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/

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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/

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/

What to Order in Restaurants in Budapest

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

Are you brave enough to taste them?

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

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

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

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

The grandma of a friend of mine revealed to me once confidentially that fishermen at the Tisza River always added some mashed potato to the soup to get it thicker. This ingredient was a well-kept secret.
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Fish Soup in a Cup, Photo: Restaurant Gundel

Gulyás Leves (gujaːʃlɛvɛʃ)

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

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Hideg Gyümölcs Leves (hidɛɟːʏmølʧlɛvɛʃ) = Cold Fruit Soup

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

Warm Starters

Velős pirítós (vɛløːʃpiɾiːtoːʃ) = Toast with Marrow

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

Hortobágyi Palacsinta (hoɾtobaːɟipɒlɒʧintɒ)

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

Pörkölt (pøɾkølt) = Stew

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

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

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

Töltött Káposzta (tøltøtkaːpostɒ)

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

Desserts

Gundel Palacsinta (gundɛlpɒlɒʧintɒ)

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

Mákos Rétes (maːkoʃɾeːtɛʃ)= Poppyseed Strudel

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

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

Mákosguba (maːkoʒgubɒ)

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

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

 

Túrógombóc (tuːɾoːgomboːʦ)

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

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

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

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

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

Bon apétit. Let us know if you liked them.

Contact us:

http://katonaapartments.hu/

info@katonaapartments.hu

These topics may also interest you:

Fast Food in Budapest

Shopping in Budapest

Hungarian Local Food Products

Four Mistakes You Don’t Know You’re Making in Budapest

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/

Hungarian Local Food Products

If you want to live like a local during your stay in Budapest, I suggest you to try out these products that can be bought in any supermarket or even in smaller food shops anywhere in the city. You can also take them home as a present to your loved ones.
They may love or hate you for that.

1. Erős Pista (Strong Steve)

A very popular Hungarian sauce that is made of minced raw red hot paprika.
Hungarians use Erős Pista in gulyás soup (beef and vegetable), fish soup and pörkölt (stew).
In restaurants they will put it on your table and you can add it to your dish.
Édes Anna (Sweet Anne) is a mild version of it. You can buy both in a glass jar.
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Anne and Steve, Photo: Virag

2. Paprika (Bell Pepper) Powder

There is a hot and mild version mainly from two areas of Hungary: Szeged or Kalocsa. Some have a simple packaging (plastic), others are wraped in a textile bag with some traditional Hungarian embroidered motifs on them.
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Selection of paprikas, Photo: Virag

3. Pick or Herz Téliszalámi (Winter Salami)

This very tasty pork product is a Hungarian speciality and is seasoned mainly with pepper and paprika. It’s name derives from the fact that it was formerly produced solely in winter. The reason for this is that in those times cooling was unavailable in warmer weather. The product must be first cured in cold air and then smoked on beechwood in order to extract water. During smoking a special grayish white noble mold is formed on the casing of the salami.
For a wide selection of Pick products visit the Pick store in Kossuth tér close to the entrance of the metro station. This store is next door to the Parliament building.
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Herz and Pick salamis on the same shelf, Photo: Virag

4. Pálinka

Pálinka is a traditional Hungarian fruit spirit that is solely made from fruit, like plum, apricot, pear, cherry and apple, but it can be made from any fruit. It is not allowed to be sweetened or coloured.
The spirit contains at least 37.5% alcohol, so a shot may be enough to cheer most of us up.
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Pálinka, Photo: Virag

5. Negro Cough Drops

The black negro candies that are used as cough drops have existed since the 1930s. The Negro (”NAY-GROW”) is Hungary’s leading brand of hard candy. They have a taste similar to anise but the ingredients are a well kept secret.
Its slogan is well known to all Hungarians: Chimney sweep of the throat. An old fashioned chimney sweep can be seen on its packaging sweeping a chimney.

The traditional negro is black, but negro exists in other colours and flavours as well; like honey (yellow) or black currant (red) and the extra strong negro is white.

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Cough drops, Photo: Virag


6. Túró Rudi

This sweetish-sourish cottage cheese roll with a chocolate coating is a favourite of all Hungarians. I noticed that non-Hungarians find it a bit bizarre and not all are enthusiastic about it, although it is worth a try.
Look for it in the fridge of any shop and choose the original one which has a red packaging with white dots.
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Favourite of all Hungarians, Photo: Virag

7. Gesztenyepüré = Chestnut Puree

My Hungarian friend living in the US misses it so much.
You probably wouldn’t expect it but it has a sweetish taste. We eat it with whipped cream. It’s a dessert that doesn’t need too much preparation and it’s not risky either, as everybody likes it.
It’s a frozen product, so if you want to take it home with you, it must be well wrapped in many layers of paper.
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Chestnut puree, Photo: Virag

As you can see, living and eating like Budapest locals is both fun and easy.

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

http://www.katonaapartments.hu

info@katonaapartments.hu

These posts may also interest you:
Facts about the quality of Budapest’s tap water
Four Mistakes You Don’t Know You’re Making in Budapest
Three Day Visit Itinerary for Budapest
18 Suggestions for What to Do in Budapest in Rainy Weather


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/