We will be flying in early in the day on the September 2 (Saturday) and leaving for Prague on the morning of September 6th. We are a group of friends on our first trip to Budapest interested in exploring the highlights with some interest in the bar scene and not particularly interested in the baths. We are planning on taking an overview tour on the first day and exploring the Buda side. What should our itinerary be for the Sunday, Monday and Tuesday before we leave for Prague via train on the morning of the 6th? We will be staying on the Pest side at Izabella Utca 48. Steve has his suggested itinerary and a few sights but the only 3 diamond sight are the baths so any suggestions are very welcome. Also, we are seasoned travelers and can handle public transport - does it make sense to get the 72 hour ticket for our time? Thanks so much
The itinerary guru should be along shortly, so I will just say that for me the highlights are Terror House, Dohany synagogue, tour of Parliament, exploring the Castle Hill area and possibly the National Gallery if you like art, and the Ethnographic museum if interested in the history of the Magyars and handcrafts. The Great Market Hall is interesting and also a visit to City Park and even out to Memento Park if you're interested in old Communist-era statues. I never miss a chance to get out to Margit sziget to spend time with the storks and just enjoy the beauty of being smack dab in the middle of the Danube with views of Buda and Pest. I've now visited 3 times and never tire of just exploring Budapest, so do allow time to wander and just be there. Definitely get a transit pass, it's quite cheap and makes it that much easier to explore.
Because of where your apartment is located, you need a 7 day card because you are going to spend a lot of time on the M1 Metro Line. The 7 day TravelCard at 4.950 forints costs about $3 more than the 72hour (4.150 forints) and will cover your entire stay. I am not entirely certain but i belive you will have to go up to Deák Ferenc tér to purchase it. I would check with the window at the Vörösmarty utca metro stop (about a block from your apartment) and if you do have to make the trip down to Deák Ferenc tér it will cost you a single ticket at 350 forints. http://www.bkk.hu/en/budapest-7-day-travel-card/
But don't despair having to ride the M1 so much. The M1 is sort of fun and historic as the oldest on the continent of Europe https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Line_1_(Budapest_Metro)
christa I am burned out on doing itineraries. I should print something up and email!!! Naaaaaa, bad idea.....
christa, I did get an offer on a really nice apartment. Actually 3 side by side. Great location and pretty good price. Naturally I thought of you. You buy one, I buy one, I have a friend I might be able to convince. Then we have our own B&B......
Intrepid. Before you hop on that train to Prague, you might price Czech Air from Budapest to Prague. Usually between $100 and $150. Will save you nearly 3 hours overall door to door, and as I spend part of that "arrive at the airport 1.5 hours early" hours eating lunch or breakfast, I think its really nearly a 4 hour saving. Figuring taxi costs and ticket costs, etc its probably about $100 a person more expensive to fly.
Train: 45 minutes from apartment to train station including arriving early enough to find your way around. PLUS 6.5 hours train ride – PLUS 30 minutes to your Prague accommodations - EQUALS 7:45 total trip.
Plane: 2 hours from apartment to airport including arriving early enough to find your way around - PLUS 1.5 hour flight time - PLUS 1.5 hours to get off, pick up bags, and take a taxi into town EQUALS 5 hours.
Thank you both! @james e. unfortunately we already bought the train tickets to Prague last week. I'm guessing you are the itinerary guru for Budapest :) can you please let us know if you have suggestions for our 4 days there including bars/ restaurants around the area and which attractions it makes sense to do together with geographic proximity? It looks like Budapest is much larger than Prague so it would make sense to use our time wisely. Thank you!
The city is probably about the same size. But a substantial percentage of Budapest is the attraction vs Prague where people generally only go to see a couple of well defined districts.
Okay, larger, but easy and well organized. Get a map and follow along. You are just about a block of Andrassy ut. Andrassy ut is the road that the French modeled the Champs-Élysées after. Or at least that’s what all good Magyarok claim. Under Andrassy ut is the M1 metro line. At one end of the line you will find Hero’s Square, a few museums, City Park, Bath House, Zoo (I love the Budapest Zoo, and its worth the trip to see Art Nouveau meets Elephant)
While at the other end is Vorsomarty ter and the river font. Don’t confuse Vorsomarty ter with Vorsmarty utca near your apartment. Yes, confusing. But two places. A ter is a squre while a utca is a street. A ut is a large street.
Along the way to the river you cross the 4/6 tram that will take you from the New York Palace to Buda in the other direction. On the Pest side of the river, from the 4/6 tram you can catch the famous (for the views) 2 tram that runs along the river front to Parliament and the Great Market Hall. From the 4/6 Tram on the Buda side you can catch the 19/41 tram that runs along the Buda side of the river to Clark Ádám tér and the funicular which takes you to the Castle Hill.
Continuing on the M1 you will also cross (sort of) the 47/49 tram which takes you to the Great Synagogue and the Market Hall and the Geller Hotel.
So picking a place to stay on the M1 is a good thing.
The Trams are like HOHO Busses, but better. They are old and timeless at the same time. You will ride with tourists and Hungarians and young and old. If you get lost some old lady will notice and offer to help. Unlike places like Prague where the only non-tourist you meet will be workers serving tourists, in Budapest you get to function among the masses.
But you don’t want to be too efficient. Budapest is a little like Paris. Lets face it, Paris hasn’t got too many spectacular landmarks; but what it does have is atmosphere and Budapest shares that trait.
Too bad you're not interested in baths -- we went in May and LOVED relaxing in the waters. Tour of the Opera House was fun, too. And music performances at the Liszt Academy.
Personally I prefer a shower.
Ah, yes, James E -- but I can shower at home. ;-)
The Opera House is being renovated and I don't know if they are still running the tours. Don't think so, but you can check on their website.....
Laura makes a good point about bathing while on vacation:
The most recognized, the most straight forward and probably the easiest for the first time is the Szechenyi Baths.
Take the M1 Metro line. Choose the entrance marked Mexikói út (metro line directions are always indicated by the end stop - in this case Mexikói út). Get off at the next to last stop: Széchenyi fürdő. Go up the stairs and it’s the large yellow building on your right. Or you can get off the M1 one or more stops earlier and walk up Andrassy ut, past Hero's square and through the park.
The locker room. http://bettymagazine.co.uk/betty/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/szechenyi-baths-changing-rooms-budapest.jpg Looks nice doesn’t it? Never seen it empty like that in my life. See those narrow little entry ways? They lead to the lockers. The passage is about 12 feet deep and the dressing area is about 5 feet wide with lockers on both sides. Imagine wall to wall, buttock to buttocks, naked Eastern European flesh; size 48 shoved into tiny black size 20 speedos….. Beyond what words can describe….
You do have the option to purchase the use of a “cabana” which is a private changing closet. Just depends on how much Eastern European Culture you want to rub off on you….. so to speak…….
Just teasing, not really quite that bad; not really Eastern Europe either (Central). http://www.travelfar.it/wp-content/uploads/terme-di-Budapest-giocatori-di-scacchi-alle-terme-Sz%C3%A9chenyi.jpg
You will need a towel ("borrow" one from a hotel or purchase one outside in the vendor areas under the trees, the ones they rent are very small, very thin and almost useless). flip flops to lessen the odds that you will have to deal with "Lamasil" when you get home and a bathing cap to utilize all the pools.
And don't let cold weather deter you:
Thanks James we'll add a visit to the baths after your description :) I'm looking into the Opera house and the Parliament tours. Can you also also suggest some restaurants and ruin pubs for us to visit?
From the web page, I stand corrected:
NEWS AND INFORMATION
The building of the Opera House can be visited during the reconstructions planned for 2017.
Between 28. July and 26. August 2017 daily at
2 p.m. in English and Spanish – with optional mini concert.
3 p.m., 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. in several languages – with optional mini concert.
On Sunday, 27. August all tours are cancelled!
From 28. August 2017 daily at
2 p.m. in English and Spanish – with optional mini concert.
3 p.m., 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. in several languages – with optional mini concert.
Here are some of my favorites. They all are mostly Hungarian on the menu except for Zing Burger, Café Vian, Lancelots and Hachaupri. And I could make the list 5 times longer. These are all
EXCELLENT HUNG / JEWISH ($$)
District VII, Dob street 26.
+36 1 787 6164 / +36 30 499 5585
ALL YOU CAN EAT HUNGARIAN ($$$)
District VI, Kiraly utca. 30-32.
+36 1 878 0522 / +36 20 999 8797
GYPSY MUSIC & GOOD FOOD ($$$)
District V, Sas utca 3
+36 1 318-0038 / +36 1 267-0349
IF CHILI’S OPENED A HUNGARIAN RESTAURANT THIS WOULD BE IT ($$)
District VI, Paulay Ede utca 7
+ 36 1 268 08 88
I NEED! A HAMBURGER . BUY THE CATSUP ACROSS THE STREET ($)
District VI, Kiraly Utca 60
+36 70 639 7917
EXCELLENT HUNGARIAN - but touristy ($$$)
District V, Steindl Imre u. 13.
+36 30 661 6244
VERY GOOD HUNGARIAN FOOD FOR THE PRICE ($$)
District VI, Bajcsy Zsilinszky u.15
+36 1 302 5393
MY FAVORITE WINE BAR HAS GREAT FOOD. ($$)
District VI, Király utca 42
+36 1 266 5094
GOOD BREAKFAST ($$)
District VII, Király u. 13
+36 1 878 1350
GOOD HUNGARIAN BREAKFAST ($$)
District VII, Király u. 15, www.frappans.com
+36 1 798 5030
SWORD FIGHTS & BELLY
District VI, Podmaniczky u. 14
+36 1 302 4456
GOOD CHEAP TYP. HUNGARIAN ($)
FRICI PAPA KIFŐZDÉJE
District VI, Király u. 55
+36 1 351 0197
YOU CAME FOR EXOTIC SO EAT
GEROGIAN VERY GOOD ($$)
District VI, Andrássy út 3
+36 1 317 5479
SOME OF THE BEST EATS IN TOWN
el ASADOR de Pata Negra
District VI, Paulay Ede u. 39 (at the corner of Vasvari Pal utca)
Here is the best collection of ruin pubs: The list is on the left of the page. I’m not a big pub guy (I hang out in wine bars), but I get the impression that Mazel Tov is the sort of place you are looking for and it will take you to an accessible part of town that tourist don't often see. Love the place: http://ruinpubs.com/
For craft been here is the list. I have been to Jónás Craft Beer House and, it in and of its self, isnt the most inspired place; but it is in the Bálna on the river and that alone makes it worth the effort: https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2015/jun/05/top-10-craft-beer-bars-budapest-hungary
AND, in the event that you do want to hang out in a wine bar, then Doblo Wine & Bar is a great upscale example while Kadarka Bar is the place to go after you have been walking all afternoon; https://dailynewshungary.com/top-10-wine-bars-in-hungary/
Also, don't forget the Palinka: https://welovebudapest.com/budapest.and.hungary/explainer.palinka.hungary.s.classic.spirit
Okay, well i can cut and paste lists, but christa is better at describing what to do.
But, James, I now have such a specific and personal agenda when I go there--not everyone wants to spend a an hour or two amongst the storks on Margit sziget or poking around the antique shops on Falk Miksa or a glorious morning at the Ecseri flea market amongst fabulous old foreign stuff (and it's cheap!), or visiting Szentendre because there's a cool little antique shop owned by the nicest lady who loves to discuss life and man troubles with me. I never tire of being amongst the Hungarians and listening to them speak, especially now that I can pick out more than a handful of words.
I do hope there's something fun going on like a festival while Intrepid is there, my experiences at the Spring market at Vorosmarty ter this year and the Museum festival that happens in May and the whole May Day celebration at City Park and car racing on Andrassy ut were all just incredibly fun, even more so because they were all well-attended by the Hungarians, not at all tourist oriented.
Thank you James and Christa! Your post makes me wish we had planned more time for Budapest :). We will definitely try some of your suggestions and slow our trip down a little to enjoy the storks and the antiques.
I sent you a couple of links that might help as well.
christa, when are you going back???
I want to do the Museum festival again and that's the 3rd weekend in May, that's as far as I've gotten with plans but I do intend to venture to other towns this time-Debrecen and Pecs call to me. As you know, Budapest is so enthralling I have a hard time leaving it.
There is a chance we will be there in May. I have to spread things out. Planned so far is Montenegro and Budapest in late September and Ukraine and Budapest in late December. So, early May is about right. Have to decide on the fishing part of the trip first.
Hey, thanks for posting! This is great - I'm going to be in Budapest for the first time right around the same time, there is great travel advice on this thread.
yup, christa is good