Fairy tale architecture, inexpensive drinks, shocking history and amazing food scene, Budapest is all this and more. It has been rated as one of the most rapidly developing cities in Europe making it a paradise for architecture lovers, foodies, history buffs or any type of traveler for that matter. This is a charming city that welcomes people coming in to explore and discover Budapest for its culture and heritage. It is important to plan your Budapest travel package as best as you can to have a perfect travel experience.
Traveling in Budapest is easy and safe as compared to many other European cities. Mentioned below are few important tips that a traveler needs to keep in mind before commencing their trip to Budapest.
Essential things to consider
a. Brush up on little phrases and some basic Hungarian lines.
b. Time Zone : GMT +2
c. Country code: +36
d. Currency: Hungarian Forints (HUF)
Best time to visit
Budapest’s temperature is pleasant all year round so it is a little difficult to zero in the ideal time to visit this charismatic city. Spring and summer season sees a surge in the number of visitors as compared to fall and winter seasons. Summer season witnesses an upsurge of visitors from around the world. The Budapest Summer Festival that takes place between June and August is one of the things you should not miss out on. However, if you do not mind the drop in temperatures and snow, then December to February is also a great time to visit and enjoy Christmas markets and other special events that take place around this festive period.
Flights to Budapest
Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport (BUD), commonly known as Ferihegy, is located 16 km. southeast of Budapest. The airport offers international connections to Europe, North America, the Middle East, Africa and parts of the Far East. Take the first step towards your Budapest travel by looking for appropriate flights, airfares and availability.
Choose your travel partner well
Plan your trip with a reliable travel company rather than going in blind. Travel companies will ensure each n every detail is planned to your preference and comfort level. They will make sure that you face no hassle throughout the trip and that you have a memorable trip no matter what. These companies can organize guided tours with skilled and experienced guides that focus on Budapest’s history, pub culture and Jewish legacies.
Carry the local currency
Even though Hungary is a part of the European Union, Euro has not been adopted as the county’s official currency. Euro is widely accepted in Hungary, you need to be prepared to receive change in Forints if you choose to exchange your currency. Restaurants in Budapest also don’t prefer credit or debit cards, hence make sure you visit the ATM before going for a meal. It would be better if you go through a legal money exchange instead of opting for the less reliable options within the city.
Tipping is normal in Hungary
Although not mandatory, tipping is considered courteous in Budapest. This gesture is followed by locals and tourists alike. People consider it polite to tip in hotels and concierge services. A 10% to 15% tip is usually applied to restaurant bills unless the service tax is added. Tips can also be added to spas and bathhouses and taxi drivers in Budapest.
Hungry in Hungary
Hungarian food is delicious including stews, meat and dumplings. The food is light on the stomach but is unforgettable as the taste lingers on your taste buds. Potatoes are pretty much the only vegetarian part of the meal as Hungarian cuisine is predominantly non-vegetarian with meat, poultry and cold cuts of Langoes, Kürtőskalács (Chimney Cake), Goulash, Chicken Paprikash and more.
Getting by in Budapest
Your travel company will be arranging all your intercity transportation. However, if you are planning to venture out alone, you could try out the local taxi services (although you need to remember to insist on a meter). Alternatively, you may also take the trams that are scattered around the city or you can use the Budapest Card that allows access to public transport of your choice.
To cruise or not to cruise!
River Danube runs majestically right through the middle of Budapest making cruises in Budapest a sought after activity. There are different cruises available to suit all budgets; the best seller cruises include Beer & Pizza Cruise and the Dubai Operetta and Folklore Cruise.
Don’t miss the Budapest Metro
Budapest Metro, the oldest electrified underground railways system in Europe. The second oldest electrically operated system in the world were opened in 1896 and still runs daily. Traveling through Budapest metro and experience the city’s rich history that is quite literally etched in the walls of these trains.
Where to stay
While traveling to Budapest you can opt from a range of hotels (different categories) depending on your budget preferences. Choose from a range of budget hotels, 3-star, 4-star & 5-star properties. Confused between staying in Buda or Pest (yes… Buda and Pest are two separate cities!), you need to know that Buda is a lot calmer while Pest sees a more active nightlife with ruin bars and night clubs. Choose the side of the city that suits you the best.
Top things to do in Budapest
Castle Hill and Buda Castle
Budapest’s Castle hill contains many of the city’s most important medieval monuments and museums and the 18th century Buda Castle is the most impressive of them all. The castle was damaged in World War II and most of the exterior has been restored, along with several sections of the interior that houses several important museums including Hungarian National Gallery and Budapest History Museum.
Hungarian Parliament Building & Crown Jewels
This Neo-Gothic building was inaugurated in 1886 to mark Hungary’s 1,000th anniversary and is listed as the world’s largest parliament building. Guided tours of the Hungarian Parliament lasts for approximately 45 minutes and is available for tourists traveling to Budapest for a vacation.
St. Stephen’s Basilica
St. Stephen’s Basilica (Szent István-bazilika) is a popular attraction known for its impressive architecture, the beauty of its interior and the panoramic vistas from its dome. The cathedral is dedicated to St. Stephen, the Hungarian holy king and the founder of Hungary.
The Fisherman’s Bastion overlooks the Danube where the city’s fishermen’s guild built their defense walls back in the Middle Ages. This beautiful collection of Neo-Romanesque towers, courtyards and walls was built between 1895 and 1902. It is one of the most popular points among tourists for its spectacular views over the city and the Danube River.
River Danube flows through Budapest from north to south. One of the top free things to do during Budapest travel is strolling along the Danube Promenade (Dunakorzó), a century-old riverside walk that extends between Elisabeth and Széchenyi Chain Bridges. You will find unnerving shoes of the Danube Bank memorial on the banks of the Danube that has a series of 60 pairs of steel sculpted shoes commemorating Jews who shot here by the Nazis. It is a poignant reminder of the Nazi atrocities suffered by Hungary.
Széchenyi Thermal Bath
If you are planning a vacation in Budapest then you must have heard about its incredible thermal springs many of which have been harnessed to offer its citizens, as well as visiting tourists an opportunity to relax and rejuvenate in thermal baths.
Budapest is considered by many to be the ‘Paris of the East’ and one of the most culturally important cities in Eastern Europe. It is home to several important places. Traveling to Budapest can be immensely affordable, safe and easy to get around if planned efficiently. So, go right ahead and plan your fairytale vacation.