and some useful information about your trip
I’m just coming back from Budapest and this time I will not postpone, but will hurry to share with you my fresh impressions and tips for this magical city.
In the article you will find information about Hungary and Budapest, how to get around, what are the top places to visit, some of which are not so famous, curious facts, legends, some stories and of course – breathtaking photographs.
Whatever I say about the capital of Hungary will never be enough. This city immediately got a special place in my personal ranking for top European cities.
The nicknames of Budapest and some background
Tourists often call Budapest the little Paris.
However, Budapest was not always Budapest. Before 1872 the city was divided into three separate parts: Pest, Buddha and Obuda divided by the Danube river. On a later stage they were united to become the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
It is said that the city would have been actually called Peshtabuda, but no matter how we call it, we are talking about one and the same – a fabulous city, situated on two hills, connected by an impressive bridge over the Danube – the Bridge of Chains.
Budapest is also known as the Pearl of the Danube. There is no other way for this, as the view from the various hills towards the Danube is simply only one of its kind! I recommend visiting both during the day and at night when it’s dark and you can enjoy the shimmering lights revealing the whole city. Pure magic…
If you are travelling to Hungary, it is best to exchange your currency into the local currency: the Hungarian Forint. At the current rate, 1 HUF equals 0.0032 E. [as of 03.06.2018]
The Hungarian Language
The Hungarian language is definitely … hard to learn. It is considered one of the most difficult languages in the world. There are as much as 44 letters in their alphabet, of which 14 are vowels, but if you know English you will have no problems. In restaurants, shops or other public spaces, you’ll be fine everywhere. The only words I remember are „thank you“: „kasanam“ and „sia“ (something like “see you”). You can play these on Google Translate to hear the accurate pronunciation. I think it’s always good to learn a basic word from a language, and it’s a sign of respect.
The Hungarians are creative!
Apart from the complex language, the Hungarians are also distinguished by their ingenuity. Some of their remarkable inventions consist of the Rubik’s Cube, the incandescent bulb and the pen, patented in 1938 by the Hungarian journalist Laszlo Biro.
Now – let’s move to the more practical part.
How to reach Budapest?
The easiest and the most convenient way of reaching Budapest is on a plane. The low-cost companies have a bunch of attractive offers for flying to Hungary.
Transfer from Budapest Airport to the city center
Once you leave the airport, the easiest way to get to the city is by taking a bus: lines 100E or 200E.
For the 100E you get a ticket from the driver because those from the machines are not valid for this line. Check the stops and see which bus is the most convenient for you. The 100E travel time was about 30-40 minutes to reach the centre.
Of course, you can also catch a taxi, but keep in mind that the airport is out of town (about 16 km) and this option will not be cheap, although more convenient than the public transport.
How to get around town?
If you like walking and you have enough time, I would personally recommend walking. The city is charming, the distances are not that massive and it is very pleasant to observe the buildings, the architecture and to immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the Hungarian capital.
The historic centre is compact, most of the attractions are a question of a short distance from each other, and also the orientation is very easy, as the logic behind the city’s infrastructure is strong. You can use the Danube River as the main landmark, it divides the city into two – the hillier Buddha and the more commercial and flat Pest.
The Buddha Castle, the Parliament, and the various bridges can serve as other landmarks to help you to very quickly grasp the location of the city.
However, if you do not want to walk on foot, there is a convenient subway system, buses and trams.
With a good pace and an early start, I think 4 days are enough to see everything and I definitely recommend you to spend a day in the unique thermal baths and indulge in relaxation.
When is the best time to visit Budapest?
I visited Budapest in the autumn (early November) and I was fascinated! The weather was cool, like in Sofia, but there was more sunshine.
I was there just in time to observe the preparations for Christmas markets, the decoration and the lights, which suggests that Budapest is worth visiting in the winter when it will definitely look like a Christmas fairytale.
Spring and summer are nice almost everywhere, so whenever you get the chance – do not hesitate and pack up your bags!
Now let’s move on to the city’s sights by ranking them:
1. The Parliament
It is very difficult to say which landmark is better than the others, so do not look a lot at the specific ranking.
Still, the Hungarian Parliament is definitely one of the most impressive buildings and landmarks in Budapest that has become a symbol of the capital.
The Neo-Gothic Parliament Building is the third largest parliamentary building in the world, and its beauty, especially in the evening, is indescribable. Back in time, in 1902, when its construction was finished, the building was the largest parliament building in the world.
The Hungarian Parliament building is part of the World Cultural Heritage. It is located on the bank of the Danube river from the side of Pest. Its facade facing the Danube is adorned with 242 different sculptures of Hungarian and Transylvanian rulers, famous military figures such as John Hunyadi and King Istvan. The main entrance is on the other side and is strictly guarded by two lions. Over the windows there are the emblems of kings and dukes.
Because of the wetness of the river, the dirty air and the countless details on the building, there are almost constant ongoing repair and restoration works on the Parliament building.
Its height of 96 meters is tied to the number 96 – a very important one for the Hungarians, because of the celebration of a thousand years from the conquest of Pannonia (present-day Hungary), in 1896 from the Magyars and the creation of the Hungarian state.
The height of the St Stephen Basilica is the same – 96 meters. It is closely connected to another symbol of a crucial importance for the Hungarians:
The Holy Crown of St Stephen
The Hungarian Parliament is the house of the crown, which is believed to have been King St. Stephen’s (the first King of Hungary) and used in the coronations of every king ever since. Through the Holy Crown of St. Stefan the new ruler legitimized himself in front of his people.
The crown symbolizes all the „St. Stephen’s crown lands“ and you can see it in many places in the city if you have an eye for detail.
Here is one of the larger „crowns“ you can see on the bridge on the way to the Margaret Island.
Actually, the Crown’s symbols includes the coat of arms of Hungary:
If you want to see the Crown, the following option is available:
A visit to the Parliament of Hungary
You can buy a ticket to visit the Parliament buildings when the members are not in a plenary session. The tour takes about 45 minutes (including a 10-minute security check) and covers the main staircase and the main hall, one of the lobbies, the old House of Lords, and the legendary royal jewels of St. Stephan, which have been moved here from the National Museum of the Millennium, which I mentioned earlier.
The tours take place in several languages, including: Hungarian, English, French, Russian, Italian, Spanish, German, Hebrew.
It is recommended to book an online ticket and it costs 2,200 HUF for European citizens and 1,100 HUF for students and children aged 6-24, who are EU citizens. Entrance is free of charge for children under the age of 6.
The publication becomes quite long, so if you are interested, you can find the next part here: 15 Sights you must see in Budapest.
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