In our three-part series, we will introduce you to the magnificent city 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 has to offer, we have you covered. On the closing day of our Budapest tour, we will climb up to the Buda Castle to see the beautiful panorama of the Danube and Pest, try Hungarian sweets, and explore the capital’s famous ruin bars.
After two days of exploring Hungarian cuisine, a ride around the city by bike is the perfect morning or afternoon exercise. Bike paths are either marked on main roads or run separately. MOL Bubi bikes, Budapest’s bike-sharing system, are easy to use. You can get four bikes with one account and there are docking stations all around the city. You can find the docks near every important junctions and main site, as well as at train stations.
If you prefer running, go to the Margaret Island. It is one of the sports hubs of the city. Most people come here to run the “island round”, a comfortable 5,3-kilometer lap around the island on a well-maintained running track. You can get to the track from both ends of the island, but the easiest way is to use the 4-6 tram and get off at the Margaret Bridge (Margit híd). There is an athletic center on the island, where visitors can swim and train, but Margaret Island is good for any outdoor activity and also a popular picnic spot. If you are looking for a gym, Templefi Gym is in the heart of the city (Paulay Ede utca) and provides a free single-day pass when you pre-register online. If you would like to try something special, we recommend hot yoga at Bikram Yoga Center (Astoria) – they have classes in English twice a week.
It is easy to get to the main sites by public transport or by walking, but there are several hop-on hop-off buses to guide you in Budapest as well. The tours are available with digital commentary in 23 languages. These buses are usually Hungarian-made makeshift open-tops, double-deckers, or old-school Ikarus buses with sunroofs. They run on a route around the downtown and the main attractions, with stops at over 40 sites. You can hop on or hop off anytime as long as you have a valid ticket for the ride – you can buy these on the streets from the hop-on hop-off agents, and they cost around €20 (HUF 6000), but if you buy a 24-hour day-tour, the second day is usually free.
In the afternoon,we’ll head to one of the historical hearts of the city, a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Castle of Buda. The Castle is visible when you cross nearly any of the nine bridges that connect Buda and Pest. However, we recommend you to use the oldest and most famous bridge, the Chain Bridge. On the Buda side, it ends at Clark Ádám tér, just at the bottom of the Castle, where you can take Europe’s second oldest Funicular Railway up to the hill, or choose a slightly more adventurous path and walk up. Either way, on the way up and in the castle, you can enjoy the amazing panorama of Pest and the Danube River.
One of the most beautiful parts of the Castle is the fairytale-like Matthias Church and the Fisherman’s Bastion. The Matthias Church was originally built in Romanesque style in 1015, but due to the violent ups and downs of Hungarian history, no archaeological remains exist from this period. The current building was constructed in a late Gothic style in the second half of the 14th century, and was extensively renovated in the latter half of the 19th century. Next to the church is the the Fisherman’s Bastion, with an amazing view of the whole city. In the Castle District, you can walk around the narrow, cobbled streets recalling the atmosphere of Mediaeval times. To get in the Castle itself, you can visit the National Gallery or the Budapest History Museum, which are both located inside the palace.
If you don’t want to return home from Hungary empty-handed, you should visit the high street of Budapest, Váci utca, which connects Fővám tér with Vörösmarty tér. It is full of souvenir shops, restaurants, cafés, and boutiques; you will definitely find some souvenirs and gifts. The square on the end of Váci utca, Vörösmarty tér, is where the famous Budapest Christmas Market is held each year. If you happen to visit Budapest at Christmas time, you should try mulled wine, punch and chimney cake here. Between Vörösmarty tér and Deák Ferenc tér you can find the Fashion Street (Deák Ferenc utca), with a row of fancy boutique stores in Neo-Classical buildings.
For a different kind of shopping experience, try one of the capital’s many shopping malls. WestEnd City Center was one of the first shopping centers to open in Hungary, and you can find almost everything there, from cinema to high fashion stores and gift stores. It is next to Nyugati Railway station and can be reached with the 4-6 tram or the M3 subway. There are other shopping centers on the 4-6 line, such as the Allee at Újbuda-Központ, the Corvin at Corvin-negyed, or Mammut at Széna tér.
In the last few years, Hungary – and especially Budapest – has become a common destination for party tourism. The center of this new wave is District VII, the Jewish district, also known as the party district. Most of Budapest’s famous ruin bars can be found here. These pubs are operating in ruined, abandoned buildings, and sometimes you may run into concerts, movies or dance parties as well in these uniquely designed places. Szimpla Kert at 20 Kazinczy utca was the first ruin pub – and it is still one of the most popular ones – to open in Budapest. For some fancy drinks and company, you should visit Gozsdu udvar. Historically, this courtyard served as a market and common area; these days, it is packed with bars and pubs, and it is a popular – and somewhat pricey – culinary and nightlife hub. There are plenty of places for going out in Budapest, so it is essentially impossible to visit everything in one night, but you may try to see as much as you can on one of the popular pub crawls. If you prefer something modern, try KIOSK, located on the walkway running parallel to the Danube, on Március 15. tér. This place is perfect for a romantic dinner, with its scenic view of the river and the Castle. Not far from here, a few minutes from St. Stephen’s Basilica, you can find Ötkert, another party place, which usually doesn’t have an entrance fee.
Szimpla, photo: worldsbestbars.com
The last stop on our list favors those with a sweet tooth. The famous, 157-year old Gerbeaud on Vörösmarty tér is one of the most popular confectioneries. You can try classic Hungarian cakes here: Zserbó, Dobos torta or the chocolate cake, Rigó Jancsi. They opened their second coffee house in Tokyo a few years ago. If you prefer French pastries, Chez Dodo is your place, with the best macarons in town, while Sugar! offers design cakes and desserts in an amazing Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-like interior. Another, modern confectionery, is The Bake Shop in Klauzál utca, which serves cheesecakes that are to die for.
We hope you have found some useful tips and information about our beautiful capital in our series and we can welcome you back in the near future – we have many other cultural programs and tourist attractions outside Budapest too! Just to mention some of them, the world-famous Balaton, also known as the “Hungarian Sea”, other big cities like Szeged, Pécs or Győr and of course our festivals: Balaton Sound, VOLT, or Sziget (Island of Freedom).
Source: Budapest Festival&Tourism Centre
Featured photo: wikimedia.org