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Recommendations for Budapest


  1. Attend the Opera, the building and the performances are fantastic. Seats $55-$70 but cheap on the top tier. Note that rear corner seats do not have video translation displays, if your Italian or German is rusty. Actually the front row may not either. Reading display with progressive lenses a challenge. Marvel at full curtain calls after every act. Do a web search on packing a sport coat and not wrinkling it (roll it up inside out). Don’t be a gauche (mostly European) tourist and wear blue jeans.

  2. Go to a spa. We chose Lukacs Baths which is just north of the convenient 4/6 trams on the Buda side. Good price at $12, higher Sat/Sun. Mostly not tourists, both fun and interesting.

  3. Enjoy the riverfront day and night, it’s scenic and has a buzz. Hike up hills on the Buda side for the view. Paying for admissions not needed for satisfying time. Ride a river cruise at night, a bit pricey at $24. The trams run up and down both sides of the riverfront. There must be a way to make a big circle with combining several trams, surprised guidebooks don’t give directions. Buildings turn off floodlights about 11 pm.

  4. Enjoy the month first then day date format as used in the US, not the goofy day/month/year format used elsewhere in Europe (except Lithuania).

  5. Not much of a wine snob but found both the white and red extremely good even when dirt cheap. Getting $3 bottles of wine at the corner Spar and drinking it on the balcony with friends certainly one of the cheapest good times to be had in Europe.

  6. Hero’s Park with it’s 1890s folly of Hungarian and Transylvanian architecture. Climb the new museum that looks like a sunken ship.

Less enthusiastic:

A. Tour the Parliament, $29 for US/UK/CAN. Building is interesting but appears to be brand new/unused, and with all the wall figurines made out of some resin the building has an “It’s a Small World” Disney ride feeling. Actually the whole building has a Disney feel to it. Rub elbows with the loud Viking Cruise people who proclaim, “I would have paid a million dollars to see this.”

B. District 6 is interesting but frankly seedy in many blocks. Many restaurant choices but these were more expensive meals than when in Prague. Many, many young partiers. Could have done without the motorcycles hot rodding it day and night.

C. I hate to downgrade the Great Synagogue but another super high admission, $26, hard to justify. FYI: The late Roman stone with menorah mentioned in the RS book is sitting unlabeled at the landing to the top floor of the museum (top floor closed). Although the Jewish Museum in Prague is similarly priced, that includes 5 synagogues, exhaustive displays, the cemetery, and a week pass to get through it.

Posted by
6107 posts

Tom, I did Parlament, probably 8 years ago or so. I believe it was the equivalent of $10. That is quite an increase. We've done one Viking cruise, we did like it and we'll probably do another at some point. Since the cruise, I've been noting the arrogance of Viking small group tours, mostly in churches. They feel they are entitled to talk and not quietly. In Lisbon, we were so annoyed with a group that went up to the front of the church and stood in front of the altar for at least 20 minutes while they discussed the church. I guess, the issue is more on the local guide than Viking or its passengers. My husband says the next time we take a Viking tour, he will comment to the tour director that there are ways to do a church without spoiling the visit for non Viking passengers.

The opera house also has tours. We actually just popped in and saw the gorgeous lobby.

Regarding the riverfront, on the Pest side, there is a sculpture of a series of shoes representing the Jewish people who were told to remove their shoes and then shot. It is very impactful.

Posted by
3074 posts

Watching/participating with the Viking cruises has convinced me that taking a cruise is not big on our bucket list.

We also enjoyed the House of Terror and the Hungarian Agricultural museum. It goes without saying that the Great Market Hall is a must-do. We also visited James_E's favorite Kadarka Wine Bar, and enjoyed this considerably. The ruin pubs are great fun. We have not yet done some of the famous coffee houses, so must return.

Posted by
4359 posts

I like your summary. :) You seem to have come away with the feeling that some of the best are the things that don’t cost a lot of money. Also my feeling. :)

There IS a way to loop the trams - somewhere I have access to a guide that talks about it (but it wasn’t in a big guidebook). I will look for that…. And I love riding the trams best of all. And, of course, the food. 😝

I did like my tour of both Parliament and the Great Synagogue- and didn’t mind the price. However I have also been places I liked just as much and didn’t cost as much.

I will look at Lukas Baths - I am on a mission to try a variety gradually!

Posted by
18875 posts

Loop the trams? The 2 runs up the Pest side of the river and the 19/41 on the Buda side. The 4/6 crosses the river up river and the 47/49 down river of the central districts (or the 4/6 way down river) so you can go up one side of the river and down the other very easily.

Posted by
4641 posts

Looping: The map I downloaded only showed the commuter rail running south from the Margaret Bridge on the Buda side, which was not correct I see now. But a person does need to know which of the southern bridges has the trams running on it, and the connection from the trams running under the bridges to the tram up on the bridge may or may not be clear.

Lukacs Baths: I've heard they are all a maze, but this one is quite complex with many levels, like 4 or 5, and 3 staircases not accessing the same things. The sun deck and the thermal baths are the top floor and the basement of the large building that you see approaching from the tram stop, on the left. The fun pool with all the bubbles and stuff is the farthest to the north, rather hidden, surrounded by 4 story buildings. The large pools that dominate are for lap swimming only. Most of the bath complex is for medical treatments and not open to the public.,+Hungary/@47.5177865,19.0376109,195m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m6!3m5!1s0x4741c334d1d4cfc9:0x400c4290c1e1160!8m2!3d47.497912!4d19.040235!16zL20vMDk1d18?entry=ttu

Another Budapest highlight: The birds soaring over Parliament at night, lit up and glowing and kind of freaky frankly, are worth seeing, with Parliament lit up it becomes a surreal Hogwarts/quidditch experience. Can also see them from the boat cruise but cooler to see from below, either from riding the #2 tram or standing there.

Posted by
18875 posts

My post about looping the tram. 4/6 is the Margrit Island Bridge and there are stops at both sides for making connections. The 47/49 crosses the Liberty Bridge, and again there are connections at each side of the river.

I rode parts of all 4 of those today just moving around town shopping and going to some holiday events and having my dreadlocks tightened up.

And, never been to Lukacs Baths, but as luck would have it, got an invite tomorrow. She knows it very well so I will just do as directed.