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A Guide to Budapest
Budapest is a magical city. The capital city of Hungary was first settled by the Celts, then expanded upon by the Romans. Their influence is still visible today and can be seen in everything from Budapest’s culture and architecture, to cuisine and art. Budapest is one of Eastern Europe’s rising stars and its popularity with tourists is growing, who are clamouring to experience the treasures of this grand city.
Budapest’s city limit span both sides of the River Danube. In fact, it actually had its start as two separate cities: Buda and Pest. The Buda side of the city was ancestral home of royalty and boasts castles and fortresses. Pest is the commercial heart of the city and has a collection of great hotels and bars. Throughout Budapest however, travellers will be able to experience its fascinating history, love affair with paprika, and its famous thermals baths.
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Things You Need to Know Before Booking Flights to Budapest
- Hungary does not use the Euro as its currency. Rather, you will need to convert New Zealand dollars into Hungarian forint. $1NZD roughly converts into 180 forint.
- It’s tradition not to clink glasses when cheersing! What started as a move of defiance in the 19th century has evolved into a common-place practice throughout Budapest.
- A visit to Budapest’s ruin pubs should make the itinerary of every visitor, even if it is just the once. These pop-up watering holes are located in ruined or abandoned buildings, mostly in the Jewish quarter, and are a Budapest mainstay.
- Budapest is a pretty English-friendly city, however you can give your traveller credentials a boost by pronouncing the city name as it is spoken in Hungarian: boo-da-pesht.
The Best Time to Visit Budapest
Budapest follows much the same climate patterns as other continental European cities. The city enjoys hot summers and snowy winters. The best times to visit Budapest are in the shoulder seasons, from September to November and then March through May. The temperatures in these period are pleasantly mild and the tourist numbers are also less when compared to the peak summer months. Travellers might also find cheaper Budapest accommodation in the shoulder seasons. The cheapest flights to Budapest are often during winter.
Getting to Ferenc Liszt International Airport (BUD)
Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport (BUD) is the only international airport serving the city and it handles about 13 million passengers a year. It is located conveniently close to the city centre: 16 kilometres south east. A taxi journey from the centre of Budapest, depending on traffic, may run between $32NZD to $43ND (between 6000 to 8000 Hungarian forint).Those that want to take public transport can catch the metro M3 line to the Köbánya-Kispest metro terminal and then the 200 bus line towards Terminal 1 or 2.
Parking at Ferenc Liszt International Airport (BUD)
Once you are at the Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport (BUD) you can find no shortage of parking options. For any drop-offs, the terminal car park is your best choice since it is close and is the most affordable option out of the car parks closest to the terminals. For long-term parking, there are two car parks within 2 and 5 minutes of walking distance from the terminals. They are the Holiday and Holiday Plus car parks.
Getting Around Budapest
Tourists and locals alike take advantage of Budapest’s well-organised public transport system. There are four metro lines, as well as a network of trams and busses. A single, one-way fare on any public transport within Budapest is 350 forint - less than $2NZD. A bulk pack of 10 tickets can be purchased for 3000 forint, and there are also travel cards - covering 24 hours and up to 7 days’ worth of use across all methods of public transport. Do remember to always validate your ticket as inspectors are common and aren’t afraid of doling out fines, even to tourists. While public transport is the cheaper and arguably more scenic option for getting around Budapest, travellers can also hire a private driver or hail a taxi to get between destinations.
Things to do in Budapest
Built in the 13th century, Buda Castle was once the home of Hungarian kings and their court. Today, this popular complex houses the Castle, as well as the Budapest History Museum and National Gallery. It is a part of the Budapest World Heritage Site. The castle grounds are open to the public and 2-hour tours of the castle are available to be booked online. Many of Budapest’s main festivals, celebrating everything from music to wine and chocolate, are hosted at the castle.
The Gellért Bath is one of Budapest’s most recognisable thermal baths. This Art Nouveau bath is located at Gellért Hotel and has been restored to its original, resplendent glory following the damage it suffered in WWII. It is made up of 10 mineral-rich pools, all varying in size and temperature, and is open to the public from 6am to 8pm. A range of spa treatments and private bathing opportunities are available, and the Spa also has saunas and plunge pools, an open-air wave pool and a Finnish sauna.
The Danube Promenade winds along the Pest side of the River Danube and offers a wonderful array of views for sightseers, including an incredible view of the Buda bank and Buda Castle. The Promenade extends between Elizabeth Bridge and Chain Bridge and passes by Vigado Concert Hall, the Little Princess statue and Szchenyi Istvan Square.