Visit Budapest

Things to do if you spend a couple of days in the capital of Hungary

Things to see

  • The Castle district is a nice walk, old buildings, museums, churches and a nice view. The Budavari siklo is a nice way to get up or down. You can also find some very touristy and expensive restaurants, but I would not recommend them.
  • The City Park (Varosliget) is a nice large park next to Heroes square with a small lake, circus, amusement park, transportation museum, etc. The Vajdahunyad castle is a small little city on its own.
  • A walk on the "dunakorzó" along the coast of the river on the Pest side next to the fancy hotels is a nice walk.
  • You can also have a nice walk on the Margaret Island (Margitsziget). There is a tiny zoo, public bath and other things. But mostly trees providing you with shadow along the river, which can be a relief during the summer :)
  • There is also a lot of nice thermal baths if you like it (like the Szechenyi bath in the city park).
  • Climbing up the Gellért hegy is a small hike that offers you a very nice view of the city (better than the Castle). You can also find the Statue of Liberty on the top.
  • If you do not have a lot of time but would like to check out the shops, I would recommend Westend which is a mall close to Nyugati (railway station). It has lots of small and some bigger shops, like electronics, clothing. Malls are open on Sundays as well.

Day trips

  • A bit out of the city, you can use the Cogwheel Train (Fogaskerekű) to get up Szechenyi-hegy and then use the Children's Railway to get to Hűvösvölgy.
  • The Danube bend has beautiful scenery. Szentendre is a nice little town less than hour away from the city center on the coast. Esztergom is another town with one of the larges churches in Hungary. Visegrád is a bit more up on the hills with a medieval castle. You can combine any of the these with a ship cruise from the center of Budapest.
  • It's a bit more than a day trip, but Eger is a very nice town (140 km or 90 miles), especially if you like wine :) 

Eating

General hints: a main dish is likely to cost about 1500-2500 HUF in an average downtown restaurant. Especially on the countryside you can find much cheaper (and good!) ones. The general tip expectation is 5..10%.

My personal best-of list:
  • Mongolian Barbecue is absolutely the best grill place I have been to. It's an all-you-can eat restaurant - you pick the raw food and they grill it in front of you. Drinks up to beer and wine included!
  • Bagolyvár is next to and operated by the famous Gundel restaurant for slightly more moderate prices. It is just next to the zoo and the city park, a convenient location to have something outside.
  • Remiz is a bit further away from downtown, but has very nice food and drinks.
  • Along Raday street you can find plenty of good restaurants. I would recommend Pink Cadillac (pizza), Paris-Texas. You can also just google for "Raday street".
  • Downtown you can find many places with gipsies playing the violin for cash. I do not like them that much, but it can be an experience. 

Staying

  • The best hotel deal is the Ibis Centrum. It's a three-star hotel with decent prices and just in the city center. 

Transportation

  • Everything inside the city limits is operated by BKV. A single ticket is valid for one trip and costs 320 HUF (as of 2011). You can also get a bunch of tickets for a slightly reduced price. Everything about tickets here
  • Taxis are not very expensive either, but be careful of "hienas". One tactic is to negotiate the price beforehand. For comparison, a ride from the airport should not cost more than 5000 HUF. Companies to recommend are City Taxi and Főtaxi, but you should be still careful.
  • Renting a car may be an option if you would like to make some trips. The usual companies are there (Hertz, Avis, etc.) Regina may have good deals if you would like to try the locals. 

Seasonal things

  • The climate is comparable to New York. The summer can be very hot while snow is likely in the winter. 

Languages

  • City restaurants and banks are expected to speak English (and German, which is the second most popular language). When asking for directions, ask younger people - they are much more likely to speak English.

A word of caution

  • Most restaurants and clubs are ok, but some try to cheat on tourists extensively. Be there when they wipe your credit card. The US Embassy has a list of the worst offenders