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Budapest Suggestions

I am in Budapest for the next three days staying in the 5th district. I bought the three day transportation pass. Would love any tips on best trams and bus lines. Am interested in architecture and gardens. Like interiors but not interested in paid tours of them. Would rather have a look, coffee or a meal experience in interiors. Also love music and both budget food and budget experiences. Looking for boat ride company suggestions and best time to go. Also suggestions for Ruin bars. As weather is lovely any outdoor cafe, restaurants for breakfast etc. would be great. Bath suggestions too, best time to go etc. Today looking for as much to do outside as tomorrow forecast seems rain. Would you suggest going to baths when it rains? Any other rainy day activities?

Posted by
245 posts

Thanks for the suggestions. The weather cramped,our outdoor activities but adjusted and had a nice day. Had breakfast at Cafe Gerloczy. Surly waiter, good eggs, weak cappuccino. Didn't realize bread didn't come with omelet. assumed it did since I thought I had read it was a bakery too. Waiter didn't mention it and didn't seem to want to be bothered . Saw woman at another table had a stand with stacked bread on a spike. Asked her how they ordered the bread and she told me it was on menu. I hadn't seen it and waiter was not around. Woman offered us her last slice which was very nice of her. Those customers were more friendly than the staff. Would not recommend the cafe.

Castle Hill on other hand was wonderful. Church and views spectacular. Took the #16 bus to the Fishermans Bastion and then returned on it to go to the Jewish area. The synagogue was beautiful and poignant. Ended up having great slices of pizza at La Pizza Di Mamma Sophia.

Went across the street to the outdoor market. While I was there DH had an espresso at the coffee place next to the entrance. When I came to pick him up they said it would be 200ft for me to use the restroom. DH said he hadn't used it so I was going in his place. Bill came and there was a service charge on the espresso.

Did dinner at Drum Cafe. Awesome and cheap chicken paprika with dumplings. Good dessert and fresh lemonade with oranges. Nice waiter helped me pick out dessert. Every table was full.

Posted by
13762 posts

I want everyone to have a perfect time in Budapest, but the heart of the tourist zone is much like that in every city's tourist zone. Is why I encourage people to at least eat on the fringes. As for Cafe Gerloczy it is amazingly disgusting in every aspect but they have people on the forums pimping them. I once criticized the place only to be told that I didn't understand French Café Culture.

Mon. Eat at the Jewish bistro I recommended, then have a glass of wine at Kadarka's. Tell the tall waiter or the owner (Arpad or Arpie for short) you were sent by the Americans that own the apartment in the yellow building down the street and we said kadarka was the best in town (might get you a drink on the house).

Then walk home down Andrassy ut with all the lights.

Posted by
245 posts

James, we walked to your recommendation yesterday for lunch but the menu had too much game for us. My heritage is Hungarian but we never ate goose or duck. We had stuffed cabbage, potato pancakes etc.

I also walked by Maceszhuszar and it's pretty but what I would call "New Jewish."
Drum cafe is more our style. Casual and funky.

Does a NY Katz or Carnegie deli type of experience and a great Jewish bakery exist here?
My grandmother used to make a pastry that was a cream cheese type dough that had turned up corners and a sweet cheese filling. Would love to find some. closest I came was at our hotel in Vienna but the outside was more like a sticky bun.

I picked up a nice bottle of wine at the supermarket. While in the section a Hungarian couple suggested Bock. I ended up with a bottle from Eggard(sp) which I remember is where one of Ricks podcast tour guides is from and she had talked about wines being great from her town.

As to rainy day activity today we were going to go to the Szechni bath but am thinking of doing the pool and saunas here.

When there is a break am going to go to the market. Must try Langosh. Any Langos tips for newbies that aren't very exotic eaters? Any favorite stands in market for Langos or anything else i.e. How do locals do the market?

Any other rainy day suggestions?

Posted by
245 posts

Soundsl like we have similar tastes.
Any special items you suggest at Frolichs?
Last night we met a man from the. Netherlands. He told us Szimpla Kirt opens at 10am in the morning.
Also suggested Koleves.

This morning am thinking of Spinoza for breakfast. Thoughts?
Any central market favorites?

Posted by
245 posts

Frolichs was perfect. Had a desert as close to what my grandmother used to make. Woman working there was very nice.
Passed on Spinoza since the waiter seemed perturbed when we asked what the 5 euro breakfast special which was on the table and heavily promoted in was in FT. Came back and said 1750 Ft.
We left. We both decided we,are now going to pass on surly.

Posted by
245 posts

My ipad takes off too and I often don't catch it's help when it thinks it knows what I want to say.
Thank you for the recommendation on Villanyi wine. I was a little confused it said Portugieser thinking might have something to do with Portugal but than saw it was,from Hungary and bought it. It is delicious and perfect for a rainy day and was only 799 FT.

We went to the Central Market for lunch. Couldn't do the Langos. Ended up,going down to Aldi and buying great,rolls, turkey, Gouda and mustard in a tube. Since it was raining just made sandwiches on the benches outside Aldi. A woman behind me from the states had all these packages of the same thing. I was curious and asked her what she was buying and it was all packages of paprika. She told me where in the store she found them and to make sure I bought the type that started with a C since that was the sweet paprika. Paprika 255 FT. Upstairs same amount was double.

My husband went back to the hotel and I did a little shopping. Was thinking it might be fun to do the winery in the cave by the Hilton but since it was raining I went back to Aldi and found the wine. Supplimented it with some paprika and paprika chips and the wine. On way out saw such beautiful blueberries. 1600 per kilo. Sampled one was great and bought some. A real treat.

Phil, I agree reviews are very personal. While I love research my husband reminds me every once and a while that we don't know the taste of the people making the recommendations on the web. So far my favorite here was Drum Cafe that I stumbled on. Frolichs was recommended here and was just what I was looking for.

As for sway, I am originally from the Midwest and while working in a large multinational company me and someone else from the Midwest realized as Midwesterners we are honest to a fault. I also don't like to waste money or indulge bad service. Overall in my travels, I have been embraced as an American but there are times it's better not to advertise it.

Posted by
245 posts

I am from Michigan, lived and worked in NJ. Met my husband in NYC. Small world.

Posted by
13026 posts

@ Ann...You were already at Castle Hill. Did you see the Military History Museum? If you're history into history especially this year being the centuary of WW One, I heartily recommend it if it you have the time to go back. .

In the World War One section they show one remarkable, unique (and fascinating ) primary source document enlarged to wall size the answer of approval given by the Hungarian prime minister Tisza to the Austrian Foreign Secretary on sending the fateful ultimatum to the Serbs in July of 1914, in both the Hungarian and German texts, the two administrative languages then in the kingdom.

Posted by
4 posts

hi just reading your posts, thinking of going to Budapest next month, I work for the airlines so all depends on standby flights. I love that you found a Aldis , our go to store, (only problem in NJ no wine !)
Are you enjoying Budapest? hows getting around with the language?
Is it a fairly safe city?
, I work in Newark , so I got a real idea of whats safe and not, rather go to fairly safe places on vacation, !
Hope you get some dry weather !

Posted by
13762 posts

Any recommendation for anything is a reflection of the taste of the person making the recommendation. @Ann's opinion I absolutely correct.........for it being her opinion. I only wish she had found more personal enjoyment in Budapest. Maybe her next destination will be more enjoyable for her.

Unfortunately Ann went to two places I wouldn't have sent anyone to. Neither worked for her and I know exactly why.

Wild game, duck, goose, pork and just generally heavy meats as well as Pike is a lot of what Hungarian food is about. Hungarian/Jewish food is more of a matter of particular recipe than anything else. Budapest at one time had an extremely significant Jewish population so the influences were intense and moved in both directions. Kosher food is a different issue and there are only a couple of kosher restaurants in town; which also serve good duck. If you don't enjoy that type of food you just aren't going to enjoy Hungarian food. And I understand not enjoying it if that isn't your cup of tea.

I can’t remember seeing any NY Deli’s in Budapest or Prague or Vienna or Paris or …… I think they may be best found in, well, in NYC. It’s just not the culture in Central Europe. Not that one doesn’t exist, but ……. However, the butchers in the Market will slice meat for you to order; cheese I would imagine can be had likewise. Just can’t remember doing it.

The Market Hall does serve tourists and you will always find a lot of tourists there; but if you Google Images for Budapest Market Hall you can see by the size and the diversity of the products being sold that this is a market for Hungarians to purchase food for their homes more than it is a tourist trap (with the exception of the trinkets and wares on the second floor I guess). Still, even on the second floor when we belly up to one of the standup tables to eat a link or a Langos it’s more often than not a Hungarian standing right and left of us. But, @Phil, that may not be your sort of thing. Do your research before you leave, if you ever go to Budapest, and make sure that Budapest is such that it is the sort of place you will enjoy. If we were all alike life would be boring.

Despite what your perception may be, the Bathhouses are overwhelmingly a Hungarian thing. These are anything but a tourist traps. I know Hungarians who have never been and Hungarians who go once a week. I know Americans who have never been to a Football or Baseball game as well as those that go every week. Last time I checked you could spend the day at most of the bath houses for about $10; and yes, for the current state of the economy it isn't something to take lightly.

Hungary, like anyplace you visit requires a little bravery to confront the unusual and the unknown. But that’s how you learn about the world. I’ve been to a lot places, diverse as Honduras, Egypt, Russia, Bulgaria, the UK and Hungary. I have been in terrible hotel rooms and eaten atrocious food and on at least one occasion been a little concerned for my safety; but I have never had an experience that I didn’t learn something from or ultimately been able to say that I enjoyed.

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13762 posts


Is it a fairly safe city? , I work in Newark , so I got a real idea of
whats safe and not, rather go to fairly safe places on vacation, !
Hope you get some dry weather !

I was born in Nyack and grew up in Rivervale. Spent one summer working on the then Manasquan Beach Boardwalk and another in Bricktown. Newark had a reputation back then as well. G-d bless you.

When we first arrived in Budapest about a dozen years ago one of the things that caught our attention was the number of women walking alone well after dark (presumably from school or work) with no apparent fear or concern. Over the years as we continued to return to Budapest and as we were considering making some investments in Budapest I checked the crime rate and talked to the friends we had met over the years. The truth is that Budapest is remarkably safe by anyone's standards. But again, it is culturally different. We have sat at a café on three occasions in the last 12 years and watched the rally's protesting this thing or that thing. Not much different than most European cities.

You can Google the statistics for the crime details. You will find Budapest and Hungary about in the center of all the statistics. In the last 12 years we have been in Hungary a combined total of about 9 months. We have never been the victim of a crime, we have never seen a crime committed and our properties in Budapest which sit directly on the street have never been vandalized or robbed. Okay, the truth, the building has been tagged with graffiti a couple of times. The State Department does have some cautions, but I noticed that have very similar cautions about visiting Canada so........... But here are some guarantees:

  1. You will see a homeless person
  2. You will see buildings in need of restoration
  3. You will see buildings with bullet holes in the plaster (see number 2 above)
  4. You will see duck on every menu
  5. You will see some of the most beautiful buildings in some of the most beautiful settings imaginable.
  6. You will encounter a waiter with what you will perceive as an attitude which in my experience is more likely in most of Europe than the U.S..
  7. You will meet more good waiters than those in 6 above. Start by asking their name and all will go well most of the time.
  8. Allowing that you like duck, chicken, stuffed cabbage, beef soup, sausage, you will eat great food
  9. You will spend significantly less than you spent in Paris........................................................................

10 You will enjoy good but cheap wine.
11. You will enjoy average but cheap beer
12. If you stand and look lost on a street corner someone will offer to help you.
13. You will see an orthodox Jew walking down the street

I come in contact one way or another with a lot of tourists in Budapest. In general to me it appears that if a person really, really loves Paris they will have a good time in Budapest. But everything is not for everyone so research it and see if it clicks for you. I will be honest and say that for us Budapest was almost an accident. I really wasn't looking forward to it. Strange how life works.

Edited in recognition that @Fred was correct in pointing out my extreme condemnation.

Posted by
13026 posts

"...encounter a waiter with the typical European waiter attitude." Good. Fantastic. That means they are multi-lingual. I saw the same in Vienna.

Posted by
13762 posts

@Fred, okay, you know what I mean. Absolutely bilingual... No, I guess you are correct. I will fix it.

@worldinbetween, yes I guess you are right about kadarka. Besides it being down the street from where we stay while in town the owner and staff have become friends so I derive a lot of enjoyment out of seeing them. Really good people and it adds to the experience and the atmosphere. So I may be a little biased. I have had some "associates" who stayed in the same location where we stay run into some trouble with keys and door locks (on two occasions) and the staff at Kadarka took them in, gave them drinks and called for help. In the early days before the place I stay started providing decent wine glasses I one day asked the waiter if I could buy a bottle and borrow a couple of glasses for the night. Of course. We did and I returned them the next evening. Did this for years before the place I stay began providing glasses. So I send people to meet these wonderful people. For me at least the people I meet along the way are a huge part of the trip. One of the reasons Budapest affected us so. (oh, and I don't enjoy noise and crowds either so we sit outside when possible)

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13762 posts

3 languages = trilingual
2 languages = bilingual

1 language = American

Posted by
13026 posts

If I recall correctly the menu at that fish restaurant on the corner is written in four languages., Hungarian, English, Italian, German. The waiter spoke also those four languages, very impressive, approachable, and, above all, professional. I used German with him. Food is good in BP.

Posted by
13762 posts

And @Fred I have your restaurant on my list for Christmas. Thanks for the tip. My dear wife taught me by example that if you are kind to people that they return it twice fold. As a result we very rarely have a bad waiter. The perception is waiters in Europe are somehow inattentive or rude, but its just a different culture where the guests expectations and desires are different. Then again, like at the Gerlóczy Kávéház they really can be rude. There is a kid at Spinoza's that isn't much to bragged about too. Still Spinoza's has this really wonderful Klezmer band on Friday night that is worth the trip.

Posted by
245 posts

I left Budapest yesterday for Paris so here's some replies:

James, I did have personal enjoyment in Budapest. Had one of the most magical rooms overlooking the Danube the IC Budapest. Their spa was so amazing with a pool, dry and wet sauna that we were the only one using, with the inclement weather we opted not to do the baths. We were also able to use it all included with the room the morning we were flying.

The morning we were going to try the suggestion of Brio but opted since it was closer to just go to McDonalds on Vaci which has lovely inside and outside tables. The gentleman working the counter was very friendly. The capuchinno was the best we had in Budapest. The day before we tried a cafe that was full and the cappuchino was more expensive and weak. We like strong coffee.

Dolores, I felt Budapest was safe. I have lived in Jersey city and flew out of Newark often. Great Portugese restaurants there.

Phil, you might love the food at the market. Many people were eating it. We just don't like all the brats and other sausages. The Langos booth was packed but we aren't that heavy food eaters. The food section for lunch was, hectic, packed, and had high prices for a non relaxing lunch. We felt with our great meal at Drum Cafe we had had delicious, well priced Hungarian Chicken Paprikas but that is not something we would eat two times in a row. That is why we opted for Aldi's. And it was raining hard.

The last morning I went back to Frolichs to get a few of the Danishes. I had also bought the poppy seed, apple famous desert they are known for but it was very bitter and we couldn't eat it. I would still recommend them highly for the cheese Danish. I think they call it cottage cheese something.
Very reasonable prices for the quality.

Posted by
13762 posts

Ann, I am happy that all in all it worked out well for you. My personal love for the place sometimes colors my perceptions. G-d Bless and travel safely.

Posted by
285 posts

For such a long conversation, I feel like I only learned a few things. I am coming to Budapest in less than 3 weeks and feel like I really can't take anything with me from this conversation. What I did learn was - everyone has an opinion. Most posters genuinely want to help. Some people don't really want help, just want to complain. And sorry, but I feel that Ann, the original poster is just to hard to please. Regardless of this lengthy posting, which I hope will close with the departure to Paris, keep the tips coming .

Posted by
6951 posts

worldinbetween: We stayed across from the Grand Market above the Argentine steakhouse--in their apartment. Other than the 77 step climb, it was really a great place to stay. With the tram station out front and the new metro station 100 yards away, we could get all over town easily.

We found the Grand Market very interesting, but didn't find the food upstairs to be very appetizing or inexpensive. We did use the Aldi's supermarket in the basement daily, as we often cook when on vacation whenever we have a full kitchen. We also had a fine bakery, ice cream store and Burger King outside our front door--everything we needed.

Facing the front of the Grand Market, to the left, is a street. Walk 100 yards, and there's a little park over to the left. Behind that park is a wine bar with an excellent, reasonably priced restaurant. I could give you the name, however I left my computer 300 miles away at my other house. We really enjoyed eating there, however.

We too felt very safe in Budapest, and the prices of food and housing was very reasonable. We left for the U.S. from Prague, and the weekend crowd there was just a little rowdy. The only thing reasonably priced in Prague is beer in off the beaten path bars. It is "big city" European expensive otherwise.

Posted by
890 posts

Piping in about Kadarka--we went there and were served by the tall Mr. G--and while the atmosphere was sterile, the food was incredibly good.

Haven't had a chance to do my trip report yet, but just throwing this into the part of the discussion, above, about Kadarka.

Posted by
13762 posts

BB, saw Mr G. a few nights ago and he and the others there have enjoyed their new fame thanks to this forum.