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Travel Guide Europe Hungary Budapest

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Introduction

Sign at the Royal Palace in Budapest

Sign at the Royal Palace in Budapest

© All Rights Reserved wilmar

Budapest, the capital of Hungary is the kind of city that has something to offer any traveller. The Danube river divides the city into two parts; on the west bank, Buda and on the east, Pest. The leafy hills of Buda are home to some of the main tourist sights at Castle Hill. The busier, more commercial Pest has plenty of tourist appeal of its own though: St Stephen's Basilica, the Opera House, the Terror Museum and the second largest Synagogue in the world among them. And after a long day of taking in the sights, nothing is more rewarding than "taking to the waters" in one of the numerous Turkish baths that the city is famous for.

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Neighbourhoods

The city is divided by the Danube into two major parts: Buda and Pest.

Buda

Buda is the western part of the Hungarian capital Budapest on the west bank of the Danube. The name Buda takes its name from the name of Bleda the Hun ruler, whose name is also Buda in Hungarian. Buda comprises about one-third of Budapest's complete territory and is mostly wooded and hilly. Notable landmarks include the Buda Castle and the Citadella.

Pest

Pest is the eastern, mostly flat part of Budapest, Hungary, comprising about two thirds of the city's territory. It is separated from Buda, the other part of Budapest, by the Danube River. Among its most notable parts are the Inner City, including the Hungarian Parliament, Heroes' Square and Andrássy Avenue. In colloquial Hungarian, "Pest" is often used for the whole capital of Budapest.

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Sights and Activities

Thermal Baths

Szehenyi Gyogyfurdo Spa

Szehenyi Gyogyfurdo Spa

© All Rights Reserved vilmalotta

One of the undisputed highlights of Budapest are its many thermal bath houses. Be sure to allocate some of your time in the city to visiting one of these spas. For more information also see the Spas Budapest website.

  • Gellért Bath - Gellért Bath (XI Gellert ter.) - Bathe in Budapest's most famous bathhouse, in a beautiful Art Nouveau setting next to the Gellert Hotel. Since its building in 1918, the Gellért spa was one of the most prestigous thermal bath on the Buda side of the city. Gellért spa is famous for its main hall with gallery and glass roof, sparkling bath and open- air pool with artificial waves.
  • Kiraly Bath - Dating back to the 1600s, these medieval steam houses offer a traditional middle eastern experience. Kiraly's main pool features a stain glassed dome. Men and women are allowed in at alternate times, so check before you go. Address: II Fõ utca 84
  • Széchenyi Spa Bath - Some of the biggest open air spas anywhere in Central Europe, right in the middle of the City Park in Pest. With its 18 thermal pools it is a guarantee for anyone for a full scale relaxation. The entrance ticket includes the usage of locker or a cabin, the 18 pools, saunas, steam cabins. Massages, towels and other treatments, services are extra charge. The temperatures of the pools are between 22- 38 °C. Visiting the spa is a perfect program at winter time also. It can be really romantic sitting in one of the outdoor pools, watching the steaming water. Address: XIV Allatkerti korut 11, Hours: 6:00am - 10:00pm
  • Rudas Baths - Budapest's oldest bath house, built in 1566. Only men are allowed in this one. Address: I Döbrentei tér 9

Aside from these very popular bath houses, there are many more throughout Budapest, including the Csaszar, Lukacs, Margaret Island Thermal Baths and the Rácz.

Tours and Performances

  • Dinner & Cruise with live music (25 Apr 2013 - 30 Apr 2014) - There are many Danube Tours in the city, some of them with audio guiding, some with drink or with dinner. One of them offers hot buffet dinner every evening during a 1.5-hour long cruise tour. The hot buffet dinner includes Hungarian and international dishes also. (stuffed cabbage, gulyas soup, strudel) 3 drinks are free, one glass of champagne as a welcome drink, one glass of red or white wine and one bottle of mineral water. During the cruise the visitor can enjoy the beautiful panorama, the view of Parliament, Royal Castle, Gellért hill, briges and many others. The live music is performed by 3 musicans from Rajko Folk Orchestra. Address: Zrínyi street 5, Phone: +3613171377, Hours: 1.5, Price: €15 - €37.3
  • Folklore Performances (24 May 2012 - 24 May 2013) - There are 3 different folk ensembles in Budapest who give professional performances all year along. These are the Hungaria State Folk Ensemble, Duna Folk Ensemble and Hungaria Folk Ensemble. The performances are in Danube Palace (Pest side) or Budai Vigadó (Buda side). The visitor can get know the authentic hungarian dances and costumes. On the stage not only dancers but musicans give the performance. Every Ensemble consists 30 dancers. Address: Zrínyi street 5 1051, Phone: +361 317 2754, Hours: 1.5, Price: €14 - €24

Museums

Parks and Gardens

  • City Park (Városliget)
  • Margaret Island (Margitsziget)
  • Gellért Hill - Gellért Hill is a 235-metre high hill in Budapest which overlooks the Danube River. At the foot of the hill you will find the Gellert Hotel and Baths as well as the Gellert Hill Cave. It's a steep climb to the top but views across the city on a clear day are fantastic. Remember to get a cup of mulled wine from the vendors at the bottom of the hill if its a cold day; it will keep you warm on the way up.
  • Buda Hills
  • Népliget

Other

  • Castle Hill
  • Opera House
  • St Stephen's Basilica - St Stephen's Basilica is the tallest building in Budapest (equally high as the Parliament Building). The Basilica can be found on the Pest side of the city and is a beautiful place to visit.
  • Budapest Great Synagogue - Budapest Great Synagogue is the second largest synagogue in the world. Address: Dohány utca 2-8. in VII. district
  • The Synagogue Triangle and the Jewish Quarter (01 May 2013 - 31 Oct 2013) - Established at the turn of the 19th century when the jewish community gathered in the 7th District along the road leading to the bridge that crosses the Danube. The center of this area became Király Street. This was also where in 1944 the Pest Ghetto was built, crowding 70.000 people together. In 2002 this historic neighborhood bordered by Király and Csányi Street, Klauzál Square, Kisdiófa and Dohány Street and Károly Boulevard was named the old Jewish Quarter of Pest and was entered into the World Heritage Conservation Zone. Address: 1074 Dohány Street 2., Phone: +36 1 317 2754; +36 1 317 1377, Hours: 10:00am, and 2:00pm Monday - Thursday, 10:00am Friday, 11:00am Sunday, Price: €38.10

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Events and Festivals

  • Budapest Spring and Autumn Festivals - For the sophisticated music enthusiast, these festivals offer the best in opera, choral and orchestral performances; also available will be the latest in modern dance performance and some art exhibitions. These are considered high-class festivals, where formal dress attire will be recommended for most of the events. The Spring event is typically held in March or April, and the Autumn event in September or October.
  • Budapest Summer Festival - An eclectic festival held during the summer months in Budapest. This event features live musical performances of varying styles (opera, pop, rock, etc.), theatrical plays, dance performances, comedy shows, and children's events - all taking place in beautiful open-air venues. After these programs, you can relax and enjoy the town on Margaret Island, because most of the events are typically presented there.
  • Budapest Wine Festival - This festival has gained quite a bit of popularity in the region, as locals have grown a strong taste and appreciation for wine (after many years of drinking beer). Winemakers from all over the region come to feature their choice vintages at this event. Visitors can expect to sample many different types of wine on the beautiful grounds of the Buda Castle, where this festival is typically held.
  • Sziget Festival - A crowded music festival event for the young (or young at heart). Festival-goers typically camp out for this event, and along with the music events, other parties and activities are available throughout the week. This festival is full of energy, with crowds cheering for some of the most popular music acts in the world. The festival is being staged at one of the islands in the Dunabe. (hence the name: Sziget)
  • Summer on Chain Bridge Festival - During the summer months, the city closes off Chain Bridge to all local traffic and host a grand event of concerts, shopping, food, and entertainment. Both locals and tourists enjoy this event, as there are always fun things to do and see during this summer festival. This is a family-friendly event, and there will also be activities for children to do.
  • Budapest International Circus Festival - Held biannually over five days from the end of January into February, this celebration of all things circus draws acts from all over the world to perform in the capital. Fire-eaters, clowns, dancers, acrobats, jugglers, trapeze artists and more give 30 shows over the five-day event, ending in a gala performance featuring famous talents.
  • The Danube Carnival - Multi-cultural, exciting, and full of music, the Danube Carnival takes place in Budapest’s Vorosmarty Square and other venues every June. Professional and amateur contemporary dancers, folk musicians and artists from across Hungary and Europe join for 10 days in performances, street entertainments, concerts and parties.
  • Budapest National Gallop - Lovers of horses and riding won’t want to miss this September event, taking place annually over three full days and featuring the superb Hungarian horses. A celebration of the Hussar culture and its military traditions sees many diverse events culminating in the spectacular National Horse Race in Hero’s Square, with riders from villages, towns and cities all competing for the big prize.
  • Budapest Palinka and Sausage Festival - Foodies will love this event, held every October on Castle Hill. Featuring at least 20 different varieties of the Hungarian brandy, palinka, their distillers are on-hand to explain their intricacies along with the makers of the famous Hungarian sausages and their produce. Street entertainment, music, dance performances and general merriment are all part of the gastronomic fun.
  • Budapest Christmas Fair and Festival - Despite the cold weather, Budapest is a magic place to be in at Christmas, with carolers, pre-Christmas parties and the largest Christmas Fair in the country held in Vorosmarty Square. Loved equally by locals and visitors alike, you’ll find gifts, local artwork, paintings, crafts, Christmas decorations, traditional food and drink, mulled wine, and a Nativity scene.

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Weather

Budapest has a continental climate with warm summers and cold winters. Temperatures in summer (June to August) are between 25 °C and 30 °C with nights around 15 °C or 16 °C, though much hotter wetter can happen with days close to 40 °C and warm nights. Winters are a few degrees above zero and nights are between around -3 °C most of the time, though -20 °C has been recorded. Precipitation is common during all months with heavy showers in summer and snowfall in winter.

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max1.2 °C4.5 °C10.2 °C16.3 °C21.4 °C24.4 °C26.5 °C26 °C22.1 °C16.1 °C8.1 °C3.1 °C
Avg Min-4 °C-1.7 °C1.7 °C6.3 °C10.8 °C13.9 °C15.4 °C14.9 °C11.5 °C6.7 °C2.1 °C-1.8 °C
Rainfall32 mm31 mm29 mm38 mm55 mm63 mm52 mm51 mm40 mm33 mm52 mm40 mm
Rain Days766688765577

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Getting There

By Plane

Hungary's main international airport is Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport (BUD/LHBP) (formerly known as Ferihegy), located about 16 kilometres from the city centre of Budapest. Terminal 1 was recently refurbished and serves low cost carriers, with a glass wall dividing them into Schengen and non-Schengen flights. Terminal 2A is used by MALEV Hungarian Airlines and its code-share partners and since 2008 all flights to Schengen countries (except for the ones with budget airlines) leave here, while 2B is used by other carriers flying to non-Schengen destinations.

To/from the airport

  • Rail: Hungarian State Railways runs suburban and long-distance services between Terminal 1 and Nyugati Railway Station in Budapest city centre through Kőbánya-Kispest. The trip takes approximately 25 minutes.
  • Bus: Bus no. 200 links all the terminals with the southern end of the 3rd metro line (M3).
  • An Airport Bus departs Liszt Ferenc International Airport every 10 minutes, providing links to the city centre and Budapest's metro system. The Budapest Airport Minibusz operates an airport shuttle service that takes passengers to any destination in the city. Other shuttle services also offer transport into the city from the airport.
  • Taxis and rental cars are both widely available at Liszt Ferenc International Airport as well.

By Train

Budapest has international rail connections to several European capitals. The major railway stations are: Eastern Railway Station (Keleti pályaudvar), Southern Railway Station (Déli pályaudvar) and Western Railway Station (Nyugati pályaudvar). The first two are accessible by M2 (second metro line), while the last one with M3 (third metro line). International ticket offices are located at these railway stations. Hungarian National Railways (MÁV) have a good website which includes price information on international train tickets. International connections include Berlin (12 hours), Munich (7.5 hours), Vienna (3 hours), Prague (7 hours), Bratislava (2.5 hours), Warsaw (10.5 hours), Bucharest (16.5 hours), Venice (13.5 hours), Ljubljana (9 hours), Zagreb (6.5 hours), Belgrade (8 hours), Sarajevo (11 hours), Sofia (18 hours) and even as far as Kiev (25 hours) and Moscow (39 hours). Most trains go on a daily basis and many include convenient night trains as well.

By Car

Highways radiate to/from Budapest with good connections to other cities and towns, as well as international motorways (E roads) connecting to international destinations. All major car rental companies offer rental cars from downtown locations, as well as from the international airport.

By Bus

International bus services connect Budapest with several European cities. Day and night services (depending on the distance) depart from and arrive to the recently rebuilt Népliget Bus Terminal (accessible by M3 and tram no. 1). Coaches to Vienna (4 times daily) calls in at Vienna International Airport as well. For timetables and on-line ticket purchase visit the english version of Volán Association. International connections are operated by Eurolines and Orangeways to places in Slovakia, Germany, Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovenia and Croatia.
Note that there are 4 bus stations: Népliget Bus Station for destinations in Western Hungary, Stadion Bus Station for Eastern Hungary, Árpád Bridge Bus Station for some northern destinations and Etele tér Bus Station for mainly local reginal destinations.

By Boat

Passenger boats' circulation is restricted both in time (from march until october), and regarding rivers' sections.
A regular hydrofoil service links Budapest with Bratislava (Slovakia) and Vienna (Austria).Mahart offers boat travel on the Danube river from Spring to Autumn between Budapest and Szentendre, Vác, Visegrád and Esztergom. Budapest Transport Limited has ferries in and around the capital only.

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Getting Around

By Car

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

By Public Transport

Budapest's public transport system is quite effective, though locals are often doubtful of that. The system is made up of approximately 180 bus lines, 20 tram lines and 14 trolleybus lines. The underground transportation is served by three metro lines. The first metro line (M1) is the oldest one in mainland Europe, and the second oldest (after the London one) in all of Europe. Other means of transport include a funicular (to the castle hill) a cogwheel railway (to Széchenyi Hill in the Buda Hills), the children's railway in the Buda Hills, a chair lift, and a temporary boat service during summer time on the Danube river. More info on timetables and ticket prices on the BKV website. The following lines are particularly useful:

  • Metro 1, 2, 3 connect the suburbs with the biggest transport hubs, numerous touristic highlights and central hotels.
  • Tram 2 runs along the river Danube on Pest side.
  • Tram 4, 6 follow Nagykörút, Pest's inner ring road.
  • Bus 7, 7E, 173 and 173E connect Keleti railway station with the city center and many points of interest in Buda and Pest.
  • Bus 16, 16A and 116 go to Buda castle.
  • Bus 105 connect Hősök tere (Hero's Square), goes up and down Andrássy boulevard to Deák square/Erzsébet square before it goes across the Chain Bridge to Buda and passes by Déli pályaudvar (Southern railway station).
  • Bus 200E serves the airport.

By Foot

Many of Budapest's highlights are easy to visit on footwal and in the centre of the city you find pedestrian zones. Car drivers tend to respect pedestrians and often give advantage on a cross-walk even if there is no traffic light.

By Bike

Budapest is not a very bike-friendly city and there are just a few separate bike lanes. You can rent bikes with Budapest Bike, Yellow Zebra Bike and Bike Base.

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Eat

  • Trofea Grill Restaurant - Trofea Grill Restaurant has two locations which are run with the same premise. A great, reasonably priced buffet where you can eat as much as you can of the diverse foods on offer, for a fixed price. High quality food at a great price! Address: 1145 Budapest, Erzsebet Kiralyne, utja 5 and also at 1117 Budapest Hauszmann Alajos and Szeremi ut corner

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Drink

Hungarian wines and liquors are world famous, and you can get them at affordable prices in the local bars or grocery stores. If you want to drink something what the locals like, something Hungarian, you can try some hot spirits like Palinka, Unicum, local wines from any of the Bortarsasag (Wine Society) shops, Torley champagne, and typical Hungarian soft drinks like the fizzy drink of the socialism, the grape flavoured Traubisoda, which is still popular.

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Sleep

Upscale

  • Hotel Ambra - A great 4-star hotel in Budapest is the Hotel Ambra - Close to the Opera House, the Basilica, and the Jewish quarter - the home to the largest synagogue in Europe. Address: -1077 Budapest, Kis Diófa utca 13

    View our map of accommodation in Budapest or use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

    Booking.com

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Keep Connected

Internet

There are plenty of internet cafés to be found in Budapest, with the concept being rather fashionable. Prices vary, but generally 100 HUF will buy you around 10 minutes and it's about 200 HUF for 30 minutes. Also, most dining places these days have wifi. If you drink/eat anything in the cafes/restaurants you can just ask for the wifi password and use the internet easily.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

Hungary's calling code is 36 and Budapest phone numbers, mobiles excepted, start with 06 1 regardless of where the call originates from. It is cheapest to place calls in the evening, weekends or on public holidays. There are 3 mobile operators in Hungary: Vodafone, Pannon and T-Mobile. Depending on the operator, mobile phone numbers start either with 06 20 (Pannon), 06 30 (T-Mobile) or 06 70 (Vodafone). Free numbers start with 06 80, but there is also a 'half price' number starting with 06 40. They also have their own prepaid service and travellers that are planning to stay in Hungary for longer periods might want to consider buying a prepaid SIM-card.

Public phones can be found throughout the city and are operated by 10-, 20-, 50- and 100-forint coins or T-Com phone cards. Phone cards can be purchased at the usual outlets; kiosks, post offices and petrol stations among others.

There are also numerous cheap phone cards to call internationally and are available at assorted outlets. These includes T-Com, EZ Phone, Bellafone and plenty of others offering various discount rates. It's smart to check the current rate to the destination you plan to call the most and compare this with other cards. Also compare the cost for establishing a connection as this can make a big difference in the real 'per minute' cost.

To call internationally, dial 00, wait for the tone and then dial the country code, town/city code and the rest of the number.

Post

Magyar Post is the national postal service of Hungary. Their English version only seems to concentrate on stamps though, but you will find helpfull English speaking staff in most of the main post offices throughout the country.

Post offices can be found throughout Budapest and generally are open between 8:00am and 6:00pm. Some of the main post offices do have longer opening hours, including the following:

  • Moszkva Square Post Office, XII. Krisztina út 6-8, Monday-Friday 7:00am-08:00pm Saturday 7:00am-2:00pm.
  • Nyugati Train Station Post Office, VIII. Teréz krt. 51, Monday-Friday 7:00am-8:00pm Saturday 7:00am-6:00pm.
  • Keleti Train Station Post Office, VI. Baross tér 11/C, Monday-Friday 7:00am-9:00pm Saturday 7:00am-2:00pm.

You can buy post your letter and parcels here and buy stamps, although you can buy these at kiosks as well. Hungarian postal services are generally reliable, relatively cheap (especially domestic services) and fast, with most of the postcards and/or letters being delivered within a week to other European countries, 10 days to several weeks outside of the continent. Anything of value is best to be send by registered post. For parcels, you might also use international companies like TNT, UPS or DHL.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 47.498403
  • Longitude: 19.040759

Accommodation in Budapest

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