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Long Weekend in Budapest

Dan Aldulescu

Noted as one of the most beautiful cities in Central Europe, Budapest is a top destination for tourists in search of short breaks. Split into two by the Danube River, Budapest is really two cities: Buda and Pest. The city’s natural and architectural beauty, its exquisite cuisine and the diverse activities it offers will interest both young and old, history-buffs and late night party-goers.

Getting into the City

Getting to Budapest is easy: from the UK, fly direct with British Airways, EasyJet and Jet2. The airport is located 16 km (10 miles) southeast of the city and you can catch the railway into Budapest Nyugati Railway Station in the centre of the city in less than 30 minutes. Trains have a good frequency, 111 trains are available on weekdays and 92 during the weekends. The average price of one airport-city center transfer is 395 HUF, about $2. The schedule of the train is available on the Hungarian Railway Company's website.

Other options for airport transfer are bus or taxi (private operators) - around $28 USD; cheaper options are available for around $8, using airport shuttle services.

Currency

Hungary’s currency is the forint (Ft or HUF). ATMs can be found throughout the city and standard credit cards are widely accepted. One British pound buys you 318HUF, €1 gets you 269HUF and $1 just short of 200HUF.

Climate

The climate in Budapest is temperate continental, with warm summers when the temperature may rise to 40 degrees Celsius, and cold winters when temperatures drop to -15 degrees Celsius. The best months for travelling to Budapest are May, June and September, when there aren’t that many tourists and the weather is at its friendliest.

Lodging

Finding a hotel in Budapest can be daunting, with all that is on offer. Medium to high end travelers might consider luxurious accommodation, historical or modern, as well as relaxing spa breaks and bustling city centre locations. If you’re on a budget, you can choose from countless hostels, motels and smaller hotels, most of which are located in the centre of the city, down Buda’s hills, close to the river.

Vacation apartments rentals are available. Prices vary depending on the location. You can find more details and bookings at Apartments in Budapest and Apartments Apart.

Transportation

Much of the city is accessible on foot, but the trams are also a scenic way to get around when your feet need a little rest. A third alternative is to sightsee from one of the numerous boats cruising up and down the Danube River.

Public transportation options include, metro, tram, bus, trolley-bus, trains (for the suburban area). The city also offers a special service, the night bus that replaces all public transport for all major city routes. Tickets are available for 290HUF/single ticket (about $1.5). Passes are available: 10 ticket book 2600HUF ($14); three-day pass for 3700HUF ($20); seven-day pass for 4400HUF ($24). The passes can be used for all public transportation within the city limits. A great options for weekend tourists are the so called Budapest Cards available for two or three days These cards cost 6300HUF ($34) for two days or 7500HUF ($40) for three days. The benefit of these cards is that they can offer, apart from unlimited access to the public transportation system, various discounts for tourist attraction around Budapest. Visitors can plan their trips around the city using this website: www.utvonalterv.hu.

Activities

Once you check in, the city awaits. Here are a few things you could do in your long weekend break.

Taking a guided tour of the Gothic Revival-style Hungarian Parliament Building is a must. This is the biggest building in Hungary, which sits on the edge of the Pest side of the river overlooking the Danube. Details for the tour can be found here on the Budapest Tourist Guide website. Tickets are available at the gate. Guided tours in English are available daily starting from:10:00, 12:00, 14:00. Prices: adults 5.000HUF ($27); students and children 2500HUF ($13.5). Private tours are also available, but they are much more expensive, at least double the price of a regular tour.

While you’re in the area, the neoclassical St Stephen’s Basilica is within walking distance. With its 96 meter high dome, you can navigate to it from almost anywhere in the city.

Budapest at NightFor the cultured tourist, another treat would be a trip to the State Opera House for a performance and, in addition, Budapest offers a range of theatre and music shows throughout the year. When night falls, you can’t go wrong with a visit to the Danube bridges that overflow with market stands and entertainment after dark.

With hours of non-stop walking behind you, on your last day in Budapest you may feel in need of a little rest and relaxation, and to clear your head with a cleansing dip. Swimming in the Danube river itself may not be advisable, but a must when visiting Budapest is dipping into one of the city’s 80 geothermal springs.

Famed for its healing water springs, Budapest has been, since the 1930s, titled the "Spa City." If you’re looking for a relaxing break at a spa in Hungary, you can find many in Budapest and on Margaret Island, which a natural sanctuary in the middle of the city.

Whatever you end up doing during your stay in Budapest, you’re certain to leave with the conviction that, when it comes to stunning attractions, relaxing spas and affordable luxury hotels, Hungary can’t be beaten.

Additional Resources:

Budapest, Hungary: An Introduction

Hungarian Railway

Airport Shuttle Service

Hungary Vacation Rental Reviews

Hungary Hotel Reviews

Apartments in Budapest

Apartments Apart

Budapest Tourist Guide - Parliament Tour

Opera House

Opera House Tours

Divento Ticket Site

Ticket Info

Discuss this article

http://wikitravel.org/en/Budapest: Budapest information


Article and photo provided by travel author Dan Aldulescu, on behalf of Danubius City Breaks Budapest.

© Dan Aldulescu, 2011

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