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Discovering Budapest

BasilicaBudapest has numerous dining and entertainment options for all budgets. From the cheap budget hostels, to lavish hotel suites. Deciding where to eat in Budapest or what sights to see can be a little overwhelming due to the huge number of restaurants and hotels available to you. Learning some of the basic Hungarian phrases will help break the language barrier many tourists will face, although a big majority of the tourist industry will know some English.

For those on a low budget, accommodation is cheap and easy to find. Many hostels are located close to the metro and city centre areas. The Budapest Budget Hostel is close to the river and within minutes of the main 4 and 6 tram routes linking you to all 3 metro lines, Oktogon and Nyugati. The staff are very friendly and helpful. Both dorms and private rooms are clean and safe, giving you a comfortable night’s stay from €16 per night Visit http://www.bbhostel.hu/ for more prices.

The Inter continental hotel offers a spectacular view of the river and Buda castle. Rooms start from €130 a night.

Pest has many opera and music festivals to offer. You can enjoy opera and ballet at the State Opera (VI. Andrássy út 22.) http://www.opera.hu and the Erkel Theatre. VIII. Köztársaság tér 30.).

Music concerts are usually held at the Budapest Sport arena in district 14 Further information on upcoming dates is on their website http://www.budapestarena.hu. The most internationally known festival is the Sziget festival each August which is held on Hajógyári-sziget on the river Danube.

Sightseeing is enjoyable and safe in Budapest. Some of the main sights you should visit include St Stephen’s Basilica, the House of Terror and Hősök tere (Hero’s Square)

St Stephens basilica, the 2nd tallest building in Hungary, is named after the first king of Hungary and was built in 1905. It’s neoclassical design makes for an impressive sight to see. In the reliquary you can find King Stephen’s right hand kept on display.

Hero’s square can be seen at the end of Andrássy Avenue and is worth a visit to see the Millennium memorial and the art museums either side. There’s also the city park, with Vadjahunyad castle, the transport museum and a fun fair. Hero’s square can be reached by taking the M1 yellow line to Hősök tere

The House of Terror is an interesting historical museum on Andrássy út 60. Open daily from 10 until 6pm, various exhibits can be found all year round.

If you don’t feel like navigating the streets on your own with a map but still want to go sightseeing, there are guided walking tours in several European languages. The tour begins from Vörösmarty tér (the main square) at 2pm daily for an in depth 2.5 hour guided tour of historical Budapest, the guides are well informed and glad to answer your questions. They offer a wealth of information on all the sights to see, and history of Budapest. The tour takes in major sights in Pest before continuing across the bridge into Buda, finishing with a drink and bite to eat in a traditional Hungarian cafe. If you order Palinka be aware it is probably the strongest drink you can taste.

For a nice view of both Buda and Pest you can visit Spoon Cafe located on the riverside at Pesti also rakpart street, next to the Inter Continental. You can take a river cruise from various points along the river. Visit http://www.spooncafe.hu/ for pictures and a menu.

A relaxing afternoon on Margitsziget is recommended, ideal for families or the sporty kind. Many enjoy the large space for exercise, jogging or just lazy picnics. Bikes can be hired for cycling along the large island. Margitsziget can be found between the Margit and Árpád bridges. Trams 4 and 6 stop at the entrance to Margitsziget, whilst Bus 26 circles the island.

Hiring bikes in Budapest has become more popular in recent years, while only a few areas offer exclusive cycle paths, there is still some way to go in raising awareness of cycling as an alternative transport. Prices range from 2000 HUF (€6)for 6 hours , to 3000 HUF (€9) for 24 hour rental. Budapestbike.hu has more information.

One of the popular attractions among the choices for sightseeing tourists in Budapest, are the many spas and saunas. The Gellert Baths provide a range of relaxing and therapeutic treatments. The art deco design inside this building is worth a visit just for the amazing sight. During the summer season there are music nights on Friday and Saturday. The Gellert Baths are at Kelenhegyi utca 4.

Budapest is fantastic for shopping and was recently listed the 10th best destination by the Economist Intelligence Unit. The full list is at http://globeshopperindex.eiu.com

Shopping is moderately priced compared to other European hubs. For cheap deals you can visit the great Central Market Hall at Vámház körút 1 which is just a short walk from Kálvin tér metro. The largest indoor market in Budapest has an astounding selection of fresh fruit and vegetables, numerous meat vendors and deli bars. On the 2nd floor you can taste various Hungarian sausages and other international delicacies at the buffet bars, as well as shop for souvenirs and gifts. The lower floor has a supermarket and a fish market. Nearby lies Váci utca which has many designer stores and several restaurants and cafes, making for a nice leisurely shopping and dining afternoon.

For a truly spectacular shopping paradise under one roof there is the West end mall offering hundreds of shops from designer clothing to books, games and souvenirs. There’s lots of dining, a multiplex cinema, rooftop ice skating rink and a playground making it great for tourists and families. All the shops you need can be seen on http://www.Westend.hu and its conveniently located next to Nyugati pályaudvar metro and train station, also served by trams 4 and 6. Be sure to stop here for that last minute gift or souvenir before you leave Budapest.

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One comment on “Discovering Budapest

  1. Pingback: Little bits of Hungarian art « Travels with my Moleskine

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This entry was posted on November 18, 2011 by in Uncategorized.

Logo image by Lora Rajah under creative commons license.

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