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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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/

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

I’m always eager to know what our guests experience during their stay with us, good or bad, and I’m glad to get constructive criticism as that’s the best way for us to improve.

This is what our previous guests, Vivian and Daniel from the US wrote to me after the holiday they had spent in our Apartment D in March 2016:

‘In terms of improvement, we only think that the website could include more information about the location of the apartment, for example, how much time it takes to walk to major attractions. When we initially found the apartment, we had no idea that its location was so outstanding. We think this would be very attractive for potential visitors to know!’

Indeed, Vivian and Daniel are right. So here I have included more details about major attractions near the apartments which previously were not on the website.

For each destination below the estimated walking times and the distance from our apartments are indicated in brackets.

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2. Chain Bridge (14 minutes, 1.1 km = 0.68 miles)

The oldest and one of the nicest permanent bridges in Hungary linking Buda and Pest dating back to 1849. If you head from Pest to Buda, you will be facing the tunnel leading through the Castle Hill and the funicular railway, that takes you up the hill.

From Buda to Pest you will overlook the Gresham Palace, a gem of Art-Nouveau (Secessio) Style.

Take a walk over the Danube day or night to take in some of these views. I recommend starting on the Pest side as the views of Buda are awesome.

Chain Bridge with Rainbow and Parliament, Photo: my cousin, Mészöly Nóra

Chain Bridge with Rainbow and Parliament, Photo: my cousin, Mészöly Nóra

On Pest Side (Right from the River Danube):

3. Basilica of Saint Stephen (12 minutes, 1 km = 0.62 miles)

It’s the largest temple in Budapest. Take the lift or the stairs, if you’re feeling fit, up to the dome of this Roman Catholic church for 360 degree views of the city.

 

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Basilica, Photo: Sergey Melkonov (Flickr)

 

4. Opera House (15 minutes, 1.2 km = 0.75 miles)

What a glorious building! One of its most admired features is the grand staircase as well as the auditorium. They will surely provide you a breathtaking experience with their unusual beauty.
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Opera House, Photo: my cousin, Mészöly Nóra

5. Great Synagogue (7 minutes, 550 m = 0.34 miles)

This house of worship is the second largest Synagogue in the world, more than 150 years old and was built in an Oriental-Byzantine (Moorish) style. Major events and concerts take place here as well as accommodating the Jewish Museum.

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Photo: Sergey Melkonov, Flickr

6. New York Café (18 minutes, 1.8 km = 1.1 miles)

 

Built in eclectic Italian Renaissance-style and opened in 1894, the New York Café won the title of “the most beautiful café in the World”.

 

New York Café, Photo: my cousin, Mészöly Nóra

New York Café, Photo: my cousin, Mészöly Nóra

7. National Museum (11 minutes, 900 m = 0.56 miles)

This neoclassical building houses permanent exhibitions about the history of Hungary and a collection of Hungarian scientific achievements and inventions. A priceless treasure exhibited is a coronation mantle which was stitched for the first Hungarian king, Stephen in 1031.
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National Museum, Photo: Virág

8. Great Market Hall (12 minutes, 1,2 km = 0,75 miles)

The oldest and biggest market in Budapest where locals and tourists mingle. Buy fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, spices, local products, etc on the ground floor and in the basement.
For souvenirs and eateries visit the second floor. You can have a hearty Hungarian style breakfast or a lunch here.

Great Market Hall Interior, Photo: Virág

9. House of Terror Museum (24 minutes, 1.9 km = 1.2 miles)

The building used to be the headquarters of the dreaded Communist Political Police during the cold war times. Interrogation, torture and murder were rife here behind the walls. Now it’s a museum dedicated to two terror regimes, Fascism and Communism.

10. Parliament (21 minutes, 1.8 km = 1.1 miles)

It is Hungary’s largest and probably finest building that lies on the bank of the Danube. Take a guided tour and admire the magnificent interior and you will be amazed by its grace. Its stunning exterior can be viewed from a cruise boat or simply a stroll along the river, especially at night when it’s bathed in light.
Parliament, Photo: Virág

Parliament, Photo: Virág

11. Shoes at the Danube Memorial (19 minutes, 1.6 km = 1 miles)

A touching, thoughtful and an extremely moving monument dedicated to the Jewish people who were murdered at the shore of the river Danube in WW2 in 1944. I would suggested having a quick read about it before you go there.
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Shoes at the Danube Memorial, Photo: Virag

On Buda Side (Left from the River Danube):

12. Rudas Baths (16 minutes, 1.1km = 0,68 miles)

Rudas Thermal Bath was built in the 16th century in the time of the Ottoman Empire, more recently a modern part was added to it. There is a variety of pools now as well as saunas and steam baths.
It is a delightful and relaxing place where you can unwind and watch the sunset over the Danube, from the rooftop pool, after a tiring day of sightseeing. The view of the city is spectacular from here.

13. Gellért Bath and Swimming Pool (19 minutes, 1.5 km = 0,9 miles)

The thermal bath is located in a splendid hotel building which opened in 1918.  It has a magnificent Art Nouveau style interior specific to the beginning of the 20th century in Hungary.

Inside and outside swimming pools, thermal pools, saunas, an ice bath, steam rooms and an outside wave pool are all sure to repose you.

14. Gellért Hill and Citadel (24 minutes, 1.6 km = 1.0 miles)

A hike on a lovely walkway uphill with a fair number of stairs and breathtaking views over the city await you. You can also choose the lazy option by taking a bus instead. It is best to do this when the weather is clear so you can really admire the views once you reach the top.

Gellért Hill and Citadel as seen from Liberty Bridge, Photo: Virág

15. Royal Castle (29 minutes, 2.3 km = 1.4 miles)

It’s either a steep climb up or  you can use the Funicular Railway that’s leaving from the Buda side of the Chain Bridge to get here. The architectural beauty of the Castle is scenic and gorgeous offering a glimpse into the city’s imperial past. You will find the view amazing and unforgettable.

Royal Castle, Photo: my friend, Bús Mónika

 

16. Matthias Church (29 minutes, 2.3 km = 1.4 miles)

The architecture is prodigious and the ceramic roof tiles are picturesque and you will be blown away by the interior as well. A combination of patterns and colours on the walls and columns are one of a kind and the stained glass windows are very pleasing to the eye. It is a great opportunity to get the chance to attend one of the many concerts here.

17. Fisherman’s Bastion (29 minutes, 2,3 km = 1.4 miles)

A magical place day and night  with a breathtaking view of the city and the river Danube. It is a very romantic spot for couples but can sometimes be a bit crowded but it’s worth it. Don’t forget to bring your camera.
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Sunset from Fisherman’s Bastion, Photo: my cousin, Mészöly Nóra

18. Cave Church (19 minutes, 1,6 km = 1.0 miles)

It’s an utterly unique Roman Catholic church in the Gellért hill that consists of a natural cave and an artificially created rock cavern system. During the Socialist times the state power closed the entrance with a 2 meter thick concrete wall and the cross on the top was removed. Since the political changes it can be visited again. Services are regularly held here.

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Entrance of the Cave Church, Photo: Virág

There are many places to stay in Budapest, but our location is one of the best in the city. In addition to the nearby attractions listed above, we are also within walking distance from these two UNESCO heritage sites:

1. The view of both banks of the river Danube, the Castle District of Buda, and the area stretching from Petőfi Bridge, past Gellért Hill and Tabán, to Castle Hill and the Water Town on the Buda side.

2. Andrássy út and its immediate surroundings, like the Millennium Underground Railway Line and Memorial in Heroes’ Square.

When you stay with us, the whole city is yours to explore.

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

info@katonaapartments.hu

 

These topics may also interest you:

Art Nouveau Buildings in Budapest

Day trip from Budapest to Szentendre

A natural formation transformed into a hospital

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

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/

7 Curiosities about the Chain Bridge in Budapest

 

There are many wonderful sights in Budapest, loved by both locals and visitors. The Chain Bridge has become one of the most well-known symbols of Budapest and is an indispensable feature of the city and Hungary.

The Chain Bridge was built between 1839 and 1849 and was one of the most outstanding technical works of its era.

Not only was it one of the first permanent bridges across the river Danube, but it is recorded among the largest and most beautiful bridges in the world.
Chain Bridge and the Royal Castle

Chain Bridge and the Royal CastlePhoto: my cousin, Mészöly Nóra

 

I have collected 7 interesting facts and stories about this beloved bridge, but there are many more.

1. Origin of the Chain Bridge

The idea of building a permanent bridge over the river Danube in order to bind the two towns, Pest and Buda facing each other, derived from Count Széchenyi István. He was a theorist, writer and politician, and one of the greatest statesmen of Hungarian history.
In the winter of 1820 he was not able to cross the river due to the heavy ice breaking and so he could not attend his father’s funeral. This was the moment when he conceived the idea of a permanent bridge.
 
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Ice breaking on river Danube, Photo: Fortepan, / Budapest Főváros Levéltár

2. Symbol of Burden Sharing

Right after its completion the Chain Bridge became a symbol of burden sharing, as no one was exempt from the payment of toll. In these times noble men had many privileges, but crossing this bridge was not one of them.

A pedestrian crossing from Buda to Pest or back paid one kreutzer. If the pedestrian had a load on his back he had to pay double, for a cow it was 3 kreutzers and for chariots it was 5 for a small one and 10 for a big one.
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Around 1898 Chain Bridge with the customs houses, Photo: Fortepan / Budapest Főváros Levéltára. Levéltári jelzet: HU.BFL.XV.19.d.1.07.106

3. The Legend of Lions Without Tongues

Numerous anecdotes have been circulated about the Chain Bridge. The one best known is regarding the tongues of the four lion ornaments guarding the bridge at each bridgehead.
The sculptor had been mocked so much for forgetting to carve the tongues that it was said that he committed suicide by jumping into the Danube.
But in fact, this was not true and he was alive right up until the 1870s. The truth is that the lions do have tongues they just can’t be seen from the level of the sidewalk.

 

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Lion guarding the bridge, Photo: my friend, Bús Mónika

 

4. A Joke

This can be heard from Hungarians quite often: If it rains the Chain Bridge can be pushed into the Castle Hill Tunnel so that the bridge doesn’t get wet.
The tunnel is in line with the bridge and connects it with the eastern side of the Castle District Area. They are almost the same length, the Chain Bridge at 380 meters (1246 ft.) and the Tunnel at 340 meters (1115 ft.)
This is where the joke comes from.
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Bridge and Tunnel in one line

5. Apartments in the Tunnel

Would you actually think that there are apartments in the Castle Hill Tunnel? Well there are, the caretaker of the bridge and his family used to live there, but these days the caretaker just uses it as his office.
His tasks include traversing the entire length of the bridge several times a day to ensure that everything goes well technically and the traffic flows smoothly. Cleaning away any graffiti is also one if his duties. In addition to this, he is responsible for the maintenance of the 350-meter-long tunnel under Castle Hill. His office in the tunnel comes in handy as you can’t get much closer to your work place than that.

6. Chain Bridge on Currency

The Chain Bridge has been depicted on several Hungarian coins throughout history, most recently on the 200 Forint coin that was released in 2009.
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Chain Bridge on the 200, Photo: Virág

7. No Vehicles on the Chain Bridge

The bridge is closed to traffic during the weekends of the summer months and on some ceremonial occasions. On those days it is only pedestrians and cyclists that are allowed to cross it. The Chain Bridge Festival is held on a weekend in late June and people can join diverse programs and activities on the bridge whilst admiring its surroundings.

If you have further questions about this or traveling in Budapest, please contact us.

http://www.katonaapartments.hu

info@katonaapartments.hu

These topics may also interest you:
Art Nouveau Buildings in Budapest
What (not) to bring with you for your Budapest stay
18 Suggestions for What to Do in Budapest in Rainy Weather
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/

5+5 Budapest Activities Guaranteed To Put a Smile on Any Kids Face

This carefuly selected list will surely convince you that it’s worth visiting Budapest with your kids both in sunny (1-5) and in rainy (6-10) weather.  Who else could give you the best ideas other than local parents such as ourselves.

In sunny weather

1. Special vehicles tour in the Buda Hills

 

Start your tour at Széll Kálmán tér and take a short ride on tram No. 61 to Városmajor.

From here take the cogwheel railway to Széchenyi-hegy (Széchenyi hill); it’s the highest peak in Budapest.

Change to the Children’s Railway which is operated by children. Kids aged 10 to 14 years old manage the traffic, operate the switches and signals and sell the tickets – they do everything except drive the train. It was originally set up in Socialist times where it was staffed by young pioneers.

Take the train (diesel or steam engine) four stops until János-hegy. The Erzsébet lookout tower offers panoramic views of the city and Buda Hills.

Finally take the two-way chairlift (libegő) system providing beautiful panoramic views along the way from János-hegy down to Zugliget. Bus 291 will take you to Nyugati pályaudvar metro stop. There change to metro 3 and get off at Ferenciek tere stop.

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A busy day at Szépjuhászné stop, Photo: Gyermekvasút

 

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Frieze left from Socialist times on one of the buildings of the Children’s Railway at Csillebérc stop, photo: Jo Peattie

2. Playgrounds

 

Your kids will be tempted by many great playgrounds in the city. Here are my favourites:

– Károlyi-kert: See my blog post The closest playground to our apartments for more information.

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Playground in Károlyi Kert, photo: Virág

-Olimpia Park:

For more info please visit:

Olimpia Park – A great playground next to the Parliament

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Playground in Olimpia Park, photo: Virág

 

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Coolest and probably the biggest gungle gym in town with slides, Photo: Virág

-Also visit a smaller one in front of hotel Kempinski at Erzsébet tér.

 

3. Margaret Island (Margit sziget)

 

Margaret Island is an oasis for most locals. There are so many things to do there that you should allow at least half a day to discover it.

If you don’t want to walk too much you can rent bikes or a pedal coach for four at the southern entrance of the island. Also, a few hundred meters away from the southern entrance, you will find a fountain that plays music regularly.

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Fountain on Margaret Island, Photo: my friend, Bús Mónika

About 50 meters from the fountain there is a very special playground that will also entertain your children for a while.

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Playground on Margaret island, Photo: Virág

In the middle of the island lies a tiny zoo that is the home of domestic and even some wild animals under recovery. The entrance is free and sometimes they offer horse riding for a fee.

If you head further north along the island you can walk up the water tower which will reward you with a stunning view of the island and the city.

Also on the island is the Palatinus strand (beach) which has a dozen outside pools for the summer.

Just before the northern end of the island, hidden away, is a Japanese garden with a waterfall and special flora and fauna. You can also find a huge romantic rose garden full with flowers of vivid colours at the northern end of the island.

To go back to the apartments take bus 26 until Jászai Mari tér stop. There change to tram 2 until Március 15. tér.

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Giant plane trees on Margaret island, photo: Virág

4. Gellért hill

 

The green leafy Gellért hill stands in the heart of the city overlooking the river Danube. It offers great hiking areas for families with kids. Your little ones will love the long slides that are close to Szabadság-híd (Liberty Bridge) and will be also amazed by the fortress on the top of the hill. The Statue of Liberty, which was inaugurated by the Soviet army after WW2, may also be of their interest. Most of all, the view will amaze the whole family.  Last but certainly not least, after this tour your kids won’t have problems with going to bed early :).

Not recommended with strollers as the hill is quite steep with many stairs.

To get there cross Szabadság híd (Liberty Bridge) and to come back to the apartments cross Erzsébet híd (Elizabeth Bridge).

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Gellért hill, river Danube and Elizabeth bridge as seen from the Royal Castle, Photo: my cousin, Mészöly Nóra

 

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Our daughter on a slide on Gellért hill, Photo: Virág

5. Zoo

 

The Budapest Zoo and Botanical Garden is one of the oldest in the world with 150 years of history. This amusement will surely be one of the highlights for your kids during your visit.

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Mommy and baby in the zoo, Photo: my friend, Bús Mónika

The zoo can easily be reached using metro No. 1 from Vörösmarty square and getting off at either Heroes square or Széchenyi bath stop.

The Széchenyi bath and Vajdahunyad castle are just around the corner from the zoo so you could combine these three activities into a whole day out for them.

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Skaters in front of Vajdahunyad Castle, Photo: Virág

In rainy weather

6. Tropicarium

 

Tropicarium awaits visitors with animals from all around the world such as lazy alligators, exotic reptiles, small monkeys, free flying birds, sharks and thousands of colourful fish species. The stingray petting pool is one of the highlights as well as a shark feeding once a week.

Tropicarium is open every day of the year as well as on bank holidays. It is located in Campona Entertainment and Shopping Centre, which is also where you will find the Palace of Wonders.

To get to Tropicarium, take bus 133 from Ferenciek tere in the direction of Nagytétény, Erdélyi utca and get off at at 11th stop Lépcsős utca.

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Under the water, Photo: Tropicarium

 

7. The Palace of Wonders (Csodák Palotája)

 

The Palace of Wonders aims to introduce the laws of physics and the wonders of nature through more than 100 games in a visual, entertaining and exciting way to all members of family. It’s not simply an exhibition, but a physics play house. All exhibited games are interactive installations, so you are not only allowed, but encouraged to touch, feel and try all of them. Live physics shows are held daily.

As it is located in the same place as Tropicarium, Campona Entertainment and Shopping Centre, you can use the same directions, seen above, in order to get there.

Physics Show, Photo: Tamás Péter

 

Giant kaleidoscope, Photo: Tamás Péter

8. Aquaworld waterpark

 

The indoor adventure pool complex offers a variety of activities for kids: children’s pool, water slides, playground, playhouse, etc.
Every day a free shuttle service is available between Heroes Square and Aquaworld.

Aquaworld

Aquaworld, photo: Aquaworld

9. Caves under Buda Hills

 

If you aren’t claustrophobic you can book a regularly scheduled cave tour which is guided by qualified caving guides. During some tours you often have to crawl, climb, scramble or creep but there are also tours that lead on paved passages.

To visit Pál-völgyi stalactite cave walk to Astoria metro stop (5 minutes from the apartment). Take bus number 9 to Kolosy ter (10 stops). Change to bus no. 65 to Pál-völgyi cseppkőbarlang stop.

With strollers and small kids I recommend Szemlő-hegyi cave.

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Quite tight, Photo: my friend, Bús Mónika

 

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This is also Budapest – stalactites, Photo: my friend, Bús Mónika

10. Miniversum

This special model train exhibition can be interesting mainly for boys. It’s located in the center of the city close to the Opera House. Take metro No. 1 from Vörösmarty square until the Opera stop or just walk from Katona Apartments. It will take about 15 minutes.

A great family program in case of bad weather

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Miniversum, photo: Virág

 

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My daughter on a raised wooden plank admires the model trains, Photo: Virag

 

For more rainy day activities please visit 18 Suggestions for What to Do in Budapest in Rainy Weather

 

If you have further questions or your kids have a special interest, please contact us. We will try our best to suggest different types of activities so you can have your very own tailor made trip. All feedback is welcome.

www.katonaapartments.hu

info@katonaapartments.hu

These posts 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 closest playground to our apartments
What (not) to bring with you for your Budapest stay


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/

18 Suggestions for What to Do in Budapest in Rainy Weather

Budapest offers a lot of programs even in bad weather. Here are some of our suggestions for what to do and see in case you visit our beautiful city on a rainy day.

Photo: my friend, Bús Mónika

Photo: my friend, Bús Mónika

 

 

Activities

 

1. Caves under Budapest

 

There’s not just the Cave Church at the foot of Gellért Hill (on Buda side of the Szabadság híd / Liberty Bridge) and the Labyrinth under the Castle District (entrance: Úri utca 9). You can also visit Szemlő-hegyi Cave and Pálvölgyi-Cave.

To visit Pál-völgyi stalactite cave, walk to Astoria metro stop, take bus number 9 to Kolosy ter (10 stops) and change to bus no. 65 to Pál-völgyi cseppkőbarlang stop.

If you have small kids with strollers I recommend Szemlő-hegyi cave. To get there take metro 2 from Astoria to Batthyány tér stop and then change to bus number 11 and get off at Vend utca stop. Within a short walk you are at the cave.

Some parts of the cave systems can be visited without previous caving experience, as they have a concrete path and are lit by artificial light.

See also my previous post about the Hospital in the Rock museum that is located under the Castle District area in Lovas utca.

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Under the Castle district, Photo: my friend, Bús Mónika

 

 

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Feet up, Photo: my friend Bús Mónika

 

2. Hungarian Folk Dance Houses

These events can be joined without any dance experience. Most of them are not organised with foreigners in mind, but you can take part without speaking our language.

They are held every Wednesday and Thursday at two different venues.

at Fonó Budai Zeneház Sztregova u. 3. . From Astoria, take 10 stops with tram no. 47 in the direction of Városház tér and get off at Kalotaszeg utca.

Every Thursday evening at Marczibányi Community Center Marczibányi tér 5/ A. From Ferenciek tere, take 9 stops with bus number 5 in the direction of Pasaréti tér and get off at Nyúl utca. From there, it’s a short walk to Marczibányi Community Centre.

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Folk dancers, Photo: my friend Bús Mónika

 

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Folk dancers, Photo: my friend Bús Mónika

 

3. Aquaworld Waterpark

The waterpark features 11 slides, adding up to a total length of almost 1 km, and lots of attractions including indoor and outdoor adventure pools, a wave pool, kids pool, Jacuzzi, plunge pool as well as a huge playhouse that offers slides, a climbing wall, a ball court and an obstacle course to entertain the youngsters.

It’s a bit outside of the city but a free shuttle bus runs between Heroes Square and Aquaworld 4 times a day: 9:30, 13:30, 17:30 and 19:30

Opening hours: every day from 6am to 10pm

Aquaworld

Aquaworld Waterpark, Photo: Aquaworld

 

4. Tropicarium

Tropicarium awaits visitors with animals from all around the world such as lazy alligators, exotic reptiles, small monkeys, free flying birds, sharks and thousands of colourful fish species. The stingray petting pool is one of the highlights as well as a shark feeding once a week.

To get to Tropicarium, take bus 133 from Ferenciek tere in the direction of Nagytétény, Erdélyi utca and get off at at 11th stop, Lépcsős utca.

Close to the Tropicarium you can also visit the Palace of Wonders.

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Under Water, Photo: Tropicarium

 

5. Palace of Wonders

An interactive scientific playhouse, where you can try out over hundred exhibits each showcasing physical phenomena. All exhibited games are interactive installations, so you are not only allowed, but also encouraged to touch, feel and try all of them. Live physics shows are held daily.

As it is located in the same place as Campona Entertainment and Shopping Centre, and Tropicarium. Take bus 133 from Ferenciek tere in the direction of Nagytétény, Erdélyi utca and get off at at 11th stop Lépcsős utca.

Close to the Palace of Wonders you can also visit the Tropicarium.

Physics Show

Palace of Wonders, Photo: Tamás Péter

 

6. Shooting Club

7. Yoga classes

There is a yoga centrum (5 minute walk) that was tried out by our previous guests.

Address: Károly körút 1, near Astoria metro stop

Sightseeing with Public Transport

8. Take a ride with a public boat on the Danube.

Closest stop is Petőfi tér (Erzsébet híd) a 5 minute walk away from the apartments. Here is the timetable of the boats leaving from Petőfi tér (Erzsébet híd) stop on working days.

These boats take you quite far down the river and go pass all the nice buildings on the riverfront including the parliament building. You can sit inside or outside and there is also a small bar on board so you can have a few drinks during the journey.

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Boat ride on river Danube, Photo: my friend Bús Mónika

 

9. Take a ride on tramline number 2

It was voted the nicest tramline in Europe. The closest stop to our apartments is Március 15. tér (5 minute walk from the apartments). Take the tramline number 2 in the direction of Jászai Mari tér.

Try to get a seat on the left hand side so you can better see the river Danube, the Buda side including the Castle district area with the Royal Castle, the Matthias Church, the Fisherman Bastion, the Funicular railway and the bridges that connect Buda and Pest. Later on the tram will also pass along the Parliament building.

 

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Window of a tram, Photo: my friend, Bús Mónika

 

Visiting Buildings

10. Parliament

Inside parliament you will be guided through the most beautiful rooms of this magnificent building. The tours take approximately 50 minutes.

I highly recommend that you buy your ticket online in advance, as the tickets, mainly the English language tours, are usually sold out weeks before. However, you can take a chance and buy tickets on the day and hope that there are some left. (10 minute ride with tram no. 2. or a 15-20 minute walk)

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Parliament, Photo: my friend, Bús Mónika

 

11. Opera House

This gorgeous neo-renaissance palace is one of Hungary’s most impressive 19th century buildings. There are guided tours organised each day at 15:00 and 16:00 in English, German, Spanish, Italian and French.

Address: Andrássy út 22. (15 minute walk or take the metro line 1)

As an introduction check out their virtual tour here.

Other sights close to Opera House: Lotz Café, Miniversum, Saint Stephen’s Basilica

Opera

Hungarian State Opera, Photo: my cousin Mészöly Nóra

 

12. The House of Hungarian Art Nouveau

This stunning collection is a gem to any fanatic art lover. What you should expect: As the building is packed with furniture, statues, paintings and household like items, pottery and art nouveau style clothing, it’s more like a warehouse than an exhibition. Unfortunately there are no descriptions of the items in English, but if you are a fan of this style you’ll absolutely love the collection. Read also: Art Nouveau Buildings in Budapest

The building itself is great from the outside too.

Have a drink and a homemade cake in the cosy café downstairs. The café is accessible without paying the entrance fee to the collection.

Address: Honvéd utca 3. It’s 20-minute walk from the apartments or take metro no. 3 from Ferenciek tere in the direction of Újpest-Központ. Get off at Arany János utca stop and with a short walk across Liberty Square (Szabadság tér) you will reach the House of Hungarian Art Nouveau.

Other sights close to the House of Hungarian Art Nouveau: The Parliament Building and also you can look at the on Szabadság tér the only Socialist statue left from those times.

With Children

13. Playhouses

There are some huge, great ones not so far from the city center. I suggest you to visit Minipolisz, a unique interactive exhibition for children aged 3-12 where they get inside the heads of the adults in a city of their size. For a few hours they can try being merchants, cashiers, doctors, mechanics, stars, etc.

Address: Király utca 8, about 10 blocks away from Katona Apartments

Opening hours: Wednesday – Sunday 10-19

Other sights close to Minipolisz: Lotz Café, Opera House, Miniversum, Saint Stephen’s Basilica

14. Miniversum

An enormous, beautifully detailed and elaborately decorated model of the city including many sights and landscapes from Budapest and Hungary and even a bit of Austria and Germany.

For detailed information read my previous post about Miniversum.

To get there is just a 15 minute walk from the apartment or take metro no. 1  from Vörösmarty square and get off at Opera stop.

Other sights close to Miniversium: Lotz Café, Opera House, Minipolisz Play House, and Saint Stephen’s Basilica

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Miniversum model train exhibition, Photo: Virág

 

Chilling down

15. Classical music concerts

Concerts are held in many churches around the city. Eg. Saint Stephen’s Basilica (10 minute walk) / and Matthias Church (30 minute walk or take bus no. 16)

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Musicians, Photo: my cousin, Mészöly Nóra

 

16. Thermal bathes

Hungary is a land of thermal springs. In Budapest we have lots of baths where you can relax, take a dip, and enjoy a unique spa experience.

Our suggestions:

Rudas Bath is a traditional Turkish bath with some modern parts including the roof top terrace overlooking the river Danube (10 minute walk from Ferenciek tere or one bus stop with bus no. 7)

– Art Nouveau style Gellért Bath (20 minute walk or 2 bus stops from Ferenciek tere with bus no. 7.) Read more about Art Nouveau architecture in the city.

-neo-baroque Széchenyi Bath with inside and outside pools (15 minute ride with metro 1 from Vörösmarty tér to Széchenyi bath stop)

Here you can read more: Which Bath to Choose During Your Stay in Budapest

 

17. Café Houses

Most of the cafés were opened at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries so they are very unique and never-to- be-forgotten. Our suggestions:

New York Café The café is built in eclectic Italian Renaissance-style and was opened in 1894, its not the cheapest option in Budapest, but probably the most beautiful one. The dishes recall the multicultural cuisine of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy.

How to get there: 20 minute walk or from Ferenciek tere or take bus no. 5 to Blaha Lujza tér (3 stops) in the direction of Rákospalota, Kossuth utca or take bus no. 7 (3 stops) in the direction of Újpalota, Nyírpalota út.

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New York Café, Photo: my cousin, Mészöly Nóra

 

Gerbeaud (since 1858) The interior decoration of the café were completed in a few years after 1910 using fine woods, marble and bronze. The ceilings are decorated with rococo plasterwork in Louis XV style; the chandeliers and wall lamps were created in Maria Theresa Style.

Gerbeaud Café has greeted many famous people. A few impressive names are: Empress Elizabeth of the Austro-Hungarian Empire; Franz Liszt: King George of Great Britain; Edward, Prince of Wales; Josephine Baker, Princess Diana, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, Queen Elizabeth II, Madonna, Ralph Fiennes, Melanie Griffith, Antonio Banderas and Brad Pitt http://www.gerbeaud.hu/

Suggestions from a friend of mine who used to work in Gerbeaud:

– The traditional Gerbeaud pastry is prepared according to the original recipe. Sweet-pastry is filled with apricot jam and a mixture of confectioner’s sugar and ground walnuts, topped with chocolate icing.

– Esterházy slice is a traditional walnut cake filled with vanilla cream and topped with fondant.

– Royal Chocolate is a crispy caramel wafer, hazelnut praline and white Valrhona chocolate on a chocolate sponge base, crowned with a topping of bitter chocolate mousse.

Address: Vörösmarty tér 7-8.

Lotz Café used to be a ballroom of a casino before WW2 (15 minute walk from the apartments or take metro line 1  from Vörösmarty tér to Opera stop)

Address: Andrássy út 39 Look for the Alexandra Bookstore and take the escalator up to the first floor.

– Additionally we recommend a confectionery called Ruszwurm in the Castle District. It’s a tiny place and it’s usually packed, but it is worth a visit. They have a nice selection of home made cakes in a 19th century interior. (30 minute walk from the apartments or take bus no. 16. from Erzsébet tér and get off at Szentháromság tér stop)

Address: Szentháromság utca 7.

What’s close: Hospital in the Rock, Matthias Church, Fisherman’s Bastion, Royal Castle

18. Museums

Last but not least, there are more than 200 museums in Budapest.

A few smaller museums out of many:

Pharmacy Museum (30 minute walk, cross Erzsébet híd (Elisabeth Bridge and head north, direction of the Royal Castle)

Ferenc Hopp Museum of Asiatic Arts  (take the metro no. 1 until bajza utca stop)

Hungarian Jewish Museum (5 minute walk)

Lutheran Museum (5 minute walk to Deák tér 4.)

Underground Museum (5 minute walk)

Kossuth Museum Ship (10 minute walk to the Chain Bridge)

Ambulance Museum (20 minute walk or metro no. 3)

Liszt Ferenc Memorial Museum (25 minute walk or metro no. 1 to Vörösmarty utca)

Police Historical Museum (take bus no.7)

Museum of Medical History (take bus no. 16 to the Castle district or walk)

Stamp Museum (take metro no. 2 from Astoria stop to Blaha Lujza tér or walk)

Visitor Center of the National Bank (10 minute walk direction north to Szabadság tér)

If there is a specific topic that interests you, let us know and we will try to find you a museum about it. Send us a message to info@katonaapartments.hu we will be more than happy to help.

 

About the authors: Virág and János

Virág, a native of Budapest, and János, who’s been living in the city since 1999 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/

A Natural Formation Transformed into a Hospital – Hospital in the Rock

Most tourists visiting Budapest don’t know about the cave system that streches under the Buda Castle District. A part of this unique natural formation was converted into a hospital in the 1930s and was used both during the 2nd World War and the Hungarian uprising in 1956. I imagine that most Hungarians have never heard of this mysterious place either. I too, was one of them.

This is surprising, as being a native of Budapest I do know many places – mainly in the tourist areas of Budapest.  And this is right there.  It’s just 5 minutes away from the well known and spectacular Matthias Church.

As Betül, a foreign  friend of mine, is leaving Hungary after studying for two years at the Semmelweis Medical University, I thought I should invite her to do something interesting. During her two years in Budapest she hardly had any rest.  She studied day and night with amazing persistence. When she was not at school, she was studying from her medical books in her room. No wonder her results are excellent.

So, I asked her to join me on this unusual tour in what used to be a hospital but is now a museum.

It was a shocking and, at the same time, touching experience for both of us. After we left, we were moved by what we’d seen and heard there.

The museum can only be visited with a guide; it isn’t possible to just walk around as it’s difficult to navigate in the underground tunnels.

A guided tour departs every hour during opening hours, both in English and Hungarian. It’s great, as the guide reveals many interesting stories but you only have about an hour there.

I would have liked to have stayed longer to read all the notices on the walls, look at all the wax figures, the devices, tools and equipment and just to think about the professional and volunteer medical personnel, the casualties and those who never left the hospital alive.

What really touched me was a picture on the wall showing a family. The daughter was born in the cave during the uprising in 1956. The mother was probably surrounded by the wounded and dying when she gave birth to her daughter.

As it is not allowed to take photos inside, here is one at the entrance – Betül and me after the tour.

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Contact us: info@katonaapartments.hu

These articles may also interest you:

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

What to Order in Restaurants in Budapest

7 Curiosities about the Chain Bridge in Budapest

Facts About the Quality of Budapest’s Tap Water

 

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/