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BUDAPEST

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Parliament, Budapest, Hungary
Parliament, Budapest, © Can Stock Photo / AlexKosev

Budapest (pronouced "buda pesht") is the capital of Hungary and is considered one of Europe's most beautiful cities.  It is the largest city in Hungary, with a population of more than 1.5 million.  Budapest is comprised of the 1873 joining of Buda and Obuda on the west bank of the Danube with Pest on the east bank.  It has experienced Celtic, Roman, Mongol and Ottoman influences during its 2,000 year history.  The UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Budapest include - the banks of the Danube, the Buda Castle Quarter, Andrássy Avenue, Heroes' Square and the Millennium Underground Railway.

Weather:

Average summer highs from May to September are in the range of 75 F (25 C).  Winter months from November to March can be cold with little sunshine.  Expect average winter highs of 40 F (5 C) and average lows around freezing.  Snow is rare in Budapest in recent years.  Rainfall averages an inch (30 mm) or two each month throughout the year, though heavy showers are more likely in May and June.  April through September are good months to visit, as temperatures are comfortable at this time of year.  October can be very enjoyable in the absence of the summer tourists.

   

Transportation:

Liszt Ferenc International Airport (BUD) is located about 30 minutes from downtown Budapest.  There are cabs, an airport shuttle service and a train running to the city.  The public transit system in Budapest is operated by Budapest Transport Limited Company (BKV) and includes 4 metro lines.  The Millennium Underground Railway (Metro 1) was built to commemorate the 1,000 year anniversary of Hungarian Conquest in the Carpathian Basin.  It takes passengers from Vorosmarty Square along the Danube to Heroes Square and City Park by travelling directly underneath Andrassy Way.  Tramline No. 2 runs along the Danube past the Parliament, the Danube promenade and Millennium Cultural Centre.  The BKV also operates the funicular to Buda Castle and the Zugliget Chair-lift.  The Municipality operates the MOL Bubi public bike system with over 1,000 bikes.  Budapest is a major river cruise destination and many cruises start or end here.

Matthias Church, Fisherman's Bastion, Danube, Budapest, Hungary

Matthias Church and Fisherman's Bastion

Danube River Cruising:

Budapest is one of the most important embarkation points for river cruising in the world. The most popular Danube River Cruise heads up the Danube on a 14 day trip that also traverses the Main River and the Rhine to reach Amsterdam. Second in popularity are one week cruises up the Danube to destinations such as Passau and Regensburg. Cruises also head down the Danube toward the Black Sea and Bucharest.

Major river cruise cover the longer routes, while smaller companies will offer services between cities along the rivers. In 2012 Viking River Cruises began building a large fleet of ships that soon dominated the industry with 75% of the river cruising market.

Budapest Tours:

Attractions in Budapest:

Things to see and do:

  • Parliament House (Országház) - the capital building was built on the Danube River in 1896 in honor of the 1,000th anniversary of Hungary.  It's the highlight of Budapest.  There are great views of the Parliament from river boats and from Castle Hill on the opposite bank.  At the parliament, attend a Danube Symphony Orchestra Cimbalom Concert.  Stroll along the Danube Promenade (Duna korzó).  Between the Parliament and the Chain Bridge on the promenade, see the Shoes on the Danube, a memorial to those who lost their lives in the Holocaust.

  • Chain Bridge (Széchenyi Lanchid) - cross the Danube between the Parliament in Pest and Castle Hill in Buda.  It was the first bridge to join Buda and Pest.  Viking River Cruises docks at the base of the bridge.  Visit the Gresham Palace Hotel on the Parliament side of the bridge.  The Four Seasons took over this historic structure.

  • Castle Hill - setting for the Royal Palace (Buda Castle, Királyi palota), Matthias Church (Mátyás templom), the Vienna Gate (Bécsi Kapu), the Hungarian National Gallery, Fisherman's Bastion (Halászbástya) and the Mary Magdalene Tower (Mária Magdolna torony).  Walk from the Parliament in Pest, cross the Danube on the Chain Bridge and then take the Buda Funicular (Budavari Siklo) up to Castle Hill.  It runs every 5 -  10 minutes.  From the Bastion, enjoy views across the Danube to the Parliament in Pest.  Stop for cake and coffee in Cafe Ruszwurm (Ruszwurm Cukrászda) just a block southwest of Matthias Church.  Matthias Church is 700 years old.  It was destroyed and rebuilt.  The statue of Mary was preserved by plastering it in a niche during Turkish rule and is on display behind the security of iron bars.

  • Heroes' Square (Hősök tere) - site of the Millennial Monument, the Museum of Fine Arts and the Hall of Art (Kunsthalle).  This is the entrance to City Park (Városliget) and the Szechenyi Baths.  Take the Millennium Underground to arrive by traveling underneath Andrassy Way.  The Szechenyi Baths (Szechenyi furdo) provide public swimming in the thermal baths.  Join with others to create the Circle of Rapids in the pool.  Buy a Private Entrance to Széchenyi Spa.  Visit the Budapest Zoo and Botanical Garden.

Fisherman's Bastion, Budapest, Hungary

Fisherman's Bastion, © Can Stock Photo / wolszczak

St Steven's Basilica in Budapest, Hungary

St Stephen's Basilica

  • Visit the Grand Market Hall and try some local langos, goulash, gulyasleves, goose liver, wild boar and wine.  Walk along the pedestrian shopping street of Vaci Utca.

  • Millennium Cultural Center - includes the National Theatre and the Palace of Arts.

  • Visit Margaret Island via the Margaret Bridge and bike around this vehicle free location.  

  • Crawl and cave under the city.  With over 200 caves, Budapest is sometimes referred to as the City of Caves and guided cave tours are available.  Take a Small-Group Budapest Caving Tour.

  • House of Terror Museum - on Andrassy Way.   The museum addresses the impact of the Fascist Arrow Cross regime and the communist regime.

  • Tomb of Gul Baba - 1500s Turkish prophet and companion of Sultan Suleyman.

  • Memento Park - the statues of the communist era, removed for display at a venue outside of the city center.  Here Lenin and Marx statues preach to an empty field in a setting that is a reminder of terrible times.

  • Ride the Zugliget Chair-lift to access views over the city from the Erzsébet look-out tower.

  • Big Bus Budapest Hop-On Hop-Off Tour.

The Chain Bridge in Budapest, Hungary

Chain Bridge, Budapest, © Can Stock Photo / gina_sanders

Things to see and do near Budapest:

Castle Hill and the Danube, Budapest, Hungary

Castle Hill and the Danube

Savor the Tastes of Budapest:

Hotels in Budapest:

Take That Vacation Recommendations for Budapest:

Hotel Listings for Budapest

Budapest Liszt Ferenc Airport - (BUD) - including a list of hotels with a shuttle.


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