Budapest is not only the capital city of Hungary, but also a city worth visiting. It offers everything for travellers, lovers of historic monuments and culture, good food and drink. In Budapest you will find everything, ranging from monuments, baths, mountains and caves to Europe’s biggest synagogue, restaurants and cafés.
Budapest came into existence in 1873 by unification of two parts occupying both banks of the river Danube: Buda (or Old Buda) and Pest. Until this day it is considered as a city composed of these two parts.
Buda is the natural part of Budapest. Mounts and hills Remete, the Big and the Small Hárs, Széchenyi, and the Buda Landscape Park are situated here.
How to Get To Budapest
The good news is that Hungary is a part of the Schengen area, which means one does not need a passport or an ID to visit Budapest or any other part of the country.
The train will take you most probably to the Keleti pu. (Keleti Pályaudvar) railway station, from where you can easily get to the city centre by subway. The Keleti railway station, as well as another one – Nyugati are beautiful buildings, so I recommend visiting them even if you are going to use another means of transport to get to Budapest.
Travelling by Plane
In the airlines’ offerings you can also find cheap air tickets to Budapest. For comfort lovers, travelling to Budapest by plane is the right choice.
The Budapest airport’s name is Budapest Ferihegy. From there, you can get to town by train. It takes about half an hour and it will cost you 300 forints. But you can also choose to go by bus. At the airport start buses number 200 or 93. They will take you to the subway station Köbánya-Kispest (the blue line, number 3). By subway you can easily get to the station Deák Ferenc Tér in the town centre, the transfer station of all three lines of the Budapest subway.
From the airport you can also continue by a minibus, or a taxi.
In Budapest, you can find inexhaustible offer of various kinds of accommodation. From cheap to very luxurious ones. Accommodation is to be booked in advance. Budapest is a tourist centre and the hotels are usually full.
From personal experience I can recommend the Hotel Charles, offering accommodation and above standard services for acceptable price.
Food is not included in the accommodation price. You can pay extra money for breakfast, which is served in the form of a buffet and is said to be truly delicious. For a romantic dinner, you can go to the hotel restaurant. It offers a wide range of traditional Hungarian meals as well as international cuisine.
Links concerning accommodation in Budapest
- A great website with accommodation in Budapest – easy searching, sorting according to various criteria.
- Another server with accommodation not only in Budapest.
- Hotel Charles
- A great hotel for a reasonable price.
- If you are not very demanding (or do not have much money), try finding cheap accommodation on this portal.
Transportation in Budapest
For travelling within Budapest it is convenient to use the city’s public transport (BKV), because in Budapest not everything is at a stone’s cast. The Budapest public transport includes the subway, buses, tramways and trolleybuses.
A single ticket costs 270 Ft., a transfer ticket 420 Ft.. It is better to buy a one-day ticket for 1550 Ft., a three-day or a week ticket for 3400 Ft. For a book of 10 tickets you will pay 2350 Ft., for 20 tickets 3900 Ft.
There are three lines in the Budapest subway: M1, M2 and M3. M1 is the oldest line; it was built at the end of 19th century. It is the oldest subway line in Continental Europe. The M1 line is operated by trains with three wagons, funny key signatures resound in the stations while at the same time a speaker announces the names of the stations in a very inarticulate way. Most of the stations are covered with tiles and well kept. Therefore, do not miss the trip by the M1 line, the yellow subway line.
Have a look at what does a trip by the M1 line from the Bajcsy Zsilinsky Út.station to the Oktogon station look like.
The M2 line is marked in red and one of the stations is the Keleti Pályaudvar. The third line M3 is marked in blue. A transfer station of all three lines is in the Deák Ferenc tér station.
Tramways in Budapest
Yellow tramways run through Budapest and they will take you to almost any place. They usually are clean and comfortable. Moreover, they run along the river banks and thus can offer a very nice view.
The suburban rails
In addition to the means of transport mentioned you can use the suburban rails little trains, going to the surrounding towns and agglomerations. Those lines are called HEV. They start at the Örs vezér tere and Batthyány tér stations.
Food and Drink
The best-known Hungarian meals are pörkölt, or goulash (gulyás), and other meals properly spiced with paprika. A true Hungarian goulash should be made of beef roasted with onion, paprika, tomatoes and green pepper.
The best kind of Hungarian sausages is Pick made from pork and a secret mixture of spices. The Pick sausage together with the Hungarian paprika has its own museum in the town of Szeged.
The Tokaji wine
The Tokaji wine comes from a Hungarian region of the same name. Here, wines are made of Furmint, Sárg, Muskotály adn Hárslevelü varieties. Every supermarket in Budapest offers a wide variety of Tokaji wine of different kinds and vintages. Therefore, you do not have to go to a special wine-shop. A little store at a street corner will do the job.
Apart from the Tokaji wine do not forget to taste one of the Hungarian spirits. Kecskeméti barackpálinka made of apricots is the best one. You can also find a plum or pear spirit. A truly good quality one will cost you 2000 forints.
Restaurants in Budapest
It is said that there are more than 1000 restaurants in Budapest. Among them is a lot of international, exotic, Japanese, vegetarian and often even Indian ones. Do not be afraid of going even to a cheaper restaurant, because the food is truly delicious almost everywhere in Budapest. Even in a cheap place your taste buds will have their own back.
In the restaurants’ menus you will often find goose liver, goulash soup, fish soup or cherry soup, goulash, cabbage leaves stuffed with meat… As a dessert, restaurants in Budapest offer pancakes or a strudel filled with all possible ingredients (poppy, cherries, cord, apricots, cabbage, apples…).
Hungary is not exactly the right country for vegetarians, but even here you can eat well. Local vegetable salads are always fresh, and slices of barbecued sheep cheese are an often-offered titbit.
Cheap restaurants in Budapest
Greek-Hungarian restaurant El Greco, Hungary Görög-Magyar Étterem, situated at the address Nagymezö utca 34, offers lunch till late afternoon in the form of a buffet with a fixed price. For 1300 forints you will get the possibility of choosing an unlimited amount of any food from the buffet. You can choose from mainly Hungarian food: goulash soup, goulash, meat with sauces with added sour cream. There is even gyros in the offer. A delicious Greek salad can be commanded from the menu.
More tips for cheap restaurants can be found for example on the Budapest Tourist Guide web.
An unusual experience in a Budapest brasserie
In case you want to visit a true Hungarian brasserie with live music, visit the Karpatia restaurant. The restaurant’s historic interior is perfected with assiduous personnel and live gypsy music. You will find The Karpatia restaurant at the address Ferenciek tere 7 – 8, which means not very far from the Ferenciek tere subway station. It is among the best rated restaurants in Budapest.
If you like not only good food, but also desserts in the form of a strudel, do not forget to stop by at the First Strudel House in Budapest, where you can enjoy a good lunch, after which comes nothing less than a delicious roll. You can choose a strudel with cord, apples, cherries, plums, cabbage and of course poppy.
Lovers of desserts, ice cream and, above all, marzipan, should not forget to stop by at the Szamos Marzipan sweetshop . One of them can be found in the Parisi street n. 3. It is open from 10:00 to 19:00 (to 20:00 in summer). While sitting on a summer terrace in a calm street in the otherwise busy town centre, you can enjoy desserts you will dream about in the night.
Historic Monuments in Budapest
Budapest is a city of baths. Four baths from the Ottoman Empire times are in service (Rudas, Rácz, Király a Császár), all of which exceed in architecture. In case you forget to bring your swimming suit, do not despair. You can borrow one at the bath for a small fee.
The Gellért Baths
The Gellért Baths are located at the hotel of the same name, at the address Kelenhegyi út 4, where you can get by the tram number 7. Because of the good state of the Art Nouveau garniture, they are the most visited baths ever. The baths do not only include a swimming pool, but also pools and whirlpool baths with statues, mosaics and coloured windows.
The Király Baths (Royal baths)
For the forgetful, who left their swimming suits at home, the Király Baths are the perfect choice. Indeed, one can swim without one here. The baths are open on Monday, Wednesday and Friday for ladies; on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday for gentlemen.
The Király Baths can be found at Fö utca 82.
The Rudas Baths
The Rudas Baths were reconstructed and opened for public in 2005, thus they are still nicely renovated, and the ravages of time are not so visible. It is said that the most proud impression gives the ten meters high Turkish cupola, under which lies an octagon-shaped swimming pool.
The Rudas Baths are located at the Square Döbrentei tér 9.
The Lukács Baths
The imperial thermal baths (Császár fürdö) built in the 16th century are part of the Lukács Baths. They are seated at Frenkel Leó utca 25.
Bridges in Budapest
The Chain Bridge (Lán híd)
The Chain Bridge is Budapest’s most famous bridge. It is the first bridge built in Budapest. It was built between 1839 and 1849, and then damaged during the Second World War. It was not rebuilt until 1949. On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of its building, it was reopened in its today’s shape.
The Erzsébet (Elisabeth) Bridge
The Erzsébet Bridge is a modern-looking structure, named after Franz Joseph’s wife. It was finished in 1903. It was the world’s longest cable bridge at that time.
In 1945, it was blasted away by the Germans and the bridge was therefore totally destroyed. It was then repaired in 1964.
The Freedom Bridge
The Freedom Bridge, formerly known as the Franz Joseph Bridge, was built in 1899. In 1946 it was renewed. The reconstruction kept all the statues, falcon motifs, Coats of Arms… It is, therefore, the only one of Budapest famous bridges to be preserved in its original shape.
The Castle and the castle complex
If you visit Budapest, you will surely not miss the castle. There is a beautiful perspective on it from the Danube banks. The castle complex is located in the First town district, in Buda. The Royal palace, three churches, some museums, historic buildings, squares and restaurants can be found here.
You can get to the castle by bus, or by funicular which can be seen from a distance.
The Royal palace
The Budapest Royal palace is one of the symbols of Hungary, and it was constantly at siege since the 13th century. It was occupied alternatively by the Turks and the Habsburgs; three times it was almost destroyed and then immediately rebuilt, though not into the same shape as before. Today’s shape of the palace it was given after the Second World War.
Today, the Hungarian National Gallery, the Historical Museum and the State Library can be found in the palace.
The Mathias Church
The castle complex includes the Mathias Church, a catholic church, which can be viewed from the other side of the river Danube.
The entrance ticket, which costs something between 450 and 650 forints, allows you to see the stone collection, the shrine, the liturgical treasure, sacred relics and the crown jewels.
The Fisherman’s Bastion
Another historical monument that can be found at the Budapest castle is the Fisherman’s Bastion. It stands not very far from the Mathias Church, and is remarkable above all for its white sandstone colour. Here, a fish market was located in the Middle Ages. Certainly do not forget to visit it. From the top of the Bastion you can enjoy a beautiful view of Pest.
The Hungarian Parliament is an unforgettable part of Budapest. It is located right at the Danube river bank, and the main gate opens to the Kossuth Square.
The Parliament was built at the turn of the 19th century, and it is the largest building in Hungary. It has about 691 rooms, measures 264 meters at length and the height of the cupola alone is of 96 meters.
It is allowed to visit the Parliament, even though it may seem at the first glance that the guards will not let you any closer to the building. After paying 2400 forints (though it is said that it is free for tourists from EU member states) you can have a look inside the building and see even the Hungarian crown jewels (the Crown of Saint Stephen, the sceptre, the globus cruciger and the sword).
The Andrássy Avenue and the Heroes’ Square
PIf there is a street in Budapest that you must walk along, then it surely is the Andrássy Avenue. You can get there from the subway or tramway station Oktogon. Many theatres, restaurants, cafes and even the Hungarian State Opera House can be found on the Andrássy Avenue. You can easily hide away from the passing cars on a pathway flanked by trees. That is actually the most interesting thing about the Andrássy Avenue: along the busy street go two footpaths flanked by trees. During the long walk you can sit for a while on a bench, and refresh yourself in the shade of trees.
The Saint Gellért statue on the Gellért hill
On the Gellért hill, which is located right across the Erzsébet Bridge, raises the statue of St. Gellért, a bishop who died as a martyr in the 11th century. The legend has it that the bishop was locked in a nailed cask and then thrown down from the hill into the Danube River. Behind the statue is a colonnade, and a small waterfall springs below. A romantic place, inviting for a rest. If you are lucky, you will meet a lady on the steps leading to the St. Gellért statue, embroidering and selling little cloths even in the hottest weather. Buying one should be considered. The cloths are very precious indeed.
Here are some useful links. Check it out!
Tourist Information about Budapest