BUDAPEST (Hungary)

15/03/2022

Watch my tips on where and how in Budapest ... and why, I'll leave that to you :)

Budapest is the capital of Hungary, the 9th largest city in the European Union. About 1.7 mil people live here and you will find monuments registered in UNESCO. It was established in 1873 by merging 3 separate units, namely Budin, Old Budin and Pest.

If you plan to visit as many sights as possible, I highly recommend buying a ticket for the double-decker bus, so-called Hop on - hop off. It is possible to buy it for 1-3 days, I recommend buying it for two days, it can't be done in a day, if you want to sit somewhere and have something. There are several companies in Budapest that offer this service, they usually have a slightly different route, we liked Big bus Budapest the most. But the companies probably cooperate with each other, because we boarded another bus about 2 times, because he was just driving, and they recognized the ticket for us. In 2021, the company had a dark red leaflet, which I recommend to keep (you can also download the application), there is a map of the circuit, we used it very often, and the two-day ticket cost 10,500 HUF. We accidentally met the company's stand in the center and we still managed to negotiate the official price a bit. The ticket price also includes a boat ride on the Danube River. You can get on and off the bus whenever you want, where the first bus left at 9 o'clock and the last from the first stop left at 5 pm, so it depends on where you are and you have to catch the last ride. If not, the center is not so huge, you can walk.

The ship leaves the dock No. 6 at 2 pm and runs every two hours until 10 pm (of course, find out the current info). The cruise lasts about an hour and stops at Margaret Island, where we disembarked because the seats on the upper open deck were full and we didn't like sitting in respirators downstairs, we preferred to walk from the island to the center (you can also get on the double decker ), the island is connected to the mainland by a bridge. When you board the ship, I recommend the staff to ask which ship you will travel, because there were several of them next to each other, we caught great places and then another ship arrived, parked next to ours and no one warned us that we were sitting wrong, so be careful on it.

The bus route is marked in red on the map, the boat route in yellow.

Bus stops:

1. St. Stephen´s Basilica

2. Chain Bridge

3. Elisabeth Square

4. Great Synagogue

5. Astoria

6. Andrassy avenue

7. State Opera House

8. Octogon - Liszt Ferenc Square

9. Heroe´s square

10. Keleti Railway Station

11. New York Cafe

12. Astoria

13. Ferenciek square / Parisi Courtyard (from here it is the closest walk to the docks)

14. Gellert square

15. Castle Garden

16. Clark Adam square / Funicular

17. Batthyany square

18. Margaret Bridge

19. Nyugati Railway Station

20. Parliament

21. St. Stephen´s Basilica

It is possible to listen to audio guides in many languages on the bus. The upper deck is open and it blows quite a bit, caps are suitable in the colder months.

And now I will describe the individual places, show you the photos and decide for yourself where you want to go and what you want to see.

1. St. Stephen´s Basilica 

The Roman Catholic Basilica, named in honor of the first Hungarian King Stephen I. It is one of the most important spiritual buildings in Hungary and one of the most important tourist destinations. Building style - neoclassicism. The basilica has 5 bells. The largest bell in Hungary is the Great Bell of St. Stephen, weighs over 9 tons.

The basilica is open from 9 am to 7 pm, on Sundays it opens at 7.45. Admission was free, you pay for the tower, treasure tour and guided tour (in English or Hungarian). Taking pictures is allowed.

2. Chain Bridge

The Széchenyi Chain Bridge (actually a suspension bridge) was the first bridge in Budapest across the Danube River (it will be repaired by the end of 2022). It was built in the 19th century according to the design of the Hungarian count István Széchenyi. The bridge connects two historic cities in Budapest, Buda and Pest. There is a dual carriageway and a pedestrian sidewalk on the bridge. The span is 202 m and at one time was one of the largest bridges in the world. Length 375 m. The statues of huge lions are especially famous.

3. Elisabeth Square

The central square in the park with a fountain, cafes and you can enjoy the view of the city from the Budapest sightseeing bike. Close to the shopping district, many restaurants and the most interesting sights of Budapest.

4. Great Synagogue

The Great Synagogue in Budapest on Dohány Street is the largest synagogue in Europe and one of the largest in the world. It was built in the 19th century in the Moorish-Spanish style according to the Viennese architect Ludwig Förster. It can accommodate almost 3,000 people to sit on. The Jewish Museum is also attached to the synagogue. We were discouraged by the high entrance fee and the long line, so we did not go inside.

5. Astoria

The stop is named after the Danubius Hotel Astoria City Center. Located in the center at a busy intersection, near the subway. It is a 5-minute walk from the famous Váci Street - the oldest shopping street in Budapest. You will find many shops and restaurants here. The hotel also runs the trendy Astoria Cafe & Restaurant, which serves Hungarian specialties as well as international cuisine. The café dates from the 19th century.

6. Andrassy avenue

One of the most famous streets in Budapest. Together with Buda Castle, it is part of the UNESCO World Heritage. Andrassy was the Hungarian Prime Minister. The street stretches to Heroes' Square and the Városliget city park. The metro, the oldest line on the European continent, is being built under the entire street. From Deák Ferenc tér to Oktogon, you will find mainly branded shops, offices and banks. From Oktogon to Kodály körönd, the street widens and is decorated with tree-lined avenues, residential buildings and universities. From Kodály körönd to the park you can enjoy villas and palaces, there are mainly embassies. Construction began in the 19th century and one of the most famous buildings is the State Opera.

7. State Opera House

Neo-Renaissance building by the prominent Hungarian architect Ybl, built in the 19th century. It is richly decorated with Baroque elements, paintings and statues and is considered one of the most beautiful opera houses in the world. The hall has excellent acoustics and was rated the third best in Europe after La Scala in Milan and the Paris Opera. Even Puccini himself personally staged the premieres of his operas here twice.

8. Octogon - Liszt Ferenc Square

The octagon is one of Budapest's squares in the Terézváros area.

9. Heroe´s square

One of the most famous squares in Budapest. A huge paved pedestrian area ending in a semicircular monument and a tall column. It is located next to the city park, the zoo, the famous Széchenyi Thermal Bath and the Vajdahunyad Castle. Definitely get out here and leave plenty of time for this place. So gradually, what can be seen here:

Heroes' Square

The construction of the square is connected with the celebrations of the millennium since the occupation of the Carpathian Basin by the Hungarians in 1896. There are beautiful representative buildings around, one belongs to the Museum of Fine Arts and the other to the House of Arts. However, the main landmark is the Millennium Memorial. It consists of a 36 m high column with a statue of the Archangel Gabriel on top and equestrian statues of Prince Arpad, and six tribal animals at the foot. The column is lined in a semicircle by a colonnade with 14 statues, representing Hungarian history. You can read the caption for each statue.

Budapest Zoo

It is one of the oldest zoos in the world. It first opened its gates in 1866. You can reach it by metro. There is also a botanical garden. I have been to the zoo a few years ago and it has quite a strange architecture, you will find many endangered species here, it was a nice walk, I recommend visiting.

Széchenyi Thermal Bath

They are the largest medical spa in Europe. Because they are so well known, you have to reckon with the crowds. The spa is open all year round. There are 3 outdoor and 15 indoor pools. It is divided into a public part and a rehabilitation - treatment part. The spa is fed from two thermal springs with a temperature of 74 and 77 degrees Celsius, from a depth of 1256 m. The water contains sulfur, calcium and calcium bicarbonate. These substances are used mainly for the treatment of rheumatism, musculoskeletal system, arthritis, and as a drinking cure in the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders. The spa is built in a classicist style, with many neo-renaissance elements. It is interesting that the water is also brought to the hippopotamus enclosure in the zoo opposite, because its composition is similar to the water in their homeland. Aren't those hippos great? Swamp in the spa :)

Please note that if you park at the spa, there is a paid parking lot everywhere, even if it is not properly marked anywhere, so you can think that it is free. You can be towed and fined! And be careful what you throw into the vending machine, because it doesn't return the money, then you have to apply for an overpayment somewhere in an office in the city, where most dont go I think, that's how you make money! We were quite upset. It was not possible to pay by card.

Vajdahunyad Castle

It's probably hard to remember the name of the castle, but you can't miss it. It is located in the famous city park Városliget. Originally built of wood as a backdrop for millennial celebrations, it was later rebuilt to its present form. The building is divided into 3 parts, each in a different style: Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance-Baroque. The Hungarian Agricultural Museum is now located in the castle building. The outdoor surroundings of the castle are freely accessible free of charge, there is also a restaurant with a nice view of the pond.

10. Keleti Railway Station

The largest railway station in Budapest, on Baross Square. The station building is built in the style of eclecticism and dates from the late 19th century. The building was designed by Gyula Rochlitz and János Feketeházy.

11. New York Cafe

Well-known and very popular cafe. Even quite expensive. If you want to have something here, you will probably have to stand in line, or you can order a table. We loved the interior, but the queue to the outside discouraged us. We preferred to have coffee with dessert in the lesser-known, but also beautiful café Parisi Udvar Hotel Budapest, located directly at stop No. 13 Ferenciek Square.

At the turn of the 20th century, New York Cafe was the most popular café in Budapest. Writers met here. After World War II, the café fell into disrepair. The café was reopened in 1954 under the name Hungária, but it was not until 2006 that its original glory was restored.

The New York Cafe is part of the Anantara New York Palace Budapest Hotel. The New York Palace was built in the eclectic Italian Renaissance style and opened on October 23, 1894. The menu recalls the multicultural cuisine of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. Classic dishes such as beef goulash, chicken leg on paprika, Viennese schnitzel and grilled foie gras are served together with famous desserts such as Dobos, Sacher and Eszterházy cake.

12. Astoria

This stop is already described above, so we move on.

13. Ferenciek square / Parisi Courtyard 

(from here it is the closest walk to the docks)

Franciscan Square in the center of Budapest is right on the metro and houses the beautiful Párisi Udvar Hotel Budapest. The building will captivate you from the outside as well, but you have to go and look inside. You enter the hotel through one entrance and the café through the other, but the passage is through. Travel back in time and stroll through the courtyard of Paris. Luxurious shopping arcade in Art Nouveau style. You can have a coffee with a cake and enjoy the view. Unlike New York Cafe, there was no queue, we managed to fill the table immediately, but there was no empty space either.

This stop is also closest to Dock 6 if you want to change onto the ship. Cross the tram tracks right next to the bridge, because then there is a railing and there is no underpass, you would have to return like us or go around it unnecessarily.


14. Gellert square

The Danubius Hotel Gellért, located at the foot of Gellert Hill, is located here. The hotel is built in Art Nouveau style and was opened in 1918. There are 3 outdoor and 10 indoor pools, a hot tub and a sauna. The water is around 40 degrees Celsius and contains calcium, sodium, sulfates and fluorides, the spa is used mainly by people with musculoskeletal problems. The hotel restaurant is also famous. There were even 2 films made here.

I recommend getting off the bus, and you can either enjoy the spa or cross the Freedom Bridge and right behind it is the Great Budapest Market. Here you can buy many Hungarian specialties on the ground floor (I think to eat), the most popular are probably spices, especially various kinds of peppers and Hungarian sausages or sausages, but you will also find cheeses, pastries, fruits, vegetables, alcohol. You can taste typical Hungarian delicacies in local fast food. On the first floor there are clothes and souvenirs.

But the market building is especially interesting. Its construction began in 1894. The leading Hungarian architect Samu Pecz was behind the design and implementation of the building. The entrance gate has a neo-Gothic touch. The building covers a total area of 10,000 square meters and is based on a metal structure. The roof of the building is covered with beautiful colored tiles from the Zsolnay porcelain factory in Pécs and is the most typical feature of the building.

15. Castle Garden

And we get to one of the main landmarks of Budapest, and that is the Buda Castle above the river and the Fisherman's Bastion. So we got off at stop No. 17 Batthyany square, and we took it gradually through the Fisherman's Bastion to the castle.


16. Clark Adam square / Funicular

Clark Adám tér is a square located below the Castle Hill (Várhegy) by the Chain Bridge. The square has a circular shape and there is a zero kilometer mark on it. From the square there is a funicular (Budavári Sikló) to Buda Castle. But don't be lazy and walk up the hill.

17. Batthyany square

Here I recommend getting out, weaving between the houses (the navigation in the mobile phone helped us) and we climbed the steeper hill to the Fisherman's Bastion and from there you can walk it all the way, you will go under it, so you have beautiful photos of the stairs from below.

Fisherman's Bastion

The Fisherman's Bastion was designed by architect Frigyes Schulek and built in 1895-1902 in the neo-Gothic and neo-Romanesque style.

The bastion (a fortification element of the medieval walls, used to house loopholes) has never served to defend the city, but it is beautiful and has a great view of the Danube, the Parliament and other tourist sites in Budapest. It was built to celebrate the millennium of Hungary. It stands on the site of a former fish market, from which the name is derived. The 7 turrets represent the 7 Hungarian tribes that founded Hungary. In the middle of the bastion then stands the equestrian statue of St. Stephen, the patron saint of the country and one of the greatest Hungarians. It was he who united the Hungarian tribes and founded a common country.

Admission is not paid here, the only exception is the ascent to the tallest tower (in the tourist season from March to October). The chapel of St. Michal. If you plan to pay more tickets, I recommend purchasing a Budapest Card, for which you will receive various discounts.  If you want photos without crowds, you would have to go early in the morning or in the evening.

The Matthias Church rises above the Fisherman's Bastion.

Matthias Church

Roman Catholic gothic church in Budapest. The last two Hungarian kings were crowned here. It was named after King Matthias Corvinus.

A walk along Castle hill will take you to the Royal Palace (Buda Castle) and its gardens.

Buda Castle

The former seat of the Hungarian kings, therefore it is also called the Royal Palace. If you go from below and don't want to climb the stairs, you can take the cog railway from Clark Adám tér. Buda Castle has been a part of UNESCO since 1987.

The original castle was built in the 13th century during the reign of King Béla IV. Under King Sigismund of Luxembourg, the palace was expanded many times over and was one of the largest Gothic palaces in the world. Another expansion occurred during the reign of Matthias Corvinus. After the lost battle of Mohács in 1526 and the death of King Louis Jagiellonian, the castle became part of the Ottoman Empire and fell into disrepair. In the 17th century, the castle was destroyed by wars. Reconstruction of the Castle Hill began in the 19th century under the direction of architect Alajos Hauszmann. The huge mansion was inaugurated in 1912 and was one of the most luxurious and largest ruling mansions in the world. Unfortunately, the palace was again very damaged in World War II. After reconstruction, it became the seat of the Budapest Historical Museum and the Hungarian National Gallery.

Take a walk down the walls and royal gardens, take a look at the photos.


18. Margaret Bridge

The 2nd oldest bridge in the city. It was built in the 19th century and at the end of World War II it was accidentally destroyed. It is now being renovated again. Next to the bridge is Margaret Island. It is a recreational island 2.5 km long with lots of greenery, thermal baths and sports fields.

19. Nyugati Railway Station

The so-called Western railway station. The building dates from the 19th century and was built by Eiffel.

20. Parliament

Országház - the building of the Hungarian Parliament is one of the main icons of Hungary. It is one of the oldest government buildings in Europe. It is built in neo-gothic style and is the largest building in Hungary. The building was built for almost 20 years. It lies on the banks of the Danube and you have an amazing view of it, especially from the Castle Hill. You can also visit the building, but get your tickets well in advance, we were unlucky.


As you can see, there is a lot to see and do in Budapest. And where to go for breakfast, dinner or a bar? It really lives here at night.

For beer lovers

Madhouse (center, Anker köz 1-3, Budapest)

- a stylish pub with dozens of draft beers and non-traditional modern dishes

Háček (center, Paulay Ede utca 5, Budapest)

- a small pub, here we were surprised by a selection of Czech beer Svijany, but the waitress did not speak Czech :)

Bars

Szimpla Kert (center, 1075, Budapest, 14. Kazinczy street)

- a stylish music club, which was created by rebuilding the factory, probably very well known, there was a line outside for about an hour, so we did not honor it with a visit, it's a pity

From Király street 13 leads a long passage to Dob utca street and is full of bars, restaurants and discos, it really lived here on the weekend at night. During the day there were flea markets. So for party a clear choice.

And many bars and restaurants are on the famous Váci Street, which is a short walk from the Danube.

Restaurants

VakVarjú Étterem (center, Paulay Ede utca 7, Budapest)

- we discovered this restaurant by accident, that we walked around and surprised us, so it is huge inside and as it is crowded, we had to wait for a table, so I recommend making a reservation here. Check out the menu, they have a website, there is definitely something to choose from and the food was great.

Városliget Cafe & Restaurant (near Náměstí hrdinů, Olof Palme sétány 6, Budapest - Zugló)

- I recommend this restaurant for lunch, it has a beautiful garden overlooking the countryside, but it is very nice also inside, a large selection of various specialties and food was excellent, it is right at the double-decker stop at Heroes square, a short walk from the castle, zoo and Széchenyi Bath

Breakfast

If you have apartments (ours I will not recommend you, because I would have to get upset again) without breakfast and you do not want to cook, I recommend these two bistros, where we ate well in the morning, a great choice.

Solinfo Cafe (Wesselényi utca 6, near the Great Jewish Synagogue)

- it was open from 9 am (attention, closed on Sundays) and there was fresh juice, coffee, sweet breakfast, omelets, scrambled eggs, pastries, yoghurts ... you will definitely choose

Vintage Garden (center, Dob utca 21, Budapest)

- again a large selection, fresh juice, fresh ingredients, interesting vintage interior..I read a lot of complaints about this bistro, we found it by chance, and we had nothing to complain about, excellent omelette, as well as coffee, juice and crispy pastries.

Sweet-shop

Szamos Today (Kossuth Lajos tér 10, at the Parliament building)

- for an afternoon coffee at the Parliament building, we discovered a great two-story patisserie with a huge selection of different cakes, you must visit! And they were great! Next door is the Chocolate Museum, if you still dont have enough :)

Thank you for reading!


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