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Recommended neighborhoods for exploring Budapest

First time visitors to Budapest and traveling with daughters (19 & 22) at end of May. Aside from the big 'must-see' sites, wondering if any of you have recommendations for neighborhoods in the city that are interesting to just wander, poke around and explore? Or specific cafes worth a stop to people watch and just relax awhile. We'll be staying at a VRBO near the Karolyi Kert park & Petofi Irodelmi Museum (don't know what part of the city that is called).

Also with our limited time, is it worth going for a 1/2 day visit to Szentendre? Or would we find cute areas to see within Budapest?

thanks.

Posted by
1903 posts

I really love Szentendre & will be in Budapest for the 5th time on Thursday—counting the minutes!!—and going to spend about 4 hrs in Szentendre, 3rd visit. It just looks different architecture-wise, and is a charming little village along the Danube with interesting shops, art galleries & on Fridays a crafts market occurs. I like to have lunch outside at Elisabeth, and probably won’t do the wonderful little museum devoted to ceramicist Margit Kovacs this time, but it’s worth it, allow maybe 30 minutes.

Posted by
151 posts

Christa, we will be in Budapest at the end of the month and have a Danube Bend private tour booked which includes Szentendre (sadly not a Friday). Am I right in thinking it would be a better place to find Hungarian crafts (especially needlework) than many shops in Budapest? Other than fridge magnets or postcards I try to limit souvenir buys to more unique, decent quality items.

Posted by
8882 posts

I am not as jaded as some of the posters. "Quaint" I am not too sure of. Interesting and representative of past and current Budapest? Lots of places. Actually, sort of like Paris I guess, Budapest is one of those places where the trip between sights is as interesting as the sights themselves. Unlike the descriptions elsewhere, understand that the inner city of Pest is still a pretty much intact, a fully functional late 19th century / early 20th century city. While in WWII probably half of the buildings sustained some damage, something like 98% of them received minor enough damage to be repaired and reoccupied. In Pest you can find stunning examples of architecture in just about every style popular at the time from Bauhaus to Art Deco and all in between. The late Anthony Bourdain once said, “If you are into architecture porn, Budapest is for you. One incredible building after another. Block after block of what is simply an incredible mix of styles, the imaginations of the creators gone wild during the city's years of empire. It is really something to see. And I felt like a total rube arriving so late. What took me so long!?”

As for Szentendre. It’s a great side trip to a lovely town; and I really enjoy the boat ride back. But Budapest is a minimum of 3 full days before you leave town. So, if you have 4 days yes. There is a second way. Last year I had a guest arriving from the middle east. The flight was early enough in the day that I hired a driver, picked the guest up at the airport and drove straight from the airport to Szentendre. It’s just a 45 minute drive from the airport; you could hire a taxi too (but i had the driver take the luggage into town so we wouldn’t have to fool with it). The guest loved the town; Then we boarded the boat for the ride into Budapest. Now, the guest had never seen Budapest. This was the introduction; the Parliament Building rising up before us as we rounded the bend of Margaret Island. The guest was speechless. It was a 100% success and there is no better way to meet Budapest. This I might be willing to suggest if someone had only three days, as there is very little time lost to it. But yoiu will need at least 2 hours in Szentendre and 3 to 4 is better.

Posted by
1903 posts

CJ—I also seek handcrafted items as souvenirs, and there’s a few places in Budapest I visit every trip. One is up on Castle Hill, the address is the shop name, Tarnok 10 Galeria; not so much textiles but unique & charming pottery pieces (I haven’t seen anything like them anywhere else in Budapest) and folk art paintings-3 of them adorn the walls of my office.

Another is on a side street just off the big pedestrianized shopping street Vaci utca, again some interesting pottery, tiles, textiles and other things. I can’t recall the name but the sign is visible from Vaci utca. I will check when I arrive Thursday.

Finally, my favorite all-purpose quality shop—candy, liquor, clothing (I have a couple of hand embroidered t-shirts that always get compliments), textiles, jewelry and other unique things is Memories of Hungary, near St Istvan’s. Something for everyone there and all made in Hungary.

Posted by
14 posts

Greatly appreciate the ideas and suggestions.

The tip to use a driver to get directly out to Szentendre from the airport works for our particular situation so thanks for that! We'll have to figure out what to do with just one person's luggage but worst case, my husband will carry that around :)
James E., any suggestions for a driver who doesn't have to be a tour guide? Is that just an Uber request? (Is Uber in Budapest?)

Posted by
8882 posts

You could take a taxi. I'm guessing about 12000 forint. I used Laszlo. Great driver, known him for years. http://silverwings.hu. But more expensive. I have him picking up some guests on Saturday. He dropped our luggage at the house on his way back to town. But I guess he could drop them at the hotel or the Lions Locker for $$$ https://www.lockerbudapest.com

Posted by
151 posts

Christa thanx so much. I actually have Memories of Hungary bookmarked on my tablet since I found they had a shop in the Intercontinental where we're staying the first 2 nights. The pictures look lovely.

Posted by
91 posts

Another place that has interesting textiles is Printa, located at Rumbach Sebestyén utca 10/A. It wasn't far from the Dohany St. Synagogue.

These aren't traditional textiles, they are contemporary ones. Designed and printed in house, they have t-shirts, tote bags, tea towels, cosmetic bags, etc. Their silk screened maps would be nice to frame and hang on the wall. I think the goulash tote would be an especially fun souvenir.

There's a coffee shop in the front of the store Their website is bolt.printa.hu

Posted by
5392 posts

I bought most of the souvenirs that I took home to family and friends at Memories of Hungary. I loved that place.

Posted by
1903 posts

Khrystia—thanks for recommending Printa, adding to my agenda as I love that type of thing.

I have visited the smaller Memories of Hungary shop on Castle Hill, also one at the airport, but they are much smaller than the one near St Istvan’s, go there for the biggest selection.