Welcome to Budapest!
Budapest is made up of two separate areas, Buda and Pest, with the Danube flowing between them, along a stretch of 28 kilometres. Buda is built on a hill, on the Western bank of the river and forms the historical part of the city. Pest stands on a plain and is more business-oriented, with shops and boulevards. You can walk between the two very different areas using the many magnificent bridges. The city consists of 23 districts.
How to get to Budapest?
It's very easy to get to Budapest by plane
Getting into town:
There are three main international railway stations in Budapest: Eastern (Keleti), Western (Nyugati) and Southern (Déli). More than 50 trains a day provide direct links between Budapest and 25 other European capital cities. Trains to Vienna run every 3 hours, 7 times a day. There is also a popular network of Inter City trains linking Budapest with the main Hungarian towns. All three international railway stations are part of the Budapest Underground system, the Metró. The Déli and Keleti are stops on the Red (Number 2) line and the Nyugati is on the Blue (Number 3) line.
Although the centre of Budapest can be explored on foot, some parts of the city can be reached more efficiently by public transport.
You might like to use the underground: Budapest has the distinction of having built the first subway line on the European continent. Its excellent public transportation system now includes buses, trams, trolley-buses, taxis and metro. (You’ll find full timetable information for all modes of local public transport at www.bkv.hu)
If you like driving, and don’t mind traffic jams, you can also get to your destination by car.
With more and more cycling paths, the Hungarian capital is becoming quite a biker-friendly city.
The city has an efficient public transport network: you can get to your destination by any of these means of transport:
Budapest has four metro lines (M1, M2, M3, M4). The newest M4 (green line) started operation at the end of March 2014.
Using the metro is easy and it will get you to anywhere in the city centre within a couple of minutes.
Places of interest
1. Chain Bridge
The iconic Chain Bridge was the first bridge to span the Danube and connect Buda and Pest. Statues of lions guard each end of the bridge, but don’t let that stop you from crossing on foot. It’s worth it: the view from the middle of the bridge is fantastic!
2. Buda Hill
Cross the bridge to the Buda side and you’ll be at Clark Ádám Square. Here you’ll find Hungary’s Mile Zero and a funicular. Buy a ticket and ride to the top of Buda Hill. This is where Buda began in the 13th century, and you can still find traces of its medieval roots.
Buda Castle Quarter is a World Heritage Site. Its streets are mostly pedestrian and full of 18th century Baroque houses and cobblestone streets. There are a few must-see sights, most notably:
3. Gellért Baths
Not only does Budapest have a massive subterranean cave system, it is also blessed with a plethora of mineral-rich thermal springs. People have been enjoying their health benefits for centuries. One of Budapest’s health spas actually dates to the 1500’s!
4. Gellért Hill and the citadel
Nearby Gellért Hill offers one of the most impressive panoramic views of the city. Getting to the top can be a workout, or you can take a tram or bus.
Mostly parkland, partly residential, the hill is also home to a variety of monuments and a Habsburg-era citadel. You can easily spend hours there if you’re a nature lover.
Gellért Hill is part of the “Banks of Danube” UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was named after Saint Gerard, a missionary who was killed there in 1046. He was put in a barrel and rolled down into the river from the top of the hill.
5. Andrassy Avenue
On the Pest side of the river, Andrássy Avenue is to Budapest what Fifth Avenue is to New York. There is one notable exception, though: Andrássy Avenue is part of a World Heritage Site.
This street is full of beautiful, turn-of-the-century buildings, such as the State Opera House. Walk along this long avenue and you’ll see exclusive shops, quaint cafés, museums, embassies, and homes.
Also on Andrassy: the building that once served as Nazi party headquarters and was later occupied by the Hungarian version of the KGB. These days, it houses a museum that contains mementos of both regimes.
6. Heroes’ Square and City Park
Heroes’ Square is one of the most popular tourist sites in the city, day or night. Marking one end of Andrássy Avenue and flanked by two art museums, it commemorates the 1000-year settlement by the seven Magyar tribes.
Buried here is Imre Nagy, former Prime Minister of Hungary, who was executed in 1958.
Heroes’ Square is also the entrance to City Park, the largest park in Budapest. It’s huge.
Within its grounds is a castle, zoo, amusement park, circus, an exclusive restaurant, and Szechenyi Baths, the largest thermal spa in the city.