Before starting the adventure, you should know some useful information:
- how to get there
Romanian Railways is offering the ''TRIP TICKETS'' option, where a return trip from Timisoara to Budapest is only 27 Euro. As WizzAir operates quite often to Budapest, I am sure you can get great prices when flying.
Keleti Train Station
You can buy tickets from the bus and tram driver, however for metro trip you need to have one with you in advanced. Tickets are available for one way, while metro tickets can be used when transferring from one metro line to another. Prices: 350 FT (if bought from a vending point), 450 FT (if bought from the conductor).
From comfortable hostels to five star hotels, Budapest has many options to choose from when is about accommodation.
Here are some options closer to the city center:
2*- Kiss Gellert, Marco Polo, Bara Junior
3*- Best Western, Burg, Promenada, Basilica
4*- Carlton, Boutique Hotel Victoria, Prestige, Buda Castle Fashion Hotel
5*- Sofitel Budapest Chain Bridge, Hilton, Marriott, Kempinski
Apartments: Budapest Best Aparments, Romatique Apartment, Buda Panorama Apartments
Hostels: Amazing, LOL Boutique, Full Moon Design, Central Backpacking King, Best Choice, Activity, Captain Budapest.
I reserved a room at LOL Boutique Hostel (via Booking.com) for 2 nights and the final price was 22 Euro. It offers a great value for money: it is clean, comfortable and friendly staff.
- city attractions
Depending on the type of traveler you are (Explorer, Discoverer or the Experienced one), you can take advantage of any organized excursions (by foot, by bike), which will highlight each area of Budapest.
For those who want to have their free time and guided excursions with an English-speaking guide, then a city-pass (Budapest Card) will suit their needs. You can purchase it at any Touristic Point and you have it valid for 24, 48 or 73 hours.
free public transportation
free entrance to one bath
free entrance to 8 museums
2 free guided walking tours
free mobile guide application
10-50% discounts on sights, exhibitions, programs, theme parks, bath and restaurants
Find more details here.
- buying alcohol
The legal drinking age in Hungary is 18. It is illegal to sell alcoholic drinks past 10pm (available for district 5-8)
- buying food
Do not be scared if you see ABC shops all around the city (for sure you are not lost!). This is how they name the small stores that sell basic food items.
I do not find food expensive (as prices are like in Romania), up to 10 Euro for dinner and around 6 Euro for breakfast. You can also sample their traditional food (gyros, goulash soup, langos, etc.)
Top Attractions that I highly recommend:
1. Heroes' Square
The monument is decorated with status of kings, governors which highlight Hungary's history. The semi-circles represents War and Peace, Knowledge and Glory.
2. St. Stephen Basilica
St. Stephen's Basilica (Szent Istvan-Bazilika) is a Roman Catholic basilica named in the honor of Stephen, the first king of Hungary. The Basilica holds mummified right hand of the first king as it is told that can perform miracles. It is the third largest church in Hungary.
3. Citadel Fortress and Gellert Hill
Probably not a lot of people know that the word ''citadel'' is Hungarian. The Citadel was build by the Habsburgs to demonstrate their control over Hungarians. The building is place on the Gellert Hill. The Hill was a strategic point during war that even Adolf Hitler ordered to be protected at any cost. From its top, you can have a panoramic view of the city (and an easy hike). If you would like to avoid walking, you can take bus 27 from Moricz Zsigmond korter.
The panoramic view from the Gellert Hill
The panoramic view from the Gellert Hill
4. Castle District
You cannot miss a step into Hungary's history, which can be well seen in Castel District. The area has narrow old-style streets. Most known attractions are Buda Castle, Matthias's Church and Fisherman's Bastion.
Buda Castel, also known as Royal Palace, is a World Heritage Site, hosts museums and great art collections.
Matthias's Church was built in 1015, where the coronation of kings took place. Near the church, Fisherman's Bastion is placed in its glory. The building has six towers that were protected by a fisherman (during Middle Age), which was responsible for defending this stretch of the walls.
This is the perfect place to admire the panoramic view of the Parliament, Margaret Island and Gellert Hill during the night. You cannot miss it!
5. The Parliament Building
Designed by the same architect that ''planned'' the London's House of Parliament (by Imre Steindl), has 691 rooms, 29 staircases and 10 courtyards. On the outside part, the building holds 90 angels.
6. Shoes on Danube
You will be impressed about its history and find it a a great idea to keep the history alive. During World War II, fascists ordered for Jewish to take off their shoes, line them up on the Danube River bank and shot them. Their body fell into the river and were carried away.
7. Margaret Island
What capital in this world has in the center of the city an island? Margaret Island is a 2.5 km, which during the Middle Age represented a religious center. Now it is a great place for sport activities.
Same as Turkey, Hungary is famous for its baths. While being in Budapest you can take the best from Rudas or Zecheniy Bath (which is the largest in Europe). Those are the perfect places if you seek for recreation, a great massage or for healing any rheumatic disease.
I had the chance to go to Lukas Bath, which is a perfect place to relax, they have an outside pool also. Do not miss a massage session while you are there.
9. River Cruise on Danube
The Budapest panorama was added to the World Cultural Heritage List by UNESCO. You cannot leave the capital without enjoying a River Cruise on Danube. I highly recommend it by night when the lights are on. I can say that I was impressed by the view and it is well-worth it. The trip lasts 90 minutes and it is organized at 2pm, 7pm and 10pm. The tickets can be booked with or without lunch, with or without dinner and no matter of the package you choose, you have two drinks included.
Also, depending when would you like to have the trip, they also have Folklore performance, symphony Concert or Organ Concert.
Depending on the package, prices are from 4200 FT to 17100 FT. If you are a student, make sure to have your student ID with you as you get 50% discount on ticket purchase. Find more details here.
I would say to book the tickets once you are there as you never know you can get a discount.
As Budapest has a lot to share, visiting Hungarian National Museum will take you back into their history of the daily life (clothes, furniture, life style), all organized by the most important periods in Hungarian History.
I got the chance to enter to the Light Séance Exhibition dedicated to the International Year of Light at Melycsarnok. What was amazing is that the exhibited reflections are installed mirror surfaces in the dark space, which are projected on the wall with the help of a torch. The works are placed in chronological order, so the further you go the earlier works of light-art you will find. So, the actual work does not exists, its just the image of it.
There are other cities places that would be great to visit, such as Central Market Hall, Museum of Applied Arts, House of Terror, State Opera, Vaci Street.
If you plan a trip to Budapest, I wish you an amazing time and I am sure you will be impressed by what the city has to offer.
I would love to hear your thoughts upon your return if at any moment you will take a trip to Budapest!