Hello! My husband I will be traveling to the Budapest area via train sometime towards the end of April beginning of May. Any suggestions on things we must see and do in Budapest and surrounding areas? We're enjoy more of the off the beaten path kinda of destinations and those small hidden gem areas. Thanks!
In a lot of ways if you appreciate what makes Budapest special then Budapest is in and of it's self a hidden gem. Within Budapest the hidden gems are in places like District VIII ("The Juice of the 8th District" tour http://beyondbudapest.hu/english/tour_juice.html ), Kiraly utca (what every typical Budapest street should be; but just that and nothing more), the Zoo (imagine a zoo with no lawyers watching), Kerepesi Cemetery (we spent half a day here and could still do another full day http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kerepesi_Cemetery literally hidden is the Hospital in the Rock (facinating if you like WWII and Cold War History http://www.sziklakorhaz.eu/en Not so hidden but gems of Budapest are the Shoes on the Danube, the bath houses, the Danube its self, the castle district, Andrassy ut, and the entire of District VII (but do the history research first). With some idea of interests I can do more.
Fantastic info - thank you!
Surrounding Budapest I have a couple of great locations to visit. Great day trips or overnight trips depending on your means of transportation are: Eger for the wonderful baroque town and fort on the hill (and excellent wine) Tihany one of the most charming towns on lake Balaton complete with Abbey and ancient crypt. This is an A+ trip. Tata for the little castle and the lake. Godollo for the gardens and the palace Vac for the town and the mummies Szentendre for the artist town and the boat ride back to Budapest Gyor for the baroque center and the fabulous Archabbey and winery Komarom (this is a real secret) for the Danube River fortifications used from the 19th century through the soviet occupation.
I guess these are among my favorite. Google them and if anything seems interesting to you I can tell you the easiest way to reach them, where to stay, etc.
Nothing to add, James will always steer you right!
For me the highlights of Budapest were probably the Great Synagogue and the House of Terror. Many others. James is a great source.
The Jewish history, WWII and the Cold War make for an incrediably interesting focus for a trip to Budapest. I've been to the House of Terror a couple of times and could do it again. Forget the name, this is one fine interactive museum/experience. We have also done the Great Synagogue a few times and could go back agian. Acutally the entier Jewish quarter is worth a lot of time as are a holf dozen other facinating synagogues that get less attention. I still have an emotional response every time I step off Kiraly utca onto Rumbach utca (see the Synagogue there) or Kazicsy utca and realize i am crossing the border and entering the WWII Deportation Ghetto.
James - I asked this in the Transportation thread but I woke up thinking I should ask you since you seem to be so familiar with Budapest. Now, mind you I may have just been confusing myself with all the time tables and may not have been reading them right. Is there no longer a night sleeper car train from Krakow to Budapest? Or am I just looking at the tables wrong? It looks like there is a train BUT we would have to travel by couch the first leg and then transfer to a sleeper car in Bohumin???? Or do you get the sleeper car right in Krakow? The plan for now is to get a sleeper train to Budapest from Krakow (if it's available), spend the day and then do a sleeper to Brasov. We will then go back to Budapest on our way out of Brasov and spend a few days there before heading out to our next destination.
Thank you everyone for your suggestions! Do you have any recommendations on places to stay that won't break the bank? We will only be using the hotel to sleep and shower so it doesn't need to be extravagant just clean!
I really think I'm confusing myself with these timetables! (Agh!) It appears there might be a night train from Krakow to Bratislava also. We'd be up for this route also and then would take the train during the day to Budapest. Suggestions on the best train route out of Krakow?!
As for your trip to Brasov. I am guessing it's for a family thing or business? You do understand that you can spend weeks in Romania and not get bored. Romania is pretty spectacular. Again, I would try and fly between Bucharest (or Timisoara) and Budapest then take a train to Brasov from there; or hire a driver to take you. I'm pretty certain that car, driver and hotel would run less than $350 a day (done it). And finally, why are you back tracking? Fly into Bucharest and out of Krakow to the States. The open jaw ticket might not cost more than RT out of where ever you are doing the RT from. You might experiment with a few different beginning and ending points to get the best fare. Like in to Bucharest and out of Berlin for example.
I try and not talk about things I haven't actually done. I will stick my neck out on this one because I have been planning Budapest to Krakow for years; some day I will do it. I have gotten within about 80 miles of Krakow but never actually crossed the Slovak border. Krakow is almost one of those "you can't get here from there" sort of places. By train between Budapest and Krakow it is every bit of 10 hours and only 6 of that in a sleeper. Me, I wouldn't get any sleep to speak of. The ticket is going to be between $100 and $200 depending on when and where you purchase it Here are some options. 1. Orangeways Bus. Something less than $30 and 7 hours. 2. Make Lemonade. Go to Warsaw (or look for other options) for the night and do a little tourism, then catch a direct flight to Budapest. The train trip to Warsaw is about 3 hours and the flight will be about the same. Might set you back $350 each with a 1.5 hour flight; maybe $200 each if you book a flight with a connection which will be at least 6 hours. 3. Fly the whole trip. Ryanair once had direct service but I don't think they do it any longer so you have to change. AirBerlin has some flights under $200 that take about 7 hours with the change.
4. Hire a car and driver. My guess is you can do this for under $600. If there are two of you that's $300 each and it gets cheaper as the numbers go up. The route takes you through some beautiful scenery in Slovakia. I would even spend a night in Slovakia on the way and do some sightseeing. I can recommend some places.
Places to stay in Budapest. For general tourism I would say that you get a map and find Andrassy ut. Then on Andrassy ut you find an intersection shaped like an octagon. That intersection is called "The Oktogon". From the Oktogon draw a line down the center of Andrassy ut and beyond until you hit the Danube river. Now find a place that suits you within a block above the line or three blocks below the line and as close to the center of the length of the line as you can find. All things being equal that makes the K&K Opera one of the better choices. It's about $90 euro a night. The Opera Apartment Hotel always gets good reviews and I like the area, but i have never stayed there. If you google and stick to the general area I described you will find something that suits you. There are a lot of good hotels in town and not so many that have ever gotten really bad reviews. Another option is find an apartment. They will set you back as little as 50 euro for a comfortable place for two during the high season depending on location and amenities. Generally they will require a 2 or 3 night stay. This is the company that lists my apartment, but there are a number of good companies so Google apartments in Budapest and check them all out: http://www.budapestholidayservice.com/the_pond.htm Click the ALL APARTMENTS at the top of the page and look for place in the area I suggested. If you have specific interests in Budapest then I might have some other ideas.
Here i found your trian from Krakow to Budapest http://www.danube-express.com/train-journeys/the_polish_explorer
James, thank you for all of the information you provided! We looked into flying into one destination and leaving from another but the cost was to much. We then decided to fly RT into Prague as it was pretty cheap and we knew we could get the night trip into Poland. We have since decided to fly in and out of Vienna as it's closer to the places we want to visit. Not sure why I didn't think about flying out of Krakow, I think because the rest of our trip is being done via train that I was just focused on train travel! We looked into flying and that has solved our issue and will allow us to see more of Romania. :) I cannot thank you enough for all of your suggestions. The stress of planning has begun to subside!