City trip to Budapest
Looking for a nice cheap city trip in Europe? Then I can highly recommend Budapest. You’ll be there in 2 hours of flying from The Netherlands. In my blog: “The Queen of the Danube” you get practical tips on the preparation and transport in Budapest. In this comprehensive blog you can read about great cultural places and hotspots where you can eat and drink.
Discover great places in Budapest
Once you arrive in Budapest, you want to submerge yourself in the culture. We’re not the only one. It is busy with people who want to get a spot on bus 100E, which drives you directly to the city centre. Within one hour we arrived in the heart of the city centre, at Deák Ferenc. We stayed at the ARCadia Hotel Budapest and that is 5 minutes away from Deák Ferenc. First we’re going to freshen up, and then we’re going to explore the city.
5x Great-to-see & 5x Great-to-taste= 10x enjoy
I’ve become totally excited about Budapest. Lots of historic buildings, great views, good food, cheap and good accessibility. During our 4-day city trip, we’ve seen all the highlights. Many people choose for a travelcard, but this doesn’t always have to be cheap. Only if you really use public transport a lot. The ferry and cable tram are not included in the travelcard. Furthermore, all well-known buildings are centrally located along the Danube and are easily accessible on foot. That’s why we went for a walk and so you suddenly come up with hidden beautiful places.
I like to take you in a cultural tasting of well-known and less-known locations. When you’re on the road, you often get hungry. And if you get hungry, how nice it is to spot great food places along your travel route! Below is a selection of cultural highlights with tasty food and drink locations in the same neighborhood, which you don’t want to miss.
This journey of discovery also includes insider tips and fun facts from the past and now.
Museum Hospital in the rock
Curious and triggered by the unknown, we walked off the beaten path in a side street of the Fisherman’s Bastion. When I saw a signage board from ‘Hospital in the rock’. In fact, I like to discover hidden locations in addition to the well-known highlights. Now I love old buildings myself, to tell a story about this with my photos. So it was triggered right away. Do you recognize that, too? Under the Buda Castle Hill, a cave system is hidden. During World War II, it served as a shelter, but was set up as a secret military hospital in 1944. The hospital also has a Dutch touch, because there was a Dutch volunteer here, Anna Boom, who wrote a book about it. The secret hospital later served once more during the Hungarian Uprising in 1956.
In case of emergency, a nuclear bunker was built. This well kept secret has been broken for a while and has been serving as a museum since 2002. The interior has remained authentic and you can only do an organized tour here. A must for those who love history and really want to get to know more about authentic Budapest.
Address: Lovas útca 4/c, Budapest
If you walk up from ‘Hospital in the rock’ with the wooden staircase between the tourist and folklore shops towards the Fisherman’s Bastion. You will pass Budapest’s oldest patisserie from 1827. You can’t miss this coffee house/pastry shop with its green striking façade. Wow, a true treat for your taste buds this is! The Szamos Likör szelet is delightful. This is a typical Hungarian pastry with Hungarian marzipan liqueur. You get a free water to steal the sweet taste and not drop your teeth.
Aren’t you sweet-toothed? They also serve Hungarian scones and you can also order coffee, tea or soft drinks. We even saw people ordering beer, something you don’t expect. It also seems to be the smallest coffee house. Outside is a small terrace and if you walk past the display case, you will find in the back the seating area. Literally taste the atmosphere of Hungary in the 19th century. The service is extremely friendly and they still know what hospitality is here.
Address: Szentháromság útca 7, Budapest
Fisherman’s Bastion and Matthias church
This is the most visited attraction of Budapest. A must-see that you shouldn’t skip during your trip. Personally my number 1, the most beautiful historical building in town, due to his architecture. The bastion was built between 1895 and 1902 and is also located on the Castle Hill in the Castle district, the old town heart of Buda. The Buda side of the castle wall was protected by the fisherman’s guild, hence the name: Fisherman’s Bastion. The fisherman’s guild was responsible for defending this part in the Middle Ages.
In the middle of the square there is a beautiful historic building: Matthiaskerk. A great-to-do to visit the church and also the tower. You are not allowed to come in and take pictures within the church service every Sunday until 13:00. The church is a striking appearance with its colored roof tiles.
Find your special roof tiles for your house? These roof tiles are for sale. A very original souvenir, that doesn’t come very often. Maybe for your suitcase too heavy.
Furthermore, the structure is part of 7 towers, which are represented by the 7 tribes of Maygar Posta (as Hungary used to be called). This beautiful location has not gone unnoticed by the music business. At this location is the music video clip of Ellie Goulding feat. DJ Diplo with Close to me recorded.
We went to Budapest at the beginning of March, just before the tourist opening hours and prices. If you don’t depend on school holidays, I would recommend this time and early October as the best travel time. It is less crowded and outside the high season you can visit the watchtower for free. In terms of views you see the same as downstairs, so it’s more for the experience to look it up a little higher.
You can enjoy views like the Hungarian parliament building, Danube, Margit Island and Gellértheuvel. You want to avoid the mass of people? Then I would recommend you to come here before 8:30 am and maybe before 08:00 in the summer. Early you can see the buscoaches arriving with lots of tourists. A must-do is also to visit this place in the evening glory. You want to take beautiful pictures? Then the blue hour is beautiful. Because the construction is white, the contrast is magnificent.
Address: Donáti útca tér (from Pest bus 16, stop for Vissersbastion) or Szentháromsag tér (stop at the top of Matthiaskerk)
Website: http://www.budavar.hu/halaszbastya-belepodijai (not yet in English, only via Google translation)
Restaurant 21 Maygar Vendéglö
We’ve been hungry after a day spent exploring Buda. In Budapest, you don’t have to be afraid there’s no restaurant nearby. In the gastronomic quarter of the Castle district you will definitely get your way. There are five restaurants in this group: Baltazár (grill & winebar), Pierrot (French cuisine), Pest Buda (old Hungarian cuisine), Jamie’s (Oliver, Italian cuisine) and 21. We went to restaurant 21 for dinner.
This Hungarian hip restaurant serves typical Hungarian cuisine in a modern 21st century jacket. I would highly recommend this restaurant. Atmosphere, hospitality, good food and drink is great here. You can find this hotspot in a side street, behind the Fisherman’s Bastion.
When I’m in another country, I always want to taste the local cuisine, because that’s how you literally really taste the country. I love good rich food and the food is in Budapest for little money. Even in more luxurious restaurants you even been more cheaper than in the Netherlands. This only motivates you to try out all kinds of food and drink. Very annoying ;-). And if you’re going to eat in Budapest, of course you take Hungarian Goulash. After having eaten this, I order at 21: Csirkepaprikás vajas gal. This is Hungarian chicken with the special Hungarian paprika powder prepared, which is also used for Goulash, with a kind of stuffed dough rolls (also called dumplings). Delicious dish. This restaurant is also suitable for vegetarians.
As typical Hungarian wine I chose Tokaji. Wow, I didn’t know the wine here is so good too! On my buy list to bring back for home. The wine has a dry (often Furmint on label) and sweet dessert wine variant (the strength is indicated with puttonyos). This wine is from the Tokaj Hegyalja wine region and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. What makes it very special is that this wine region is the oldest in Europe. Even 100 years older than the famous Bordeaux wine from France. At the time, many kings and popes were customers of this Hungarian wine region. Later, communism destroyed production by producing more wine than going for real quality. At the moment the quality is good again and I have certainly tasted that. With a full stomach we take bus 16 back to the Pest district.
Address: Fortuna útca 21, Budapest (bus 16, stop Szentháromsag tér)
Climb the Gellért hill & visit the Cave church
Do you want to see Budapest at a glance? Then the Gellértheuvel is the place-to-be! What a super panoramic view. Here you can find the skyline of the town parts Buda and see Pest. This location is located in Buda, south of the Castle District. The hill is 235 meters and it means literally the highlight of Budapest.
Since 1987 it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is named after Bishop Gellért Sagredo. His statue is heading towards the Burcht district. On top of the hill is the statue of liberty.
You can climb the mountain in different ways. The easiest way to get the closest to the top is bus 27 to grab and get off at bus stop Busulo Juhasz (Citadel). Here you can walk 600 meters to the top.
We went for the adventure and took the climb from the Cave church to above the hills in the park and stairs up. A big challenge for your condition, but if you’re healthy, this is a great thing to do. The nice thing about this is that you also have views at different heights, which are super to enjoy and rest in between. I would definitely bring a water bottle and something to eat. We took 30 minutes for a quiet walk to get from the Cave church to the citadel with the statue of liberty. Wow, you’re really going to be rewarded with spectacular panoramic views!
With small children or with a buggy, the climb may be too heavy due to the many steps. An alternative for children is the playground, which lies between the Cave church and the citadel while it is on the route to the top. Here are several slides and climbing possibilities. It can not missing with the sound of children.
This natural Cave church from 1926 originated in a dolomiet pride under the southern slope of Gellért Hill and still provides services. You can’t go in during the services. The Cave church is closed on Sundays. The entrance is with an audio tour by yourself and costs 600 HUF (€ 1.84) and students and seniors receive a 100 HUF discount and for children under 10 years of age the admission is free of charge. It is a small church and through a narrow corridor you pass the main altar, pulpit and a reproduction of the black madonna. It’s not big and within 15 minutes you’ll be out again. If you’re around, I’d recommend you definitely go in. The Cave church is interesting to see and in combination with the Gellért Hill and all its monuments, this visit to the Cave church completes the round.
Address: Sziklatemplom útca 1, Budapest
(Stop at Liberty bridge, opposite the Gellért hotel with bath)
Grand Market Hall
The Grand Market Hall, is located on the Pest side in the Jewish quarter. A great-to-do & taste location to visit. It is recommended to visit this market hall early and store some food and drinks on the go. Nice combination with the Gellért Hill. This is about a 10-minute walk via the Liberty Bridge to the Cave church. In 2006, CNN Travel declared Europe’s most beautiful market hall. The market hall is from 1897, formerly there was another channel where market traders came in. In the mid-1990’s, the Grand Market Hall was renovated and the canal was removed. Nowadays you can buy goods every day from 06:00 hrs. except not on Sundays.
Advice: First walk past all stalls and let all the smells and colors come at you before you buy something. Downstairs fresh vegetables, fruits, spices, sweets and drinks are sold and on the first floor you will mainly find souvenir shops and food shops. It is said that because of the high price you should not buy your souvenirs here, but you can buy food and drink products.
It is a beautiful building, which is based on the same building style as the Matthias Church. I noticed that right away from the colored roof tiles. Once inside you have all kinds of stalls with food and drinks on either side. My eye fell on the chocolate stall, which is reasonably close to the entrance. Mmm all kinds of flavors of chocolate are for sale here and I could obviously not resist the temptation to buy some of it, yummy yummy.
Do you want to make goulash and use traditional Hungarian paprika powder? Then I recommend buying it here just like the Hungarians.
Address: Vámáz Krt, 103, Budapest
(Tram lines 47 and 48 and metro M3, stop Fóvám Tér)
Great Synagogue in Budapest
This is the largest synagogue in Europe and after New York the second largest in the world.
A great-to-see that impresses and even if you’re not a believer, don’t miss it! The synagogue is closed on Saturdays and Sunday morning there is service. Admission is free and for the museum you pay 4000 HUF (€ 12,00). The structure is already beautiful and large from the outside. In the narrow streets of the Jewish Quarter, the two large domes are located on towers of 43.6 meters, which form the entrance. The synagogue was built in Moorish architecture between 1854-1859 and has no less than 3,000 seats.
Memorial Temple and Garden of the Delegates
After entering I went to visit the monuments around the synagogue first. Next to the synagogue lies the memorial to the 10,000 Hungarian soldiers, who fought during World War I. If you walk through you will come into the memorial garden, where thousands of Jewish are crammed together under inhumane conditions. That’s why you get goosebumps when you walk through this and read the stories. Further in the garden you will be the first to see a tree of silver, a weeping willow that has 5,000 leaves of names of Holocaust victims. The tree originated in memory of Raoul Wallenberg, who rescued 35,000 Jewish from the camps during World War II.
Once inside the synagogue is the interior, a very beautiful architectural highlight. The interior have warm golden yellow, orange-red colours with browned wooden benches on either side. The beautiful arches, mosaic floors, frescoes, ornaments and a high ceiling with large chandeliers, provide depth. In the synagogue you can see many tours with guides in up to 10 different languages.
A funny fact is that the synagogue was restored in 1996, thanks to large investments by the luxury cosmetics company Estée Lauder. The ancestors of the Director are Hungarian and Jewish. A second investment came from the film fund by Tony Curtis, who is also of Hungarian descent. Due to the renovation, the interior in Byzantine style and equipped with two new chandeliers.
Jewish Historical Museum
The museum is located next to the synagogue and you’re going to have a number of stairs up. Here you come into contact with the history of Judaism. At the entry you can see all religious objects from the 18th and 19th Century. There is also a memorial room to the Holocaust.
Address: Dohány útca 2, Budapest (metro M2, tram 47 and 49, bus 7 and
Shoes on the Danube bank
On the Pest side near the Danube banks between the Chain bridge and diagonally opposite from the Hungarian Parliament you will find 60 shoes of 40 meters long, which also form a memorial. During World War II, about 800 Jewish were shot on the edge of the Danube banks.
The Jewish were forced to take off their shoes and stand on the edge and look with their face to the waterfront. In 2005, for this reason, a monument was placed to memorate the victims. Very impressive to see.
New York café
After your visit to the synagogue, would you like to eat and drink on a special great location? Then the most beautiful café in the world, as they call it, a great-to-see & taste in one. It’s definitely not cheap, not even for Hungarian concepts, but you get a super experience + great food and drink for back. A cup of coffee starts from € 5,00. The service costs will be added to your account.
If you walk out of the street of the synagogue, you’ll come after approx. 1 km at this beautiful hotel with the New York café. The New York Palace hotel was built in the Eclectic Italian Renaissance style in 1894. The entrance to the café is on the corner side and the entrance of the hotel in front. We were there at the beginning of March and could go straight in without reservation. In high season it is useful to book in advance.
Furnishing and atmosphere
Actually, café is not the right word, because it has the grandeur of a palace when you’re inside and it’s also an event location. You really feel like a princess here. Everything here is gold and shines with beautiful frescoes and gold ornaments with chandeliers on the ceiling. It is decorated in Art-deco style with lots of kitsch. It’s like a museum, a real attraction. You must
definitely go for a walk through the whole location, if you got in. Personally, I didn’t feel a stiff atmosphere under the service.
Upon entering we were escorted to a table. In the left wing the café with tables and chairs. A floor higher in the another wing plays a pianist, which brings with it a relaxed atmosphere.
In the back of the café is a space that can also be rented for events. After having a delicious hot chocolate with a chocolate banana dessert, we were able to going for it!
Address: Erzsébet Kőrút 9-11, Budapest
Shopping, ruin bars and food courts
Although Budapest is known for its beautiful structures and bath culture, You can also shop here. During a city trip you must go for shopping. During the shopping you also see amazing streets with beautiful facades and in between great food spots.
Shopping in Fashion Street and Váci utca
Shop lovers pay attention! I especially recommend an afternoon in the Jewish quarter. In the Jewish quarter of Pest you will find the most famous shops in the city. Buda has one covered shopping centre, but otherwise you will found little less here. From Deák Ferenc you walk towards the Danube, so on the Fashion Street. Here you will find all types of fashion stores, but also glasses-, bags- and shoe shops. In the side street you will find the car free shopping street Váci utca, which runs parallel to the Danube until the Grand Market Hall. Here you can also see common retail stores that you see everywhere such as the H&M, Zara etc., as well as souvenir shops and other offerings such as jewelry and home shops.
While shopping I suddenly ran into a nice tea hotspot! That came out well, then the feet can rest from strolling. This tea house is called 1000 Tea and is in the last part of Váci utca at no. 65 and you’ll walk right past it. It is hidden in a small alley in a quiet place. It is traditionally decorated with rugs and tables with stools. Take a moment, as you can choose from 50 different types of loose tea, which is served on a wooden tray in a traditional teapot.
Shopping in luxury on the Andrássy Boulevard
Do you like luxury? Then go to Andrássy Boulevard. This is Budapest’s Rodeo Drive. Below this street is the first underground of the European mainland built. Since 2002, this long avenue with trees of 3.3 km long has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This avenue starts at Deák Ferenc and ends at the Heldensquare. Behind it you have the beautiful Vajdahunyád castle and famous Széchenyibad. There are also a host of restaurants, theatres and ruin bars. About the latest word, I make a nice bridge to the next subject.
Ruin bars: Szimpla Kert
If you want to have a drink and taste culture in a relaxed place, you really have to discover the ruin bars in the Jewish quarter! The most famous ruin bar is Szimpla Kert. Kert means garden.
In 2002 this first ruin bar was opened and you can visit this location both in the afternoon and evening. During the day there is an open air cinema and on Sunday there is a farmers’ market. Szimpla promotes their food and drink here and local non-profit organization can promote their funds with activities here. You can also go to a free concert three times a week.
The ruin bars are created by old abandoned buildings and find a new life. Szimpla Kert is the oldest and largest is Instant. It looks grungy and scary, but it’s a become a Hungarian lifestyle. You really have to go in and see it with your own eyes.
Szimpla Kert is very large and inside you have different spaces on different floors and a melting pot of old interior. There is a cocktail bar, wine bar, beer and soft drinks, snack bar, shisha lounge and a shop with merchandise. All drinks are very cheap, far below the euro prices, as we known in the rest of Europe.
Address: Kazinczy útca 14, Budapest
Food court: Gozsdu Udvar
Right behind our hotel is this foodcourt and it runs parallel to Szimpla Kert. Like this place, this is the heart of Boeda’s nightlife and focused on youth. This food court is less well known. It is a street with all kinds of eateries with various kitchens and entertainment such as karaoke bars. On Saturdays and Sundays you will find during the day mark stalls with vintage (2nd and3rd hands) products.
Address: Gozsdu Udvar
Budapest is such a nice city, which there is so much more to say about, but otherwise you will continue to scroll ?. You really have to experience it by yourself!
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