General information is plentyful on the web, I would recommend
to visit the
Hungarian National Tourist Office [350 Fifth Avenue, Suite 7107,
New York, NY 10118 - Tel(212) 695-1221] or the official website
of the Budapest
Tourism Office. Once in town, Tourinform
offices are a great source of information where experienced staff
& good command of English is guaranteed.
For news and current events, check Hungary's premier English language
Budapest Sun or Budapest
Times. These two, along with Where
are available in printed version and can be picked up at most major
hotels. The Budapest
Business Journal offers daily business news, with comprehensive
industry and company information. Also brings an occasionally international
perspective on the country.
|Museums & interiors
Cosmopolitan & metropolitan Budapest sports 130 museums, many
of which are worth-while attractions. Some are the must-see's, others
are unique ones, but the list below includes some that your local
friend would introduce as hidden treasures.
Major art galleries include the Museums
of Fine Arts [with Old Spanish masters & a Dutch-Flemish
collection] and the Hungarian
National Gallery [with Hungarians]. Among modern & contemporary
Museum, the Varga Imre Permanent
Exhibition and the Vasarely
museum offer thought-provoking works of art. Varfok
Gallery displays contemporaries [Hungarian & foreign] and
so does Art
Factory [with young, upcoming locals] in two studios. Works
of art for sale here, too.
History buffs have two choices for serious study: The National
Museum reveals Magyar history from its beginnings, whereas the
Budapest History Museum
has the last 2000 years of the region in its focus.The twentieth
century brought many ups and downs for Hungarians, which some brand
new exhibitions explore in great details. The House
of Terror disects the workings of two oppressive regimes, that
of the Nazis and the Communists. The Holocaust
Memorial Center follows the persecution of Jews and Roma during
WWII, while Statue
Park on the outskirts of the city deals with the country's communist
in the Rock is situated in the labirinth under the Castle District
and introduces a giant military hospital that was in use during
WWII and preserved by the Communists just in case...
Some buildings are closely linked to the country's history, but
they are also great ways to explore art & architecture through
the years. Three beauties stand out: the National
Opera House, the Parliament
and the Great
Syngogue. All three can be visited as part of an organised tours,
please click on their website for details.
On a lighter note... for music lovers there is the Opera House,
plus special exhibitions dedicated to Ferenc
Kodaly & Bela
Bartok. Other fun collections include the Zwack
Unicum exhibition or the Semmelweis
Museum. For a full list of all museums in Hungary, go to muzeumok.hu.
With the river Danube running through the heart of the capital,
Budapest if a perfect spot for a cruise. Prices & timetables
vary, but itinerary generally does not.
Searching for 'cruise in Budapes' brings a lot of results, but
all popular sights advertise the same companies. Legenda,
the best among them, is also the most expensive [pier no. 7]; Mahart
Passnave [at pier no. 6] is the Hungarian shipping company's
cruise business with significantly lower prices; Hungaria
Koncert runs boats with lunch or dinner [from various locations].
There is also the fun & children friendly Riverride
tour where amphibian vehicles take you around on land & water.
Legenda & Mahart run cruises during the day with a stop on
Margaret Island, at night only shorter ones. Cruises with dinner
are also available. Hungaria Koncert offers only lunch & dinner
cruises, Riverride the ride only.
|Budapest is a child-friendly city and truely welcoming
towards families with kids. There is no shortage of play-grounds in
the first place, you can find one within ten minutes anywhere in town.
Fun activities include visiting the City Park where the Zoo,
mini Adventure Park and
Szechenyi Bath are all
worth a visit. Margaret Island is sprawling park with great places
for picnic, ice-cream, and a buggy ride from Bringohinto
if you want to add more fun. The Palace
of Miracles is entertaining and educational. Riverride
offers city tours on its amphibian vehicles which cruise the river,
too. Hike up Gellert hill for vistas, try the caves with a more adventureous
family. Have fun!
|If you missed anything in your Budapest travel
planner, please let me know! Your comments are appreciated.
As with most European cities, Budapest was not designed for cars,
therefore traffic can be dense. So be smart and use public transport
You can either choose the Budapest
Card that is a full PT pass with discounts in some places or,
for a better value, buy a pass from the Budapest
Transportation Company [BKV] and the ignore the discounts.
The Budapest Card is available at hotels, travel agencies &
at the underground. The simple PT pass is sold at most underground
stations. For more details on passes & ticket prices, please
visit the Budapest Transportation Company's [BKV] website.
Legenda, who are known as
a crusing company, sells Legenda
pass, which combines a public transportation pass and discounts
for various places. Great option is you wanted to cruise with Legenda
Hop on - hop off is an alternative if you are against using public
transport, but consider that a one day pass for City
tour Budapest costs more than a 72 hour PT pass, which covers
the whole capital. The choice is yours.
With two million people in twon, Budapest is hardly a place to
get bored. The city host a number of festivals during the year,
but even outside the festival season there are venues & programs
you can count on.
For music lovers the National
Opera is an obvious choice, but because ticket prices are reasonable,
you might want to book yourselves in no matter what... The brand
new Palace of Arts
host world-class performances, while the Academy
of Music is for smaller productions. Quality folklore shows
can be seen in Budai Vigadó or Duna Palota, organ concerts
are held at St. Ann's church or St Michaels. These two are both
organised by Hungaria
Festivals and events include the Budapest
Spring Festival and the Budapest
Autumn Festival, the annual Sziget
festival is one of Europe's biggest rock festival. Formula
1 lovers should come mid-summer to watch the race on Hungaroring.
The country's three major holidays [March 15th, August 20th, October
23rd] all offer extra opportunities for fun.
|Baths, coffe houses & ruin pubs
This chapter is dedicated to three special institutions in Budapest.
Baths have always enjoyed great prestiege among Romans, Turks, Hapsburgs
& Hungarians and they are getting ever more popular with the
wellness age. Coffee houses flourished at the turn of the century
 first, but a hundred years later they are still the places
to enjoy good life. Ruin pubs are an altogether new phenomen, a
unique way for the young & trendy to enjoy Budapest's nightlife
in a fun fashion.
Hungary has more than a thousand hot springs, a number of which
rise in the capital city on both sides. Traditional Turkish baths
sit along the embankment on Buda, the turn-of-the-century, elegant
ones are scattered around the hisotric centers of the city. New
hotels often pump hot water into their pools, too. For first-timers
or Gellert might give the best impression, regular visitors might
want to try Rudas or Lukacs. For a full list of baths in Budapest
Coffee houses for Budapest are what pubs would be for the Irish.
With more than cake & coffee on offer, many a place have played
key roles in Hungarian history. Revolutions & poems, rock concerts
& spy games, coffee houses have seen them everything and are
still cultural hotspots in the city. The long list of famous ones
Muvesz, New York, Callas,
But, there is always more to try!
Ruin pubs are installed in courtyards or gardens of empty houses.
Most are located in central, run-down-but-safe areas and offer endless
fun. The best is Szimpla
[with many small places in district VII], others include Kuplung
[Clutch pedal], Potkulcs
[Spare key], West Balkan & Tuzrakter.
|Antique & second hand
Flee markets were always part of any decent market place in the
past and Budapest fortunately does not go without them today either.
Know as 'Ecseri'
to the locals, the capital's main flee market is on the outskirts
on Nagykorosi ut. From the apple in the pie to the apple in the
sky, Ecseri has everything that attics hold these days in Hungary.
In town there are smaller, but equally interesting places to explore.
Falk Miksa utca, the 'antique row', runs close to the parliament
and feels like an upscale second-hand shopping street. Tiffany lamps,
period furniture, turn-of-the-century paintings wait for their would-be
owners in small specialised shops. At the boulevard end of the street
is a first class institution and the city's main pawn shop chain
[BAV] has a store there, too. For books, maps and old prints, you
should visit the Little Boulevard where second-hand book stores
cluster around the country's biggest university [ELTE] on Muzeum