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Location of Budapest in Hungary
Coordinates: 47°28′19″N 19°03′01″E / 47.47194°N 19.05028°E / 47.47194; 19.05028
Country Hungary
County Budapest, Capital City
 - Mayor Gábor Demszky (SZDSZ)
 - City 525.16 km2 (202.8 sq mi)
Population (2009)
 - City 1,712,210
 Density 3,241.5/km2 (8,395.4/sq mi)
 Urban 2,503,205
 Metro 3,271,110
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 - Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)

Budapest (pronounced /ˈbuːdəpɛst/, also /ˈbʊdəpɛst/, /ˈbjuːdəpɛst/ or /ˈbuːdəpɛʃt/; Hungarian pronunciation: [ˈbudɒpɛʃt]  ( listen); names in other languages) is the capital of Hungary.[1] As the largest city of Hungary, it serves as the country's principal political, cultural, commercial, industrial, and transportation centre.[2] In 2009, Budapest had 1,712,210 inhabitants,[3] down from a mid-1980s peak of 2.1 million. The Budapest Commuter Area is home to 3,271,110 people.[4][5] The city covers an area of 525 square kilometres (202.7 sq mi)[6] within the city limits. Budapest became a single city occupying both banks of the river Danube with a unification on 17 November 1873 of right (west)-bank Buda and Óbuda with left (east)-bank Pest.[6][7]

Aquincum, originally a Celtic settlement,[8] was the direct ancestor of Budapest,[9] becoming the Roman capital of Lower Pannonia.[8] Magyars arrived in the territory[10] in the 9th century. Their first settlement was pillaged by the Mongols in 1241-42.[11] The re-established town became one of the centres of Renaissance humanist culture[12] in the 15th century.[13] Following the Battle of Mohács and nearly 150 years of Ottoman rule,[14] development of the region entered a new age of prosperity in the 18th and 19th centuries, and Budapest became a global city after the 1873 unification.[15] It also became the second capital of Austria-Hungary, a great power that dissolved in 1918. Budapest was the focal point of the Hungarian Revolution of 1848[note 1], the Hungarian Soviet Republic of 1919, Operation Panzerfaust in 1944, the Battle of Budapest of 1945, and the Revolution of 1956.

Regarded as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe,[1][16][17] its extensive World Heritage Site includes the banks of the Danube, the Buda Castle Quarter, Andrássy Avenue, Heroes' Square and the Millennium Underground Railway, the second oldest in the world.[16][18] Other highlights include a total of 80 geothermal springs,[19] the world's largest thermal water cave system,[20] second largest synagogue, and third largest Parliament building.

Considered an important hub in Central Europe,[21] the city ranked 3rd (out of 65 cities) on Mastercard's Emerging Markets Index (2008),[22] and ranked as the most livable Central/Eastern European city on EIU's quality of life index (both 2009 & 2010).[23][24] It is also ranked as "Europe's 7th most idyllic place to live" by Forbes.[25] It attracts over 20 million visitors a year.[26] The headquarters of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT)[27] and the first foreign office of the CIPA will be in Budapest.[28]



Panorama at night photographed from Gellért Hill, showing from left to right the Matthias Church, Buda Castle, Széchenyi Chain Bridge and the Parliament.

The first settlement on the territory of Budapest was Ak-Ink (English: Abundant Water) built by Celts.[8] before 1 AD. It was later occupied by the Romans. The Roman settlement - Aquincum - became the main city of Lower Pannonia[8] in 106 AD.[8] The Romans constructed roads, amphitheaters, baths and houses with heated floors in this fortified military camp[29]

The peace treaty of 829 added Pannonia to Bulgaria due to the victory of Bulgarian army of Omurtag over Holy Roman Empire of Louis the Pious. Budapest arose out of two Bulgarian military frontier fortresses Buda and Pest, situated on the two banks of Danube.[30] Hungarians led by Árpád settled in the territory at the end of the 9th century,[10][31] and a century later officially founded the Kingdom of Hungary.[10] Research places the probable residence of the Árpáds as an early place of central power near what became Budapest.[32] The Tatar invasion in the 13th century quickly proved that defence is difficult on a plain.[6][10] King Béla IV of Hungary therefore ordered the construction of reinforced stone walls around the towns[10] and set his own royal palace[11] on the top of the protecting hills of Buda. In 1361[11] it became the capital of Hungary.[6]

The cultural role of Buda was particularly significant during the reign of Matthias Corvinus of Hungary.[6] The Italian Renaissance had a great influence on the city.[6] His library, the Bibliotheca Corviniana,[6] was Europe's greatest collection of historical chronicles and philosophic and scientific works in the 15th century, and second only in size to the Vatican Library.[6] After the foundation of the first Hungarian university in Pécs in 1367[33] the second one was established in Óbuda in 1395.[33] The first Hungarian book was printed in Buda in 1473.[34]

Hungarian Royal Palace (picture from 1930).

The Ottomans pillaged Buda in 1526, besieged it in 1529, and finally occupied it in 1541. The Turkish occupation lasted for more than 140 years.[6] The Turks constructed some fine bathing facilities here.[10] The unoccupied western part of the country became part of the Habsburg Empire as Royal Hungary.

In 1686, two years after the unsuccessful siege of Buda, a renewed campaign was started to enter the Hungarian capital. This time, the Holy League's army was twice as large, containing over 74,000 men, including German, Croat, Dutch, Hungarian, English, Spanish, Czech, Italian, French, Burgundian, Danish and Swedish soldiers, along with other Europeans as volunteers, artilleryman, and officers, the Christian forces reconquered Buda, and in the next few years, all of the former Hungarian lands, except areas near Timişoara (Temesvár), were taken from the Turks. In the 1699 Treaty of Karlowitz these territorial changes were officially recognized, and in 1718 the entire Kingdom of Hungary was removed from Ottoman rule.

The city was destroyed during the battle.[6] Hungary was then incorporated into the Habsburg Empire.[6]

The nineteenth century was dominated by the Hungarians' struggle for independence[6] and modernization. The national insurrection against the Habsburgs began in the Hungarian capital in 1848 and was defeated a little more than a year later.

The Hungarian State Opera House, built in the time of Austria-Hungary.

1867 was the year of Reconciliation that brought about the birth of Austria-Hungary.

Cutaway Drawing of Millennium Underground in Budapest (1894–1896) which was the second underground in the world.

This made Budapest the twin capital of a dual monarchy. It was this compromise which opened the second great phase of development in the history of Budapest, lasting until World War I. In 1873 Buda and Pest were officially merged with the third part, Óbuda (Ancient Buda), thus creating the new metropolis of Budapest. The dynamic Pest grew into the country's administrative, political, economic, trade and cultural hub. Budapest went from about 80% German-speaking in 1848 to about 80% Hungarian-speaking in 1880.[35] World War I brought the Golden Age to an end. In 1918 Austria-Hungary lost the war and collapsed; Hungary declared itself an independent republic. In 1920 the Treaty of Trianon finalized the country's partition, as a result, Hungary lost over two-thirds of its territory, about two-thirds of its inhabitants under the treaty including 3.3 million out of 10 million ethnic Hungarians.[36][37]

In 1944, towards the end of World War II, Budapest was partly destroyed by British and American air raids. From 24 December 1944 to 13 February 1945, the city was besieged during the Battle of Budapest. Budapest suffered major damage caused by the attacking Soviet troops and the defending German and Hungarian troops. All bridges were destroyed by the Germans. More than 38,000 civilians lost their lives during the conflict.

Hungarian Jewish WWII Memorial

Between 20% and 40% of Greater Budapest's 250,000 Jewish inhabitants died through Nazi and Arrow Cross Party genocide during 1944 and early 1945.[38] Despite this, modern day Budapest has the highest number of Jewish citizens per capita of any European city.

In 1949, Hungary was declared a communist People's Republic. The new Communist government considered the buildings like the Buda Castle symbols of the former regime, and during the 1950s the palace was gutted and all the interiors were destroyed.

In 1956, peaceful demonstrations in Budapest led to the outbreak of the Hungarian Revolution. The Leadership collapsed after mass demonstrations began on 23 October, but Soviet tanks entered Budapest to crush the revolt. Fighting continued until early November, leaving more than 3000 dead.

From the 1960s to the late 1980s Hungary was often satirically referred to as "the happiest barrack" within the Eastern bloc, and much of the wartime damage to the city was finally repaired. Work on Erzsébet Bridge, the last to be rebuilt, was finished in 1965. In the early 1970s, Budapest Metro's East-West M2 line was first opened, followed by the M3 line in 1982. In 1987, Buda Castle and the banks of the Danube were included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. Andrassy Avenue (including the Millennium Underground Railway, Hősök tere and Városliget) was added to the UNESCO list in 2002. In the 1980s the city's population reached 2.1 million. In recent times a significant decrease in habitants occurred mainly due to a massive movement to the neighbouring agglomeration in Pest county. In the last decades of the 20th century the political changes of 1989-90 concealed changes in civil society and along the streets of Budapest. The monuments of the dictatorship were taken down from public places, into Memento Park.


Budapest as seen from SPOT satellite.

The 525 km2 area of Budapest lies in central Hungary surrounded by settlements of the agglomeration in Pest county. The capital extends 25 and 29 kilometers in the north-south, east-west direction respectively. The Danube enters the city from the north; later it encircles two islands, Óbuda Island and Margaret Island.[6] The third island Csepel Island is the largest of the Budapest Danube islands, however only its northernmost tip is within city limits. The river that separates the two parts of the city is only 230 m (755 ft) wide at its narrowest point in Budapest. Pest lies on the flat terrain of the Great Plain while Buda is rather hilly.[6] Pest's terrain rises with a slight eastward gradient, so the easternmost parts of the city lie at the same altitude as Buda's smallest hills, notably Gellért Hill and Castle Hill. The Buda hills consist mainly of limestone and dolomite, the water created speleothems, the most famous ones being the Pálvölgyi cave and the Szemlőhegyi cave. The hills were formed in the Triassic Era. The highest point of the hills and of Budapest is János hill, at 527 metres (1,729 ft) above sea level. The lowest point is the line of the Danube which is 96 metres (315 ft) above sea level. The forests of Buda hills are environmentally protected.



The city has a temperate, transitional climate - somewhere between the mild, snowy weather of Transdanubia, the variable continental climate of the flat and open Great Plain to the east and the almost sub-Mediterranean weather of the south.[39]

Climate data for Budapest
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Record high °C (°F) 15.1
Average high °C (°F) 2.1
Average low °C (°F) -2.7
Record low °C (°F) -21.7
Precipitation mm (inches) 38.5
Source:[40] 2008-09-26


City Park (Városliget) has one of the largest artificial ice surfaces in the world. It's home to Hungarian bandy. The B-group at the Bandy World Championship 2004 was held here [1] and also the Bandy World Championship for women 2007[2]. Budapest is also home to Budapest Honvéd FC a sports club best known for its football team.


Historical populations
Year Pop.  %±
1870 302,085
1880 402,706 33.3%
1890 560,079 39.1%
1900 861,434 53.8%
1910 1,110,453 28.9%
1920 1,232,026 10.9%
1930 1,442,069 17.0%
1941 1,712,791 18.8%
1949 1,590,316 −7.2%
1956 1,848,000 16.2%
1958 1,764,000 −4.5%
1960 1,804,606 2.3%
1970 2,001,083 10.9%
1980 2,059,226 2.9%
1990 2,016,681 −2.1%
2001 1,777,921 −11.8%
2005 1,695,814 −4.6%
2009 1,712,210 1.0%

Ethnic groups

Population by nationalities according to the 2001 census, (Based on self-determination)[41]:


Population by denominations:[42]


Panorama of Budapest, facing Pest from the walls of Buda Castle.

Originally Budapest had 10 districts after coming into existence upon the unification of the three cities in 1873. On 1 January 1950 Budapest was united with several neighboring towns and the number of its districts was raised to 22 (Greater Budapest). At that time there were changes both in the order of districts and in their sizes. Now there are 23 districts, 6 in Buda, 16 in Pest and 1 on Csepel Island between them. Each district can be associated with one or more city parts named after former towns within Budapest.


Malév Hungarian Airlines's head office at Lurdy House

Malév Hungarian Airlines has its head office in the Lurdy House (Lurdy Ház) in Budapest.[43]

Main sights

View of Budapest with the river Danube, the Parliament in the middle and the Buda hills in the background

The neo-Gothic Parliament, containing amongst other things the Hungarian Crown Jewels. Saint Stephen's Basilica, where the Holy Right Hand of the founder of Hungary, King Saint Stephen is on display. The Hungarian cuisine and café culture: for example, Gerbeaud Café, and the Százéves, Biarritz, Fortuna, Alabárdos, Arany Szarvas, Kárpátia and the world famous Mátyás Pince Restaurants. There are Roman remains at the Aquincum Museum, and historic furniture at the Nagytétény Castle Museum.

The Castle Hill, the River Danube embankments and the whole of Andrássy út have been officially recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Castle Hill and the Castle District; there are three churches here, six museums, and a host of interesting buildings, streets and squares. The former Royal Palace is one of the symbols of Hungary – and has been the scene of battles and wars ever since the thirteenth century. Nowadays it houses two impressive museums and the National Széchenyi Library. The nearby Sándor Palace contains the offices and official residence of the President of Hungary. The seven-hundred year-old Matthias Church is one of the jewels of Budapest. Next to it is an equestrian statue of the first king of Hungary, King Saint Stephen, and behind that is the Fisherman's Bastion, from where opens out a panoramic view of the whole city. Statues of the Turul, the mythical guardian bird of Hungary, can be found in both the Castle District and the Twelfth District.

The Holy Crown, a key symbol of Hungary

In Pest, arguably the most important sight is Andrássy út. As far as Kodály Körönd and Oktogon both sides are lined with large shops and flats built close together. Between there and Heroes’ Square the houses are detached and altogether grander. Under the whole runs continental Europe’s oldest Underground railway, most of whose stations retain their original appearance. Heroes’ Square is dominated by the Millenary Monument, with the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in front. To the sides are the Museum of Fine Arts and the Palace of Arts, and behind City Park opens out, with Vajdahunyad Castle. One of the jewels of Andrássy út is the Hungarian State Opera House. Statue Park, a theme park with striking statues of the Communist era, is located just outside the main city and is accessible by public transport.

The city is home to the largest synagogue in Europe (Dohány Street Synagogue),[44] the largest medicinal bath in Europe (Széchenyi Medicinal Bath) and the third largest Parliament building in the world, once the largest in the world. The third largest church in Europe (Esztergom Basilica) and the second largest Baroque castle in the world (Gödöllő) are in the vicinity.


Seven islands can be found on the Danube: Shipyard Island, Margaret Island, Csepel Island, Palotai-sziget (now a peninsula), Népsziget, Háros-sziget, and Molnár-sziget.

Notable islands include:

  • Margaret Island is a 2.5 km (1.6 mi) long island and 0.965 square kilometres (238 acres) in area. The island mostly consists of a park and is a popular recreational area for tourists and locals alike. The island lies between bridges Margaret Bridge (south) and Árpád Bridge (north). Dance clubs, Swimming pools, an Aqua park, athletic and fitness centres, bicycle and running tracks can be found around the Island. During the day the island is occupied by people doing sports, or just resting. In the summer (generally on the weekends) mostly young people go to the island at night to party in its terraces, or to recreate with a bottle of alcohol on a bench or on the grass (this form of entertainment is sometimes referred to as bench-partying).
  • Csepel Island (Hungarian pronunciation: [ˈtʃɛpɛlsiɡɛt]) is the largest island of the River Danube in Hungary. It is 48 km (30 mi) long; its width is 6–8 km (3.75–5 mi) and its area comprises 257 km2 (99 sq mi), whereas only the northern tip is inside the city limits.
  • Hajógyári-sziget ([ˈhɒjoːɟaːri siɡɛt], or Óbudai-sziget) is a man built island, located in the third district. This island hosts many activities such as: wake-boarding, jet-skiing during the day, and dance clubs during the night. This is the island where the famous Sziget Festival takes place, hosting hundreds of performances per year and now around 400,000 visitors in its last edition. Many building projects are taking place to make this island into one of the biggest entertainment centres of Europe, the plan is to build Apartment buildings, hotels, casinos and a marina.
  • Luppa-sziget is the smallest island of Budapest, located in the north region.


Rudas Baths is a thermal and medicinal bath that was first built in 1550

One of the reasons the Romans first colonized the area immediately to the west of the River Danube and established their regional capital at Aquincum (now part of Óbuda, in northern Budapest) is so that they could utilize and enjoy the thermal springs. There are still ruins visible today of the enormous baths that were built during that period. The new baths that were constructed during the Turkish period (1541–1686) served both bathing and medicinal purposes, and some of these are happily still in use to this day. Budapest really gained its reputation as a city of spas in the 1920’s, following the first realization of the economic potential of the thermal waters in drawing in visitors. Indeed in 1934 Budapest was officially ranked as a "City of Spas". Today, the baths are mostly frequented by the older generation, as, with the exception of the “Magic Bath” and "Cinetrip" water discos, young people tend to prefer the lidos which are open in the summer. Construction of the Király Baths started in 1565, and most of the present-day building dates from the Turkish period, including most notably the fine cupola-topped pool.

The Rudas Baths are not only superbly centrally placed – in the narrow strip of land between Gellért Hill and the River Danube – they are also an outstanding example of architecture dating from the Turkish period. The central feature is an octagonal pool over which light is thrown from a 10 m diameter cupola, supported by eight pillars.

The Gellért Baths and Hotel were built in 1918, although there had once been Turkish baths on the site, and in the Middle Ages a hospital. In 1927 the Baths were extended to include the wave pool, and the effervescent bath was added in 1934. With its immaculately preserved Art Nouveau interior, including colourful mosaics, marble columns, stained glass windows and statues, this is without doubt the most beautiful bathing complex in Budapest.

The Lukács Baths are also in Buda and are also Turkish in origin, although they were only revived at the end of the nineteenth century. This was also when the spa and treatment centre were founded. Happily, there is still something of an atmosphere of fin-de-siècle about the place, and all around the inner courtyard there are marble tablets recalling the thanks of patrons who were cured there. Since the 1950s it has been regarded as a centre for intellectuals and artists.

The Széchenyi Baths are one of the largest bathing complexes in all Europe, and the only “old” medicinal baths to be found in the Pest side of the city. The indoor medicinal baths date from 1913 and the outdoor pools from 1927. There is an atmosphere of grandeur about the whole place with the bright, largest pools resembling aspects associated with Roman baths, the smaller bath tubs reminding one of the bathing culture of the Greeks, and the saunas and diving pools borrowed from traditions emanating in northern Europe. The three outdoor pools (one of which is a fun pool) are open all year, including winter. Indoors there are over ten separate pools, and a whole host of medical treatments is also available.



Map of the Budapest Metro.

Budapest Ferihegy International Airport, which has 3 passenger terminals: Ferihegy 1, which tends to serve the many discount airlines now flying to and from Budapest, Ferihegy 2/A and Ferihegy 2/B. Terminal 3 is planned to be built. The airport is located to the east of the centre in the XVIII. district in Pestszentlőrinc.

Megyeri Bridge, M0 motorway, north sector.


Budapest is the most important Hungarian road terminus; all the major highways end there. Budapest is also a major railway terminus.

Ring road M0 around Budapest was recently completed and allows people to go around Budapest from East to West and from North to South, however there is no way from West to North - you must go around to the South.

Public transport

Budapest public transport is provided by BKV,[45] the company operates buses, trolleybuses, trams, suburban railway lines, the metro, a boat service, a cogwheel railway and a chairlift, called Libegő.

Budapest's tram network is extensive, and reliable despite poor track infrastructure and an ageing fleet. Routes 4 and 6 combined form the busiest traditional city tram line in the world, with the world's longest passenger trams (54-metre (177 ft) long Siemens Combino) running at 60 to 90 second intervals at peak time and 3–4 minutes off-peak and usually packed with people.

Day services operate from 4:30 a.m. until 11:30 p.m. each day. Night traffic (a reduced overnight service) has a reputation for being excellent[citation needed].

There are three metro lines and a fourth is currently under construction. The Yellow line, built in 1896, is one of the oldest subway lines in the world, following London Underground and the Istanbul Metro that were built respectively in 1863 and 1875.

Special vehicles

Beside metros, suburban rails, buses, trams and boats, there are a couple of less usual vehicles in Budapest:

The latter three vehicles run among Buda hills.


Hungarian main-line railways are operated by MÁV. There are three main railway termini in Budapest, Keleti (eastbound), Nyugati (westbound), and Déli (southbound), operating both domestic and international rail services. Budapest was one of the main stops of the Orient Express until 2001, when the service was cut back to Paris-Vienna. There is also a suburban rail service in and around Budapest, operated under the name HÉV.


The river Danube flows through Budapest on its way to the Black Sea. The river is easily navigable and so Budapest has historically been a major commercial port (at Csepel). In the summer months a scheduled hydrofoil service operates up the Danube to Vienna.


BME. The oldest University of Technology in the World, founded in 1782.

Budapest is Hungary's main centre of education and home to numerous universities:

Timeline of the history of Budapest

Aquincum Museum (Aquincum was the capital of Pannonia.)
The tomb of the Turkish dervish Gül Baba in Budapest
The Recapture of Buda Castle (1686)
Buda and Pest (ca. 1850)
Andrássy Avenue (1896)
Buda Castle Daytime
Year Event
B.C.  Neolithic, Chalcolithic-, bronze and iron age cultures, Celtic and Eravisci settlements on present day Budapest.
1st century Romans found the settlements known as Aquincum, Contra-Aquincum and Campona. Aquincum becomes the largest town of the Danubian region and one of the capitals of Pannonia.
5th century The Age of Huns. King Attila builds a city for himself here according to later chronicles.
896 Following the foundation of Hungary, Árpád, leader of the Hungarians, settles in the "Town of Attila", usually identified as Aquincum.
10th century Out of the seven to ten Hungarian tribes, four have settlements in the territory

of modern Budapest: Megyer, Keszi, Jenő and Nyék.[citation needed]

1046 Bishop Gellért dies at the hands of pagans on present-day Gellért Hill.
1241 During the Tatar invasions both towns are destroyed. King Béla IV builds the first royal castle on Castle Hill, Buda in 1248. The new town adopts the name of Buda from the earlier one (present day Óbuda). Pest is surrounded by city walls.
1270 Saint Margaret of Hungary dies in a cloister on the Isle of Rabbits (present day Margaret Island).
1458 The noblemen of Hungary elect Matthias Corvinus (in Latin) or Hunyadi Mátyás (in Hungarian) as king on the ice of the Danube. Under his reign Buda becomes a main hub of European Renaissance. He dies in 1490, after capturing Vienna in 1485.
1541 The beginning of Ottoman occupation. The Turkish Pashas build multiple mosques and baths in Buda.
1686 Buda and Pest are reconquered from the Turks with Habsburg leadership. Both towns are destroyed completely in the battles.
1690s Resettlement, initially only a few hundred German settlers.
1773 Election of the first Mayor of Pest.
1777 Maria Theresa of Austria moves Nagyszombat University to Castle Hill.
1783 Joseph II places the acting government (Helytartótanács) and Magyar Kamara on Buda.
1795 20 May Ignác Martinovics and other Jacobin leaders are executed on Vérmező or 'The Field of Blood'.
1810 A fire in the Tabán district.
1825 Commencement of the Reform Era. Pest becomes the cultural and economic centre of the country. The first National Theatre is built, along with the Hungarian National Museum and the Széchenyi Lánchíd.
1838 The biggest flood in recent memory in March. Pest is completely inundated.
1848 15 March Start of the Revolution and War of Independence of 1848-49. Pest replaces Pozsony/Pressburg (Bratislava) as the new capital of Hungary and seat of the Batthyány government and the Parliament.
1849 The Austrians occupy the city in early January, but the Hungarian Honvédsereg (Army of National Defense) reclaims it in April, taking the fortress of Buda on May 21 after an 18-day siege. In July, the Habsburg army again captures the two towns.
1849 6 October Lajos Batthyány, the first Hungarian Prime Minister is executed on the present-day Szabadság tér.
1867 Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867, followed by unprecedented civic development, resulting in the style of present day Budapest.
1873 The former cities: Pest, Buda and Óbuda are united, and with that the Hungarian capital is established with the name of Budapest.
1874 The Budapest Cog-wheel Railway service is inaugurated.
1878 Electric public lighting installed in downtown.
1893 Electrification of Budapest finished
1896 Millennium celebrations, the Millennium Underground is inaugurated, and the Ferenc József híd (today's Freedom Bridge) is opened.
1909–1910 Electric public lighting expanded to the suburbs, the nearby towns villages had Electric public lighting.
1910 The census finds 880,000 people in Budapest and 55,000 in the largest suburb of Újpest (now part of Budapest). The religious make-up was 60.9% Catholic, 23.1% Jewish, 9.9% Calvinist and 5.0% Lutheran. Újpest was 65.9% Catholic, 18.4% Jewish, 9.7% Calvinist and 4.5% Lutheran. The percentage of ethnic Germans was 9.0% in Budapest and 5.7% in Újpest, while 2.3% of the population claimed to be Slovak. (Source: Történelmi Magyarország atlasza és adattára 1914, Budapest, 2001.)
1918–1919 Revolution and the 133 days of the Hungarian Soviet Republic (March-August 1919) under the leadership of Béla Kun. It is the first Communist government to be formed in Europe after the October Revolution in Russia.
1924 Hungarian National Bank is founded.
1925 Hungarian Radio commences broadcasting.
1933 Disassembly of the Tabán commences.
1944 19 March Budapest is occupied by the Germans. At the time of the occupation, there were 184,000 Jews and between 65,000 and 80,000 Christians considered Jewish in the town.

Fewer than half of them (approximately 119,000) survived the following 11 months.

1944 26 December - 13 Ferbuary Soviet and Romanian troops besiege Budapest from 15 January to 18 January. The retreating Germans destroy all Danube bridges. On 18 January, Pest is completely occupied by Soviets. The Buda castle falls on 13 February. World War II took the lives of close to 200,000 Budapest residents and caused widespread damage to the buildings of the city.
1956 23 October - 4 November The Hungarian Revolution of 1956 breaks out, ending in the invasion of a large Soviet force.
1960s Wartime damages are largely repaired. Work on the final bridge to be repaired, the Elizabeth Bridge is finished in 1965.
1970–1972 The first phase of the East-Western Metro begins.
1982 The first phase of the North-Southern Metro begins.
1987 Castle Hill and the banks of the Danube are included in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
1990 The city is home to 2,016,100 residents.
2002 Andrássy Avenue is added to the list of World heritage Sites, along with the Millennium Underground railway and Heroes' Square.
2006 2006 Hungarian protests.

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Budapest is twinned with:[46][47][48]

Country City County / District / Region / State Date
 Austria Vienna Vienna 1990
 Bosnia and Herzegovina Sarajevo Sarajevo Canton 1995
 Bulgaria Sofia Sofia City
People's Republic of China China (PRC) Beijing Beijing 2005[49]
 Croatia Zagreb Zagreb 1994[50]
 France Paris Paris 1956
 Germany Berlin Berlin 1992[51]
 Germany Frankfurt am Main Hessen 1990
 Indonesia Jakarta Jakarta 2009[52]
 Israel Tel Aviv Tel Aviv District 1989[53]
 Italy Florence Tuscany 2008[54]
 Poland Warsaw Poland 2005[55]
 Portugal Lisbon District of Lisbon 1992
 Slovakia Košice Košice Region 1997[56]
 South Korea Daejeon Daejeon 1994[57]
 United States Fort Worth Texas 1990[58]
 United States New York City New York 1992[59]

Some of the city's districts are also twinned to small cities or districts of other big cities, for details see the article List of districts and towns in Budapest.


See also

Christmas market, Budapest



  • DK Publishing, Budapest: Eyewitness Travel Guildes (2007). DK Travel. 978-0756624354. 
  • Barber, Annabel (2004). Visible Cities Budapest: A City Guide. Somerset. 
  • Ungvary, Krisztian (2006). The Siege of Budapest: One Hundred Days in World War II. Yale University Press. 978-0300119855. 
  • Molnar, Miklos (2001). A Concise History of Hungary. Cambridge Concise Histories (Fifth printing 2008 ed.). Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521667364. 


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  1. ^ Then separately Buda and Pest

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Budapest article)

From Wikitravel

Budapest is a huge city with several district articles containing sightseeing, restaurant, nightlife and accommodation listings — consider printing them all.
Budapest's Chain Bridge and Castle Hill
Budapest's Chain Bridge and Castle Hill

Budapest [1] [2] is the capital city of Hungary. With green filled parks full of charming pleasures, museums that will inspire, and a pulsating nightlife that is on par to its European counterparts, Budapest is one of Europe's most delightful and enjoyable cities.

Districts of Budapest
Districts of Budapest

Although Budapest is administratively divided into 23 numbered districts, always written in Roman numerals, it can most simply be divided into the two cities of which it is comprised (Buda and Pest) and one historic district:

  • Buda - The hilly West side of the Danube (Districts I-III, XI-XII, XXII).
  • Castle Hill - District I of Buda, the oldest part of the city containing the eponymous Castle and many of Budapest's best-known attractions.
  • Pest - The flat East side of the Danube, covering the modern commercial core of the city(Districts IV-IX).


Regarded by many as one of world's most beautiful cities, travelers are quickly recognising the appeal of Budapest, with tourism accounting for approximately 20 million visitors per year.

Consisting of two very different cities, Buda on the west bank of the Danube River and Pest on the east bank, Budapest (pronounced "BOO-dah-pesht") offers travelers Viennese romanticism at an affordable price. However, Budapest is unique in its own right. Hungarians are proud of what this ancient capital has to offer and its contributions to European culture, especially in the field of music, a language one doesn't need to speak to appreciate.


Budapest first appeared on the world map when the Romans founded the town of Aquincum around 89 AD, in what is today Óbuda. It soon became the capital of the province of Lower Pannonia, and the Romans even founded a proto-Pest known as Contra Aquincum on the other side of the river.

The Romans were replaced around 900 by the Magyars, who went on to found the kingdom of Hungary. The Mongols dropped in uninvited in 1241, but the Magyars bounced back and built the Royal Castle that still today dominates Buda in 1427.

In 1541, Buda and Pest fell to the Ottomans and stayed in the hands of the Turks until 1686, when the Austrian Habsburgs conquered the town. Now at peace, both sides of the river boomed, and after an abortive Hungarian revolution in 1848–49, the great Compromise of 1867 made Budapest the united capital of the Hungarian half of the Dual Monarchy of Austria-Hungary.

Budapest emerged from World War I battered, but now the capital of an independent Hungary, and its population reached one million by 1930. Air raids and a terrible three-month siege towards the end of World War II resulted in the death over 38,000 civilians, and up to 40% of Budapest's Jewish community were murdered during the Holocaust. A total of 400 000 Jews in the area were murdered by the Nazis and their Nyilas sympathizers. One man noted in history was Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish humanitarian sent to Hungary under a diplomatic cover, who tried to make a difference by distributing Swedish passports to as many Jews as possible.

After the war, the city recovered and became a showcase for the more pragmatic policies of Hungary's hard- line Communist government. It was, however, site of the 1956 Hungarian uprising against unpopular policies such as collectivisation. The revolution against communist rule only ended when the Soviets sent in the tanks as they felt Hungary slipping out of their influence and control. Today's Budapest is by far the wealthiest and most cosmopolitan city in Hungary and is increasingly popular with tourists. In 1987, it was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List for the cultural and architectural significance of the Banks of the Danube, the Buda Castle Quarter and Andrássy Avenue.

  • Tourism Office of Budapest [3], 1056 Budapest, Március 15. tér 7., tel: +36 1 438-8080.

Quality of life

Homelessness is a big problem in Budapest. People who are homeless are commonly seen in the inner city metro stations and sleeping in doorways in both Buda and Pest.

Budapest Opera
Budapest Opera

By plane

Budapest (Ferihegy) International Airport IATA: BUD [4], Ferihegyi Nemzetközi Repülőtér; (pronounced "Ferry-hedge") is the country's largest airport, located about 16 km (10 miles) southeast of the city center. Ferihegy has two terminals, Terminal 1 and Terminal 2, often called Ferihegy-1 and Ferihegy-2, respectively. Terminal 2 is the hub of the Hungarian national carrier, Malév [5].

The airport’s central telephone number for information is: +36-1 296-9696 or on +36-1 296-7000. Luggage services can be contacted on +361 296-5449 in connection with flights into and out Terminal 1 and +36-1 296-5965 for Terminal 2.


  • The small, renovated Terminal 1 (gates 1-10; opened in 1950) is used by low-cost airlines (such as EasyJet and RyanAir) both from Schengen and Non-Schengen destinations.
  • The more spacious Terminal 2 (opened in 1985) is divided in two: Terminal 2A (gates 20-30) serves all Schengen Area destinations. Terminal 2B (gates 11-19) serves all Non-Schengen Area destinations.

It is wise to double-check your arrival and departure terminal: while Terminal 2A is within a short walking distance from 2B, the distance between Terminal 1 and 2 is quite sizable - the trip takes 6-8 minutes by car or 12 minutes by bus.

Duty free stores are operated by Travel Value [6]. Customs authorities in German airports may not allow you to bring duty-free items purchased at the airport in Budapest through Germany. On Terminal 2, among dedicated brand shops, there are only Hugo Boss and Swarowski. The traditional alcohol-tobacco-sweets assortment shop has a decent choice of local wines, mainly by Gundel. Several cafés also serve travellers, there are Caffè Ritazza [7] eateries on Terminal 2A. One is in a pre-checkin area; another is in the boarding area, after passport control. Terminal 2B pre-boarding area has half a dozen of cafes.


The Hungarian national flag carrier is MALÉV [8]. Budapest is connected with the major European cities and some countries of the Middle East, Asia and North Africa by direct flights. The scheduled service between Budapest and the US is operated by Delta Air Lines.

As of 2009, the following discount airlines operate to and from Budapest (using Terminal 1 unless otherwise stated):

  • Air Berlin [9] (from Germany) - Terminal 2A;
  • Clickair [10] (from Spain);
  • EasyJet [11] (from France, Germany, Great Britain and Switzerland);
  • Germanwings [12] (from Germany);
  • Jet2 [13] (from Great Britain);
  • Norwegian Air Shuttle [14] (from Denmark and Norway);
  • RyanAir [15] (from Germany, Great Britain and Ireland);
  • SmartWings [16] (from Czech Republic and Spain) - Terminal 2A;
  • WizzAir [17] (from Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Spain and Sweden).

In winter (Dec-Mar) Malév's Budapest Winter Invitation [18], offers discounted fares for international flights to Budapest, and its 45 partner hotels provide 4 nights accommodation for the price of 3.

Airport transfer

  • Taxi. Zóna Taxi [19] +36-1 365-5555 has the right to take passengers from Ferihegy airport. According to your destination, a trip to Budapest costs between HUF 3900-5700 (EUR 17-27) - the fare is slightly more expensive if paid in Euros. Queue at the taxi stand to receive a written quote for your fare, then pay it when you arrive at your destination - this system is designed to eliminate unjustified price hikes. IMPORTANT: unless you have pre-ordered a taxi from a different company, do not accept offers from taxi drivers waiting in the terminal or near the terminal entrances. This is for your own safety. On your trip into town you might receive a business card from Zona Taxi quoting cheaper fares bound to Ferihegy airport (i.e. EUR 16 from Pest). Reserve a car by phone and quote the offer to save some money.
  • Minibus service. If you travel alone, consider the Airport Minibus service [20], a shared taxi operation that collects passengers going in the same direction and will take you to or from anywhere in Budapest for HUF 2990 per person, HUF 4990 for a round trip. Join the queue at the airport and you will be on your way in 15 minutes. For the trip back, call the center +36-1 296-8555 (at least 24 hours beforehand) and Airport Minibus will pick you up.
  • Bus. From either Terminal 1 or Terminal 2, Bus 200E takes you to to Kőbánya-Kispest metro 3 station. Buses stop outside the airport terminals. The journey to the metro station takes approximately 26-30 minutes from Terminal 2 or 15-17 minutes from Terminal 1. Buses run every 8-20 minutes from 05AM to midnight. There is no night bus service between the airport and the city, but the last four departures of bus 200E are connected to the night buses 914 and 950 which replace the metro.

If you arrive in terminal 2B, take note that the buses are to be taken from outside terminal 2A, which is 50 meters to the left after you exit. But before exiting terminal 2B, be sure to buy some bus tickets from the newspaper vendor.

Bus tickets are available in airport terminals for HUF 300 at the newspaper vendors, or HUF 400 if you purchase directly from the bus driver. Note that a single ticket is only valid on the bus. If you continue with the metro from Kőbánya-Kispest to the central city you need to buy a new single ticket. You will be better off buying 2 tickets from the airport, one for the bus and one for the metro, as the automatic machine in the metro station only takes coins.

The bus ticket has to be validated inside the bus, while the metro ticket will be validated in the orange machine present at the entrance in the station.

  • Railway. If your flight lands at Terminal 1, there is a quick train service from the nearby Ferihegy railway station to Nyugati station in the centre of Budapest (on the Pest side). Tickets can be purchased from the information kiosks in the airport or from the machine at the train station. The train is not an option for travellers who land at Terminal 2, due to the distances between the terminals. The fare costs HUF 320, and ensure you purchase it before you get on the train, as a ticket bought from a conductor on board carries a sucharge of HUF 2,000. Trains run two or three times an hour from 04:00 to 00:00 and in the other direction from 03:00 to 00:30. Budapest public transport tickets are NOT valid on this train, but Budapest passes are valid [21]. For timetable information, check the Hungarian Railways website [22]. Use the words "Ferihegy" for the airport and "Nyugati" for the city center. The journey takes about 25 minutes, however, delays may occur and buying a ticket at Nyugati station can be time consuming in peak hours.

By train

Budapest has direct rail connection with Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine and various Hungarian cities.

The main railway stations (pályaudvar) are Keleti pályaudvar (Eastern Railway Station), Déli pályaudvar (Southern Railway Station) and Nyugati pályaudvar (Western Railway Station). The stations are not named for their geographic location in the city, nor for the direction of the destinations served by each (trains to Vienna, for example, leave from Keleti). The stations are well connected to each other and to the rest of the city. Keleti and Déli Railway Stations are located on Metro 2, Nyugati Railway Station is on Metro 3. A transfer should not take more than 15 minutes at peak hours; slightly more on weekends and evenings. Depending on where you are coming from, some outer stations can be useful to you; trains arriving from Vienna, Bratislava, the lake Balaton or other western locations stop at Budapest Kelenföld station, which is a good public transport hub for Southern Buda. Trains arriving from Romania, Ukraine and Eastern Hungarian cities regularly stop at Kőbánya-Kispest station, a good place to get to Eastern Budapest or to Ferihegy Airport.

Train stations in Budapest are not up to Western quality standards; they are hard to access for people with disabilities and their facilities are very limited. Be prepared for long queues at the ticket office; English is rarely spoken. Do not expect luggage trolleys or clean toilets. Food or a coffee purchased at the stations is unlikely to give you a gastronomic buzz; it is also difficult to find a good nearby cafe if you didn't research in advance. If using taxi on your way from the station, do not accept any offer from drivers waiting around the station entrance. For further information read also Stay safe section.

Hungary’s rail system is operated almost entirely by the Hungarian State Railways [23] (Magyar Államvasutak, MÁV). About services, discounts, schedules and on-line booking check Hungary#Get_around.

If you want to have comfy feeling on your trip, use the InterCity trains (additional fee applies, seat reservation compulsory). Local trains with older coaches can look like interesting, however lots of old coaches were replaced. When travelling late night, expect that some trains operated on not very frequented lines can be completely empty.

By bus

Budapest’s long distance bus stations are located outside the city centre, but are very well connected to the rest of the city. Main stations are:

  • Népliget Bus station (Népliget autóbuszállomás, metro 3, Népliget station). Buses from abroad and most of Western Hungarian destinations arrive (and depart) here. Fairly modern station with reliable facilities. Do not forget to check in if you travel abroad.
  • Stadion Bus Station (Stadion autóbuszállomás, formerly known as Népstadion autóbuszállomás, metro 2 Stadionok station). The biggest hub for Eastern Hungarian destinations, quite modern but somewhat dirty station built underground.
  • Árpád Bridge Bus Station (Árpád híd autóbuszállomás, metro 3 Árpád híd station). A smaller station for some Northern destinations and suburban traffic; use it to and from Szentendre, Esztergom or Visegrád.
  • Etele tér Bus Station (Etele téri autóbuszállomás, bus 7E, 173E). A newly built station next to Kelenföld Railway Station, at the future terminus of metro line 4, useful for getting to Statue Park and some suburban destinations.

International bus routes are operated by Eurolines +36-1 318-2122 [24]. Although most connections are not as frequent as before the low-fare airlines revolution, they still run two or three times a week; from Austria and Slovakia daily. Orangeways [25] 36-30 830-9696, a low fare bus company offers cheap tickets from and to Austria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Germany, Netherlands, Poland and Slovakia. Check timetables on company sites.

Hungary’s national bus network is operated by Volán Association [26]. If you arrive to Budapest from another Hungarian city, bus is often the best option. About services, discounts, schedules and on-line booking possibilities check Hungary#Get_around.

By boat

There is a scheduled hydrofoil service on the Danube to and from Vienna and Bratislava daily between early April and early November operated by Mahart, +36-1 484-4000, [27].

The Chain Bridge and a view of Pest
The Chain Bridge and a view of Pest

Orientation is not a big problem in Budapest. River Danube splits the city in two areas: Buda and Pest. Aside from the very center, the city's structure is quite logical. Landmarks in Buda as the Royal Castle or Citadella Castle also help you to find your way. Besides the Danube itself, the best reference points for orienting yourself are the bridges crossing the river. From North to South, they are:

  • Árpád Bridge (Árpád híd), A modern bridge linking to Northern Margaret Island. The longest bridge in Budapest at 973 meters.
  • Margaret Bridge (Margit híd), Easily identified thanks to its distinctive shape: it makes an approximately 35 degree turn half way across, at the southern tip of Margaret Island. Trams 4 and 6 cross the Danube here. There is an ongoing renovation, only public transport, emergency vehicles and pedestrians are allowed to use it.
  • Chain Bridge (Széchenyi lánchíd), Completed in 1849, the oldest, arguably most beautiful and certainly the most photographed of Budapest's bridges, floodlit at night.
  • Elisabeth Bridge (Erzsébet híd), Completed in 1903. Its original chain structure was destroyed in World War II, and was eventually substituted by a modern cable bridge opened in 1964.
  • Liberty Bridge (Szabadság híd), Elegant but simple, opened in 1896; it connects the Gellért Baths (Gellért fürdő) in Buda with the Great Market Hall (Nagyvásárcsarnok) in Pest. Recently renovated.
  • Petőfi Bridge (Petőfi híd), For a long time the southernmost bridge, it links the inner ring road (Nagykörút) of Pest with Buda.
  • Lágymányosi Bridge (Lágymányosi híd), The newest bridge in Budapest, with modern architecture and a spectacular lighting system where mirrors reflect the beam of the upward facing floodlights. Built very next to a railway bridge on its southern side.

On foot

Many of Budapest's highlights are easy to approach walking, and in the center you find more pedestrian zones from year to year. Car drivers tend to respect pedestrians and often give advantage on a cross-walk even if there is no traffic light. Due to the lack of bike lanes, cyclists have to weave around pedestrian traffic; be prepared. Don't wear high-heeled shoes in the downtown as there are lots of stone pavements, especially in the Castle Hill.

A new bus and tram numbering system has recently been introduced in Budapest. Various tram and bus lines have now new numbers and many routes have been reestablished or modified. Don't believe your guide book and map edited before September 2008 or you will inevitably get lost.

You'll find several points of interest within walking distance, but Budapest is a sizable city, so unless you drive your own car, you will inevitably use some form of public transportation. The good news is that the urban area is well covered by three metro lines, blue urban buses, yellow trams and red trolley-buses, and the whole system is easy to understand. The bad news is that the schedules are less than reliable, vehicles are not always clean, and tickets have become increasingly expensive.

Public transportation in Budapest is run by Budapest Transport Limited Company (BKV) [28], which has a useful English-language site including current schedules and fares. Vehicles run from around 5AM to 11.30PM. After that an extensive night bus network is available.

Metro 4 – Favourite Worst Nightmare

When the government decided in the early 70's that a new metro line should connect South Buda with Central Pest by 1978, no-one thought that it would become a synonym for incompetence and perpetual lack of money. Everything had been at a standstill until 2007, when works finally began after endless political debates. Is now everybody happy? Of course not. The Metro 4 construction is widely criticised for its high cost and supposedly failed and obsolete trace. Officials say it won't be completed by the official deadline (2010), and construction keeps the city paralysed, which is locals' favourite conversation theme for now.

If you only visit Budapest for a few days as a tourist, you may find the following lines particularly useful:

  • Metro 1, 2, 3 connect the suburbs with the biggest transport hubs, numerous touristic highlights and central hotels.
  • Tram 2 runs along the river Danube on Pest side.
  • Tram 4, 6 follow Nagykörút, Pest's inner ring road.
  • Bus 7, 7E, 173 and 173E connect Keleti railway station with the city center and many points of interest in Buda and Pest.
  • Bus 16, 16A and 116 go to Buda castle.
  • Bus 105 connect Hősök tere (Hero's Square), goes up and down Andrássy boulevard to Deák square/Erzsébet square before it goes across the Chain Bridge to Buda and passes by Déli pályaudvar (Southern railway station).
  • Bus 200E serves the airport.

If you stay longer, it's worth to buy a public transportation map at any BKV ticket office. You can also find detailed public transport maps in some tram stops, especially along the 4-6 tram lines.

Tickets and passes

If you intend to travel a lot (and you probably will), travel cards are far less expensive than single tickets. As of 2009 most useful tickets and travel cards for tourists include the following:

Single ticket, valid for one journey
Single ticket, valid for one journey
  • Single ticket (vonaljegy): Valid for one journey, transfer not allowed on buses and trams, but one transfer is allowed between metro lines (a new rule introduced in January 2009). HUF 300. HUF 400 if purchased from the driver (available on designated lines).
  • Transfer ticket (átszállójegy): Valid for one journey, one transfer allowed. HUF 470.
  • 10-trips travel card: 2700 HUF
  • One-day travel card (napijegy): Valid for 24 hours after purchase (not only on the day of purchase - a new rule introduced in January 2009). HUF 1550.
  • Three-day travel card (háromnapos turistajegy): Valid for 72 hours after purchase (not only on the day of purchase and the two following days - a new rule introduced in January 2009). HUF 3850.
  • Seven-day travel card : Valid on the day when purchased and on the following six days. HUF 4600.
  • Fourteen-day pass (kétheti Budapest-bérlet): Valid for 14 consecutive days with a photo pass (take a passport size photo to the ticket office). Valid also on MÁV trains and suburban yellow Volán buses (a new rule introduced in January 2009). HUF 6200.
  • One-month pass (havi Budapest-bérlet): Valid for 30 or 31 consecutive days with a photo pass (take a passport size photo to the ticket office). Valid also on MÁV trains and suburban yellow Volán buses (a new rule introduced in January 2009). HUF 9400.
  • Monthly pass for students : Valid for 30 consecutive days, with a student ID, e.g. ISIC. HUF 3700.
  • Budapest card (Budapest kártya) [29] allows you unlimited free travel in the city, and also gives you discounts at museums and restaurants. Two-day card HUF 6300, three-day card HUF 7500.

You WILL run into ticket inspectors. They are posted at almost every single entrance and exit. They have a notoriously bad reputation with locals, often being rude. Rarely speaking English, they sometimes pick tourist from the mass. If you get caught, you may choose to pay the fine on the spot (HUF 6000) or later by mail (HUF 12,000 if paid within 30 days). If paying on the spot, ask for a certificate to prevent the fine to go to the private purses and wallets of the inspectors. Can't stress this enough: have a pass/ticket on you at all times and do try not to let the inspectors take it out of your hands. Don't be afraid if they are threatening you with the police - they usually never arrive. Inspectors have no right to hold your passport, credit cards or any ID, don't even give to them. If you feel trouble, call the police or even some locals will help you to escape, but the best way is to have a Budapest Card, or any unlimited travel pass.

Several times there is ticket control entering the subway lines, especially at major stations.


The rebuilt Moszkva tér metro 2 station
The rebuilt Moszkva tér metro 2 station

Budapest's underground network is an excellent way to get around, it connects the suburbs with railway and autobus stations, several centrally located hotels, museums and sights. The system consists of three lines, crossing at Deák tér station (Deák square, in Pest center).

  • Metro 1 (yellow line) connects Mexikói út (Mexikói road, a transport hub in Central-Northeast Budapest) with Vörösmarty tér (Vörösmarty square in Pest's commercial and touristy center), and also passes the Opera and Hősök tere (Heroes' square). It was built to commemorate the 1000th year of Hungarian nationhood in 1896 (thus often called Millennium Subway). It was the first underground built in the Continental Europe and second in the world after London. Although the vehicles are not original, the beautifully rebuilt, tile covered stations are a gorgeous historical memory of Budapest's richest period (1880-1910).
  • Metro 2 (red line) connects Déli pályaudvar (Southern Railway Station, in Central Buda) with Örs vezér tere (Örs vezér square, the biggest transport hub of Eastern Pest), and also takes you to Moszkva tér (Moszkva square, Buda's biggest transport hub), Kossuth tér (Kossuth square, around the Parliament in Pest center) and Keleti Pályaudvar (Keleti Railway Station, in Pest). Although the construction started in the 50's, the line was only opened between 1970 and 1972. Having been completely rebuilt since 2004, its stations seem brand new, but trains are still the old, Soviet-style ones.
  • Metro 3 (blue line) goes from Újpest-Központ (residential area in Pest's Northern suburbs) to Kőbánya-Kispest (transport hub in Central-Eastern Pest, terminus of bus 200 to the airport), passing Nyugati Pályaudvar (Western Railway Station) and different stations in central Pest. Opened between 1976 and 1990.

All the metro lines are well represented on maps scattered on platforms.

There is one important fact for Senior Citizens resident in the EU. For EU Residents, over the age of 65, travel on the Metro, Buses and Trolley Buses is Free, but an Identity Document must be carried proving the above to Insoectors if requested. This also applies to some train journeys.


In 2006 the world's longest trams started their service on lines 4 and 6
In 2006 the world's longest trams started their service on lines 4 and 6

Budapest's 25 tram lines are a tourist-friendly way of getting around. They are slower, but more scenic than the subway and particularly useful on the nearly subway-less Buda side of the river. Be careful about doors, they open on different side of the tram on different stops.

Particularly useful lines for tourists are:

  • Tram 4 and 6 both run along Nagykörút, Pest's inner ring road, providing access to all three metro lines at multiple stations, and crossing over to Buda on Margaret Bridge (Margit híd) – another beautiful view. Although technically two lines, 4 and 6 only diverge for their last two stops that the tourist is unlikely to visit.
  • The two lines running along the Danube river (19 in Buda and 2 in Pest) are considered a part of the cityscape. Both offer beautiful view of the opposite side.

By bus

Blue urban bus in Buda
Blue urban bus in Buda

Budapest has a dense bus network, which also connects the agglomeration and suburban zones with several metro and train stations and the city center. Numbering system is now easy to understand. Numbers below 299 indicate regular bus routes. Numbers with an added 'E' (for example 7E or 173E) indicate express services that don't stop at all stops. Numbers with an added 'A' have shorter routes than their regular counterparts (for example bus 30 has a longer itinerary than 30A). Numbers above 900 indicate night services. (Numbers between 800 and 899 are suburban services provided by Volán company, BKV tickets and most tourist passes are not valid on them.)

Particularly useful lines for tourists include:

  • Bus 7, 73, 7E, 173E, – all connect Keleti railway station with Blaha Lujza square (Blaha Lujza tér, junction with tram 4, 6), Pest city center and many points of interest in Buda.
  • Bus 16/16A/116 go to Buda Castle from Moszkva square (Moszkva tér).
  • Bus 200E runs to Ferihegy Airport from Kőbánya-Kispest Metro 3 station.

Be aware that in September 2008 many lines have been provided with new numbers.


Budapest's 13 trolley-bus lines run in Northeast and Central Pest. Unless you are a trolley buff, you're unlikely to use them frequently. However, some of them pass through the City Park (Városliget) and cross Andrássy avenue (Andrássy út), giving you beautiful views while using this eco-friendly mode of transport. Line 70 from Kossuth square (Kossuth tér, next to the Parliament) to City Park (Városliget) also passes through the lively Nagymező utca, Budapest's "Broadway".

Suburban rail

Green suburban railway lines (called HÉV) connect central Budapest with several suburbs, but most of them are of little use to visitors. Note that your tickets and travel passes are valid only within the city boundaries, otherwise you should purchase a supplementary ticket (kiegészítő jegy) at a ticket office.

  • Line Batthyány tér–Szentendre goes upriver to the picturesque village of Szentendre. The same train takes you to Sziget Fesztivál [30], Central Europe's biggest summer music festival. It connects at Batthyány tér with metro 2, at Margit híd (Margaret bridge) with tram 4/6.
  • Line Örs vezér tere–Gödöllő takes you to the beautiful royal castle of Gödöllő from Örs vezér tere metro 2 station.


The cogwheel railway at Városmajor terminus
The cogwheel railway at Városmajor terminus

Some other means of public transport can be useful if you get tired of regular buses and trams, or if you want to escape from the hustle and bustle to the lush green hills surrounding Budapest.

  • Cogwheel railway (Fogaskerekű vasút) is a tram-like railway running from Városmajor terminus (two stops from Moszkva tér metro 2 station by tram 59 or 61) to Széchenyi hill (Széchenyi hegy), Buda's popular picnic, excursion and sledging place. BKV tickets and passes are valid.
  • Boat. Budapest currently has only one regular boat service, theoretically running around five times a day from May to September, from Boráros tér (South-Central Pest) to Rómaifürdő (Northern Buda), making 8 intermediate stops. BKV tickets and passes are NOT valid.
  • Buda Castle funicular (Budavári sikló). This handsome, short funicular line takes you from Chain Bridge (Lánchíd) Buda end to Buda Castle. Built in 1870, completely destroyed in World War II, rebuilt only in 1986. BKV tickets and passes are NOT valid. As one might expect, it is relatively expensive and touristy.
  • Széchenyi Hill Children's Railways (Széchenyi-hegyi Gyermekvasút) it's a narrow gauge line, operated partly by children. The 11,2km long line is running on the Buda Hill's, giving a beautiful look at the nature around Budapest. You can reach the endstation "Széchenyi hegy" by the Cogwheel railway or the other one "Hűvösvölgy" by taking the tram or bus number 56 from "Moszkva tér". Before using it, you should take a look at it's home page for the timetable at [31]. BKV tickets and passes are NOT valid.
  • Zugliget Chair-lift (Zugligeti libegő) It's a chair lift, taking you from "Zugliget" to "János hegy". You will have a nice view while traveling. BKV tickets and passes are NOT valid. [32]

Night services

Budapest is covered by 34 night bus lines. Numbers are triple-digit, starting with '9'. Buses run every 15-60 minutes from around 11PM until 4AM. The main linking points of the night bus network are Moszkva square (Moszkva tér) tér in Buda and Astoria (junction of Kossuth Lajos utca–Károly körút) in Pest. Daytime tickets and passes are valid.

Most useful night buses are:

  • 906 – Running along the Nagykörút, Pest's inner ring road, basically as tram 4 and 6 do during the day.
  • 907 – Substitutes daylight bus 7.
  • 914, 950 – In the city center substitute metro 3.

On line map and schedule are available on BKV's home page [[33].

On Friday and Saturday nights ticket inspectors gather around the stops and don't let you hop on the bus without a valid ticket or pass. They also sell tickets for HUF 350.

By car

Apart from the summer holiday, Budapest has a heavy traffic with long-lasting traffic jams in the morning and in the afternoon. If you don't want to spend your visit to Budapest in a traffic jam, leave your car in the hotel's garage, and use the public transport.

If you drive across downtown, plan your journey, otherwise you can get into tough situations. For example you cannot turn left in most of the crossings of the inner ring road (Nagykörút) or on the main avenues like Andrássy út, Váci út, Üllői út or Rákóczi út.

By taxi

Budapest's taxi drivers are not always prepared for English speaking clients, but it does not necessarily mean that they intend to overcharge their foreigner guests – use one of the major taxi companies with English speaking switchboards to avoid problems. All of them have flashy home pages, but currently only City Taxi is available in English. If you wish to call any of the following phone numbers from abroad, use the +36-1 (Hungary-Budapest) code before the numbers.

  • Budataxi, [34] +36-1 233-3333.
  • City Taxi, [35] +36-1 211-1111.
  • Főtaxi, [36] +36-1 222-2222.
  • Taxi 2000, [37]+36-1 200-0000.
  • Tele 5 Taxi, [38] +36-1 555-5555.
  • Zóna Taxi,[39] +36-1 365-5555.
  • 6x6 Taxi, [40] +36-1 266-6666.
  • Budapest Taxi, [41] +36-1 433-3333.
  • Mobil Taxi, [42] +36-1 333-1757.
  • Radio Taxi, [43] +36-1 777-7777.

Do not accept offers from taxi drivers waiting in the airport terminals or railway stations. Use your common sense, sit only in taxis logoed by bigger companies. Also note that most taxis parked in the downtown areas do not belong to radio taxi companies and charge much more than the usual HUF 200+ per km. Ask about their price in advance or call any of the taxi companies above.

By bicycle

Budapest may be one of the most exciting places of Europe, but it's still not a cyclists' paradise. There are bikeways separated from automobile roads in the downtown, but unfortunately often used as car-park or pedestrian zones. Generally, the city is not prepared for cyclists' presence, but situation is slowly changing. Budapest has been home to Europe's biggest cycling demonstration, Critical Mass [44], where in 2008 more than 80 000 people participated.

If you are ready, renting a bike is not a problem, but still not cheap. Expect to pay around HUF 2000-3000 for a day.

Budapest offers a variety of bike rental companies. Some of them are:

  • Budapest Bike, [45] +36-30 944-5533. Rent a bike starting at 2000HUF for 6 hours.
  • Yellow Zebra Bike, [46] +36-1 266-8777. Rent a bike starting at 1500 Ft for 1-5 hours.
  • Bikebase, [47] +36-1 269-5983. Bike rentals available for 8 EUR (2 000 HUF) for 24 hours.

Cyclists are not very patient, so be aware while you are walking, if you hear a shout, be prepared to get out of the way quickly. This is because a bell is something people haven't really heard of (both cyclists and pedestrians alike) so using one while cycling might not result in people moving to the side; they might not even react at all! Also, beware of pedestrians wandering onto marked bicyclepaths.


This section only highlights the most important attractions in the city. See the Buda, Castle Hill and Pest articles for details on each of them, and for listings of local sightseeing.

Most of Budapest's famous sights are concentrated on Castle Hill on the Buda side, in downtown Pest and along the riverside walkways.

The Danube River and the leafy hills of Buda
The Danube River and the leafy hills of Buda

The main sights on Castle Hill are:

  • The Royal Palace (Királyi palota). The most popular attraction on the hill. Home to the:
  • National Gallery (Nemzeti Galéria) [48]. Inside the Royal Palace wings B, C and D houses an astounding collection of paintings.
  • The Fisherman's Bastion and lookout terrace (Halászbástya). For impressive views across the Danube to Pest.
  • Matthias Church (Mátyás templom, aka Church of Our Lady). Dominant neogothic church crowning Budapest's cityscape - nowadays is under reconstruction.

Other museums on the Castle Hill:

  • The Historical Museum of Budapest [49].
  • The Music Museum. Includes a collection of musical instruments and the Bartok archive.
  • The Military Museum [50].
  • Marzipan Museum.
  • Pharmacy Museum.
  • Museum of Medieval Judaism.

The Danube Bridges (see Orientation above), especially the Chain Bridge (Széchenyi Lánchíd) are really attractive and make it worthy to promenade along the river bank. Lánchíd (pronounced “laance heed”) means chain bridge and the suspension structure of the bridge is made of chains whose links are huge dog-bone shaped metal bars linked by pins at their ends.

You can have a superb glimpse over the bridges from the Citadella on the top of Buda's Gellert Hill (Gellérthegy).

Riding a boat is ideal as you can enjoy both riverbanks at the same time. For romantic views of the city, go at night.

Margaret Island (Margitsziget) and its large parks (see Buda) are a very pleasant place to relax and wander. Perfect for a sunny afternoon.

The Parliament Building
The Parliament Building

Downtown (Belváros) of Pest is the administrative and business centre of Budapest and the whole of Hungary. The main sights here are:

  • The Parliament Building (Országház). A neogothic jewel, beautifully situated overlooking the Danube. It is very much worth going inside, but you can only do that during guided tours, which are FREE (ignore those trying to pick you up outside the Parliament). Tickets for guided tours can be obtained each day from 8AM. You will have to go in front of the Parliament and queue at the ticket line. Again, ignore those that ask you if you want a guided tour. Just pick up your ticket inside and come back at the hour on the ticket. Guided tours in English are held each day at 10, 12 and 14.
  • St. Stephen Cathedral (Szent István Bazilika) [51]. The main church of Budapest is an important example of neoclassical architecture, recently renovated.
  • Great Synagogue and the Jewish Museum (Dohány utcai Zsinagóga) [52] The biggest Synagogue in Europe, and the most impressive in the world. Next to the Synagogue is a small but impressive museum. In the rear of the Synagogue is a memorial for victems of the Shoah. The synagogue was recently restored to its former grandeur. A block away you'll find a smaller, but nearly identical synagogue built long before the Great Synagogue. The plaque in front explains that this was used as some sort of assembly grounds for those persecuted during the Holocaust before they were deported. It has not been renovated, and you can see through the boards on the outside how decrepit it still is. A chilling sight.

Museums in at the city centre:

  • Museum of Ethnography [53].
  • National Museum [54].
  • Museum of Applied Arts [55].
  • Natural History Museum [56] Mainly minerals at display.
  • Ludwig Museum of Modern Art [57].
  • Holocaust Memorial Centre [58].
  • Museum of Transport.
  • Jewish Museum at the main synagogue [59].
  • Bible Museum.

The Andrássy út boulevard in Pest stretches from Downtown (Belváros) to the City Park (Városliget). It is listed on UNESCO's World Heritage List and has some important sights along it, including:

  • The State Opera House
  • The House of Terror (Terror Háza) [60]. Housed in the secret police headquarters, this museum objectively documents the terror of the Nazi and Communist eras. Visiting is hard work, but essential for anyone wishing to understand Hungary's recent past.
  • The Hopp Museum of East Asian Art [61]. Nearby is another similar collection, namely Gyorgy Museum.
  • Ernst Museum [62]. Contemporary Hungarian art.
Heroes' Square
Heroes' Square
  • The City Park (Városliget) is at the far end is probably the most pleasant of Pest's districts and features several interesting if low-key attractions which are often overlooked:
    • Heroes' square (Hősök tere) - with the Millennium Monument.
    • Museum of Fine Arts (Szépművészeti Múzeum) [63] has an incredible range of European artwork from Greek and Roman times to the present. Especially valuable is its collection of Spanish Baroque painting.
    • Vajdahunyad Vára is a castle on a little island on a lake built for the 1898 World Fair. In the winter, the lake is turned into the city's biggest ice rink. Nowadays it houses an agricultural museum.

On Buda side there are:

  • Aquincum [64] was a city in the Roman times, it's remains are turned into a great open-air museum. It's situated in the Óbuda district of northern Buda.
  • Gül Baba Türbéje [65] is the shrine where Gül Baba (literally Rose Father, from whom the Rózsadomb (Rose Hill) was named) lies.Offers a nice view and the little street which leads down the hill from there contains more houses that won the "House of the Year" award.
  • Kassák Museum at the Zichy Castle shows works of the modern Hungarian artists as well as modern Hungarian art.
  • Kiscelli Museum [66] - The Budapest Picture Gallery.
  • Statue Park - Rather than smash the statues of the Communist era, the Hungarians arranged them with a twist of irony in this park to the south of Buda.
  • Victor Vasarely Museum shows many works of the famous Hungarian-born post-modern painter Vásárhelyi Győző (1908-1997).

Music related Museums: Music lovers, beware that all four museums are closed in August.

  • Kodály Museum.
  • Liszt Museum.
  • Bartók's House.
  • The Music Museum. Includes a collection of musical instruments and the Bartok archive.

Additional Museums:

  • Fashion Museum.
  • MEO Budapest's art fair.
  • House of the Future [67].

There are several travel agencies, tour operators offering city tours or walking tours, if you don't have much time, you can use one of them and you can visit the main sights within 3 - 4 hours.

  • Experience an opera at Budapest's spectacular State Opera House or a performance of classical music at any of Budapest's many concert halls. (Beware: you might get a couple of contemptuous looks if you don't dress smart which means a suit/neat dress or at least black trousers and a plain shirt. Hungarians still regard it as essential for going to the opera or even the theatre, though you won't be thrown out if you dress casual)
  • Buda Hill Labyrinth. The Labyrinths are accessible by two points on the Buda hills. Originally parts were formed from hot water springs and then during WW2, they were linked with some of the cellars on the hill to create an air raid shelter for up to 10,000 people and a military hospital. The labyrinth is now a popular tourist attraction. It is a bit cheesy, but would be good for families travelling with children.
  • The Sziget Festival at Obudai Island (=Sziget) [68] attracts rock fans, world music hippies and the usual festival crowd every year in august. With cheap beer, great acts and a multitude of cultural, culinary and musical offers, it's definitely a good deal. Day ticket used to be highly affordable but the prices have gone up lately, a week's ticket for 2010 is about euro 170.
  • Walk around and look at the market stands and the entertainment on some of the bridges in the evening.
  • And the best of all: get a map, circle the things you want to see, divide up your time and see the city by yourself. Locals are always ready to help and they even tell you what to see and what is better to stay away from. They even guide you for a short time to keep up their English by having a good conversation. Don't hestitate to ask questions!

Performing arts

Hungary has a surprisingly rich theatre scene and, not surprisingly, Budapest is the epicentre of it. Season begins in mid-September and ends in June. Productions range from classic dramas and traditional operas to post-modern performances. There is much to discover around Budapest theatres, even if you don't speak Hungarian; the following venues can be particularly interesting for non-Hungarians. Tickets are bookable about one month beforehand at Interticket [69], the Hungarian theatres' official booking engine for a small (10% + HUF 50) booking fee.

  • Hungarian State Opera House, Magyar Állami Operaház [70], 1061 Andrássy út 22, metro 1 station Opera, tickets HUF 300-10900. One of Europe's architectonically most breathtaking opera house's company performs traditional opera and ballet. The quality of its huge repertoire is not always up to international standards, but if you don't expect too much, you will spend a decent night here. Cheaper tickets offering reduced visibility are a good deal if you don't want to pay HUF 2500 for the official guided tour [71] to the building. The company also performs at Theatre Thália, (Thália Színház 1065 Nagymező u. 22-24, metro 1, tram 4, tram 6 station/stop Oktogon, tickets HUF 2900-4900), [72], while Theatre Erkel, the Opera's chamber theater is closed due to reconstruction.
  • Palace of Arts, Művészetek Palotája [73], 1095 Komor Marcell utca 1, tram 2 stop Millenniumi Kulturális Központ, tickets HUF 700-9800, standing tickets for students are available for HUF 200 one hour before every show, (be sure that your student card is valid, otherwise you won't get in). This modern, power plant-looking building hides an excellent modern art museum, a festival theatre and the marvellous Béla Bartók National Concert Hall (Bartók Béla Nemzeti Hangversenyterem), which offer great concerts from classical, jazz and world music to Hungarian and international pop, special children programmes and the best opera performances in Central Europe. The annual Wagner festival in June is a must. Spectacles are held all around the year. Book your tickets at the Palace of the Arts home page without additional booking fee.
  • Theatre Madách, Madách Színház [74], 1073 Erzsébet körút 29-33, metro 2 station Blaha Lujza tér, tram 4, tram 6 stop Wesselényi utca, tickets HUF 500-8900. If you want to see the Hungarian version of blockbuster musicals like The Phantom of the Opera or Producers, this is your place. Madách is widely popular among musical fans, and some of their recent shows have been critically acclaimed, so book well in advance.
  • Budapest Operetta Theatre, Budapesti Operett Színház [75], 1065 Nagymezõ utca 19, metro 1, tram 4, tram 6 station/stop Oktogon, tickets HUF 950-15000. Grandmothers' eternal favourite, the Operetta Theatre performs old-fashioned operettas for the nostalgic hearted and tries to be Madách's main rival in musicals.
  • Trafó House of Contemporary Arts, Trafó Kortárs Művészetek Háza [76], 1094 Liliom utca 41, metro 3 station Ferenc körút, tram 4, tram 6 stop Üllői út, tickets HUF 1000-2500, 25% discount for student card holders. In a renovated transformer building, Budapest's most important contemporary cultural center presents Hungarian and international experimental dance, theatre and music performances. A disco hall in the cellar and a lively bar upstairs also serve your entertainment.
  • Millenáris [77], 1024 Fény utca 20-22, metro 2 station Moszkva tér, tram 4, tram 6 stop Széna tér, tickets HUF 1000-6000. This huge cultural center, formerly called "Jövő Háza" (House of the Future) has been built around former factory buildings. The complex includes a park, a small artificial lake, cafés, an interactive museum and a theatre which hosts music, theatre and sometimes great contemporary opera performances. You could book your ticket at their home page, but it's available only in Hungarian.
  • Merlin International Theatre, Merlin Nemzetközi Színház [78], 1052 Gerlóczy utca 4, metro 1/2/3 station Deák tér, tickets HUF 600-2000. Merlin, within stone-throwing distance of Váci street, Budapest touristy and commercial heart, is a hub for some Hungarian alternative companies and also for performances in English.
  • National Dance Theatre, Nemzeti Táncszínház [79], 1014 Budapest, Színház utca 1-3, bus 10, bus 16, stop Dísz tér, tickets HUF 1100-3500. The main dance theatre of Hungary hosts a wide range of local and international performances. Although not always revolutionary modern, it's always worth to check the program.
  • Experidance Company [80]. This popular company performs Hungarian popular dances in modern conception.
  • MU Theatre, MU Színház [81], 1117 Kőrösy J. utca 17, tram 4 stop Fehérvári út, tickets HUF 1500, for student card holders HUF 1000. MU, one of the well-known Budapest dance theatres hosts contemporary dance performances.
  • Central European Dance Theater, Közép-Európa Táncszínház [82], 1071 Bethlen Gábor tér 3, metro 2 station Keleti Pályaudvar, tickets HUF 1200, for senior citizen HUF 700, for student card holders HUF 800. CEDT's company performs renowned contemporary dance theatre.
  • Theatre Szkéné, Szkéné Színház, 1111 Műegyetem rakpart 3., Budapest University of Technology and Economics (BME)'s theatre hall, bus 7, bus 73, stop Szent Gellért tér – during the construction of metro 4 station in Szent Gellért tér use temporary stairs next to the river for reaching the building, [83]. Szkéné hosts, among others, Béla Pintér and Company [84] (Pintér Béla és Társulata, tickets HUF 1500), many alternative theater goers' favourite. Their 2006 autumn premier, ”Korcsula” (Korčula – the name refers to a Croatian island), a Central European black commedy, is subtitled in English. Book your ticket by email.


Budapest’s cinema life has developed around malls. Since the shopping center revolution in the late 90s, more than two thirds of the city’s cinema screens are run by international chains and franchises. Mainstream cinemas mainly show subtitled Hollywood films and Hungarian romantic movies. For contemporary European and Hungarian titles turn to Budapest’s excellent art house movie chain, Art mozi [85], most of their branches are provided with a café or pub and offer pleasant atmosphere to spend your evening.

  • Most centrally located mall cinemas are Palace Westend [86] in Pest (in Westend City Center, Váci út 1-3, metro 3, tram 4, tram 6 station/stop Nyugati pályaudvar) and Palace Mammut [87] in Buda (in Mammut Center, Lövőház utca 2-6, , metro 2 station Moszkva tér, tram 4, tram 6 stop Széna tér); check Palace’s web site [88] for programme and booking. Tickets cost HUF 1250, for student card holders HUF 990, on cheap days HUF 800.
  • Corvin [89] (Corvin köz 1., metro 3 station Ferenc körút, tram 4, tram 6 stop Üllői út). One of the oldest, although completely modernised cinema in the city--gives multiplex feeling for those tired of malls. On Corvin's wall memorial tablets and reliefs are reminescent of the 1956 revolution’s heavy fightings around the building; the memorial itself is worth a visit. Tickets HUF 1150, before 16.00 HUF 950, on Wednesday HUF 750.
  • Uránia National Movie Theatre [90],(Uránia Nemzeti Filmszínház, Rákóczi út 21, metro 2 station Blaha Lujza tér, tickets HUF 890-990). Combines mainstream European artistic movies with new Hungarian films, the latter ones sporadically subtitled in English.
  • Cinema Puskin(Puskin Mozi, Kossuth Lajos utca 18, metro 2 station Astoria, metro 3 station Ferenciek tere, tickets HUF 800-1050). “Pushkin” is the most mainstream among the art house movie theatres in Budapest, an elegant, decorated multiplex offering quality, but generally easy-to-watch Hungarian and foreign films. Its café is recommended.
  • Cinema Művész (Művész Mozi, 1063 Teréz körút 30, metro 1, tram 4, tram 6 station/stop Oktogon, tickets HUF 920-1050) is probably the most popular “Art Mozi” theatre in Budapest. Many Hungarian movies are on show with English subtitles; ask for them at the desk.
  • Movie Museum Örökmozgó (Örökmozgó Filmmúzeum, 1073 Erzsébet krt. 39, tram 4, tram 6, stop Király utca). “Perpetual motion” (that’s what the name means) is your best choice if you’re in mood to see a movie from the times when Leonardo DiCaprio was a child. Most of the oldies speak their original language and are subtitled in Hungarian.


Budapest is a famous spa city, so go "bathing". The baths are really the last vestige of Turkish culture in Budapest, left over from their occupation of the city. Budapest does not have a large Turkish culture the way a city like Berlin or Munich does; instead the Hungarians have modified and molded this tradition into something of their own.

All baths are built around hot springs, and their central part is one or several thermal pools. They are usually complimented with several steam baths, saunas, massage services and other therapies including drinking cures. Unlike in some Scandinavian or German baths, at Budapest baths almost all places require you to wear your bathing suit to the sauna too!

Tourist mix: After locals, Russians seem to be most frequent in Budapest's baths; Italians and Americans come next (and for many Americans, baths are the main reason for visiting Budapest).

Traditional public baths

Traditional public baths (like Gellért, Széchényi) have quite a complicated navigation and Soviet-time service and admission system, but it's worth going through to experience authentic bathing with locals around you. At the cash desk at the entrance, you are expected to select treatments / areas to access in advance. Time to spend in baths is not restricted, but if you're finished earlier, some part of your payment may be returned. The only thing that can't be paid at the entrance is rental of towels and bathrobe (and/or deposit for it)--it should be paid inside, right where they are given (with the exception of Gellért - towels, etc are paid for at the entrance). There are two types of place to change clothes: a common room with lockers is cheaper (male/female-separate, of course); cabins can be used by families and may differ in size (2 or 3 persons). For cabins, you're handed a token with a number, which is also written on a chalkboard inside as a security code; you need to remember cabin number. To open your cabin, show your cabin and a token to attendant, and s/he'll check it against the number inside. In swimming pools, swimming caps are recommended (and are available for rent), although this is not always strictly enforced.

Gellert Bath
Gellert Bath
  • Gellért Baths, Buda, Kelenhegyi utca 4 (Gellért Hotel at the base of Gellért Hill), (36-1) 466-6166, [91]. 6.00AM-7.00PM weekdays; 6.00AM-5.00PM on Sat and Sun (between Apr 30 and Sept 30).. While the Kiraly baths may be a more authentic Turkish bath experience, those at the Gellért can't be beat for style--and they are equally popular among locals and tourists. This is probably the finest Art Nouveau pool in Europe, and the baths are beautiful as well as relaxing. The entrance fees and deposits can be quite confusing, as well as where to go and how to get around once you get in. Ask the information desk to clarify if you're not sure about how to proceed.  edit
  • Prices: The full entrance price to both the swimming pool and the man and woman thermal facilities is 3100 HUF (approx €13), which also includes a cabin rental, where you can change clothes.
  • If you leave within 2 hours, 400 HUF (approx €1.5) will be refunded, if you leave within 2-3 hours, 200 HUF (approx €0.75) will be refunded.
  • If you rent a towel or a bathrobe, you are charged a deposit as well as a fee for the rental. You get the deposit back at the front desk when you leave, upon presenting the original receipt ticket you received when paying upon entrance. You'll need to get your receipt ticket back from the attendants inside when you return your item, otherwise you forfeit your deposit. Unfortunately, the managers are quite unforgiving in this matter and won't believe you if you try to collect your deposit without your item or a receipt. Consequently, its recommended that you bring your own towel or bathrobe, as the rental "towels" are more like bedsheets.
  • The massage therapists mean business. Prices: from 2500 HUF (approx €10) for Refreshing, 15 min. to 3800 HUF (approx €15) for Powder, 30 min.
  • Changing: Besides individual lockers and family cabins, there's some number of single-person changing rooms in both men-only and women-only area.
  • Indoors: Common area for men and women has only a 50m(?) swimming pool and a soaking pool with massage bubbles, both with 36..38°C water. Using swimming caps in the swimming pool is prescribed by signs, but not enforced at all. There are separate Turkish-style thermal baths for men and women, which encompass several different areas: two soaking pools (one with 36°C, another with 38°C), the showers, the dry sauna and Turkish steam bath, and the cold pool (designed to scare the living daylights out of one's body after it's been happily lounging in the warmth).
  • Outdoors: A large open-air complex of pools (open only in summer time).
  • Special Note: For the separate male/female baths, if you are uncomfortable sitting in a giant tub of water with other naked people of the same sex, this will not be your scene. You will notice tourists unfamiliar with this environment are a bit taken aback when they first encounter this, and either leave immediately or simply adapt to local culture.
Inside Szechenyi bath
Inside Szechenyi bath
  • Széchényi Spa (Széchenyi Fürdő), Pest, Állatkerti krt. 11 (right next to the Zoo; metro: Széchenyi fürdő, M1 yellow line), [92]. Indoor part open daily from 6AM to 7PM; outdoor 6-10PM in winter; summer-time hours may be different.. Built in 1909 in the present-day City Park, this is the largest spa in Europe.  edit
  • Prices (from July 2009): 3.000 HUF entrance fee, includes rental of a locker (locked by a key which can be retrieved by inserting the card you receive on entry into the lock) or 3.400 HUF entrance fee, includes rental of a changing cabin (locked by a key). 300 HUF refund for leaving within 2 hours.
  • There's a number of free safe boxes available (operated by a 4-digit code which you will need to remember to reopen the box) - the boxes are approximately 5" high x 12" wide x 18" deep (13cm x 30cm x 46cm). These safe boxes can be used if the larger locker or changing room is not required.
  • Its recommended that you bring your own towel or bathrobe, as the towels available for rent are more like bedsheets.
  • Outdoors: Two hot soaking pools (30 degrees C and 38 degrees C) and one swimming pool (26-28 degrees C) are all open-air (even in winter), and form the center of the baths. All facilities are shared by men and women (except shower and toilets). There's a swimming tube (a whirling corridor): round- (outdoors) or rectangle-shaped (indoors) pool with artificial flow, a feature difficult to find elsewhere. Another specialty is a tradition to play chess while sitting in the water - even in winter. One or two cafes/juice bars are available directly from the swimming deck, near the cabins, year-round.
  • Indoors: Several saunas, one steam bath. Cold-water pool, hot tubs, aqua-gym pool with weights. Northern part of indoors baths is more modern and clean.

Modern baths

There are also very modern baths (like Danubius Grand Thermal Hotel) which are usually called spas, although their central component are thermal pool and multitude of steam baths/saunas, which is not always typical for spas in the rest of the world.

  • Danubius Grand Hotel/Thermal Hotel Margitsziget, (northern end of the Margaret Island (Margitsziget)), +36(1)889-4700 (, fax: +36(1)889-4939), [93]. until 9:30PM. . High-level and modern baths and spa also offers a great choice of medical treatment. Admission fee (5700ft weekdays, 7000ft weekends) doesn't limit your time inside, and gives access to all spa facilities including a great gym (remember to bring your fitness suit). Solarium and medical treatments should be paid separately, remember before entering the changing rooms (1300ft for 10min).   edit
  • What's inside?: Two body-temperature soaking pools and a cold-water corridor with stones on the floor; one swimming pool; separate steam baths; common sauna. There's a drinking fountain with mineral water extremely rich in minerals--find on a way from baths to the gym.
  • Changing: Towels are handed at reception--without fee or deposit. Also, there seems to be bathrobes available for rent--ask at the reception. For changing clothes, only lockers are available, without attendant--you have a key. There's no cabins (as families typically live in the same hotel). Every shower cabin have a curtain, and there's some liquid soap available.
  • Visitors mix: Almost no locals; in New Year season (and 1-9 of May?) about 80% are Russians who are also residents of the hotel.
  • Corinthia Grand Hotel Royal Spa, Erzsébet körút 43-49, +36(1)479-4000 (, fax: +36(1)479-4333), [94]. A symbol of history, culture, architecture and the tradition of hospitality opens its doors in all its original splendour. The Royal Spa has been beautifully restored to its original splendour and now offers the latest state-of-the-art spa facilities and treatments. The Royal Spa is one of the most expensive in Budapest costing 10,000ft for a day pass. It is a spectacle of opulence and luxury in the amazing art deco setting. Included in the price is bath robe, towels, lockers, hydromassage, fruit juices and water. Although expensive it is a truly unforgettable experience .  edit


  • Király Baths. Buda, Fő utca 84 (metro: Batthyány tér). Old, authentic and pretty small; personnel speak limited English. The baths alternate between male- and female-only days. Best to check first. Király Baths have been known for some years as a meeting place for gay men. Following an expose on Hungarian tv, the management introduced a rule that swimwear has to be worn in the baths but it is not the case anymore. Some gay activity may be visible, but you can enjoy this unique place without any problem if you are not gay.
The baths have a main pool with adjoning very small pools, steam room and dry sauna. The emphasis is more on relaxing and enjoying the waters rather than swimming.
  • The Palatinus Outdoor Baths, on the Margaret Island (Margitsziget), have three pools filled with therapeutic water--and a total of 11 pools (totalling 17.5 acres). In front of the baths is a beautiful rose garden, and nearby, an open-air stage where opera and ballet performances are held, plus an open-air cinema used during the summer.
  • Rudas, in Buda. Provides an authentic Turkish feel with its 16th century dome. While it was a men-only bath, it now allows access to men and women. It is much more authentic than Gellert or Szechenyi. Like Király, the baths have a main pool with adjoining small pools, steam room and dry sauna. Rudas has more small pools than Király and seems in better condition (renovated in 2007). There are two parts of the bath - the Turkish relaxation bath and a swimming hall. Both charge an entrance fee (as of February 2008): 2.200 HUF for the Turkish bath, 1.500 HUF for the swimming hall. Both can be booked for 3.300. Bring a towel and your swimwear and you are set for the swimming hall (but you will look like a tourist in the bath section with a swimwear - they will provide you with a very small towel).
Massages are offered as oil or soap&water versions. 15 min. cost 2.500 HUF, 30 min. 3.500. Be aware that this type of massage has nothing to do with the relaxing Asian variants. Parts of Schwarzenegger movie Red Heat was shot here.
  • Dagály is a large complex of baths and pools located just north of Arpad Hid Metro station on the Pest side and directly on the Danube. There is an outdoor 50m lap pool open year round and a covered-in-winter 25m lap pool. There are 2 large outdoor hot baths. One heated to 33C and the other to 36C. In summer, several huge pools are also available and plenty of open grass and trees for sunbathing or shade. The architecture is classic modern. Admission is about 1300 forints. One changes clothes in a small cubicle before passing through to the large unisex locker room where attendants lock your clothes in a locker. Tip 100 forints on your way out. Be sure to bring some bath sandals to wear to the pool edge. The floors are not always clean. One sees lots of families here, elderly people and fitness swimmers. Staff do not speak English, but is helpful and patient.
  • Note that caving in Budapest ranges from well lit and renovated Szemlőhegyi cave, where you can even go to parts of the cave in a wheelchair, to some of the more extreme tours in the Pál-völgyi–Mátyás-hegyi cave system, where you have to squeeze through several meters long passages with no room to spare.
  • Szemlőhegyi cave, 1025 Pusztaszeri út 35 (Take the No. 29 bus from Kolosy tér, and get off at the Szemlőhegyi barlang stop.), +36 1 325 6001. Wed-Mon 10:00 AM to 4.00 PM.  edit
  • Pál-völgyi–Mátyás-hegyi cave system, (Take the No. 65 bus from Kolosy square. You have to step off at the fifth bus stop, named Pál-völgyi cave.), +36-20-9284969 (), [95].  edit
  • There is a joint ticket for the standard tourist areas of the Pál-völgyi and the Szemlőhegyi caves. The caves are walking distance to each other - ask for a map from either cave ticket office. These areas are easily accessible and well-lit making them better for the slightly claustrophobic among us, though to enjoy the true beauty of the caves you must go on the longer more strenuous tours. Due to the times that the tours start, you're better of starting at Szemlőhegyi then taking the 15 minute walk to Pál-völgyi. This way it is possible to not have a very long wait between your caves, and the outdoor area at Pál-völgyi is far more pleasant in nice weather than the Szemlőhegyi cave museum.

The Pál-völgyi–Mátyás-hegyi cave system is recommended for the adventurous (and non-claustrophobic) who wants a great taste of "proper caving" instead of the more "tourist friendly" alternatives. The tours lasts between 2.5-3 hours and much of the time is spent crawling or climbing, so some degree of physical shape is needed. The guided tour includes a helmet, headlamp and overall so bring good shoes! Guides are very professional. English guided tours are usually on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays late in the afternoon, but can be pre-booked by groups at other days as well.

Please do not litter, write your name on the cave wall or damage the cave in any other way! Part of the experience is the feeling of being in unspoiled nature.

  • Central European University [96] offers a small undergraduate program and an extensive graduate program in a wide variety of subjects.
  • International Business School (Nemzetközi Üzleti Főiskola, IBS-NÜF) [97] offers numerous undergrad and postgrad programs, mostly providing Oxford Brookes University and Hungarian Degrees in English and/or Hungarian languages.
  • Budapest University of Technology and Economics [98], B.Sc. and M.Sc. Offers engineering courses available for foreigners in English, French and German language at the International Education Center of the university.
  • Eötvös Loránd University [99]. The oldest University in Hungary, B.A, B.Sc., M.A, M.Sc. and Ph.D level programs are available in English language.
  • Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music [100]. World-famous music academy in the heart of the city.
  • Debrecen Language School [101] offers Hungarian language classes year round at all levels in Budapest, Debrecen and Sopron.
  • Corvinus University of Budapest [102] also known as Közgáz: Offers Bachelor and Master courses in many languages.
  • Teaching English is a popular profession for travellers and people moving to Budapest.

Generally speaking, finding a full-time job is fairly difficult unless you speak Hungarian. You should also be prepared that Western standards at job interviews regarding personal life and diversity issues do not always apply. Do not be surprised if you are asked about your smoking habits. Also, companies are not always prepared to fully understand and accept people from diverse backgrounds.

Paprika and more, Great Market Hall
Paprika and more, Great Market Hall
A Chocolate shop in Budapest
A Chocolate shop in Budapest

Most of the visitors from far away end up shopping in Pest in the middle of the city: Váci utca and nearby. It is historically the most expensive part of the city. You'll find Hungarian linens and lace, pottery, and other items, in souvenir shops.

You definitely want to visit the Great Market Hall (Nagy Vásárcsarnok) at Fővám tér the recently renovated markethall with essential atmosphere (it's at the south end of Vaci). Prices for the same items vary a lot between sellers and aren't set in stone so be sure to compare and bargain.

Non-speciality shopping

Also, chain stores can be found along the Váci utca (C&A, H&M, Clinique, Estee Lauder, New Yorker, etc).

The "Plazas" are usually good for buying clothes, but prices may vary wildly even in shops next to each other. For electronics, the cheap supermarkets like Electro World and Media Markt are good targets, but the quality is on par with the prices.

Absinthe is available for purchase at common liquor stores, a must-have purchase for the European traveler. Many brands available in the Market Hall and liquor stores are of poor quality (or not even "real" Absinthe).


Local specialties include paprikás, gulyás, Lake Balaton pike-perch (fogas), pörkölt (a goulash-like stew with lots of onions), halászlé (fishermen's soup served differently by regions), stuffed cabbage, and liberal use of paprika. There is also a great variety of wonderful pastries, many of which you will recognize if you are familiar with Viennese pastries. As in other spheres, the Hungarian approach to food combines pride in their own traditions with a readiness to accept outside influences. The result is a vibrant restaurant scene where an Asian-Hungarian fusion restaurant may well be of genuine interest.

Remember, though, that "goulash soup" is indeed a soup, not the "goulash" that visitors may be familiar with. To order that, you want "pörkölt".

See the Buda, Castle Hill and Pest articles for detailed listings of restaurants and cafes.


Coffeehouses (kávéház) are a Budapest institution and a visit to one should be on every traveller's agenda. As the name implies, these are places for a cup of coffee and a delectable pastry, not a full meal.


Budapest has many great places to eat, but an unfortunate number of tourist traps as well. Avoid restaurants in touristy areas like Váci utca, especially if the customers are all foreigners, or you'll more likely than not be served mediocre food with an exorbitant bill padded with all sorts of bizarre charges. In other restaurants too, note that anything you don't explicitly ask for, but appears on your table anyway, is likely to be charged for. Don't take restaurant tips from anyone on streets, do it at your hotel.

Top-notch quality food (1st category restaurants) charge a wide range of prices (from starters around 1000F, main courses around 3.000ft-10.000ft, and menus from 5.000ft).


Only cross-district chains are listed here; see district articles for individual restaurants.

  • Wasabi [103]. Excellent Japanese and Korean food. Lunch 3790ft (11AM-5PM weekdays).
  • Pest. Podmaniczky ut 21 (close to Nyugati station) 11:30AM-11PM weekdays.
  • Buda. Szépvölgyi ut 15 (train station Szépvölgyi ut) 11AM-11PM.
  • Trófea Grill [104]. The best among all-you-can-eat. Best to book a table in advance. Has 4 locations:
  • near Nyugati Train Station (Visegrádi u. 50A)
  • at the final station of Metro line 1 (Erzsébet királyné út 5)
  • downtown by Margaret Bridge (Margit körút 2)
  • in the XIth district (Hauszmann Alajos / Szerémi út).
  • Leroy Cafe, Pest (5 locations), Buda (3 locations). Mid to high-priced restaurant chain that offers Hungarian classics with other Italian and European cuisine. Very fashionable interiors and popular with the well-paid white collar crowd. Reservations are recommended during traditional peak times.  edit

Grocery Stores

There are hypermarkets like "Auchan", "Tesco" [105],"Cora" where the food is cheap, and they offer an usually wide range of goods (If you want to take some paprika or sausage home as a souvenir, buy it here--it's much cheaper). Around the downtown areas, you will find smaller grocery chains such as GRoby, Spar, Plus and CBA.


Hanna's Kosher Kitchen Features classic Hungarian food, but Kosher. VII., Dob utca 35. Tel.:+361 342-1072.

Kinor David VII. Dohany utca (next to the big Dohány Temple) Tel. (+361) 413-7304 or 5.

Salamon glatt kosher restaurant (Next to King's Hotel)1072 Budapest, VII. Nagydiófa u. 27 Tel: (++36-1) 413-1487, 413-1488 Cell: (++36-30) 743-6938, (++36-20) 966-6160.

Rotschild Supermarkets (located throughout the downtown) offer Kosher goods too.


Halal food is uncommon in Budapest, as are kebabs: although they are becoming popular, they are still not often on sale. You can buy gyros instead, which are very similar, but of Greek origin. In fact Gyros is a Greek word meaning "round" because the meat is being cooked turning around the fire. This exists in the market for more than 35 years.


Budapest offers plenty of places to drink, from cool and ultra-hip to rowdy and downmarket. One particularly Hungarian experience is to visit a borozó (wine pub), where cheap but tasty Hungarian wine is available on tap, at ridiculously low prices if you find one off the tourist circuit.

See the Buda, Castle Hill and Pest articles for detailed nightlife listings.

Be sure to try Traubi Szoda and Marka. These are unique Hungarian soft drinks available only in Hungary. Traubi is a white grape soda and Marka is a sour cherry soda.


Budapest offers a wide range of accommodation in all price classes from the hostels which start at €9 per night, to small cheap pension, to the luxurious 5-star hotels, although the costs of staying here are notably higher than elsewhere in Hungary.

Arriving trains are often met by touts offering free rides to hostels, as well as little old grannies offering their apartments for rent. Try to figure out exactly where you're going before you choose - or, better yet, visit any of the many travel agencies to browse the many options in a more comfortable environment.

The most expensive digs are on or near Castle Hill,dozens of reliable backpacker hostels are mostly across the river in Pest. However, Buda has better air quality due to the closeness of the hills and the forests lying to the west from the city.

Apartments may be a cheap alternative for those making extended stays.


Mobile phones work in the metro, even in tunnels between stations.

Some phone booths take coins (including euro coins), but others only take pre-paid cards. The posted number for credit card calls will lead to unexpectedly high charges (1USD for a one minute call to the US) and is to be avoided. Unfortunately, you cannot trust T-mobile to charge reasonable prices on their pay phones.

There are many internet cafes throughout the city. Prices usually average 100Ft/half hour. In addition, many popular bars and cafes in Budapest offer free wi-fi access.

  • T-Com Hotspot, [106]. Seems to operate only on prepaid cards. Covers many restaurants and other public places (total 87, as of Jan 2007). Prices as of Jan-2007: 0.5hrs =500ft; 1hr =1500ft; 5hrs=3900ft; 24hrs=8900ft.  edit
  •, [107]. Has both Free and paid (Pro) types of service--chosen by operating (restaurant, hotel etc.). For paid access, internet time can be purchased by credit card right from your browser at the point of connection. Prices are set by operating business but can be like this (example taken from Hotel Astra [108]) 1hr =600ft, 2hrs =960ft, 24hrs =1950ft. Time can not be purchased in other slots, and should be used at once (you can't pause it, nor to use it in several intervals during several days). For Pro access, speed is: 384 / 128 kbit/s incoming/outgoing traffic, and unlimited traffic within paid time. And the time left is only shown in popup that opens right at the start of connection--if you close it, you can't check how much is left.  edit

Váci utca – dos and don'ts

This narrow street begins at Fővám square (Fővám tér) in front of Central Market (Nagyvásárcsarnok) and ends at Vörösmarty square (Vörösmarty tér). Supposedly being one of the main tourist attractions of the city, Váci street is visited by all the tourists arriving to Budapest. Enjoy this lively place, shop in its fashion stores, buy Hungarian and foreign literature in its great bookshop, eat in the American fast food restaurants if you intend to, but avoid being victimized by its many tourist traps and scams:

  • Avoid its eateries and bars, mainly between Vörösmarty sq and Elisabeth Bridge (Erzsébet híd). Most of them offer mediocre food at exorbitant prices.
  • Whatever restaurant you go, always always see the prices on the menu.
  • Never enter its erotic/topless bars. It would cost a hundred times more than you can imagine in your worst dreams and you will have to pay anyway.
  • Don't try to pick up girls. There are many great places to meet Hungarian women, Váci street is not one of them.
  • Change money only in exchange offices. Though not as frequent as it used to be be ten years ago, in Váci street still operate street money changers waiting for you. Don't use their service.

See details in Tourist traps section below.

As a general rule, you find better quality and prices outside Váci utca.


As a visitor to any big city, having your pockets picked is the most common crime against tourists. The rate of picked pockets is relatively low by Western European and U.S. standards, and you're unlikely to have any problem if you follow some basic rules you wouldn't forget in Paris, Brussels or Vienna. The most important rules are that you never wear a backpack or purse on your back in public transportation or other places with a lot of people, and make sure that you have your wallet in one of your front pockets.

Hungarian policemen rarely speak English. Tourists have no reason to be afraid of them unless breaking the law.

During the peak tourist season, police patrolling major tourist areas are accompanied by bi- or multi-lingual students who assist with problems or complaints. Police have also opened a 24/7 TourInform office in one of Budapest's busiest areas. It is located at Suto Street 2, District V, and they are able to receive complaints and render assistance in English and German.

Luckily, Budapest has no off-limit zones, particularly not in the touristy areas or nearby. As a traveller you should only take normal precautions; don't show off your money and don't wear flashy jewellery. Magyars tend to be friendly with foreigners; racism or xenophobia against tourists is practically unknown. Violent crimes are rare, and the main concern for locals is to protect their home against break-ins rather than worry about having their purse robbed.

By night

Mostly there's no reason to have concerns about Budapest by night. In practice the whole city, including all the touristy areas, Pest within the inner ring road (the line of Szent István körút–Teréz körút–Erzsébet körút–József körút–Ferenc körút, popularly known as Nagykörút), and Buda are safe even before dawn. Most locals avoid walking alone by night in outer zones of districts 8th and 9th in Pest, as these are shady, though not particularly dangerous areas. Areas in 8th district behind Népszinház utca - József körút can be a bit risky, although the district is CCTV monitored by the police. If you don't have special thing to do there, try not to have a walk at night at Lujza, Dankó, Magdolna streets and it's surroundings - also it's not a very attractive area. Népszinház utca itself is not a very nice place after dark, but usually not risky.

Some big panel areas outskirts of the city (parts of Újpest and Kőbánya) are also not the best places to have a walk without knowing where to go. Area of Keleti pályaudvar is also not very friendly, but usually nothing happens. Avoid homeless people asking for money or selling something in the big underpasses. The subway at Nyugati tér collects different types of people; it is generally not risky because of heavy traffic day and night, but try to look not very "lost" there.

Bigger public parks as Városliget, are surely to be avoided. Don't take a healthy walk at Népliget after dark. The famous 'chill-out' place at Római part (3th district) can be deserted especially after 1AM and in the winter season, although it's usually safe. Don't go to the dark paths alone around Citadella at night.

Night buses passing through the city center, notably line 906 along the inner ring road, can be very crowded at peak socialising times on Friday and Saturday nights. You may come across aggressive drunk youngsters on the vehicles or at the stops. Keep a low profile or avoid the public transportation system on weekend nights. Major night lines are now guarded by security staff.

If you are arriving at night using public transport from the airport, be aware that the last station of Metro 3 at Kőbánya-Kispest is also not very friendly after dark, because of reconstruction work.

Tourist traps

Like in several cities of the world, in Budapest the major scams for the inexperienced tourist are taxis and restaurants.

Taxis used to be a travellers' nightmare, mainly for those arriving from or going to the airport. Luckily the situation is slowly getting better: Zóna Taxi, a company with exlusive right to wait for passengers at the airport terminals, is reliable and works according to advertised prices; for details read the Airport transfer chapter. Sometimes scam taxi drivers will solicit services in the terminal to take you for a ride with a very hungry meter. Zóna Taxi has a stand outside the terminal, so unless you, like some locals do, have called for a cab from a different company to pick you up, do not accept a ride with any other taxi drivers. The alternatives to Zóna Taxi are to call for another trusted cab, saving €5-10 on the trip, or to use the Airport Minibus service. Airport Minibus has a booth inside the terminal and they will allocate you to a minibus with several other travellers who are going to the same area of town - depending on your luck you will be the first destination otherwise the bus may go to a couple other destinations before reaching your destination. If you travel the other way around (from the city to the airport), pre-order your taxi on the chosen company's phone number or call for the Airport Minibus.

Unfortunately, the situation around railway and bus stations is still not regulated. The worst is probably Keleti Pályaudvar: never trust drivers hanging around the arrival side; rather, pre-order a car. If that's not possible, take only taxis with a logo of the bigger companies, and with a proper sign on the roof and taxi licence plate. As a general rule, make sure the taximeter is on (and not set to the special "extortionate rate for unwary tourists") or agree the price with the driver beforehand. As recently as 2006, many cases have been reported in which taxi drivers have extorted hundreds of Euros from unwary visitors.

Similar abuses have also happened in restaurants and bars, almost all of them in the vicinity of Váci utca in the touristy heart of Pest. You should avoid the eateries and bars of the zone. However, the majority of restaurants and pubs in Budapest are reliable. In Hungary it's compulsory to put the menu card outside the entrance; if it's not the case, don't enter. Eat only where locals eat, drink where locals drink.

Don't take any tip on the streets, especially if the person is apparently a gift from Heaven and is being very, very nice to you.

Don't befriend the girls hanging around Váci utca and never accept any invitation for a drink from them: you can be sure that they will lead you to fake Champagne, but you will be left only with the bill - and it's unlikely that a small conversation with them will be worth the hundreds of Euros. You'll find the same sort of girls in erotic and topless bars; avoid them unless you're ready to pay your monthly salary for a glass of wine. Currently the standard trick is to produce a menu with small print at the bottom stating that the first drink costs HUF 15,000 (about EUR 60) and consumption is compulsory. This modified menu might only be produced when the bill is presented. Most of the erotic bars in Budapest are tourist traps. One which is a common trap is 'Étterem Restaurant': they offer free live Latin music and you enter via an elevator. Don't go there under any circumstances. As of December 2009, this scam is still happening on a daily basis.

A common scam [109] now (06/2008) is for attractive women to walk up to men and ask for directions to a particular bar. If you respond "I don't know" they will ask you if you have a map and say "lets go together"... they commonly tell you a story such as "I just got in from Bratislava and am just looking for a good place to get a drink..."

The most popular scam[110] girls (at 10/2009) are a blond one with and a shorter girl with dark hair. They always act together and ask for a light or the time. Next they invite single men for a drink, in a bar at Vaci utca only accessible by an elevator from the street. Once there each drink is something like 50 Euros, but you only find that out at the end when you receive the 500-Euro bill. So never go to the elevator bar (Varoskozpont) at Váci utca, never ever.

The U.S. Embassy maintains a list of blacklisted erotic-clubs and restaurants: [111].

If you don't want to pay more, have your Forints ready at restaurants even if they accept Euros as well. The conversion rate they use is way worse than the rate you can get Forints for at exchange offices. If possible, avoid using exchange offices of airports and railway stations, those in the center of the city offer a much better exchange rate.

If you see people gambling on the streets, usually in popular tourists' destinations like Buda Castle, stay away! The modus operandi usually involves a guy playing the classic game of "hiding the ball". This involves covering the ball (or small trinket) with either a bottle cap or a match box and swirling it around with two other bottle caps asking people to guess the position of the ball. The game is set in a way that you can easily see the ball's position. This is done to lure the unsuspecting person into placing a wager. There are usually two main players and, between them, they will lose and win money back and forth to give the appearance that it is a fair game - do not be tricked! They are from the same gang. Once you get greedy and get lured in, you will surely lose your money! The person in control of the bottle caps will remove the ball from their position through sleight of hand and you will never see your money back. Besides the two or three other players involved, there are usually at least two lookouts - one on each side of 'stage'. Check out a video of the gang in action trying to lure tourists: [112]


Currently used coins: 5Ft, 10Ft, 20Ft, 50Ft, 100Ft (from 06/2009: 200Ft)

Currently used banknotes: 200Ft(until 11/2009), 500Ft, 1000Ft, 2000Ft, 5000Ft, 10000Ft, 20000Ft

Be sure when receiving change that all 1,000ft notes contain a vertical silver strip. Older notes without the strip are no longer valid.

Also, when receiving change from a taxi journey, make sure that the money is actually Hungarian. Some taxi drivers have been known to give unsuspecting passengers older Romanian banknotes.

Royal Palace of Gödöllő
Royal Palace of Gödöllő
  • Eger - small and charming town
  • Esztergom - Site of the biggest basilica (church) in Central Europe.
  • Gödöllő (30km east) - A town full of parks, and home to Grassalkovich Kastély (Grassalkovich Palace), formerly a Royal Palace.
  • Szentendre (19km north) - Home of the Hungarian Open-Air Museum, a huge site with many ancient buildings brought from all parts of the country, including barns, outbuildings, and even churches.
  • Vác - (32km north) Baroque style main square, Cathedral, Triumphal Arch, mummies of the Dominican church (Memento Mori).
  • Visegrád - Famous for its former royal palace partially rebuilt in Renaissance style, medieval residential tower, and impressive citadel.
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