Have you decided to fight the autumn fatigue in Hungary? Would you like to spend a long weekend in the country, but don’t know what to do? In our three-part series, we will introduce you to the magnificent city of Budapest and recommend the best sights, restaurants and cafés for a relaxing holiday. Whether you are on a tight budget or you would like to try everything Budapest can offer, we have you covered.
In the first part of the series, we take a look at the Pest side of the Danube River, home to the bustling city center, continental Europe’s first, 120-year-old, charming underground, and Europe’s largest synagogue. In addition, we will take a small peek into Buda and its world-famous thermal baths. As one of the most visited place in Europe, Budapest is often regarded as a unique mix of fin de siècle atmosphere and modern city life.
From this year, it is easier to get to the city center from the airport as a direct bus line was introduced to connect the two. Bus 100E takes passengers to the heart of Budapest and main junction of public transport, Deák tér. From 5 am to 1:30 am, the bus runs every thirty minutes between the city center and the two terminals of the airport. A special ticket must be purchased for 900 HUF (3 EUR). Public transport in Budapest is operated by the council-owned company BKK (Centre for Budapest Transport), whose purple logo and blue vehicles are both easy to spot. Those who prefer the yellow taxis of Budapest can expect a cost of around 6500 HUF (22 EUR) depending on traffic conditions.
Located in the heart of the city and within walking distance of main tourist attractions, Budapest’s party district is a popular choice for accommodations among tourists. Everyone can find the perfect place, ranging from party hostels squeezed between the capital’s famous ruin pubs to five-star hotels right on the Grand Boulevard.
Grandio Party Hostel is one of the favorites of young internationals, and offers a great opportunity to get to know locals as well. It is filled with trees and greenery – like a small oasis in the midst of the concrete jungle.
If you would rather stay in more luxurious accommodations, there’s the five-star Boscolo Budapest Hotel, located in the beautifully refurbished turn-of-the century New York Palace. The palace also serves as the home of the legendary coffee house, the New York Café, which once counted the country’s top artists among its regulars. Other high-end places favored by businessmen, celebrities and politicians include the Kempinski Hotel Corvinus and the Four Seasons Gresham Palace.
Visitors on a more modest budget can be exquisitely served by the nearby Bo33 Hotel Family & Suites. Offering vast suites and family rooms, the four-star hotel sports a unique design and furnishings, attentive service and all due attention to detail – at a reasonable price.
Hungary has always been famous for its cuisine, and the city center, especially Király utca, is a focal point of the capital’s gastro revolution in the last few years. Whether you are a gourmet, looking for a more expensive, top-notch restaurant, or just a peckish tourist who would prefer a slice of pizza, you can find both within a couple of meters from each other. Street food lovers should not miss Pizza Me, Hot Dog Cold Beer, and if you are going out and need a quick bite, you can find places open late in the area of the Gozsdu udvar.
If you’re looking for something more wholesome and traditional, look for Belvárosi Disznótoros, right off Deák tér. Here, you can expect a genuine Hungarian experience – traditional Hungarian foods from the countryside, mixed with the mood of the new-wave street food spots of the capital. A more cosmopolitan choice is noir et l’or, with its sophisticated interiors and excellent dishes and wines.
The 1.6-kilometer-long Király utca is one of the city’s most bustling places, full of cafes, tea rooms and restaurants. This street connects the center with the city’s second-largest public park, the Városliget. Heading towards Deák tér, the visitor runs into Erzsébet tér – one of the most popular downtown meeting spots – and Akvárium club on the right-hand side. As winter approaches these squares are filled with the smell of chestnut, mulled wine and chimney cakes.
Taking a turn to the left, a couple of minutes’ walk leads to Europe’s largest synagogue, located on Dohány utca. The synagogue serves as a venue for concerts, festivals and performances.
Heading further along the Kiskörút, or “Small Boulevard”, the stunning, 103-year-old Astoria Hotel stands on the corner of Rákóczi út. The Hungarian National Museum is just a short walk from there, completed in 1847 in the Classicist style. The Museum’s building played an important role during the 1848 Hungarian revolution. Tradition has it that Sándor Petőfi, one of the nation’s highest-regarded poets, first recited his emblematic poem Nemzeti dal (“National Song”) on the stairs of the museum. The poem later became a symbol of resistance against Austrian rule.
With the 47 and 49 trams from Kálvin tér you can reach the Buda side of the Danube. As the tram heads towards the river, passengers can see the Central Market Hall, Hungary’s largest and oldest indoor market. The tram crosses the Danube on the 333.6-meter-long Liberty Bridge, one of the nine bridges that connect Buda and Pest.
Hungary’s famous thermal baths and spas are all easily accessible from the city centre. The Gellért Bath is situated just at the foot of Gellert Hill, inside the luxurious art nouveau style Hotel Gellért on the Buda side of the Danube. There are many other spas in Budapest, offering a range of medical services, including the historic Rudas and Lukács Baths in Buda and the popular Széchenyi Bath in Pest.
On Monday, we will continue our travels through Budapest with the Parliament, a nice boat trip on the Danube, and memorable cultural programs.
Source: Budapest Festival&Tourism Centre
Featured photo: wikimedia.org