What to Do in Winter in Budapest

Don’t let yourself be put off by the cold weather though as Budapest is far less packed this time of year, the prices are even more favourable than in the high season and there are some special winter activities that can’t be done at any other time.

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Royal Castle Photo: David Lillywhite, Flickr

 

Obviously wearing plenty of warm layers is strongly recommended if you visit in winter but if you start to get too chilly you can always pop into any of the numerous cafés or bars dotted around the city center where you can warm up your frozen fingers.

Or, if you prefer, there are more than 200 museums with a wide range of topics awaiting you which will also provide a warm hideaway from the cold.

During the winter months temperatures can easily fall below 0 degrees Celsius (32 Fahrenheit), even during the day, but it rarely dips below minus 10 degrees Celsius (14 Fahrenheit).

In the last decade the amount of snowfall has been decreasing so unfortunately there is a smaller chance to be able to admire charming Budapest in its typical romantic winter scene with a crisp layer of snow.

Christmas Markets

In you visit Budapest any time between mid-November and the beginning of January, you can be part of some lively outdoor scenes thanks to the Christmas markets in the city center. With the festive illuminations and the decorated shop windows the city really comes into its own around Christmas.

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Winter Illumination, photo: my friend Bús Mónika

Enjoy the holiday mood and keep yourself warm while lingering among the wooden market stands. The three most famous markets are located in the city center quite close to each other.

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Winter Dishes Photo: Natures Fan, Flickr

 

Ice Skating

A remarkable winter activity is certainly gliding on the popular outdoor ice rink in the City Park (Városliget) just next to the impressive Heroes Square. The open air artificial ice rink is more than 140 years old and is overlooked by the spectacular Castle of Vajdahunyad, which provides a scenic background for the skaters.

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Ice Skating in Városliget (City Park) with Vajdahunyad Castle in the background, Photo: Virag

 

You can rent skates in the neo baroque building next to the rink for a fee and a deposit, but be aware that the rink closes in the early afternoon.

Opening hours from mid November till mid February:

Monday – Friday: 9 am-1 pm and 5 pm-9 pm

Saturday: 10 am-2 pm and 4 pm-9 pm

Sunday: 10 am-2 pm and 4 pm-8 pm

Other sites close to the ice rink are; Millennial Monument on Heroes Square, Museum of Fine Arts (lately closed because of renovation), Kunsthalle (Műcsarnok), Vajdahunyad Castle, Zoo and Széchenyi Bath

Thermal Baths

After the active ice skating in chilly weather who wouldn’t want to submerge themselves into hot thermal water and enjoy a more passive indulgence? In this case the most feasible option is Széchenyi Bath as it is a short 5 minute walk away from the ice rink.

It’s pretty amazing to sit in one of the outside pools when the temperature is low and the hot thermal water is steaming around you. Somehow it has a magical mystical charm and if you are lucky snowfall gives added value to the extraordinary experience.

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Széchenyi Bath in Colder Weather, Photo: Andy Nugent, Flickr

 

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Széchenyi Bath with Snow, Photo: Philip Clifford, Flickr

 

Gellért and Rudas baths are also good options to get acquainted with local bathing culture.

Don’t forget your bathrobe, or to rent one, if you are one who feels the cold, as in some baths you have to walk a few meters in your swimsuit in the open air before you can plunge into some of the hot pools. Plastic sandles or flip flops are also recommended in winter time.

In Rudas a bathrobe or a bigger towel may come handy even more so as you have to take a few steps outside to reach the rooftop pool that offers an amazing view. It would be a pity if you missed out on that pool because of the chilly weather.

The thermal baths are open 365 days a year.  Here you can read more about my three favourite ones.

Concerts, Ballet, Opera and Theater Performances in Winter Mood

In the Hungarian State Opera (Andrássy út 22) it is traditionally the Nutcracker ballet with the wonderful music of Tchaikovsky that is on almost every evening in December as well as some matinees. Book your tickets well in advance as there is a high demand for these performances.

On the first day of the year there is a New Year Concert held in the Opera House. It is best to book your tickets well ahead for this too.

 

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Hungarian State Opera House, Photo: Miroslav Petrasko http://www.hdrshooter.com

 

For musical and operetta lovers I suggest checking the program for the Operetta Theater (Budapesti Operettszínház – Nagymező utca 19) for seasonal performances.

For those who prefer classical music, you should take a look at the program for the Franz Liszt Music Academy (Liszt Ferenc tér 8). This institution pleases not just the ears but also the eyes. The beautifully designed and lavishly decorated Art Nouveau building is dedicated to music. About Art Nouveau architecture in Budapest more info here.

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Main Hall of the Liszt Music Academy, photo: my cousin Mészöly Nóra

Organ concerts in the always gloomy Saint Stephen’s Basilica (Szent István tér 1.) are held four times a week all year round. You can reserve your tickets in advance or buy it at the cashier before the concert.

 

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Saint Stephen’s Basilica, Photo: Miroslav Petrasko http://www.hdrshooter.com

The Basilica is one of the most significant churches in the country and is exceptionally rich artistically. Reliefs, statues, paintings and mosaics decorate the third highest building of Hungary.

 

 

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: http://katonaapartments.hu/

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Christmas Markets in the Center of Budapest

Christmas Markets held annually in the city center open in mid-November and end either on Christmas day or on the 6th January.

Vörösmarty tér

This is the most well-known Christmas market and has been chosen as one of the 10 most attractive Christmas fairs in Europe.

 

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Chrismas Stands at Vörösmarty tér, Photo: Budapest Moments, Flickr

 

No wonder, the location can’t be more central, the decoration is very festive, there are two stages which host various events to entertain all ages, the merchants sell delectable products and the food stalls will enchant you with the seasonal scents and tastes.

On the stages there are varied performances, like concerts (folk, world music, jazz, blues, soul, etc.), held every day; at the weekend, from late morning till early night, and evenings only during the week.

Each year there is also a heated area for children interested in arts and crafts. These free activities are usually held on weekdays in the afternoons and during the weekends in the mornings (10 am – 1 pm) and also in the afternoons (4 pm-7 pm).

Every Sunday afternoon the candles of the huge Advent wreath are lit, a very festive way countdown to Christmas.

Visiting the market is also a great opportunity to purchase some festive presents for your beloved ones like jewellery, ceramics, books, CDs, DVDs, musical instruments, wooden and other toys, puppets, horn goods, calendars, graphics, clothes, hats, caps, bags, leather products, knives, glass products, decorations, etc. As well as being a good source for seasonal  and artisanal food products, like gingerbread, honey, artisan chocolate, artisan cheese, tea and fruit wines.

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Christmas Market, photo: Budapest Moments, Flickr

If you’re feeling hungry, there are many food caterers offering delicious Hungarian and international Christmas dishes and other seasonal delicacies.

 

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Food Stall, Photo: Kirk Siang, Flickr

 

You can taste the indispensable stuffed cabbage that’s one of the most common Christmas dishes in Hungary. Mangalica pork sausages, homemade filled Hungarian flat bread baked on an iron griddle and cabbage in a rye loaf are some other classic dishes that can be tasted here.

Alternatively, you can grab a lángos (fried dough) most commonly topped with sour cream and grated cheese, but there are many other versions for the topping.

Another festive snack not to be missed are roast chestnuts.

For the sweet-toothed I suggest kürtőskalács (chimney cake) baked and caramelized above charcoal fire. The glazed surface is crunchy and the dough underneath is fresh, soft and warm.

Although it can be bought all year round, the seasonal flavourings, like ginger or poppyseed-raisin, will bring you into a festive mood.

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Chimney Cake (Kürtős kalács) Photo: Simon Q, Flickr

For a winter warmer try a strawberry wine, cherry grog or the traditional mulled wine.

The Christmas fair on Vörösmarty tér isn’t just about enjoying food and drink and buying gifts but also provides an opportunity to make donations to those in need. Look for the charity booth if you are interested in donating.

For further information a tourist information point is set up with printed materials and the staff speak foreign languages.

How to get there

Vörösmarty tér is a 5 minute walk if you head north from our apartments on Váci utca.

From the Castle district on Buda side take bus 16 and get off at the terminal (Deák tér).

From Heroes Square and Széchenyi Bath take metro no. 1 until the terminal (Vörösmarty tér).

If you are on the Pest side next to the river Danube, take tram no. 2 and get off at Vigadó tér stop.

St Stephen’s Basilica

This Christmas market is held in front of the St Stephen’s Basilica (Szent István tér).

The facade of the Basilica gives an amazing backdrop for the market and set up in the middle of the square there is usually an ice skating rink for children.

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Christmas at Basilica, photo: Kirk Siang, Flickr

 

Almost every evening there is an Advent or Christmas concert held in the church that helps to put you in the festive mood.

 

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Gingerbread, Photo: Budapest Moments, Flickr

 

How to get there

Szent István tér is a 10 minute walk from our apartments heading north.

From the Castle district on Buda side take bus 16, get off at the terminal (Deák tér) and cross Erzsébet tér.

From Heroes Square and Széchenyi Bath take metro no. 1 until Deák tér stop and then cross Erzsébet tér.

If you are on Pest side next to the river Danube, take tram no. 2 and get off at Széchenyi István tér stop. Walk along Zrínyi utca and the Christmas market will be at the end of the street.

Bálna Cultural and Commercial Center

There is a third Christmas market held in Bálna, a cultural and commercial center on Pest side next to the Danube shore between Petőfi and Szabadság bridges. (Address: Fővám tér 11-12. ) This is the smallest one.

Bálna offers cultural programs, concerts, art galleries and a marketplace all year round.

In wintertime, each Sunday, a market called Antik Placc is held in the building where antiquarians and designers sell their products. It’s an indoor event accompanied by concerts and different activities for children and adults.

Gingerbread City is a contemporary Christmas statue. Anyone who is willing to participate in this social art can reserve a plot, and exhibit his / her own home made gingerbread building to the public by placing it on its plot at the city building reception. The illuminated Gingerbread City is open usually from mid-December till the end of January and the entrance is free.

 

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Photo: Zsolt Madarász (2015

 

 

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Photo: Zsolt Madarász (2015)

 

There is also an ice skating rink set up on the terrace of Bálna which has a great view of the river Danube, the bridges and Gellért Hill.

How to get there

Bálna is a 10 minute walk from our apartments heading south. Walk downstream along the river Danube and you will arrive at Bálna just after the green Szabadság-híd (Liberty Bridge).

You can also take tram no. 2 that runs along the river on Pest side. Get on at Március 15. tér and get off at Zsil utca (2 stops). It’s easy to spot the tram at this time of year as it is lit with Christmas lights and takes passengers between its two terminals Jászai Mari tér and Közvágóhíd.

From Heroes Square and Széchenyi Bath take metro no. 1 until Deák tér stop. There change to metro no. 3 and get off at Kálvin tér stop. Walk for about 5 minutes towards the green Szabadság-híd (Liberty Bridge) and then turn left and after a short walk Bálna will be in front of you.

If you are on Pest side next to the river Danube, take tram no. 2 and get off at Zsil utca stop.


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: http://katonaapartments.hu/

Fast Food in Budapest

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Please, no! I beg you not to look for a fast food restaurant in Budapest when you start feeling hungry.

Even if you only have a minute to choose and grab your sandwich and coke so you can quickly continue your sightseeing tour and have more time to admire this wonderful city. Hungarian cuisine is so varied and delicious with rich flavours and unique character,…

… Oh, you want to go to the McDonald’s at Nyugati Train Station? That’s a splendid idea.

Go ahead.

The contrast will shock you. This fast food restaurant is not what you might expect.

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Interior of the Mc Donald’s at Nyugati Train Station, Photo: Virag

Classical bourgeois atmosphere blends with the present day requirements of the franchise. In any case, I recommend you take a look at this interesting mixture of styles.

The fast food restaurant is in a side building of the Nyugati Train Station that opens from the big ringroad. (address: Teréz körút 55). Both Nyugati Train Station and the building of the recent McDonald’s were designed and built by Gustave Eiffel’s company (constructed between 1874-77). Gustave Eiffel is the man who went on to design the Eiffel Tower in Paris about 10 years later (constructed in 1889).

 

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1877 before finishing the ring road, Source: Fortepan / Budapest Főváros Levéltára, Levéltári jelzet: HU.BFL.XV. 19.d.1.05.201

 

 

 

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The same building in 2016, Photo: Virag

Although the food and beverage selection is the usual menu and the service is the same as any other McDonald’s restaurant in the world, here you can fly back in time while sipping your coffee and munching on your hamburger.

The interior is beautiful and unusual with a staged setting. The service area is split into two levels with a McCafé upstairs, and the normal fastfood restaurant below.

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Interior of the Mc Donald’s at Nyugati Train Station, Photo: Virag

The dining area is spacious and elegant with huge windows, decorated walls with reliefs and a high curved ceiling.

From spring till autumn the restaurant has a lovely outside area as well, looking out at a green space.
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Outside area, Photo: Virag

 

It’s one of the busiest fast food units in Hungary and surely one of the nicest ones in the world.

These posts may also interest you:


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 us: http://katonaapartments.hu/

Arriving at Budapest Airport -­ How to Exchange Money and Where to Buy Bus Tickets

Tourists traveling to Hungary for the first time may be a bit confused about currency issues and the public transport system. Here are some suggestions to help things go smoothly.

Exchange at the Airport

Be aware! If it’s not completely necessary, don’t change cash at the airport. The exchange rates there are ludicrously unfavourable. Unfavourable for you, not for them.

Don’t go for their “No Commission” offer.

In other parts of the city including the city center you can find fair exchange rates.

It’s a much better option to get Hungarian Forints (HUF) cash from the ATMs at the airport.

Read more about currency issues here.

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ATMs at the airport

Where to buy tickets for the bus and metro

Both on Terminal A and B there are BKK (Centre for Budapest Transport) offices and newspaper stands where you can buy your public transport tickets. This is the cheapest way to get to the city center, but it is also the slowest and most challenging.

Read more about the suggested route here.

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Newspaper stand at the airport

The BKK Ticket Office is open from 8 till 22 (10PM) on Terminal A, and from 9 till 21 (9 PM) on Terminal B. The newspaper stand on Terminal A is open from 8.30 till midnight. The terminals are a 3 minute walk from each other. Both the ticket offices and the newspaper stands accept bankcards and HUF cash, but no EUR cash.

The second option is to buy tickets is from the ticket vending machines that are installed in the bus stop of bus 200 E between Terminal A and B. They feature touchscreens in multiple languages and they are easy to use. Bankcards and HUF cash are accepted but they don’t accept banknotes with a higher denomination than 2000 HUF. The machines are accessible 24 hours a day .

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Ticket vending machine at the airport in the bus stop

The third option is to buy a ticket from the bus driver on spot. Instead of 350 HUF it will cost you 450. Buying a ticket from the driver is not an option on all buses in Budapest but it is possible on the airport bus.

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Bus stop 200E at the airport

Your whole trip to the city center with public transport will cost you 700 HUF (one ticket to the bus 200 E, and another to the metro 3. Each costs 350 HUF) but it may vary from the exact place you go. It’s cheaper with a transfer ticket (costs 530 HUF).

For a more confortable transfer take a taxi that will cost you roughly 7800 – 8800 HUF depending on the actual traffic. Send us an email to info@katonaapartments.hu if you’d like us to book one for you.


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: http://katonaapartments.hu/

Art Nouveau Buildings in Budapest

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Do you have a favourite style of visual arts? Mine is Art Nouveau.

 

This is an art movement that was most popular during the turn of the 20th century – also known as Secession or Jugendstil style. Artists who followed this style wanted to separate themselves from contemporary academic art.

The architects, painters, sculptors and handicraftsmen often used floral or geometric patterns, undulating building ornamentation, bright colours and gold in their work. They also preferred soft, round shapes instead of right angles.

 

For art and architecture lovers I have collected a list of some of the awesome Art Nouveau buildings in the center of Budapest.

This is definitely not a complete list of all the Art Nouveau in in the city but I have included just a few of my absolute favourites.

 
 
 
 
 
 

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1. Residential Building – Deák Ferenc utca 17.

 

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Late Art Nouveau Building – Déák Ferenc utca, Photo: Virág

 

One of my favourite buildings is opposite the Kempinski Hotel. It is a late Art Nouveau building with huge metal and glass surfaces on the facade; this is specific to the department stores built at the beginning of 20th century, and its cupolas have characteristics of the baroque style.

2. Residential building – Aranykéz utca 2.

 

Undoubtedly one of the most striking elements of the building is the tower with arabesque motifs on the corner of Aranykéz and Régiposta streets.

I was lucky enough to get into this residential building and was able to admire the fancy doorway, look up to the painted vault, wall tiles and columns, and look down upon the patterned floor.

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Lobby of Aranykéz utca 2, Photo: Virág

 

3. Thonet House, Residential Building – Váci utca 11/A.

 

The uniquely designed early Art Nouveau facade (1888-1890) is covered with tiles decorated with pyrogranite (a type of ornamental ceramic). The wrought iron balconies, the original wooden portals and the statues make this building distinctive.

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Tiles on the Building of Váci utca 11/A, Photo: Virág

 

4. Török-bankház: Szervita tér 3.

 

Its prodigious ornament can hardly be seen as it is high up on the top.

In the center piece sits Virgin Mary, the patron of Hungary with the Hungarian holly crown on her head and the sword of the first Hungarian king, Saint Stephen, in her hand.

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Facade at Szervita tér 3, Photo: Virág

On her left and right there are two angels standing and in the background the nobility and the common people are marching. The golden colour dominates in this masterpiece.

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Detail of the Facade, Szervita tér 3, Photo: Virág

 

 

 

5. Four Seasons Gresham Palace – Széchenyi István tér 5-6

 

This is another wonderful masterpiece of Art Nouveau, on the Pest side of the Chain Bridge, facing Castle Hill and the Tunnel on Buda side.

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Exterior of Gresham Palace, Photo: Rita Picareta

I find some parts of the building ethereal. Here you can visit the lobby, the lounge area, the bar and the restaurant.

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Lobby of Grasham Palace, Photo: Philcalvert

 

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Interior Detail of Gresham Palace, Photo: Steve Silverman

 

6. Bedő-ház, The House of Hungarian Art Nouveau – Honvéd u. 3.

 

Although quite small, this collection is a paradise for enthusiasts of this style.

What you should expect: As the building is a collection of furniture, statues, paintings and objects like household items, pottery and clothing of art nouveau style on three floors, it’s rather like a warehouse, not an exhibition. Unfortunately there are no descriptions of items, but if you are a fan of this style you’ll absolutely love it.

The exterior of the building is nicely restored and is one of the most stunning examples of the era. http://www.magyarszecessziohaza.hu/mainen.php

 

 

7. Postatakarékpénztár Postal Savings Bank – Hold utca 4.

 

What a splendid building from the beginning of the Art Nouveau period. It used to be the headquarters of the Hungarian Royal Savings Bank, now it serves as the Hungarian State Treasury. Look for the bees and the beehives on the frontage, they symbolize frugality.

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Bees and a Beehive, Photo: Virág

We can discover Hungarian folk art, as well as Asian elements, as seen in the Museum of Applied Arts (Iparművészeti Múzeum).

 

8. Museum of Applied Arts:  Üllői út 33-37.

 

The Museum of Applied Arts is a masterpiece of Hungarian Art Nouveau. It has many specialities like its enormous dome and its interior, evoking oriental splendour. Observe the tiles with Hungarian ornamentation on the exterior and interior walls as well as the colourful tiles on the roof.

 

9. Palace Hotel, today Hotel Novotel Budapest Centrum  Rákóczi út 43-45 

 

The ceramic ornaments and the very fitting “Palace Hotel” lettering on the facade of this building give a unique appearance.

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“Palace Hotel” Lettering, Photo: Steve Silverman

On the top part of the facade a wooden porch can be seen that references Transylvanian architecture.

The most beautiful part of the interior is the restaurant on the ground floor and you can partially visit other areas of the building too.

 

10. Liszt Ferenc Music Academy – Liszt Ferenc tér 8.

The exterior is lavishly decorated with frescos, painted glasses and mosaics. Its concert hall is a wonder. After a few years of renovation this Art Nouveau building from 1907 reopened in 2013.

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Music Academy, Photo: my cousin Mészöly Nóra

 

11. Párizsi Nagyáruház / Divat Csarnok: Andrássy út 39.

 

The city’s first significant department store was opened in 1910 in a late Art Nouveau style.

 

Recently the building operates as a bookstore and on the first floor there is a wonderful café that used to be a ball room. Every local and tourist should admire its splendour.

In its time it was famous for its astounding sized hall, four floors in height with marble pillars, the gilded staircases and its elevators with glass windows.

Visit its roof top bar. The view is fantastic there.

 

12. Hungária Fürdő, today Continental Hotel Zara – Dohány utca 42-44.

 

This awesome building was built in 1908 and 1909 as a multifunctional premise: swimming pool, steam bath, club, office and apartment building. The swimming pool was altered to a cinema already in the 20’s.

After a few decades the building deteriorated so much that there were plans to tear it down leaving behind only the facade. Fortunately, the interior was saved from destruction and now we can admire some parts of the building as it was altered to a hotel.

Pop in to see the Art Nouveau lobby with the prodigious turnstile made of copper and the admirable Zsolnay tiles.

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Lobby of the Hotel, Photo: Virág

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Turnstile Made of Copper, Photo: Virág

 

13. Glücksmann House, Residential Building – Dob utca 8.

 

Built in 1913, this residential building with glazed ceramic tiles (yellow tulip motifs) needs a renovation. It is easy to imagine how beautiful this building once was.

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Dob utca 8, Photo: Virág

 

14. Gellért Hotel and Bath –  Szent Gellért tér 1.

 

Completed in 1918, Gellért Bath was the capital’s first luxury facility; it was considered the most modern thermal bath of its time. Back then a small hospital with 30 beds belonged to it.

The arched entrance of the bath opens from the Gellért hill side and the statues there symbolize healing. Inside, the two big thermal pool divisions are richly decorated and the walls are covered with colourful tiles.

 

From the lobby, which is paved with colourful mosaics, we get to the central hall. Look up and you will see the gallery and the coloured glass windows and when the sun shines in, the cheerful beams of light will appear.

Read more about the bathes.

 

Contact us: http://katonaapartments.hu/

info@katonaapartments.hu

These topics may also interest you:

Arriving at Budapest Airport -­ How to Exchange Money and Where to Buy Bus Tickets

Which Bath to Choose in Budapest?

The Amazing Metro Line 1 in Budapest is 120 Years Old

Your Shoes Were Made for Walking: Jewels of Budapest by Foot

Day trip from Budapest to Szentendre

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: http://katonaapartments.hu/

 

Which Bath to Choose in Budapest?

Visiting any of the baths is a great way to get fresh and well again after all the walking you do while sightseeing in our fabulous capital. You just can’t beat this type of relaxation.

If you have never been to any of the baths in Budapest, there are three that I would highlight to learn more about the Hungarian bath culture.
Rudas, Széchenyi and Gellért, all three have unique features and will surely be memorable. If you have already been to these three baths you should visit some others, like Veli Bej and Király.

 

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Lobby of Gellért Bath, Photo: Miroslav Petrasko http://www.hdrshooter.com

 

General Rules and Procedure

Different baths have different rules and procedures. I’ve collected some that are probably common to all baths.

The prices and the services available are displayed in English at the entrance. In some baths the hosts and hostesses will give you a hand.

In most baths you will receive a ‘wrist watch’ to wear which will grant you access into the baths as well as being a ‘key’ to your locker, which magnetically locks and unlocks.

If you are a rather bashful type you can choose the individual changing cabins instead of the shared locker rooms. The changing cabins are more private and comfortable but cost a bit more.

Before entering the pools showering is obligatory and, also, a step through a foot bath is required.

Shooting photos in baths is not allowed.

What to Pack

– Bathing suit/swimming trunks – Anything from speedos to board shorts for men and bikinis or one piece outfits for women.

– Flip-flops or plastic sandals – Not required, but advised as you have to walk between the pools some of which may be outside.

– Your own towels – You can also rent towels but depending on the bath the rented ones are rather like bed sheets (bathing sheets) and their absorbency is almost zero.

– Soap and shampoo

– Plastic bag to pack your wet towel and bathing suits in after the baths

– Swimming cap for lap pools (for lane swimming) – They can also be bought on site or rented with a deposit. It is usually only the lap pools where it is obligatory to wear, so for bathing it’s not necessary.

– A bathrobe in colder weather may be a good idea as getting from one pool to the other in chilly weather is a quick dash without a robe especially when you visit the outside pools as well.

Rudas Bath

Who Should Go?

Rudas is primarily about relaxation. This bath is most suited to adults without children as the services of Rudas Baths cannot be used by under 14s. Those with children should choose either Széchenyi or Gellért or one of the beaches in the summer time, eg. Palatinus on Margit Sziget (Margaret Island). Here even just toilet trained children are allowed into the pools.

For the night owls I suggest the night bathing every Friday and Saturday night from 10:00 PM until 4:00 AM but unfortunately the sauna world is not available during this time.

If you plan to visit with livelier friends, I suggest Széchenyi. The Saturday night SPARTY is probably for you. (Continue reading below for more information on SPARTIES).

What Not to Miss in Rudas

The oldest and youngest parts of the complex are the most interesting ones: The 500 year old Ottoman octagonal indoor pool and the brand new roof top pool. In the latter, you will surely be amazed by the view; you can enjoy a soak in the warm water whilst watching the sunset and the lights of Budapest. You will even see the spectacular Parliament building from the rooftop terrace.

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Octagonal Pool in Rudas Bath, Photo: Ted Sullivan

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Roof top pool in Rudas Bath, photo: Virag

During colder months it may be a bit uncomfortable to get to the rooftop pool as you have to walk through the outside terrace.

In fact, walking around Rudas can be a bit confusing as there are a few zigzagged pathways and stairs but it’s worth it when you find hidden rooms like a steam room or a salt chamber. You definitely don’t want to miss those.

If you get a bit peckish during your visit, there is a very nice restaurant that serves gourmet food and lovely teas and coffees. If you go during the week between 11am and 5pm they often have a lunch time menu which you pay for as part of a ‘special ticket’ which includes both the lunch and your entrance. Ask us for the ticket during your check-in.

How to Get to Rudas

Rudas is only just outside the city centre so it doesn’t take long to get there. From Ferenciek tere metro stop cross Erzsébet híd (Elisabeth Bridge) with bus number 7 or 107 (907 or 973 at night) and get off at Rudas Gyógyfürdő or you can walk across, it won’t take longer than 5 minutes, take a left at the end of the bridge and the bath is along the river front.

Warning about Rudas

The 500 year old octagonal pool covered with a cupola (a domed roof) is just for males only or females only during the weekdays (Monday and Wednesday and Thursday for males, Tuesday for females). The other parts of the bath can be used by both sexes during the whole week. For mixed groups the best time to visit is on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays so that all can enjoy the historical part of the bath.

Széchenyi Bath

Who Should Go?

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Thermal Pool in Széchenyi, Photo: Thierry Kennes

The water of the bath is not recommended for children under the age of 14, although children can still enter Széchenyi. In the case of very young children and babies, he/she can enter the pools only if toilet-trained. However, your children will surely enjoy the thermal outdoor activity pool with a jacuzzi and whirlpool.

Have you ever thought about dancing in the pool? Does it sound weird? Well, on Saturday nights, Széchenyi is open for those who are looking for a special party experience in the hot water. These parties called SPARTIES are mainly suited to young adults but it’s definitely worth going there, whatever age you are, because of the amazing venue and the visuals. Check their timetable as the Sparties are not held every Saturday.

What Not to Miss in Széchenyi

Look for the elderly Hungarian men sitting in the water and playing chess. Quite an odd attraction of the baths but whenever I have been they are always there in the warmest outside pool on the right hand side.

You may not think it but it’s a fabulous feeling to sit in the hot baths outdoors in cold winter weather with the mist floating over the water and when snow falls this adds to the experience.

Also, I find the ornamentation of the lobby at the back side of the building wonderful; the whole building is filled with lots architecture of its time.

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Lobby at the Back of Széchenyi, Photo: Virag

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Lobby at the back of Széchenyi, Photo: Virag

How to Get There

Széchenyi bath (Széchenyi Fürdő) has its own stop on the yellow metro line (metro no. 1) and it’s not hard to miss as the building is bright yellow.

Other Sights in the Vicinity of Széchenyi

There are many other attractions near the bath which you could visit before or after you experience the baths such as Heroes Square (5 minute walk), Vajdahunyad Castle (3 minute walk), the Zoo (2 minute walk) or Műcsarnok Museum (5 minute walk)

Gellért Bath

Who Should Go?

This bath is suitable for everyone except babies. There is an outdoor children’s pool and a wave pool which are suitable for kids and the adults can enjoy the steam rooms and saunas. Note that the wave pool is only available through the summer months.

What Not to Miss in Gellért

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Swimming Pool in Gellért, Photo: Carlos Espejo

The Gellért Thermal Bath built in a Secession (Art Nouveau) style opened its gates in 1918 so you can enjoy the beautiful architecture and wonderful Art Nouveau ornaments.

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Thermal Pools in the Gellért Bath, Photo: Sergey Melkonov, Flickr

 

 

 

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Lobby of Gellért Bath, photo: Sergey Melkonov, Flickr

 

Don’t miss the outside wave pool in warmer weather and the steam baths all year round.

How to Get to Gellért Bath

Take metro line 4 till Gellért tér stop or from Pest side cross Szabadság híd (Liberty Bridge) on foot and the bath is located within the building of the four star Gellért Hotel with the entrance on the Gellért Hill side. Gellért hotel is a rather grand building so it’s easy to spot.

Other Sights in the Vicinity

Like with Széchenyi baths, Gellért baths also has many other attractions nearby like the Cave Church (2 minute walk), Gellért Hill and the Citadel (15-20 minute walk up to get to the top) or Great Market Hall (10 minute walk) on the other side of river Danube.

Contact us: http://katonaapartments.hu/

info@katonaapartments.hu

These topics may also interest you:

The Amazing Metro Line 1 in Budapest is 120 Years Old

Your Shoes Were Made for Walking: Jewels of Budapest by Foot

Day trip from Budapest to Szentendre

Hungarian Local Food Products


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 us: http://katonaapartments.hu/

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 fortepan.hu

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.
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Shifting the stop in 1955 Photo: Fortepan http://www.fortepan.hu

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.

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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.

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Underground Line Emerging to the Surface after Leaving Heroes Square, 1954 Photo: Fortepan http://www.fortepan.hu

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

 Recognition

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

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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
Zoo

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).
Contact us: http://katonaapartments.hu/

info@katonaapartments.hu

These topics may also interest you:

7 Curiosities about the Chain Bridge in Budapest

Hungarian Local Food Products

What (not) to bring with you for your Budapest stay

A natural formation transformed into a hospital

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: http://katonaapartments.hu/