We just came back from a Viking river cruise and spent a couple extra days ahead of the cruise in Budapest. We absolutely loved it. So charming. Beautiful riverfront and very affordable. One of the things we found that was not on Rick's videos was the Hospital in the Rock. This place was awesome. It was a hospital created in the caverns under Buda castle during WW2 to treat the wounded. Later it was used during the 1956 uprising, then converted into a nuclear bomb shelter. It's like walking into a time castle with huge amounts of historical medical supplies and equipment set up into scenes using human like wax figures. 19USD per ticket and well worth it. Other highlights: Zerge, a small restaurant on the Buda side was so quaint, and so affordable. House of Terror was definitely good. Reserve your tickets ahead of time to go in the parliament because we didn't get to see it. I can also recommend the Clark hotel on the Buda side. Very nice, boutique hotel, on the river, with a fabulous rooftop Bar. No ride services but the cabs are very affordable. It only cost 27USD to take a cab from the airport to our hotel.
Those "huge amounts of historical medical supplies" you saw....what language was written on the labels, Hungarian, German or Cyrillic Russian?
You're right about Budapest being so charming. You need to return to see more of it. It's our new favorite city to visit.
If you like museums, Budapest has over 200 different museums. And it's also a very reasonably priced place to travel, with food that's very palatable to Americans. And for the young bohemians, it's especially a great place to visit with a number of Ruin Pubs--the world's greatest honky tonks.
Here right now for 2 weeks and I can already tell it’s not going to be enough….
TexasTravelmom can you elaborate as to why you are saying that 2 weeks will not be enough?
Lol, Tammy. Because I am slow and not here JUST for the museums and history. I do 1-2 things a day, find a fun restaurant a day, and talk to people. Again, I have a list compiled from so many other people’s experience but I may not get it all done and seen. I bet you could go faster than me, though. However, I could also be moving more slowly because I have been gone 4 weeks already…..
Ahhh, sounds dreamy. Someday I might try this slow travel thingy, but right now, there are too many places I NEED to see!
I found it fascinating and it was a must stop when I visited. I'm an RN so it was in especially interested in it but my non RN travel buddy enjoyed it as well. I think I found it via the RS book.
Sorry. I don’t remember the languages on the wrapped supplies. There is also a tone of medical equipment and supplies.
The guides are very good.
Mister E, the Traveler formerly known as James E., will be ecstatic that you enjoyed Budapest.
1 Fred, Hungarian and Russian labels.
2 There was so much stockpiled that for years they were selling it to tourists.
3 One of the most interesting stories is about the husband and wife that lived in a house built in front of the entrance; no one really knew what they did for a living but it turns out they secretly maintained the place for decades.
4 It has been years since I have been there, but at my last visit the first 2/3rds was fascinating, but the last third was just odd, with wax figures of modern events, among them the "assassination of Osama Bin Lauden" by US special forces; they even disassembled a helicopter and reassembled it inside the cave.
6 There are quite a few old bomb shelters around town (one under the flat i use when in Budapest) and the "secret" F - 4 Object that I hope they open some day
I am also doing a river cruise which begins in Budapest. I wonder if it is better to add our own extra extension rather than through Viking. It seems high for just the transfer and hotel. Can you tell me more of what the guide did for you (if anything). Would you do it again or would you just go on your own for a few days before or after the cruise?? We have navigated through Oslo, Bergen, Paris and Amsterdam on our own fine so conflicted on what to do. Thank you!
The thermal baths in Budapest are a must imo. You could spend a whole day there.
If you’re only going to go to one to go the Széchenyi Thermal Bath
If you are comfortable exploring on your own, I would do that. I felt that Viking extensions were expensive. The guides that I referred to as being good was in reference to the hospital in the rock. Viking guides are always good but their tours are more of an overview. The two things I really wanted to see but didn’t were the inside of the parliament and a thermal bath. We went on our own and saw lots of great sights before we got on the boat.
If the River cruises dock kind of in the heart of the city by the big Ferris wheel etc. getting to the Széchenyi Thermal Bath is extremely easy
It’s one very old metro line that runs from that part of the city directly to the baths. It’s about as easy as navigating public transit in a foreign city gets if you’re worried about it being confusing etc. the line runs in a straight line with only about 12-15 stops if memory serves me
Tammy, here are some things you can do in 14 days in Budapest.
Sample 60-70 excellent wines
Eat in 20-30 different restaurants (all good)
Visit a couple dozen museums
Do a few walking tours
Go to some concerts and operas.
Visit castles, artists' studios, delight in the architecture (the zoo's a great place for that!)
Everything's very affordable, and the wines are excellent - not that that would be a selling point for you :-)
That's why I'm going back for my 4th visit next month, sadly only for 6 days, but looking forward to the Christmas markets and maybe sharing a bottle of wine with Mr.E.
Texasmom, if you get the chance you have to check out the restaurant Comme Chez Soi. It may be hard to get a reservation as it very small, but well worth the effort if you can get in.
Chani, thank you for those excellent tips. Did someone say good wine? I’m there.😜
jlouky, for some reason I already have it saved on my list! Maybe you have posted about it before. It looks really good! Edit* Nope, wasn’t you, so that is the second forum recommendation.
Tammy, maybe we should meet in Budapest…. 🤣
I'm ready to meet you both in Budapest. Just say when.
we did 4 days in Budapest last year before our Uniworld cruise. Spent a few extra days at the Kempinski(sp?) hotel since the river locks had an issue. Great Hotel. We had no idea what to expect; but, we were quite impressed with the city. Liked it as much as Prague. The ruin area bars and restaurants were fine. Gained a few pounds on the strudel even though we walked miles daily. Would do Budapest again!
Oh! we toured the Rock Hospital and it is a must see. If you are over 5 foot 8 remember to “duck”…..
If you are experienced at navigating foreign cities, you should definitely plan your own pre-stay in Budapest. Viking charges quite a premium for their extensions, so since our first Viking trip we've done them on our own and have been just fine. Any additional costs you incur for tours or customized flight times will most likely still be far less than what you pay Viking.
Nancy thanks for the interesting recommendation, and for a great conversation all around. I was fortunate to spend a month in Budapest for work in 2018 but there is still so much to see!
I would agree that the parliament is very neat. I loved the hall with all the sculptures representing Hungarians from all regions and all walks of life.
Has anyone else visited Memento Park? (Salvaged Soviet-era public sculpture) Very offbeat I would say, but I found it intensely interesting.
Thank you for your feedback. We did decide to explore on our own a few days before our river cruise. We feel the cost that Viking charges is high for only getting transfers and hotel. We go in April and you have given us many excellent tips.
Thank you so much!
jdschro52, I think you are choosing wisely. I had a friend last year that did the cruise (loved it by the way) but when I saw what they were charging for the extra nights / transfer we found him an alternative.
The tours he was offered by Viking were basically drive-bys. The same is that some of the best parts of the city are between the sites and when you pass them in a bus it just isnt the same. Get a TravelCard, paper or electronic, and make the journeys your self and there wont be a dull moment.