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Newbie to Budapest - need suggestions!

We will be in Budapest for 4 nights - first full day a Saturday. Sunday we will be doing a small group city tour and going to a festival (Falk Art). We're staying at the Hilton in Buda in town and would like suggestions...
1. A good small group tour (1/2 day or full day) outside of Budapest. We've seen "Danube Bend" tours, but reviews aren't great.
2. Suggestions for places for lunch or dinner near the hotel or pretty much anywhere in the city center. Having some non-meat options good also. Maybe for a Friday night too - moderate prices.
3. Museums/art galleries etc not to be missed.

Many thanks!

Posted by
13299 posts

For any museums/art galleries you're considering, go to the official website to verify the place is open. Three major museums were closed during my May 208 visit due to major building restoration or relocation of the museum.

Posted by
9192 posts

We will be in Budapest for 4 nights - first full day a Saturday.
Sunday we will be doing a small group city tour and going to a
festival (Falk Art). We're staying at the Hilton in Buda in town and
would like suggestions...

The hotel is somewhat removed from most of the sights. You will be riding a bus to Pest every day. But its beautiful up there. https://www.danubiushotels.com/w/accomms/0_1000/0/any/BUDHI_Exterior-uj-maxi448.jpg

  1. A good small group tour (1/2 day or full day) outside of Budapest. We've seen "Danube Bend" tours, but reviews aren't great.

Don't do a tour; but do make the trip. The commutter train to Szentendre leaves from Buda near the Margret Island Bridge. Its about a 30 minute ride followed by a 5 minute walk to the center of Szentendre. Well worth the effort. Afterwards you take the boat back to Buda. Wonderful way to spend half to a full day. I can help with details if you are interested. https://cdn.civitatis.com/hungria/budapest/excursion-esztergom-visegrad-szentendre.jpg

  1. Suggestions for places for lunch or dinner near the hotel or pretty much anywhere in the city center. Having some non-meat options good also. Maybe for a Friday night too - moderate prices.

You will be in Pest more than you will be in Buda; especially at lunch time. In a minute i will do an edit with a link to a post with some places to eat in Pest, then tonight or tomorrow I will send you a couple of places in Buda as there are a couple of nice places out of the tourist area (taxi).

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/hungary/dining-near-the-city-center-hotel-erzebet

  1. Museums/art galleries etc not to be missed.

Totally depends on your interest. Art or music or WWII or Fasicism or Jewish History ....
Most are closed on Monday. http://www.promptguides.com/budapest/_photos/house_terror/house_terror_003.jpg

Posted by
116 posts

Re: museums, etc. we are interested in everything, really. Art, history, WW2, science...

Posted by
5562 posts

I agree not to do a 1/2 group tour but rather just go to Szentendre on your own. It's a very easy short ride on the train and it's a nice 1/2 day excursion out of the city. Very fun and photogenic little town with lots of shops and some interesting old buildings. I took the train both ways and I'm sorry that I skipped the boat ride back to Budapest, wish I had done that.

I enjoyed the Hungarian National Gallery in the castle district, they have a nice collection of altar pieces (if that's of interest).

Posted by
430 posts

At least a half day for the old town where the Hilton is. More for the palace museum. Don't miss the roman romaine in the hotel's lobby.

After everything else, a half day or so at the Roman city in Obuda.

A day trip to Pecs (pronounced something like pesh)

The most important thing about eating is to drink Hungarian dark beer. Sopran is really good.

The is a really good pizza place about a half block down the first street to the left when leaving St Stephan's

Posted by
9192 posts

I think Obuda is great for day 7. Too much else to see prior to that. You could spend a week on Jewish Budapest and you would need to to begin to understand Hungary in general. Not just ancient or WWII, but modern dynamics as well. There are interesting remains of a 14th century synagogue near your hotel another great one hidden in the courtyard of an apartment block at the bottom of the hill and literally hundreds of interesting sites across town. This town is still so Jewish that there are daily flights to Tel Aviv. It would be good if they built a green zone in Budapest too.

The beer is okay, but there are some excellent Hungarian wines.

Posted by
116 posts

We are taking your (several of you) advice regarding the day trip to Szentendre. We will be doing this trek on a Saturday and friend will be checking out the trains and buses. Is there a particularly good site to go to to find train and bus schedules? We are thinking about going to Vac, Estergom and Szentendre that day. Is that a good idea? Approximately how much time should be planned for with each stop? We both like history, the arts, nature and general sightseeing. Do you think we have to reserve specific bus times? We are kind of flying blind here, so any advice would be appreciated!

Posted by
1948 posts

If you like WWII history you might enjoy the Hospital in the Rock up on Castle Hill--if you are facing St Mattias, turn around and walk straight across to the far end of the hill, look for the elevator that takes you down to the lower level. It's a hospital built into the natural caves, used during WWII and also the 1956 revolution, the guided tour (you can't do it alone, very cheap and excellent, informative guides) takes a bit over an hour and I found it fascinating, sorry I waited until my 4th trip to Budapest to see it.

If you go to Szentendre plan to spend 3-4 hours if you have a restaurant meal, I like a place on the main square called Elisabeth--sit outside, have some csirke paprikas and wine, people watch...I do believe I'll be there myself on May 10! Fridays are fun because they have a little marketplace going on, interesting crafts and food. My favorite museum is off the main square and is devoted to the quirky, enigmatic works of Hungary's first important female artist, ceramicist Margit Kovacs--it's small so doesn't take long, and her works are also scattered here and there on buildings in Budapest, notably the old post office on Castle hill. I'm a wee bit of a fan of hers, can you tell? :) https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g274914-d276838-Reviews-Kovacs_Margit_Muzeum-Szentendre_Pest_County_Central_Hungary.html

Posted by
9192 posts

The hospital is very interesting until the last third, that just gets plain strange.... but still worth it if you like such thing. Be sure to read the history before you take the tour. Pretty amazing.

As for the trip to Szentendre
You will make your way to Batthyány tér (ter = square) by either the M2 Metro if you are in Pest or the M2 or the tram if you are in Buda. There you will find the surburban train staton. The suburban trains are designated as "H" and this is the end point of the H5 train. The other end is Szentendre which makes it pretty hard to get lost. Train leaves about every 20 minutes. Your Budapest TravelCard will get you a pretty big discount on the cost of the ticket (cause part of the trip is in the zone covered by your card) which you can puruchase at the station. https://bkk.hu/apps/menetrend/pdf/6400/20190407/1.pdf

For the ride back, thake the river taxi. You will spot it out in front of the old part of town. The sell the tickets about an hour in advance. http://www.mahartpassnave.hu/en/timetable/danube-bend-excursion-boat-lines/budapest-szentendre/ The reason you take the train up and the boat back is its faster.

Posted by
9192 posts

I think I posted this someplace else, but last year we picked up a friend at the Airport and drove straight to Szentendre. The friend was coming from Istanbul so it was a short flight and he wasnt worn out. Anyway, Szentendre was a hit. Then we got on the river taxi. Remember, the friend had not seen Budapest yet and had never been to Budapest before. So we round the bend in the boat and the Parliament begins to rise before us and my friend was absolutely speechless. This was the absolute best way to be introduced to the most beaufiful city in Europe.