Check costs before you order. Prices will vary greatly and seem to depend on what the staff think you are willing to pay. Upon questioning the bill they often justify the steep cost because you're from London and will therefore accept London prices. The guy beside you will pay the equivalent of £0.80 for a beer and you will get a bill of £2.90 for the same thing.
The Hungarian Parliament offers free tours for EU citizens on presentation of their passport. Tours are available several times each day in English. The building is similar to the Palace of Westminster, but is far grander and much more ornate in places. The building also houses the 'Crown Jewels' of Hungary (although these are not in the same league to those in the Tower of London). Viewing these artefacts is part of the tour, however the building itself is much more impressive and well worth a visit.
Kossuth ter. On the east bank of the Danube. You can't miss it
A wonderful cafe, offering really excellent food, great wines and very good service. This is not the cheapest place in Budapest, but it is by no means the most expensive. Top class international food but with a Hungarian slant. I lived in Budapest for three years and cannot recommend it highly enough.
Sas utca 17
Remember that if you are over 65 and a citizen of an EU country, you travel free on all Budapest public transport, as long as you have proof of age.
As a foreigner you will be targetted by ticket inspectors, and will not be let off by them, as locals often are.
I am British but live in Budapest, and recommend great care with taxi rip-offs. Even meters are often doctored so you can't rely on them. City Taxis (see other tips in this section) are fine, and used by many embassies – they have English speaking phone operators.
Tel: 2-111 111
I always recommend people to stay in this small, riverside hotel when they´re in Buda. It´s an eyesore architecturally, being a modern block in the middle of some fin-de-siecle apartment buildings, however, the views it offers along the Danube to the Chain Bridge and the Parliament are stunning. It´s not badly priced, and the upper floor rooms offer the best views along the river.
Bem rkp 11; tel: 1 457 8080; www.victoria.hu
The most amazing neo-baroque baths, built in 1913. Like entering Monte Carlo casino but instead of roulette tables you get to bob about in steamy 34-36C bubbling thermal waters surrounded by amazing architecture while it snows (if you’re especially lucky.) We recommend racing from one end of the pool to the other just to feel that chill if it gets too steamy. An absolute must for a winter outdoor sensation. Oh, and just to finish the experience off perfectly, they give you a refund if you don’t stay the full time allowed.
Állakerti körút 11; nearest metro: M1 Széchenyi fürdő
These are listed on the US Embassy's website as bars/clubs where tourists are often presented with ridiculously expensive bills (100 dollars for a ½ litre of beer), and physically intimidated if they refuse to pay:
- Városközpont (accessible by outside elevator) Budapest V district, Váci utca 16
- La Dolce Vita Budapest V district, Október 6. utca 8
- Nirvana Night Club Budapest V district, Szent István krt.13
- Ti'Amo Bar Budapest IX district, Ferenc körút 19-21
- Diamond Club Budapest II district, Bimbó út 3
- Pigalle Night Club Budapest VIII district, Kiss József utca 1-3
Budapest's integrated transport system puts Britain’s to shame. It comprises buses, trams, metro, commuter train and trolleybuses, all of which link up, with most running from the crack of dawn until late at night. Even in February we didn't have to wait longer than seven minutes for anything. Cheap too - a Budapest card or travel card will get you free travel anywhere within the city limits. Don't bother bringing a car as Budapest gets congested in rush-hour, even in low season. Instead, jump on a tram or metro and get straight where you want to go.
All over Budapest
There are some cycle paths in Budapest (most say too few), and it’s a really good way to see the city. You can go from Heroes’ Square to the Danube, and along both sides of the river taking in many of the sites. You can even ride all the way to Szentandre, which takes about two-three hours, and then catch the HEV (suburban train) back to Budapest (don’t forget to buy a ticket for your bike). There are lots of fish restaurants and bars along the river, which make it a relaxing day out.
A good place to hire bikes is Szoda cafe (Wesselényi utca 18), or ask at the tourist information office. They can also provide you with a map of bicycle paths in the city.
This branch of the Four Seasons opened about a year ago in the recently renovated Gresham Palace. The renovation is spectacular, and its one of the most impressive buildings in Budapest both inside and out. You don’t have to be staying there to enjoy the wonderful bar, café and restaurant. It is a great place to have a nice cup of tea and sit down after exploring the castle district and Chain Bridge.
Roosevelt Tér 5-6
The statue park contains many great stutues from the communist era, the likes of Lenin, Marx and Dimitrov to name but a few. Now that Europe has changed forever, these statues give a glimpse into the once dominating communist regime.
The park is situated just outside the city, roughly one hour by bus. There are numerous several buses that leave the city centre, including one that included admission (approximately 10 euros);
In spring and summer, various buildings throughout the city due for either demolition or renovation are turned into makeshift outside bars. You generally don’t know where they will be, but keep a look out in the local press and you should find one or two. Szimpla mozi kert on Kazinczy utca 14 is open all year, or check out the web site of this kert bar for its opening date: www.tuzraktar.hu/eng.html
Great, good value, flats right in the centre of the action in Pest. My girlfriend and I stayed in the Raday Church View apartment on Raday utca. The flats are tastefully renovated in beautiful old buildings.
For those of you who venture to the edge of the the Pest inner circle, you'll find a reward in the form of Stex, a cafe/bar/pub/restaurant.
Open from 8am till 6am you can get a good breakfast there, there's a cheap daily lunch menu and it's good for a coffee any time of the day.
But it's in the evening that Stex really comes into its own. There's good, cheap beer and a friendly, bustling atmosphere. A full menu of hearty Hungarian-esque food makes this ideal for a pub-type supper. The wooden plate of mixed grill, to be shared between two, is a rewarding challenge. Good wine menu too (with some Hungarian wines: definitely worth trying), if you fancy splashing out a bit. And, if you're feeling really classy, there's a cigar menu.
A curious thing about Stex is that it's very big, but still intimate. It's almost always getting along towards full, but you can still always find a table.
You can watch the football - but the place is big enough that you don't have to. You can play snooker or darts, and there’s a casino attached
And, by the way, remember to pronounce it “Shtecks”.
Corner of József krt and Baross utca (Tram 4-6, Baross utca stop)
For under a tenner you can spend an afternoon sampling hundreds of fantastic wines in the underground cellars of this brilliant attraction.
Not at all pompous, so you don't have to be a boffin to enjoy it. The atmosphere is relaxed and the staff are lovely - if a bottle's empty just shout up and they'll open another.
Szentháromság tér 6; tel: 1 212 10 31; www.magyarborokhaza.hu
Lovely piece of fried dough (looks like a large flattened doughnut) best served with sour cream (tejföl), cheese (sajt) and garlic (fokhagyma). Perfect Hungarian street food.
At any of the markets in Budapest - Feny Utca market near Moszkva tér, Lehel tér market etc. Just look for stall with a Langos sign
Think you have a big appetite? I challenge you to finish a full meal at this place. I went with a group of about 10 people and none of us could finish. Situated down a side street near Vaci Utca, this restaurant serves huge (and I mean, huge) portions of traditional, Hungarian country food. Meals are based around vast quantities of meat, so not really suitable for vegetarians (though I think one of our group was vegetarian). Most of the food is served on wooden boards and often with nothing but a great big knife for cutlery.
The food itself is tasty and gives a new meaning to the words 'hearty cuisine' - you can almost hear your arteries harden as you tuck in. The service is somewhat brusque at times, but this just adds to the fun. Prices are reasonable and it has a really cosy atmosphere.
It does get ridiculously busy, so try and book ahead at weekends. And if you can't finish your meal they'll pack it up for you to eat in the morning (good for hangovers!).
Off Vaci Utca 67 in the city centre. It is down a side street, but the sign is quite visible from Vaci Utca; nearest metro: M1 Vörösmarty tér; tel: 1 266 2607
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