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The Hungarian Language
The Hungarian Parliament
The Budapest Chain Bridge
The Budapest Journal

The crest of the city

A Tiny Tour of Budapest

[Tips for a stroll around town] [Practical info] [Entertainment in Budapest]

The Danube bank in Budapest is one of the loveliest town centers in Europe. Visible in this picture are the Parliament, to the right, and the Széchenyi Lánchíd, or Chainbridge. Buda, to the left, is hilly and picturesque. Pest, to the right, a separate city until the second half of the 19th century, is flat, stately and quaint (not to mention a bit polluted). Click to enlarge.
click for more The Széchenyi Lánchíd, or Chainbridge, was built by István Szécheny in the second half of the 19th century. It was the first bridge to link Buda and Pest. It was thus that the new city, Budapest was created. The Bridge recently won an award as the second most beautiful bridge in the world.Click for more, bigger pics of the beautiful bridge.
A typical sidestreet in Budapest, showing the baroque architecture common in the city. Click to enlarge.
Beauty can be tucked away in the corners, waiting to surprise you, as in this typical Budapest stairwell. Click to enlarge.
No modern European city would be complete without its own subway system, or Metro. Click for Metro map of Budapest:
   
   

Here's a medieval artist's rendering of Buda. Note the castle wall, still visible in some places today. The city dates back to Roman times.

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Tips for a stroll around town

It's worth walking over the Chain Bridge because of the view. It only takes a few minutes, because the Danube isn't all that wide. The approaches to the bridge are slightly busy, of course.

First you could visit Vörösmarty Square (Vörösmarty tér), at the end of the yellow line or the subway/underground (called kis földalatti in Hungarian). It's a nice place, and you could walk up and down Vörösmarty utca (street), a well-preserved pedestrian zone and shopping district.

It's also easy to get to Vigadó tér on foot from Vörösmarty Square. The view is lovely there, and you can get the No. 2 tram/streetcar to the Chain Bridge. It's also where you should catch a bout to take you on a two-hour cruise of the Danube up and down Budapest, preferably at seven p.m., when the bridges and buildings will be illuminated when you are on your way back.

After crossing the Chain Bridge, you would find yourself at Clark Adam tér. This is where you can catch a ski lift up to the Buda Castle (Budavár), more of a palace than a castle really, which contains the National Gallery. Once you are up there, walk all along Castle Hill (Várhegy), with it's lovely Medieval buildings. All the restaurants here are expensive. Another bridge worth walking on is the Margit (that's Margaret) Bridge, not because the bridge is lovely but because of the view from the middle of the bridge, where there is a sort of observation deck, and because that's where Margaret Island (Margit Sziget) is, with it's lovely park for walking and having picnics in.

Take the no. 4 or 6 tram/streetcar to the middle of the bridge. Parliament can be visited at Kossuth tér, easily accessible on the red underground-subway line. It's impressive. Heroes' Square (Hősök tere) is worth a look, also on the yellow line, as is the Opera. See a ballet at the opera; it's lovely inside. We just saw Swan Lake, which was just amazing.

Another lovely building is the Iparművészeti Múzeum (this is like the museum of crafts or something). Worth a stop, and not far from the 4 and 6 tram/streetcar lines.

Cruises can be taken to other great places nearby: Szentendre, Visegrad and Esztergom. I heartliy recommend taking just a circular route, setting out to the north in the evening, and swinging back in the dark. Seeing the banks of the Danube from a boat at night, with all the illuminated monuments and bridges drifting by and towering over your head, is well worth it.

Enjoy your trip to Budapest!

Entertainment in Budapest

Movies:
The best place for listings of movies playing in English (with Hungarian subtitles) is The Budapest Sun, a weekly paper in English in Budapest, or The Budapest Sun Online; their main page is here;

their movie listings are here.

Newspapers and magazines:
Budapest SunAside from the Budapest Sun , there are a number of internation newsapapers available in Budapest, including Time, Newsweek , and The Economist, in English. Obtain these at you hotel or in any 'Relay' newsstands in the pedestrian underpasses around subway/underground entrances. They are also available at the newsstands on Vörösmárty tér and Váci utca.

Theater:
Merlin TheaterHungary has its own international theater, including plays in English, the Merlin Színház (Merlin Theater). They have an English-language web page. I enjoyed the play that I saw there in 2002, a two-man show, quite a bit.

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Warning for tourists
One upset traveler's negative experience in Budapest.

Practical info
  • From the airport. Sometimes the taxi drivers at the airport are of an unsavory stripe. They threaten competitors and charge high rates. I would avoid them, taking the airport Minibus instead, costing a mere ten or fifteen dollars. It will go to the door of your hotel or other accommodation. You may have to wait for up to an hour, though. The number of one reliable taxi company in Budapest is 222-2222.
  • Transport in town. When you arrive, get a transportation pass/season ticket (bérlet) that covers the approximate length of your stay. They are good for just a few days,  ten days, or even all month. It is far cheaper than validating a ticket every time you board a bus. The little purple tickets and the pass are good for all forms of transport inside the city limits, excepting the boats and the Buda Ski Lift (Sikló) from Clark Adam tér. If you do have to use a little purple ticket, don't forget to validate a new one, using one of the ticket punchers on board, every time you change lines. Most of the ticket punchers a manually operated, not automatic, so give a good tug on the black part once you have inserted your ticket. On the subway/underground, ticket must be punched at the inetrance in an electric puncher. Again punch a new ticket every time you change lines. Tickets and season tickets/transportation passes are available at most underground/subway (Metro) stations, and one-trip-only tickets may be obtained at newsstands and even tobacconists.
  • Phoning. Get a handy phone card (telefon kártya) for as little as a dollar fifty at newsstands. Most public phones are card operated. When they run down, just throw them away and get a new one. For phoning abroad, especially to the states, they are the only way to go, since throwing coins into a coin-operated phone fast enough is physically impossible.
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