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Budapest Logistics Assistance?

We're arriving in Budapest Tues morning and are staying at the Marriot which I believe is on the Pest side. We're boarding a Viking cruise ship on Wed (board ship by 4pm but afterwards we can go back into town) and Thurs morning we have a free tour (details below). I've listed the sites we'd like to see other than the ones on the tour, but I'm unsure about the order (or if any of these locations make them impractical). Would love info on which type of transit makes the most sense. We plan to take a cab form the airport to the hotel.

Would appreciate if anyone can comment on the anything we should drop if we run out of time. I'm thinking we tackle Buda first and use the longer day on Wed for the Pest side, but am totally open to suggestions! We're a couple in our mid-fifties but reasonably fit and prefer to walk when feasible.

Thanks in advance!

Pest Side
Vajdahunyad Castle - tour
St Stephens Basilica - tour & climb up the fancy stairs to the dome
Hungarian Parliament Building - external only
Market Hall - grab a quick meal and look around
Széchényi Baths (to see the Mosaic art - don't plan to bathe)

Buda Side
Climb Gellert Hill
Buda Castle (funicular up, tour and walk down)

Viking Tour:
Meet your guide at your ship for a panoramic tour, beginning in modern Pest. Along the elegant Andrássy Avenue, the Champs-Élysées of Budapest, admire the Hungarian State Opera House. Stop at Heroes’ Square, a wide-open plaza of monuments and statues commemorating the Magyar state. Across the river, explore the more traditional Buda side of the city. Here you will visit the Castle District with its massive hilltop castle complex, the turreted Fishermen’s Bastion and Matthias Church, named for the country’s most popular medieval king. From the heights of Buda Hill, enjoy fantastic views of the famous Chain Bridge

Posted by
3429 posts

I guess I wouldn't consider Vajdahunyad Castle a "real" castle. It was built as a model for an expedition. It is very close to Hereos' Square where Viking is taking you, so I might drop that. Széchényi Baths is also right by Hero's square. The metro under Andrassy Avenue, that goes to Hero's Square I believe is the oldest in mainland Europe. It is really quite beautiful. Of your list, the baths and castle are really the only time you might want to not walk. Even then, the walk along Andrassy would be beautiful, though it looks like Viking will take you down that street. If I were to tour something your Pest day, it would be the magnificent parlament building. They have English tours, but if you can't get one of those I'd go on any tour. For me parlament was a highlight. The crown of the King of Hungary is also on display at the parlament. Close to parlament along the Danube is a sculpture of a row of shoes. It makes quite a sobering statement, which of course is its purpose. I spent a lot of time at Pest's Market Hall, it was a treat for all the senses. You might want to take some time around the exterior of the market, the Liberty Bridge is close. There is a Synagogue close as well, that offers tours. Parlament, St. Stephens and the Market Hall are all in close proximity. Viking is taking you up to Buda Castle, so you are basically duplicating what Viking is doing in Buda, but it is one of the highlights of Budapest so some independent time may be nice. I would find out if Viking is taking you INTO St. Matthias. There is an admission charge. If they are not taking you in, you might consider going in on your own. The architecture is pretty amazing and the church is very historic. One thing Viking may not take you in the castle district is down as far as the Hilton Hotel. It was interesting to see how old ruins were incorporated into building the Hilton. In Buda we took a bus/trolley to Batthyany Square where Buda's market is located and from there you get a lovely view of Parlament. Gellert Hill has views similar to what you get at the castle. I toured the military museum. I found it a little tedious. The exhibits were a lot of dry text. I would go if you are very interested in WWII history, otherwise skip..

Posted by
12120 posts

Purchase from the front desk a 24 hour Budapest Car (not really the most economical, but you haven’t got time to fool around). Out in front of your hotel is the number 2 tram. Get on it going down river for two stops. You will know you are at the right place when the tram stops below a bridge. Go up the stairs and you are a few hundred feet from the Great Market Hall. Oh, that Budapest Card, that’s you public transportation ticket (and discount ticket for a bunch of other stuff you will never use).

When you have see the Market (at least an hour) then go out front where you came in and you will see another tram. This is the 47/49 Tram. Take it away from the river. Sit on the right side, but facing backward that way you can see the Dohany utca Synagogue as you pass it. You should really see it, but its not on your list. When the tram reaches the end of the line get off and look around, you will see the dome of St. Stephens Basilica.

Okay, Szechenyi Bath really isn’t known for mosaic art. I think you may be thinking of the Gellert Baths. Either way, you are going to pay to get in and see it.

You asked to see the Vajdahunyad Castle. Sure if that’s what you want to see. I sort of wonder where you got this list. Okay, after St Stephens, walk back towards the tram you got off. A bit less than half way back you will come to Andrassy ut (Avenue). Here you will get on the No 1 Metro Line. There is an entrance on each side of Andrassy ut. You want the entrance furthers from St. Stephens. Show the guard your Budapest Card and get on the Metro. Get off at Hősök Tere stop. You will see the Castle when you get up the stairs. Along the way, while you were on the metro, you missed the best street in Budapest so you might want to walk back when you are done. It takes about 30 minutes to walk, but is well worth it. If you had stayed on one more stop you would have ended up at the bath house in case you still want to do that.

Somehow, Metro or Walk, get back to the end of Andrassy ut where you got on the metro. But keep walking in the same direction as Andrassy ut. Cross the big loop boulevard and walk up the smaller streets with Andrassy ut at your back, and in about 15 minutes you will be back to the river (after having seen a lot of great stuff). At the river you will find the 2 Tram again. This time take it up river to the Parliament building.

For the Buda side, from your hotel or from the boat you can see the chain bridge. Cross it and go up the funicular … you are there.

I strongly suggest you get on Amazon tonight and find Eyewithess Guide to Budapest Top 10 and pay for the one day delivery.

Posted by
1852 posts

Hungarian Parliament Building - external only

I agree with jules that the interior of the House of Parliament was a highlight. If you decide to take a tour you'll want to purchase your tickets quickly. On Wednesday (Oct 31) although the site shows availability for many of the tour times, when I clicked for any tour time/language, it showed "no tickets." I did find some availability on Tuesday (Oct 30) for late-afternoon, non-English tours. How's your Spanish, Italian or Russian :-)

Purchase tickets: http://latogatokozpont.parlament.hu/en/purchasing-tickets

Buda Castle (funicular up, tour and walk down)

If you're up at Buda Castle, near the Palace and the Turul bird at the top of the hour (10,11,12...4) the Changing of the Guard ceremony was fun to watch - with the expected high-stepping formalities, plus some precision rifle drills.

Posted by
1852 posts

prefer to walk when feasible.

You have a lot of ground to cover! So while it may be feasible to walk, I agree with James E's guidance on making use of Budapest's fabulous trams. Tram 2 is great for sightseeing along the Danube, from Parliament to the Great Market Hall...during the daytime, and again in the evening when everything is lit up!

For the more economical option that James E alludes to - and it may still be quick - you can buy Budapest 24-hour travelcards (1650 HUF, about 5 Euros, transit only, no sight discounts) at the airport at Terminal 2A and 2B from English-speaking attendants at the BKK customer service points. There isn't a 48-hour travelcard, so purchase 2 24-hour travelcards for coverage beginning Tuesday for 48 hours.

https://bkk.hu/en/budapest-24-hour-travel-card/

This is compared to 6590 HUF (about 20 Euros) for the Budapest card (transit + sight discounts) for 24 hours. Whichever card you use, the trams are a fun way to cover a lot of distance and see more in the time you have.

You can also buy travelcards at metro station kiosks (English available, accept credit cards) but as James E says, you haven't got time to fool around!

Posted by
3429 posts

Everyone has great ideas for you. The only thing I will add is that most of your sights are very close to each other and I feel like, in general, you see more when you walk. Parlament, St. Stephens and the Market Hall are relatively close to each other. Also you lose some time waiting for trams. Obviously, when places are far, you save with transit. If you have a guide book or a smart phone, I suggest you plot your hotel and your sites on a map and determine your best route, taking into account any tours you plan to take. It wouldn't take long, you could do it while you wait at the airport or on your flight.

St. Stephens is beautiful you should definitely see it as well as St. Mattias(on castle hill). Perhaps people will chime in regarding the view from the St. Stephen's dome and if it is worth any wait. I didn't go up, and you do get great views from Buda Castle. I didn't go to Szechenyi Baths, so I don't know what it looks like inside. Someone mention Gellert Baths. Gellert is very close to the funicular going up to Castle Hill so if that is where the funnicular is, that would save some time and then in my opinion, you have no reason to go out to Heros' Square (where the castle and Szechenyi is) until Viking takes you there. I also would recommend the changing of the guard.

Posted by
12120 posts

A while back there was another with the same question and I posted a day and a half do it yourself tour. So dig through my 9ld posts.

Also, from your hotel, to the Market Hall to St Stephrns to the Parliament and back to your hotel is just shy of 4 miles. I walk that much many days in Budapest, but given your time constraints nearly 2 hours of walking might be a bit much. The trams have great views and with either a TravelCard or a BudapestCard you can hop off and hop on as you wish.

Posted by
1 posts

I'll place a bet that you'll fall in love with Budapest like I have--and have others on this thread. One place I would add is the Gerbeaud Cukraszda, a lovely confectionery/coffee shop located at Vorosmarty Ter 7. It's celebrating 160 years this year, so your timing is perfect. You owe it to yourselves to spend a leisurely half hour (or more) sipping cappuccinos and sharing a delicious slice of Gerbeaud 160, a cake celebrating the cafe's anniversary: dark chocolate, walnuts and apricots, all traditional Hungarian ingredients. The decor in the cafe is legendary, as well. Have a fun trip!

Posted by
1523 posts

We did a Viking cruise from Budapest last summer. You’ve received excellent advice from Budapest experts, but let me add some insight from the cruise perspective.

It sounds like you are making your own arrangements for getting to the boat? If so, take a minute to figure out where the boat is docked, because we had to find that on our own and there are several docking spots on the river. We dropped our luggage early and used the rest of that day to explore.

“Panoramic tour” means you are seeing this from the bus. Hero’s Square was fenced for a concert and, for whatever reason, we did not get of the bus to walk around. We did get off the bus on the Buda side and we did go inside St. Matthias church. There was time to go in souvenir shops and take pictures from Fishermen’s Bastion. The bus then took us back to the boat, but it would be easy to continue to explore on your own and make it back to the boat independently. The men in our group have medical backgrounds, so they were fascinated by the Hospital in the Rock, which is dug into the side of Castle Hill and is about 2 blocks from the church.

I’m not sure about your plan to climb Gellert Hill? I confess that we did not climb it, but we did stay at the base and it looked pretty much like a climb up for a view, which you can get by going to Castle Hill, and you will do with the cruise tour. If it something you really want to do it, it’s just across the river from the Great Market. The evening cruise to view all the buildings lit up was one of our favorite memories.

Posted by
3429 posts

Gellert Hill has views similar to views from Buda Castle/Fisherman's Bastion. There is a military museum relating mostly to WWII. It was very dry and not really my thing. (and I have been to Normandy and found that very worthwhile) You do go into some of the underground areas that were used for WWII. I would seek other opinions, but in my opinion, unless you are a HUGE WWII buff, I wouldn't use your limited time for that.

I've done a Viking Cruise (Rhine not Danube). Our travel agent was able to tell us where our particular ship would be docked and I put it into google maps to determine logistics. I hope you are able to get out at Hero's Square I thought it was interesting to view the statues.

Posted by
18 posts

You mentioned (Széchényi Baths (to see the Mosaic art - don't plan to bathe) thats fine, but the inside the Gellert Baths building is much more ornate, that one is over on the Buda side.