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Budapest in May 2017

Just booked flights for a nine night trip in and out of, and centered around Budapest. We will probably spend two or three nights in Vienna. I will probably look for more thoughts and opinions a little later. Right now we're looking for recommendations on an apartment in the center of Pest. Any help is greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Posted by
1168 posts

I highly recommend Vienna. And two or three nights is good, but I spent 5 nights and it was not enough. There is so much to see and do in Vienna and it is an easy city to get around. I went to two concerts and and opera at night, to the Belevedere Castle to see The Kiss by Klimt among other wonderful paintings and the gardens of the palace grounds were wonderful. I also went to several museums and to see two amazing churches. Due read up on Vienna as it really is a great city not to be missed. If you need specific information, feel free to pm me.

Posted by
11138 posts

All things being equal and if you have no particular driving interest then I suggest you stay within the zone defined here: https://goo.gl/maps/zeG69ZcZSfD2 Its mostly "Budapestian" (is that a world?) with some significant tourist overtones. At one end you will see Deak Ferenc ter. If you were to calculate the center, based on walking time (or walking and metro time), of all the major points of interest in Budapest it would be pretty close to Deak Ferenc ter. After a number of years visiting Budapest this is the zone we invested in for our visits. As a tourist the significant transportation lines that you will be interested are the M1 metro (the oldest on the continent of Europe), the 47/49 Tram which runs from Deak Ferenc ter to the Great Market Hall and the River and the 2 Tram which runs the Pest side of the Danube and to a lesser degree the 4/6 Tram. Find those on a map and you get a pretty good idea why the area works so well.

The area bounded by Deak Ferenc ter on the east, the river on the west, and the Erzsébet híd (bridge) on the south and the Chain Bridge on the north sort of defines the Tourist Hell of Budapest. BUT, still worth a day to see.

Give me some dates in May and I will see what is going on in town. May Day is always a good day to be in Budapest. Great Air Show over the Danube and events around town. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0px9HFIVYjY I'll make it this year.

Budapest itself does not ever get boring for me but If you haven't seen Vienna, then its worth the trip, but otherwise I would spend a night or two in Eger and an night or two in Pecs and the rest in and around Budapest. If you do Vienna, do it on the way to Budapest on an open jaw ticket; returning home from Budapest. You save a lot of travel time that way. In Budapest bargain for a discount for a 6 to 9 night stay so the overnight trips you just carry a day bag on the train and you have a "home" to return to.

Posted by
6092 posts

I stayed at the Gozsdu Apartments in 2014 and I loved the apartment and the location. It was well located for all the tourist sights and for getting around to other areas by metro and tram. It's about 4 blocks from the Deak Ferenk ter (station) that James mentioned and walking distance to the main sights (St Stephens Cathedral, Parliament, chain bridge, opera house, Grand Synagogue, fisherman's bastion, House of Terror). The area is a very 'happening' area with lots of bars, restaurants, shopping, etc. and can be a bit noisy in the evenings, but I was never bothered by the noise inside my apartment, only when I was in the courtyard. The apartments are in a group of 7 bldgs connected by a central courtyard walkway (this is where the bars, cafes and shops are located). My apartment was a nice sized studio but they do have apts with separate bedrooms, very well equipped kitchen and nice newer bathroom. I had no complaints. They get good reviews on booking.com and TA and others. Well under $100/night - my studio in 2014 was under $50/night.

Posted by
11138 posts

Nancy, just warn them to get an apartment that doesn't face the courtyard or it could be a little noisy. For my taste I like street noise as I am a bit claustrophobic and hearing people and life helps alleviate the feeling of being isolated or in a cave. The place I stay when in Budapest is ground level street facing on a very narrow almost entirely pedestrian street. I actually love hearing people walking by. As for the Gozsdu Courtyard, I love anything in the Jewish Ghetto. When i walk across the line that borders District VI with the old Ghetto I still get chills.

Here is a little history on where you stayed: http://www.greatsynagogue.hu/gallery_gojdu.html In this German map of the ghetto the courtyard is about where the number 8 appears. https://www.ushmm.org/m/img/98980-x700.jpg

Posted by
6092 posts

James, I honestly don't remember if my apartment was facing the courtyard or not, but because I was never bothered by any noise it probably did not. It was on an upper floor so that may have helped too, and the fact that it was in the farthest building from Kiraly U. and there wasn't any bars or cafes directly below me. I just know that I enjoyed my stay there immensely and would stay there again if it works for longer term rental (1-2 months) like I have tentatively planned in the next couple of years.

EDIT - loved the links you provided.

Posted by
230 posts

Thank you all for the input. You got us off to a good start.

Posted by
11138 posts

Nancy, as for a point on the map, Gozsdu Udvar is about as good as you can do. I stay about a block up Kiraly from there and it's where we eat breakfast most mornings when in town. Been doing it for so many years now that they know us by name. Even got an invite to the manager's wedding. We actually saw the courtyard when it was abandoned and watched it during the renovations. Don't forget the weekend junk market in the courtyard.

Did you know about the little piece of the ghetto wall (actually a reconstruction on the old foundations) in the courtyard about 2 houses east of the Gozsdu Kiraly utca entrance? Also a few stumbling stones on Kiraly utca.

Posted by
11138 posts

David, as you find apartments that interest you, if you will send me address or the name (most have names these days), I might be able to tell you about the street or the neighborhood.

Let me know what most interests you when you travel and I might be able to help you with that too.

Posted by
4041 posts

I have just returned this week from 6 nights in this apartment:-

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/VacationRentalReview-g274887-d1498174-Central_Loft_Apartment-Budapest_Central_Hungary.html

It was in a great location close to Oktogon Metro station, was immaculately clean and was very quiet at night, so no sleep interruptions. There were plenty of coffee shops, bars and restaurants nearby and it is less than 5 minutes to the Opera House. The owners are Canadian/Hunagrian based in Budapest. They couldn't have been more helpful.

Posted by
11138 posts

Jennifer: I have a friend that owns an apartment on Jokai ter, I think in the very same building that you stayed in. Small world!

Posted by
230 posts

Thanks James. Will keep you posted. Thanks Jennifer, will look into those apartments.

Posted by
8 posts

James and Nancy, I am planning a trip to Prague/Vienna/Budapest in Sept. 2017. I like to travel solo. Do you think its safe enough for a foreign woman alone? Plan to stay about 4 days.

Posted by
11138 posts

I cant think of three safer places. Or three safer transportation links.

I do some work that brings me into contact with a number of people that travel in the region and most make the same trip you are thinking of. After about 5 years of this I have been made personally aware of two pick pocketing instances; one on the Charles Bridge in Prague. Its notorious for that so I am not surprised. The other involved a Roma youth on a metro in Vienna. Both instances in the end worked out okay for the tourist. But that same sort of thing is just as likely to happen to you in any crowded tourist area in the US.

If you are concerned about a woman alone scenario specifically; in my neighborhood in Budapest I see young ladies returning home from work (I generally assume) alone well after sunset. There doesn't seem to be any stigma or threat associated with it. The crime rates in most of these cities, outside of the worst of the tourist traps, is probably about equal to a upper middle class suburban neighborhood in the US.

As for the whole migrant thing; in practical terms migrants don't exist in Hungary or the Czech Republic. Vienna...........ehhhhhh.......... If that means anything one way or another, I leave for you to decide.

As for the whole terrorism thing; what I have read puts Hungary and the Czech Republic in the lowest risk group in Europe. Again, if that means anything to you one way or another, I leave to you to decide. I know there has never been a terrorist strike in Hungary and I don't believe there has been one in Austria or the Czech Republic. But check me on that.

Feelings are not reality, so when someone says "I went to Syria and I felt perfectly safe" I know they are ....... well, having said that, I will be as silly and say that there is no place in the world that I have experienced, international or domestic, where I feel safer or more comfortable than I do in Budapest. Worthless, but offered.

My wife and I will be there in September. Wave and say hello.

Posted by
11138 posts

Did you mean 14 days or 4 days per city?

If it's 14 days, then add the following weekend to make 16 days and add Cesky Krumlov and Gyor to the trip to break up the train trips and add some smaller scale to the experience.

Posted by
2105 posts

Vicki--I am a solo female traveler and have been to all 3 cities recently and felt perfectly safe out and about day and even late at night. Not one for bars, etc., but coming back from metro and train stations or walking back from the opera in Prague, no worries at all. Use your basic street smarts and you'll be fine. Europe feels much safer to me than here at home.

Posted by
230 posts

Have been doing a little research. Looking at Golden Stars apartment. On Iranyi Str. In District V, city center. Has anyone had any experience with these apartments? Thanks.

Posted by
5379 posts

We enjoyed Liszt Studios -- on Franz Liszt ter, near Oktagon metro. Going back in March.

Posted by
11138 posts

No experience with the particular apartment, but I can tell you a bit about the area. Its one block off Vaci utca which is of no particular value. I think you will get a better Impression of Budapest if you see Vaci utca once then get away from it. Its not particularly well centered, but it is a clean neighborhood.

Maybe a 5 minute walk from the M3 underground, but you don't want to spend your trip underground going back and forth to the room.

Its also less than a 10 minute walk to the 2 Tram and the 47/49 tram and they are great rides and a great way to get around.

The cost of the place is a bit high, but look like you get a lot for the dollar. "Good" places will start at about $50 euro. I like that the owner has several places as that means its a real business and there should be a great degree of professionalism in the business.

So, great looking place, decent but not gorgeous neighborhood, a bit expensive but not terrible, mediocre location. Only real question left is what floor is it on and is there an elevator. Remember street level is GROUND, the next level up is FIRST, then SECOND, etc. Ground to first floor will be maybe 18 feet in these old buildings. Then its 12 feet more or less between the upper floors.

Oh, and you are going to be a Budapestian so lets not call it Iranyi Street, lets call it Iranyi utca (abbreviated u.)

Posted by
11138 posts

Laura B, your apartment is 2 blocks from where we stay. I love that end of town.

Posted by
230 posts

Thanks for the responses. James, it looks like it's in a pretty good location. Is it not in the middle of city center? In your opinion where would be ideal location? Do we want to be a little north, or northeast of there? Also, regarding price, we're looking for apartment with a bedroom and separate living space, so willing to pay a little more for that, and the terrace. Apartment is on 3rd floor and there is a lift. I only used street because they used it in the address provided, thanks.. Thanks again.

Posted by
230 posts

Sirry, didn't mean to imply that we're looking for a terrace. This apartment just happened to have it.

Posted by
11138 posts

All things being equal and if you have no particular driving interest then I suggest you stay within the zone defined here: https://goo.gl/maps/zeG69ZcZSfD2 Its mostly "Budapestian" (is that a world?) with some significant tourist overtones. At one end you will see Deak Ferenc ter. If you were to calculate the center, based on walking time (or walking and metro time), of all the major points of interest in Budapest it would be close to Deak Ferenc ter.

The significant transportation lines that you will be interested are the M1 metro (the oldest on the continent of Europe), the 47/49 Tram which runs from Deak Ferenc ter to the Great Market Hall and the River and the 2 Tram which runs the Pest side of the Danube and to a lesser degree the 4/6 Tram. Find those on a map and you get a pretty good idea why the area works so well. The zone I point out is along the Andrassy ut corridor which is a beautiful walk, but the M1 metro runs right under the street if you just want to make time. The M1 will connect you with all the above ground transportation you will want to use. Both the M1 and the Trams are fun and not merely transportation.

The area bounded by Deak Ferenc ter on the east, the river on the west, and the Erzsébet híd (bridge) on the south and the Chain Bridge on the north sort of defines the Tourist Hell of Budapest and that apartment is in the better half of that zone.

Okay, Tourist Hell is strong. This is the zone that exists for the sole purpose of serving tourists. Tourist restaurants, all the big name brand stores that you find in every tourist center, hundreds of souvenir shops and everything substantially more expensive than Budapest as a whole. It, in and of its self is a touris attraction, but nothing in the zone is of particular “Hungarian” or “Budapest” interest other than the river front which is quite beautiful.

The apartment requirements you have you should be able to find within the zone I described for about 60 euro a night. Also significant to the area I suggest is that in the evening you can walk among the Hungarians, eat in Hungarian restaurants and drink in Hungarian wine bars; all at Hungarian prices. But I am terribly biased……..

Hungarian lesson:

utca = street
ut = boulevard or major road
ter = square

And this is just my personal preference. The area where that apartment is located is fine. You will have a good time in a lot of places other than the one I suggest.

Posted by
230 posts

Thanks James. We don't want to be in tourist he'll, as you say. We will consider your input.

Posted by
11138 posts

No matter where I go I tend to get a little overly obsessed with where we stay. Some people just see it as a roof and a bed, but I try and find a way to make it contribute beyond that.

Posted by
230 posts

We don't need a lot of frills, but we do like to be in the best location in city center. That being said, a frill or two couldn't hurt.

Posted by
11138 posts

I don’t always go for frills, just some added value. Maybe a neighborhood, maybe a historic structure, once in a while a 5 star (usually off season), sometimes the center of the “old town” if there is one, ocean view. But something that adds value. It’s never just a roof. But like I said, I am a little extreme on the subject. I will spend weeks finding the perfect place to stay on each trip.

When you find places that seem interesting, go to Google Maps and do street view and wander around a bit.