Your Budapest holiday
The Celts were the first to construct a settlement at what is today’s Óbuda.
During the first century, the Romans pushed the boundaries of their empire out to the Danube, building up their fortresses. The Roman occupation ceased at the end of the fourth century, leaving the territory to Hun, Longobard, and Avar control.
During the ninth century, Hungarians inhabited Pest after the conquest, and in 1241 the Mongols demolished most of the area. Once the Tartars left, Buda’s castle was erected and subsequently became very significant.
In the 15th century, during the reign of King Matthias, the palace was reconstructed.
Starting in the 16th century, the city fell under the control of the Turkish empire, which is when its famous baths were built. Budapest became an Eastern-style city.
During the late 17th century and the 18th century, the city built its town hall and most of its churches.
The 19th century saw Pest gain a reputation as the intellectual centre of Hungary, and the famous Chain Bridge was constructed.
The beginning of the Hungarian-Austrian monarchy came in 1867. The city continued to prosper because of this, followed in 1873 with the joining together of Buda, Pest, and Óbuda. The city evolved into a metropolis, having built many bridges, drains, streetlights and an underground.
Like many other major cities, Budapest was heavily damaged during World War II; its bridges were demolished. Then, during 1942–1950, the city put itself back together.
Spend a weekend in Budapest, the capital city of Hungary and a place of considerable history and jaw-dropping beauty. Luxuriate in thermal baths, dance until the early morning, visit museums and palaces, and swim and go spelunking in this marvellous city.
Its natural landscape is breathtaking and its architecture impressive. The city retains an elegantly antiquated appearance, as much of it was constructed during the 19th century.
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Best time to take a vacation to Budapest
Budapest experiences a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. January is Budapest's coldest month with an average temperature of 1Â°C. The hot season stretches from May to September with mean temperatures staying above 20Â°C. March to May and September to November are the best times to visit, as the weather remains pleasantly warm. For cheap deals that come with the off-season, visit between mid-November and March. Enjoy the Hungarian culture at the Budapest Spring Festival, which is the largest cultural festival in Hungary. It offers various performances, including dance shows, theatre performances and classical music concerts. This two-week annual event is held at the end of March or the beginning of April. Other Budapest festivals include the Museum Festival that takes place at the Hungarian National Museum and the Floralia Festival that is held in Aquincum Museum.
Insider tips for Budapest travel
KÃ©t Szerecsen Cafe & Restaurant
Have a taste of fine Hungarian cappuccino and a delicious breakfast on AndrÃ¡ssy Ãºt Avenue before you explore the medieval history of Budapest.
The perfect shopping excursion is at VÃ¡ciutca, which boasts high-end boutiques and upscale restaurants. VÃ¡ci Street is undoubtedly among the world's most beautiful pedestrian shopping streets.
In summer, you can take part in the yearly summer festival that is held on this mid-19th-century stone bridge that spots lion bridgeheads.
House of Terror Museum
Stroll through the elegant AndrÃ¡ssy Ãºt Avenue to this renowned museum, where the violence and injustices of the horrible Communist Era come alive.
Central Market Hall
This modern indoor market is a treasure trove of Hungarian culinary delicacies. Entice your taste buds with Hungarian cuisine as you shop for souvenirs.
Soak in the Király Baths
On the Buda bank, you will find four delightfully steamy pools with temperatures ranging between 26 and 40 degrees Celsius. Built in 1570 by the Turks, the baths offer an ideal outlet for relaxation, where you can also marvel at the architecture, especially a beautiful sky-lit dome. The pools are sanitary, inexpensive, and safe.
Get a Thrill at Funfair Park
This may be among the oldest amusement parks you will ever visit, but its rides cause adrenaline to pump nonetheless. The 150-year-old park boasts 24 exciting rides, including the Ikarus Space Needle and the Hip-Hop freefall. There are also go-karts and a merry-go-round from 1906 for the whole family to enjoy!
Catch a Show at the Hungarian State Opera House
Watch a performance here and revel in the perfect acoustics. The grand neo-Renaissance architecture and interior décor are beautiful; they can also be seen on a guided tour.
Marvel at the Municipal Great Circus
Europe’s only permanent circus is an ideal one at which to watch a performance. From Wednesday to Sunday, there are shows at 15:00, as well as additional shows on Saturday and Sunday. Kids as well as adults will love this!
Shop for a Local Bargain
On a Sunday, check out City Park Flea Market, a gigantic outdoor flea market. Find tons of antique treasures, including vintage records. Nearby Duna Plaza is a three-floor mall filled with 120 apparel stores. It also has a cinema that boasts 12 screens, as well as bowling and an ice-skating rink. Meanwhile, Haas & Czjzek is an ideal place to shop for exquisite porcelain and glassware, including Hungarian-made porcelain.
Visit the National Dance Theatre
Delight in traditional Hungarian folk dances performed by the Honved Ensemble, one of Budapest’s most talented folk dancing troupes, which is now also incorporating some modern dance into its choreography. This theatre hosts every other dance troupe in the city also, including two ballet companies.
Top Budapest attractions
Budapest History Museum
See how Buda, Pest, and Obuda evolved from the 5th century all the way through the 17th century. In 1974, gothic sculptures and other artefacts were unearthed in archaeological excavations. The first floor houses the permanent exhibition: ‘Budapest in Modern Times’.
Castle Hill is a huge plateau standing 170 meters above the Danube. It is an UNESCO World Heritage Site because most of Budapest’s most valued monuments and museums, which you shouldn’t miss, are located here. You will also see the stunning Royal Palace, which is where the castle was constructed in the 13th century. Two museums now stand on the site.
Basilica of St. Stephen
The construction of this cathedral took many years to be completed. Its dome shattered in 1868 during a storm, requiring the entire building to be destroyed and completely rebuilt. In 1905, workers finished construction. Go to the top of the cathedral’s new dome; the view is one of the most magnificent in Budapest. Then go behind the main altar to the Holy Right Chapel, where you will see the preserved right hand, called the Holy Right (or Holy Dexter), of St. Stephen. There are guided tours in English at various times during the weekdays.
Dreher Brewery and Beer Museum
Check out the museum at Hungary’s largest beer producer’s brewery. Besides being allowed a tasting session, you can see how their beer has been brewed and bottled over the past centuries and watch a movie about the beer-making process.
Holocaust Memorial Centre
Pages from the ‘Auschwitz Album’ are displayed here. The photographs, found by a survivor after being freed, show the grisly internment and extermination of the Hungarian Jews. In 2004, the centre opened on the Hungarian Holocaust’s 60th anniversary. There is also a revitalised synagogue from 1924, which hosts exhibitions.
Tip * Booking your Tours, Transfers & Airport Parking before you go will save your money & time and ensure a stress free start to your holiday
The parliament building stands on the banks of the Danube River as a proud landmark of Budapest, with its domed neo-Gothic architecture that was inspired by the British Houses of Parliament.
St. Stephen's Basilica
This architectural marvel is the largest Hungarian monument after the parliament building. St. Stephen's Square is a spacious plaza at its front, flanked by restaurants and cafÃ©s.
Castle Hill (VÃ¡rhegy)
The heart of medieval Budapest hosts this picturesque rock, rising 150 feet above the Danube and sighting narrow alleys, cobblestone streets and splendid classical and baroque buildings.
This dolomite cliff spots winding walkways leading to the top, where the Liberty Statue and a former fortress called Citadella stand.
The Danube Promenade
A part of UNESCO's World Heritage Program in Budapest, this promenade offers spectacular views of both Danube and Buda sides with Castle Hill and GellÃ©rt Hill.
Hungarian State Opera House
This magnificent 1884 structure boasts a new-Renaissance style in the semblance of Vienna Opera House. It is home to the State Ballet and the State Opera.
Faust Wine Cellar
Visit this romantic stone cellar of Buda Castle, and taste wines from different regions of Hungary, as well as pÃ¡linka, a traditional Hungarian fruit spirit.
Overlooking the Danube River is an architectural gem of the city, the splendid art-nouveau Gresham Palace. It houses the elegant Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace.
Budapest abounds in the world-famous thermal springs, whose healing, relaxing and fun qualities are the foundations of numerous thermal baths and spas.
Budapest Zoo, City Lake, Amusement Park and the SzÃ©chenyi Bath are located within this sprawling green park, offering attractions for adults and children alike.
Where to stay in Budapest
Budapets remains one of the more cost-friendly cities for accommodation in Europe, and there are many affordable options for a hotel in Budapest.
The tastefully designed NH Hotel is a standout because of its soundproof windows, which create a perfectly relaxing break from the bustle of the city surrounding the hotel, which stands behind the Vigszinhaz theatre and in close proximity to Parliament. The sleek bathrooms have bathtubs and you can watch Pay-per-View films from the comfort of your plush bed. If you’re seeking activity rather than relaxation, there is an impressive fitness centre on the top floor.
The Sofitel Chain Bridge Hotel is a fashionable, classy hotel ideally set on the banks of the Danube, within easy reach of some of the city’s best areas for shopping and entertainment. The Sofitel offers 350 of the most luxurious and beautifully decorated rooms, each with delightful views of the city.
The City Ring Hotel is a clean and comfortable haven for travellers. Centrally located, it provides a hearty breakfast buffet, free Internet and air-conditioned rooms. The staff is also happy to assist you in arranging tours and outings.
The Alta Moda Fashion Hotel is beautiful and brand new. Its four-star luxury features classic Italian design and has clearly been arranged with guests’ complete comfort and satisfaction in mind, as evidenced by some special anti-allergen rooms as well as rooms designed expressly for female travellers. The Alta Moda also features a spa and sauna, a restaurant for your dining convenience, and a fitness centre.
How to move around in Budapest
Arriving at the Airport
The Ferihegy International Airport is located less than 25 kilometres south of the city centre.
The Airport Minibus Service will take travellers directly to their hotel or hostel. Buy tickets from a desk situated in the terminal for arrivals. If you prefer to use this option when returning to the airport as well, you will need to book 24 hours ahead.
For a taxi, you can call one of the taxi companies once you arrive. It will cost about 5,000Forint (£16).
The most inexpensive option is to take the airport bus. From the Kőbánya-Kispest metro station, where it terminates, take the M3 to the city centre. It costs just 320Forint (£1), but will take the longest amount of time.
Taxis in Budapest are fairly inexpensive in comparison with the rest of Europe. Avoid taking a taxi without a name on its door, however; also check that there is a yellow license plate and a clearly visible photo I.D. card inside the taxi. It is generally safer and more common to pre-book a taxi over the phone—fares are usually cheaper that way than if you hail one down in the street.
Budapest has excellent public transport. There are almost 200 buses serving the city. There are also long-distance and international buses.
A more scenic option, which is quicker than a bus, is to take one of the city’s many trams. The most popular ones are marked with red lines on a map.
Or you can opt for car hire in Budapest, in which case you should be at least 21 years old and have had a driver’s license for at least one year. Roads are in a satisfactory condition in major urban areas, though rural highways may be poorly lit.
On a cold day, a thick hot cocoa from Bobek (Kazinczy u. 53) will warm your spirit. Roland Torok, the owner, has a knack for delicious concoctions that runs in his family; he began working in the family café at six years old. Besides the famous hot cocoa, this charming café is known for its hearty soups and sandwiches. Note that you cannot use cards to pay for food here, so bring enough cash.
For a fusion of Hungarian and Continental cuisines, try Csalogany 26 (Csalogany u. 26), a casual trattoria. Try the cold tomato gazpacho with walnuts and the delightful guinea hen with spinach. For something to sip on, sample one of Hungary’s superb and undervalued varietals, of which the wine list is full.
For fine dining at a reasonable price, head to Costes (Raday utca 4). Don’t miss the delectable kohlrabi cream soup, and if your taste buds are feeling adventurous, try the blue cheese ice cream paired with a spicy granita. There is also a tasting menu, complete with well-considered wine pairings.
For traditional dishes with a contemporary twist, Dio (Sas u. 4) is a perfect choice. Since it opened in 2007, it has become known as one of Budapest’s best restaurants. Try the breaded mangalica with ginger home fries served with a scrumptious soup of tomato and cilantro. Other traditional Hungarian dishes have been cleverly modified into tapas.
For Jewish/Mediterranean/Hungarian cuisine, stop in at Koleves (Kazinczy u. 35). The portions are grand, so bring a huge appetite for roast goose leg, hummus with pita bread and vegetables, matzo ball soup, and Jewish matzo cake.
Health & Safety
Vaccinations and Hygiene
There are no required vaccinations for entry in Budapest, but boosters for basic vaccinations such as tetanus and polio are strongly recommended.
A rabies vaccination is not essential, but after an animal bite or scratch you must always seek medical advice as the disease is prevalent in some areas.
Accidents or Health Problems
The water in Budapest is potable, but in more rural areas it is best to stick to bottle water.
The health infrastructure is adequate, but there is a lack of facilities, especially outside of the city.
In an emergency, dial 112 for police, firefighters, and ambulances.
Avoid wearing expensive jewellery or carrying large quantities of cash, especially after dark. Do not leave personal belongings in parked cars.
Do not go to a bar or nightclub that has been recommended by a taxi driver, because your fare will be higher.
Don’t lose sight of your credit card when using it to pay for anything, and be especially cautious when drawing money out of a public cash machine.
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