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A week in Budapest

Hello Magyarphiles!

Booked it 3 days ago! One whole week in Budapest. Now I'm figuring out what to do and where to go.

  • Sunday: I land around 9 am. 100E bus from the airport, then a 10 minute walk to the flat. Get the keys, learn the house rules, and go to the farmers' market at Szimpla ruin bar to pick up a few things to fill the larder, supplemented by a trip to Spar. Then swing by St. Stephen's for a ticket to that evening's concert and just enjoy being back in beautiful Budapest.
  • Monday: Open to suggestions. Everything on my "sights" list is closed.
  • Tuesday: Castle Hill. Hungarian National Museum, House of Houdini, maybe wine tasting at Faust Wine Cellars underneath the Hilton. The funicular is closed. How to get to the castle without walking uphill?
  • Wednesday: Hungarian National Gallery and . . . . ??
  • Thursday: Museum of Fine Arts.
  • Friday: Maybe Skanzen if it's not too cold.
  • Saturday. Open

Tuesday/Wednesday are interchangeable if weather requires. Same for Thursday/Friday. I'm considering a wine tasting at the Tasting Table - includes food (probably bits and pieces) and prices are reasonable. Fall colors anywhere? Someone on TA posted that leaves are turning now.

Posted by
12560 posts

Tuesday: Castle Hill. Hungarian National Museum, House of Houdini,
maybe wine tasting at Faust Wine Cellars underneath the Hilton. The
funicular is closed. How to get to the castle without walking uphill?

Pick your poison: https://www.google.com/maps/dir/Budapest,+Castle+Hill,+Hungary/Budapest,+Vasv%C3%A1ri+P%C3%A1l+u.+6,+1061+Hungary/@47.502293,19.0280748,14z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m14!4m13!1m5!1m1!1s0x4741dc22e3aabd2b:0x977a623f871c1899!2m2!1d19.0336045!2d47.5014928!1m5!1m1!1s0x4741dc6bdff7c07f:0xa9b9f2456e80c3c4!2m2!1d19.0603448!2d47.5013814!3e3

I prefer the 4/6 Tram as you can see the city along the way.

Monday: Bath house, or spend a day riding trams around town (go further than you have ever gone before), at the lower end of Andrassy is a florist and from there its a nice walk to the Shoes.

Posted by
14414 posts

That was quick. Not into the bath thing. I am thinking about the zoo. Not crazy about them in general but the Art Deco architecture is a draw. If the fall colors are out, might just go to Margaret Island. Just hoping the weather stays dry. Right now the long-term forecast is mostly dry but winter temps (my winter anyway). The idea of walking out in the morning to 4-5 C is daunting. Never gets that cold here. I'm pulling out my thermal undies, gloves, scarves, hats, and - oh my - shoes!

It looks like I'll be using public transit enough to warrant the one week pass, so riding trams is not at all a bad idea.

Posted by
12560 posts

I actually love the Budapest Zoo.

And tell Andy hello for me. The circus is a good "local" thing to do too. (no enslaved animals)

And you might check what is going on at the Opus Jazz Club.

Herbie Hancock played in my home town a while back and tickets were $49 to $90 each, I just got tickets for him at Opus (for a friend visiting in a few weeks) for about $13 for two.

A few late hours at the park on Gellert Hill with a bottle of wine just soaking in the lights of the city

Visit the square in the 3rd town from which Budapest got its name.

Posted by
19203 posts

The Liszt Ferenc Music Academy offers tours of its gorgeous Art Nouveau interior. In the before times they ran on Mondays. The English tours (at 1:30 PM as of 2018) sometimes sell out, so it's smart to wander by there early in your visit to check on the timing and see whether they'll sell you a ticket early. My tour included a short cello concert by a very talented musician; I am not sure a mini-concert is always included, but the building itself is worth seeing if you like Art Nouveau.

Memento Park is open every day. You'd want to choose a day with pleasant weather, and it takes some time to get there by bus. I really enjoyed this, but I am an admitted Cold War junkie.

I didn't have time for the Hospital in the Rock (not closed on Monday as far as I know), but others on the forum have liked it.

Again assuming the weather's OK, you will certainly find walking tours operating. Having bought the city sightseeing card (which I managed to make pay off), I took the included Cityrama walking tours of Buda and Pest. I found them worthwhile. There used to be a company running Art Nouveau walking tours; I didn't take one of those but spent a great deal of time tracking down A.N. buildings recommended in various sources.

The Parliament building tours apparently run daily. English-language tours are reported to sell out early. Tickets are expensive for non-EU folks. I believe this isn't you first trip to Budapest, so you've probably already done the Parliament building.

Posted by
14414 posts

Thanks, Ann. I'll check out the Liszt Academy.

The Hospital in the Rock is closed to individual visitors. I looked at several tour sights. Not much seems to be offered. I saw one tour company that had a couple of interesting walks, but any booking required a minimum of 2 people. The manager of the flat told me that there are very few tourists in town and the locals are quite enjoying it.

I did the Parliament tour on my first visit, long time ago. Since I'll be walking past it more than once, I may see if I can get a ticket. They used to offer tours in Hebrew. That's what I took, since the English ones were always sold out. There are a lot of Israeli tourists these days, so maybe that's a possibility.

Posted by
1205 posts

Buy Rick Steves Budapest sixth edition guide book and take his self-guided walking tours. You can download an electronic version from his app.

Posted by
19203 posts

The Pesti Vigado concert hall was having a free open house on one of my Budapest days. That is another beautiful building. The website alludes to tours, but I don't see any specifics, so maybe they aren't running tours right now.

Posted by
2886 posts

Hi Chani,
Sounds like a great Itinerary. Fond memories of the St. Stephens Sunday Concert. Hope you enjoy it. In addition to the recommended Liszt Academy, we enjoyed our visit to the Liszt Museum. Following our visit we had a nice lunch at Café Vian. Enjoyed the best Aperol Spritz!! I also recommend Macesz Huszar, but I just read it is “temporarily closed?” Oh no. Perhaps James will chime in. Of course our favorite Kadarka Bar!!! Our regards to Arpie & Z. Enjoy every moment!
https://lisztmuseum.hu/en

Posted by
14414 posts

James - Obuda is now on my list. Any recommendation for lunch?

Ann - Thank you! I just booked this piano concert. I saw enough Soviet statues in Georgia and Armenia, thanks LOL.

Janis - Aperol spritz used to be my favorite drink, then I got hooked on margaritas in Chicago this summer. I guess I'll stick to Hungarian 🍷🍷 next week - not a bad solution, after all :-) As for Kadarka, I guess I'll be stopping in there every now and then - my front door is only 100 m. away 🤪🥴

Posted by
12560 posts

I spent an evening with the owner of the Lion's Locker and his family a few weeks go; closed and has decided to stay closed until March when the tourists typically start rolling in so lets hope that's the worst case for Macesz Hus (Good news is I have access to the rental numbers on a number of short term rentals, and the rentals are coming in at a pretty good clip; so things are looking up).

In the area of where you are staying, have you tried https://www.mazeltov.hu/ it is a short walk from where you are staying and it might be in a direction and an area you haven't visited, and the market in front usually has good produce and sometimes antiques (cold war junk) set up inside on the weekend.

A good breakfast, especially for the atmosphere is https://twentysixbudapest.com/ ; they open at 7am if I am correct (I had to find a place to go until the Lion's Locker reopens) they have dinner too, but I've only been there for Breakfast.

In Obuda there is https://csalanosi-obuda.hu/etlap/ sort of upscale rustic; mostly Hungarian; I ate there with some friends that live out that way; the other is a place called Új Sipos Halászkert which I can not confirm is still open;l but also nice if it is.

At Kadarka the gentleman approaching middle age, somewhat balding, is Arpad (Arpie for short) the owner; the younger thin guy with a nearly shaved head except up the middle, a bit talkative and expressive is Zoltan (Mr. Z); please say high and I will see them second week of November; dont forget they have a good menu.

And finally, since you are there Friday evening ... you know where to visit down the street for a free meal.

Posted by
14414 posts

Mazal Tov was already on my list. I get the attraction of Mediterranean food - I have it all the time, which is the main reason I skipped 26 last time 😘

Thanks for the Obuda tips. I will certainly introduce myself to Arpie and Mr. Z at the first opportunity. I certainly haven't forgotten their menu, especially the chocolate souffle (must have eaten 5 of them last trip). I'll skip the free meal, TYVM. I'd much rather spend a few forints on good food elsewhere. When I'm away from home for long periods, I go to Chabad dinners for the atmosphere, but this time I'm quite happy to be away from Yiddishkeit for a week. BTW this is the shortest trip I've ever taken!

Here's my list, some from the RS guidebook. Let me know if there's any I should avoid. I'm sure I won't get to all of them.
Menza (of course)
Cafe Kor
Hazi Retesbolt
Elso Pesti Reteshaz
Trattoria Toscana
Taverna Dionysos (love Greek food)
Belvarosi Lugas
Millennium da Pippo

Posted by
2164 posts

Lucky you!! My whole week will have to wait til spring--possibly over May 1 as I loved seeing their May Day celebration a couple of years ago--and also because I will want to see the nesting stork at Margit sziget, so that's my vote for your free Monday...not sure when you're going? I also loved the zoo, the architecture is gorgeous, love the tilework especially at the elephant house. There's a section with birds and I was thrilled to recognize what the keeper was saying in a loving tone to a beautiful hyacinth macaw..."Mit csinalsz?" Just like people say to their pets, "whatcha doin'?".

I loved visiting the Skanzen, spent a few hours in Szentendre first as I always enjoy that...lots of walking at Skanzen, the little villages and houses are quite spread out. I spent perhaps 3 hours there, and be mindful of the bus schedule going back to Szentendre.

My favorite Saturday activity is taking the bus out to the Ecseri piac as I do love a good poke around a foreign flea market--this one is only vintage items and I am in desperate need of a visit to get more of the 1930s Komlos pottery pieces that I collect.

I have enjoyed several meals at Belvarosi Lugas, nice view of Szent Istvan's if you sit outside and they are very friendly to solo diners. There are always locals when I go so that's a good sign. I also like Urban Betyar on Oktober 6 utca, a few blocks from Szent Istvan and there's a great bookstore across the street...that's how I discovered it, on the prowl for a new book.

Posted by
12560 posts

We go to a few of the same places.....

Menza (of course) Where I first met Andy and Renata about 10 years ago.
Cafe Kor Always good. Didnt notice for sure, but think its open
Hazi Retesbolt check out http://auguszt.hu/en/ the one on Kossuth Lajos u. See the building courtyard.
Elso Pesti Reteshaz no longer on my diet
Trattoria Toscana i try not to eat foreign food on vacation :-)
Taverna Dionysos (love Greek food) see above.
Belvarosi Lugas Disapointing that they took the Toltott Kaposzta off the menu. They said they cut the menu back because of COVID.
Millennium da Pippo I will give it a try next time I am in Budapest.

Maybe a new one for you?: https://hachapuri.com/

Posted by
14414 posts

Hi Christa. I'm going this coming Sunday. A true spur-of-the-moment visit. Your reinforcement now has me committed to the zoo and reconsidering Skanzen. I'm not sure how much walking I can do - really out of practice, sigh. I always get to the same place as other RS-ers just before or after them. I think I'm going to be in Budapest some 2-3 weeks after and before James, though on my last visit there I did meet him for an hour. I stopped for a last glass of wine (guess where :-) on my way to the 100E bus and he showed up a couple hours earlier than expected - last minute plane schedule change I think. Urban Betyar is temporarily closed, thankfully there's no lack of good places to eat in Budapest.

James - you probably live where there are very good ethnic restaurants and my sticking to a vegetarian diet does limit variety for local food. I have put Hachapuri on my list. Looking at their menu brought back memories of a 2-week tour Georgia and Armenia. It was full-board and there was at least one eggplant dish at every lunch and dinner. Luckily I am fond of eggplant. Auguszt - OMG are the cakes anywhere as delicious as they look? All the pants I'm packing will have to have elastic waistbands.

Posted by
12560 posts

Yes, Auguszt is that good, and the tourists haven't found it yet; be sure to go out the back door unto the courtyard.

Fortunately fermented grapes fall within your diet.

Sorry I am missing you this trip, but this is a medical trip for me and there are a few days I doubt I will be much fun.

Eggplant is one thing I am not found of which is difficult seeing how my circle of friends include many who speak Farsi.

If it would interest you I can give you Tram directions to this wonderful old, old, old Jewish cemetery. https://images.app.goo.gl/Aiy4wHU5Ht4NoTFn8 https://images.app.goo.gl/3goSMc7RxJGxbuRT9

Posted by
9 posts

My husband is Hungarian and we have been to Budapest many times. We are planning a return visit in May 2022. I am most interested to learn if most restaurants and attractions are open. Any reports are most welcome.

Posted by
14414 posts

Almost all of the places that were recommended - here on the forum or from the RS guide book - are open. And from just walking along, I've seen very few places that are closed. . . . restaurants, cafes, bars all doing business. .

Posted by
12560 posts

Chani, excellent news. A lot has changed in the last month. But I am not surprised. I know a guy that knows a guy that is in the AirBnb business over there and bookings have gone from nearly ZERO for the 12 months prior to mid September to above previous year averages for October, November and December. But alas my favorite little breakfast haunt "Lion's Locker" has decided to remain closed until the March tourist rush. :-(

Where has been your best meal on this trip?
What did you do and where did you go on this trip?

Posted by
14414 posts

There are tourists, mostly Europeans. I've heard a lot of German, Russian (maybe Ukrainian), Scandinavian, French, Italian, Spanish etc,. and lots of Israelis too (Israelis love to travel - I don't know anyone, except maybe infants, who doesn't have a passport). Sights are not crowded but there are visitors. At restaurants and bars I hear a lot of Hungarian and English with an accent - probably people on business connecting with locals.

I must say, restaurants are not all that good. Like in Israel, they are having a bit of a struggle getting back to normal. Service is generally excellent, but kitchens are not up to snuff yet . . . not bad, just not quite as good as pre- . . . . Kadarka is as good as always, and nearly as busy. Last night there was a huge private party that took over the place and spilled out into the street. Tonight was full but no one was turned away.

Yesterday was outstanding. I went to Obuda (thank you James for the idea). The Vasarely Museum is closed for a month for renovations. I loved the sculptures of Imre Varga. And then I went a bit farther to Aquincum to see the Roman ruins. Okay, I've been to many in Italy and of course at home in Israel, we have our share of them (and very fine they are), so I was less than impressed but still it is a bit of a kick to walk through walls and walks that people built millenia ago. My great joy there though was to walk on grass and enjoy the many trees beginning to show their autumn golds and crimsons (not something I get to do/see at home).

I spent the better part of Monday at the zoo. I loved, loved loved the Elephant House. The weather was sunny and warm (16-17C) and some of the animals were out and about. The 2-hump camels looked so strange to me - at home we have the 1-humpers - but they didn't look as mean and ugly. I wanted to cry when I saw the polar bear in its tiny enclosure. The baby elephant was cute but again, those beautiful creatures shouldn't be confined to such small spaces. Much better to get up close and personal with their brethren at a nature preserve in Thailand, for instance. The afternoon ended with a photo op at Heroes Square in the late afternoon sun.

Yesterday evening I went to a piano concert at Vigado Concert Hall that was most excellent. Beethoven, Liszt, more Liszt and Mussorgsky. The pianist - Endre Hegedus - was wonderful. I think this will be the highest highlight of my highlight-filled week. The hall is beautfiul, the seats are more comfortable than any other place I've been and of course the acoustics are great. Mr. Hegedus spoke before each composition and I wish I could have understood him. His delivery was folksy and humorous.

I spent an afternoon up at Buda Hill, mostly at the Hungarian National Gallery. I spent almost as much time enjoying the view from the terrace as inside the building. It felt almost criminal to waste the glorious weather on a museum, but the collections - especially the Gothic altar pieces are a joy to the eye and the soul.

Well, it's past bedtime, so that's it for now. Thanks to all of you who helped make my visit so wonderful. I wish you could all be here with me.

Posted by
2886 posts

Thanks Chani for your informative report. Good to hear Kadarka is thriving. They were always accommodating when we were there in 2019.
Sorry to hear per James that Lion’s Locker is temporarily closed. We enjoyed walking across the street every am for our coffee & breakfast. Great people! Miss Budapest!

Posted by
1205 posts

My favorite things to do in Budapest are taking Rick Steves self-guided walking tours, visiting Széchenyi Baths first thing in the morning so you can see the elderly men play chess while soaking in the water, eat lunch at the Great Market Hall and visit Pest's ruin pubs in the Jewish section. At night, take a taxi ride past the illuminated architectural designs that will make your jaw drop. Also, make sure you eat a lángos, you can buy them on a street near the Széchenyi Baths or at a market.

Posted by
73 posts

Following...signed up for the Best of Berlin, Prague and Vienna, and our plan is to spend 4 nights in Budapest at the end of that tour.
Will probably start in earnest looking at planning that trip soon...just back from 5 week road trip across the USA.

Posted by
12560 posts

Understanding that I am a bit biased, 4 nights is 3 days and most people think its a 4 day introduction trip.

Of course my first trip was 3 nights; but then i followed that with almost 400 more.

There is some current ideas here (wmt1 has some good suggestions that i skipped because the OP had only two days): https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/austria/day-trip-vienna-to-budapest-f9b49cac-ebaa-45a1-b501-48a304524b4e and pick Chani's mind, she is a regular there too.

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14414 posts

I went for my PCR test Thursday at 11.30 which killed the morning. The strict instructions included not putting anything in the mouth (no toothbrushing, gum chewing, nor a sip of water). The clinic was very efficient and the nurse who took the sample not only spoke fluent English but also fluent Hebrew. In fact she was pleased to have the chance to use it. I dropped the plan to spend time on Margaret Island because it was super windy, not pleasant. I found Házi Rétesbolt recommended in the RS guide, and was disappointed. Yes, you can see the room where they make the strudel, but at 12.15 it was empty. The strudel was cold, the dough was tough and there were few choices. I had a delightful afternoon at the Museum of Fine Arts and finished off the day having dinner at Kadarka with a glass or maybe it was 3 (who's counting?) of the local grape juice.

On Friday I walked through the Jewish Quarter on the way to the National Museum (history) and a walk around the area before a wine tasting at the Tasting Table - Wine Cellar & Bar. It was great fun, 8 wines, some bread and cheese (and sausage for the omnivores). An American couple who relocated to Budapest a month ago, 2 English women and 2 Danish women who spoke fluent English (of course). We were very talkative from the outset and ended up spending much more than the scheduled 2 hours. Nice place for dinner as well. The Danes wanted to go to Szimpla Ruin Pub and it was on my way home so we walked together and I went in with them for a look around. At 10 pm there was a short line (about 5 minutes) to get in and only after showing your Covid vaccination certificate. At 10.30 the line was more than twice as long. I walked through the adjacent food court, also full of people and very lively.

Posted by
12560 posts

🤣🤣🤣🤣

FirstMed. I will be there 5 times over the next 3 weeks. They have taken good care of me for years. Glad they treated you well.