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Help me choose: Which dinner cruise and which hotel?!

My partner and I will be visiting Budapest for the first time, and we couldn't be more excited! We are going to Eurovision in Vienna, and will be arriving the next afternoon (Sunday, May 24th). I've been doing SO much research, I feel like I've already been there! We have two questions for you guys.

First of all: Which dinner cruise should we go on? The first day we get there, we would like to check into the hotel and have a little break, then head out to take a dinner cruise on the Danube. It seems there are 2 major companies: Mahart Passnave & Legenda. Does anyone have any suggestions on either one over the other? Maybe a different company? Buffet or 4 course? 1.5 hour or 2.5 hour?

***(Please note: We ARE taking one of the DINNER cruises, so trying to talk us out of it and just take a drink cruise isn't helpful. If it helps in your response: "Which one sucks the least?" Also, I am a musician, so I would prefer one with the string trio type of music. The later dinner cruise doesn't have the musicians).

Second (and lastly), we had 2 hotels narrowed down and they both have perks. The first is the Mirage Fashion Hotel across from Heroes' Square. It's a cute, boutique style with burberry decorated rooms and right by the Metro 1. The second is more in the Jewish Quarter called: Continental Hotel Zara. It is the opposite of Mirage in that it's much bigger, has a lobby that is reconstructed from a bathhouse, and is a little more sleek feeling. (Also, it has a piano, which I might ask to play). It's nearest metro is a 4 minute walk (Blaha Lujza ter/Metro 2).

Let the good advice commence...thanks in advance!!!

Posted by
10707 posts

I love District VII (Jewish quarter) but not as far out in the district as is the Continental Hotel Zara. Sure, it’s only 5 minutes to the M2 stop, but that’s a miserable looking intersection and then you go underground and miss all of Budapest. The Mirage Fashion Hotel only looks to be 2 or 3 minutes to the M1, but by the time you get across traffic at the end of Andrassy ut it will take you a little longer. Then you spend a lot of time underground heading into the heart of the city. Also I suggest you go to Google Earth and see what is across the street from the hotel. Of the two I guess I would prefer the Mirage because the M1 is easier than the M2 and you can get off and walk parts of the run and see some great architecture. Have you seen the Carat Boutique Hotel or the Roombach?

The dinner boats are tourist events, but you are tourists so go and enjoy. And music and Budapest complement each other well. We’ve done it a couple of times over the past dozen years, but I don’t remember which boat it was. Food was pretty solidly “okay” too, but Budapest is so brilliant when all lit up, it more than makes up for any short comings..

Posted by
10707 posts

I love District VII (Jewish quarter) but not as far out in the district as is the Continental Hotel Zara. Sure, it’s only 5 minutes to the M2 stop, but that’s a miserable looking intersection and then you go underground and miss all of Budapest. The Mirage Fashion Hotel only looks to be 2 or 3 minutes to the M1, but by the time you get across traffic at the end of Andrassy ut it will take you a little longer. Then you spend a lot of time underground heading into the heart of the city. Also I suggest you go to Google Earth and see what is across the street from the hotel. Of the two I guess I would prefer the Mirage because the M1 is easier than the M2 and you can get off and walk parts of the run and see some great architecture. Have you seen the Carat Boutique Hotel or the Roombach?

The dinner boats are tourist events, but you are tourists so go and enjoy. And music and Budapest complement each other well. We’ve done it a couple of times over the past dozen years, but I don’t remember which boat it was. Food was pretty solidly “okay” too, but Budapest is so brilliant when all lit up, it more than makes up for any short comings..

Posted by
10707 posts

Yeaaaa, you are sort of right. Its just so far out there in VII. You will note the two I suggested were also in VII, but closer to the lower center.

So many different people, so different in their comfort level, etc. Take me for instance. I'm early 50's and grew up having never touched public transportation (unless you count school busses). Getting me in my first subway in Europe was a real challenge, and I guess I rode the European subways for years before I ever got on one in the US. Just not my comfort zone; except in Budapest where, hey, no problem. I played tour guide for a group of 5 at Christmas and we were on and off just about every form of transportation for a week straight. Scared the begeezes out of them but I had a blast. But the bus? See, since I do a little business there, its okay for me. But when I travel someplace for pleasure the bus had better be a double decker and painted red or it just isn't the sort of activity I want on those few special days off that I have.

Then there are the walks. I love to walk Budapest. All of Budapest. But you know if I had walked through parts of VII on my first trip to town and if the pubs had been built up the way they are today, and if the number of drunk Brits were at the current level, maybe I would have gotten the wrong impression. Although if I were 20 years younger I would have a different opinion of the situation. So for me a great walk is Andrassy ut or the Embankment or even towards the Parliament, or Kiraly utca and we do it a lot. Anyplace with great lights. Although we have walked through the middle of VII late, late, late at night on a few occasions, but I have spent enough time in Budapest to put it in perspective and now I just egg the brits on. GEE, just realized I made it sound horrible. It's not. Some well defined places around some of the clubs, sometimes overflow and sometimes there are small harmless parties wandering home and sometimes they are loud BUT I have never heard of anything bad happening.

I don't like the hotel location at Hero's square either. BORING. Might as well stay in Vienna and commute. But given the two, well heck, I still don't know. Maybe Hero's square and maybe neither.

The OP made a point of not wanting to be argued with so i was trying to be diplomatic.

Posted by
10707 posts

That's the problem. Too many people, too many personalities, likes, dislikes, phobias, police records and restraining orders. Where do you begin?

Posted by
40 posts

Fear not, friends! We will not be taking the Metro everywhere we go. We love to walk, and have found through our travel that if you can travel above ground, you get to see the city you're traveling through. We chose Hotel Zara in lieu of the split vote on this forum. (Excited about the opportunity of maybe playing the piano, they have a pool/lawn on the roof, and sounds like their is more to do in the evening, as I am a night owl). As far as the boat is concerned, it doesn't sound like anyone has any major preference one way or the other, so we'll just figure it out on our own.

The only 4 times I'm planning to use the Metro is twice to and from the train station, one morning to start off on Margaret Island, and once to help us get as close to Memento Park as quickly as possible and back. The rest of the time I organized our sightseeing in circular or linear fashion.

That being said, we have 2 full days and would like your opinion on our itinerary. (Yes, this time you can try to persuade me to consider changes). (-: We arrive in the afternoon the first day and really just want to do the dinner cruise and walk around to explore our area.

Full Day #1:

09:00 Breakfast at Central Market Hall
10:30 Cave Church/Gellert Hill /Castle Hill (Lunch)
Then stopping along the Andrassy Street:

15:00 Opera House/Lizt Statue/House of Tower

17:30 City Park
20:30 Dinner (Hungarikum Bistro)

Full Day #2
09:00 Walk through Margaret Island (Breakfast in park)
10:00 Tour of Parliament
11:00 St. Stephan's Basilica
12:00 Great Synagogue
13:00 Lunch/Naps/Hotel Time
14:30 Take Metro 4/Bus to Memento Park
15:15 Memento Park
16:00 Leave for Szechenyi
17:00 Enjoy the Baths/Get a Massage/Etc.
21:00 Dinner (Spinoza)

Two Areas of Questions:

1) How does the itinerary sound? "Ambitious but possible" is what we're looking for. There are little places I want to wander over to see along the way, but was wondering about the time frame. Specifically: Does anyone have advice on how long to see the House of Terror? I guessed 1.5 hours. Also, am I screwing myself by going to Memento Park? I REALLY want to see it, but not if it's not worth it.

2) How does the restaurants sound? Does anybody have a suggestion for breakfast on Margaret Island or near it? Should I grab stuff to make a picnic? Or should I try the food at one of the hotels?

Thanks in advance....again!

Posted by
10707 posts

How do the restaurants sound?
Only go to Spinoza on Friday night to do it with the Klezmer Concert. Otherwise you can do much better.

How does the itinerary sound?

Been to Budapest dozens of times and have never seen Memento Park. I don’t feel bad about that. I would (do) spend the time in Budapest. House of Terror if the subject matter is only somewhat interesting to you might be 2 hours, 3 if you are fascinated with it.

So you are going to walk it? Great!!!! It’s a waste to spend one moment below ground in such a wonderful city. I did a little quick math for you and day one is a mere 9 miles the way you have it planned. The walking without stopping is only a little more than 3 hours. Mostly because while the Zara isn’t very convenient to surface trams (Budapest’s better answer to the HOHO buses other cities rely on) so you must walk if you want to stay above ground. By the way, check me on this, but i believe that May is the wettest month.

Full Day #1:
08:40 Depart Hotel
20 minute walk (1.6km)
09:00 Breakfast at Central Market Hall
10:20 leave breakfast
10 minute walk (0.6km)
10:30 Cave Church/Gellert Hill /Castle Hill (Lunch)
30 minute walk to the lower end of Andrassy utca (2.3km)
15 minute walk to the House of Terror (1.1km)
Then stopping along the Andrassy Street:
15:00 Opera House/Lizt Statue/House of Tower (terror)
22 minutes (1.8km)
17:30 City Park
Back to hotel before dinner 38 minutes (3.1km)
To Restaurant 26 minutes (2.1km)
20:30 Dinner (Hungarikum Bistro)
To Hotel 26 minutes (2.1km)
Total for the day: 14.7km (about 9 miles)

Posted by
40 posts

Wow, James! Thanks for all the hard work in researching our trek!!! Also, worldinbetween for all your suggestions, thank you!

I'm going to trade out Spinoza for Zeller Bistro.

We will take transit as needed above ground between sights. For example: After we climb Gellert Hill and come back down, we'll take the tram to Clark Adam Ter. Also, we'll probably take a tram by the time we get to Andrassy the first day, and so on.

Worldinbetween, we WILL see the Parliament at night the 1st night on the dinner cruise. Thanks for the transit info with Margaret Island. We will start our walk on the hour, but the island is 1.5 miles long, so we should be done. If not, most of the stuff we want to see is on the north side, and then 2 bus lines run through the park that we can hop on, so I'm not too worried about that. Also, thanks for Hunyadi Market advice, but as far as Central Market having "heavy Hungarian food"...bring it, baby! When in Rome! I'm looking forward to Hungarian food, so I'm not too concerned about that!

James, May is INDEED the wettest month, and we're ready for that. We've prioritized things and are ready to skip and delete as needed.

It's really nice to get different points of view!

Posted by
10707 posts

Worldinbetween, I didn't think you had implied "only walking". I just sort of wanted to make a point.

OP, Because of the hotel’s location if you want to speed things up you have to use public transportation. I don’t much care for the bus service. For business in town I have ridden the busses, but on vacation that’s just not my preferred “atmosphere”. But they could save you a bunch of time. Underground? Very efficient point A to point B and what I would suggest for getting to you hotel after you have walked it once. Blaha Lujza tér is the nearest stop and while its sort of a unattractive square it will save you a lot of walking. Then there are the trams. The trams are fantastic. Problem is the hotel isn’t very well located to take great advantage of the tram lines.

The 47/49 tram stop is 10 minutes from the hotel on foot. Then a few minutes wait for the tram to arrive and then about a 4 minute tram ride means the trip to the Market hall will be about 15 minutes as opposed to 20 if you walked it. You can save another 5 minutes taking the 47/49 Tram to the Gellert and then you can save another 10 minutes taking the 47/49 Tram back to the lower end of Andrassy ut. It’s a great tram ride, but they all are.

What you can’t overcome is the 10 minute walk to the nearest tram stop x 4 trips/day. But not the end of the world. Better maybe if the walk were one of Budapest’s more interesting walks, but heck you are in Budapest so it’s all good.

Posted by
10707 posts

That is pretty. So much of Budapest is lovely in the evening. And it's all very, very safe. I never said there was a problem with walking 8 miles, just pointing it out. At my advanced age and with my bum ticker I can do about half that and still enjoy. That's why I look for accommodations that optimize what I am able to enjoyably do.

But i always come back to the fact that it's Budapest and Budapest for certain types of people is pretty great no matter how you do it.

Posted by
10707 posts

I don't walk 8 miles in a typical week. So after an 8 mile walk I feel a lot older. We end up doing something like that on the first or second day, then we spend the next three days "trying to take it easy". So I try to pace it now.

Posted by
12084 posts

Hi Arie,

If you've never seen Heroes' Square, it's very interesting,.. was the first place I went to after arriving at Keleti pu.