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Difference between revisions of "Budapest"

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===By taxi===
 
===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. If you wish to call any of the following phone numbers from abroad, use the +36-1 (Hungary-Budapest) code or mobile (+36-70, +36-30, +36-20) before the numbers.
+
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.
  
*'''TaxiCab,''' [http://taxicab.5mp.eu/] ''+36-70'' 594-5011.  www.taxicab.5mp.eu
+
*'''Budataxi,''' [http://www.budataxi.hu/] ''+36-1'' 233-3333.
 
*'''City Taxi,''' [http://www.citytaxi.hu/index.php?l=en] ''+36-1'' 211-1111.
 
*'''City Taxi,''' [http://www.citytaxi.hu/index.php?l=en] ''+36-1'' 211-1111.
 
*'''Főtaxi,''' [http://www.fotaxi.hu/] ''+36-1'' 222-2222.
 
*'''Főtaxi,''' [http://www.fotaxi.hu/] ''+36-1'' 222-2222.

Revision as of 20:55, 22 August 2011

Budapest is a huge city with several district articles containing sightseeing, restaurant, nightlife and accommodation listings — have a look at each of them.
Budapest's Chain Bridge and Castle Hill

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 with its European counterparts, Budapest is one of Europe's most delightful and enjoyable cities. Thanks to the perfect location, inhabitants' hospitality and memorable monuments is it mentioned as "Little Paris of Central Europe" and "Pearl of Danube".

Contents

Districts

Districts of Budapest

Although Budapest is administratively divided into 23 numbered districts which are 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, XXII).
  • Castle Hill - District I of Buda, the oldest part of the city containing the eponymous Castle and many of Budapest's best-known attractions (Fishermen’s Bastion, Labyrinth and Mathias Church)
  • Pest - The flat East side of the Danube, covering the modern commercial core of the city(Districts IV-IX).

Understand

Travelers are quickly recognising the appeal of Budapest, with tourism accounting for 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 (Magyarország). The Mongols dropped in uninvited in 1241, but the Magyars bounced back and built the Royal Castle, which still 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 1867 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. Its population reached one million in 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. You can get some very good and free brochures. amongst it: map of Budapest, a map of hungary with all the youth hostels and prices, a very complete brochure about the northern part of Hungary (available in many languages).
  • Tourism Info Center 1051 Budapest, Sütő utca 2 (Deák Ferenc tér)

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 Franz Liszt International Airport (IATA: BUD) [4], Budapest Liszt Ferenc Nemzetközi Repülőtér (pronounced "list-ferents"), formerly, and colloquially referred to Ferihegy; is the country's largest airport, located about 16 km (10 miles) southeast of the city center. 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 to and from Terminal 1 and +36-1 296-5965 for Terminal 2.

Terminals

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

  • The small, renovated Terminal 1 (gates 1-10; opened in 1950) is used by low-cost airlines (such as WizzAir and EasyJet ) 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. Terminal 2 is the hub of the Hungarian national carrier, Malév [5].


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. In Terminal 2, Hugo Boss and Swarowski are the only dedicated brand shops. The alcohol-tobacco-sweets assortment shop has a decent choice of local wines, mainly by Gundel. Several cafés are present. 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. The cafe on the second floor of terminal 1 (outside of the security area) offers computers with internet access.

Connections

MALÉV, the Hungarian national flag carrier is [8] operates direct flights between Budapest and major European cities and some countries of the Middle East, Asia and North Africa. Hungarian discount airline Wizz Air operates flights between Budapest and 21 European cities. Delta Air Lines and American Airlines operate direct flights between Budapest and New York City. Many discount airlines also operate service to/from Budapest.

Between December and March Malév's Budapest Winter Invitation [9], offers discounted fares for international flights to Budapest, and its 45 partner hotels provide 4 nights accommodation for the price of 3.


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

  • Aerlingus [10] (from Ireland) - Terminal 2b;
  • Air Berlin [11] (from Germany) - Terminal 2A;
  • EasyJet [12] (from France, Germany, Great Britain and Switzerland);
  • Germanwings [13] (from Germany);
  • Jet2 [14] (from Great Britain);
  • Norwegian Air Shuttle [15] (from Denmark and Norway);
  • RyanAir [16] (from Germany, Great Britain and Ireland);
  • SmartWings [17] (from Czech Republic and Spain) - Terminal 2A;
  • Turkish Airlines [18] (from Turkey);
  • Vueling [19] (from Spain);
  • WizzAir [20] (from Belgium, Bulgaria, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Spain and Sweden).

Airport transfer

  • Public transport. There is a railway station called Ferihegy (the original name of the airport) connected to Terminal 1 via a covered footbridge. Passengers from Terminal 2A or 2B can also reach it by taking local bus 200E to the stop called "Ferihegy vasútállomás" (8 min). Bus tickets are available in airport terminals for HUF 320 at the newspaper vendors, or HUF 400 if you purchase directly from the bus driver. Half-hourly suburban trains run westwards to Budapest-Nyugati pályaudvar via Kőbánya-Kispest and eastwards to Monor via Vecsés and Üllő, though it should be noted that these suburban trains are operated by the Hungarian rail operator MÁV, and by no means included in the HÉV network. Suburban trains are recognized by their Személy label while long-distance trains use other designations. Travel time to Budapest-Nyugati is 23 min. A single ticket costs 365 HUF and can be bought from the ticket vending machines at the station, though local travelcards (which you can and should buy at the newspaper vendors at the airport unless planning to go by taxi everywhere) are also valid [21]. Do NOT assume that it's always best to get off at Budapest-Nyugati even for the city centre. Nyugati is located in the north central part of the large city centre and depending on the location of your hotel, it is in fact often quicker to get off the suburban train at intermediate stations: for example, if you're staying in the southern part of the city centre (for example, but not only, the Gellért hotel), you should take a suburban train to Kőbánya-Kispest, then change to Metro line 3 to Kálvin tér and finally a short tram ride to the hotel, since the Kálvin tér area is located quite a distance from Nyugati to the south. Similarly, if you're staying near the Keleti railway station, you should take a suburban train to Zugló and change to local bus 5, 7, 7E, 173 or 173E. Check this out
Long-distance trains also operate from the airport to destinations such as Kecskemét, Szeged, Püspökladány, Debrecen, Nyíregyháza, Miskolc and Záhony at the Ukrainan border. You may also encounter Intercity trains with Budapest-Keleti station as the destination, BUT UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES WHATSOEVER SHALL YOU EVEN THINK ABOUT TAKING THIS TRAIN IF YOU'RE GOING TO BUDAPEST. It will take you to Budapest, yes - in 5 h 45 min, and at a cost of 6660 HUF. (to clarify, this is a ring line which starts at Nyugati and goes through Ferihegy and eastern Hungary before terminating at Keleti, and the other way around). Using long-distance trains to Nyugati is not recommended either, as this will require a seat reservation, and this might be expensive.
  • Minibus service. If you travel alone, consider the Airport Minibus service [22], a shared taxi operation that collects passengers going in the same direction and will take you to or from anywhere in Budapest for HUF 2,990 per person or HUF 4,990 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 at +36-1 296-8555 at least 24 hours beforehand and Airport Minibus will pick you up.
  • Taxi. Főtaxi [23] is the only legal taxi operator from Liszt Ferenc airport. Depending on your destination, a trip to Budapest costs between HUF 3900-5700. 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. On your trip into town you might receive a business card from Főtaxi quoting cheaper fares bound to Liszt Ferenc airport (i.e. €16 from Pest). Reserve a car by phone and quote the offer to save some money.

By train

Trains connect Budapest with almost all countries in central and eastern Europe. All trains arrive at Budapest Keleti station, unless stated otherwise.

  • Berlin: 11¾h, two direct EC trains daily, one connection with change at Břeclav and a night train Metropol.
  • Munich: 7½h, four daytime Railjet trains and one night train Wiener Walzer. These trains stops in Salzburg and Linz too.

Tickets from Germany are much cheaper if bought online [24], at least 3 days in advance.

  • Vienna: 2¾h, every two hours, departing from Wien-Meidling station. For tickets from Vienna, as well as from other cities in Austria, hold: the earlier you book them, the cheaper they are. One-way ticket price from Vienna begins at €19.
  • Prague: 7h, three direct EC trains, two with change at Břeclav and night train Metropol. There is a through sleeper car departing from Prague one hour before Metropol and later attached to it, so you have more time to sleep. Online tickets [25] are much more cheaper than normal tickets (the price begins at €19), but you should buy them at least 3 days in advance. If e-tickets are sold out or you have to buy a ticket immediately before departure, buy a (domestic) ticket Prague-Kúty Gr. (the CZ/SK border point) and international tickets Kúty Gr.-Štúrovo and Štúrovo-Budapest. This combination costs about 65% of the direct ticket. For the two international tickets you can get RailPlus discount and return ticket discount.
  • Bratislava: 2¾h, six EC trains a day. Thank to bilateral agreement between Slovak and Hungarian Railways there are reasonably priced tickets from many important Slovak cities, sold at station counters.
  • Warsaw: 10½, two EC trains a day, one through daytime car (11½h) and through seat, couchette and sleeper cars (11½h). There is a limited amount of SparDay and SparNight discounted tickets, sold at Polish stations, from €29 in seat car and €39 in a couchette.
  • Bucharest: 16h, two night trains Dacia and Ister and one daytime connection with change at Timisoara. For Ister train you can buy a discounted Fortuna ticket for €29 for seat or €39 for couchette, but you should do it at least 7 days in advance. It cannot be booked online. Normal ticket cost about €50 one-way, €77 return (a RailPlus discount is possible) and couchette reservation fee is €15.
  • Venice: 13½h, an night Euronight train via Slovenia. There is a limited amount of Smart tickets for €29 for seat and €39 for couchette, if bought at least 7 days in advance. You can buy it online [26] and change it to real ticket at station counter in Venice. If the discounted tickets are sold out, the normal ticket cost €55 for seat and €69 for couchette.
  • Ljubljana: 9h, a daytime IC Citadella, arriving at Déli station. There are discounted Budapest-Special ticket for €29 one-way and €39 return. Apart from this there is a nightime train from Venice through Croatia, but it isn't much useful, as it departs from Ljubljana on 2AM and costs two times more.
  • Zagreb: 6-7h, three daytime trains a day. The train Maestral, arriving at 16:45, ends up at Déli station. Return ticket valid 1 month costs about €30 and it's even cheaper than one-way ticket.

There is a seasonal sleeper train from Split, departing every Wednesday and Saturday from 11 Jun to 27 Aug.

  • Belgrade: 8h, two daytime trains Avala and Ivo Andric and one night train Beograd. They are often delayed. There is a special offer Budapest Special/Beograd Special, €15 for one-way and €26 for return ticket. These tickets are sold only at Budapest and Belgrade stations. Couchette reservation is €16.40 for 6-berth couchette, but there are reservation-free seats even on the night train. Notice that the night train, arrives in Budapest very early at 5AM.

The train Avala has seasonal sleeper cars from Podgorica and Bar, departing every Monday, Thursday and Sunday from 19 Jun to 19 Sep.

  • Sarajevo: 11h, IC Drava over Croatia. One-way ticket costs about €54 and return ticket valid 1 month costs only only €2 more.
  • Sofia: 18¼h, Balkan Express with a through couchette car via Belgrade. Direct ticket is expensive, the better solution is to buy a ticket Sofia-Belgrade (see Belgrade#By train) and then Belgrade-Budapest ticket at Belgrade station. The through car waits 2.5h in Belgrade and even if Balkan Express is delayed (a quite common situation), you have a time until the through car is shifted to the train to Budapest. Balkan Express leaves Sofia at noon and arrives to Belgrade at evening, so you can travel to Belgrade in a sitting car, and buy a cheaper couchette reservation only from Belgrade to Budapest.
  • Kiev and Moscow: 25h/39h, fast train Tisza, a typical Russian long-distance train going over 2 nights. International ticket is much more expensive than domestic Russian and especially Ukrainian domestic ticket. If you are on a tight budget, use another train from Kiev (departing on 18:52 or 20:06) to Chop (arriving on 10:04 or 10:52) near UA/HU border. In Chop buy a ticket to to local train to Záhony (HU) and in Záhony buy a ticket to IC to Budapest (arriving on 18:37). You have more than 3h time in Chop and 1h in Záhony to buy your tickets - and there are later trains from Záhony to Budapest too. The overall trip is even shorter that the direct train and you'll pay less than a half of the official international fare. Beware that Ukraine uses Eastern European Time, which is one hour later after Central European Time.


Train stations

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.

Most of international trains, as well as domestic trains to Miskolc, Eger, Győr and Szombathely leave from Keleti. Some trains to Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Lake Balaton and south-western regions of Hungary leave from Déli. From Nyugati leaves domestic trains to Debrecen, Nyíregyháza and Szeged.

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 take less than 15 minutes during 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 and 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. Do not accept any offers from taxi drivers waiting around the station entrance. For further information read also Stay safe section.

By bus

Hungary’s national bus network is operated by Volán Association [27]. If you arrive to Budapest from another Hungarian city, bus is often the best option. For services, discounts, schedules and on-line booking possibilities check Hungary#Get_around.

International bus routes are operated by Eurolines +36-1 318-2122 [28]. Most connections run two or three times a week; connections to/from Austria and Slovakia run daily. Orangeways [29] 36-30 830-9696, offers cheap tickets to and from Austria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Germany, Netherlands, Poland and Slovakia.

Bus stations

Budapest’s long distance bus stations are located outside the city centre, but are very well connected to the rest of the city. The 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. It is a 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). This is the biggest hub for Eastern Hungarian destinations, quite modern but somewhat dirty station built underground.
  • Árpád Bridge Bus Station (Árpád híd autóbuszállomás, metro 3 Árpád híd station). This is 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, 173E). This is 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.

By boat

Mahart, +36-1 484-4000, [30] operates a scheduled hydrofoil service on the Danube to and from Vienna and Bratislava between early April and early November.

Hungaria Koncert 00361 317 1377 hunkonc@ticket.info.hu [31] operates cruises with lunch or dinner daily at 14:00, 19:00 and 20:00. This service is 90 minutes with hot buffet lunch or dinner. During the cruise, the Parliament, Chain Bridge, Royal Castle, Palace of Arts etc. can be seen.

Get around

Orientation

The Chain Bridge and a view of Pest

Orientation is not a big problem in Budapest. The river Danube splits the city into 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. Recently renovated.
  • 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. Built very next to a railway bridge on its southern side.

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

A new bus and tram numbering system has recently been introduced in Budapest. Various tram and bus lines have now new numbers and many routes have been reestablished or modified. Don't believe your guide book and map edited before September 2008 or you will inevitably get lost.


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) [32], 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 everybody now 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 in August 2011 we can say that no, it is not completed), 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.
  • Tram 4, 6 follow Nagykörút, Pest's inner ring road.
  • Bus 7, 7E, 173 and 173E connect Keleti railway station with the city center and many points of interest in Buda and Pest.
  • Bus 16, 16A and 116 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 passes by Déli pályaudvar (Southern railway station).
  • Bus 200E serves the airport.

If you stay longer, it's worth to buy a public transportation map at any BKV ticket office. You can also find detailed public transport maps in some tram stops, especially along the 4-6 tram lines.

Tickets and passes

If you intend to travel a lot (and you probably will), travel cards are far less expensive than single tickets. As of 2009 most useful tickets and travel cards for tourists include the following:

Single ticket, valid for one journey
  • Single ticket (vonaljegy): Valid for one journey, transfer not allowed on buses and trams, but one transfer is allowed between metro lines (a new rule introduced in January 2009). HUF 320. HUF 400 if purchased from the driver (available on designated lines).
  • Transfer ticket (átszállójegy): Valid for one journey, one transfer allowed. HUF 470.
  • 10 single ticket book: 2800 HUF (April 2010)
  • One-day travel card (napijegy): Valid for 24 hours after purchase (not only on the day of purchase - a new rule introduced in January 2009). HUF 1550.
  • Three-day travel card (háromnapos turistajegy): Valid for 72 hours after purchase (not only on the day of purchase and the two following days - a new rule introduced in January 2009). HUF 3850.
  • Seven-day travel card : Valid on the day when purchased and on the following six days. HUF 4600.
  • Fourteen-day pass (kétheti Budapest-bérlet): Valid for 14 consecutive days with a photo pass (take a passport size photo to the ticket office). Valid also on MÁV trains and suburban yellow Volán buses (a new rule introduced in January 2009). HUF 6200.
  • One-month pass (havi Budapest-bérlet): Valid for 30 or 31 consecutive days with a photo pass (take a passport size photo to the ticket office). Valid also on MÁV trains and suburban yellow Volán buses (a new rule introduced in January 2009). HUF 9400.
  • Monthly pass for students : Valid for 30 consecutive days, with a Hungarian student ID, HUF 3850. You will be able to buy one without a Hungarian student ID, but if you are stopped, you will probably be fined, even if you have ISIC, or other student ID.
  • Budapest card (Budapest kártya) [33] allows you unlimited free travel in the city, and also gives you discounts at museums and restaurants. Two-day card HUF 6300, three-day card HUF 7500.

Sooner or later, you WILL run into ticket inspectors, especially on Sunday in trams and buses, and they are posted daily at almost every single metro entrance and exit. They have a notoriously bad reputation with the locals, often being rude and curt (when they are not deep in conversation amongst themselves). They rarely speak English and sometimes pick tourist out of the pack banking on their lack of knowledge of the public transit system. If you happen to get caught for "blitzing" (commuting without paying), you will be asked to pay a fine on the spot of HUF 6000 but they may threaten you to pay HUF 12,000 by saying they will call the police. Don't be afraid as the police usually never come. They can also try to make you feel as though they are doing you a favor by only asking for 6000 if you don't ask for a receipt. Ticket control inspectors can, but don't actually have a legal right to, ask for any type of ID (passport, ID cards, etc.) as they are not considered peace officers under Hungarian law. Therefore, you are not required (and you should not) give them any of your IDs, passports or credit cards as they have NO RIGHT to ask for them in the first place. Don't even show them you have ID on you or they may try to grab these from your hands. (On the other hand how can they tell if you are over 65 AND EU citizen entitled to free travel without checking your ID?) If you do pay on the spot, ask for a receipt to prevent them from pocketing the money. To have a care-free trip throughout Budapest, you should always have a pass/ticket with you at all times. If you feel threatened or in trouble, call the police or your Consulate in Budapest (some locals may also help you to get away), but the best way is to have a Budapest Card, or any unlimited travel pass. Keeping in mind that ticket inspectors are not considered peace officers, and since they have no legal right of arrest, detention or even of asking for your ID documents, if you are stopped on a tram for not having a ticket, once you get off the tram and are standing on the open street platform, you are free to JUST WALK AWAY! This only works for trams and buses where you have an escape path (i.e. outside the encapsulated subway system). Once you disembark completely from the public transit vehicle, simply keep walking. Again, it should be re-emphasized, that if you want a care-free time in Budapest, just pay the fare or get the day/week/monthly pass or the Budapest Card and you won't have to worry about validating a ticket all the time or the inspectors.

Most major subway stations check your tickets/passes on entrance and exit, especially at major stations.

Metro

The rebuilt Széll Kálmán tér(former 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 Széll Kálmán tér (former Moszkva tér, 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.

There is one important fact for Senior Citizens resident in the EU. For EU Residents, over the age of 65, travel on the Metro, Buses and Trolley Buses is Free, but an Identity Document must be carried proving the above to Inspectors if requested. This also applies to some train journeys.

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.

By 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. Numbering system is now easy to understand. Numbers below 299 indicate regular bus routes. Numbers with an added 'E' (for example 7E or 173E) indicate express services that don't stop at all stops. Numbers with an added 'A' have shorter routes than their regular counterparts (for example bus 30 has a longer itinerary than 30A). Numbers above 900 indicate night services. (Numbers between 800 and 899 are suburban services provided by Volán company, BKV tickets and most tourist passes are not valid on them.)

Particularly useful lines for tourists include:

  • Bus 7, 73, 7E, 173E, – 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 16/16A/116 go to Buda Castle from Széll Kálmán tér (former Moszkva tér).
  • Bus 200E runs to Ferihegy Airport from Kőbánya-Kispest Metro 3 station.

Be aware that in September 2008 many lines have been provided with new numbers.

Trolley-bus

Budapest's 13 trolley-bus lines run in Northeast and Central Pest. Unless you are a trolley buff, you're unlikely to use them frequently. However, 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. Line 70 from Kossuth square (Kossuth tér, next to the Parliament) to City Park (Városliget) also passes through the lively 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 [34], 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 Széll Kálmán 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 number 61 from "Széll Kálmán tér". Before using it, you should take a look at it's home page for the timetable at [35]. 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. [36]

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 4AM. The main linking points of the night bus network are Széll Kálmán square (former 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:

  • 923 – 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 [[37].

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 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, [38] +36-1 233-3333.
  • City Taxi, [39] +36-1 211-1111.
  • Főtaxi, [40] +36-1 222-2222.
  • Taxi 2000, [41]+36-1 200-0000.
  • Tele 5 Taxi, [42] +36-1 555-5555.
  • Zóna Taxi,[43] +36-1 365-5555.
  • 6x6 Taxi, [44] +36-1 266-6666.
  • Budapest Taxi, [45] +36-1 433-3333.
  • Mobil Taxi, [46] +36-1 333-1757.
  • Radio Taxi, [47] +36-1 777-7777.
  • Taxi Plus, [48] +36-1 888-8000.

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. If possible, as stupid as it may sound, try to pick a taxi with the meter in a place where the driver can't fiddle with it while driving. While the fare per kilometer stays the same, apparently it's possible to "bump" the price by adding extra basic fee's. Also note that most taxis parked in the downtown areas do not belong to radio taxi companies and charge much more than the usual HUF 200+ per km. Ask about their price in advance or call any of the taxi companies above.

Please note that any of the above companies will take you for less than the taxis they book for you in hotels.

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 the situation is slowly changing. Budapest has been home to Europe's biggest cycling demonstration, Critical Mass [49], 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, [50] +36-30 944-5533. Rent a bike starting at 2,000 HUF for 6 hours.
  • Yellow Zebra Bike, [51] +36-1 266-8777. Rent a bike starting at 1,500 HUF for 1-5 hours.
  • Bikebase, [52] +36-1 269-5983. Bike rentals available for 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. This is because a bell is something people haven't really heard of (both cyclists and pedestrians alike) so using one while cycling might not result in people moving to the side; they might not even react at all! Also, beware of pedestrians wandering onto marked bicyclepaths.

By Skateboard

Pest is ideal for skateboarding. Sidewalks are wide and smooth without too many pedestrians to avoid. Police won't pay you any attention as long as you are using your skateboard for transport and not trying to do tricks. Longboards are ideal because of their stability and bigger wheels.

See

Individual listings can be found in Budapest's district articles

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) [53]. 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 [54]. Exhibition of medieval Budapest and history of the Royal Palace.
  • The Music Museum. Includes a collection of musical instruments and the Bartok archive.
  • The Military Museum [55]. Uniforms, weapons, maps and other Hungary-related military objects from 11th century until nowadays.
  • Marzipan Museum.
  • Pharmacy Museum. Collection of pharmaceutical objects from the Renaissance and Baroque eras.
  • Museum of Medieval Judaism. Presents the medieval jewish objects of Buda.

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. It is very much worth going inside, but you can only do that during guided tours, which are FREE for inhabitants of European Union (ignore those trying to pick you up outside the Parliament). Tickets for guided tours can be obtained each day from 8AM. It is recommended to do it in advance because the tickets can be sold out quickly in the morning. You will have to go in front of the Parliament and queue at the ticket line. Again, ignore those that ask you if you want a guided tour. Just pick up your ticket inside and come back at the hour on the ticket. Guided tours in English are held each day at 10, 12 and 14.
  • St. Stephen's Basilica (Szent István Bazilika) [56]. The main church of Budapest is an important example of neoclassical architecture, recently renovated. The mummified right hand of Hungary first king, St Stephen is kept in the chapel. The 96 meter high dome can be seen from anywhere in the city and inside is decorated with mosaics.
  • Great Synagogue and the Jewish Museum (Dohány utcai Zsinagóga) [57] 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.
  • The historical building of the Faculty of Humanities of Eötvös Loránd University
    Eötvös Loránd University (Faculty of Humanities) [58] is on Múzeum körút, opposite Hotel Astoria, and between the National Museum and a modern office block. It was founded in 1635 by Péter Pázmány, Cardinal Archbishop of Esztergom. The university is one of Hungary's most widely recognized institutions of higher education. The campus of the Faculty of Humanities is situated among historic walls, and is attended by nearly 8,000 students and a vibrant international student community from all over the world. The former library and study of Loránd Eötvös, the famous Hungarian physicist and eponymous founder the university, had his library and study in Building "D", but several other hidden treasures can be found at the Faculty. It is worth dropping by for a short visit. Visitors can rest in the lush Trefort Garden or have a refreshment in the popular Bölcsész Terasz, an open-air cultural garden that has musical performances as well as food.

Museums in at the city centre:

  • Museum of Ethnography [59].
  • National Museum [60].
  • Museum of Applied Arts [61].
  • Natural History Museum [62] Mainly minerals at display.
  • Ludwig Museum of Modern Art [63].
  • Holocaust Memorial Centre [64].
  • Museum of Transport.
  • Jewish Museum at the main synagogue [65].
  • 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 This is one of the most beautiful opera houses in the world. The main staircase was an important element of the building in the 19th century for ladies to show off their new gowns.
  • The House of Terror (Terror Háza) [66]. Housed in the secret police headquarters of the communist era, 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 [67]. Collection of 20,000 pieces from China, Japan, India, Nepal, Tibet and Mongolia. Nearby is another similar collection, namely Gyorgy Museum.
  • Ernst Museum [68]. 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) [69] 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 [70] was a city in the Roman times, its remains are turned into a great open-air museum. It's situated in the Óbuda district of northern Buda. There are some ruins of thermal baths, made by stones and decorated with mosaics and paintings. Visiting these places was social events for Romans.
  • Gül Baba Türbéje [71] is the shrine where Gül Baba (literally Rose Father, from whom the Rózsadomb (Rose Hill) was named) lies.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 [72] - 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. Home of Ferenc Liszt, most famous Hungarian composer. Collection of his personal objects and instruments can be visited.
  • 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 [73].

There are several travel agencies, 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.

Gallery

Do

  • Experience an opera at Budapest's spectacular State Opera House or a performance of forklore or classical music at any of Budapest's many concert halls.
  • 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.


  • Walk around and look at the market stands and the entertainment on some of the bridges in the evening.
  • And the best of all: get a map, circle the things you want to see, divide up your time and see the city by yourself. Locals are always ready to help and they even tell you what to see and what is better to stay away from. They even guide you for a short time to keep up their English by having a good conversation. Don't hesitate to ask questions!
  • With your children go to the City park. Great fun can be made here. Walk arround the lake and feed the ducks. See statue of Anonymus in a fairytale-like building, the Vajadahunyad Castle. Next to the lake the Széchenyi Spa is really enjoyable for kids as well, or a performance with international artists in the Great Capital Circus or adventure in the fun Fair. As a finish of the day more than 800 special animals can be visited in one of the oldest zoos in the world.
  • Rent a bike and go round the city (~1600 HUF for half a day), it's lovely! You can easily go outside the city as well. Szentendre is a 2hrs ride max from the center and you get to see nice places like a lake when you follow the river.
  • Take a bike tour. A great way to start your visit. 2 1/2 hours gets you some exercise and introduces you to the local geography. Staff at Buda Bike [underground garage at the plaza in front of St. Stephan's Basilica] are very friendly. They also rent bikes.

Festivals

  • The Sziget Festival at Óbudai Island (=Sziget) [74] 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, culinary and musical offers, it's definitely a good deal. Day tickets cost €45 and festival passes, inlcuing camping privileges cost €170 if purchased before April 15th and €200 thereafter. Festival passes without camping privileges cost €30 less. Sleeping in a tent under the open sky instead of a hotel room gives the complete festival feeling. Be careful with your personal belongings though - you should leave them in the safe boxes.
  • Spring Festival - around the end of March

Performing arts

Hungary has a surprisingly rich theater scene and, not surprisingly, Budapest is the epicenter 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 theaters, 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 [75], the Hungarian theaters' official booking engine for a small (10% + HUF 50) booking fee.

  • Hungarian State Opera House, Magyar Állami Operaház [76], 1061 Andrássy út 22, metro 1 station Opera, tickets HUF 300-10,900. 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 [77] 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), [78], while Theatre Erkel, the Opera's chamber theater is closed due to reconstruction.
  • Palace of Arts, Művészetek Palotája [79], 1095 Komor Marcell utca 1, tram 2 stop Millenniumi Kulturális Központ, tickets HUF 700-9,800, 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 [80], 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 [81], 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 [82], 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 [83], 1024 Fény utca 20-22, metro 2 station Széll Kálmán tér, tram 4, tram 6 stop Széna tér, tickets HUF 1000-6000. This huge cultural center has been built around former factory buildings. The complex includes a park, a small artificial lake, cafés, an interactive museum called Csodák Palotája (Palace of Miracles) and a theatre which hosts music, theatre and sometimes great contemporary opera performances. You could book your ticket at their home page, which is available in Hungarian and English
  • Merlin International Theatre, Merlin Nemzetközi Színház [84], 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 [85], 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 [86]. This popular company performs Hungarian popular dances in modern conception.
  • MU Theatre, MU Színház [87], 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 [88], 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, [89]. Szkéné hosts, among others, Béla Pintér and Company [90] (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.


  • Danube Palace (Duna Palota), 1051 Zrínyi u. 5 (5 minutes walk from Deák Ferenc tér), [91]. Folklore perfomances every day at 20:00. 3,600-6,400 HUF, discounts available for students.


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 (or not) Hollywood films and Hungarian romantic movies. For contemporary European and Hungarian titles turn to Budapest’s excellent art house movie chain, Art mozi [92], 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 [93] in Pest (in Westend City Center, Váci út 1-3, metro 3, tram 4, tram 6 station/stop Nyugati pályaudvar) and Palace Mammut [94] in Buda (in Mammut Center, Lövőház utca 2-6, , metro 2 station Széll Kálmán tér, tram 4, tram 6 stop Széna tér); Palace MOM PARK in Buda, which is the "ORIGINAL LANGUAGE MOVIE" in Budapest, so you can watch all the foreign movies here with subtitles too. check Palace’s web site [95] for programme and booking. Tickets cost HUF 1250, for student card holders HUF 990, on cheap days HUF 800.
  • Corvin [96] (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 [97],(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 complemented with several steam baths, saunas, massage services and other therapies including drinking cures. Unlike in some Scandinavian or German baths, at Budapest baths almost all places require you to wear your bathing suit to the sauna too!

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, Széchenyi) 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, [98]. 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 3500 HUF, which also includes a cabin rental, where you can change clothes and a towel (bed sheets style). At weekdays this ticket is 4050 HUF Ticket and 30 minute massage can be reserved in advance.
  • 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 for Refreshing, 15 min. to 3800 HUF for Powder, 30 min.

They also offer very good Tai massages. 1h is 11500 HUF and 1.5h is 15500 HUF (march 2010)

  • 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. The men area requires bathing suites or a little towel that hide the front part in the pools, though nudity is still common in the changing area.
Inside Szechenyi bath
  • Széchenyi Spa (Széchenyi Fürdő), Pest, Állatkerti krt. 11 (right next to the Zoo; metro: Széchenyi fürdő, M1 yellow line), [99]. Indoor part open daily from 6AM to 7PM; outdoor 6AM-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, and probably the nicest one in Budapest. A vast bath complex amidst beautiful architecture, it contains 3 outdoor pools including a large lap pool, at least 3 sauna rooms, and several indoor pools at different temperatures.
  • Prices: 3,100 HUF entrance fee, includes rental of a locker (locked by an electronic wristband which also acts as your admission ticket) or 3,400 HUF entrance fee, includes rental of a changing cabin (locked by a key). 300 HUF refund for leaving within 2 hours. It is recommended not to store valuables in these lockers -- use the safe boxes. Signs warn they are not responsible for losses except for safe boxes.
  • Safe boxes are available for 500 HUF (well worth the peace of mind). The boxes are approximately 5" high x 12" wide x 18" deep (13cm x 30cm x 46cm). The attendant will ask you to write a "code" word on a piece of paper; this paper is placed in the box along with your valuables, and you will be given a physical key. When retrieving your items, the attendant will ask you for the "code" and check it against the paper in the box. These safe boxes can be used if the larger locker or changing room is not required.
  • 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 (30 degrees C and 38 degrees C) and one swimming pool (26-28 degrees C) 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). 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), [100]. until 9:30PM. . High-level and modern baths and spa also offers a great choice of medical treatment. Admission fee (5,700 HUF weekdays, 7,000 HUF 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 (1,300 HUF for 10 minutes).
  • 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), [101]. 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 10,000 HUF 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 but it is not the case anymore. Some gay activity may be visible, but you can enjoy this unique place without any problem if you are not gay.
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. This is where to go if you are looking for an authentic Turkish feel with its 16th century dome encrusted of colored glass. It is quite popular amongst locals. 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(36C) with adjoining small pools(12C, 28C, 30C, 33C and 42C), 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 for the swimming hall (but you will look like a tourist in the bath section with a swimwear - they will provide you with a very small towel). There is also a very nice rest room, where you can chill outside the water. The staff has got very limited English.
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 Árpad Híd 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 ~1,300 HUF. 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 HUF 100 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.

Active Leisure

  • If you live a sporty life you should not have a break during your holiday. Wide variety of health clubs, yoga & pilates clubs, riding schools, swimming pools and squash and tennis courts give sporting opportunity. On Margaret Island you will find joggers, and swimming opportunity in the Hajós Olympic Pool. Practicing the mentioned sports is cheap in Budapest.

Caving

  • Note that caving in Budapest ranges from well lit and renovated Szemlőhegyi cave, where you can even go to parts of the cave in a wheelchair, to some of the more extreme tours in the Pál-völgyi–Mátyás-hegyi cave system, where you have to squeeze through several meters long passages with no room to spare.
  • Szemlőhegyi cave, 1025 Pusztaszeri út 35 (Take the No. 29 bus from Kolosy tér, and get off at the Szemlőhegyi barlang stop.), +36 1 325 6001. Wed-Mon 10:00 AM to 4.00 PM.
  • Pál-völgyi–Mátyás-hegyi cave system, (Take the No. 65 bus from Kolosy square. You have to step off at the fifth bus stop, named Pál-völgyi cave.), +36-20-9284969 (), [102].
  • There is a joint ticket for the standard tourist areas of the Pál-völgyi and the Szemlőhegyi caves. The caves are walking distance to each other - ask for a map from either cave ticket office. These areas are easily accessible and well-lit making them better for the slightly claustrophobic among us, though to enjoy the true beauty of the caves you must go on the longer more strenuous tours. Due to the times that the tours start, you're better of starting at Szemlőhegyi then taking the 15 minute walk to Pál-völgyi. This way it is possible to not have a very long wait between your caves, and the outdoor area at Pál-völgyi is far more pleasant in nice weather than the Szemlőhegyi cave museum.

The Pál-völgyi–Mátyás-hegyi cave system is recommended for the adventurous (and non-claustrophobic) who wants a great taste of "proper caving" instead of the more "tourist friendly" alternatives. The tours lasts between 2.5-3 hours and much of the time is spent crawling or climbing, so some degree of physical shape is needed. The guided tour includes a helmet, headlamp and overall so bring good shoes! Guides are very professional. English guided tours are usually on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays late in the afternoon, but can be pre-booked by groups at other days as well. For booking you need to be with at least 4 people.

Please do not litter, write your name on the cave wall or damage the cave in any other way! Part of the experience is the feeling of being in unspoiled nature.

Learn

  • Central European University [103] offers a small undergraduate business program and an extensive graduate program in a wide variety of subjects.
  • International Business School (Nemzetközi Üzleti Főiskola, IBS-NÜF) [104] 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 [105], 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 [106]. 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 [107]. World-famous music academy in the heart of the city.
  • Debrecen Language School [108] offers Hungarian language classes year round at all levels in Budapest, Debrecen and Sopron.
  • Corvinus University of Budapest [109] 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. You should be prepared that most places wont hire you until you speak at least a little Hungarian. Restaurants with a specific countries cuisine (such as Italian restaurants and pizzerias) tend to hire people from that country for making the food more authentic.

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 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

Individual listings can be found in Budapest's district articles


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".

Coffeehouses

Coffeehouses (kávéház) 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.

The two most well-know, landmark coffeehouses are

  • Gerbeaud (Vörösmarty tér 7-9) Website
  • Müvész Kávéház (Andrássy út 29) Website

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. Don't take restaurant tips from anyone on streets, do it at your hotel.

Top-notch quality food (1st category restaurants) charge a wide range of prices (from starters around 1000 HUF, main courses around 3,000-10,000 HUF, and menus from 5,000 HUF).

Ship Restaurants

Walking next to the Danube on the Pest side a lot of excellent standing restaurant and bar ships can be found. Most of them serve traditional Hungarian and international dishes. Thanks for the beautiful panorama of Danube, these restaurants provide unforgettable dining experience. Between them are some great place to drink also.


Chains

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

  • Wasabi [110]. Excellent Japanese and Korean food. Lunch 3790 HUF (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 [111]. The best among all-you-can-eat (buffet) and all the alcohol you can drink. Best to book a table in advance. Has 4 locations:
  • near Nyugati Train Station (Visegrádi u. 50A)
  • 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).(flagship outlet)

Gundel does a good value Sunday all you can eat brunch.

  • 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. When eating here, always make sure that you won't be slapped on an extra 100% service charge. Read the menu before entering the restaurant carefully and insist on talking to someone who speaks english.

Vegetarian/Vegan

  • Govinda Great vegan/vegetarian restaurant in Budapest. You can choose from different menus everyday or you can just try separate dishes. All of them are moderately priced. Be aware that when you are entering the restaurant you have to go down on the stairs and you can easily hit your head, especially if you are really hungry and want to go down as fast as possible.. You can find two Govinda restaurants Check out the map[112]
    • Vigyázó Ferenc utca 4[113] | Central Pest
    • Mon – Fri 11:30 – 20:00, Sat 12:00 – 21:00
  • Edeni Vegan Cafeteria style restaurant, large portions, relatively cheap. Food may vary depending on day, time, and dishes chosen. Tofu goulash recommended. Staff is very helpful at explaining the dishes so ask what they are if you don't know. Note: CASH ONLY. There is an ATM at the bank across the street.
    • Iskola Utca 31, 1011 -- Located in Buda, 1 block from Batthány tér metro station.
    • +36 6203 0775 75
    • Open Mon-Thur 8-21, Fri 8-18, Sun 11-19, closed Saturday.

Grocery Stores

There are hypermarkets like "Auchan", "Tesco" [114],"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, Kaiser's, Plus, Tesco Express 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.

Rotschild Supermarkets (located throughout the downtown) offer Kosher goods too.

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 Turkish origin and originally called "Döner" (c.f. Döner Kebab). In addition to the Turkish meaning, Gyros is also a Greek word for "round". This is because the meat is being cooked while it is rotated around the fire. This has been available in the market for more than 35 years. One excellent Turkish Halal restaurant is Szeráj. To get there, take the metro (blue-line) to Nyugati which is the same station where WestEnd mall is located. Then walk west along Szt István körút and it's a big restaurant on your left. Self-service with lots of varieties of starters, kebabs, sweets and refreshments. During lunch and dinner it can be really crowded, but it is open until 4am every day.

Drink

Individual listings can be found in Budapest's district articles


Budapest offers plenty of places to drink, from cool and ultra-hip to rowdy and down-market. If you are in the mood for a particularly Hungarian experience, visit a so-called borozó (wine pub). These offer cheap yet tasty Hungarian wine on tap at outright hilariously low prices if you manage to find one outside the tourist circuit. Hungary is famous for its wines produced at Balaton area and Eger. Among red wines the best are Kékfrankos, Egri Bikavér „Bulls Blood” and white wines the Szürkebarát and Chardonnay are popular. You should try not to miss out on the hungarian spirit, palinka, made from fruits such as, plum, apricot, cherry or williams pears.

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

Individual listings can be found in Budapest's district articles


Budapest offers a wide range of accommodation in all price classes from the hostels which start at €9 per night, to 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,dozens of reliable backpacker hostels are mostly across the river in 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

Phone

Calling outside Budapest press city code (Budapest is 36-1) or mobile (06 -30/ 70 /20 ) Calling international press 00 + country code + area code + local number (Hungary country code is 36).

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 (1USD 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. You can make international calls from callshops and internet cafés at more reasonable prices.


Internet

Wi-fi

Budapest is one of the most Wi-Fi enabled cities in Europe. You can find hundreds of free WiFi hotspots all over the city - in cafes, restaurants, shopping malls and hotels, or even parks or busy streets.

In VII district (Erzsébetváros), which is surrounded by Károly körút, Király utca and Rákóczi út, free WiFi is provided by the government all over the district - in the cafes, shops, in the streets.


Wifi Networks

However, there are still some hotels and restaurants using offering paid wi-fi usage, including the following:

  • HotSpotSystem.com, [115]. 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 [116]) 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.


Internet Cafes

There are many internet cafes throughout the city. Prices average 200 HUF/hour.


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 tourist 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.
  • Whatever restaurant you go, always always see the prices on the menu. Every restaurant is obliged to put its full menu with prices outside the restaurant. If you can't find this, the place is most likely to be very expensive.
  • 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, but 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, Váci Street still has 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 other big city, having your pockets picked is the most common crime against tourists. The rate of picked pockets is relatively low by Western European and U.S. standards, and you're unlikely to have any problem if you follow some basic rules you wouldn't forget in Paris, Brussels or Vienna. The most important rules are 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 bilingual or multi-lingual students who assist with problems or complaints. Police have also opened a 24/7 TourInform office in one of Budapest's busiest areas. It is located at Suto Street 2, District V, 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 take only 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 against break-ins rather than worry about having their purse robbed.

By night

Mostly 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. Areas in 8th district behind Népszinház utca - József körút can be a bit risky, although the district is CCTV monitored by the police. If you don't have special thing to do there, try not to have a walk at night at Lujza, Dankó, Magdolna Streets and their surroundings: also, it's not a very attractive area. Népszinház utca itself is not a very nice place after dark but usually not risky.

Some big panel areas outskirts of the city (parts of Újpest and Kőbánya) are also not the best places to have a walk without knowing where to go. Area of Keleti pályaudvar is also not very friendly, but usually nothing happens. Avoid homeless people asking for money or selling something in the big underpasses. The subway at Nyugati tér collects different types of people; it is generally not risky because of heavy traffic day and night, but try not to look very "lost" there.

Bigger public parks as Városliget, are surely to be avoided. Don't take a healthy walk at Népliget after dark. The famous 'chill-out' place at Római part (3th district) can be deserted especially after 1AM and in the winter season, although it's usually safe. Don't go to the dark paths alone around Citadella at night.

Night buses and the tram no.6 passing through the city center can be very crowded at peak socialising times on Friday and Saturday nights. You may come across aggressive drunk youngsters on the vehicles or at the stops. Keep a low profile or avoid the public transportation system on weekend nights. Major night lines are now guarded by security staff.

If you are arriving at night using public transport from the airport, be aware that the last station of Metro 3 at Kőbánya-Kispest is also not very friendly after dark, because of reconstruction work. It is better if you use the train from Terminal 1 to Nyugati, or just taking a cab.

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 traveler's nightmare, mainly for those arriving from or going to the airport. Luckily the situation is slowly getting better: Zóna Taxi, a company with exclusive right to wait for passengers at the airport terminals, is reliable and works according to advertised prices; for details read the Airport transfer chapter. Sometimes 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, like some locals do, have called for a cab from a different company to pick you up, do not accept a ride with any other taxi drivers. (As of 2011, however, Zóna taxi was kicked out of Ferihegy Airport due to reasons behind the scene, which usually means more money demanded by airport which was rejected by the taxi company. They lost their stand and possibly you cannot find them there anymore. This is an ongoing battle, and the situation utilises its habits to get worse again.). As of August 2011 Főtaxi is the official partner of the Budapest Airport.

The alternatives to Zóna Taxi are to call for another trusted cab, saving €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 travellers who are going to the same area of town depending on your luck you will be the first destination otherwise the bus may go to a couple other destinations before reaching your destination. However it is only cheaper than a taxi if you are travelling alone. 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 with a logo of the bigger companies, and with a proper sign on the roof and taxi licence plate. As a general rule, make sure the taximeter is on (and not set to the special "extortionate rate for unwary tourists") or agree the price with the driver beforehand. Many cases have been reported in which taxi drivers have extorted hundreds of Euros from unwary visitors. Smaller crimes include being given change in worthless, obsolete Romanian or other currency, which is not instantly recognizable by tourists as non-Hungarian currency. Other drivers take a longer route, which means a higher price, if you don't have an agreed price. If you have an agreed price, you can be sure to arrive to your destination in the shortest route possible.

Similar abuses have also happened 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 drink.

Don't take any tip on the streets, especially if the person is apparently a gift from heaven and is being very, very nice to you.

Don't befriend the girls hanging around Váci utca, and never accept any invitation for a drink from them: you can be sure that they will lead you to fake Champagne, but you will be left only with the bill, and it's unlikely that a small conversation with them will be worth the hundreds of euros. You'll find the same sort of 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 and consumption is compulsory. This modified menu might be produced only when the bill is presented. Most of the erotic bars in Budapest are tourist traps. As of December 2009, this scam is still happening on a daily basis.

A common scam[117] 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 "let's go together" they commonly tell you a story such as "I just got in from Bratislava and am just looking for a good place to get a drink..."

The most popular scam [118] involves a blond girl and a shorter girl with dark hair. They always act together and ask for a cigarette or the time. Next, they invite single men for a drink, in a bar at Váci utca only accessible by an elevator from the street. Once there, each drink costs around €50, but you only find that out at the end when you receive the €500 bill. So never go to the elevator bar (Városközpont) at Váci utca.

The U.S. Embassy maintains a list of blacklisted erotic-clubs and restaurants: [119].

If you don't want to pay more, have your forints ready at restaurants even if they accept euros as well. The conversion rate they use is usually way worse than the rate you can get forints for at exchange offices. If possible, avoid using exchange offices of airports and railway stations, those in the center of the city offer a much better exchange rate.

If you see people gambling on the streets, usually in popular tourists' destinations like Buda Castle, stay away! The modus operandi usually involves a guy playing the classic game of "hiding the ball". This involves covering the ball (or small trinket) with either a bottle cap or a match box and swirling it around with two other bottle caps asking people to guess the position of the ball. The game is set in a way that you can easily see the ball's position. This is done to lure the unsuspecting person into placing a wager. There are usually two main players and, between them, they will lose and win money back and forth to give the appearance that it is a fair game: do not be tricked! They are from the same gang. Once you get greedy and get lured in, you will surely lose your money! The person in control of the bottle caps will remove the ball from their position through sleight of hand and you will never see your money back. Besides the two or three other players involved, there are usually at least two lookouts: one on each side of 'stage'.

Check out a video of the gang in action trying to lure tourists: [120]

Money

Currently used coins: 5 HUF, 10 HUF, 20 HUF, 50 HUF, 100 HUF, 200 HUF

Currently used banknotes: 500 HUF, 1,000 HUF, 2,000 HUF, 5,000 HUF, 10,000 HUF, 20,000 HUF

Be sure when receiving change that all 1,000 HUF notes contain a vertical silver strip. Older notes without the strip are no longer valid. 200 HUF banknotes are also no longer valid, look out for these too!

Also, when receiving change from a taxi journey, make sure that the money is actually Hungarian. Some taxi drivers have been known to give unsuspecting passengers obsolete Romanian banknotes (lei).

Important phone numbers

Police 107 Fire:105

Stay healthy

Ambulance: 104 Central Emergency: 112

Cope

Embassies

  • As-flag.png Australia, +36 1 457 9777.
  • Ch-flag.png China, Városligeti fasor 20-22, +36 1 413-2401, 413-2419 (fax: +36 1 322-9067), [122].
  • Hr-flag.png Croatia, Munkácsy Mihály u. 15, 1063 Budapest, +36 1 354 1315 (), [123]. M-F 9AM-5PM.
  • Fr-flag.png France.
  • De-flag.png Germany.
  • It-flag.png Italy.
  • Mk-flag.png Macedonia, Andrassy ut 130 1, em 1-2, +36 1 336 0510, [127].
  • Pl-flag.png Poland.
  • Uk-flag.png United Kingdom, +36 1 266 2888, [131].
  • Us-flag.png United States, Szabadság tér 12, +36 1 475-4400 (After hours emergencies +36 1 475-4703/4924, , fax: +36 1 475-4764), [132].

Get out

Royal Palace of Gödöllő
  • Eger - small and charming town
  • 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. This palace was the occasional residence of Sisi, Habsbourg Empress Elizabeth. The great royal park became specail with its old trees which could see Sisi in the 18. century. (Reach from Budapest by MÁV suburban rail – Keleti pályaudvar.[133]
  • 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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