Did you know that Buda is one side of the Danube river and Pest is on the other? The combination of both parts Buda and Pest make up the city of Budapest. So when you start out your walking tours, chances are you’ll be on the Pest of the river. This is where you can visit St.Stephen’s Basilica Church, walk down Vaci street and enjoy some shopping and enjoy the Danube Promenade and see views of Castle Hill across the river. At the Chain Bridge there are plenty of outdoor patio cafes. Venturing over the Chain Bridge is beautiful and on the other side in Buda, you’ll find the Castle District. This district is pedestrian only or public transport, which makes for a perfect excuse to ride the funicular, Budavári Sikló, up the hillside and admire the views of Pest. Allow yourself several hours here as there is much to see. The most popular attractions are the Royal Palace, Fisherman’s Bastion, Russwurm (the city’s oldest cafe), and just past the Magdalena Tower are the gothic houses (15th century) along Országház utca.
Places to Visit in Budapest
- Hungarian State Opera House
- Hungarian Parliament Building
- Fisherman’s Bastion
- Buda Castle
- Mathias Church in Trinity Square
Unique Things to See and Do in Budapest
- Witness the Shoes on the Danube Bank
- Ride the Buda Castle Funicular
- Walk across the Chain Bridge
- Admire artworks at one of the sites in Heroes Square
- Take a ferry ride along the Danube
- Explore the Pál-völgyi Stalactite Cave
- Visit the Palace of Arts, Budapest’s newest culturally hip hot spot
- Visit one of the many thermal pools around the city
Like any good traveller, it is a must to try as many yummy treats as possible when in Hungary. Fortunately for the sweet-toothed out there, Hungary has a combination of Turkish, Austrian, German, Russian, Hungarian, and Jewish pastries to try. And the settings of many cafes match the decadence of the flavours. There is a famous traditional Jewish pastry shop, called Frohlich, that you must visit and try Flodni cake. The Flodni is made with a combination of walnuts, apples, and poppyseed fillings – layered into a cake.
Combining sweets with coffee is another must. Budapest has over 500 cafes and a long history of coffee drinking that started to really flourish in 1910. There was a hiccup during the communist party’s reign, but it bounced back with full voracity. Combine your coffee drinking with a bit of architectural history at the Russwurm, the oldest cafe in Budapest. This old baroque house has been running as a coffee shop since 1827!
Getting Around Budapest
Budapest is the best city in Hungary for public transportation. They have the only metro in the country, plus public buses, trams, boats (along the Danube), funiculars, and taxis. The Budapest Metro is the oldest electric underground metro in the world. There are four lines, colour coded, and run from approximately 4:30 am till 11:30 pm. One tip; after you’ve bought your ticket make sure you validate it before entering the platform. There are stamping machines located before the platforms or before escalators. If you don’t stamp it you could face a fine with the patrollers, who will push for cash on the spot. It’s easy to get intimated and most people just pay the fine, but they should give you a citation or a receipt. Best advice is to look for the stamping machines. They are often in weird obscure spots or (in my experience) hidden behind plants!
The buses and trams are quite extensive as well, plus the cities major sights are within walking distances. The trams are the bright yellow cars running along city tracks, so watch for them when crossing the streets! They aren’t the quickest way to travel, but they offer a great way to see the city and are slow enough to get some good photos on the fly. Validate your ticket on the tram with the red punch machines, or the orange stamping machines. On the buses you can purchase your tickets from the driver but they will cost a bit more. The ticket booths are located at the entrances of Metro stations with signs saying, “Pénztár.”
Did you know…?
Fisherman’s Bastion, the most popular tourist site, was constructed opened in 1902 to celebrate Hungary’s 1000th year birthday of statehood.
Did you ALSO know…?
That the terminals and the cars were destroyed in WWII, but in 1986 the site was given new life with new terminal and cars.
Best Time of Year to Travel to Budapest
The summer is when most people travel through Hungary. The weather is warm, the nights stay brighter longer, and the festivals are abundant. The temperatures can reach pretty high, with record heats of 39 – 40C in June, July, and August, but the average temps range from a low of 20C to a high of 27C. Summer time is also high season and the hotels, B&Bs, and hostel rates are often higher. For those who don’t like really hot summers, the spring and autumn months would be better. The temperatures are cooler, but still warm enough to enjoy the sunshine. In May and September the temperatures are around 15C. The winters in Hungary can reach a low of -5C and snowy days may occur during the months of December & January although it has snowed less in the past few years than is historically typical.
Ready to plan your visit to Budapest? Check out these popular guides and trips.