My husband and I are heading to Hungary next month. We'll be there just a week, and so far our itinerary is as follows: 2 nights at Lake Balaton, 3 nights with family for a wedding with a possible day trip to Pecs, and 2 nights in Budapest before heading home. I'm wondering, though, if I should change the first two nights to stay in Budapest then too. Is there much to see and do over two days in Lake Balaton, or is our time better spent exploring Budapest longer?
Hey, I think 2 days and 1 night is enough for lake Balaton. You should spend more time in Budapest. There is much more to see and do in Budapest. 2D1N for Lake Balaton, 3D2N for budapest and 3 nights for the wedding.
I sort of think one night is enough at Balaton as well. If you get to choose where, choose Tihany. Personally, if you were my next door neighbor I would tell you to spend a full four nights in Budapest and skip Balaton. It’s just going to be hot. You didn’t say where the wedding is, but if it isn’t near Pecs then it’s a real tough day trip to Pecs. More of an overnight trip. It’s a pretty town and we go down and spend a night about every third year.
So, something like this:
Four nights is a decent stay in Budapest. We are getting close to night 400 and still have plenty to do.
See Buda………………….….…..night one
See Pest …………………………………..…....night two
See the other half of Pest……………………….………night three
Morning in Pest; Half Day trip to Szentendre, river boat back .night four
With some dates we can help a little more. But it sounds like you have friends or family there that can help you.
Thanks for the tips! After reading your replies and doing some more research, it does make sense to stay in Budapest both before and after the wedding rather than go to Lake Balaton too. We do have family there for the wedding, but we're pretty much on our own with the rest of our planning outside the event. The wedding is in Szuliman. So our new itinerary is 2 nights in Budapest, 2-3 nights in Szuliman (still with a possible day trip to Pecs - it doesn't seem to be too far), 2 nights back in Budapest. I appreciate your replies!
Szuliman to Pécs? Sure that makes sense. Under an hour away by car and there is probably bus service too (no, I didn't know. I looked it up on a map). I don't have any idea of your position in all of this, but if it works, spend the night in Pécs and take the morning train to Budapest. I would imagine you have other plans but the train to Pécs is also the best way to get to Szuliman. The IC leaves every couple of hours and will get you there in 3 hours flat. Not a totally uninteresting ride. Remember all trains in Hungary go through Budapest. In other words you cant get from Town A to Town B, without going through Budapest (unless both towns happen to be on the same track to Budapest)
What are your dates?
Pécs: Be sure and find the old man to let you into the synagogue (next door) and leave a gift. Visit the old Mosque and the Mosque turned church and the Cathedral. Pretty fascinating where you can see magnificent relics and active instructions of three faiths within a km of each other. Some pictures here for a trip about 18 months ago, but the weather was miserable. https://vasvarirentals.shutterfly.com/hungary We will be back in Pecs in mid September.
Thanks, James E.! We will be renting a car because I had been told the trains weren't convenient outside of Budapest. I also wanted to spend the night in Pecs before going back to Budapest, as you suggest would be a better option, but at that point am going with the family's decision. It's my husband's extended family, and they have their ideas for what to do after the wedding.
Thanks for the tip on the synagogue, mosque and cathedral. Sounds great!
We'll be there July 29 to August 5. It's a short trip, so I'm trying to make the most of it! This forum was a great find!
With local family I bet they will plan the whole thing out for you. For where you are going a rental makes sense, but you wont need it in Budapest. It will just be expensive to park and pretty useless for getting around.
Now that we have our rough itinerary down - and with our trip less than three weeks away (yes, we procrastinate when it comes to planning!) - I wanted to ask for suggestions on specific things to do in Budapest itself. As I mentioned, we'll be spending our first two nights in Budapest, followed by three nights in Szuliman for a wedding, and then our last two nights back in Budapest. On one of our final days, a tour is being arranged for us, and I'm told we'll be seeing the following sites (copied in both English and Hungarian): Castle in Buda, Citadella, Puskás Stadiont, Hero's square terét, Andrássy street, Vajdahunyad Casle, meg a Vidám park környékét, Jewish town, negyedet és a Basilica, Parlamant, Mátyás Church
My question is, when my husband and I are in Budapest on our own for the first couple of days, what should we focus on? I've been reading other forum posts as well as skimming through Rick Steves' Budapest guide, and I'm having trouble deciding. We really have one full day. We get in late the first night, and then the third day, we're renting a car to drive to the village. I expect we'll be making stops along the way to see whatever catches our eye. I've thought of doing a tour, but I'm overwhelmed with the choices. I want to get a real feel for the city in the limited time we have.
Castle in Buda, Citadella, Puskás Stadiont, Hero's square terét,
Andrássy street, Vajdahunyad Casle, meg a Vidám park környékét, Jewish
town, negyedet és a Basilica, Parlamant, Mátyás Church
You cant do this in a day and do any justice to it. This will be a lot of drive-by's. BUT, if you could do it the first day you would get a great orientation tour and be able to identify places you might want to return to.
Interesting collection. In Buda you are going to the:
Castle which is pretty much a reconstruction after the war when it was pounded almost flat. A museum now.
Citadella, which is amazing for the views of Budapest in the evening when you can see all of the lights. Otherwise….. hmmmmmmmmmmmmm
Now you are in Pest
Puskás Stadiont, the renovated soccer stadium………..why??? You will most likely drive past it on the way in from the airport.
Hero’s Square, interesting and lovely monument to history of Hungary. Built for their millennium celebration
Andrassy ut, which takes 45 minutes to walk the length of and worth every minute of it to see the architecture on the high end and the expensive shops on the low end and lots of landmarks inbetween. Sort of the Champs-Élysées of Budapest
Vajdahunyad Casle a reconstruction as part of the millennium celebration. Beautiful and holds a museum.
Vidám park and surroundings, is Budapest’s answer to Six Flags. Dates to 1950 and mostly closed now, although the Zoo next door runs a small portion of it.
Jewish Town is District VII, one of the more fascinating places for me. This was the location of the WWII Jewish deportation ghetto. You could spend a full day here
negyedet és a Basilica, the area surrounding the Basilica. Very nice pedestrian area with some great shops for typical Hungarian fare, art, music themed gifts. Go to the front of the Basilica, face it, then look to your right and explore those shops (look a little up the side street as well). Also check out the shops further down the pedestrian way or the right.
Parliament, beautiful icon landmark of Budapest worth the tour inside.
Mátyás Church, back in Buda, Budapests most beautiful church.
You are missing the Market Hall, Antique Shops, Vaci utca, Opera House tour, Parliament tour, Great Synagogue Tour, Tram rides along the river front, Bath Houses, etc. Give me a few things or topics that really interest you and lets see what we can come up with.
Thanks for the input, James! This tour will actually be on our last day in Budapest. It's being arranged for us along with other wedding guests, and we don't have any say in where we go/what we see on the tour (the bride's cousin runs the tour, from what I understand). Many people coming from overseas for the wedding won't be spending any more time in Budapest, so I think that the idea was to give an overview of the city.
That said, I like to actually spend time at different sites and get a real feel for the city when I travel, exploring the history as well. On both ends of our visit, we'll be staying in Pest - near the town center, I believe. I'm sure we'll be too tired to do anything when we arrive the first night, so we'll have one full day to explore, and then probably a half day before we get our car and drive to the village. On our return to Budapest, we have another half day when we get back and then the last full day to do the tour above with family. Looking at the list of what you say we'll be missing, they all interest me, and I'd like to see what I can fit into a full day and two half-days. What is most practical to focus on? Do the tram rides along the river run all day?
CENTRAL PEST can mean a pretty big zone. Some people’s concept of “central” is sort of exaggerated. So that’s not much to go on. With a little more definition I might be able to find some sort of easy, convenient thing to do in the evening very near your accommodations.
From your central Pest accommodation make your way to the metro station at Deák Ferenc tér. Go down stairs and purchase a book of 10 metro tickets; or a 24 hour travel card.
Now go back up and at street level look around for a yellow tram. The one you will see is the 47/49. Walk to it and get on. If you bought individual tickets please validate them in the orange box. Sit on the left. This is the end stop so the tram only goes in one direction. Get off when you see something interesting then get back on. This is great with a Travel Card.
You will pass
The Dohany utca (GREAT) Sysnagogue (take the tour)
The Hungarian National Museum; you don’t have enough time.
You will get off at the stop just prior to crossing the river. This is the Great Market Hall (go inside. Food on the ground floor, fish and pickled fare in the basement and tourist stuff on the 1st floor) Note, in Europe our first floor is their ground floor and our second floor is their first floor).
Go down the stairs by the river and you will find the stop for the #2 Tram. You will take it traveling from left to right. Sit n the left.
You will see
The Gellert Hotel across the river in Buda where Schindler met with local Jews to try and warn them. Also dang nice bath house if you have a speedo.
The Citidella across the river in Buda
The Castle on the hill across the river in Buda
The Landside of the Parliament
Get off at the end of the line. If you are interested in antiques and old art then get off at the first stop after having past the parliament and walk one block away from the river and turn left to walk down Falk Miska utca. Great shops. Be sure to tour the basement of Pintér Antik at #10.
Either way, you end up at Szent István krt. Where you will get on the #4/6 Tram moving from left to right (away from the river). Sit on the left.
You will see
The magnificent Comedy Theater Building
Nyughati Train Station designed by the Eiffel Company before the that French tower thing. Now home to one of the most elaborate McDonald’s in the world. G-d help us.
Then you will travel down a long traditional shopping street before reaching the Oktogon. This is where the tram crosses Andrassy ut. Look both ways. Here you might want to get off if its early. From the Oktogon you can walk to the House of Terror museum (good), then alternate between walking and taking the M1 Metro line (oldest in continental Europe) up Andrassy ut to the Hero’s Square. The architecture along Andrassy ut changes from high end commercial (all c. 1896) to great embassy mansions. Go up and come back then get back on the tram.
After the Oktogon is the amazing five star Corinthia Hotel Budapest
Followed by the Boscolo New York Palace Hotel (must see the coffee house)
Get off right after the Boscolo; Blaha Lujza tér and take the M2 metro line to Deák Ferenc tér
This ride will give you a great feeling for Budapest. Get off and see what interests you and then get back on. If it gets too late you can end the tour at the Oktogon and take the M1 to Deák Ferenc tér. Then restart the next day.
"...one of the most elaborate McDonald's in the world." You want to boast about that....lol?
You will note that I followed the statement with "G-d help us" However it is interesting: https://farm1.staticflickr.com/168/395374606_95cd683aab_z.jpg But more interesting is the little one down on Vaci utca which was the first behind the iron curtain. More disgusting are the KFC's. There is on in District VIII that is adjacent to a sex store and the signs kind of run together so I looks like the Colonel is selling more than chicken. So much has changed over the years; and a lot of it disturbs me.
That certainly is an elaborate McDonald's! It might be interesting to check out, though my husband and I haven't eaten at a McDonald's in at least 10 years. Your suggestions for the tram ride and stops sound wonderful, James. I think we may check out the Gellert Spa (I hope Speedos aren't required!).
The descriptions for both places we're staying said "city center." The first couple of days we will be at House Beletage. The last two days, we'll be at Le Meridien. Are both of those convenient to the metro station at Deák Ferenc té? Also, do you have suggestions for evening activities near either place?
Let’s start with the Le Meridien. You cant do much better. All around an outstanding location and a very first rate hotel. This is one of the rare exceptions to “I don’t recommend anything I haven’t personally done”, but I will stick my neck out on this one.
Walk out the front door and turn right and the pedestrian road will take you through the heart of the only real tourist-only zone and to the river embankment (less than a 5 minute walk). I’m not a giant tourist zone fan, but you got to see it once and it gets you to the river which is stunning; especially in the evening. https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=C9F4C533EB93D92E!16634&authkey=!ANP7A4q4CRJ8Unw&v=3&ithint=photo%2cJPG
Turn left and you will find yourself on the way to Deak Ferenc ter and Andrassy ut. The tramline starting point for that tour I suggested is about a 3 minute walk. If you click on this https://www.google.com/maps/dir/47.4973941,19.0553015/47.4972708,email@example.com,19.054903,3a,75y,94.94h,90.56t/data=!3m7!1e1!3m5!1s9zYOMxUEtsI58RT9TxYRrQ!2e0!6s%2F%2Fgeo2.ggpht.com%2Fcbk%3Fpanoid%3D9zYOMxUEtsI58RT9TxYRrQ%26output%3Dthumbnail%26cb_client%3Dmaps_sv.tactile.gps%26thumb%3D2%26w%3D100%26h%3D80%26yaw%3D71.32637%26pitch%3D0!7i13312!8i6656!4m2!4m1!3e2?hl=en you will be facing the tram. Spin the picture about 180 degrees and you can see the Le Meridian (white building)
Okay, the House Beletage. Really??? Okay, this is in District VIII which some refer to as an up and coming neighborhood. To be honest, the architecture in the zone is really impressive and since is Budapest is a very much lived in city, each local really is a neighborhood with residents and shops and restaurants. All in all a very attractive area but near nothing. I always say these are the sort of places I would want to live, but if I only have 3 or 4 days to see a city it’s not where I would want to be. But lets make the best of it.
So, from the hotel one morning or afternoon you will want to walk from the hotel to the Astoria metro stop. You said you want to get to know Budapest and this will take you through some very interesting streets and neighborhoods. 10 to 15 minute walk. From the Astoria metro stop you can pick up the #47/49 tram and go sight seeing. On a second occasion, because you never want to see the same thing twice you will want to walk the opposite direction to the Kalvin ter metro stop. Again, 10 to 15 minutes, and again it takes you through some great neighborhoods. The M4 metro stop is just 3 minutes from the hotel at Rákóczi tér and it will connect you to Astoria and the Market Hall but unless the weather is bad why be underground any more than you must. Another option the location gives you is that from Rákóczi tér you can also board the #4/6 Tram and reach the Oktogon and Andrassy ut in mabe 15 minutes.
Bath houses are a cultural norm and among the most “accessible” as a first time experience is the Széchenyi fürdő. A little more tourist orientated these days, but that means they are understanding of lost and confused Americans. If you are shy get a cabana as the locker rooms are very “interesting”.
Evening? You are in a cultural city. So the theater. The Opera, Operett, various church concerts or something more casual like a Jazz/Dinner Club. Then there is the food and the wine bars. Most evenings in good weather you can find me at a table on a street corner with a plate of pate and glass of wine until bed time. A night time trip to the citadel to see the view is worth the effort. http://fc06.deviantart.net/fs27/f/2008/165/c/c/Budapest_by_night_by_Psygabcsi.jpg If you are there on a Friday night I encourage the dinner and Klezmer concert at Spinoza’s. Klezmer is a part of the region and it’s a good experience if not a tad touristy. Even the evening cruise boats are worth the effort for the views. All about what interests you.
Oh, and skip the McDonalds. That wasn't meant to be serious. Too many great things.