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Latest revision as of 07:02, 4 May 2010

Budapest demo is a huge city with several district articles containing sightseeing, restaurant, nightlife and accommodation listings — have a look at each of them.
The Danube River and the leafy hills of Buda

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

Districts[edit]

Districts of Budapest

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

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

Understand[edit]

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

History[edit]

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

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

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

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

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

Official Tourism Information[edit]

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

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

Ferihegy International Airport (IATA: BUD [3], Ferihegyi Nemzetközi Repülőtér; pronounced "Ferry-hedge") is the country's largest airport and the hub of the Hungarian national carrier Malév. It has two terminals a few kilometers apart, imaginatively entitled Terminal 1 and Terminal 2, often mentioned as Ferihegy-1 and Ferihegy-2, respectively.

Terminals[edit]

The small but renewed Terminal 1 (gates 1-10; originally opened May 7, 1950) is being used by discount air companies. There are numerous low-budget airlines to serve Budapest; most importants are EasyJet (from Germany, Great Britain and Switzerland), SkyEurope (from Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, France, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Spain and Switzerland) and WizzAir (from Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Spain and Sweden). Other low-fare companies also operate regulare flights to/from Budapest: AirBerlin (from Germany), Blue1 (from Finland), Germanwings (from Germany), Jet2 (from Great Britain), Norwegian Air Shuttle (from Norway), SmartWings (from Czech Republic and Spain) and Sterling (from Denmark and Sweden).

Note that RyanAir currently only flies to Balaton Airport(IATA: SOB) in Hungary, about 180 km from Budapest.

The more spacious Terminal 2 (dated November 1, 1985) is further split into terminal 2A and 2B. Terminal 2A (gates 20-30) is used by MALÉV Hungarian Airlines and its partner airlines, Aer Lingus, Aeroflot, Carpatair, ČSA Czech Airlines and Moldavian Airlines. Terminal 2B (gates 11-19) is used by the major international carriers.

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

Connections[edit]

Budapest is connected with the major European cities and most of the EU countries by direct flights. There is scheduled service between Budapest and North America, operated by Malév and Delta Airlines. The city is connected with some countries of the Middle East, Asia and North Africa.

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

Airport transfer[edit]

For travelling between the airport and the city center the best options are taxi or public transport; taxi is the fastest, public transportation is the less expensive way to get in.

In 2006 a taxi company named Zóna Taxi [5] +36(1)365-5555 won monopoly for the right to take passengers from the airport. The company has received good reputation from the clients. You will have to pay the price in advance at the stand, where you will get a receipt; this eliminates any rip-off. The fare varies according to the zone you go. A trip to Budapest costs HUF 2900-3600; a Terminal 1/Terminal 2 transfer is HUF 1600. A slight price rise is expected later in 2007.

Unless you have a pre-ordered taxi from a different company, do not accept any offer from taxi drivers waiting in the terminal main hall or around the entrance. Some of them may want to mislead travellers, demanding them as much as EUR 80-100 for a single trip.

Be warned if you travel the other way around (from city to airport) the price is higher irrelevant whichever taxi company you are likely to choose. Still, the previously mentioned Zóna Taxi tends to be the cheapest(though others are only a few hundred HUF more expensive), ranging HUF 4000-4500 as of early February 2007. The same goes with this 'transfer' with the ones from the airport to city : do never take a taxi on sight, rather pre-order it a day advance on the chosen company's phone number(operators, at least at Zóna Taxi, do speak English).

The cheapest way to the city center from Terminal 2 is to take bus 200; from Terminal 1 is to hop on bus 200 or bus 93 to Kőbánya-Kispest metro station (terminus of M3 /blue/ line). Buses leaving for Budapest center stop outside the terminal buildings; there is only one stop for Terminal 2A and 2B. Vehicles on the line 200 are modern, low floor buses equipped with a reliable display and sound information system and relatively spacious luggage holding facilities; drivers sell one way tickets for HUF 260. The bus takes you from Terminal 1 to Kőbánya-Kispest metro station in 15-17 minutes, while the journey takes about 26-30 minutes from Terminal 2. Bus 93 operates only on weekdays, it is slower and less frequent, being intended mostly to serve residential areas between the airport and the metro. Note that public transport tickets are also available in the main terminal halls for HUF 230. Bus 200 runs every 8-20 minutes from 04:55 AM to 00:15 AM from Terminal 2 to the center, and from 05:05 AM to 00:25 AM from Terminal 1 to the center. The last four departures are connected to the night buses 914 and 950 which replace the metro. There is no night bus service between the airport and the city center. At Kőbánya-Kispest M3 station you can choose among a wide range of public transport tickets and proceed to the center of Budapest. When arriving from the city to Terminal 1, pay attention to get down in time, since terminal building is not visible from the main road where the bus stops.

If you travel alone, it is worth considering using the Airport Minibus service, a "shared taxi"-type operation that rounds up passengers going in the same direction and will take you to or from anywhere in Budapest for HUF 2300 per person. Join the queue at the airport and you'll be on your way in 15 minutes; for the trip back, call the center (at least 24h beforehand) and they'll be there to pick you up.

If your final destination is an East Hungarian city like Debrecen or you intend to proceed to Romania, from Terminal 1 you can reach Szemeretelep railway station walking. The distance is not more than 800 m, but do not expect directions on your way. Train staff will sell you a ticket without any extra fee because Szemeretelep is not served by a ticket office or a vending machine. Otherwise it is easier to get to Kőbánya-Kispest metro-railways station by bus or by taxi, and catch your train there. Find your connection at Hungarian Railways timetable.

The construction of a new railway station for serving Terminal 1 is expected to December 2007, but do not hold your breath.

Duty Free Shopping at Terminal 2[edit]

Duty free stores are operated by Travel Value [6].

Among dedicated brand shops, there are only Hugo Boss and Swarowsky.

Traditional alco-tobacco-sweets assortment shop has a decent choice of local wines, mainly by Gundel.

Local souvenirs shop has a particularly useless stuff.


Airport cafes[edit]

  • Caffè Ritazza, Terminal 2A, [7]. One is in a pre-checkin area; another is in the boarding area, after passport control. Any coffee drink can be made on decaf. Good selection of sandwiches. An outlet of Caffè Ritazza international chain (also in Athens, Madrid, Milan, London, Paris, New York, Stockholm, Zurich, Vienna).  edit

Terminal 2B pre-boarding area has half a dozen of cafes.

By train[edit]

Due to its ideal location in Central Europe, Budapest is easily reachable by train from other European countries; there are daily connections to/from Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, Greece, Italy, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland, Turkey and Ukraine; Budapest is also well connected to other Hungarian cities.

The city is also an ideal starting point to visit The Balkans, Russia or Ukraine by rail. Trains coming from Austria and Western Europe are clean and safe, the ones arriving from other countries tend to be shakier. Night trains coming from The Balkans and Romania are supposed to be less safe; take normal precautions.

Budapest has a number of railway stations (pályaudvar), the main ones being Keleti pályaudvar (Eastern Railway Station), Déli pályaudvar (Southern Railway Station) and Nyugati pályaudvar (Western Railway Station). The stations are not named for their geographic location in the city, nor for the direction of the destinations served by each; trains to Vienna, for example, leave from Keleti. The stations are well connected to each other and to the rest of the city. Keleti and Déli Railway Stations are located on metro 2; Nyugati Railway Station is on metro 3 (you can change metro lines at Deák tér station). A transfer should not take more than 15 minutes at peak hours; slightly more on weekends and evenings. During the night Keleti Railway Station is served by 907, 908 921, 931, 956 and 973 night buses; Nyugati Railway Station is covered by the service of 906, 923, 914 and 950 lines; Déli Railway Station is available by 921 and 960 buses.

Depending on where you are coming from, some outer stations can be useful to you; trains arriving from Vienna, Bratislava, the lake Balaton or other western locations stop at Budapest Kelenföld station, which is a good public transport hub for Southern Buda. Trains arriving from Romania, Ukraine and Eastern Hungarian cities regularly stop at Kőbánya-Kispest station, a good place to get to Eastern Budapest or to Ferihegy Airport.

Major Budapest stations are still are not up to western quality standards; they are hard to access for people with disabilities and their facilities are very limited. Do not expect luggage trolleys or clean toilets. Having food or a coffee at a Budapest railway station is unlikely to give you a gastronomic buzz; it's also difficult to find a good nearby cafe if you didn't research in advance. Be prepared for long queues at the ticket office; English is rarely spoken.

Scams: Although the stations are not dangerous, there is always a small risk of petty crime; use your common sense and avoid shady figures. Try not to fall in the trap of dishonest taxi drivers and fake tourist information guys hanging around in the main entrance hall in Keleti Station, unless you are willing to pay five times more for your hotel room and for the trip there. Sit only in taxis pre-ordered by you or logoed by one of the biggest companies. Make sure the taximeter is on or bargain the price with the driver beforehand. However, do not worry, take normal precautions and you will not face any problem. Hungarian railways are definitely safe.

Hungary’s rail system is operated almost entirely by Hungarian State Railways (Magyar Államvasutak, MÁV). If you arrive to Budapest from another Hungarian city, you can choose among a wide range of services. Travelling by Intercity is more expensive but vehicles are much cleaner and faster than regular trains (2nd class price sample as of February 2007: Győr-Budapest Intercity, 1h 26 min, HUF 2230; regular train 1h 45 min, HUF 1710). Always check if your train is subject to compulsory reservation; for prices and further information check MÁV’s timetable. It is wise to reserve your Intercity tickets for national holidays, Friday and Sunday evenings beforehand. It is still NOT possible to buy rail tickets via Internet.

Note that EU citizens under 26 years get 33% discount on trains between Friday 22.00 PM and Sunday 24.00 PM; EU citizens older than 65 years travel for free on every train on second class. On Intercity trains extra fare is applicable. Discounted rates are NOT available on international rails.

For your international travel plan, check Deutsche Bahn's European Timetable.

By bus[edit]

While many travellers leave out this possibility, arriving to Budapest by bus can be an easy and painless option. The city is connected to Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Ukraine by direct lines. Although most of connections are not as frequent as they were before the low-fare airlines revolution, they still run two or three times a week; from Austria and Slovakia daily. Prices tend to be slightly lower than train fares, but higher than a discount air ticket. Travelling by bus is a very competitive option if you catch your bus to Budapest in a city not covered by budget airlines (in Strasbourg, France, for example). All the international lines are logoed by Eurolines [8], whose site offers a good way to check prices, timetables and book your ticket. Some special discounts may not be available via Internet.

Hungary’s national bus network is operated by 28 state run companies, united in Volán Association [9]. If you arrive to Budapest from another Hungarian city, bus is often the best option. Connections are frequent, prices are lower than Intercity, but somewhat higher than regular train rates (price sample as of February 2007: Győr-Budapest, 1h 50 min, HUF 1890). It is expected a joint tariff system for railway and bus network for late 2007. Long-distance buses are clean and safe, but often subject to delays. Buy your ticket at the station ticket desk before boarding; if you do not take your bus at a main station, it is possible to buy a ticket from the driver. It is a good idea to reserve your tickets for national holidays, Friday and Sunday evenings beforehand. It is NOT possible to book a national ticket via Internet, but you can check Volán’s official timetable [10]. It is available only in Hungarian, but easy to use: “honnan” means ‘from’, “hová” is ‘to’; write your departure date in format year/month/day, leave the other parameters alone and press “keresés”, ‘search’. Check the results on the next page. (“Autóbusz állomás” will mean ‘bus station’, while “naponta” is ‘daily’).

Budapest’s main bus stations are very well connected to the rest of the city, although they are located in outer zones. All of them are safe and (relatively) clean. Use your common sense and sit only in taxis logoed by bigger companies. Most useful bus stations for travellers are following:

  • Népliget Bus station (Népliget autóbuszállomás, metro M3, Népliget station, tram 1 and 1A). Buses from abroad and most of Western Hungarian destinations arrive (and depart) here. Fairly modern station with reliable facilities. Do not forget to check in if you travel abroad.
  • Stadion Bus Station (Stadion autóbuszállomás, formerly known as Népstadion autóbuszállomás, metro M2 Stadionok station, tram 1 and 1A). The biggest hub for Eastern Hungarian destinations, quite modern but somewhat dirty station built underground.
  • Árpád Bridge Bus Station (Árpád híd autóbuszállomás, metro M2 Árpád híd station). A smaller station for some Northern destinations and suburban traffic; it can be used by you if you intend to visit Szentendre, Esztergom or Visegrád by bus.
  • Etele tér Bus Station (Etele téri autóbuszállomás, bus 7 fast (red) , 173 fast (red)). A newly built station next to Kelenföld Railway Station, at the future terminus of metro line 4, intended mostly for agglomeration traffic. It is useful for getting to Statue Park.

By boat[edit]

There is a scheduled hydrofoil service on the Danube to and from Vienna and Bratislava daily between early April and early November operated by Mahart [11].

Get around[edit]

Public transportation in Budapest is run by BKV, which has a useful English-language site. As of February 2007, single tickets cost HUF 230 (HUF 260 if you buy them on board - note that tickets are sold by the driver only on selected routes). If you intend to travel a lot, it's a better option to get a one-day travel card (HUF 1350) or a discount coupon book (10 tickets for HUF 2050, 20 tickets for HUF 3900) or a three-day travel card (HUF 3100). Information about tickets and prices can be found on BKV's ticket and pass information site. One ticket is good for only one journey; anytime you take a new vehicle, you should validate another ticket.

The Budapest Card is an excellent discount card for travel in the city. There are 2 and 3 day versions, and besides allowing free travel on all public transport, it gives you discounts at museums, restaurants, etc. The 2-day card costs HUF 6450, the 3-day card is HUF 7950.

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

By foot[edit]

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

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

By metro[edit]

Budapest's metro, consisting of three main lines M1 (southwest-northeast) from Mexikói road, to Vörösmarty square; M2 (east-west) from Southern railway station, to Örs vezér square and M3 (north-south) from Újpest-city center, to Kőbánya-Kispest. It's in good condition, not overcrowded and an excellent way to get around the city.

The yellow M1 line runs shorter trains and sometimes still uses old wooden metro cars--a fun change from the ordinary, Soviet-style steel metro cars seen on the red M2 line and the blue M3 line, as well as elsewhere in Central Europe. M1 stations are also surprising, like as you find a tram in a normal pedestrian underpass.

Sometimes called the Millenium Metro, because it was built to celebrate the thousandth year of Hungarian nationhood in 1896 along with the Millenary Monument, the yellow line was recently renovated for its hundredth anniversary. The line is a historical memory of Budapest's richest period (around 1880-1910). It is the first underground in the Continental Europe (and the second in the world, after London; Paris was only the 3rd -- and Hungarians are really proud of having the oldest continental subway). The stations covered in white and dark brown-red ceramic tile signs are the originals.

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

The ticket inspectors usually speak enough English, German or Russian to get their point across.

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

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

By tram[edit]

Trams are a tourist-friendly way of getting around, slower but more scenic than the subway and particularly useful on the nearly subway-less Buda side of the river. Be careful about doors--they open on different side of the tram on different stations.

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

Tram lines 4 and 6 are supposed to be the most useful vehicles by many tourists. Both follow Nagykörút, Pest's inner ring road, providing access to all three metro lines at multiple stations, and crossing over to Buda on the Margaret Bridge - another beautiful view. Although technically two lines, 4 and 6 only diverge for their last two stops, which the tourist is unlikely to visit.

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


By bus[edit]

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

By trolley-bus[edit]

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

Nightbuses[edit]

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

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

By train[edit]

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

By car[edit]

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

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

By taxi[edit]

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

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

See also: Hungary#By taxi.

By bicycle[edit]

Bikeways separated from automobile roads are all around the downtown and, possibly, in the outskirts as well. There are many cyclers on the streets even in winter time. Renting a bike doesn't seem a problem also, even in winter time.

Orientation[edit]

The Chain Bridge and a view of Pest

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

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

See[edit][add listing]

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

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

The Chain Bridge with Buda Castle Hill in the background

The main sights on Castle Hill are:

  • The Royal Palace (Királyi palota). The most popular attraction on the hill.
  • The National Gallery (Nemzeti Galéria)[12], inside the Royal Palace wings B, C and D houses an astounding collection of paintings.
  • The Fisherman's Bastion and lookout terrace (Halászbástya). For great view across the Danube to Pest.
  • Matthew Church (Mátyás templom, aka Church of Our Lady). Dominant neogothic church crowning Budapest's cityscape - nowadays is under reconstruction.

Other museums on the Castle Hill:

  • The Historical Museum of Budapest[13]
  • The Music Museum includes a collection of musical instruments and and the Bartok archive.
  • The Military Museum [14]

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 very recommended since you can enjoy both riverbanks at the same time - they are very spectacular at night.

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

The Parliament Building

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

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

Museums in at the city centre:

  • Museum of Ethnography[15]
  • National Museum[16]
  • Museum of Applies Arts[17]
  • Natural History Museum[18]
  • Ludwig Museum of Modern Art[19]
  • Holocaust Memorial Centre[20]


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

  • The State Opera House
  • The House of Terror (Terror Háza) [21]. Housed in the secret police headquarters, this museum objectively documents the terror of the Nazi and communist eras. Visiting is hard work, but essential for anyone wishing to understand Hungary's recent past.
  • The Hopp Museum of East Asian Art [22]
Heroes' Square
  • The City Park (Városliget) at the far end is probably the most pleasant of Pest's districts and features several interesting if low-key attractions which are often overlooked:
    • Heroes' square (Hősök tere) - with the Millenium Monument
    • Museum of Fine Arts (Szépművészeti Múzeum)[23] has an incredible range of European artwork from Greek and Roman times to the present. Especially valuable is its collection of Spanish Baroque painting.
    • Vajdahunyad Vára is a castle on a little island on a lake built for the 1898 World Fair. In the winter, the lake is turned into the city's biggest ice rink.

On Buda side there are:

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

Do[edit][add listing]

  • Catch the opera at Pest's spectacular State Opera or a performance of classical music at any of Budapest's many concert halls.
  • Cinemas (mainly in Pest) are a favourite pastime. Not just the big American blockbusters showing in badly subtitled versions all over the continent, but also smaller art films most people in their countries of origin haven't seen. Films are almost always subtitled rather than dubbed, which makes movie-going convenient for non-Hungarians.
  • Cave walking in the Buda hills. Another way of passing a few hours is to visit the Caves on the Buda hills. There are 2 major caves, Pálvölgy Cave and Szemlő Hill Cave. Some of the guides do not speak any English but they give a free English pamphlet for the tour.
  • Buda Hill Labyrinth. The Labyrinths are accessible by two points on the Buda hills. Originally parts were formed from hot water springs and then during WW2, they were linked with some of the cellars on the hill to create an air raid shelter for up to 10,000 people and a military hospital. The labyrinth is now a popular tourist attraction.
  • The Sziget Festival at Obudai Island (=Sziget) attracts rock fans, world music hippies and the usual festival crowd every year in august. With cheap beer, great acts and a multitude of cultural, culinarian and musical offers, it's definitely a good deal. Day ticket are highly affordable, a week's ticket is about euro 100,-. More infos at http://www.sziget.hu

Baths[edit]

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 build around hot springs, and their central part is one or several thermal pools. They are usually complimented with several steam baths, saunas and massage services.

Traditional public baths (like Gellért, Széchényi) have quite 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. There're 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 can be rented), although this is not always strictly enforced.

Gellert Bath
  • Gellért Baths (Buda, Kelenhegyi utca 4; Gellért Hotel at the base of Gellért Hill). Open 6am-7pm daily. 1200 ft entry fee, therapeutic massage 450 ft extra. While the Kiraly baths may be a more authentic Turkish bath experience, 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.
Changing: Besides individual lockers and family cabins, there's some number of signle-person changing rooms in both men-only and women-only area.
What's inside: 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). Besides swimming pools and separate areas, there's a large open-air complex of pools (open only in summer time). The young massage therapists mean business.
Specialities: In shower area, there're also a strange stool without a seat, with a stream of water from the bottom (bidet?)--not used by anyone, though.
Visitors mix: Many locals; among tourists, no country seem to have a majority.
Inside Szechenyi bath
  • Széchényi Spa (Széchenyi Fürdő). Pest, Állatkerti krt. 11 (right next to the Zoo), [24]. Nearest metro station has the same name: Széchenyi fürdő (M1 yellow line). Indoor part open daily from 6am to 7pm; outdoor 6-10pm in winter; summer-time hours may be different. Admission fees are complex, but basically you hand over 2300 Ft and can get up to 700 Ft back if you leave within two hours.
Overview: Built in 1909 in the present-day City Park, this is the largest spa in Europe and its waters are reputedly capable of healing pretty much anything, particularly gynecological, dermatological, nervous system and digestive system problems.
Outdoors: Two soaking pools and one swimming pool are all open-air (even in winter), and form the center of the baths. In the swimming pool, swimming caps are mandatory and strictly enforced. All facilities are shared by men and women (except shower and toilets, of course). There's a swimming tube (a whirling corridor): round- (outdoors) or rectangle-shaped (indoors) pool with artificial flow; a unique feature that can't be found 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 area, near the cabins; around the year.
Indoors: Several saunas, one steam bath. Every sauna has a small cold-water pool near it. Northern part of indoors baths is more modern and clean.
Entrance: There's a number of safe boxes available (very up-to-date, with digital codes)--they can fit a notebook bag or attache case, but hardly a notebook backpack.

There're also very modern baths (like Danubius Grand Thermal Hotel) which are usually called spa, 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), [25]. until 9:30pm(?). High-level and modern baths and spa, also offers a great choice of medical treatment. Admission fee (5700ft weekdays, 7000ft weekends--Jan 2007) doesn't limit your time inside, and gives access to all spa facilities including a great gym (remember to bring your fitness suit). Solarium should be paid separately, remember before entering the changing rooms (1300ft for 10min). Also, all medical treatments should be paid separately.  edit
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), [26]. 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. Unreviewed by Wikitravellers yet.  edit

Others:

  • Király Baths. Buda, Fő utca 84 (metro: Batthyány tér). Old, authentic and pretty small; personnel speaks no English. Unreviewed by Wikitravellers yet.
  • The Palatinus Outdoor Baths, on the Margaret Island (Margitsziget), have three pools filled with therapeutic water--and a total of 11 pools (totalling 17.5 acres). In front of the baths is a beautiful rose garden, and nearby, an open-air stage where opera and ballet performances are held, plus an open-air cinema used during the summer.
  • Rudas, in Buda. Provides an authentic Turkish feel with its 16th century dome. Recommended (as of Jan 2000) as a authentic men-only bath, much more authentic than Gellert or Szechenyi. Parts of Schwarzenegger movie Red Heat was shot here.

Learn[edit]

  • Budapest University of Technology and Economics, [27] B.Sc. and M.Sc. engineering courses available for foreigners in English, French and German language at the International Education Center of the university.
  • Eötvös Loránd University, [28] 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, [29] world-famous music academy in the heart of the city.

Work[edit]

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

Buy[edit][add listing]

Paprika and more, Great Market Hall

Most of the visitors from far away end up shopping in Pest in the middle of the city: Váci utca and nearby. It is historically the most expensive part of the city. You'll find Hungarian linens and lace, pottery, and other items, in souvenir shops.

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). The prices aren't set in stone, so be sure to bargain.

Non-speciality shopping[edit]

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; if you are looking for international clothing shop chains like Mango or Zara, you can find them here. For electronics the cheap supermarkets like Electro World and Media Markt are good targets, but the quality is on par with the prices.

Eat[edit][add listing]

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.

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


Coffeehouses[edit]

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

Restaurants[edit]

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

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

Chains[edit]

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

  • Wasabi: [30], excellent Japanese and Korean food. Lunch 3790ft (11am-5pm weekdays).
  • Pest, Podmaniczky ut 21 (close to Nyugati station) 11:30am-11pm
  • Buda, Szépvölgyi ut 15 (train station Szépvölgyi ut) 11am-11pm
  • Trófea Grill The best among all-you-can-eat. Book a table in advance. Has 4 locations:
  • near Nyugati Train Station (Visegrádi u. 5)
  • at the final station of Metro line 1 (Erzsébet királyné út 5)
  • downtown by Margaret Bridge (Margit körút 2)
  • in the XIth district (Hauszmann Alajos / Szerémi út).

Grocery Stores[edit]

There are hypermarkets like "Auchan", "Tesco", "Cora" where daily stuff and food is cheap, and they offer an usually wide range of goods. (If you want to take some paprika as a souvenir, buy it here--it's much cheaper)

Drink[edit][add listing]

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

See the Buda, Castle Hill and Pest articles for detailed nightlife listings.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

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

Arriving trains are often met by touts offering free rides to hostels, as well as little old grannies offering their apartments for rent. Try to figure out exactly where you're going before you choose - or, better yet, visit any of the many travel agencies to browse the many options in a more comfortable environment.

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

See the Buda, Castle Hill and Pest articles for detailed accommodation listings.


Apartments[edit]

These are apartment providers that have multiple apartments around the town, each both in Buda and in Pest. See also Buda, Castle Hill and Pest district articles for individual apartments.

  • ApartmentsApart, [31]. +48.22.820.9229 (1-866-387-6429 Toll Free from the USA & Canada). More than 40 serviced apartments are offered within the historical part of the city. Studios, 1, 2 & 3 bedrooms for every budget. Studios start at €45 per night. All apartments have easy walking distance to city's main attractions.
  • Budapest Pension, [32]. +36 20 58967729 More than 40 pensions in Budapest.
  • Rent in Hungary, [33]. Tel: +36-309-547-851, email: rentinhungary@yahoo.com. "Comfortable, affordable alternative to hotels" as they say. See Buda Castle Apartment in Castle Hill, Kleopatra House Apartment in Pest for details on specific apartments.
  • Thomas Apartments, [34]. Pozsonyi street 38. 2nd floor 3. Tel: +36 309 547 851, . Prices from 12 EUR/person/night, check in anytime, flexibile check out.


Contact[edit]

Mobile phones work perfectly in metro even in tunnels between stations.


There are plenty of internet cafes locally charging from 100Ft/half hour.

Wifi Networks[edit]

  • T-Com Hotspot, [35]. Seems to operate only on prepaid cards. Covers many restaurants and other public places (total 87, as of Jan 2007). Prices as of Jan-2007: 0.5hrs =500ft; 1hr =1500ft; 5hrs=3900ft; 24hrs=8900ft.  edit
  • HotSpotSystem.com, [36]. 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 [37]) 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.  edit

Stay safe[edit]

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

  • Beware of the pickpockets (virtually everywhere you go nearby humans but especially on crowded trams and subway).
  • Policemen rarely speak English. Try not to mess with them, cause if that's the case, they respect you. If you break the law, they can treat you worse than local people.
  • Try to avoid walking alone in the night in outer zones of districts 8th and 9th as these are shady (but not particularly dangerous) areas. Bigger public parks are also to be avoided during the night. The downtown within Nagykörút, the touristy areas and Buda are completly safe. Night buses passing through the city center, mainly line 906 along Nagykörút can be extremly crowded on Friday and Saturday nights; pickpockets are frequent and there is a serious risk to come across with agressive drunk youngsters on the vehicles or at the stops. Always keep low profile or avoid weekend night public transportation system.
  • Since October 2006 there have been anti-governmental street demonstrations in the capital and in some major cities. In Budapest a few demonstrations resulted in street fights and affrays. Although political demonstrations are not to be avoided, never participate in violent, illegal or night demonstrations, as your personal security can not be guaranteed and police tends to arrest demonstrators and bystanders with no distinction.
  • Watch your steps: many pathways and grassy places are covered with dog feces, even though the situation is slowly getting better.

Cope[edit]

Get out[edit]

  • The attractive towns on the Danube Bend (Dunakanyar): Szentendre for its artistic community, Visegrád for its castle and Esztergom for its cathedral, imposingly sited on a hill overlooking the Danube.
  • The Hungarian Open-Air Museum (skanzen) [38], just outside Szentendre (40 minute train ride from Budapest) is easily reached by bus from the Szentendre HÉV (communal train) station. This is a huge tract of land to which ancient buildings have been moved from all parts of the country. Small farm villages, mostly with thatched roofs, now dot the landscape, along with barns, outbuildings and even churches. Many are furnished inside. Buy the English guide book, some of the attendants are very knowledgeable (and some not so) but few speak English. You could spend a whole day there (even several) and still have things left to see. There are many ongoing events offered, especially for families with children.
  • 30 kilometers east is Gödöllő, a town full of parks and home to the former royal palace.
  • Statue Park. [39]. Located at the corner of Balatoni utca and Szabadkai utca (From the blue metro line station Ferenciek tere, take the 7-173 red-blue bus to Etele tér, then the yellow suburban bus called "Érd, Diósdon át" to Szoborpark Múzeum stop; buses run every 10-30 minutes; buy your ticket at the desk before boarding). Tel.: (36-1) 227-7446. Open 10am-16pm every day. Tickets 600 forints, for international student card holders 400.
Rather than smash the statues of the Communist era, the Hungarians arranged them with a twist of irony in a park to the south of Buda. Visitors may well interpret this as an assertion that the Hungarian spirit is stronger than communism. 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 Eleőd, 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 in a badly-kept state, signs are in Hungarian only. Buy a booklet in English.
  • A great day trip is Visegrád, a town on the Danube Bend, where you find a former royal palace partially rebuilt in Renaissance style (accessible to people with physical disabilities), a medieval residential tower and an impressive citadel, which is about 30-50 minute hike up from the base. Take a train from Budapest Nyugati railway station to Nagymaros–Visegrád (cca. 40-60 minutes, runs every 60 minutes; the station will be on the opposite side of the river so you need to take a 5-minute ferry ride across; ferries are scheduled to train arrivals), or take a direct bus at Budapest, Árpád híd bus station to Visegrád (cca. 80 minutes, runs every 20-60 minutes). A more expensive (but much more picturesque) way to get to Visegrád is an excursion boat and a hydrofoil service run by MAHART (both daily once, only between April and late September).







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