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Off the beaten path in Budapest

My autumn trip to Europe this year is coming up. The last week in September my husband and I will be in Vienna for six nights, with a day trip to Bratislava and then on to Budapest for seven nights the first week of October.

We plan to see all of the usual, first-timers sights and originally I thought we would take a day trip to Eger just to get out of the Budapest tourist center, but now I’m having second thoughts about the day trip since getting to and from Eger would take half a day.

I’m going to pass on Godollo Palace and Esztergom Basilica this trip because I know my husband and his eyes start to glaze over after too many palaces, churches and art museums. To be fair, I sometimes feel the same way about military museums.

So I’m looking for suggestions that would take us to places reachable by Budapest Metro. For example… in Ljubljana we went to a district with fabulous street art, near Bologna we took a tour of a local Parmigiano Reggiano cheese maker and also a maker of balsamic vinegar, in Prague, with the help of the Taste of Prague guidebook from our food tour, we ventured out to the non-tourist districts and spent some time in local markets, cafes and parks and enjoyed the early fall colors, in Paris we took a cooking class, and in Bled we hired an alpine guide to take us on a hike in the Julian Alps.

Thanks!

Posted by
4341 posts

I have a huge list still remaining to see. While I assume you have done a search on this site for info on Budapest, here are reports from my last 2 trips.
https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/trip-reports/2-weeks-in-budapest
https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/trip-reports/budapest-in-2023

Still on my list for either this trip or next - or next (all of which I have heard about from others on this forum):
Aquincumi Múzeum
Hungarian Railway Museum
Rákóczi Market Hall
Museum of Applied Arts
Holocaust Memorial Center
Ecseri Flea Market (from Christa)
Memento Park
Millenium Underground Museum (added today)

Among many many other places!

Posted by
46 posts

I quite liked the Roman ruins of Aguincum. It is outside the city and there were only a handful of people there when I visited.

I didn't get to Memento Park, where they keep all the Soviet statues, but that sounds interesting as well.

Posted by
3073 posts

We really enjoyed the Hungarian Agricultural Museum, odd as that may sound. It was really an ethnographic museum with a lot of Hungarian history.

Posted by
174 posts

We did a strudel making class in Budapest which was a lot of fun!

Run by woman who is a professional chef and it's in her apartment. Found it on get yourguide.com if you search for "strudel Budapest" you will find it.

I recommend opera tickets and trying the baths as well, both were highlights.

Posted by
18786 posts

Ive been there so many times that I really dont think I am as good a help as what you are getting. That might make sence to you if you live in a tourist town.

But I sent you a PM with some ideas.

Posted by
104 posts

Thank you everyone for the suggestions. I am now happily researching all of your ideas. And.... concluding that seven days is not nearly enough time to see everything that looks interesting. Oh well! A second trip sometime in the future :)

Posted by
4935 posts

That does seem to be a "problem." My list for my upcoming 7 day trip, my second visit, is far too long. And Texas Travelmom has been there twice... and still has a long list to offer.

Not to mention Oktoberfest and the National Gallup. And I wouldn't mind visiting the Christmas Markets in Budapest.

Ah, it's a good problem to have!

Posted by
195 posts

I'm sure James's PM mentions this, but just in case:

Normafa park is quite lovely, especially in the fall, and if you hike up to Jánoshegy the view from Erzsébet-kilátó (the lookout tower) is really great. I love to walk through the park because the trails are fantastic and there are so many families out enjoying the weather. It will make you feel like a local.

It's fun to take the chairlift down (there are some beautiful homes) and be sure to stop at Normafa Rétes és Pavilonok for rétes (strudel).

There are some wonderful cooking classes in Budapest as well as wine-tasting options. Also, you can take a tour of the Unicum factory at the Zwack Unicum Museum to learn how it is made. It is an herbal liqueur that Hungarians use to cure virtually all ailments. So, when it comes to testing: good luck. ;)

I would also recommend spending at least 3 hours at Széchenyi, the thermal baths located in City Park. You will be relaxed and recharged and it's a good combination of locals and tourists. If you go in the morning, you'll be outnumbered by the locals.

Posted by
4341 posts

Yes, I have spent 3 weeks, and have a full plan already for my next visit! But I only plan about 2 things a day. And for me, the architecture is the star. My favorite thing is just to find a new tram or bus and just ride. :) Free entertainment with my pass!

Edit: I agree with Christy that Normafa is really nice - I did this last time. That was one of the rides where I just went to the end and loved the ride about as much as the destination. But I haven’t ridden the chair lift down yet! Or been to the Unicum place (no tasting for me, thanks!)

Posted by
18786 posts

Normafa park is quite lovely, especially in the fall, and if you hike
up to Jánoshegy the view from Erzsébet-kilátó (the lookout tower) is
really great. I love to walk through the park because the trails are
fantastic and there are so many families out enjoying the weather. It
will make you feel like a local.

Did you mention the hike is up a very steep hill? I did it once when I was young......

Posted by
195 posts

Did you mention the hike is up a very steep hill? I did it once when I was young......

Well, we followed the trail and it was pretty gentle. I'm not one to stray too far into nature. LOL!

Posted by
104 posts

Re: Architecture Porn

I travel with a lacrosse ball inside a tube sock. It's a DIY massage tool for my neck and shoulders because I spend so much time looking up at architecture porn. If Budapest is the world capital of AP I'm in for an exciting time :):) Can't wait!!

Posted by
18786 posts

Leia its pretty much wall to wall. If you are into, then a few suggestions.

You realize all those magnificient (and sometimes not so magnificient) buildings are apartment blocks with retail on the ground floor facing the street; and almost without exception each has a central courtyard. The courtyards range from "interesting" to magificient. The trick i finding an open door and walking in. No one will shoot you. https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C1VDKB_en&sxsrf=AB5stBgQHekkomVcobqXxsECcQciPC_hvw:1691032061328&q=budapest+courtyards&tbm=isch&source=lnms&sa=X&sqi=2&ved=2ahUKEwj1p8aqwb-AAxWVmmoFHZGNCwAQ0pQJegQIDBAB&biw=1163&bih=641&dpr=1.65

This one is behind my favorite pastry shop Auguszt Cukrászda Belváros (Cukrászda is the Magyar word for a pastry shop) Kossuth Lajos u. 14-16, in District V. https://budapestflow.b-cdn.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Paloma_FB.jpg

Look for synagogues, they are all over town. Some are amazing some mysterious https://c8.alamy.com/zooms/9/7d39a21cc1e848b086afbeb9f9eeecc9/2hc75bf.jpg

Spend a bit more time in District VIII, as that is where the old mansions are located. https://www.travelingwithsweeney.com/budapest-district-8/ A guide would be good for this.

Behind the Parliament are a number of old governmental and banking buildings. Some are open to the public but all are worth the walk on the outside. Some tragic history relevant to the 56 revolution as well.

Hotels to visit (all renovated best of the period architecture)
Corinthia
Four Seasons
Budapest W
New York Palace (Anantara Hotel)
Matild Palace

And really, just about any street in town. Its amazing, it just keeps going and going and going; most of it well used and in a state that reflects that.

If you are into strange, I have perfectly preserved Cold War era bomb shelter

Posted by
104 posts

Well, I have been a busy little bee this week weaving suggested places into my itinerary and here's what I've come up with.

I found a map of street art that is mostly in the Jewish Quarter so I plan to spend more time there. Later that day we will go to the Holocaust Memorial Center (how the heck did I miss this in my original plan?!?!) and the Ervin Szabó Library.

One morning we'll head to the Roth Museum to see a collection of mosaics and stained glass by Miksa Roth. And depending on how much time we have in our schedule we'll either go to Normafa Park or sunset at Gellert Hill

I went deep down the Budapest architecture rabbit hole, started following budapestdoors and bedapestfacades on Instagram and found WAY too many places I would like to see, added some of Mister É's courtyards and plugged them into our existing itinerary.

Also took a look at menus from Mister É's favorite restaurants, confirmed that we could be gastronomy buddies and added four or five to the "Must Eat At" list.

Many, many thanks for all of your ideas and recommendations!

Posted by
104 posts

I love the planning part only slightly less than the going part of each trip.

None, and I mean NONE of our friends and neighbors travel outside of North America, and our kids are too busy having kids right now (just found out that grand baby #6 is arriving early next year) to travel very far. So sadly, I only get to plan my own trips.

With the encouragement of this forum I'm finally feeling confident that I have something to offer to others in terms of travel knowledge.

Posted by
18786 posts

Leia I have a trip to Ubekistan that I just agreed to, but I hired a guide.

I have a return trip to Sofia in a few weeks, but my planning began and ended with roof top bars and a certain guide (just 3 nights).

Then I have one in Azerbaijan and one in Jordan under serious consideration for December / January.

What do they all have in common, except Uzbekistan, ...... Wizz Air under $100 from Budapest.

Posted by
104 posts

Jealous.

Bulgaria and Romania are on our "To Do" list. For the next 24.8 months (yes we are counting down) we have a set number of days available to travel as my husband is still working full-time.

However, the way I'm looking at it is, 2024 will be the travel schedule we've been used to since 2013 when we took our first trip to Europe. But 2025 we can use all of his PTO in the spring and then go again in the fall for as many days as we like. So, just one more year of restricted travel.

Posted by
18786 posts

I know good guides in both Bulgaria and Romania. Im just not brave enough to drive on holidays. I appreciate those who do. Well, part that, part I just want to look out the window and not worry, part I'm a bad driver, part I enjoy the company of a local and talk a lot, and part for the cost of a nice room in Paris I can get a nice room, car and driver / guide in most of Eastern Europe.