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Budapest In 2023

Well, another lovely week in Budapest and I still didn’t manage to leave the city. For context, I spent 2 weeks here in October and did a lot of sightseeing then.

I am on a slow meander home from Dubai and wanted a place not more than a 5 hr flight, but on the way to Spain, which is my next stop. It was here or Istanbul and Budapest won this time, because my brain was full of having to plan the rest of my 5 weeks.

Dubai to Budapest: a late night inexpensive Wizz Air flight. I just bought the checked bag and seat choice with my initial ticket. It was supposedly a 12:30 am arrival but ended up being about 1:00 am and 1:30 by the time we went through fast immigration and I got my checked bag. Then a 25 minute taxi to town at about FT 10,500.

It was my first time on Wizz and it was all just fine, except check in which was an interesting zoo. I have no idea whether that was Wizz Air or simply Dubai - odds are even.

Slow Sightseeing:

Day 1:

  • Walked the length of Andrassy ut from near the opera house, including a wander through Klauzál Market Hall. There is just phenomenal architecture everywhere you look.
  • The small Liszt Museum with pianos, furniture, and documents from the composer Franz Liszt: https://lisztmuseum.hu/aboutus/about-us-119918. Next time I will make it to the tour of the recital hall.

Day 2:

  • A visit to a small synagogue: https://budapestshul.com/. This isn’t a tourist site, but a real place of worship with a welcoming group of people.
  • Hungarian National Museum: I had visited the grounds before but this time made it to the museum. I tend to move quickly through museums, but the building is gorgeous and it follows the different eras of Hungarian history and was interesting.

Day 3:

  • Tram to Auguszt cukrászda, Sasadi út. Christy recommended this bakery location and it was a lovely trip into a real neighborhood of Budapest, out of the city center. My highlight (even more than the cakes) was the two sweet older women who (separately) asked me a question in Hungarian. I SO wished I could have understood and had a conversation. There was also the British tourist who asked me for help in very slow simple English. 🤣
  • Fiumei Road Graveyard: where the famous historical people are buried. In addition to famous people and regular people, there is a section for people killed in the 1956 uprising, as well as a section for Soviet soldiers who died here during some of the years of occupation - very orderly by year of death.
  • The Opera House - Carmen. I just can’t seem to resist. While the staging was “updated” and modern (not especially my taste), the singing was absolutely wonderful. Again, I noted that it is a formal occasion for the local audience. And if you have not experienced “Hungarian applause”, you need to. I have not come across the like anywhere else.

Day 4:

  • Tram 59 to the end of the line to Normafa for stunning views of the city.
  • Tram 4 or 6 to Margrit Island and bus 26 to the far end. Then I walked back the length of the island, seeing the small Japanese Garden; the small zoo (chrysta has talked about the storks but I really didn’t know how interesting they are till I stood and watched them); the 13th century Dominican Convent ruins, and the fountains (in passing).

Day 5:

  • Laundry (boring but necessary).
  • A friend took me wandering old bookstores and antique shops all afternoon. This I love. :)
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Day 6:

  • Coffee (at a Madal location) with a new acquaintance.
  • A stop by the Parliament building. Across from it on another building, with its bullet holes from the 1956 massacre of protesters. I missed that last time.
  • Another walk to the National Museum to check on Revolution Day activities. I seem to have missed anything interesting. This day was a national holiday so I saw lots of families out, some children’s activities in the museum grounds - and I didn’t feel like heading up to the Castle area to check on things there.

Ate:

  • Breakfasts: Lion’s Locker; Franziska; Auguszt Cukrászda
  • Lunch or Dinner (I don’t eat both): Fricci Papa; Doblo Wine Bar (yes, they have food); Menza Étterem; Winestone Restaurant; TATI Farm to Table; Bors (delicious “Dallas BBQ” soup). I really had a long list of places I wanted to eat but not enough days!

Weather: seemed to alternate between a glorious day of sunshine and a fairly cold one, with only one day of bitter cold.

Transport:

  • FoTaxi from the airport (check Mister E’s explanations) about 10,500 ft at 1:30am; and
  • City Taxi back to the airport about 11,500 ft in morning traffic. I like using the City Taxi app and scheduled my taxi from it on the night before my departure.
  • BudapestGo app: I bought the 7 day travelpass for $18.50 before I left and told it to activate on my first day (you can purchase 30 days ahead). I do see the benefit of the paper pass over the app, but I don’t have an easy way to stay up with it. I have encountered enough metro checkers to dislike the thought of keeping it in my small crossbody bag - if I had a clear phone case to put it in like Christy, I would probably switch.

Safety: I feel like I have to say this again. I know there are bad people everywhere; but anywhere I go as a tourist, is safe. I travel with my phone in one pocket or my hand and a credit card for ease of use in another pocket. In crowds, I am aware. I have to confess in one place I left my small purse hanging on a hook by where I was sitting - realized it 5 minutes later and went back. The sweet waitress had already picked it up and put it in the back for me.

There are still a number of places I would like to see but am saving some of them for warm weather. It’s a lovely city to see slowly (or quickly - but I don’t do “quickly” anymore).

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195 posts

Wonderful trip report, thank you! I've added Klauzál Market Hall to my list for next time. :)

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2635 posts

I'm so glad you got to see "my" storks! I figure by the time I get there on May 2 the babies might be visible, always fascinating to watch as they take turns sitting on and tending to the nests--they seem to have shifts, one will come running over to nudge the other out when it's time to change. I only get to visit in the spring so I never see them past hatchling stage, and they generally fly out in August.

I have also been delightedly astonished by the Hungarian applause when I went to shows at the Operettszinhaz--they take appreciation to an entirely new level, non-stop clapping for what seemed like a long time, maybe 10 minutes, no way to escape so I clapped right along the whole time.

As with your October trip report I am taking notes to flesh out my upcoming 5 nights there...it will be after 5 nights in Rome, and I have taken to ending trips to the continent with time in Budapest as it's the perfect place to de-compress before heading home. I've done most major museums, and at this point (haven't been since 2019) I just want to BE there, wandering happily, and finding things to eat. I will enjoy an afternoon in Szentendre, but otherwise no plans to venture further.

Posted by
95 posts

I so enjoyed reading this! We were there for several days last October and I am excited that I am able to return in 2023. We missed a few things and you have given me some ideas, especially the food!

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315 posts

Sounds like a lovely, interesting week! I look forward to the “phenomenal architecture everywhere you look,” during an all too brief 3 day visit this June. I’m thinking this is a place I’ll likely want to return to and am noting all your wonderful info. Thank you for sharing!

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1531 posts

Gwynn, thanks for another great report. We hope to get to Budapest next year and I am making notes from your report. Sounds like you had a dream of a visit!

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24 posts

This is just what I needed! I will be in Budapest in a month and can’t wait. Can you tell me more about the antique stores? Mainly where they are located and any that are a must see? Thanks 😊

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christa, the first thing I noticed was two of the storks “talking” to each other! A good bit of bill clattering. :) And it looks like I will at least be back through in Oct, but mainly planning on it as a jumping off place for other exploration - probably Slovakia.

nsbtraveler, I am glad you get to go back! It’s for sure that three days are not enough. :) And maybe we were there at the same time last year. :)

Ok, min, I am going to have to hear about your plan. You will see things faster than me, for sure.

AMann, this time eating was a bit more about convenience than a real plan - except my breakfast stops. All 3 came recommended. One of my dinner places was chosen by a young couple I know there, who love to find good food and who have given me several places to try, But here’s my list from Oct. - with forum recommended places that I haven’t made it to. https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/hungary/restaurants-in-budapest-october-2022

Carol, you should know about dream trips. I am thinking you owe us a trip report, too. Lol!

Melissa, I know you will enjoy! For the antique stores…… um, I think they are on Falk Miksa u.- maybe between Marko u. & Szent Istvan krt. (I remember not being far from the Parliament Building and the street ended where the statue of Peter Falk is). But I was following and not paying attention to directions or stores, so have no idea of any to recommend. Maybe someone else will have suggestions!

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2635 posts

Melissa--the main antiques street is Falk Miksa utca, just off the plaza where Parliament is. Depends on the types of things you are interested in, some things are just interesting to see. I like funky stuff and 1930s Hungarian pottery and thus I managed to find my way to Budapest's flea market, Ecseri piac, which is located on the outskirts of town at Nagykorosi ut and requires a 20 minute bus ride. This is actually quite enjoyable! Tram #2, exit at Haller utca and cross the track to catch the #54 or 55 bus--going in the same direction as when on the tram--exit at Naszod utca and cross over the road via elevated walkway. There will be others going, and Saturday morning is best, they pack up early. If you like vintage collectibles you'll enjoy it, fancy stuff, not so much--it's all old stuff, no new things like deodorant or socks. It's quite ramshackle and the dealers love to bargain--one even invited me to his mother's house for gulyas!

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annmargaret, I hope you have a great time!

christa, I am adding the flea market to MY future plans as well! I rarely buy things but love wandering. I still easily have a week’s worth of places to see or things to do. And now I am curious about whether or not you accepted the invitation. Lol!

Mister E, welllll, caught. I should have been more careful. But I will give the next report a different title like Hungary 2023 or Slovakia 2023. 🤣 Enjoy the almost warmth. But the truly delightful weather has followed me to Spain.

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Yes! I looked it up Pinter Auction House on Google Maps and found photos of the basement area. I love stone basements and arched ceilings. Now saved - I would never have found my way in again…..

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174 posts

I'd love to see an opera in Budapest - What's the general dress code for men and women? Thanks.

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annemargaret, they dress nicely. If I have tickets, I take a dress myself. Not a formal - just a nice dress. I know some tourists get by with slacks and a nice shirt; but the 2 times I have been (and in Prague), the majority of the audience were more dressed up than that. Here’s the website: https://www.opera.hu/

If tickets are already sold out, you can also tour the opera house - it includes a short 3-4 song performance at the end of the tour.

I do love it. :)

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18866 posts

It's been an ongoing argument for years. One side is the dress to respect the event. The other side is what can I get away with and not be refused entry.

I took an informal survey of the men the last time I was there, and not counting thr tourists in the balcony 75% had sports coats or suits, 10% just a tie. The better the seats, the better the dress.

I don't comment on women's fashion.

Posted by
7031 posts

Gwynn, really nice trip report! Thanks for posting it - I must have missed seeing it before! All I can say is that Budapest is on my list - and even more so now!

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2635 posts

I attended the Opera and the Operettszinhaz in one trip, and decided that warranted wearing a dress and heeled shoes--I weighed them, added 3 lbs to my luggage--and as I had a seat amongst well-dressed locals at the Opera I was glad I did. Other visits to the Operett I wore a nice top & scarf with my jeans. My upcoming trip in early May there are no offerings at either that suit my schedule, alas.

TexasTravelMom--I did not take up the offer of gulyas, but it makes for an excellent story :) I like to tell people I may yet meet a man named Zoltan or Attila and never come home...The bill clattering you observed in the storks is part of their mating ritual, and amusingly they keep doing it even when there are already eggs in the nest.

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174 posts

thanks so much for the opera advice. I can definitely fit a dress - husband may have to be convinced about the tie!

-anne

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Txtravma, check Opus Jazz Club.

annemargaret, get hubby a travel blazer from Orvis. Great on the plane for phone, meds, backup battery, cash ... never wrinkles and works in nice restaurants and opera.

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christa, it IS a great story! And I admit “Attila” does make me laugh….

Mister E., maybe Opus Jazz Club “next time”…..

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131 posts

Re: the check-in and boarding with Wizz. That's the way it seems to be! We flew from Frankfurt Hahn to Budapest back in 2014. After check-in, we were corralled into a smaller waiting area. There was no jet bridge, so we would be boarding from the tarmac. When the plane was ready for boarding, they simply opened two doors at either end of the waiting area, and it was a horse race to the plane. You could go up the front stairs or the rear stairs. Once aboard, it was a free for all with seating. Crazy!!

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Thanks for this trip report, and your 2022 one. Turns out, I'll be reading them with interest :-)

I was just doing a bit of research on transit passes. You just snuck in on the last weeks of the 7 day transit pass, which was discontinued as of April 1, no fooling.

There is still a 72 hour pass for 5,500 HUF. Or, for less than the price of 2 of those, it appears that tourists can buy the monthly pass for 9500 HUF.

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CWsocial, thank you. Here is the poop: https://dailynewshungary.com/considerable-changes-in-budapests-public-transport-from-today/

Maybe they are hoping tourists will help subsidize the metro system. LOL

Prices are

24 hour 2.500 HUF or about $8
72 hour 5.500 HUF or about $16
Month 9.500 HUF or about $28

So, that 4 day stay will be a 24 hour + 72 hour = 8.000 HUF or about $24. For 5 days, you buy a month card.

You can still buy ride tickets for about a dollar and that might save a few dollars on arrival day but if you are really seeing the town, you need those trams and the passes make them just like HOHO busses.

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Anne, that is funny! While it wasn’t excessively orderly for boarding, the real zoo was checking in when checking a suitcase. The line system was very interesting - and the Hungarians in line behind me clearly felt the same and didn’t mind saying so. But they made sure I ignored guidance and got myself to a counter and done. 🤣

So CWSocial and Mister E, you two are full of information so early in the morning. :) I took a quick look at my BudapestGo app and it does NOT show the 7 day pass any longer, but it WILL sell me a 15 day pass for HUF 6,300 (which is what I used last Oct) and I can schedule it to start in April. Maybe that will go away soon also, but it’s there today and the 7 day is not. 🤷🏻‍♀️

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18866 posts

TexasTravelMom, ma'am; you are the most savvy "Traveler" I have ever met. It would be a pleasure to have you plan a trip for me some day.

A friend took me wandering old bookstores and antique shops all
afternoon. This I love. :)

Lucky guy/gal

The 15 Day Mystery TravelCard:

Before BudapestGo a tourist would go to the BKK website and search "TravelCards valid for one or more days" https://bkk.hu/en/tickets-and-passes/prices/travelcards-valid-for-one-or-more-days/ Where one would find 24hr, 72hr and in the past a 7 day card; but alas, no 15 day card.

A local who was going to need a card for a longer period of time, might go to the "Monthly Passes" link https://bkk.hu/en/tickets-and-passes/prices/monthly-passes/ where passes for a month and quarter and annual can be found. Makes sense as each is a multiple of a month.

Over the years I have purchased about every combo available, 24, 72, 7 day, month ..... But never a 15 day card. But who would have guessed the notice of its existence was burred in the MONTHLY PASSES section!!!!

Yes, I have the BudapestGO app, no, I dont use it. I like my paper and i dont like fooling with a cell phone when I am out and about. But if I had been wise like you I would have used it and would have noticed that on the App the mysterious 15 day card is obvious and readily available. I guess they are thinking tourists wont be using the App that much; but they hadn't counted on TexasTravelMom the Traveler.

Another strange oddity of the travel cards is the monthly card. The last one I purchased was on 25 February. The sales clerk after telling me not to carry my passport, suggested that I come back in 4 days to buy my card. Why? Because if you buy a monthly card in the month of February it is good for 28 days, but wait till 1 March to buy it and it's good for 31 days. Same card, same price, Go figure ......

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Mister E, you make me blush. Lol!

However you may have to now go back and edit your public transportation post to bring it up to date. Ha!