I am looking for recommendations for a private car and driver for Budapest for Dec 1 2015. We will be arriving via the night train from Munich and will arrive in Budapest about 9 am. I'm looking for a driver to pick us and our luggage up at the train station then stay with us for 3-5 hours as we visit the Parliament bldg and the central market. Then take us to our River Cruise ship early afternoon. I had someone from our cruise companies forum recommend a company called Blacklane but they have received scathing reviews on Trip Advisor. Any help would be appreciated.
Have you tried cruisecritic.com? Someone there may have a recommendation.
I have used these guys with good results: http://transferbudapesthungary.com/
This is a guide with his own car that would add some value to the experience: http://guideinbudapest.com/ Used personally and recommended him to guests literally a dozen times with nothing but good experiences and reports.
Last time i checked City Taxi will also arrange a car and driver for extended periods of time: http://www.citytaxi.hu/
Now, I know the luggage is a bit of a hassle but if someone can make a recommendation on how to handle that, the places you want to see are easily connected by public transport. Have you checked if you can dump your luggage at the ship? If you can, the ship, the Parliament and the Market are all on the same tram line that runs the river front. One of the most scenic tram rides there is. You will have a lot more fun that way.
Thanks for the idea of the tram. We can drop off the luggage at the ship so that may actually be a better option. I will check into your tour guide recommendation as well.
For what you want to see the tram is perfect and allows you all sorts of flexibility. It's like a Hop On Hop Off bus along the river front.
Okay you have 3 to 5 hours?
Arrive at the train station.
Immediately go down the stairs at the front of the station and into the office on your right.
Now I need some help. Anyone know where the nearest ATM and Metro Ticket machine is located in the train station? I know they are there, but not sure exactly where. Worst case you go down the stairs in the center front of the station and go in the office on the right (sort of a tourist assistance center of some sort) and ask. I think they sell the metro tickets and they can direct you to the ATM if we get no other help. Get 10 Metro Tickets.
Now someone will tell you to get on the metro. But you don’t have a lot of time so immediately call City Taxi. They will tell you where to meet the taxi (back upstairs at street level). Have the taxi take you to ship.
Dump your luggage
Now it’s 10:30 am.
Get on tram to Parliament
Back on tram in opposite direction.
Get off in front of the hotels and eat lunch at one of the cafes facing the river.
Back on tram to the Market
See market (be sure to visit the basement. Follow your nose to the vendors behind the grocery store)
Get on 47/49 tram to the Great Synagogue
Tour the Synagogue
Back on tram to the end of the line at Deak F. ter.
Get on M1 metro at Deak F. ter and take it to the Opera stop.
See opera and a little of Andrassy ut.
Take M1 to Vorosmarty ter
Walk to boat dock
Regret you didn’t arrive in Budapest two days earlier.
You could also have Andrew pick you up at the train station, help you with Metro Tickets and ATM issues, give you a 1 hour driving tour of Buda and Pest dropping you at the dock where you begin the tram odyssey.
Wow! Thanks for the great information and ideas. We actually have all day on the 1st as we will be docked that night. The cruise provides a city tour on the next day with a tour of Matthias church and the Christmas markets. The evening of the first I have reserved tickets for the Nutcracker at the Opera House. So my 3-5 hours was based on hiring a driver and checking into our cabin early afternoon. But if we use the tram it sounds like we have a lot of flexibility and can go as long as we have the energy.
We have an option our second day from the cruise line to either do a Jewish history tour that includes the synagogue or go to a small town outside of Budapest where craftsman have their shops. I was leaning towards the Jewish tour but from the itinerary you laid out we may do that on our own on the 1st and get to see the small town that the cruise line has arranged.
I know that most on this forum will think that I'm crazy but I will probably pay the extra exchange rate and have money with me when I arrive in Budapest so I don't have to full with the ATM when I arrive. I did that last year on our first trip to Europe and it worked well for me so I think I will do it again.
Thank you again for the advice!!
bcstivers, first the money. I understand and don't think you are crazy. Don't get too much. Most places you will come in contact with (if not all) will take credit cards and the cards give great rates. Then as you walk around you will see the ATMs all over the place if you feel you need more money. You might want to go to the OTP Bank website and look at their location maps for ATMs and maybe print the area along the river front where you will be most often.
Now I know its a Christmas season trip. We spend about every other Christmas in Budapest and do enjoy it. The Nutcracker is an excellent idea. After the show (i assume its the 7pm show?) two good options are Callas Café (next door to the Opera) or Kadarka Wine Bar. For Callas you call in advance and make a reservation for "after the Opera". Another more casual option would be Kadarka's Wine Bar. About a 4 minute walk. Excellent Hungarian wine and gourmet burgers, good pate, salads and some light fare. You will surrounded by Hungarians from 21 to 50-something (if I am there). Nice staff and owner too and it pulls you a little out of the tourist strip for a little while.
For the Opera walk or tram (tram comes very close) to Vorsomarty ter and take the M1 to the Opera stop. Or if you are feeling fancy call a taxi; might cost you three or four dollars. Getting back to the ship very late you might want to call a taxi. My favorite is City Taxi.
As for your tour that comes with the boat. Normally I would say the "artist town" which is called Szentendre. But in the dead of winter I think you will have a better time and get more out of the Jewish tour. Such an important part of what makes Budapest unique.
Check your private messages, I sent you some photos along the tram line.
You have been an incredible help. Your pictures of the tram line were great. We will take both yours and "worldinbetween" advice and take the Jewish history tour. We are still 6 months away but I'm already getting excited about this trip. You have helped bring some clarity to my few outstanding details of the trip.
World in Between
You pictures are amazing. He has quite a talent.
Thanks to both of you.
You have to admit that while smaller, the RS Forum is much better than that "other" forum.
This forum is unbelievably helpful. Although I have learned a great deal over the past two years since planning my first European vacation last summer from the "other " forums I find them so combative at times that it is at times really unenjoyable. Since finding Rick Steves on PBS and ordering his guidebooks and following the forums it has made a world of difference. So thanks again to all who participate and share their experience with us novices
My experience as well.