Monday, 22 October 2012

Budapest October 23

October 23 is almost here, and you are staying in Budapest, Hungary. What should you know about October 23? Why is it a national holiday? What does it mean for you if there is a public holiday in Budapest? Is there anything to do on holidays?
Many legends go around the world wide web, like Oct 23, 'Oooh gosh everything will be closed in Budapest'. This is not true. Basically only the shops are closed, the rest are open as on weekends.

1956 Monument Budapest, lost revolution against the Soviets - Lassi Kurkijarvi Photography Top 5 things to do on October 23 to feel a bit like a local:
1, visit the 1956 Monument just by the City Park, and feel a bit of the lost revolution against the mighty Soviet troops and tanks.
2, avoid the rallies in Budapest: lots of political demonstrations on the political scenes, like the Hungarian Parliament, and often at Heroes Sq too.
3, forget about Oct 23, and enjoy your visit in Budapest as usual. Many museums are open, sights can be visited, cafes can be enjoyed and even the baths in Budapest are open. See useful links below. Yes, being apolitical and not giving a damn about Oct 23 is also very local. Many choose to enjoy the day off and celebrate with family picnics and tours.
4, walk by the river from the Technical University in Budapest at the Liberty Bridge up to north on Bem Square. This is a Buda side walk, scenic, and it is where the whole thing began as a peaceful demonstration
5, talk to locals about what happened on this day, clink your glasses to the heroes of the revolution, show your respect to the 1956 revolutionists by trying some wines and palinka in a good Hungarian pub or bar. In many ways, the noble essences will make you feel the strength of life, and the deep inner instinct of saying 'no' to oppression of any sort. When the revolution was lost and branded as 'anti-revolution' by the ruling Communist party, many of the people in the opposition sank into a personal alcohol induced revolution, the silent resistance.

Here are some great sources of information about Oct 23 in Budapest:

October 23 Budapest: opening hours, events on Oct 23 in Budapest
October things to do in Budapest
October 23 in Hungary
Rallies on Oct 23 in Budapest - yes, not everything is shiny and happy, but all in all, this is still a good day in Hungary.

Budapest Tram 2 Gets into Top Ten World List

I think we can say it without exaggeration that many Hungarians are quite proud of the river views and the riverfront in Budapest (it is also part of the UNESCO world heritage). No wonder there are so many scenic sightseeing boat tours in Budapest.

What is less known is that there is a nice tram route right parallel with the river Danube, the riverfront route of Tram 2 / Streetcar number 2. This tram runs between the northern and the southern bridges, with many stops along the Danube. National Geographic has picked Streetcar 2 in Budapest among its top ten panoramic streetcar route list - in the world. While in the world list Tram 2 ranks as number 7, according to the travel and nature magazine of National Geographic, In Europe the humble Budapest tram 2 got number 1, the best! Congratulations to the 19th century urban designers of Budapest!

Number 1 tram route: 501 tram, Toronto Canada
Number 2 tram route: George Benson Waterfront Streetcar, Seattle, US (the service ceased a few years ago, but will be restored in another ten years or so)
Number 3 tram route: St. Charles Streetcar (yes, the original Streetcar named Desire!!), New Orleans, US

Budapest Number 2 Tram by the river Danube You can easily get on it and go down to Lagymanyosi Bridge where the Palace of Arts and the Ludwig Museum can be found, get to the most famous Budapest Market Hall, by the Liberty Bridge, reach Vaci street from the tram stops at the Erzsebet Bridge or at Chain Bridge, and reach the nice green Margaret Island by getting off at Jaszai Mari Square stop. A streetcar named City Views, a streetcar named Budapest Desire. The tram cars are sort of heritage streetcars. Taking the tram 2 along the river is one of the top things to do in Budapest, and if you are travelling as a couple, take the panorama tram to enjoy the romantic Budapest.

By the way, tram 2 in Budapest at Christmas time gets all fancy.

Bike Travel Pass in Budapest

Bike Travel Pass in Budapest is less known than the standard travel passes you can choose from (24 hour, 72 hour, 1 week, 2 week, monthly, and even yearly travel passes).
But if you are an expat in Budapest and you like riding a bike in the city, you can actually use this cheap bike travel pass quite well. Please share it with your friends and cycling mates who are residing in Budapest to get the word out.
Happy riding!
Bicycle travel pass on BKV Budapest Public Transport

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Is It Worth Taking a River Cruise on the Danube in Budapest?

You can bet that a river cruise in Budapest, in the heart of Budapest (!) is absolutely a must for all tourists: would it be the only thing you can do in Budapest, it would be a pity that you are in a rush, but it would still be worth it. It is what an English would call a Budapest whistle tour, to take a quick look at the most important attractions in one hour? Check!
We locals love our riverbanks on the Buda and the Pest sides of the Budapest. The best place to have a friendly talk, to kiss, to come up with creative ideas (like this blog for giving you tips: things to do in Budapest...)

When I have no money, I would just simply walk along the river Danube, talk to my friends, and set the world right. But if you can splurge on 10-30 Euros for a beautiful river cruise, don't hesitate for a second. I always take my foreign friends for a Budapest river cruise, and it was a huge success with lots of "cooool, amazing, great", etc.
rockandrosy on the boat tour in Budapest - river views, night lights, romantic cruises

Because it is not just a river, and some houses:
it is a showcase of the world heritage sights, which have been chosen by the UNESCO
you can see the top sights of Budapest on the Buda hills (Gellert Hill with the Hungarian style Liberty statue and the Citadel, and the Gellert Baths. Then the famous Buda Castle on the Castle Hill), and you can see the most fascinating parliament building on the Pest side: the Hungarian Parliament is like a super posh palace with loads of real gold from the 19th century (which is in a ridiculous contrast with our current economic situation, never mind). It is breathtaking. Really. Oh, and there is the Gresham Palace by the Chain Bridge, and so on.
On many river cruises you get dinners and drinks: I just love my sweet champagne on the deck of the lovely boats of Budapest.
There are many many boats, smaller, bigger, newer, older. Whatever, pick a boat that has an open air deck so that you can walk up and admire the views in real life.
On some of the river cruises you can listen to live music or DJs, there are gypsy bands playing and there is a Budapest party boat which is a good way to get warmed up for late night parties on Fri and Sat (on other days too I guess, but we Hungarians usually go to parties at the end of the week - are you disappointed?)
Girls, you must take your guys / guys you must grab your gals to a cruise to get really romantic in Budapest and even more romantic!

Friday, 20 July 2012

Szechenyi Baths - Natural, Fun and Relaxing

Isn't it a bit of fun and relaxing that we are looking forward when we go on holiday? Every time I get home from a holiday I feel totally exhausted. Because I usually go to some kind of adventure, away from Budapest and its fantastic baths. But if you are visiting Budapest, you can mix your itinerary with several cool baths, most importantly Szechenyi Baths, to make sure that you revitalise, reconnect with nature and have absolute fun (if you find it boring, you have not heard about Budapest spa parties yet!).

Szechenyi Baths at Night in May / photo Patrick Donovan
So if I could only give one single piece of advice to any tourists in Budapest, it would be this:
have some real light hearted fun and inner peace at one of the baths of Budapest - there are Turkish baths, there is an Art Deco palace, and there is the all time favourite of most tourists and locals: Szechenyi Furdo. It is guaranteed that your travel to Budapest will be unique, and a lot less tiring than usual travel destinations!

If you are afraid of too many people sharing the baths, try to go there around 6pm. You can enjoy the warm open air pools all year round until late night. Szechenyi Spa is only closing at 10pm! Look at this photo of the famous bath: totally tranquil and perfectly relaxing on a May evening.

More about Budapest Baths on Top Budapest travel guide and on

Monday, 9 July 2012

New Metro Cars in Budapest

Hurray, there are new metro cars coming to Budapest in a couple of months, hopefully in 2012, but definitely in 2013. Getting around in Budapest will be hopefully more modern and comfortable, which suits better our beautiful beloved city.
Budapest New Metro Cars (photo MTI)
We are very happy about the long awaited changes, as many of the old Russian metro cars look terribly shabby with rusty patches. They must have been really well engineered by the Russians as the old blue metro cars have served lots of decades in Budapest, Hungary. The somewhat tightfisted Budapest Public Transport company (abbreviated as BKV in Hungarian) should have replaced the old metro cars a long long time ago.
In recent years there have been 1-2 technical accidents (fires, smokes) along the M3 blue metro line in Budapest.

We love the fact that Budapest has an efficient public transit system, no doubt about it, and we also use the Budapest metro network each and every day, but the thought of a potential metro smoke or fire hovering in the back of our minds is not that ideal metro trip experience to say the least. And looking at the old and run down metro cars is not reassuring either.

Alsto, the French transport vehicles maker, is handing over 22 new metro cars to the M2 metro line of Budapest (the red metro running between Deli Train Station and Ors Vezer Square (including Batthyany Square, Kossuth Square, Deak Square, Astoria Square, Blaha Lujza Square and Keleti Train Station).

Let's hope the much neglected M3 metro line is also getting its new cars, wires and shiny new everything.

In the meantime, you may prefer to use the trams or buses along the line of M3 blue metro line. Tram 2 is a superb Budapest thing to do in itself, as it provides the best panoramic view along the river Danube with major attractions. Travel on the surface and take a look at the beautiful 19th century architecture the city has. Look up to the facades, you will see amazing buildings - unlisted in Budapest travel guide books.

Compare the two metro videos, the first is about M3 metro line smoke incident (hopefully the soon to be past), the second video is about testing the new Alstom metro cars in Budapest (hopefully the soon to be future).

Metro Smoke in Budapest  

 The new metro cars in Budapest (tested by Hungarian news site)

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Kids Activities in Budapest

If you are in doubt whether your kids will enjoy your Budapest holiday, you will be happy to hear that Budapest is really a great place for children.
In addition to the usual kids activities, like visiting the Zoo in Budapest, or right next to the zoo, the Amusement Park or the Great Circus, you can take the kids to one of the hundreds of modern (EU conform) cool playgrounds.

Train Engine Simulator at the Train History Park, Budapest
Some of the best playgrounds, sort of 'open air play houses' can be found close to downtown Budapest, like any of the dozen or so of playgrounds in the City Park, the one on Margaret Island at its northern tip, or the Peter Green (Zold Peter) playground in the landscaped garden of Millenaris Park.

And you will surely go to the awesome Millenaris Park for its indoor tech interactive playhouse - children love it so much! And it is a nice place in hot weather (in siesta time when the temperatures are over 100 degrees Fahrenheit), and an excellent place on rainy, windy or cold days in Budapest.

On top of all, Budapest has hundreds of community centers which are full of kids things to do, workshops, concerts, music activities, sports activities, arts and crafts workshops, etc. (Marczibanyi Square Community Center is a lively community close to Millenaris Park, but each district in Budapest and all over Hungary has their own set of family activity centers). Not to mention that even the Palace of Arts in Budapest has fantastic music activities for babies, toddlers and children too: concerts, camps, singing along with kids, etc.

I think almost all parents who visited Budapest with their children will agree that a must do in Budapest with kids is to do with trains:
Children's Railway Budapest

TRAINS in Budapest

  • Children's Railway Budapest ( - small trains with lots of children in the green hills of Budapest on the Buda side. Unforgettable, cool and lots of fun. On weekends the little gift shop of the Children's Railway is also open (10 am - 4 pm) if you want to buy some little train gifts for the kids
  • Train History Park Budapest ( - outdoor small trains, big trains, the best option if you have children of various ages, i.e. for toddlers, younger and older children. You can see trains pulled by horses (horsetrams), older teens can try to drive an engine under supervision along a half a mile long track, the whole family can hop on a manually operated handcart along the tracks (and even get a certificate for managing the handcart!), etc. Really really cool and fun for younger and older kids and hopefully for you too. :)
  • Museum of Transport Budapest ( - lovely train models run every hour on the hour, you can sit in a big model train, etc. - the museum is in the City Park, close to a bunch of great things to do in Budapest (Heroes's Square, Vajdahunyad Castle, etc.). Although this one is the closest to Budapest attractions, the other two (the Children's Railway where children are the conductors, and the Train History Park which is simply a must for enthusiasts and laymen too) are so much worth the 40 minute extra time for the trip. And, as we have experienced, children thoroughly enjoy the trip to get to these places too.

Another must do with kids is visiting one of the cool baths in Budapest - geared for children.
Some of the 11 pools at Palatinus Open Air Pool Complex on Margit Island Budapest

BATHS & POOLS in Budapest

 Please bear in mind that Szechenyi Baths will let children in, but the notice says that the pools are not recommended for children under 14: the warm thermal baths are not healthy for your kids! Learn more about child friendly pools and baths in Budapest.