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Budapest/Buda

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In the courtyards of the Royal Palace

Buda is the western side of the Danube River in Budapest, Hungary.

Get in

Only metro line 2 (red) crosses the Danube from Pest to the Buda side. It stops at three major transport hubs: Batthyány tér (check the nice view over the Parliament before changing to HÉV communal train for Szentendre!), Moszkva tér (gateway to the Castle Hill) and Déli pályaudvar (railway station).

You can take trams (no. 4, 6, 47, 49) from Pest all these lines cross at the southern hub Móricz Zsigmond körtér, south of Gellérthegy.

Buda has two railway stations: Déli pályaudvar, already mentioned, is the last station of metro line 2 (red). Already in the outskirts Kelenföldi pályaudvar is becoming more and more important. (Many trains leaving from Keleti pályaudvar stop here.)

Get around

Moszkva tér, the penultimate stop, makes a fairly convenient entry point to the Castle District from the north. You can also take the “var bus” (it has no number) from the Moszkva ter stop of the red metro. (When you come up from the subway bear to your left and look for the outdoor stairway leading to a pedestrian bridge over the trolley tracks. Up the steps, over the tracks, cross the street to the mid-block bus stop.) By the way, you are very likely to get your bus tickets checked on this route. Be sure you validate your ticket with the punch box (located on poles near the doors) as soon as you get on the bus.

Clark Ádám tér is at the western end of the Széchenyi Lánchíd, to many, the most beautiful of the bridges over the Danube. 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. If you are coming from Pest, the walk across the bridge is pleasant and, since traffic on the bridge can be congested, likely to be faster than bus (the bus no. 16 goes up to the Castle Hill) or cab.

The touristy but fun Budavári Sikló cable car climbs up Castle Hill, the start being just opposite the Chain Bridge and the end next to the Fisherman's Bastion. As the cable car rises up the hill you get a spectacular view of view of Pest across the river. 400/500 Ft one way/return.

A convenient tram (no. 19, 41) also trundles down the Buda bank of the river.

See

Castle Hill

Most of Budapest's attractions are packed in and around the Castle Hill (Várhegy) on the Buda side. It includes such major attractions in and around Buda Castle (Budavár):

  • Royal Palace (Királyi palota),
  • St Matthias Church (Mátyás templom),
  • Fisherman's Bastion (Halászbástya),
  • Mary Magdalene Tower (Mária Magdolna torony),
  • National Gallery (Nemzeti Galéria),
  • Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art,
  • Turol Bird sculpture.
  • You can walk around in the old romantic streets or see the great view of Pest.

Western Buda

  • Elizabeth Lookout (Erzsébet kilátó) is Budapest's highest peak with its 527 meters. One possible 'vehicle' to reach it is the Chair-lift (Libegő), starting out from the terminal of bus 158. Open hours of the Chair-lift: between 15th of May and 15th of September: 9am-5pm, between 15th of September and 15th of May: 9:30am-4pm.


Southern Buda

The "Bottomless pond" (Feneketlen tó) near Móricz Zsigmond körtér
  • Gellért Hotel and Bath at Szent Gellért tér is a very popular spa among tourists. Worth to see even if you don't intend to swim.
  • Rock Church (Sziklatemplom) at the southeastern edge of Gellért Hill. The church was created from a natural cave system following the Lourdes cave as sample in 1926. To reach the church, go to Szent Gellért tér, turn towards Gellért Hill and look for the big white cross - you can find the church below this cross.
  • Citadella, the former fortress on top of Gellért Hill (Gellérthegy) offers a superb panorama over Central Budapest including bank os Danube River, Buda Castle and Pest city.

Northern Buda

  • Aquincum the ruins of ancient Roman city in Óbuda, north of Buda. Can be reached by HÉV from Batthyány tér.
  • Museum of Victor Vasarely at Szentlélek tér. -- Take HÉV from Batthyány tér and get off at Árpád-híd stop. The museum entrance is just next to the square where many buses stop.
  • Margaret Island (Margitsziget). Margaret Island is connected to the city by Árpád Bridge to the north and Margaret Bridge to the south. You can make pleasant walks in its large parks. You will see people jogging and young couples dating. There is a nice fountain on southern and of the island. Perfect for a sunny afternoon!
The site of a wartime tragedy when exploding dynamite killed hundreds on a busy afternoon. Today, the entire island is a park with more than ten thousand trees, most of them planted by various Habsburg gardeners to stop soil erosion during floods. At the Margaret Bridge entrance to the island, there is a fountain and the Centenary Monument (by István Kiss, 1972), which was built for the hundredth anniversary of the union of the cities Buda and Pest.
  • On Hajógyári-sziget Island on the Danube, Budapest hosts the Sziget fesztivál, which is Central Europe's most popular summer festival. It attracks more than 300,000 visitors every August. Young and old, Hungarian and foreigner can find his/her entertainment. Take HÉV from Batthyány tér and get off at Filatorigát stop. Follow the crowd.

Museums

Do

  • The Palatinus Outdoor Baths, on the Buda side, have three pools (totalling 17.5 acres) filled with therapeutic water. 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. At the northern end of the island is the Grand Hotel and Hotel Thermal, which offer medical treatment and spa facilities.
  • Gellért Hotel and Baths (Kelenhegyi utca 4, at the base of Gellért Hill). Open 6a-7p daily. 1200 ft entry fee, therapeutic massage 450 ft extra. While the Kiraly baths may be a more authentic Turkish bath experience (and there are many thermal baths in Budapest), those at the Gellért can't be beat for style. This is probably the finest Art Nouveau pool in Europe, and the baths are beautiful as well as relaxing. There are separate Turkish-style thermal baths for men and women, which encompass several different areas: the soaking pool (which is about body temperature), the showers, the sauna and the cold pool (designed to scare the living daylights out of one's body after it's been happily lounging in the warmth). The young massage therapists mean business. 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.
  • FONÓ Music House, [1] XI. district, Sztregova u. 3. Tel.: 206-5300, 203-1752. Fax: 463-0479 (Take tram no. 18, 41 or 47 southward from Móricz Zsigmond körtér and get off at Kalotaszeg utca stop. Walk backwards 2 minutes and take the first street on the right.) Fonó provides a high quality selection of Hungarian folk, etno and world music. They offer concerts, folkdance performances as well dance houses called táncház in Hungarian. Every Wednesday evening they have Hungarian dance club (don't expect to be able to join, it's too difficult) which is a perfect place to see how young Hungarians revitalize traditional culture.

Buy

Markets

  • Market Hall Fehérvári út. Recently rebuilt. Get your lunch for HUF 500 on the second floor!

Malls and department stores

  • Mammut 1 & Mammut 2. Széna tér. Huge malls on the corner of Moszkva tér.

Eat

Coffeehouses

  • Ruszwurm (Coffeehouse) -- Szentháromság utca 7, right across the street from St. Matthias Church, on Castle Hill, tel. (36-1) 375-5284. Open daily 10a-7p. This tiny coffeehouse in the Castle District is the oldest continually operating café in the city. As a coffeehouse it dates to the 1820s, and its original furnishings are still intact. Because the furniture is original, this may be one of the only non-smoking cafés in the city! On a historical note, this location has sold sweets of some kind or another since the Middle Ages, when it was a gingerbread shop. The same family has been operating Ruszwurm since the early years of this century, and all the cakes are made on-premises.

Restaurants

Budget

  • Nagyi palacsintázója (Granny's pancakes): you can have sweet and salt pancakes with various fillings for a quite low price. They have two restaurants in Buda: one at Batthyány tér at the stop of Metro line 2 (red line), the other at the corner of Hattyú utca and Csalogány utca, next to Moszkva tér. Open 24/7!
  • Marxim is an athmospheric pub-like restaurant. It is rather smoky and usually packed with local youngs but the post-communist interior is a must. You can have pizzas like "Usonka" or "Lenin's favourite" (around 1000 Ft). 15 minutes walk from Moszkva tér. Kisrókus utca 23, tel. 316-02-31. (Follow the 4/6 tram tracks and find Kisrókus utca on the left after a big ugly office building. Look for the Red Star.)

Mid-range

  • Szent Jupát Sörözô & Étterem restaurant -- near Moskva ter metro. Retek utca 16, tel. 212-29-23. A well-known restaurant serving tasty and authentic Hungarian food, but the service leaves a little to be desired.
  • Leroy Cafe. Arany János utca. Great view of St. Stephen's Basilica. Original and tasty interpretations of the Hungarian food, as well as Italian and other varieties of European food.

Splurge

  • Seoul House. Fo utca 8, tel. 201-9607. Some of the most authentic Korean food this side of Seoul, helped in no small part by the presence of the South Korean embassy right next door. On the expensive side (2000 Ft and up), but as usual in Korea ordering a single main course also gets you a vast array of side dishes. Near the Chain Bridge.

Drink

  • House of Hungarian Wines (Magyar Borok Háza). I. Szentháromság tér 6, [2]. Open daily 12 PM to 8 PM. For a reasonable price (presently around 3500 ft) you get to wander around their cavern and taste selections from over 55 different kinds of wine. A great place to get a sampler before you go shopping for wine. You even get to taste a variety of the divine Tokaji dessert wines, and will get a souvenir glass at the end. Use your Budapest Card for extra discounts.
  • A38 [3] Turned to a music club from an old Ukranian stone-carrier ship, A38 is considered as one of Budapest's best quality party places. They also have a pricy restaurant. 3 minutes walk southwards from Petofi Bridge, Buda side. On the Danube, of course.
  • Zold Pardon [4] Open-air bar offering "almost-free" live concerts every night. Open: from late April until middle of September. Right next to Petofi Bridge, southern side.
  • Rio [5] Right next to Petofi Bridge, northern side.

Sleep

Buda - due to the closeness of the hills and the forests lying to the west from the city - has better air quality. You can find large scale of accommodation from the small cheap pension to the luxurious 5-star hotels.

Or, you can stay in Pest.

Budget

  • The Backpacker Guesthouse [6] is a highly recommended backpacker favourite. This small-to-mid size hostel is laid back and extremely friendly and personable. Kitchen access, inexpensive beer for sale, a great lounge with lots of (free) movies to watch, hammocks in the backyard, in a residential neighborhood near the 51/53 tramline and near a grocery store.
  • Diáksport Hostel is the flagship of Budapest's largest hostel chain. Huge and impersonal, but a good way to meet... other backpackers.
  • Travelers' Hostel Schönherz, Irinyi út 42., District XI, mainly functions as the student hostel for Budapest University of Technology and Economics, but has some rooms for travellers (off the academic period there are more rooms). Easily accessible with tram No. 4 (stop Budafoki út), and easily noticeable, because it's an 18 story high building.

[7]

Mid-range

  • Danubius Grand Hotel Margitsziget, H-1128 Budapest, Moszkva Ter. The 164 rooms are elegantly furnished in classical style softly blending historical atmosphere and modern comfort. It is located in a picturesque surrounding on Margaret island, yet in the heart of Budapest, in a natural park. Direct connection through corridor to the spa therapy center of the neighboring Danubius Thermal Hotel Margitsziget.
  • ApartmentsApart , [8]. +48.22.820.9229 (1-866-387-6429 Toll Free from the USA & Canada). More than 40 serviced apartments are offered within the historical city of Budapest. Studios, 1, 2 & 3 bedrooms for every budget. Studios start as low as € 45 per night. All apartments are centrally located to ensure easy walking distance to Budapest's main attractions.
  • Buda Panzió, H-1125 Budapest, Kiss Áron u. 6. [9] Quiet surroundings, guaranteed rest.
  • Hotel Wien, H-1118 Budapest, Budaörsi út 88-90., [10] 15 minutes from the Castle Hill, with very good transportation, even at night.
  • Budapest Apartment 4, H-1128 Budapest, Moszkva Ter[11] 5 minutes from the Castle Hill, with very good transportation, even at night. Stay at our wonderful apartments located on the Buda Side, facing the river.
  • Leo Panzio is centrally located near Váci utca, and a small, friendly and modern three-star hotel
  • Luna Hotel, Vegyész utca 17, tel. 204-6868 [12] A 3-star hotel built in 2001, the major downside to this otherwise pleasant place is the inconvenient location far to the south of town, twenty minutes from the center by tram line 47. On the plus side, rooms start at €49 including breakfast, and there's a fair selection of "real" Hungarian restaurants, bars and stores nearby with prices far below those in the city center.
  • Radio Inn is a small 3-star apartment hotel in a quiet upscale neighborhood, within easy walking distance of City Park.

Splurge

  • Hilton Hotel has an excellent location to the north of the Mátyás Templom. You can decide if the modern architecture with mirrored windows is a triumph of commercial design or a hideous blight.
  • Hotel Gellert is one of the most traditional Hotels in Budapest and Hungary. The Hotel Gellért located in picturesque environment at the foot of the Gellért Hill, on the bank of the Danube is ideally situated for both business and leisure travellers. This impressive location is within walking distance to Budapest's most fashionable shopping and business district with one of the most beautiful sights of Budapest, the Liberty Bridge. The Bath operated by the Budapest Association of Spa and Thermal Baths, all courses of cure can be offered to the Hotel guests.
  • Novotel Budapest Congress, H-1123 Budapest, Alkotás u. 63-67, tel. 372-5400 [13] is a conference hotel close to the city centre with good transportation facilities to the spectacular places.

Get out

  • Cave walking in the Buda Hills. Another way of passing a few hours is to visit the Caves on the Buda hills. There are 2 major caves, Pálvölgy Cave and Szemlő Hill Cave. Some of the guides do not speak any English but they give a free English pamphlet for the tour.
  • The Children's Railway (Gyermekvasút) and Cog Railway (Fogaskerekű vasút) in the Buda Hills. A great escape from the city. The Cog railway leaves from near Moscow Square (take tram 56 for two stops) and climbs through the wooded Buda Hills. At the top, take the Children's Railway through the hills and take the tram back down from the far end. Note: if you have an old map, you're supposed to find Pioneers' Railway (Úttörővasút) instead of Children's Railway in it, which is the former name of the railway from the soviet era.
  • Statue Park. [14]. Located at the corner of Balatoni utca and Szabadkai utca (From the blue metro line stop Ferenciek tere, take the 7-173 red-blue bus to Kosztolányi Dezső tér, then the yellow Volan bus from stall 6.). tel. (36-1) 227-7446. Open 10a-sunset every day except 1 Dec-28 Feb, when it is open weekends only, 10a-dusk. Tickets 200 forints. The Statue Park, was first conceived by the literary historian László Szörényi in 1989 when he suggested the various Lenin statues from all over Hungary could be gathered into one "Lenin garden." According to Ákos Eleôd, the architect: "This park is about dictatorship. And at the same time, because it can be talked about, described, built, this park is about democracy. After all, only democracy is able to give the opportunity to let us think freely about dictatorship." Possible souvenirs are t-shirts which poke fun at communism, German Trabant car models, CDs of Hungarian communist fight songs, reproduction Hungarian Communist Party membership booklets and kitschy postcards of old communist advertisements. The park is -perhaps appropriately- in a badly-kept state, and signs are in Hungarian only. If you plan on visiting this sight, realize that it might provide you with entertainment for about fifteen minutes, while you'll have to wait ninety minutes for the only bus returning to the city (as of March 2006).

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