The Amazing Metro Line 1 in Budapest is 120 Years Old

The Oldest Engine-Powered Metro

Did you know that it is the oldest engine-powered metro line in the world? The line and the vehicle fleet were well ahead of their time in terms of technical quality.

 Reconstruction in 1895

The tunnel was dug out, not drilled, using the cut and cover method and was built just below the surface to prevent any problems that the groundwater could have caused. The metro cars were also designed to adjust for the low headroom.

Andrássy út, a Millenniumi földalatti Dózsa György (Aréna) úti állomásának építése, 1895.Fortepan

Construction of the station at the crossing of Andrássy and Dózsa György út (formerly Aréna út), 1895. Photo: Fortepan

It was Franz Joseph, emperor of Austria-Hungary, who inaugurated the underground railway on 2nd May 1896 as part of the Millennium Exhibition the same year.

Back then the greatest possible speed was 40 kilometres / hour (25 miles / hour) and today it is 50 km / h (31 miles / h). Not a major progress, right? But there have been plenty of other changes since then.

All the stops used to have ornate entrance pavilions but unfortunately these were removed in the beginning of the 20th century due to being too fancy.

 Changes in the Line in 1955

Due to the construction of Metro Line 2 in 1955, the Deák tér underground station was rebuilt and the M1 stop was shifted to Engels square (now Erzsébet square) because of this a stretch of the tunnel became redundant.
Millenniumi Földalatti Vasút a Deák Ferenc téri állomás áthelyezésekor.1955Fortepan

Shifting the stop in 1955 Photo: Fortepan

It is now used as the Underground Museum which is a permanent exhibition that is part of the Transportation Museum. The entrance costs the price of a metro ticket.

 Changes in the Line in 1973

Have you ever been in City Park and wondered what the meaning behind the bridge that doesn’t seem to cross anything is? It’s close to Restaurant Gundel and the Museum of Fine Arts, just next to the lake.


The Bridge in the City Park Leading to Nowhere, Photo: my friend Bús Mónika

Well, the underground line used to emerge to the surface after leaving Heroes Square and continue its way towards Széchenyi Bath and thus the bridge used to be a pedestrian bridge above the line.
However, in 1973 the line was extended and was made to be completely underground, the surface section was buried, and the line now runs under the city park lake.

Millenniumi földalatti az Állatkert felől tart a Hősök tere alá (baloldali közlekedés)1954Fortepan

Underground Line Emerging to the Surface after Leaving Heroes Square, 1954 Photo: Fortepan

As the pedestrian bridge was the first reinforced concrete bridge of Hungary, it was not destroyed unlike all other retained elements.


Metro line 1 became a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2002 as well as Andássy út (the avenue) that runs above it.


Metro no. 1 at Oktogon Stop, Photo: Virag

Suggested Route with Metro Line 1

Hop on at the terminal Vörösmarty tér (5 minute walk from Katona Apartments) and after 8 stops hop off at Hősök tere (Heroes Square).

Sights to see there:

Millennium Monument
Kunsthalle Museum (Műcsarnok)
Vajdahunyad Castle

City Park

On your way back don’t miss the House of Terror Museum at 60, Andrássy út (Vörösmarty utca stop), the Hungarian Opera House at 22, Andrássy út (Opera stop), and Book Café at 39, Andrássy út (Opera stop).
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About the authors: Virág and János

Virág, a native of Budapest, and János, who’s been living in the city since 1997 are real fans of the capital of Hungary and try to awake the enthusiasm of others. They are dedicated to helping tourists to make most out of their stay.

Here you can read more about them:

What to Order in Restaurants in Budapest

What about a rooster testicle stew, toast with marrow, or fish milt and eggs with your fish soup?

Are you brave enough to taste them?

If you look for something traditionally Hungarian, run through this list, not all the dishes are that extreme, I promise.


Halászlé (hɒlaːsleː) = Fish Soup Made with Fresh Water Fish

It is a popular Christmas dish but also year-round, served with slices of fresh white bread and add as much hot paprika as you can take. For the daring ones I suggest to ask for fish milt and eggs to add to the soup.

Usually it is served either in a cup (small portion as a starter) or in a bowl or a cauldron (big portion as a main course).

The grandma of a friend of mine revealed to me once confidentially that fishermen at the Tisza River always added some mashed potato to the soup to get it thicker. This ingredient was a well-kept secret.

Fish Soup in a Cup, Photo: Restaurant Gundel

Gulyás Leves (gujaːʃlɛvɛʃ)

The soup on all of the tourist menus, made of beef and vegetables. Originally it was cooked by herdsman (gulyás) in the open air in a cauldron, a big pot over a fire.


Hideg Gyümölcs Leves (hidɛɟːʏmølʧlɛvɛʃ) = Cold Fruit Soup

The most common version is made of sour cherries. This sourish chilled soup is ideal in the warmer months.

Warm Starters

Velős pirítós (vɛløːʃpiɾiːtoːʃ) = Toast with Marrow

Some love it, some find it disgusting. If you are experimenting type, give it a go.

Hortobágyi Palacsinta (hoɾtobaːɟipɒlɒʧintɒ)

You may find it a bit weird that a crêpe is filled with minced meat and served with a paprika – sour crème sauce. This is one of my favourites and it’s quite common in all types of restaurants and eateries.

Main Courses

Pörkölt (pøɾkølt) = Stew

This dish is made of chicken, beef, veal, pork, catfish or offal, like gizzard, is served in many restaurants.

If you’re looking for something extraordinary, look for an eatery where they have rooster testicle stew = kakashere pörkölt (kɒkɒʃhɛɾɛpøɾkølt) on the menu.

As a side dish choose nokedli (its synonim is galuska) which are small cooked dumplings.
Rooster Testicles Stew

Töltött Káposzta (tøltøtkaːpostɒ)

This is cabbage leaves filled with a mixture of minced meat and rice, and are cooked.
We also add sour cream to the top. It’s quite heavy dish and mainly eaten in colder seasons.


Gundel Palacsinta (gundɛlpɒlɒʧintɒ)

It’s a crepe with filling made from walnut, raisins, rum and lemon zest drizzled with chocolate sauce. At some posh places it is served flambéed.
The most authentic place to taste it is in the famous Restaurant Gundel close to Heroes Square. For my taste it’s a bit too sweet there but worth a try.

Gundel Pancake, Photo: Restaurant Gundel

Mákos Rétes (maːkoʃɾeːtɛʃ)= Poppyseed Strudel

Any dessert with poppy seed may be authentic to Hungary. Try plain poppy seed or poppy seed with sour cherry strudel.

The strudel is a frequent dessert of Hungary, Austria and Serbia. Presumably it has a Turkish origin (baklava). The dough is stretched by hand very thinly and then most commonly it’s filled with poppy seed, cottage cheese, apple, plum, apricot, nuts, etc. The number of variations is endless.

Mákosguba (maːkoʒgubɒ)

It’s a simple dish (main ingredients: rolls, milk, sugar or honey, ground poppy seed, lemon zest) usually served in smaller and not too fancy home style restaurants.

Originaly it’s a dish served at Christmas. Poppy was supposed to bring luck and wealth in the New Year. Nowadays we prepare this inexpensive and filling dessert throughout the year.


Túrógombóc (tuːɾoːgomboːʦ)

These cottage cheese balls are favourite of all. We consider it to be very Hungarian but the origin is not clear. It is common in the surrounding countries as well, but in each region it’s prepared a bit differently.

In Hungary usually it’s served with bread crumbs, sour cream and sugar or honey. Some prefer it with fruit or berry sauce. It is said that the texture should wobble.

Somlói Galuska (ʃomloːigɒluʃkɒ)

This is definitely not a sophisticated dessert but a very common one flavoured with rum.

Three types of sponge cakes (basic, with walnut and with cacao) are sprinkled with vanilla and chocolate sauce and then whipped cream is added to the top.

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This is just a short list where I included mainly my favourite dishes. The Hungarian cuisine is rich and diverse and includes many other courses.

Bon apétit. Let us know if you liked them.

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About the authors: Virág and János

Virág, a native of Budapest, and János, who’s been living in the city since 1997 are real fans of the capital of Hungary and try to awake the enthusiasm of others. They are dedicated to helping tourists to make most out of their stay.

Here you can read more about them:

Shopping in Budapest

There are so many things that Budapest is worth visiting for but shopping is NOT one of them.

Why is that?

Well, the value added tax (VAT) in Hungary is the highest within the European Union. It is 27 percent with just a few exceptions, like dairy products, pork, flour, cereals, bakery items, medicines and books.

Before discouraging you to do any shopping in Budapest, I have some suggestions for some unique shops, stores and places where you can browse for local or special products.

Hungarian Food Products

Fruits and vegetables in the markets are usually superior to what is sold in the supermarkets and at groceries.

I suggest you to visit the Great Central Market on the Pest side of Szabadság-híd (Liberty Bridge) or look in to Belvárosi Piac Market (13, Hold utca). You can enter it from Vadász utca as well. Belvárosi Piac is not a huge market but it’s location is favorable as it is close to the Parliament building. You could pop in on your way there.


Market in Hold utca, Photo: Virag

For local Hungarian supermarket food products check my previous post:  Hungarian Local Food Products


If you are looking for a huge shopping mall full with different stores (clothes, shoes, books, electronics, souvenir, toys, jewelry, cosmetics, furnishing, home-decor, hairdresser, fastfood,…) go to Westend City Center which is at Nyugati tér metro station on the M3 metro line. From Katona Apartments take metro line M3 from Ferenciek tere, it is the 3rd stop in the direction Újpest-Központ.

West End City Center Shopping Mall, Photo: Virag


Head north from the building of the Parliament and look for the street Falk Miksa. This charming street is full with antique shops and you’re sure to find what you are looking for be it a china figurine, a cuckoo clock or vinyl records with Hungarian hits from the 70’s.


Shop Window in Falk Miksa utca, Photo: Virag

Also, there are many flee markets your can visit which tend to pop up occasionally at the local markets.


In Gozsdu Udvar on a Sunday Morning, Photo: Virag

However, the biggest and most well known flee market in Budapest (Ecseri piac) is in the outskirts (156, Nagykőrösi út) Take metro 3 from Ferenciek tere stop until Határ út. There change to the bus No. 194 or 194B or 199. Get off at Hofherr Albert utca stop (10 stops).
Opening hours: Monday – Friday 8-16, Saturday 6-15, Sunday 9-13


Kill two birds with one stone in this book store. After picking books you can pamper yourselves with a coffee and a cake in a former ballroom with a luxurious interiour. Alexandra Book Café (1st floor, 39, Andrássy út) is located almost at the Opera house on the other side of the road.

For used books check the antiquariats, between Kálvin tér and Astoria on Múzeum körút, there are at least ten of them located next to each other.

Many Hungarian novels and children books have English translations. Some of my favourite writers are:

Jókai Mór – 19th century novelist in the boarder of realism and romanticism. The most striking feature of his art are the quirky, unexpected surprises that he weaves into his fascinating tales. Three of his pieces were voted among the best Hungarian novels at the Hungarian version of Big Read. The Heartless Man’s Sons, The Man with the Golden Touch, A Hungarian Nabob)


Szabó Magda – 20th century female novelist. She also wrote dramas, essays, studies, memoirs and poetry. Her novel, Abigél was chosen as the sixth most popular novel at the Hungarian version of Big Read.

Her three other novels which were in the top 100 are Für Elise, An Old-fashioned Story and The Door.

For Hungarian children book writers I suggest Janikovszky Éva and Bartos Erika. The former one was my favourite writer in my childhood, and the latter one is the favourite of my 3 year old daughter.

Designer Products

For those interested in up-to- date design and fashion stores in Budapest, here is a list that my designer friend, Daniella, suggests. She knows a lot about fashion and knows the places that are worth a visit.


Earrings designed by my friend, Daniella

1. WAMP Design Fair is held on Erzsébet square (5 minute walk heading north from Katona Apartments) from April till September once a month. It’s a special event where you can meet the designers personally, as it’s them who showcase their products (fashion, souvenir, home decor, etc.). Opening hours: 11 am – 7 pm and the entry is free.

During the colder season (October – April) the event is held indoors at Millenáris. Take metro M2 from Astoria or Deák tér (in the direction of Déli pályaudvar) and stop at Széll Kálmán tér. Address: Kis Rókus u. 16-20.

2. Printa (Rumbach Sebestyén utca 10 – five blocks away from the apartments) what you will find here is characteristic graphic design, up cycling fashion and objects, accessories and great souvenirs.

3. Rododendron (Semmelweis utca 19 – two blocks away from the apartments) it offers products of young local designers and holds small exhibitions.


4. MONO art and design (Kossuth Lajos u. 12 – two blocks away from the apartments) minimal and hipster design, lifestyle retail, gallery and events space concept

Special Markets and Fairs

Outdoor festivals are held almost each weekend from spring till autumn with diverse themes, like gourmet food, wine, rosé and sparkling wine, pálinka (special Hungarian fruit spirit) and beer, including one that promotes small Hungarian breweries.

The magical atmosphere of the Budapest Christmas market is a truly unforgettable experience. It is held on Vörösmarty square and the surrounding streets each year from the end of November till the end of December. The aroma of special culinary delights will surely whet your appetite. Enjoy the holiday mood and keep yourself warm while lingering among the festively decorated wooden market stands.


Christmas Market, Photo: my friend, Bús Mónika

How to Pay

In most shops you can pay with a card. Visa, Maestro, AMEX and Diners Club are widespread.

Hungarian Forint is accepted everywhere. In bigger shops they accept EUR cash as well but the exchange rate is not too favourable.

In the fairs they usually accept just cash or they may require you to use their rechargeable festival cards. It’s easy to use them; you just have to pay a deposit, put money on your card and then use it to pay for things.

Please contact us for further information. We will be glad to help:

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About the authors: Virág and János

Virág, a native of Budapest, and János, who’s been living in the city since 1997 are real fans of the capital of Hungary and try to awake the enthusiasm of others. They are dedicated to helping tourists to make most out of their stay.

Here you can read more about them: