Schengen destinations.
  • The more spacious Terminal 2 (opened in 1985) is divided in two: Terminal 2A (gates 20-30) serves all Schengen Area destinations. Terminal 2B (gates 11-19) serves all Non-Schengen Area destinations.

It is wise to double-check your arrival and departure terminal: while Terminal 2A is within a short walking distance from 2B, the distance between Terminal 1 and 2 is quite sizable - the trip takes 6-8 minutes by car or 12 minutes by bus.

Duty free stores are operated by Travel Value [6]. Customs authorities in German airports may not allow you to bring duty-free items purchased at the airport in Budapest through Germany. On Terminal 2, among dedicated brand shops, there are only Hugo Boss and Swarowski. The traditional alcohol-tobacco-sweets assortment shop has a decent choice of local wines, mainly by Gundel. Several cafés also serve travellers, there are Caffè Ritazza [7] eateries on Terminal 2A. One is in a pre-checkin area; another is in the boarding area, after passport control. Terminal 2B pre-boarding area has half a dozen of cafes.

Connections

The Hungarian national flag carrir is MALÉV [8]. Budapest is connected with the major European cities and some countries of the Middle East, Asia and North Africa by direct flights. The scheduled service between Budapest and the US is operated by Delta Air Lines.

As of 2009, the following discount airlines operate to and from Budapest (using Terminal 1 unless otherwise stated):

  • Air Berlin [9] (from Germany) - Terminal 2A;
  • Clickair [10] (from Spain);
  • EasyJet [11] (from France, Germany, Great Britain and Switzerland);
  • Germanwings [12] (from Germany);
  • Jet2 [13] (from Great Britain);
  • Norwegian Air Shuttle [14] (from Norway);
  • RyanAir [15] (from Germany, Great Britain and Ireland);
  • SmartWings [16] (from Czech Republic and Spain) - Terminal 2A;
  • WizzAir [17] (from Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Spain and Sweden).

In winter (Dec-Mar) Malév's Budapest Winter Invitation [18], offers discounted fares for international flights to Budapest, and its 45 partner hotels provide 4 nights accommodation for the price of 3.

Airport transfer

  • Taxi. Zóna Taxi [19] +36-1 365-5555 has the right to take passengers from Ferihegy airport. According to your destination, a trip to Budapest costs between HUF 3900-5700 (EUR 17-27) - the fare is slightly more expensive if paid in Euros. Queue at the taxi stand to receive a written quote for your fare, then pay it when you arrive at your destination - this system is designed to eliminate unjustified price hikes. IMPORTANT: unless you have pre-ordered a taxi from a different company, do not accept offers from taxi drivers waiting in the terminal or near the terminal entrances. This is for your own safety.
  • Minibus service. If you travel alone, consider the Airport Minibus service [20], a shared taxi operation that collects passengers going in the same direction and will take you to or from anywhere in Budapest for HUF 2300 per person, HUF 3900 for a round trip. Join the queue at the airport and you will be on your way in 15 minutes. For the trip back, call the center +36-1 296-8555 (at least 24 hours beforehand) and Airport Minibus will pick you up.
  • Bus. From either Terminal 1 or Terminal 2, Bus 200E takes you to to Kőbánya-Kispest metro 3 station. Buses stop outside the airport terminals. The journey to the metro station takes approximately 26-30 minutes from Terminal 2 or 15-17 minutes from Terminal 1. Buses run every 8-20 minutes from 05am to midnight. There is no night bus service between the airport and the city, but the last four departures of bus 200E are connected to the night buses 914 and 950 which replace the metro. Bus tickets are available in airport terminals for HUF 290, or HUF 400 if you purchase directly from the bus driver.
  • Railway. If your flight lands at Terminal 1, there is a quick train service from the nearby Ferihegy railway station to Nyugati station in the centre of Budapest (on the Pest side). Tickets can be purchased from the information kiosks in the airport. The train is not an option for travellers who land at Terminal 2, due to the distances between the terminals. The fare costs HUF 300, and ensure you purchase it before you get on the train, as a ticket bought from a conductor on board carries a sucharge of HUF 2,000. Trains run two or three times an hour from 04:00 to 00:00 and in the other direction from 03:00 to 00:30. Budapest public transport tickets are NOT valid on this train. For timetable information, check the Hungarian Railways website [21]. Use the words "Ferihegy" for the airport and "Nyugati" for the city center. The journey takes about 25 minutes, however, delays may occur and buying a ticket at Nyugati station can be time consuming in peak hours.

By train

Budapest has direct rail connection with Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine and various Hungarian cities.

The main railway stations (pályaudvar) are Keleti pályaudvar (Eastern Railway Station), Déli pályaudvar (Southern Railway Station) and Nyugati pályaudvar (Western Railway Station). The stations are not named for their geographic location in the city, nor for the direction of the destinations served by each (trains to Vienna, for example, leave from Keleti). The stations are well connected to each other and to the rest of the city. Keleti and Déli Railway Stations are located on Metro 2, Nyugati Railway Station is on Metro 3. A transfer should not take more than 15 minutes at peak hours; slightly more on weekends and evenings. Depending on where you are coming from, some outer stations can be useful to you; trains arriving from Vienna, Bratislava, the lake Balaton or other western locations stop at Budapest Kelenföld station, which is a good public transport hub for Southern Buda. Trains arriving from Romania, Ukraine and Eastern Hungarian cities regularly stop at Kőbánya-Kispest station, a good place to get to Eastern Budapest or to Ferihegy Airport.

Train stations in Budapest are not up to Western quality standards; they are hard to access for people with disabilities and their facilities are very limited. Be prepared for long queues at the ticket office; English is rarely spoken. Do not expect luggage trolleys or clean toilets. Food or a coffee purchased at the stations is unlikely to give you a gastronomic buzz; it is also difficult to find a good nearby cafe if you didn't research in advance. If using taxi on your way from the station, do not accept any offer from drivers waiting around the station entrance. For further information read also Budapest#Stay_safe section.

Hungary’s rail system is operated almost entirely by the Hungarian State Railways [22] (Magyar Államvasutak, MÁV). About services, discounts, schedules and on-line booking check Hungary#Get_around.

By bus

Budapest’s long distance bus stations are located outside the city centre, but are very well connected to the rest of the city. Main stations are:

  • Népliget Bus station (Népliget autóbuszállomás, metro 3, Népliget station). Buses from abroad and most of Western Hungarian destinations arrive (and depart) here. Fairly modern station with reliable facilities. Do not forget to check in if you travel abroad.
  • Stadion Bus Station (Stadion autóbuszállomás, formerly known as Népstadion autóbuszállomás, metro 2 Stadionok station). The biggest hub for Eastern Hungarian destinations, quite modern but somewhat dirty station built underground.
  • Árpád Bridge Bus Station (Árpád híd autóbuszállomás, metro 2 Árpád híd station). A smaller station for some Northern destinations and suburban traffic; use it to and from Szentendre, Esztergom or Visegrád.
  • Etele tér Bus Station (Etele téri autóbuszállomás, bus 7E fast, 173E). A newly built station next to Kelenföld Railway Station, at the future terminus of metro line 4, useful for getting to Statue Park and some suburban destinations.

International bus routes are operated by Eurolines +36-1 318-2122 [23]. Although most connections are not as frequent as before the low-fare airlines revolution, they still run two or three times a week; from Austria and Slovakia daily. Orangeways [24] 36-30 830-9696, a low fare bus company offers cheap tickets from and to Austria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Germany, Netherlands, Poland and Slovakia. Check timetables on company sites.

Hungary’s national bus network is operated by Volán Association [25]. If you arrive to Budapest from another Hungarian city, bus is often the best option. About services, discounts, schedules and on-line booking possibilities check Hungary#Get_around.

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, +36-1 484-4000, [26].

Get around

Orientation

The Chain Bridge and a view of Pest

Orientation is not a big problem in Budapest. River Danube splits the city in two areas: Buda and Pest. Aside from the very center, the city's structure is quite logical. Landmarks in Buda as the Royal Castle or Citadella Castle also help you to find your way. Besides the Danube 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 lánchíd), Completed in 1849, the oldest, arguably most beautiful and certainly the most photographed of Budapest's bridges, floodlit at night.
  • Elisabeth Bridge (Erzsébet híd), Completed in 1903. Its original chain structure was destroyed in World War II, and was eventually substituted by a modern cable bridge opened in 1964.
  • Liberty Bridge (Szabadság híd), Elegant but simple, opened in 1896; it connects the Gellért Baths (Gellért fürdő) in Buda with the Great Market Hall (Nagyvásárcsarnok) in Pest. Currently under renovation.
  • Petőfi Bridge (Petőfi híd), For a long time the southernmost bridge, it links the inner ring road (Nagykörút) 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.

On foot

Many of Budapest's highlights are easy to approach walking, and in the center you find more pedestrian zones from year to year. Car drivers tend to respect pedestrians and often give advantage on a cross-walk even if there is no traffic light. Due to the lack of bike lanes, cyclists have to weave around pedestrian traffic; be prepared. Don't wear high-heeled shoes in the downtown as there are lots of stone pavements, especially in the Castle Hill.

Public transport

You'll find several points of interest within walking distance, but Budapest is a sizable city, so unless you drive your own car, you will inevitably use some form of public transportation. The good news is that the urban area is well covered by three metro lines, blue urban buses, yellow trams and red trolley-buses, and the whole system is easy to understand. The bad news is that the schedules are less than reliable, vehicles are not always clean, and tickets have become increasingly expensive.

Public transportation in Budapest is run by Budapest Transport Limited Company (BKV) [27], which has a useful English-language site including current schedules and fares. Vehicles run from around 5am to 11.30pm. After that an extensive night bus network is available.

Metro 4 – Favourite Worst Nightmare
When the government decided in the early 70's that a new metro line should connect South Buda with Central Pest by 1978, no-one thought that it would become a synonym for incompetence and perpetual lack of money. Everything had been at a standstill until 2007, when works finally began after endless political debates. Is now everybody happy? Of course not. The Metro 4 construction is widely criticised for its high cost and supposedly failed and obsolete trace. Officials say it won't be completed by the official deadline (2010), and construction keeps the city paralysed, which is locals' favourite conversation theme for now.


If you only visit Budapest for a few days as a tourist, you may find the following lines particularly useful:

  • Metro 1, 2, 3 connect the suburbs with the biggest transport hubs, numerous touristic highlights and central hotels.
  • Tram 2 runs along the river Danube on Pest side (currently split in three sections due to the construction of metro 4.
  • Tram 4, 6 follow Nagykörút, Pest's inner ring road.
  • Bus 7, 73 both connect Keleti railway station with the city center and many points of interest in Buda and Pest.
  • Bus 16, 110 go to Buda castle.
  • Bus 105 connect Hősök tere (Hero's Square), goes up and down Andrássy boulevard to Deák square/Erzsébet square before it goes across the Chain Bridge to Buda and ends near Déli pályaudvar. (Southern railway station)
  • Bus 200 serves the airport.

If you stay longer, it's worth to buy a public transportation map at any BKV ticket office.

Tickets and passes

If you intend to travel a lot (and you probably will), travel cards are far less expensive than single tickets. Pay attention to the exceptional ticketing system: you should use a new ticket when transferring to another line, or revalidate a transfer-ticket. In 2008 most useful tickets and travel cards for tourists include the following:

Single ticket, valid for one journey
  • Single ticket (vonaljegy): Valid for only one journey, transfer not allowed. HUF 270. HUF 350 if purchased from the driver (available on designated lines). HUF 350 ticket for night journey. Tickets including transfers or limited to a number of stops are available too.
  • 10-trips travel card: 2600 HUF
  • One-day travel card (napijegy): Valid on the day when purchased. HUF 1550.
  • Three-day travel card (háromnapos turistajegy): Valid on the day when purchased and on the following two days. HUF 3400.
  • Seven-day travel card : Valid on the day when purchased and on the following six days. HUF 4000.
  • Fourteen-day pass (kétheti bérlet): Valid for 14 consecutive days, with a photo pass (take a passport size photo to the ticket office). HUF 5300.
  • Thirty-day pass (havi bérlet): Valid for 30 consecutive days, with a photo pass (take a passport size photo to the ticket office). HUF 8250.
  • Monthly pass for students : Valid for 30 consecutive days, with a student ID, e.g. ISIC. HUF 3250.
  • Budapest card (Budapest kártya) [28] allows you unlimited free travel in the city, and also gives you discounts at museums and restaurants. Two-day card HUF 6500, three-day card HUF 8000.

You may run into ticket inspectors any time, everywhere – even on night buses. They have a notoriously bad reputation (supposedly being rude and cruel), as they impose a fine on everybody travelling without a valid ticket or travel card (no mercy - any plea of ignorance will go unheard). Rarely speaking English, they pick tourist from the mass. If you get caught, you may choose to pay the fine on the spot (HUF 6000) or later by mail (HUF 12,000 if paid within 30 days). Paying-on-the-spot would reportedly only go to the private purses and wallets of the inspectors. Can't stress this enough: have a pass/ticket on you at all times and do try not to let the inspectors take it out of your hands.

Metro

The rebuilt Moszkva tér metro 2 station

Budapest's underground network is an excellent way to get around, it connects the suburbs with railway and autobus stations, several centrally located hotels, museums and sights. The system consists of three lines, crossing at Deák tér station (Deák square, in Pest center).

  • Metro 1 (yellow line)connects Mexikói út (Mexikói road, a transport hub in Central-Northeast Budapest) with Vörösmarty tér (Vörösmarty square in Pest's commercial and touristy center), and also passes the Opera and Hősök tere (Heroes' square). It was built to commemorate the 1000th year of Hungarian nationhood in 1896 (thus often called Millennium Subway). It was the first underground built in the Continental Europe and second in the world after London. Although the vehicles are not original, the beautifully rebuilt, tile covered stations are a gorgeous historical memory of Budapest's richest period (1880-1910).
  • Metro 2 (red line) connects Déli pályaudvar (Southern Railway Station, in Central Buda) with Örs vezér tere (Örs vezér square, the biggest transport hub of Eastern Pest), and also takes you to Moszkva tér (Moszkva square, Buda's biggest transport hub), Kossuth tér (Kossuth square, around the Parliament in Pest center) and Keleti Pályaudvar (Keleti Railway Station, in Pest). Although the construction started in the 50's, the line was only opened between 1970 and 1972. Having been completely rebuilt since 2004, its stations seem brand new, but trains are still the old, Soviet-style ones.
  • Metro 3 (blue line) goes from Újpest-Központ (residential area in Pest's Northern suburbs) to Kőbánya-Kispest (transport hub in Central-Eastern Pest, terminus of bus 200 to the airport), passing Nyugati Pályaudvar (Western Railway Station) and different stations in central Pest. Opened between 1976 and 1990.

All the metro lines are well represented on maps scattered on platforms.

Tram

In 2006 the world's longest trams started their service on lines 4 and 6

Budapest's 25 tram lines are a tourist-friendly way of getting around. They are slower, but more scenic than the subway and particularly useful on the nearly subway-less Buda side of the river. Be careful about doors, they open on different side of the tram on different stops.

Particularly useful lines for tourists are:

  • Tram 4 and 6 both run along Nagykörút, Pest's inner ring road, providing access to all three metro lines at multiple stations, and crossing over to Buda on Margaret Bridge (Margit híd) – another beautiful view. Although technically two lines, 4 and 6 only diverge for their last two stops that the tourist is unlikely to visit.
  • The two lines running along the Danube river (19 in Buda and 2 in Pest) are considered a part of the cityscape. Both offer beautiful view of the opposite side, but note that line 2 is currently split into three different sections (two trams and one bus) due to construction of metro 4.

Bus

Blue urban bus in Buda

Budapest has a dense bus network, which also connects the agglomeration and suburban zones with several metro and train stations and the city center. Regular services have black numbering, while rapid or express services have red numbering: it means that 7 stops more frequently than 7 E (Express) does. Besides, the itinerary of a black and a red service with the same number could be slightly different. And if we add that black numbering often appear as green on the new digital displays – it seems a total confusion. Don't worry, in a few days you will understand the system, but until then think twice which bus you take.

Particularly useful lines for tourists include:

  • Bus 7, 73, 7 E, 173 E, – all connect Keleti railway station with Blaha Lujza square (Blaha Lujza tér, junction with tram 4, 6), Pest city center and many points of interest in Buda.
  • Bus 16/110 go to Buda Castle from Moszkva square (Moszkva tér).
  • Bus 200 runs to Ferihegy Airport from Kőbánya-Kispest Metro 3 station.

If you aren't using a recently published city map, be aware that some popular lines have been subject to number changes:

  • Bus 10/110 (from Moszkva tér to the Castle District) was Várbusz until June 2007.
  • Bus 200 (from Kőbánya-Kispest M3 station to Ferihegy airport) was Reptér-busz from 2000 to 2006 and 93RED before 2000.

Trolley-bus

There are 13 trolley-bus lines running in Northeast and Central Pest (mainly in the XIV, VI, VII districts). Some of them pass through the City Park (Városliget) and cross Andrássy avenue (Andrássy út), giving you beautiful views while using this eco-friendly mode of transport. Unless you are a trolley buff, you're unlikely to use them frequently, however, Line 70 from Kossuth square (Kossuth tér, next to the Parliament) to City Park (Varosliget) can be useful as it cuts through the city on Nagymező utca. (Budapest's "Broadway")

Suburban rail

Green suburban railway lines (called HÉV) connect central Budapest with several suburbs, but most of them are of little use to visitors. Note that your tickets and travel passes are valid only within the city boundaries, otherwise you should purchase a supplementary ticket (kiegészítő jegy) at a ticket office.

  • Line Batthyány tér–Szentendre goes upriver to the picturesque village of Szentendre. The same train takes you to Sziget Fesztivál [29], Central Europe's biggest summer music festival. It connects at Batthyány tér with metro 2, at Margit híd (Margaret bridge) with tram 4/6.
  • Line Örs vezér tere–Gödöllő takes you to the beautiful royal castle of Gödöllő from Örs vezér tere metro 2 station.

Other

The cogwheel railway at Városmajor terminus

Some other means of public transport can be useful if you get tired of regular buses and trams, or if you want to escape from the hustle and bustle to the lush green hills surrounding Budapest.

  • Cogwheel railway (Fogaskerekű vasút) is a tram-like railway running from Városmajor terminus (two stops from Moszkva tér metro 2 station by tram 59 or 61) to Széchenyi hill (Széchenyi hegy), Buda's popular picnic, excursion and sledging place. BKV tickets and passes are valid.
  • Boat. Budapest currently has only one regular boat service, theoretically running around five times a day from May to September, from Boráros tér (South-Central Pest) to Rómaifürdő (Northern Buda), making 8 intermediate stops. BKV tickets and passes are NOT valid.
  • Buda Castle funicular (Budavári sikló). This handsome, short funicular line takes you from Chain Bridge (Lánchíd) Buda end to Buda Castle. Built in 1870, completely destroyed in World War II, rebuilt only in 1986. BKV tickets and passes are NOT valid. As one might expect, it is relatively expensive and touristy.
  • Széchenyi Hill Children's Railways (Széchenyi-hegyi Gyermekvasút) it's a narrow gauge line, operated partly by children. The 11,2km long line is running on the Buda Hill's, giving a beautiful look at the nature around Budapest. You can reach the endstation "Széchenyi hegy" by the Cogwheel railway or the other one "Hűvösvölgy" by taking the tram or bus number 56 from "Moszkva tér". Before using it, you should take a look at it's home page for the timetable at [30]. BKV tickets and passes are NOT valid.
  • Zugliget Chair-lift (Zugligeti libegő) It's a chair lift, taking you from "Zugliget" to "János hegy". You will have a nice view while traveling. BKV tickets and passes are NOT valid. [31]

Night services

Budapest is covered by 34 night bus lines. Numbers are triple-digit, starting with '9'. Buses run every 15-60 minutes from around 11pm until 4 am. The main linking points of the night bus network are Moszkva square (Moszkva tér) tér in Buda and Astoria (junction of Kossuth Lajos utca–Károly körút) in Pest. Daytime tickets and passes are valid.

Most useful night buses are:

  • 906 – Running along the Nagykörút, Pest's inner ring road, basically as tram 4 and 6 do during the day.
  • 907 – Substitutes daylight bus 7.
  • 914, 950 – In the city center substitute metro 3.

On line map and schedule are available on BKV's home page [[32].

On Friday and Saturday nights ticket inspectors gather around the stops and don't let you hop on the bus without a valid ticket or pass. They also sell tickets for HUF 350.

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 inner ring road (Nagykörút) or on the main avenues like Andrássy út, Váci út, Üllői út or Rákóczi út.

By taxi

Budapest's taxi drivers are not always prepared for English speaking clients, but it does not necessarily mean that they intend to overcharge their foreigner guests – use one of the major taxi companies with English speaking switchboards to avoid problems. All of them have flashy home pages, but currently only City Taxi is available in English. If you wish to call any of the following phone numbers from abroad, use the +36-1 (Hungary-Budapest) code before the numbers.

  • Budataxi, [33] +36-1 233-3333.
  • City Taxi, [34] +36-1 211-1111.
  • Főtaxi, [35] +36-1 222-2222.
  • Taxi 2000, [36]+36-1 200-0000.
  • Tele 5 Taxi, [37] +36-1 555-5555.
  • Zóna Taxi,[38] +36-1 365-5555.
  • 6x6 Taxi, [39] +36-1 266-6666.
  • Budapest Taxi, [40] +36-1 433-3333.
  • Mobil Taxi, [41] +36-1 333-1757.
  • Radio Taxi, [42] +36-1 777-7777.


Do not accept offers from taxi drivers waiting in the airport terminals or railway stations. Use your common sense, sit only in taxis logoed by bigger companies.

By bicycle

Budapest may be one of the most exciting places of Europe, but it's still not a cyclists' paradise. There are bikeways separated from automobile roads in the downtown, but unfortunately often used as car-park or pedestrian zones. Generally, the city is not prepared for cyclists' presence, but situation is slowly changing. Budapest has been home to Europe's biggest cycling demonstration, Critical Mass [43], where in 2008 more than 80 000 people participated.

If you are ready, renting a bike is not a problem, but still not cheap. Expect to pay around HUF 2000-3000 for a day.

Budapest offers a variety of bike rental companies. Some of them are:

  • Budapest Bike, [44] +36-30 944-5533. Rent a bike starting at 2000HUF for 6 hours.
  • Yellow Zebra Bike, [45] +36-1 266-8777. Rent a bike starting at 1500 Ft for 1-5 hours.
  • Bikebase, [46] +36-1 269-5983. Bike rentals available for 8 EUR (2 000 HUF) for 24 hours.

Cyclists are not very patient, so be aware while you are walking, if you hear a shout, be prepared to get out of the way quickly.

See

This section only highlights the most important attractions in the city. See the Buda, Castle Hill and Pest articles for details on each of them, and for listings of local sightseeing.

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

The Danube River and the leafy hills of Buda

The main sights on Castle Hill are:

  • The Royal Palace (Királyi palota). The most popular attraction on the hill. Home to the:
  • National Gallery (Nemzeti Galéria) [47]. Inside the Royal Palace wings B, C and D houses an astounding collection of paintings.
  • The Fisherman's Bastion and lookout terrace (Halászbástya). For impressive views across the Danube to Pest.
  • Matthias 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 [48].
  • The Music Museum. Includes a collection of musical instruments and the Bartok archive.
  • The Military Museum [49].
  • Marzipan Museum.
  • Pharmacy Museum.
  • Museum of Medieval Judaism.

The Danube Bridges (see Orientation above), especially the Chain Bridge (Széchenyi Lánchíd) are really attractive and make it worthy to promenade along the river bank. Lánchíd (pronounced “laance heed”) means chain bridge and the suspension structure of the bridge is made of chains whose links are huge dog-bone shaped metal bars linked by pins at their ends.

You can have a superb glimpse over the bridges from the Citadella on the top of Buda's Gellert Hill (Gellérthegy).

Riding a boat is ideal as you can enjoy both riverbanks at the same time. For romantic views of the city, go at night.

Margaret Island (Margitsziget) and its large parks (see Buda) are 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, and the most impressive in the world. Next to the Synagogue is a small but impressive museum. In the rear of the Synagogue is a memorial for victems of the Shoah. The synagogue was recently restored to its former grandeur. A block away you'll find a smaller, but nearly identical synagogue built long before the Great Synagogue. The plaque in front explains that this was used as some sort of assembly grounds for those persecuted during the Holocaust before they were deported. It has not been renovated, and you can see through the boards on the outside how decrepit it still is. A chilling sight.

Museums in at the city centre:

  • Museum of Ethnography [50].
  • National Museum [51].
  • Museum of Applied Arts [52].
  • Natural History Museum [53] Mainly minerals at display.
  • Ludwig Museum of Modern Art [54].
  • Holocaust Memorial Centre [55].
  • Museum of Transport.
  • Jewish Museum at the main synagogue.
  • Bible Museum.

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) [56]. 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 [57]. Nearby is another similar collection, namely Gyorgy Museum.
  • Ernst Museum [58]. Contemporary Hungarian art.
Heroes' Square
  • The City Park (Városliget) is 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 Millennium Monument.
    • Museum of Fine Arts (Szépművészeti Múzeum) [59] 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. Nowadays it houses an agricultural museum.

On Buda side there are:

  • Aquincum [60] 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. 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.
  • Kassák Museum at the Zichy Castle shows works of the modern Hungarian artists as well as modern Hungarian art.
  • Kiscelli Museum [61] - The Budapest Picture Gallery.
  • Statue Park - Rather than smash the statues of the Communist era, the Hungarians arranged them with a twist of irony in this park to the south of Buda.
  • Victor Vasarely Museum shows many works of the famous Hungarian-born post-modern painter Vásárhelyi Győző (1908-1997).

Music related Museums: Music lovers, beware that all four museums are closed in August.

  • Kodály Museum.
  • Liszt Museum.
  • Bartók's House.
  • The Music Museum. Includes a collection of musical instruments and the Bartok archive.

Additional Museums:

  • Fashion Museum.
  • MEO Budapest's art fair.
  • House of the Future [62].

There are several travel agecies, tour operators offering city tours or walking tours, if you don't have much time, you can use one of them and you can visit the main sights within 3 - 4 hours.

Do

  • Experience an opera at Budapest's spectacular State Opera House or a performance of classical music at any of Budapest's many concert halls. (Beware: you might get a couple of contemptuous looks if you don't dress smart which means a suit/neat dress or at least black trousers and a plain shirt. Hungarians still regard it as essential for going to the opera or even the theatre, though you won't be thrown out if you dress casual)
  • 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. It is a bit cheesy, but would be good for families travelling with children.
  • The Sziget Festival at Obudai Island (=Sziget) [63] 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 120.
  • Walk around and look at the market stands and the entertainment on some of the bridges in the evening.

Performing arts

Hungary has a surprisingly rich theatre scene and, not surprisingly, Budapest is the epicentre of it. Season begins in mid-September and ends in June. Productions range from classic dramas and traditional operas to post-modern performances. There is much to discover around Budapest theatres, even if you don't speak Hungarian; the following venues can be particularly interesting for non-Hungarians. Tickets are bookable about one month beforehand at Interticket [64], the Hungarian theatres' official booking engine for a small (10% + HUF 50) booking fee.

  • Hungarian State Opera House, Magyar Állami Operaház [65], 1061 Andrássy út 22, metro 1 station Opera, tickets HUF 300-10900. One of Europe's architectonically most breathtaking opera house's company performs traditional opera and ballet. The quality of its huge repertoire is not always up to international standards, but if you don't expect too much, you will spend a decent night here. Cheaper tickets offering reduced visibility are a good deal if you don't want to pay HUF 2500 for the official guided tour [66] to the building. The company also performs at Theatre Thália, (Thália Színház 1065 Nagymező u. 22-24, metro 1, tram 4, tram 6 station/stop Oktogon, tickets HUF 2900-4900), [67], while Theatre Erkel, the Opera's chamber theater is closed due to reconstruction.
  • Palace of Arts, Művészetek Palotája [68], 1095 Komor Marcell utca 1, tram 2 stop Millenniumi Kulturális Központ, tickets HUF 700-9800, standing tickets for students are available for HUF 200 one hour before every show, (be sure that your student card is valid, otherwise you won't get in). This modern, power plant-looking building hides an excellent modern art museum, a festival theatre and the marvellous Béla Bartók National Concert Hall (Bartók Béla Nemzeti Hangversenyterem), which offer great concerts from classical, jazz and world music to Hungarian and international pop, special children programmes and the best opera performances in Central Europe. The annual Wagner festival in June is a must. Spectacles are held all around the year. Book your tickets at the Palace of the Arts home page without additional booking fee.
  • Theatre Madách, Madách Színház [69], 1073 Erzsébet körút 29-33, metro 2 station Blaha Lujza tér, tram 4, tram 6 stop Wesselényi utca, tickets HUF 500-8900. If you want to see the Hungarian version of blockbuster musicals like The Phantom of the Opera or Producers, this is your place. Madách is widely popular among musical fans, and some of their recent shows have been critically acclaimed, so book well in advance.
  • Budapest Operetta Theatre, Budapesti Operett Színház [70], 1065 Nagymezõ utca 19, metro 1, tram 4, tram 6 station/stop Oktogon, tickets HUF 950-15000. Grandmothers' eternal favourite, the Operetta Theatre performs old-fashioned operettas for the nostalgic hearted and tries to be Madách's main rival in musicals.
  • Trafó House of Contemporary Arts, Trafó Kortárs Művészetek Háza [71], 1094 Liliom utca 41, metro 3 station Ferenc körút, tram 4, tram 6 stop Üllői út, tickets HUF 1000-2500, 25% discount for student card holders. In a renovated transformer building, Budapest's most important contemporary cultural center presents Hungarian and international experimental dance, theatre and music performances. A disco hall in the cellar and a lively bar upstairs also serve your entertainment.
  • Millenáris [72], 1024 Fény utca 20-22, metro 2 station Moszkva tér, tram 4, tram 6 stop Széna tér, tickets HUF 1000-6000. This huge cultural center, formerly called "Jövő Háza" (House of the Future) has been built around former factory buildings. The complex includes a park, a small artificial lake, cafés, an interactive museum and a theatre which hosts music, theatre and sometimes great contemporary opera performances. You could book your ticket at their home page, but it's available only in Hungarian.
  • Merlin International Theatre, Merlin Nemzetközi Színház [73], 1052 Gerlóczy utca 4, metro 1/2/3 station Deák tér, tickets HUF 600-2000. Merlin, within stone-throwing distance of Váci street, Budapest touristy and commercial heart, is a hub for some Hungarian alternative companies and also for performances in English.
  • National Dance Theatre, Nemzeti Táncszínház [74], 1014 Budapest, Színház utca 1-3, bus 10, bus 16, stop Dísz tér, tickets HUF 1100-3500. The main dance theatre of Hungary hosts a wide range of local and international performances. Although not always revolutionary modern, it's always worth to check the program.
  • Experidance Company [75]. This popular company performs Hungarian popular dances in modern conception.
  • MU Theatre, MU Színház [76], 1117 Kőrösy J. utca 17, tram 4 stop Fehérvári út, tickets HUF 1500, for student card holders HUF 1000. MU, one of the well-known Budapest dance theatres hosts contemporary dance performances.
  • Central European Dance Theater, Közép-Európa Táncszínház [77], 1071 Bethlen Gábor tér 3, metro 2 station Keleti Pályaudvar, tickets HUF 1200, for senior citizen HUF 700, for student card holders HUF 800. CEDT's company performs renowned contemporary dance theatre.
  • Theatre Szkéné, Szkéné Színház, 1111 Műegyetem rakpart 3., Budapest University of Technology and Economics (BME)'s theatre hall, bus 7, bus 73, stop Szent Gellért tér – during the construction of metro 4 station in Szent Gellért tér use temporary stairs next to the river for reaching the building, [78]. Szkéné hosts, among others, Béla Pintér and Company [79] (Pintér Béla és Társulata, tickets HUF 1500), many alternative theater goers' favourite. Their 2006 autumn premier, ”Korcsula” (Korčula – the name refers to a Croatian island), a Central European black commedy, is subtitled in English. Book your ticket by email.

Cinema

Budapest’s cinema life has developed around malls. Since the shopping center revolution in the late 90s, more than two thirds of the city’s cinema screens are run by international chains and franchises. Mainstream cinemas mainly show subtitled Hollywood films and Hungarian romantic movies. For contemporary European and Hungarian titles turn to Budapest’s excellent art house movie chain, Art mozi [80], most of their branches are provided with a café or pub and offer pleasant atmosphere to spend your evening.

  • Most centrally located mall cinemas are Palace Westend [81] in Pest (in Westend City Center, Váci út 1-3, metro 3, tram 4, tram 6 station/stop Nyugati pályaudvar) and Palace Mammut [82] in Buda (in Mammut Center, Lövőház utca 2-6, , metro 2 station Moszkva tér, tram 4, tram 6 stop Széna tér); check Palace’s web site [83] for programme and booking. Tickets cost HUF 1250, for student card holders HUF 990, on cheap days HUF 800.
  • Corvin [84] (Corvin köz 1., metro 3 station Ferenc körút, tram 4, tram 6 stop Üllői út). One of the oldest, although completely modernised cinema in the city--gives multiplex feeling for those tired of malls. On Corvin's wall memorial tablets and reliefs are reminescent of the 1956 revolution’s heavy fightings around the building; the memorial itself is worth a visit. Tickets HUF 1150, before 16.00 HUF 950, on Wednesday HUF 750.
  • Uránia National Movie Theatre [85],(Uránia Nemzeti Filmszínház, Rákóczi út 21, metro 2 station Blaha Lujza tér, tickets HUF 890-990). Combines mainstream European artistic movies with new Hungarian films, the latter ones sporadically subtitled in English.
  • Cinema Puskin(Puskin Mozi, Kossuth Lajos utca 18, metro 2 station Astoria, metro 3 station Ferenciek tere, tickets HUF 800-1050). “Pushkin” is the most mainstream among the art house movie theatres in Budapest, an elegant, decorated multiplex offering quality, but generally easy-to-watch Hungarian and foreign films. Its café is recommended.
  • Cinema Művész (Művész Mozi, 1063 Teréz körút 30, metro 1, tram 4, tram 6 station/stop Oktogon, tickets HUF 920-1050) is probably the most popular “Art Mozi” theatre in Budapest. Many Hungarian movies are on show with English subtitles; ask for them at the desk.
  • Movie Museum Örökmozgó (Örökmozgó Filmmúzeum, 1073 Erzsébet krt. 39, tram 4, tram 6, stop Király utca). “Perpetual motion” (that’s what the name means) is your best choice if you’re in mood to see a movie from the times when Leonardo DiCaprio was a child. Most of the oldies speak their original language and are subtitled in Hungarian.

Baths

Budapest is a famous spa city, so go "bathing". The baths are really the last vestige of Turkish culture in Budapest, left over from their occupation of the city. Budapest does not have a large Turkish culture the way a city like Berlin or Munich does; instead the Hungarians have modified and molded this tradition into something of their own.

All baths are built around hot springs, and their central part is one or several thermal pools. They are usually complimented with several steam baths, saunas, massage services and other therapies including drinking cures.

Tourist mix: After locals, Russians seem to be most frequent in Budapest's baths; Italians and Americans come next (and for many Americans, baths are the main reason for visiting Budapest).

Traditional public baths

Traditional public baths (like Gellért, Széchényi) have quite a complicated navigation and Soviet-time service and admission system, but it's worth going through to experience authentic bathing with locals around you. At the cash desk at the entrance, you are expected to select treatments / areas to access in advance. Time to spend in baths is not restricted, but if you're finished earlier, some part of your payment may be returned. The only thing that can't be paid at the entrance is rental of towels and bathrobe (and/or deposit for it)--it should be paid inside, right where they are given (with the exception of Gellért - towels, etc are paid for at the entrance). There are two types of place to change clothes: a common room with lockers is cheaper (male/female-separate, of course); cabins can be used by families and may differ in size (2 or 3 persons). For cabins, you're handed a token with a number, which is also written on a chalkboard inside as a security code; you need to remember cabin number. To open your cabin, show your cabin and a token to attendant, and s/he'll check it against the number inside. In swimming pools, swimming caps are recommended (and are available for rent), although this is not always strictly enforced.

Gellert Bath
  • Gellért Baths, Buda, Kelenhegyi utca 4 (Gellért Hotel at the base of Gellért Hill), (36-1) 466-6166, [86]. 6.00am-7.00pm weekdays; 6.00am-5.00pm on Sat and Sun (between Apr 30 and Sept 30).. While the Kiraly baths may be a more authentic Turkish bath experience, those at the Gellért can't be beat for style--and they are equally popular among locals and tourists. This is probably the finest Art Nouveau pool in Europe, and the baths are beautiful as well as relaxing. The entrance fees and deposits can be quite confusing, as well as where to go and how to get around once you get in. Ask the information desk to clarify if you're not sure about how to proceed.
  • Prices: The full entrance price to both the swimming pool and the man and woman thermal facilities is 3100 HUF (approx €13), which also includes a cabin rental, where you can change clothes.
  • If you leave within 2 hours, 400 HUF (approx €1.5) will be refunded, if you leave within 2-3 hours, 200 HUF (approx €0.75) will be refunded.
  • If you rent a towel or a bathrobe, you are charged a deposit as well as a fee for the rental. You get the deposit back at the front desk when you leave, upon presenting the original receipt ticket you received when paying upon entrance. You'll need to get your receipt ticket back from the attendants inside when you return your item, otherwise you forfeit your deposit. Unfortunately, the managers are quite unforgiving in this matter and won't believe you if you try to collect your deposit without your item or a receipt. Consequently, its recommended that you bring your own towel or bathrobe, as the rental "towels" are more like bedsheets.
  • The massage therapists mean business. Prices: from 2500 HUF (approx €10) for Refreshing, 15 min. to 3800 HUF (approx €15) for Powder, 30 min.
  • Changing: Besides individual lockers and family cabins, there's some number of single-person changing rooms in both men-only and women-only area.
  • Indoors: Common area for men and women has only a 50m(?) swimming pool and a soaking pool with massage bubbles, both with 36..38°C water. Using swimming caps in the swimming pool is prescribed by signs, but not enforced at all. There are separate Turkish-style thermal baths for men and women, which encompass several different areas: two soaking pools (one with 36°C, another with 38°C), the showers, the dry sauna and Turkish steam bath, and the cold pool (designed to scare the living daylights out of one's body after it's been happily lounging in the warmth).
  • Outdoors: A large open-air complex of pools (open only in summer time).
  • Special Note: For the separate male/female baths, if you are uncomfortable sitting in a giant tub of water with other naked people of the same sex, this will not be your scene. You will notice tourists unfamiliar with this environment are a bit taken aback when they first encounter this, and either leave immediately or simply adapt to local culture.


Inside Szechenyi bath
  • Széchényi Spa (Széchenyi Fürdő), Pest, Állatkerti krt. 11 (right next to the Zoo; metro: Széchenyi fürdő, M1 yellow line), [87]. Indoor part open daily from 6am to 7pm; outdoor 6-10pm in winter; summer-time hours may be different.. Built in 1909 in the present-day City Park, this is the largest spa in Europe.
  • Prices: 2.600 HUF entrance fee, includes rental of a locker (locked by a key) or 3.000 HUF entrance fee, includes rental of a changing cabin (locked by a key). 700 HUF refund for leaving within 2 hours.
  • There's a number of free safe boxes available - they can fit a notebook bag or attache case, but hardly a notebook backpack. Do not confuse the safe-boxes with the lock-boxes, both in the central corridor between men and women's changing rooms.
  • Its recommended that you bring your own towel or bathrobe, as the towels available for rent are more like bedsheets.
  • Outdoors: Two hot soaking pools and one swimming pool are all open-air (even in winter), and form the center of the baths. All facilities are shared by men and women (except shower and toilets, of course). There's a swimming tube (a whirling corridor): round- (outdoors) or rectangle-shaped (indoors) pool with artificial flow, a feature difficult to find elsewhere. Another specialty is a tradition to play chess while sitting in the water - even in winter. One or two cafes/juice bars are available directly from the swimming deck, near the cabins, year-round.
  • Indoors: Several saunas, one steam bath. Cold-water pool, hot tubs, aqua-gym pool with weights. Northern part of indoors baths is more modern and clean.

Modern baths

There are also very modern baths (like Danubius Grand Thermal Hotel) which are usually called spas, although their central component are thermal pool and multitude of steam baths/saunas, which is not always typical for spas in the rest of the world.

  • Danubius Grand Hotel/Thermal Hotel Margitsziget, (northern end of the Margaret Island (Margitsziget)), +36(1)889-4700 (, fax: +36(1)889-4939), [88]. until 9:30pm. . High-level and modern baths and spa also offers a great choice of medical treatment. Admission fee (5700ft weekdays, 7000ft weekends) doesn't limit your time inside, and gives access to all spa facilities including a great gym (remember to bring your fitness suit). Solarium and medical treatments should be paid separately, remember before entering the changing rooms (1300ft for 10min).
  • What's inside?: Two body-temperature soaking pools and a cold-water corridor with stones on the floor; one swimming pool; separate steam baths; common sauna. There's a drinking fountain with mineral water extremely rich in minerals--find on a way from baths to the gym.
  • Changing: Towels are handed at reception--without fee or deposit. Also, there seems to be bathrobes available for rent--ask at the reception. For changing clothes, only lockers are available, without attendant--you have a key. There's no cabins (as families typically live in the same hotel). Every shower cabin have a curtain, and there's some liquid soap available.
  • Visitors mix: Almost no locals; in New Year season (and 1-9 of May?) about 80% are Russians who are also residents of the hotel.
  • Corinthia Grand Hotel Royal Spa, Erzsébet körút 43-49, +36(1)479-4000 (, fax: +36(1)479-4333), [89]. A symbol of history, culture, architecture and the tradition of hospitality opens its doors in all its original splendour. The Royal Spa has been beautifully restored to its original splendour and now offers the latest state-of-the-art spa facilities and treatments. The Royal Spa is one of the most expensive in Budapest costing 10,000ft for a day pass. It is a spectacle of opulence and luxury in the amazing art deco setting. Included in the price is bath robe, towels, lockers, hydromassage, fruit juices and water. Although expensive it is a truly unforgettable experience .

Others

  • Király Baths. Buda, Fő utca 84 (metro: Batthyány tér). Old, authentic and pretty small; personnel speak limited English. The baths alternate between male- and female-only days. Best to check first. Király Baths have been known for some years as a meeting place for gay men. Following an expose on Hungarian tv, the management introduced a rule that swimwear has to be worn in the baths and staff will ask you if you have brought your swimsuit. Despite this, some gay activity may be visible.
The baths have a main pool with adjoning very small pools, steam room and dry sauna. The emphasis is more on relaxing and enjoying the waters rather than swimming.
  • The Palatinus Outdoor Baths, on the Margaret Island (Margitsziget), have three pools filled with therapeutic water--and a total of 11 pools (totalling 17.5 acres). In front of the baths is a beautiful rose garden, and nearby, an open-air stage where opera and ballet performances are held, plus an open-air cinema used during the summer.
  • Rudas, in Buda. Provides an authentic Turkish feel with its 16th century dome. While it was a men-only bath, it now allows access to men and women. It is much more authentic than Gellert or Szechenyi. Like Király, the baths have a main pool with adjoining small pools, steam room and dry sauna. Rudas has more small pools than Király and seems in better condition (renovated in 2007). There are two parts of the bath - the Turkish relaxation bath and a swimming hall. Both charge an entrance fee (as of February 2008): 2.200 HUF for the Turkish bath, 1.500 HUF for the swimming hall. Both can be booked for 3.300. Bring a towel and your swimwear and you are set. You can however rent a towel.
Massages are offered as oil or soap&water versions. 15 min. cost 2.500 HUF, 30 min. 3.500. Be aware that this type of massage has nothing to do with the relaxing Asian variants. Parts of Schwarzenegger movie Red Heat was shot here.
  • Dagály is a large complex of baths and pools located just north of Arpad Hid Metro station on the Pest side and directly on the Danube. There is an outdoor 50m lap pool open year round and a covered-in-winter 25m lap pool. There are 2 large outdoor hot baths. One heated to 33C and the other to 36C. In summer, several huge pools are also available and plenty of open grass and trees for sunbathing or shade. The architecture is classic modern. Admission is about 1300 forints. One changes clothes in a small cubicle before passing through to the large unisex locker room where attendants lock your clothes in a locker. Tip 100 forints on your way out. Be sure to bring some bath sandals to wear to the pool edge. The floors are not always clean. One sees lots of families here, elderly people and fitness swimmers. Staff do not speak English, but is helpful and patient.

Learn

  • Central European University [90] offers a small undergraduate program and an extensive graduate program in a wide variety of subjects.
  • International Business School] (Nemzetközi Üzleti Főiskola, IBS-NÜF) [91] offers numerous undergrad and postgrad programs, mostly providing Oxford Brookes University and Hungarian Degrees in English and/or Hungarian languages.
  • Budapest University of Technology and Economics [92], B.Sc. and M.Sc. Offers engineering courses available for foreigners in English, French and German language at the International Education Center of the university.
  • Eötvös Loránd University [93]. 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 [94]. World-famous music academy in the heart of the city.
  • Debrecen Language School [95] offers Hungarian language classes year round at all levels in Budapest, Debrecen and Sopron.
  • Corvinus University of Budapest [96] also known as Közgáz: Offers Bachelor and Master courses in many languages.

Work

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

Generally speaking, finding a full-time job is fairly difficult unless you speak Hungarian. You should also be prepared that Western standards at job interviews regarding personal life and diversity issues do not always apply. Do not be surprised if you are asked about your smoking habits. Also, companies are not always prepared to fully understand and accept people from diverse backgrounds.

Buy

Paprika and more, Great Market Hall
A Chocolate shop in Budapest

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.

You definitely want to visit the Great Market Hall (Nagy Vásárcsarnok) at Fővám tér the recently renovated markethall with essential atmosphere (it's at the south end of Vaci). Prices for the same items vary a lot between sellers and aren't set in stone so be sure to compare and bargain.

Non-speciality shopping

Also, chain stores can be found along the Váci utca (C&A, H&M, Clinique, Estee Lauder, New Yorker, etc).

The "Plazas" are usually good for buying clothes, but prices may vary wildly even in shops next to each other. For international clothing shop chains, check out like Mango or Zara. For electronics, the cheap supermarkets like Electro World and Media Markt are good targets, but the quality is on par with the prices.

Absinthe is available for purchase at common liquor stores, a must-have purchase for the European traveler. Many brands available in the Market Hall and liquor stores are of poor quality (or not even "real" Absinthe).

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.

Remember, though, that "goulash soup" is indeed a soup, not the "goulash" that visitors may be familiar with. To order that, you want "pörkölt".

See the Buda, Castle Hill and Pest articles for detailed listings of restaurants and cafes.

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.

Restaurants

Budapest has many great places to eat, but an unfortunate number of tourist traps as well. Avoid restaurants in touristy areas like Váci utca, especially if the customers are all foreigners, or you'll more likely than not be served mediocre food with an exorbitant bill padded with all sorts of bizarre charges. In other restaurants too, note that anything you don't explicitly ask for, but appears on your table anyway, is likely to be charged for.

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).

Chains

Only cross-district chains are listed here; see district articles for individual restaurants.

  • Wasabi [97]. Excellent Japanese and Korean food. Lunch 3790ft (11AM-5PM weekdays).
  • Pest. Podmaniczky ut 21 (close to Nyugati station) 11:30am-11pm weekdays.
  • Buda. Szépvölgyi ut 15 (train station Szépvölgyi ut) 11am-11pm.
  • Trófea Grill [98]. The best among all-you-can-eat. Best to book a table in advance. Has 4 locations:
  • near Nyugati Train Station (Visegrádi u. 5)
  • at the final station of Metro line 1 (Erzsébet királyné út 5)
  • downtown by Margaret Bridge (Margit körút 2)
  • in the XIth district (Hauszmann Alajos / Szerémi út).
  • Leroy Cafe, Pest (5 locations), Buda (3 locations). Mid to high-priced restaurant chain that offers Hungarian classics with other Italian and European cuisine. Very fashionable interiors and popular with the well-paid white collar crowd. Reservations are recommended during traditional peak times.

Grocery Stores

There are hypermarkets like "Auchan", "Tesco" [99], "Cora" where the food is cheap, and they offer an usually wide range of goods (If you want to take some paprika or sausage home as a souvenir, buy it here--it's much cheaper). Around the downtown areas, you will find smaller grocery chains such as GRoby, Spar, Plus and CBA.

Kosher

Hanna's Kosher Kitchen Features classic Hungarian food, but Kosher. VII., Dob utca 35. Tel.:+361 342-1072.

Kinor David VII. Dohany utca (next to the big Dohány Temple) Tel. (+361) 413-7304 or 5.

Salamon glatt kosher restaurant (Next to King's Hotel)1072 Budapest, VII. Nagydiófa u. 27 Tel: (++36-1) 413-1487, 413-1488 Cell: (++36-30) 743-6938, (++36-20) 966-6160.


Others

Halal food is uncommon in Budapest, as are kebabs: although they are becoming popular, they are still not often on sale. You can buy gyros instead, which are very similar, but of Greek origin.In fact Gyro name is coming from Turkish Döner, which was on the market for more than 35 years.

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, Castle Hill and Pest articles for detailed nightlife listings.

Be sure to try Traubi Szoda and Marka. These are unique Hungarian soft drinks available only in Hungary. Traubi is a white grape soda and Marka is a sour cherry soda.

Sleep

Budapest offers a wide range of accommodation in all price classes from the small cheap pension to the luxurious 5-star hotels, although the costs of staying here are notably higher than elsewhere in Hungary.

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.

The most expensive digs are on or near Castle Hill, while backpacker hostels are mostly across the river in the suburbs of Pest. However, Buda has better air quality due to the closeness of the hills and the forests lying to the west from the city.

Apartments may be a cheap alternative for those making extended stays.


Contact

Mobile phones work in the metro, even in tunnels between stations.

Some phone booths take coins (including euro coins), but others only take pre-paid cards. The posted number for credit card calls will lead to unexpectedly high charges (40USD for a one minute call to the US) and is to be avoided. Unfortunately, you cannot trust T-mobile to charge reasonable prices on their pay phones.

There are many internet cafes throughout the city. Prices usually average 100Ft/half hour. In addition, many popular bars and cafes in Budapest offer free wi-fi access.

Wifi Networks

  • T-Com Hotspot, [100]. 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, [101]. 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 [102]) 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

Váci utca – dos and don'ts
This narrow street begins at Fővám square (Fővám tér) in front of Central Market (Nagyvásárcsarnok) and ends at Vörösmarty square (Vörösmarty tér). Supposedly being one of the main touristic attractions of the city, Váci street is visited by all the tourists arriving to Budapest. Enjoy this lively place, shop in its fashion stores, buy Hungarian and foreign literature in its great bookshop, eat in the American fast food restaurants if you intend to, but avoid being victimized by its many tourist traps and scams:

  • Avoid its eateries and bars, mainly between Vörösmarty sq and Elisabeth Bridge (Erzsébet híd). Most of them offer mediocre food at exorbitant prices.
  • Never enter its erotic/topless bars. It would cost a hundred times more than you can imagine in your worst dreams and you will have to pay anyway.
  • Don't try to pick up girls. There are many great places to meet Hungarian women, Váci street is not one of them.
  • Change money only in exchange offices. Though not as frequent as it used to be be ten years ago, in Váci street still operate street money changers waiting for you. Don't use their service.

See details in Tourist traps section below.

As a general rule, you find better quality and prices outside Váci utca.


Crime

As a visitor to any big city, having your pockets picked is the most common crime against tourists. The rate of pick pockets is relatively low by Western European and U.S. standards, but you're unlikely to have any problem if you follow some basic rules you wouldn't forget in Paris, Bruxelles or Vienna. The most important rule is that you never wear a backpack or purse on your back in public transportation or other places with a lot of people and make sure that you have your wallet in one of your front pockets.

Hungarian policemen rarely speak English. Tourists have no reason to be afraid of them unless breaking the law.

During the peak tourist season, police patrolling major tourist areas are accompanied by bi- or multi-lingual students who assisted with problems or complaints. Police also opened a 24/7 TourInform office in one of Budapest's busiest areas. It is located downtown at Suto Street 2, District 5, and they are able to receive complaints and render assistance in English and German.


Luckily, Budapest has no off-limit zones, particularly not in the touristy areas or nearby. As a traveller you should only take normal precautions; don't show off your money and don't wear flashy jewellery. Magyars tend to be friendly with foreigners, racism or xenophobia against tourists is practically unknown. Violent crimes are rare, and the main concern for locals is to protect their home agaisnt breakins rather than worry about having their purse robbed.

By night

There's no reason to have concerns about Budapest by night. In practice the whole city, including all the touristy areas, Pest within the inner ring road (the line of Szent István körút–Teréz körút–Erzsébet körút–József körút–Ferenc körút, popularly known as Nagykörút), and Buda are safe even before dawn. Most locals avoid walking alone by night in outer zones of districts 8th and 9th in Pest, as these are shady, though not particularly dangerous areas. Bigger public parks as Városliget, are surely to be avoided.

Night buses passing through the city center, mainly line 906 along the inner ring road can be very crowded at peak socialising times on Friday and Saturday nights. You may come across aggressive drunk youngsters(skinheads) on the vehicles or at the stops; keep low profile or avoid night public transportation system on weekends.

Tourist traps

Like in several cities of the world, in Budapest the major scams for the inexperienced tourist are taxis and restaurants.

Taxis used to be a travellers' nightmare, mainly for those arriving from / going to the airport. Luckily the situation is slowly getting better. Zóna Taxi, a company with exlusive right to wait for passengers at the airport terminals, is reliable and work according to advertised prices; for details read the Airport transfer chapter. Some times scam taxi drivers will solicit services in the terminal to take you for a ride with a very hungry meter. Zóna Taxi has a stand outside the terminal, so unless you, as some locals, have called for a cab from a different company to pick you up, do not accept a ride with any other taxi drivers. The alternatives to Zóna Taxi is to call for another trusted cab to save EUR 5-10 on the trip or to use the Airport Minibus service. Airport Minibus has a booth inside the terminal and they will allocate you to a minibus with several other travelers who are going to the same area of town - denpending on your luck you will be the first destination otherwise the bus may go to a couple other destinations before reaching your destination. If you travel the other way around (from the city to the airport), pre-order your taxi on the chosen company's phone number or call for the Airport Minibus.

Unfortunately the situation around railway and bus stations is still not regulated. The worst is probably Keleti Pályaudvar: never trust drivers hanging around the arrival side, rather pre-order a car. If that's not possible, take only taxis logoed by one of the bigger companies. As a general rule, make sure the taximeter is on or bargain the price with the driver beforehand. Even in 2006 many cases have been reported when taxi drivers extorted hundreds of Euros from inexpert foreigners.

Similar abuses have happened also in restaurants and bars, almost all of them in the vicinity of Váci utca in the touristy heart of Pest. You should avoid the eateries and bars of the zone. However, the majority of restaurants and pubs in Budapest are reliable. In Hungary it's compulsory to put the menu card outside the entrance; if it's not the case, don't enter. Eat only where locals eat, drink where locals go.

Don't befriend the girls hanging around Váci utca and never accept any invitation for a drink from them. Be sure that they will have fake French champagne, but you will only have the bill - it's unlikely that a small talk with them is worth hundreds of Euros. You'll find the same girls in erotic and topless bars; avoid them unless you're ready to pay your monthly salary for a glass of wine. Currently the standard trick is to produce a menu with small print at the bottom stating that the first drink costs HUF 15,000 (apx EUR 60) and consumption is compulsory. This modified menu might only be produced when the bill is presented. Most of the erotic bars in Budapest are tourist traps.

The common scam now (06/2008) is for attractive women to walk up to men and ask for directions to a particular bar. If you respond "I don't know" they will ask you if you have a map and say "lets go together"... they commonly tell you a story such as "I just got in from Bratslava and am just looking for a good place to get a drink."

The U.S. Embassy maintains a list of blacklisted erotic-clubs and restaurants: [103].

Political protests

Unlike in many democratic countries of the world, violent protests have never been frequent in Hungary. In September-October 2006 and in March 2007, some anti-governmental demonstrations resulted in heavy street fights and disturbances. Hungarian State Television and other public buildings were besieged, police and private cars burned up. Since then the situation has calmed down completely. While political demonstrations are not to be avoided, never participate in violent, illegal or nocturnal demonstrations (if they occur), as your personal security cannot be guaranteed.

Cope

Get out

Royal Palace of Gödöllő
  • Esztergom - Site of the biggest basilica (church) in Central Europe.
  • Gödöllő (30km east) - A town full of parks, and home to Grassalkovich Kastély (Grassalkovich Palace), formerly a Royal Palace.
  • Szentendre (19km north) - Home of the Hungarian Open-Air Museum, a huge site with many ancient buildings brought from all parts of the country, including barns, outbuildings, and even churches.
  • Vác - (32km north) Baroque style main square, Cathedral, Triumphal Arch, mummies of the Dominican church (Memento Mori).
  • Visegrád - Famous for its former royal palace partially rebuilt in Renaissance style, medieval residential tower, and impressive citadel.









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