What to do in Budapest!

Probably due to the fact I part time live in Hungary, I am often asked about Budapest. So here are my takes and suggestions!

I mention it first so it is out of the way... Do not forget my Budapest Photo Walk and Photography Workshop.... is HERE

Budapest is a big city with several district articles containing sightseeing, restaurant, nightlife and accommodation listings.
Budapest (Hungarian pronunciation approximates to "boo-dah-pesht") is the capital city of Hungary. With a unique, youthful atmosphere, a world-class classical music scene as well as a pulsating night life increasingly appreciated among European youth and, last but not least, an exceptionally rich offering of natural thermal baths, Budapest is one of Europe's most delightful and enjoyable cities. Due to its scenic setting and its architecture it is nicknamed "Paris of the East".

In 1987 Budapest was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List for the cultural and architectural significance of the Banks of the Danube, the Buda Castle Quarter and Andrássy Avenue.

10 Facts about Budapest you may now know

  1. Budapest is home to the third largest Parliament building in the world
  2. Budapest has the oldest subway-line in mainland Europe

  3. The northernmost holy place of Islam is in Budapest, It’s the burial place of a Turkish dervish, named Gül Baba

  4. Budapest is home to one of the largest music festivals in the world: Sziget Festival takes place every August. 

  5. Budapest is the biggest city in Hungary (1.7M) 20% of Hungary’s population lives in Budapest.

  6. Budapest is hot' since Budapest has more thermal springs than any other capital city in the world. An amazing 70 million litres of thermal water rises to the surface daily.

  7. Budapest is home to the second largest synagogue in the world

  8. The Budapest Zoo is one of the oldest zoos in the world

  9. Budapest is big on art and culture There are more than 40 theatres and over 100 museums and galleries in the city.

  10. Budapest was not always the capital of Hungary, Until the 13th century, Esztergom was.

 

Fisherman's Bastion

I am obsessed by the Fisherman Bastion ...in a photographic sort of way. The proximity with one of my favourite patisserie does the rest!

I know they are new, I know they do not mean or serve much I still love them!

Located in the historic district of Castle Hill, the Fisherman's Bastion (or Halászbástya) is a neo-Gothic terrace that looks like a structure taken straight out of a fairytale. Designed and built between 1895 and 1902, next door – Fisherman's Bastion is named after the medieval guild of fishermen who protected Budapest from invasion.

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The gleaming white structure provides panoramic views of the city: From here, you can snap some breathtaking pictures of the Danube, Margaret Island and Pest. You may choose to take some time to explore the bastion's seven ornate turrets, which symbolize the tents of the seven Magyar tribe leaders who settled the Carpathian Basin, ultimately leading to the existence of modern-day Hungary. 

Andrassy Utca

Andrassy Utca is one of the most beautiful avenues in Budapest. The big green trees and the high end fashion stores give it an elegant vibe. Very nice to walk along it.It is a lovely wide avenue for a stroll. There are lots of restaurants and international clothing chains, high end on the street. The Opera is here and on the day I was walking they were making a period movie. It was nice to watch. Several places for coffee and of course, the clothing chain COS is here. If you walk to the end you will pass the Terror House and wind up at the big city park with the zoo.

 

Soak in the Széchenyi Baths

A soak in a thermal bath is a quintessential Budapest experience (it hasn't cultivated a reputation as the "City of Spas" for nothing). These baths, or fürdok in Hungarian, are heated by natural thermal springs and usually include on-site massage services, as well as steam rooms. There is no other bath as the Széchenyi Baths!!!  The Geller are pretty do not get me wrong but you can find similar or better anywere in the world!

 Széchenyi Baths

Széchenyi Baths

One of the last remnants of the Turkish influence in Hungary, a visit to the thermal baths is a quintessential Budapest experience. I haven't visited all of the baths in Budapest, but I have been to several of the most famous Budapest baths and the grandiose Széchenyi Baths are by far my favourite. Early morning or just before sunset is my favourite times for a soak in the thermal, healing waters of Széchenyi’s outdoor pools.

Walk Across the Chain Bridge

...and discover why Budapest is called the Pearl of the Danube!

Sinead O'Connor

Ah, the Chain Bridge – one of my very favourite bridges in the world. It was the first bridge to permanently connect Buda and Pest and was completed in 1849. At the time, the Chain Bridge was considered to be one of the wonders of the world and the architect was so immensely proud of his work that he challenged anyone to find fault with the bridge. It is said that when it was discovered that the lions that stand guard at either end are missing their tongues, the architect committed suicide. 

Shop at the Central Market Hall

The Great Market Hall in central Budapest is Budapest’s most famous marketplace.

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Whilst many locals still use the market hall as a place to buy their groceries, the market is incredibly popular with the tourists too.

Locally grown fruits and veg, and locally sourced meats are found on the lower floors, and souvenirs including lace, chess sets and leather goods are available in the upper floors.

As well as individual ingredients, it is possible to pick up homemade local delicacies like goulash and langos from the food stall upstairs.

 

Indulge in Pastries From Budapest’s Oldest Confectioner

Budapest is full of cafes to have a delicious cuppa joe and try one of the sweets Budapest is famous for. Cafe Ruszwurm, on the Castle Hill, is one of Budapest’s oldest traditional confectioners still operating as a cafe.

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it is very cosy and small,  has just about a dozen seats,  There is a wide selection of the day’s fresh pastries, truffles, and coffee concoctions to choose from. The decor is charming too with antique furniture and tools of the old confectionery trade in the glass curio cabinets.

Cafe Ruszwurm is located at Szentháromság u. 7 and is open 9am – 8pm Spring through Fall and 10am – 7pm in Winter.

Parliament Building

Completed in 1904, the Hungarian Parliament Building is one of Budapest's most famous landmarks. The National Assembly of Hungary still meets there to this day. Travelers come mainly to take in the building's architecture (primarily Gothic Revival style), beautiful statues and paintings, and national significance. According to many, there is no structure in Hungary that serves as a better symbol of the country's independence and commitment to democracy. 

Sinead O'Connor

 

Heroes' Square (or Hosök tere) is one of Budapest's grandest landmarks as well as the largest public square in the city. Swing by this area to take a picture of the Millenium Monument which was erected in 1896 to celebrate Hungary's 1000th anniversary.

The square and the monument are dedicated to "the memory of those heroes who gave their lives for the freedom of our people and our national independence." At the base of the famous column (topped with the archangel Gabriel) are statues representing seven Magyar chieftains – considered to be the founders of the Hungarian nation. Behind the column are matching colonnades with 14 statues of royalty and other important figures in Hungarian history.

Buda Castle Hill Funicular

This funicular, which first opened in 1870, is the second oldest funicular of its kind in the world. A system of weights and counterweights is used to help to raise the carriages up and down the hill. The funicular is the fastest way to get to the top of Castle Hill, and is exceedingly popular because of its panoramic views out across the Danube. (You can also get there with this Segway tour)

The speed of ascent was actually slowed down as of 1988, to give passengers more time to enjoy their ride. The track is open daily until 10pm, so it is also a great way to enjoy views of Pest at night.

Danube Promenade

This stretch of the Danube walkway goes from the Elizabeth Bridge to the Chain Bridge, and is perfect for those who want a short, but interesting walk. Promenading along the Danube is a great way to see many of the most famous sights in the capital.

Looking over towards to Buda side of the river, you will see the Buda Castle, the Liberty Statue on Gellert Hill and the Fisherman’s Bastion. On the Promenade side of the river, you can enjoy restaurants, cafes, Szechenyi Istvan Square and a range of different sculptures, including the Little Princess

Gerbaud House

Located on Vörösmarty Square and dating back to 1858, Gerbeaud is one of Budapest’s most famous spots to get delicious desserts. Unlike at the other spots, here I have three recommendations. Firstly, the Dobos Torte as they bake it is the very best...secondly because it’s Emil Gerbeaud that gave the world the Gerbeaud slice (also written as ‘Zserbó szelet’), we suggest the rethought/reworked version of this Hungarian favourite: the Gerbeaud Sundae. While it’s quite pricey (2550 HUF + service fee), it’s a huge dessert that’s practically a meal. Two scoops of walnut sponge, one scoop of chocolate ice-cream, two scoops of walnut ice-cream, chocolate sauce, apricot sauce, crispy walnut linzer, whipped cream and apricot foam, topped with a small Gerbeaud slice. It’s super sweet, yet the perfect mix of old and new, cake and cream, warm and cold. Secondly, we recommend the classic cake  served with vanilla ice-cream and the legendary ‘cat’s tongue.’

Sissy, wife of Emperor Franz Joseph and Queen of Hungary always dropped in the Gerbeaud cafe when she was in Budapest.

 My super favourite remains the Dobos torte!!!

My super favourite remains the Dobos torte!!!

Bookstore and Cafe in bookstores

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 I like very much the idea and feeling of sipping a cafe while surrounded by books and magazines. 

Alexandra Könyvesház - Párizsi Nagyáruház

The building shows some wonderful neo-renaissance characteristics, especially when we're drinking a hot black coffee in the room decorated with Lotz Károly's murals. Used to be my favourite with a superb coffee place, sadly the coffee has closed, Bookshop is great

39 Andrássy út ·Website

Magyar Fotográfusok Háza - Mai Manó Ház

Once the residence of Manó Mai (1855-1917), photographer ro the imperial court, this 120-year- old listed building houses an exhibition hall, the Sunlight Atelier, bookshop and library.

20 Nagymező Street Website

Bestsellers Kft.

This is the main English language bookstore of Budapest. They offer decent prices and a large selection of travel books, both for Hungary and the other countries. You can find unique gifts for the book lovers in your life at Bestsellers. Street & River loves this place!

11 Október 6. St Website

MassolitBudapest Books and Café

It's a little quiet island in the heart of the city with great coffee and tasty, homemade cakes, cute service and a wide range of foreign language books.

30 Nagy Diófa ut. Website

Libri

They seem to have everything.....except a coffee place!

1072 Budapest Rákóczi út 12. 

 

Cheap Food in Downtown Budapest

I strongly believe in Budapest like in most of Mittel/Eastern Europe you can eat well and genuinely with 4/7 Euro. The places below reflect this feeling and are my favourites. You can have  a meal with 900-1600 HUF

 

Csarnok Vendéglő

Our favourite restaurant during the stays in Budapest. The portions are huge at a decent price (and you can always ask for a smaller portion for 70% of the price!). The lovely home-made lemonade is a mix of lemon, orange and basil which is super refreshing and you can order a half a litre of it. Their goulash is superb as well as the

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The service is always really nice too, answering all the questions we had about the dishes. Family and friendly staff. This is where you can find us in the evening when we are in the Capital!

Budapest, Hold u. 11, 1054 Hungary

Kicsi Mama konyhája

This place is a cheap place to eat traditional, and not only. It;s a buffet type, and not a traditional restaurant, and I think it's a bit underrated, compared to the very overrated and expensive "City Market" restaurant choices - this place is just around the corner from the City Market, and has the same nice dishes, for less money - and you always have a place to sit and eat, unlike the market. We live very close when in Budapest so it is our fav lunch place

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Lonyay utca 7, Budapest 1093, Hungary

Kaltenberg Kantin

A new find, next  to the beer owned  Kaltenberg Restaurant. It is very nice and modern, Staff is attentive and the food is good!

Kinizsi utca 30-36 1092 Budapest, Hungary

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Kisharang Étkezde

Address: Október 6. utca 14., v. district, M3 blue metro, Arany János utca station
Open: 11.30 – 20.00 daily
Tel: (+36 1) 269 3861

A simple, inexpensive cash-only eatery with only 5-6 tables (prepare to share the table with other guests). If you want to try hearty Hungarian food this the place to go. Menu in English is available.

Daily menu (soup + main dish or főzelék + meat or sausage) from around HUF 800 -1 200. Try mushroom paprikash with galuska, or máglyarakás (a typical local sweet treat: layers of sliced crescents, apples, apricot jam, with meringue on top and baked in oven. 

Karcsi Vendéglő

Address: Jókai utca 20., VI. district, M3 blue metro, Nyugati pályaudvar station
Open: Mon-Fri: 11.30 – 22.00, Sat: 11.30 – 16.00, Sun: Closed
Tel (+36 1) 312 0557, website

A pretty good-value, cheap restaurant in Budapest’s downtown, close to the Opera, with a daily menu of two options (a couple of soups, mains, and desserts): for 890 HUF (two courses), or 990 HUF (three courses).
Soups: Újházy chicken broth – 530 HUF, bean soup with pork knuckle: 960 HUF,
Mains to try: pork rib gipsy style with fries (Cigánypecsenye): 1555 HUF, Hagymás rostélyos ( rump steak with fried onions and fries): 1795 HUF,
Desserts: pancakes (túrós=sweet cottage cheese, walnuts and chocolate sauce, jam): 420-515 HUF (two pieces), Chestnut puree with whipped cream (gesztenyepüré): 685 HUF.

Lugas Étterem- behind the Basilica

Address: Bajcsy-Zsilinszky E. út 15. , district V.

Despite the touristy location, Lugas is a fairly good place right behind St. Stephen Basilica. You can sit at the terrace if the weather allows. They serve mostly typical Hungarian meals:

  • goulash (650 HUF), creamed potato soup-brugonya-krémleves with mushrooms(620 HUF),
  • Wiener schnitzel with potato salad (1890 HUF from chicken breast fillet, or 2080 HUF from pork tenderloin),

 

Transport in Budapest

Check here