Will only have 2.5 days to spend in Budapest. Which side of the river would be best for sightseeing without too much traveling?
You'd want to stay over the river in Pest. Buda is within eyesight--and is the hilly side of the river.
I'd suggest anyone to learn how to negotiate the mass transit of any city. This city has a great tram, bus and subway system that helps greatly in travel around the city.
Some towns have all there is to see and do in tight little tourist zones. Budapest is a little more like Paris in that its the total package that is so good. That makes picking a place a little harder. If you are the type that will be happy sitting on the embankment looking across the river to the splendor of Buda then stay at the Marriott on the river. If you want more interaction with Hungarian culture then you want a side street in District VI or VII. For first class treatment Budapest has some of the most oppulent hotels in Europe; and they defy their locations. Personally i like the M1 Metro Line /Andrassy ut (avenue) corridor. The M1 metro line connects the Bath House in the City Park to Vorosmarty ter (square) a block from the riverfront. Along the route that runs directly under the length of Andrassy ut (so you can walk the distances as well as ride) you will find great restaurants, museums, the Opera House, great mansions and wildly expensive stores; but one block either direction takes you to "real" neighborhoods that still retain the Hungary of the past. Here are some more ideas: https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=C9F4C533EB93D92E!14944&authkey=!ABx6AcT8DtFafcs&ithint=file%2cpdf
I've been to Budapest and I can't figure out what James is recommending.
Most of the sights are in Pest. You'l probably spend a day in Buda on castle hill, it's easy to get there and back from Pest, but easier to see the Pest sights based in Pest.
You have been to Budapest and don't know where in Pest Andrassy ut is located? You need to come back and let me show you around. You have missed the grandest Avenue in Budapest.
There is another post here where the question was what to do for a couple of days. The OP is staying in Pest, but Pest is a big city so every trip back to their accommodations from any interesting part of town or attraction is going to take 15 to 30 minutes if they make no wrong turns in a strange city. Not bad, but not necessary in Budapest. So while "Pest" is the correct short answer I wanted to do better.
You're on, James. I would love to go back to Budapest. When's your next visit there?
17 September. But I don't do tours. Its my down time. But if you do want to go back send me a PM and I will assist in another way. You have been a lot of help here. One of the sane voices; I thank you for all the good ideas and advice I have gotten from you.
We stay in Pest as well. I can highly recommend the Prima Fashion Hotel - ridiculous name but a great place! It's a stone's throw from the river, the main pedestrian shopping district, and you can get to everything from the two hoho bus stops within a block of the hotel. The rooms are incredibly spacious and well-designed by European standards and the price is fair. I paid $95 per night for 3 people in July - bargain.
Through the Back Door. Excellent concept as are a hundred others. It all comes down to getting out of the trip that which you want to get out of it; and because people are of all different flavors and forms and textures there is not one direct route to the goal. I have to remind myself of this pretty often.
I had a friend that went to Budapest last year. I gave him all the poop on the trams and the metro lines and even worked out a few days of sightseeing for him. He came back having loved the trip. One fo the first things he said was Budapest isn’t gritty like its reputation. Then I found out he also spent every free moment on Vaci utca in the heart of what I call Disney Land Main Street and rode the HOHO bus instead of the trams. Basically he did everting “wrong” and as a result never saw the grit; and he had a great time. So everyone’s advice, especially mine, is colored by personal preference and sources of enjoyment. If you do find yourself down on Vaci utca, a few things to look for; “Aero Souvenirs” full of Chinese junk covered with pictures of Budapest. What is worth noting is the name, derived from Aeroflot as the building was once their main office in town. Another is the McDonalds. The first constructed behind the Iron Curtain. The street itself was once the avenue that the communist leadership from around the Eastern Block came to purchase Western goods. So the history here interesting and there is almost always something going on up and down the street and it puts you a block from the River which is among the most beautiful scenes you will find anywhere in the world. So, sure, its a great place to be. But don’t stay there too long. Go find some grit too.
Thank you all so much for your replies. I am feeling more comfortable about this trip now.