* '''Metro 1, 2, 3''' connect the suburbs with the biggest transport hubs, numerous touristic highlights and central hotels.
* '''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 19''' runs on the Buda side. They offer a ride with great view of the opposite side.
* '''Tram 2''' runs along the river Danube on Pest side, '''Tram 19''' runs on the Buda side. They offer a ride with great view of the opposite side.
* '''Tram 4, 6''' follow ''Nagykörút'' (Grand Boulevard) offering (air conditioned) service up to every 3 minutes at peak times as well as throughout the night. They cross over to Buda on Margaret Bridge (Margit híd) - providing a majestic view - in the north, and on
Lágymányosi Bridge in the south, after which the two lines diverge for their last two stops in south-Buda. |+|
* '''Tram 4, 6''' follow ''Nagykörút'' (Grand Boulevard) offering (air conditioned) service up to every 3 minutes at peak times as well as throughout the night. They cross over to Buda on Margaret Bridge (Margit híd) - providing a majestic view - in the north, and on Bridge in the south, after which the two lines diverge for their last two stops in south-Buda.
* '''Bus 7, 7E, and 173, 173E''' connect Keleti railway station with the city center and many points of interest in Buda and Pest.
* '''Bus 7, 7E, and 173, 173E''' connect Keleti railway station with the city center and many points of interest in Buda and Pest.
* '''Bus 16/16A, 116''' take you to Buda Castle from Széll Kálmán tér (former Moszkva tér). Bus 16 starts from Deák Ferenc Tér, the metro line hub.
* '''Bus 16/16A, 116''' take you to Buda Castle from Széll Kálmán tér (former Moszkva tér). Bus 16 starts from Deák Ferenc Tér, the metro line hub.
Revision as of 22:27, 23 April 2013
The Hungarian national parliament. In the front the River Danube
Budapest's Chain Bridge and Castle Hill
- Budapest is a huge city with several district articles containing sightseeing, restaurant, nightlife and accommodation listings — have a look at each of them.
Budapest (Approx. Hungarian pronunciation: "boo-dah-pesht")  is the capital city of Hungary. With a unique, youthful atmosphere, world-class classical music scene as well as a pulsating nightlife increasingly appreciated among European youth, and last but not least, an exceptionally rich offer of natural thermal baths, Budapest is one of Europe's most delightful and enjoyable cities. Due to its scenic setting, and its architecture it is nicknamed "Paris of the East".
In 1987 Budapest was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List for the cultural and architectural significance of the Banks of the Danube, the Buda Castle Quarter and Andrássy Avenue.
Districts and quarters
Although Budapest is administratively divided into 23 numbered districts (always written in Roman numerals) it is colloquially often divided into parts, roughly corresponding to the two major cities of Buda and Pest, of which it is comprised.
Note that listings of restaurants and similar places can be found in the following articles:
- Buda - The area west from the Danube (Districts I-III, XI-XII, XXII), also including Óbuda in the north, the third, smaller town before the unification.
- Castle Hill - District I of Buda, the oldest part of the city containing the Castle and some of Budapest's best-known attractions such as Fishermen’s Bastion, the Labyrinth and Mathias Church.
- Pest - The area east from the Danube (Districts IV-IX), traditionally associated with a more pulsating city atmosphere.
Of course, quarters often offer their own atmosphere due to their history and inhabitants. Roughly speaking, areas near to, especially inside of Nagykörút (Great Boulevard or Ringroad, served by Tram 6) are considered central, even if some of these are in less than perfect condition and not typically frequented by tourists. In Pest, Kiskörút (Small Boulevard) is traditionally considered as the border of the centre proper, including some highly touristic areas.
Informally, quarters are known under their own historical name which are often referred to by the locals. The names are often linked to members of the House of Habsburg or - in fringe areas - the names of villages or towns which later became part of Budapest. Particularly interesting quarters are
Belváros (Inner City), Lipótváros (Leopold Town) With the latter being north of the Inner City, they together form the V. district, the heart of Pest, including a number of major sights but also beautiful squares and cafés. Including the Parliament, a number of ministries and banking houses, Leopold Town is also a major political and industrial centre of the country. The name refers to the Habsburg Emperor Leopold I whose coronation to the King of Hungary in 1790 gave rise to the name of the then-new quarter.
Újlipótváros (New Leopold Town) The inner part of the XIII. district, just outside of the Great Boulevard north of Leopold Town with the marvellous Margaret Bridge at its corner, was built between the 1910s and 1930s. It is considered as one of the finest residential areas in Budapest with a relaxed, inviting atmosphere and a number of restaurants, cafés and small shops. It also comprises the Vígszínház (Commedy Theatre) and a few tiny off-mainstream cinemas. The quarter is traditionally home to a population with Jewish background as the activity of people such as Raoul Wallenberg, Giorgio Perlasca, and Carl Lutz was linked to this area (see history).
Terézváros (Theresa Town) VI. district. Among others, it contains Nyugati pu. (Western Railway Station), an architectural sight, and areas neighbouring districts V. and XIII. The then-developing quarter was named after a visit of Habsburg Empress and Queen Maria Theresa in 1777.
Erzsébetváros (Elisabeth Town) VII. District. While parts of it are not yet renovated, it contains the famous Synagogue in the Dohány street. The quarter was split off from Terézváros and asked for permission to be named after the wife of Franz-Josef I, popularly called Sissy, in 1882.
Travelers are quickly recognising the appeal of Budapest, with tourism accounting for approximately 2.7 million visitors per year. Consisting of two cities with different flavours, Buda on the west bank of the Danube River and Pest on the east bank, Budapest offers travellers a unique atmosphere influenced by Viennese and Parisian architecture.
Hungarians are proud of what their beautiful capital has to offer and its contributions to European culture, especially in the field of music, and sciences. They also take some pride in their language which is unrelated to languages of the Indo-European family such as English, French or Russian. While e.g. Finnish is a distant relative to Hungarian, these two branches of the Uralic family are estimated to have diverged a few thousands years ago, and no communication between them is possible.
While Buda has been the capital of Hungary - or that of the Osman-occupied territory - for the better part of a millennium, it has become a grand cosmopolitan city during the country's fast industrialisation in the late nineteenth century. The population of 2.1 million in 1989 decreased formally due to suburbanization.
The first settlement on the territory of Budapest is accounted to Celtic tribes. During the first century AD, the Roman fortification on the territory of present-day Óbuda (now part of Budapest) gradually developed into the town of Aquincum which became the capital city of the province of Lower Pannonia in AD 106. The Romans even founded a fortress known as Contra Aquincum on the other side of the river which is assumed to have developed into the later town of Pest. This was part of the Limes, marking the eastern border of the empire, and was gradually given up by Rome during the early fourth century, becoming part of the Hun empire for a few decades. (Modern historical research does not associate the Huns with Hungarians, albeit even the name of the latter expresses this once popular idea.)
Once the horse-riding Magyar (Hungarian) tribes arrived in the Carpathian Basin in 896 AD, Óbuda served as the seat of the Magyar high-chieftain (or prince) Árpád.
After a century marked by frequent raids on Christian western Europe, (prince) Álmos realised
that converting to Christianity is the key to survival in Europe. The Christian Kingdom of Hungary was founded by the crowning of his son, Szt. István (St. Stephan) on the 1st January 1001 (or possibly Christmas day of 1000). As visitors will quickly realise, St. Stephan became an omnipresent national symbol, as did the artefact known as Saint Stephen's Crown (the Holy Crown of Hungary) which was regarded as a legal entity de jure equivalent to the country itself during medieval times. It is still unclear whether the millennium-old crown used in this function for many centuries and shown in the Parliament today, was already used by St. Stephen.
In the following centuries Buda emerged as the most important royal seat.
In 1241/42 the Mongol Empire conquered the territory along with large parts of Europe - this short but devastating conquest of the country is still remembered as Tatárjárás - the name reflecting the erroneous confusion of Mongols and Tatars at the time. Medieval Hungary reached its zenith under King Matthias (Matthias Corvinus), the vividly remembered renaissance ruler whose patronage of arts and sciences made Hungary, a notable power at the time, the first European country which adopted the renaissance from Italy. However, after residing in Buda for decades, he moved his seat to Vienna in 1485 for the last five years of his life after defeating the Habsburg Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III.
In 1541, Buda and Pest fell to the Ottoman Empire and were taken back 1686, when the Habsburg Empire centered in Austria conquered the country on its way to becoming a major European power. Marks of these two cultures are still part of everyday life in Budapest.
After the Anti-Habsburg revolution in 1848–49 (defeated through the decisive help of the Russian Czar) the 1867 Compromise (Kiegyezés) with a weakened Vienna made Buda the capital of a near-autonomous Hungary, a large, multi-ethnic Kingdom comprising half of the newly created Dual Monarchy of Austria-Hungary. In this peculiar double-state the Monarch was emperor and king ,respectively, of these two rather autonomous realms.
The following half century marked by peaceful development counts among the most successful times in the history of the country as well as its capital. With the 1873 unification of Buda, Pest, and Óbuda, the city of Budapest was officially created. It saw a leap in terms of industrialisation, urbanisation, and the development of a capitalistic society as well as population. It even aimed at rivalling with Vienna - the Millennium in 1896, marking a thousand year of Hungary, offered the perfect excuse for large-scale projects such as the Parliament, Vajdahunyad Castle, or the Grand Boulevard (Nagykörút) - Budapest transformed to a world city during these decades, enriched by Austrian, Jewish, Slovakian, Serbian, Croatian Roma and other cultural influence. This age is remembered as the 'Monarchia' (or as 'K. u. K.' - abbreviation for Imperial-Royal - in Austria, and other parts of the Empire) and associated with the rule of Franz Joseph I. (I. Ferenc József) who died in 1916 after 68 years on the throne.
Neither the Habsburg empire nor Hungary survived World War I in their previous form - leaving Budapest as the capital of a now formally independent Hungary which lost two third of its territories and most of its ethnicities, as well as a few million Hungarian speakers, to neighbouring countries. The city`s population reached one million around 1930. During the interwar years under the rule of regent Miklós Horthy, a former Admiral of the Austro-Hungarian fleet, Hungary became an ally of Germany. Near the end of World War II, nazi Germany occupied Hungary after it attempted to negotiate separate peace with the Allies, and eventually installed a bloody dictatorship putting the hitherto fairly unimportant nazi Nyilaskeresztes (Arrowcross) party in charge. While practically all of 400,000 Jews on the countryside were murdered by German nazis and their Hungarian nyilas sympathizers, roughly 60% of Budapest's Jewish community was saved during the Holocaust. People we keep in our memory for helping the local Jewish community include Raoul Wallenberg, the famous Swedish diplomat, who organised the distribution of Swedish passports by his Embassy to as many Jews as possible, and the Italian Giorgio Perlasca, who - pretending to be a Spanish diplomat - rescued many thousand Jews.
Air raids and a terrible three-month siege towards the end of World War II resulted in the death of over 38,000 civilians and destruction of much of the city once so lively.
After the war, Budapest slowly recovered and became a showcase for the more pragmatic policies of Hungary's hard-line Communist government under the dictatorial rule of Mátyás Rákosi. The city was, however, also the main site of the 1956 uprising which was successful in installing a reform-oriented (albeit communist) government of Imre Nagy. This was swept away before long, after the Soviet leader Khrushchev decided to send in the tanks feeling that Hungary is slipping away from under Moscow's control. The Soviets installed János Kádár as the leader of the communist state who, after over thirty years of controversial rule, was elected out of leadership 1988 by the central committee due to health issues, and died of 1989.
Since the peaceful 1989 'system change' (Rendszerváltás) which was achieved as a compromise between reformist party forces and the opposition (notably including a younger self of the current PM, Viktor Orbán) , Budapest transformed in appearance and atmosphere, a process further accelerated by the country's long-awaited joining to the European Union in 2004.
Quality of life
For those with a reasonable budget, Budapest offers a rather high quality of life. The offered range in terms of culture, cuisine, and general 'vibe' is comparable to other major European cities (see. dedicated sections), while prices are lower, influenced by salaries of the locals.
Local salaries are significantly lower than those in western Europe (a recent university graduate may earn e.g. 150-300 thousand HUF after taxes), so that living standard of the local population is somewhat lower, especially for those employed in lower paid jobs (official minimal salary is around 60 thousand HUF after taxes, as of 2012).
A more serious issue is unemployment, especially in the face of the recent economical problems. This is also connected to the rise in the number of homeless people seen in metro stations doorways in both Buda and Pest in recent years. While this does trouble locals who often grew up without seeing explicit homelessness (before '89), this issue is still minor compared to other major cities and usually does not present a safety risk to travellers.
Official Tourism Information
- Tourism Office of Budapest , 1115 Budapest, Bartók Béla út 105-113., 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)
Budapest Franz Liszt International Airport (IATA: BUD) , Budapest Liszt Ferenc Nemzetközi Repülőtér (pronounced "list-ferents"), formerly (and colloquially still) referred to as Ferihegy; is the country's largest airport, located about 16 km (10 miles) southeast of the city centre.
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.
Outside Budapest, there are alternative international airports in Debrecen, Sármellék, Győr-Pér and Pécs-Pogány.
The airport has two terminals, 2A and 2B, being within a short walking distance from each other.
The number 2 appearing in their names is due to the the former Terminal 1 (originally opened in the 1950, reopened 2005). However, Terminal 1 closed recently.
- Terminal 2 (opened in 1985) is divided into Terminal 2A (gates 20-30), serving Schengen Area destinations, and Terminal 2B (gates 11-19) serving non-Schengen Area destinations.
Duty free stores are operated by Travel Value . 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 choice of local wines, mainly by Gundel. You can find Caffè Ritazza  eateries on Terminal 2A, both in the pre-check-in area and the in the boarding area. Terminal 2B pre-boarding area offers half a dozen cafés.
Hungarian low cost airline Wizz Air operates flights between Budapest and more than twenty European cities. American Airlines operate direct flights between Budapest and New York City. Many low cost airlines also operate service to/from Budapest. London Heathrow is connected by a number of flights by American Airlines and British Airways, while discount airlines fly to London Luton, Gatwick and Stansted (2012). Paris is connected by flights from Air France (Roissy), and various low-cost companies (EasyJet from Orly, Ryanair and Wizz from Beauvais)
As of 2012, the following low cost airlines operate to and from Budapest:
- Aer Lingus  (from Ireland) - Terminal 2B;
- EasyJet  (from France, Germany, Great Britain and Switzerland);
- Germanwings  (from Germany);
- Jet2  (from Great Britain);
- Norwegian Air Shuttle  (from Denmark, Norway and Sweden);
- Ryanair  (from Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Finland, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Poland);
- transavia.com  (from the Netherlands);
- WizzAir  (from Belgium, Bulgaria, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Spain and Sweden).
There is a train station called Ferihegy next to former Terminal 1, from where suburban trains (called 'személy') run twice an hour to Budapest-Nyugati station in the city centre, taking 25 minutes. Although the trains are suburban trains, they are operated by MÁV and not included in the HÉV network.
(Dedicated train tickets can be purchased from cashiers or vending machines next to the cashiers in the pedestrian underpass in Nyugati - press the button 'Ferihegy'; normally the machine can give change. At Ferihegy station there is a modern ticket vending machine at the platform towards Budapest. A single full-fare train ticket costs 370 HUF for this travel, but local public transport travelcards are also valid ; these can be purchased at the newspaper vendors at the airport. If entering the train without ticked, you will pay an additional fine of approx. 2500 HUF , unless no cashier or vending machine was available at the station.)
Public transport between Ferihegy train station and Terminals 2A/2B is provided by the local bus 200E, running every 8-15 minutes, and travel time approx 10 min, see details here . The bus stop towards the Airport is situated directly next to the train station, but you have to pass a pedestrian bridge with elevators not always working. (Within the bus, this stop is called "Ferihegy vasútállomás" - i.e. train station - in case you want to get off there.)
Alternatively you can pre-order a taxi by phone to wait in the bus-stop, to get to the Airport faster or at night. Single bus tickets are available in airport terminals for HUF 350 at the newspaper vendors, or can be purchased from the driver for HUF 450.
The same bus line 200E runs somewhat further into the city, ending at the end station of metro M3 'Kőbánya-Kispest', a small local transport hub. Note that for transferring there to the metro, another 350 HUF-ticket is required. There exists a transfer ticket (átszállójegy) for 490 HUF which may be used all the way from the airport to the city center, but for unknown reasons these tickets are not sold in either the machines nor the kiosks at the airport - so if you want to save money and your journey starts and ends in Budapest, make sure to buy an extra transfer ticket in central Budapest before your departure to use for the return trip. The trip from the airport to Deák Ferenc tér metro station takes about 45 to 60 minutes.During nighttime (11 pm to 4 am) the 900 Nightbus departs Terminal 2 every 30 to 60 minutes, providing connectivity with the 950 Nightbus stop at Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út. The 950 bus travels to Rákospalota via the City Center (Deák Ferenc tér) and Nyugati railway station.
In addition to személy suburban trains, Ferihegy also has long-distance trains (called'InterCity' or 'gyors') to a number of other cities such as Szeged, Kecskemét, Debrecen´and Miskolc. (Warning: On the outbound platform there are some Intercity trains with Budapest-Keleti as destination - do not take this to get to Budapest as this is a ring service starting at Budapest-Nyugati and going through Ferihegy and eastern Hungary before terminating at Budapest-Keleti - taking some 5 h 45 min and costing 6660 HUF).
Long-distance trains to Budapest require a seat reservation which costs a couple of hundred HUF so unless you're in a hurry, stick to the trains labelled 'szémely'
- Minibus service. If you travel alone, consider the Airport Minibus service , a shared taxi operation that collects passengers going in the same direction and will take you to or from anywhere in Budapest for HUF 3.200 per person or HUF 5.500 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 centre at +36-1 296-8555 at least 24 hours beforehand and Airport Minibus will pick you up.
- Taxi. The only contracted taxi operator from Liszt Ferenc airport is Főtaxi . Depending on your destination, a trip to Budapest will costs between HUF 3.900-6.500 (3900 is valid around the airport, downtown hotels usually HUF 5,800 or €21 and above that). Queue at the taxi stand first 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.
WARNING: unless you have pre-ordered a taxi from a different company, do not accept offers from taxi drivers waiting (illegally) inside the terminal or near the exit. Pre-ordering by phone will generally get you a somewhat better price than the Fötaxi rates. However, on your trip into town you might receive a bonus from Főtaxi quoting cheaper fares towards Liszt Ferenc airport (i.e. €16 from Pest) - reserve a car by phone and quote the offer to save some money on your way back to the airport.
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 of from Hamburg), 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 , at least 3 days in advance.
- Vienna: 2¾h, every two hours, departing from Wien-Meidling station (as Wien Südbahnhof is being renovated as of 2012). For tickets from Vienna, as well as from other cities in Austria, note: 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  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, four trains a day, one direct during night with through seat, couchette and sleeper cars (11½h) and three EC trains through daytime with one transfer in Břeclav or Ostrava Svinov (10-11½h). 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 can be booked online here http://elvira.mav-start.hu/elvira.dll. Pick up your tickets at some of the vending machines with the 10-number booking code (e.g at Budapest Keleti). Normal ticket cost about €50 one-way, €77 return (a RailPlus discount is possible) and couchette reservation fee is €15.
- Ljubljana: 9-10h, no direct train, but a through car attached to different trains. Departing Ljubljana at 6:35 via Zagreb and Koprivnica arriving at Déli station at 16:34. Returning from Déli station at 13:20, arriving at Ljubljana at 22:36. There are discounted Budapest-Special ticket for €39 one-way and €49 return. Note: Both the daytime direct IC Citadella (via Hodoš) and the night direct EN Venezia (via Zagreb) have now been discontinued.
- Zagreb: 6-7h, two 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, one daytime train Avala and one night train Beograd. 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 (you can also buy special tickes in Novi Sad at the same price). Couchette reservation is around EUR 10 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 6AM, and border crossing is around 2:30AM.
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 for the local train to Záhony (HU) and in Záhony buy a ticket for the IC to Budapest (arriving on 18:37). You have more than 3 hours in Chop and 1 hour in Záhony to buy your tickets - and there are later trains from Záhony to Budapest too. The overall trip is even shorter than that on 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 ahead of Central European Time.
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 Kelenföld station, which is a good public transport hub for Southern Buda (All trains that departs or arrvive to/from Budapest-Déli station, stop at Kelenföld too.) Kőbánya-Kispest station is 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.
Hungary’s national bus network is operated by Volán Association . 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 . Most connections run two or three times a week; connections to/from Austria and Slovakia run daily. Orangeways  36-30 830-9696, offers cheap tickets to and from Austria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Germany, Netherlands, Poland and Slovakia.
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.
Mahart, +36-1 484-4000,  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 [email protected] 
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.
Crossing Hungary and arriving to Budapest is easy as Eurovelo 6  links to Vienna and Belgrade. Following the Danube, the road is flat and separated from cars.
Spring will offer the best weather to travel by bike through Hungary.
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.
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.
NOTE: 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.
NOTE: A number of places (streets, squares, parks) were renamed mid-2011, which resulted in the renaming of a number of stops of public transport. If unsure - inquire! Most people are well aware of the changes and are pleased to help you. Also many schedules were modified, some buses circulate less frequently, while other means of transportations may have their operating time extended. Schedules are shown in every stop unless vandalised.
While you'll find several points of interest within walking distance, Budapest is a sizeable city, so unless you drive your own car (or bicycle), you will inevitably use some form of public transportation. The good news is that the city is well covered by a network consisting of three metro lines, blue buses, red trolley-buses, and yellow trams - and the whole system is fairly easy to understand. On the other hand, schedules are not quite as reliable as in, say, Vienna, vehicles are not always the cleanest, and tickets have become increasingly expensive.
It's worth investing into a public transportation map at any BKV ticket sales desk. You can also find detailed public transport maps in some tram stops, especially along the 4-6 tram lines, and in the metro stations. Vehicles run from around 5AM to 11.30PM (or, on Christmas Eve, to 4.00PM). However, tram lines 4/6 run all night and, additionally, an extensive night bus network is available.
If you are a short term visitor, 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 19 runs on the Buda side. They offer a ride with great view of the opposite side.
- Tram 4, 6 follow Nagykörút (Grand Boulevard) offering (air conditioned) service up to every 3 minutes at peak times as well as throughout the night. They cross over to Buda on Margaret Bridge (Margit híd) - providing a majestic view - in the north, and on Petőfi Bridge in the south, after which the two lines diverge for their last two stops in south-Buda.
- Bus 7, 7E, and 173, 173E connect Keleti railway station with the city center and many points of interest in Buda and Pest.
- Bus 16/16A, 116 take you to Buda Castle from Széll Kálmán tér (former Moszkva tér). Bus 16 starts from Deák Ferenc Tér, the metro line hub.
- Bus 105 connects Hősök tere (Hero's Square) to Deák Ferenc Tér through Andrássy boulevard, before it crosses the Chain Bridge to Buda and passes by Déli Pályaudvar (Southern railway station).
- Bus 200E connects the airport with the Metro 3 terminus Köbánya-Kispest.
- Boat services have gone into operation mid 2012. See ticket information on the BKV website.
- Night travel services are provided by the Tram 4/6 as well as a number of night buses lines (s. below)
Tickets and passes
Single ticket, valid for one journey
Public transportation in Budapest is run by Budapest Transport Limited Company (BKV). Their English-language website provides information on current schedules and fares . If you intend to travel a lot, travel cards are far less expensive than single tickets. In the evenings and nights finding a place to buy tickets can be hard, because ticket machines are usually out of order, and vendors are also closed. Tickets must be validated on the vehicles (on the subway you must validate your ticket before entering the platform). Though most places you'll find regular ticket validating machines, some older vehicles only have mechanical ticket validators. When using these, you must pull the black lever on the top of the validator after putting in the ticket. It validates the ticket by punching holes in it.
Certain groups, such as 65+ or blind people travel free of charge if the required proof is provided, see here . Some available tickets and passes for public transport:
- Single ticket (vonaljegy): Valid for one journey within the city limits, transfer not allowed on buses and trams, but one transfer is allowed between metro lines (a new rule introduced in January 2009). HUF 350. HUF 450 if purchased from the driver (available on designated lines).
- Transfer ticket (átszállójegy): Valid for one journey within the city limits, one transfer allowed. HUF 530.
- Transfer ticket (átszállójegy): Valid for three stops on the subway, transfer allowed. HUF 300.
- 10 single ticket book: 3000 HUF (January 2013)
- One-day travel card (Budapest 24 órás jegy): Valid for 24 hours after purchase (not only on the day of purchase - a new rule introduced in January 2009). Valid also on MÁV trains and suburban yellow Volán buses HUF 1650.
- One-day group travel card (Budapest csoportos 24 órás jegy): For a maximum of 5 people travelling together. Valid for 24 hours after purchase (not only on the day of purchase - a new rule introduced in January 2009). HUF 3300.
- Three-day travel card (Budapest 72 órás jegy): 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 4150.
- Seven-day travel card : Valid on the day when purchased and on the following six days. HUF 4950.
- 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 7000.
- 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 10500.
- 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)  allows you unlimited free travel in the city, and also gives you discounts at museums and restaurants. 24 hour card HUF 3900, 72 hour card HUF 7900.
When using the public transport, you should always have a valid ticket or pass. The fine was recently raised to 8 - 16000 HUF, depending when you pay. Sooner or later, you will run into ticket inspectors, especially in trams and buses on Sunday; they are also guarding the entrance and exit to many metro stations. They rarely speak English and some were reported to be keen on controlling tourist. They can ask for your ID, however they are indeed not considered police officers under Hungarian law. If you do pay a fine on the spot, ask for a receipt!
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. Are we happy now? Not quite: Metro 4 is widely criticised for its high cost and supposedly failed and obsolete trace. After a number of announced openings, in mid-2012 we can still see the construction works being happily carried on, keeping parts of the city paralysed - a favourite local conversation theme (apart from politics).
The public transport fleet
Blaha Lujza square metro 2 station with the new Alstom carriage in service from 2012
The underground network consists of three lines (with the fourth under construction), connecting several centrally located sights, railway and autobus stations with suburbs. The lines cross only at Deák tér station in central Pest. Many stations have been recently renovated, but the old soviet trains are still running as of summer 2012. (Introduction of the new French trains has been allegedly delayed by technical difficulties).
The historic Metro 1 or Millennium Subway (yellow), connects the Városliget (City park) with touristy Vörösmarty Tér in Pest center, passing the Opera and Heroes' square, as it mostly follows the majestic boulevard Andrássy út. Notably, the line was the first underground on continental Europe (preceded by London) constructed as part of the Millennium celebrations in 1896. Although the stylish vehicles are not original, the renovated, tile covered stations retain a historical atmosphere.
Metro 2 (red line) connects Déli pályaudvar (Southern Railway Station, in Buda) with Eastern Pest, passing Széll Kálmán Tér (former Moszkva tér, Buda's top transport hub), Kossuth tér (the Parliament) and Keleti Pályaudvar (Keleti Railway Station).
Metro 3 (blue line) can assist you in reaching the Airport as you can change to Bus 200 at Kőbánya-Kispest terminus. A notable station is the historic Nyugati Pályaudvar (Western Railway Station).
Budapest's 25 tram lines offer a slower but more scenic way of getting around. Lines 4/6 run all night.
In 2006 the world's longest trams started their service on lines 4 and 6
The dense bus network connects the suburban zones with several metro and train stations and the city center.
- 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 denote night services.
- Numbers between 800 and 899 denote mid-range suburban services provided by Volán company, BKV tickets and most tourist passes are not valid on them.
Budapest's 13 trolley-bus lines run in Northeast and Central Pest. 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 connecting Kossuth square (Parliament) to City Park (Városliget) also passes through the lively Nagymező utca, Budapest's "Broadway".
The reason why the numbering starts with 70 is a historical one: The first trolley line started on Dec. 21, 1949, the 70th birthday of the soviet dictator Stalin.
Green suburban railway lines (called HÉV) connect central Budapest with several suburbs. 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 nearby baroque town of Szentendre. (The same train takes you to Sziget Fesztivál  in August.) 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 Metro 2 terminal station Örs Vezér Tér .
Tram 60 (aka cogwheel railway) at Városmajor terminus
Some more exotic means of public transport may help you to escape from the hustle and bustle to the lush green hills surrounding Budapest.
- Cogwheel railway (Fogaskerekű vasút) is a tram-like railway with historic charm, running from Városmajor terminus (two stops from Széll Kálmán tér metro 2 station by tram 59 or 61) climbing Széchenyi hill (Széchenyi hegy), Buda's popular picnic, excursion and sledging place. BKV tickets and passes are valid.
- Boat. Budapest currently (starting with July 2012) has three regular boat services, running hourly between around 6AM and 8PM, from Kopaszi-gát (South Buda) or Haller utca (South-Central Pest) to Rómaifürdő (North Buda) or Árpád út (North Pest), making 8-10 intermediate stops. Tickets cost 400 HUF - ordinary BKV tickets are NOT valid. BKV passes are valid only on weekdays.
- Buda Castle funicular (Budavári sikló). This handsome, short funicular line takes you from Chain Bridge (Lánchíd) Buda end to Buda Castle offering a breath-taking scenario as it emerges from street level. Originally built in 1870, it was completely destroyed in the War, only to be reconstructed in 1986. As it is considered a tourist sight, BKV tickets and passes are not valid.
- 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 . 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. 
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. On line map and schedule are available on BKV's home page . 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 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 450.
Apart from the summer holiday, Budapest has heavy traffic, especially in the morning, and in the late 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.
Driving across the centre requires some local know-how to be efficient. 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.
When you get to the airport be aware of taxi booths. They will usually overcharge you. The best thing you can do when arriving to Budapest is exiting the airport and look for the taxi booth right outside and then tell them where you need to go. They will give you a receipt with the price and number of the taxi line up right there.
In normal traffic conditions, you can get around in the central areas in 10-25 minutes by car. Taxy rides should cost in the range of 1200-3000 Ft, (ca. 4-12 EUR). 5000Ft/18 EUR. will already take you to the airport (fixed charge for many companies).
Budapest's taxi drivers are not always prepared for English speaking clients, but it does not necessarily mean that they intend to overcharge their foreign guests – you can call one of the major taxi companies with English speaking switchboards to avoid problems. Most companies' websites now have pages in English.
Do not accept offers from taxi drivers waiting in the airport terminals or railway stations. Use your common sense, sit only in taxis carrying logos of bigger companies.
Many 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 below.
If you are forced to take a taxi from the street, try to pick one with the meter in a place where the driver can't fiddle with it while driving. (While the fare per kilometer stays the same, it may sometimes be possible to "bump" the price by adding extra basic fees.) Asking the approximate price in advance may be a good idea in such cases.
Note that calling your own taxi is usually cheaper than having one booked for you in a hotel.
Tell the driver in time if you need a receipt.
Some taxi companies:
- + TaxiCab, Multilanguage: www.taxibudapest.eu +36/70/645-4444 
- 6x6 Taxi,  +36-1 266-6666.
- Budapest Taxi,  +36-1 433-3333.
- Budataxi,  +36-1 233-3333.
- City Taxi,  +36-1 211-1111.
- Főtaxi,  +36-1 222-2222.
- Mobil Taxi,  +36-1 333-1757.
- Radio Taxi,  +36-1 777-7777.
- Taxi 2000, +36-1 200-0000.
- Taxi Plus,  +36-1 888-8000.
- Tele 5 Taxi,  +36-1 555-5555.
- Zóna Taxi, +36-1 365-5555.
Budapest may not yet be a perfect cyclist paradise, when compared to some Western-European cities, but is slowly getting there. The growing network of bikeways can be checked e.g. here .
The cyclist subculture has been increasingly present for few decades now, moreover, Budapest has been home to Europe's biggest cycling demonstration, Critical Mass , where in 2008 more than 80 000 people participated.
Bikeways are separated from the road in the downtown, but they may be used as car-park or pedestrian zones. Be aware that pedestrians are not quite as used to the bike lane idea as in cities with older biking tradition, so bike carefully.
Bikes and public transport
Bikes can only be taken on the HÉV (suburban train) and the Fogaskerekü (the mointain cog railway starting at Városmajor), and, on many long distance trains, the latter also having a few stations within city limits. Extra tickets are necessary. This enables the city-dwellers to undertake day biking trips outside the city. Some nearby destinations such as the town of Szentendre make for a pleasant day trip.
For renting a bike, expect to pay around HUF 2000-3000 per day. Some bike rental companies are
- Budapest Bike , +36-30 944-5533. Rent a bike starting at 2,000 HUF for 6 hours.
- Yellow Zebra Bike , +36-1 266-8777. Rent a bike starting at 1,500 HUF for 1-5 hours.
- Bikebase , +36-1 269-5983. Bike rentals available for 2,000 HUF for 24 hours.
Although not as fancy as in Rome or Paris, scooters are becoming more common in the streets of Budapest. Inside the city scooters can be driven on the tram and bus ways, often buzzing in between traffic. Although most car drivers are quite used to the scooters around them, some can still be slight irresponsible. Ignore their pushiness and drive conservative and you should not experience any problems. The best roads are the main ring roads as these have plenty of space and good asphalt. The smaller in between roads and roads in hilly Buda can be of lesser quality with some unexpected potholes or tough to see speed bumps.
A limited number of companies offer scooter rental and scooter tours inside the city center. Expect to pay around HUF 6000 for a day. Some companies that offer scooter rental are:
- Retro Robogó , +36-70 432-0444. Rent a scooter starting at 3,600 HUF per day (week rental).
In Hungary scooters with an engine up to 50cc can be driven without license plate and only a regular car drivers license. However these 50cc scooters cannot be driven with a passenger. Helmets are compulsory. For scooters and motorcycles with an engine size above 50cc a license plate and motorcycle drivers license is required. If you are experienced with driving a scooter, it is a great way to experience the city
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.
- 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. The first known buildings here where the Royal Palace stands today, were built by Charles Robert’s eldest son, Stephan Duke of Anjou (1308-1342). It was later remodeled, but the reign of King Matthias brought about the golden age of Buda (1458-1490). Legend has it that when a Turkish ambassador came to Buda, he saw all the wealth and grandeur, forgot his greeting speech and all he could say was „The emperor sends his respects.” After several remodelings, the unique building we see today is the recreation of Alajos Hauszmann and Miklós Ybl’s1896 millennial designs.
- National Gallery (Nemzeti Galéria) . 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.
The courtyard got its name from the four stone lions that guard its gate. The two formidable lions at the gate try to deter one from entering, while the two on the inside roar furiously at those who dare walk past the gates. They where created by sculptor János Fadrusz in 1902. As we walk past the gate lighter stripes in the grey cube veneer show the excavated, the re-buried remains of the medieval palace walls. The 4300 m² courtyard is bordered by the building complex containing the Hungarian National Museum, the Budapest Museum of History and the National Széchenyi Library.
The Hunyadi Garden was a market place during the reign of Sigismund of Luxemburg. The group of bronze statues known as the Mátyás Fountain is the work of Alajos Stróbl from 1904. The work features Matthias Corvinus in the company of his henchman, his hunter, his Italian chronicler and his hunting dogs. On the left side is Szép Ilonka, a young woman from a humble background, who knowing nothing about Matthias’s status falls in love with the king during a hunt. The busy fountain is a popular rest stop for tourists. This is Budapest’s answer to the Trevi Fountain in Rome: visitors
wishing to return to the city toss shiny coins into the fountain, of which thousands shimmer under the water.
One of the most representative areas of the Buda Castle, the Savoyai Terrace boasts the best view of the city. Standing on this spacious square we can see the graceful Danube dividing the two sides of the city, the limestone walls of the Parliament, the Gellért Hill, our capital’s bridges, the Monument of Liberty, and on a clear day you can see the sites of Pest. The Terrace is in front of the Hungarian National Museum and on it you will find the neo-baroque bronze statue of Austrian Prince Eugene of Savoy military strategist made by the sculptor József Róna which has been there since the beginning of the 1900s. Eugene of Savoy is an important figure in Hungarian History because he was the general who irrevocably freed Hungary from the Turkish occupation.
Other museums on the Castle Hill:
- The Historical Museum of Budapest . 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 . 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.
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 and 3500 HUF for others (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. There are no tours during Parliamentary sessions (which are normally on Mondays and Tuesdays, sometimes on Wednesdays too).
- St. Stephen's Basilica (Szent István Bazilika) . 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)  Budapest was home to one of the largest Jewish community in Europe before the war. The Dohány street Synagogue, opened 1859, is the largest and certainly among the most beautiful ones in Europe, recently restored to its former grandeur. Next to the Synagogue is a small but impressive museum. In the rear of the Synagogue is a memorial for victims of the Shoah. 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 an assembly ground 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.
- Jewish Quarter and Jewish Heritage Walking Tours in Budapest
The old Jewish Quarter of Budapest is the neighborhood bordered by Károly Boulevard, Erzsébet Boulevard, Király Street and Rákóczi Road. Several guided and non-guided tours are available for exploring this historic area of Budapest.
The main sites include:
The Tree of Life
The Temple of Heroes
Carl Lutz Memorial
Kazinczy Street Synagogue
The memorial honors the memory of the victims who were shot into the icy Danube by the Arrow Cross army. The 60 pairs of cast iron shoes faithfully represent the attire of that age. There is a 40 meters long, 70 centimeter tall stone pew behind the shoes attached to the stone of the bank edge.
Eötvös Loránd University (Faculty of Humanities)  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.
The historical building of the Faculty of Humanities of Eötvös Loránd University
Museums in at the city centre:
- Museum of Ethnography .
- National Museum .
- Museum of Applied Arts .
- Natural History Museum  Mainly minerals at display.
- Ludwig Museum of Modern Art .
- Holocaust Memorial Centre .
- Museum of Transport.
- Jewish Museum at the main synagogue .
- Bible Museum.
The Andrássy út boulevard in Pest stretches from Downtown (Belváros) to the City Park (Városliget). It is listed on UNESCO 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) . 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 . Collection of 20,000 pieces from China, Japan, India, Nepal, Tibet and Mongolia. Nearby is another similar collection, namely Gyorgy Museum.
- Ernst Museum . Contemporary Hungarian art.
- 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)  has an incredible range of European artwork from Greek and Roman times to the present. Especially valuable is its collection of Spanish Baroque painting.
- Zelnik Istvan Southeast Asian Goldmuseum (Aranymúzeum)  has the leading collection in Europe of southeast asian gold artifacts from the 1st millenia BC
- 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  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  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  - The Budapest Picture Gallery.
- Memento Park  - The open-air museum is located in South Buda. Driving takes 20 minutes, taking public transport 50 minutes to reach the spot. Main part of Memento Park is the typically Central European, yet universally unique collection of former public statues, which used to be stationed in the city's public domains in accordance with the guidelines and the requests of the Socialist culture-politics and ideological system. In addition there is an exhibition of the 1956 revolution and 1989-90 political changes, a film showing about the political secret service, an old Trabant car to get in, and a phone-box where visitors can "call" former party leaders.
- 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.
- Fashion Museum.
- MEO Budapest's art fair.
- House of the Future .
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.
- The simplest (and perhaps best) of all: get a map, circle the things you want to see, divide up your time and stroll around in the city. Spend time in charming cafés or restaurants (preferably not right at the main tourist sights), look at the market stands, walk on a bridge in the evening. The lively atmosphere of this jewel of a city both by day and by night cannot be experienced via guided tours, locked into a tourist bus/boat. Locals are usually happy to help, also to tell you what they think is best to see - and what is better to stay away from, or for a little chat just to keep up their English (or German). Don't hesitate to ask questions!
- Do it on a bike! (Rents are around 1800 HUF for half a day.) On a bike, you can ride out of the city, too. Szentendre is a 2 hours ride from the center and you get to see nice places, much of the way is at the Danube. If you prefer more organised ways, a guided bike tour gets you some exercise and introduces you to the local geography. For example, staff at Buda Bike [underground garage at the plaza in front of St. Stephan's Basilica] are very friendly. They also rent bikes.
- Walk in the City park (Városliget) with your children. Walk around the lake and feed the ducks. See the statue of Anonymus at the Vajdahunyad Castle, a fairy-tale-like building. Széchenyi Spa, right next to the lake, is also enjoyable for kids (see also the Baths section).
- In the winter, the same lake is transformed into the large ice-skating ring  with an astonishing view during winter. It is a popular place for kids, teens and young tweens.
- The nearby Circus (Fövárosi Nagycirkusz - Great Circus of the Capital) offers performances with international artists. (The program can be seen here  in Hungarian)
- Next to it, the Budapest Zoo - one of the oldest in the world - offers more than 800 animals to be seen in a historic atmosphere.
- A few steps away, the Amusement park (Vidámpark) offers a great day for kids or the young-at heart .
- Buda Hill Labyrinth. The Labyrinths are accessible by two points on the Buda hills. The caves 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  - This attraction is now closed.
- Experience an opera at Budapest's beautiful State Opera House or a performance of forklore or classical music at any of Budapest's many concert halls (s. details under Performing arts).
Budapest offers a multitude of fairs and festivals. A few of them are
- Budapest Spring Festival  A dazzling variety of cultural events mainly revolving around classical music and performing arts - including folklore.
- Jewish Summer Festival  Another array of cultural and music events, with a Jewish touch.
- Sziget Festival on Óbudai Sziget (Óbuda Island)  An institution attracting rock fans, world music hippies and the usual festival crowd every year in august. It has become one of the best-known festivals in Europe, offering a multitude of cultural, culinary and musical events. Day tickets cost €45 and festival passes, including 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. (Safe boxes are available for valuable personal belongings).
Performing arts - Classical music
Apart from a renowned music scene, Hungary has a surprisingly rich theatre and art 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 dance performances. The following venues can be particularly interesting for non-Hungarians. Tickets are bookable about one month beforehand at Interticket, the Hungarian theaters' official booking engine for a small (10% + HUF 50) booking fee: 
- Hungarian State Opera House, Magyar Állami Operaház , 1061 Andrássy út 22, metro 1 station Opera, tickets HUF 300-10,900. One of Europe's architecturally 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  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), , while Theatre Erkel, the Opera's chamber theater is closed due to reconstruction.
- Palace of Arts, Művészetek Palotája , 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 , 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 , 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 , 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 , 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 , 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 , 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 . This popular company performs Hungarian popular dances in modern conception.
- MU Theatre, MU Színház , 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 , 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, . Szkéné hosts, among others, Béla Pintér and Company  (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, 1051 Zrínyi u. 5 (5 minutes walk from Deák Ferenc tér), . Folklore perfomances every day at 20:00. 3,600-6,400 HUF, discounts available for students.
Serves as a venue for the Danube Symphony Orchestra, the Danube Folk Ensemble and the Rajko Gypsy Orchestra and Folk Ensemble.
The HHH is the historical building also known as the "Vigadó" (Entertainment Hall) of Buda. The building is located in Fő utca (High Street), between Batthyány tér (Batthyány Square) and Clark Ádám tér (Adam Clark Circus).
The building was designed in Eclectic style by Aladár Árkay and Mór Kallina. It was constructed between 1898-1900. The relative simplicity of the façade is contrasted by the rich Art Nouveau ornamentation in the interior.
The building was designed to serve the multiple cultural needs of the contemporary middle-class citizens of Buda. It was a cultural complex comprised of a theater, a library, a café and a restaurant.The most impressive parts of the interior are the hall with its columns and wide marble staircase, the ornamented lounge, and the adjacent auditorium.
Features performances by the Hungarian State Folk Ensemble.
Home to organ concerts by the famous organ player Miklós Teleki accomapnied by flutist, Eleonora Krusic and opera singer Kolos Kováts.
In spite of increasing funding difficulties, quality cinema has remained alive in Budapest. For contemporary non-mainstream European and Hungarian titles turn to Budapest’s excellent art house movie chain, Art mozi , most of their branches are provided with a café or pub and offer pleasant atmosphere to spend your evening. A few selected cinemas of this chain:
- Uránia National Movie Theatre ,(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.
Mainstream cinemas mainly show subtitled (or dubbed) Hollywood films and Hungarian romantic movies. After 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. Two examples are:
- Corvin  (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.
- Most centrally located mall cinemas are Palace Westend (mainstream)  in Pest (in Westend City Center, Váci út 1-3, metro 3, tram 4, tram 6 station/stop Nyugati pályaudvar) and Palace Mammut  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  for programme and booking. Tickets cost HUF 1250, for student card holders HUF 990, on cheap days HUF 800.
Budapest offers a truly exceptional density of thermal springs and its fame is still rising as a major European Spa location - so go "bathing". The baths are among last vestige of Turkish culture in Budapest; some baths indeed date back to Turkish times. However, Hungarians have modified and moulded this tradition into something of their own during the last four centuries.
Thermal baths contain several thermal pools. They are usually complemented with multiple steam baths (in later decades also denoted by the Finnish word 'sauna'), massage services and other therapies including drinking cures. Unlike in some Scandinavian or German baths, Budapest baths mostly require you to wear your bathing suit!
Among foreigners, Russians seem to be most frequent visitors to Budapest's baths, followed by Italians and Americans.
In recent decades a tradition of night bath parties has evolved, often revolving around various branches of electronic music, see e.g. .
Traditional public baths
Traditional public baths used to have a slightly outdated but nowadays improving service and admission system and allow an authentic bathing experience with locals around you. At the cash desk, you sometimes have to select treatments in advance (often they are offered in distinct places of the building). Bathing time is not restricted, and, depending on the system, if you're finished earlier, part of your fee is repaid. Towels and sometimes bathrobe can be rented either at the entrance or inside. Changing clothes can be done either in a common area with lockers (gender segregated) or in cabins (kabinok) which may come in different size and is highly useful for families. While newer systems may be introduced, according to the proper ancient ritual you're handed a token with a number, which is also written on a chalkboard inside(!) the cabin door as a security code - you must remember cabin number. To access your cabin again, show your cabin and a token to attendant, and s/he'll open the door and check the number inside. Note that in swimming pools, swimming caps are sometimes obligatory (and often available for sale or rent).
- Gellért Baths, Buda, Kelenhegyi utca 4 (Gellért Hotel at the base of Gellért Hill), ☎ (36-1) 466-6166, . 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, the famous Gellért Bath can't be beaten in terms of style. This is among the finest Art Nouveau Bath in Europe, part of Spa Hotel Gellért. Ask the information desk to clarify if you're not sure about how to proceed as the procedures, dignified by tradition, are not always straightforward.
- 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). On weekdays this ticket is 4050 HUF Ticket and 30 minute massage can be reserved in advance.
- If you rent a towel (resembling a bedsheet) or a bathrobe, you will need the original receipt ticket for getting back your deposit. 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.
- The massage therapists in this touristic place are not cheap. Prices: from 2500 HUF for Refreshing, 15 min. to 3800 HUF for Powder, 30 min. They also offer a very good Thai massage. 1h is 11500 HUF and 1.5h is 15500 HUF (march 2010)
- Changing: Individual lockers, single-person cabins, and family cabins are available.
- 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. Wearing swimming caps is technically obligatory, but not always enforced. There are separate Turkish-style thermal baths for men and women, offering 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 you after a happy warm soak - it is sure healthy).
- 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 common in the changing area.
- Széchenyi Spa (Széchenyi Fürdő), Pest, Állatkerti krt. 11 (right next to the Zoo; metro: Széchenyi fürdő, M1 yellow line), . 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.
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 ([email protected], fax: +36(1)889-4939), . 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 ([email protected], fax: +36(1)479-4333), . 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 .
- Király Baths. Buda, Fő utca 84 (metro: Batthyány tér). Old, authentic and pretty small; personnel speak limited English. The baths used to alternate between male- and female-only days, but now every day is mixed for both men and women. 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. 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 adjoining very small pools, steam room and dry sauna. The emphasis is more on relaxing and enjoying the waters rather than swimming. It's possible to get a massage here as well. Ask the attendants in the changing room or massage room area.
- The Palatinus Outdoor Baths, on the Margaret Island (Margitsziget), have three pools filled with therapeutic water--and a total of 11 pools (totaling 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.
- 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.
- 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 ([email protected]), .
- 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.
There are a number of universities and other tertiary institutions in Budapests. Many of them offer degrees or courses in English, German, or French. Particularly popular, even though not cheap, are the medical university courses offered in German and English.
- Central European University  An small but excellent american private university mainly funded by the Soros foundation (associated with Soros György - George Soros, "The Man Who Broke the Bank of England"), offers an extensive graduate program in a wide variety of courses in political, economical and environmental fields.
- Eötvös Loránd University . The flagship university in Hungary, founded in 1635, offering bachelor, master and PhD level degrees in certain fields in English.
- Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music . World-renowned music academy in the heart of the city.
- Corvinus University of Budapest , formerly the University of Economical Sciences, colloquially known as 'Közgáz': Offers Bachelor and Master courses in many languages.
- Budapest University of Technology and Economics , B.Sc. and M.Sc. level engineering courses available for foreigners in English, French and German language at the International Education Center of the university.
- Semmelweis University  the flagship institution in medical education and research, offering courses in English and German. International students make up 24 percent of the total student population.
- International Business School (Nemzetközi Üzleti Főiskola, IBS-NÜF)  An institute of higher education offering numerous undergrad and some postgraduate programs, mostly providing Oxford Brookes University and Hungarian Degrees in English and/or Hungarian languages.
- Debrecen Language School  offers Hungarian language classes year round at all levels in Budapest, Debrecen and Sopron.
- 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.
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.
Also, chain stores can be found along the Váci utca (C&A, H&M, Clinique, Estee Lauder, New Yorker, etc).
The shopping malls locally known as "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. Due to the low cost of labour, a tradition in repairing mobile phones and other appliances exists, and buying second hand electronics is normal. This service is usually offered in smaller private shops.
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).
For young local designers' items there are plenty of shops around the city. Big range of design souvenirs can be found in Fregolishop next to Kalvin square or Printa between Deak square and Astoria. On fliers of 'Stylewalker' you can find listed all the local design stores, best hair dressers cafés of Budapest's 5th district.
- Individual listings can be found in Budapest's district articles
Hungarian food deserves to be (and often is) mentioned among the country's main sites. As in other cultures, 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. Luckily, prices are significantly below western Europe's with around 4 EUR for a budget lunch, and around 8-14 EUR for a nice evening meal in a mid-range restaurant, depending on place and appetite. Above 20 EUR per person is definitely considered expensive, but there are enough lavish places above this price range for those looking for something special.
Local specialities often revolve around meat (pork, beef, veal, or poultry), often involve liberal use of paprika, however not necessary of the hot kind. Note that - due to a historical translation error - "goulash soup" is indeed a soup, not the "goulash" that visitors may be familiar with from home which is known as "pörkölt".
Major specialities include (google image search can aid your imagination):
- gulyás(leves) usually translated as 'goulash soup' - a filling meat soup (usually beef) with potatoes and paprika, among other ingredients. Served as main dish or as a (heavy) starter. The name refers to the Hungarian version of a cowboy taking care of a 'gulya' (cattleherd).
- paprikás veal or chicken cooked in delicious creamy paprika sauce (not spicy)
- pörkölt a stew with of sautéed onions and - paprika. Similar to what is served as 'goulash' abroad.
- halászlé - fishermen's soup served differently depending on region
- töltött káposzta - stuffed cabbage, the cooked cabbage leafs are filled with meat and in a paprika sauce, served with sour cream (similar to crème fraîche or crème acidulée)
- Balaton pike-perch (fogas)
- gyümölcsleves - fruit soup - cold, creamy and sweet, consumed as a starter.
From the desserts, you may not want to miss
- Somlói galuska, a poem on biscuit dough, cream and chocolate sauce, invented by Károly Gollerits at Gundel
- Gundel palacsinta - Gundel pancake (crepe) - with a filling prepared with rum, raisin, walnuts, and lemon zest, served with a chocolate sauce, and the careful reader may guess its birthplace.
- There is also a great variety of wonderful pastries/cakes (Torta), some of which you will recognize if you are familiar with Viennese pastries. You may want to try Dobos torta (Dobos cake, named after József Dobos), and Rigó Jancsi a light chocolate-cream cake.
Coffeehouses (kávéház) were a traditional Budapest institution, somewhat resembling Viennese lifestyle. Visit to one should be on every traveller's agenda. These are places are great to spend some time at a cup of coffee and a delicious cake, but some of them (especially in the higher price range) offer meals as well.
With dozens of places in the city, the best-know, landmark coffeehouses (and among priciest) are:
- Gerbeaud (Vörösmarty tér 7-9) 
- Művész Kávéház (Andrássy út 29) 
- New York Kávéház (Erzsébet krt. 9-11) 
Hugarian cuisine and restaurant experiences are happily remembered by visitors, even if the Hungarian diet may seem rather meat-based to many western visitors. The city has large variety of great places to eat at prices quite reasonable for western-Europeans. Like in some other cities, a number of restaurants see tourists as scapegoats. It is a good idea to avoid restaurants in the heart of the most touristic areas like Váci utca, especially if all customers seem foreigners - here you'll more likely than not be served mediocre food with a high bill padded with number of bizarre charges. In some restaurants anything you don't explicitly ask for, but appears on your table, is likely to be charged for. Don't take restaurant tips from suspicious individuals on the streets, ask at your hotel or local friends.
A wide variety of decent food for not reasonable prices can be found at the lively Raday utca, venue of a number of cultural events, near Kálvin tér. But simply strolling the more central areas - e.g. near the Great Ringroad (Nagykörút), or the Pozsonyi út - will be enough to bump into nice places to test local cooking skill (though not necessarily with a menu available in English).
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). Perhaps the most reputed among top restaurants is the Gundel  near Városliget - check the prices before you decide to go, but it offers a good value Sunday brunch for some 5000 HUF.
Walking along the Danube on the Pest side, you see a lot of restaurant and bar boats. Most of them serve traditional Hungarian and international dishes, some of them are function more as bars. Thanks to the beautiful panorama across the Danube and the castle, these places provide an unforgettable experience.
Only cross-district chains are listed here; see district articles for individual restaurants.
- Wasabi . 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 . 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)
- Leroy Cafe, Pest (5 locations), Buda (3 locations). (See district article Pest for details) 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.
- Govinda Great vegan/vegetarian restaurant in Budapest. You can choose from different menus everyday or just order separate dishes; moderately priced.
Govinda has two restaurants see maps at 
- Vigyázó Ferenc utca 4 | 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.
Sightseeing ships on the Danube that serve meals are quite popular with tourists. It's a way to enjoy a view of the city from the Danube while enjoying a meal of authentic Hungarian cuisine.
- Hungaria Koncert Ltd. offers several Danube cruises, among others the 19 o'clock Dinner and Cruise with live music, where dinner guests are entertained by 3 members of the award winning Rajko Folk Orchestra.
This cruise is available everyday. The meeting point is at the Danube Palace (1051 Zrinyi Street 5.) at 18:30. Tickets may be booked ahead on the website, by phone (+36 1 317 1377; +36 1 317 2754) or may be purchases at the cash desk at the Daunbe Palace.
Needless to say, if you want to take home some Hungarian paprika, Pick szalámi, or Tokalyi wine, grocery shops are naturally cheaper than specialised souvenir kiosks.
In the central areas, you will find smaller grocery shops such as the Hungarian chains GRoby, CBA, (sometimes Rotschild's) as well as the usual European suspects Spar, Kaiser's, Plus, and Tesco Express.
Further from the centre, you can find foreign-owned hypermarkets like Auchan, Tesco and Cora with the usual range of goods.
As a good tourist, you should buy local products.
- 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.
Halal food is not traditional for Budapest but a number of places are available recently.
Check this Muslim site for Meat shops (húsboltok) and restaurants (Éttermek) .
A version of Döner Kebab (as known e.g. in Germany) is sold under the Greek name Gyros (often by Turks!). Translated from Turkish Döner, Gyros means "rotate" or "spintop" in Greek - a reference to the meat being rotated on a stake.
One good moderately priced Turkish Halal place is Szeráj on Szt. István körút opposite to the theatre building of "Vígszínház", between Nyugati tér Margaret Bridge.
- 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.
Unique Hungarian soft drinks to try are Traubi Szoda (a white grape soda) and Márka (a sour cherry soda).
- 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 €7 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. An other great way to stay in Budapest is to rent an apartment directly from a local. Airbnb, , or Wimdu offers a wide variety of apartments which could be rented directly from locals.
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 € coins), but others only take pre-paid cards. The posted number for credit card calls will lead to unexpectedly high charges ($1 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.
Budapest is one of the most WiFi 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.
However, there are still some hotels and restaurants using offering paid WiFi usage, including the following:
- HotSpotSystem.com, . Has both free and paid (Pro) types of service--chosen by operating (restaurant, hotel etc.). For paid access, internet time can be purchased by credit card right from your browser at the point of connection. Prices are set by operating business but can be like this (example taken from Hotel Astra ) 1hr =600ft, 2hrs =960ft, 24hrs =1950ft. Time can not be purchased in other slots, and should be used at once (you can't pause it, nor to use it in several intervals during several days). For Pro access, speed is: 384 / 128 kbit/s incoming/outgoing traffic, and unlimited traffic within paid time. And the time left is only shown in pop up that opens right at the start of connection - if you close it, you can't check how much is left.
There are many internet cafes throughout the city. Prices average 200 HUF/hour.
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 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 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.
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.
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, residential areas unknown by tourists) 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.
Beautiful during the day, bigger public parks like Városliget, are better avoided at night. 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.
Like in several cities of the world, in Budapest the major scams for the inexperienced tourist are taxis and restaurants. Much of the following would apply to a number of touristic cities in Europe.
Less than a decade ago, Taxis used to be a traveler's nightmare, mainly for those arriving from or going to the airport. Luckily the situation is getting better: Főtaxi - contracted partner of the airport - is so far reported to be reliable and works according to advertised prices; for details read the Airport transfer chapter. Főtaxi has a stand outside the terminal building, enjoying the exclusive right to wait there, though other companies can come to pick up passengers if called by phone. Sometimes scam taxi drivers will still solicit services inside the terminal to take you for a ride with a very hungry meter. (Főtaxi replaced Zóna Taxi as contractor in 2010, hence some information on the internet may still name Zóna Taxi as airport taxi).
Alternatives to Főtaxi include to call another trusted cab (saving €5-10), 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 how lucky you are, yours may be the first destination or the last. However, it is only cheaper than a taxi if you are travelling alone. If you travel the 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, order a taxi by phone (Some cars display their company's number). 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. A typical taxi drive within the central zones should be in the range of 1000-3000 HUF (ca. 3-10 EUR) as of mid 2012.
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, these are not typical, 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. A good strategy is to eat and drink where locals do.
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 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  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: .
Like in other places, even if a restaurant or bar accepts euros, it is better to have forints since their conversion rate is usually way worse than the rate at exchange offices. It is better to avoid exchange offices inside 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: .
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).
Many reliable exchange shops can be found at the city center near Deák Ferenc tér metro station. For example, there are two shops next to the tourist information. These shops as well as other shops in the area offer a better rate than other banks at tourist spots such as international bus stations, railway stations and the castle hill. The rate might be even better than getting cash from ATMs. For example, in May 2012, you can get 295HUF/Euro from these shops while you will get 275HUF/Euro at international bus stations and 285HUF/Euro from ATMs. There is also no extra charge.
Important phone numbers
Central Emergency: 112
- Australia, ☎ +36 1 457 9777.
- Belgium, Toldy Ferenc utca 13, 1015 Budapest, ☎ +36 1 457 9960, . M-F 9AM - 4PM.
- China, Városligeti fasor 20-22, ☎ +36 1 413-2401, 413-2419 (fax: +36 1 322-9067), .
- Macedonia, Andrassy ut 130 1, em 1-2, ☎ +36 1 336 0510, .
- Poland, 1068 Budapest, Városligeti fasor 16, ☎ +361 4138200, . Polish embassy
- United Kingdom, ☎ +36 1 266 2888, .
- 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; or HÉV ("local/suburban trains" supported by BKV ) from Örs vezér tere to Gödöllő (to Csömör is wrong direction)
- 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. HÉV ("local/suburban trains" supported by BKV ) runs from Batthyány tér to Szentendre
- Vác - (32km north) Baroque style main square, Cathedral, Triumphal Arch, mummies of the Dominican church (Memento Mori). Reach from Budapest by MÁV suburban rail – Nyugati pályaudvar;
- Visegrád - Famous for its former royal palace partially rebuilt in Renaissance style, medieval residential tower, and impressive citadel. Suburban bus service by Volánbusz 
|This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!