Budapest Guide for first timers
We compiled this little guide for upcoming Budapest lovers, addicts of the venues, constant future bath visitors and everyone else who want to discover this magic city. Our Budapest guide shows the most recommended sights, some of the better but not too touristy restaurants, couple of good baths and some of the better ruin pubs in Budapest. Check it out!
Budapest itself could be divided into certain touristic parts, just like the Castle District, Gellért Hill, Downtown, Andrássy Boulevard, City Park and the Margaret Island.
The Castle District
This is the most old and historical area of Budapest. On the top of the Castle Hill named “Várhegy”, defended by the stone walls, gives an ancient feeling for visitors. The royal palace has been established here at the 13th century and holds the National Art Gallery, the Ludwig Museum and the Budapest Historical Museum present days.
Other sights to see here: Matthias Church, Fishermen`s Bastion, Castle Labyrinth and the Funicular. If you take it down from the hill, you can get easily to the Pest side downtown across the Chain Bridge.
Named after a monk who was thrown down from this hill by local pagans, became a saint for his martyrdom for Christianity. His statue is located on the northern side of the hill, just next to the white Elizabeth Bridge. Under this bridge you can find a mysterious black metal door where you can find some of the healthiest spring water from the hill; it stinks more as it is more healthy stuff and for a ridiculous price you can take it home.
On the hilltop you can find the Citadel stands since 1849, it was built by Austrians after the fall of the Independence War 1848-49. There is a small museum inside, and of course you can walk around this fortress. Next, there is the Statue of Liberty, holds an olive-branch, preaches for the peace.
The best sight to all Buda and Pest is from here, obviously because this is the highest point of the City.
Down on the hill on the other side you can get to the Cave Chapel, and to the famous Gellért thermal bath giving you some relaxing hours inside the wide selection of pools and massage.
From here you can get to the Market Hall and the Downtown area across the green Ferenc József bridge.
The most central and most expensive area magnets the most of the tourism in Budapest. Almost everyone who visited Budapest have seen Váci utca as well, or walked around the Duna-korzó. The center is definitely the Deák square, from here you can get to Vörösmarty square, then down to the south you can walk down on Váci street or on the parallel Korzó until the Market Hall, then upon Museum körút you can see the National Museum. Next to Astoria there is the biggest public-open synagogue of Europe with the museum of the local Jewish community. Back to Deák tér, then up to north there lies the St. Stephen`s Basilica, holds the `Holy Right Fist` relic, which is of St. Stephen, the first king of Hungary, who ruled the country between 997-1038. You can get a nice sight from the tower, or take a look in the treasury which is small, but more ancient relics could be found there.
towards on north you can find the Parliament with the Royal Crown, or on north-east you can get to the City Park along Andrássy Boulevard.
Between the Downtown and City Park, there lies a long, wide road with plenty of trees, giving a kind of feeling of Paris and the Champs Elysee. This area is full of well-renovated palaces and villas, but not this is the only thing to see here. There is the National Opera House, what had the same architecture of the St Stephen`s Basilica. Towards the City Park you can find the octagonal square of Oktogon, a lively area with full of pubs, restaurants and cafés. After it you can get to the House of Terror museum, a shocking exhibition shows something about the Nazi and communist secret police known ÁVO and ÁVH with some photos and relics of former prisoners of labor camps. The ticket includes the audio guide as well.
Passing this museum you can get to the amazing palaces at Kodály Kőrönd, then to the Heroes` square, which is the entering monument to the City Park.
As a relaxing park area with plenty of trees and a lake, this place is popular for the citizens of Budapest as well. Of course we shouldn’t forget about the sights and museums what you can find here.
First of all there is the Millenary monument for the heroes of Hungary, was built in 1896, for the celebration of 1000 years after the settlement of Magyars in Hungary. Left of it there is the Museum of Fine Arts, on the right the Exhibition Hall, on the far-right there is the City Lake which has double functions: During the summer you can rent a boat to row in the lake, during the winter it is an open skating area.
Passing the bridge behind the statues you can get to the Castle of Vajdahunyad what holds the Agricultural Museum, but the building itself is worth to see as well. There is the Museum of Traffic in the nearby.
On the other side of the road after the bridge there you can find the Széchenyi Thermal Spa, one of the most popular places in Budapest. Continue your way you can meet with the Zoo, the National Circus and the Amusement Park, which is not a Disneyland
but you can have fun there. The City Park itself is a quiet place usually, but such festivals like the Labor Day and some
concerts create a lots of people there.
Between Buda and Pest, there lies a piece of peace on an island north of the city, named after Saint Margaret, who lived in the monastery what`s ruins can be still visited.
Favorite place of joggers, bicyclers, and swimmers, ideal for romantic appointments for couples or just for those who would like to breath some fresh air in the middle of the town.
There are some sights what shouldn’t be missed like the fountain what is delighted and accompanied with classical music, or the Japanese garden for example. During the summer the Palatinus swimming park offers some fun with its slides and wave-pools, and some plains for taking sunbath.
Restaurants in Budapest
Open: 11.30-20.00 (Mon-Sun)
Address: V., Október 6. utca 17.
Among the oldest restaurants in Budapest with over twenty years in business, Kisharang is a genuine gem a short walk from Szabadsag ter, offering selected quality ingredients, handcrafted traditional recipes, classic red-checkered tables, a retrospective decoration with antique cooking tools, a tiny but always busy terrace, thanks to the good prices and a welcoming service. Check out their daily specials, worth every penny.
Open: 12.00-23.30 (Mon-Sun)
Address: V., Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út 15/A.
It is hard to find a moderate priced restaurant in downtown Budapest, especially next to popular touristic sights. Well, not for Lugas, opposite from the Saint-Stephens’ Basilica. It is yet another authentic Hungarian restaurant with a wide-selection of traditional dishes and a great deal of a three course Tourist menu is available for 12€, Lugas provides a good value on affordable prices. Beyond their daily menu, our favorite is Chicken Paprikash with home made gnocchi with a glass of Balaton rosé from Feindl wineyard.
Open: 12.00-24.00 (Mon-Fri), 11.30-24.00 (Sat-Sun)
Address: VI., Király utca 30-32.
One of the most known All-You-Can-Eat-and-Drink restaurant chain in Budapest, offering a constantly refilled open table buffet and a wide selection of grilled meat, fish and vegetables, prepared by the chef in front of your eyes, and an infinite amount of beer, wine and champagne, they are a challenge for any tourist who comes by. Especially for a bargain of 20€ for a dinner but guess what?! It gets even cheaper for lunch…
Gandhi Vegetarian Restaurant
Open: (Mon-Sat) 12.30-22.30
Address: V., Vigyázó Ferenc u. 4.
Underneath Lou Lou`s French restaurant, a calm and enterprising young man named Albert Toth has set up a restaurant devoted to the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi. After studying polarity therapy and other holistic healing in the United States, Toth decided to create an environment that would blend together everything and everybody, a sensual scene without tension or distinction – a place of peace and pleasure.
The four rooms are painted in the color of clay, which make you feel as though you are in a cave. Meditative music plays in the background and from the tables you can hear the flowing water of the miniature indoor stream. There are no windows and no natural light and the visitor feels as though they have been transported to another world.
You can select your own salad from the imaginative fresh choice at the bar, which is priced according to weight. There are two set dishes of the day, named after the sun and the moon. Beverages include wheat beer, natural fruit juices, purified water and organic red and white wine.
Clubs and Pubs in Budapest
Morrison`s Music Club
Opening: Tue-Sat: 21.00-04.00
Address: VI., Révai u. 25.
Well designed, English-style decorated bar, playing Karaoke and Funky on various nights. Daily offers, cheap beer, cool cocktails, very popular among students and free entry for ladies.
Address: VI., Nagymező utca 38.
The. Biggest. Ruin bar in Budapest. Has six bars between two buildings, three dance floors and two gardens, among the several small rooms on offer. Happy hours and table fusball keeps you entertained during the afternoon, Artsy installations for the chic. DJs play different music from 9pm until the very morning.
Address: VII., Kazinczy u. 14.
This is the oldest ruin pub in Budapest, which became a must-visit tourist attraction during the past twenty years. Originally a Berlin-style underground club, Szimpla offers a cultural scene with live concerts, cinema, vintage market, themed rooms and a huge garden at the back. We liked drinking palinka on the bathtub couch.
VII., Király utca 21.
A bar and restaurant complex five minutes away from the city center, located on Király street, one of the liveliest bar scenes. Within the complex there are several bars and restaurants to choose from: We liked equally liked DiVino’s wines, Gozsdu Mano’s concerts, French breakfasts at Café Vian, Spíler’s burgers and Léhűtő’s craft beer. Spend the entire day entertained.
Address: XIV., Állatkerti krt. 11.
Swimming suites required.
The biggest and most popular inside and open air thermal bath of the City. Wide range of options are offered to indulge yourself: swimming pools, thermal pools, Jacuzzi, sauna, mud bath, massage… Located in the City Park.
Address: XI., Kelenhegyi út 4.
Swimming suites required.
The most famous thermal bath of Budapest, probably because of the hotel which operates just next door. Smaller than the Szechenyi, although more centrally located. The outdoor pool operates during summer only.
Tel: 356-1322, 375-8373
Swimming pool: 06:00 – 22:00
Wellness – sauna world: 08:00 – 22:00
Every day: 06:00 – 20:00
For women: Tuesday
For men: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday , Friday,
Group use: Sunday, Saturday
Address: 1013-Budapest, Döbrentei tér 9.
Swimming suites not required.
The original bath was constructed around 1556 by pasa Ali, this is the oldest, real Turkish bath of Budapest. As that time coeducation was impossible there were no separated areas built for genders. Nowadays the management solved this issue by having separate opening days for men and women, although not everyone likes this kind. This doesn’t change the popularity of the bath and the opportunity of ancient bathing.
How to avoid problems when you arrive
When you get off the train it is a brand new world comes to your eyes. You don’t know the culture, the currency, the traditions and the most important thing: the language. These all difficulties could create some dangerous situations what we try to help you out.
Getting off the train
The first thing you`ll see is about some taxi-drivers would offer you transportation. Try to avoid these people, usually they would rip you off. If you need a taxi, there are some reliable taxi-companies what you can find in our homepage as well. Always try to get information from objective sources, don`t let yourself been assured by their opinion, they work for their profit what would be from your wallet if you don`t take care. It`s the same about money changers. Try to avoid them if it`s possible.
We would like to warn you about a fact which is unusual but could happen, it is about tourist-police. They don’t exist, it is just a trick of some cheaters who would ask for your money to show that you are here for tourism and have enough cash to visit the City. Don`t show your money to anyone, authorities will never ask for your money, never!
At the train stations and in the downtown there are some Money-exchange offices where they say no-commission but the truth is different: Usually it is about 20%, which is understandably too much. Try to take some money from an ATM or change just a small amount what is definitely required but not more! There are more other exchange
There are some private taxis who work with expensive rates but you can avoid them if you check few things before you get in one of them. The rates should be shown at the rear window all the time. If you just take one from the street, they are more expensive, so rather call one by phone. Here we list some of the reliable companies so you won`t be disappointed. Please note that There is a surcharge of 280HUF at all companies as a standby fee. All listed operators speak English.
Recommended Taxi companies
Taxi 2000 / Phone: 06-1-2000000
Fõtaxi / 2-222-222
Budapest Taxi / 4-333-333
Using public transportation
One of the most common problems come from when you try to get on a metro, bus or tram, because if you don`t use a ticket at least, then you can get troubles on dice.
the reason is easy: The tickets are small but on one side it is written: Every time you should punch a new ticket even if you change lines as well. These tickets could be purchased at ticket machines, metro offices, newspaper-stores and some other shops, and can be validated at the entrance of the metro or on buses, trams there are red or orange machines to validate.
Tips about staying safe in Restaurants and Clubs
Try to beware of overcharge, as it could happen if you don`t check the price list ahead. It is unusual now thanks to the police and other authorities but still could happen.
More dangerous when some nice-looking girls would invite you to a bar to chat for a while.
It could happen mostly at Váci utca, in the downtown, where you are obligated to pay the 500€ extra bill for just few drinks, the muscle-men “waiters” will assure you and it`s better not to complain. Rather avoid the situation before, we`d recommend you to keep this advice consciously than to let yourself get desired…& trouble. Other problem could be with independent travelers, is about making occasional friendships with people you just met, get drunk together then try to remember where is your wallet!
We hope these advises will help you spending your stay here safe and enjoyable.