Take a trip on one of the many river boats which take off from stops along the River Danube, cost about 600HUF about £2.00. You can either stay on, take in the history of the nine bridges each with their own story. Or you can go up to Óbudai Island or Margaret Island both with breathtaking gardens.
Along the River Danube
Listed under 'children's attractions' in guidebooks, but a fascinating Communist survivor (1948) for visitors of all ages. Children ('Pioneers' back then) drive the narrow gauge trains, take your tickets and salute you at the stations. A bonus: to get there you can ride on the (adult-run) Cogwheel Railway to Széchényi-hegy.
MAV Zrt. Szechenyi-hegyi Gyermekvasut
1280 Budapest, Pf.: 27, Hungary
Budapest is one of Europe's great cities. However it is actual two for the price of one. Buda & Pest sit opposite one another with the river Danube separating them. The river is at the heart of this old and historic city and many tourist cruises take advantage of this fact. Taking in the views from the river itself is a great way to introduce yourself to the capital of Hungary. With the Parliament building complete with amazing spires on one side, and the Buda Castle sat on the other side with a majestic eagle statue keeping watch, my camera hardly stopped. However even these regal and wonderful landmarks are over-shadowed by the awe inspiring Statue of Freedom which towers over the city from a perch on top of a very large hill situated right on the banks of the Danube. Once you reach the summit you may be out of breath with the climb, but the views WILL take your breath away! On a clear day you can see for many miles in all directions and being able to see almost the full city in one place is a pleasure not to be missed. At night most of the main attractions are lit up which add even more beauty to this dazzling city. A walk over one of the beautiful bridges once darkness sets in is highly recommended.
Budapest, like any capital city, has many wonderful places and lots of wonderful dining, too. Food quality in Hungary is top notch with many mouth watering dishes to tempt the pallet. Catfish from Balaton is a firm favourite of mine followed by a slice of Retes which is a type of fruit pie with sour cherries. Regardless of what you eat or do in Budapest you will leave feeling richer for exploring this unique place. To see a city as vibrant and impressive is a wonder you will want to re-live again and again.
Nice photos on
If you're up in the tourist-packed Castle District (Varnegyed) on a steamy summer's day and long for a quiet sit-down and an authentic Hungarian lunch, stroll along Fortuna utca (street) to Pest Buda.
This traditional 'vendeglo' or local, family-run eaterie, dates back to 1948 and has been renovated to keep all the original features such as the wine bar in the cellar where you can see the cave walls (Buda Hill is almost hollow and riddled with caves and passages).
Diners enjoy Hungarian home cooking on red checked tablecloths and, while munching, admire the Pest Buda carpets; vignettes of old Budapest life which have been scanned in and made into wallpaper.
One of the favourites on the menu is 'kenyer langos' (a kind of 'bread flamed doughnut') advertised as Hungarian pizza and a substantial lunch of oven baked dough with Magyar toppings of sausage and lecso (ratatouille), duck breast and spinach or tomato and tangy sheep's cheese.
Pest Buda Vendeglo Bistro
Fortuna utca 3, Castle District, I. Budapest
Open daily 11.00-24.00
Metro to Moszkva ter (now called Szell Kalman ter) then Varbusz (Castle minibus) up the hill.
Google map: bit.ly/r3QEyc
Gouba started up again for spring Sunday 13 March.
This modern bazaar is located in the unique architectural gem, the Gozsdu udvar (courtyard passageway between Kiraly utca and Dob utca in the heart of Pest's Jewish quarter).
Unique antiques, gifts, gastronomy, performances. Try Hungarian palinka (fruit brandy) or fine local wines.
KIraly utca 13 and Dob utca 16, Budapest
Every Sunday 10am to 6pm (although you can walk through Gozsdu udvar at any time during the day, the gates are closed at night)
1) Wait till the lake in the park Varosliget freezes over and becomes Europe’s largest ice-skating rink. It is located at the edge of the City Park, enclosed between Heroes’ Square and Vajdahunyad Castle.
2) Hire a car and drive to Eger, for its history and wine making region and Debrecen for it's beautiful buildings and restaurants.
3) Towns around the Balaton, such as Heviz, have natural thermal outdoor baths. Well worth a visit.
Google map: bit.ly/f1kV0K
Classic central European cafe dating back to 1887 but with very much a contemporary vibe. Ideally placed near the Grand Central Market but off the tourist trap that is Vaci Utca. Lunch is a particularly good deal - £4.50 for soup and a main course plus a litre of fine Hungarian beer. There's nowhere better for kicking back as the lights go down and people watching through the vast plate glass windows. Five star
The new Alexandra bookstore on Andrássy opened in November 2009. The building is quite striking from the outside, however, when you walk in and take the escalator to the first floor, a magnificent frescoed ceiling (complete with huge chandeliers) is revealed as part of the in-store cafe. The place is stunning with so much to gaze at and lots of seating. Coffee was pretty good and reasonably priced. Go and take a look - it's not in the guidebooks yet, but it will be.
Andrássy út 39. Close to Oktagon.
During this tour you are being guided around the city and told things by someone who has experienced it. Guides have not just read about whatever they are talking about in a textbook. This results in these tours being really good.
Learn about the history, society, architecture and what Hungarians are actually like.
Vörösmarty square M1 metro stop (in front of Gerbeaud café at the fountain)
Daily at 10.30.AM
Guides give frank and honest account of Budapest's history and recent developments (particularly the transition to post-Communism) - it really opens the eyes to the sentiments of the local people.
Sights of this interactive adventure include the 1956 uprising areas, the bronze bullet memorial, the flag with the hole and the eternal flame, the secret entrance of a military bunker, the last Communist memorial in the inner city and other symbols of "Soviet friendship". The most important communist relics will also be presented.
Vörösmarty square M1 metro stop (in front of Gerbeaud café at the fountain)
Every M, W, F at 3.30 PM
The Dunapark restaurant was restored a couple of years ago and has a fabulous Art Deco interior with swirling, curling lines of the gallery resembling something like an ocean-going liner.
The cafe downstairs serves a mouth watering selection of cakes and pastries and there is a leafy terrace in summer which stretches out onto Szent Istvan Park and the Danube in the distance.
Once a favourite of the bourgeoisie and urban gentry, this place is now a hip hangout, but still with a healthy proportion of old ladies in hats gorging on cake!
Pozsonyi ut 38
Tel: +36 1 786 1009
Restaurant open: Mon-Fri 11.30-24.00, Sat 10.00-24.00, Sun 10.00-22.00
Patisserie open: Mon-Fri 08.00-24.00, Sat 10.00-24.00, Sun 10.00-22.00
This walking tour shows not only the religious traditions of the Hungarian Jews but the mutuality with the Hungarian history and evolution. It covers the history of the largest synagogue in Europe, leads through the cemetery and the memorial garden, 3 other precious places of worship and the hidden Jewish symbols of the neighborhood. The most authentic local pubs and cultural centers will also be seen which are the top meeting points for party people in Budapest.
The guides are really good, enthusiastic and motivated, as they work on a tips only payment.
Vörösmarty square M1 metro stop (in front of Gerbeaud café at the fountain) Tue,Thrs,Sat 3.30 p.m
The City Park in Budapest is a marvellous green spot behind Heroes' Square (www.budapestinfo.org/herossquare.html). The most attractive building is the Vajdahunyad Castle (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vajdahunyad_Castle), a replica of a gothic castle in Transsylvania. It is really spectacular, especially when the small boating lake beside the castle is filled with water during summer time. In the City Park you can find the Széchenyi Spa, the biggest bath in Budapest. The building is very old and looks terrific from the inside. The Zoo, the Circus and the Budapest luna park are also located here making the park a popular amusement spot.
Wonderfully ornate cafe which captures the opulence and splendour of early 20th century Budapest.
Now part of a five-star hotel and not cheap but certainly worth a visit.
VII Erzsebet korut 9 -11
Metro M2 Blaha Lujza ter
If you've done the Budapest basics, you should absolutely take an afternoon and visit Bela Bartok's house museum in the Buda Hills. This is a hymn of praise not only to the conductor, but his passion for Hungarian folk culture.
Among the highlights: his oversized, primitive recording device which he dragged all over historic Hungary, having local residents sing their songs into it, and his furniture, most of which is handmade from various parts of Transylvania. The ladies who staff the museum can give you a tour in English and are very nice and accommodating.
While you are there, make sure you walk through the Napraforgo ut. housing estate, built in 1931 to house refugees from areas cut off from Hungary by the Treaty of Trianon. Architecture fans will delight in the display of creativity there, from Bauhaus to Arts and Crafts. Unfortunately, rich Buda residents are now buying all of them out and restoring them according to their own tastes, so the results of that could harm the ensemble, but you should go there anyway.
This is a great doubleheader excursion well off the well-trodden tourist paths.
It's best to go to Ferenciek Tere (metro blue line), look for restaurant Karpatia and wait for bus #5 just outside there. You go to the end of the line, i.e. Pasareti Ter, and look for the signs. The way to both is actually marked.
This website is about the real Budapest, and gives very interesting background details about the history, culture and architecture of this beautiful capital which is slowly losing some of its unique features (old presszo bars, neon signs, dingy borozos) as it changes into a modern European metropolis. Written by a Hungarian speaker, the articles featured go behind the facade and into much more detail than a guide book could manage.
It has a wealth of information for people who really love Budapest and want to know the city better.
Check out the recent story on the Trabants - really interesting!
Under its dazzling coloured tiled roof and ironwork is a huge array of specialty foods and preserves, liqueurs, caviar, berry jams, and some tourist tat. Wander round the many stalls, and if nothing else, at least buy a colourful string or two of chillies to take home. Take a little care of your possessions, but get stuck in.
Vamhaz korut, right by the river across the green Szabadsag Bridge from Gellert
A tiny cosy traditional patisserie and coffee shop on Buda hill in the castle close to the exuberant neo-gothic Mathias church. After a walk round the Royal Palace or the cobbled streets and quirky aristocrats' houses, indulge in a cherry brandy chocolate and cream coffee, with raspberry torte, and drift back a century or two. Especially nice in winter, and more chance of getting a table.
Szentharomsag Uta, opposite St Mathius church.
This little Hungarian oddity comes highly recommended, so too does having someone with you to cling on to if you choose to take the tour alone, as opposed to with a guided group.
The 1,200 metre labyrinth of caves and tunnels open to the public was once the haunt of prehistoric man, and more recently served as an air raid shelter during the Second World War. What is on offer to visitors today is a nerve-testing series of delights, with the highlights including gargoyles projectile vomiting blood and a section called the 'Labyrinth of Courage' - a terrifying, pitch-black, 'hold on to a rope and edge forward a centimetre at a time' sort of experience.
Bear in mind that to a person of a nervous disposition the labyrinth might be considered a less than pleasurable excursion, but personally I found it to be one of the most original and exciting hours that I spent in Budapest.
Budapest Castle District,
Úri utca 9.
Telephone: +361/212 0207
Nearest station: Moszkva tér on the M2 line.
This is a series of towers and ramparts in the Buda Castle district. It gives amazing views, particularly across the Danube to the Pest side of the city.
Without planning, I went early evening and the colours looked wonderful in the setting sun.
Take the Metro to Moskva Ter, then the very frequent castle minibus to the castle district.
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