Those hop-on, hop-off busses are so popular in a lot of big cities. If you do not have the luxury of time, it is a great way to have an overview of all the must-see sites a city has to offer. Some people prefer to find different places on their own. I do both depending on the nature of my trip.
In Budapest, I would rather call these buses “History On – History Off” because it was from one historical site to another. And even by the end of our tour in Budapest, there were still a lot more to see. Here are some of the places I got to see, and a list of others you can see when you have more time in Budapest.
We booked our hotel and excursions at Expedia. We flew with Norwegian Air but booked it on Lavprisfly. When you book Norwegian Air flights with them, the luggage is included in the price. Our hotell for this tour is Gellert. Primarily because of its history and because we wanted to spend some time at the Gellert Bath and Spa, one of Europe’s most known thermal bath. You do not need to stay at the Gellert Hotel to be able to visit. Everybody is welcome to drop by. And besides, the Gellert Spa and Bath is not anymore connected to the Gellert Hotel. They have different Spa treatments. Book your appointment early as it can be busy some days.
The Gellert hotell is located right at the bottom of the Castle Hill along the banks of the Great Blue Danube. The bus for the hop-on-hop-off tour stops right in front. Public transport is also just right across the street. You can go over the bridge and you arrive at the Budapest Great Market Hall right away. It is a maximum 300 meters from the hotel.
Since we had a very tight schedule, we opted to take the Hop-on, hop-off bus. As the name implies, you hop on and hop off the bus along its route. There are different routes: Red (historical) Line, Yellow (Panoramic) Line, Orange (Citadel) Line, and the Blue (Cultural Line). Each line takes one hour. In addition, you also get a one hour cruise along the Danube, a 1.5 hour night bus tour, and a 2-2.5 hours walking tour of Budapest. So this is really a money and time-saving ticket. The ticket is valid for 72 hours. In between buses, there is a 20-30 minute wait before the next bus passes by. You can also change bus lines if you want to see other places from the other lines. This was one of the tours we booked through Expedia. You do not have to get off the bus if you just want to take the whole tour to get an overview of the sights of Budapest.
It is the orange line that stops in front of the Gellért Hotel. The next stop from here is the Citadella on top of Gellert Hill where one can have either a five minute photo stop or you may want to just hop off and stay here longer. This fortress has a complex history behind it. It is symbol both of oppression and of freedom.
We changed between the lines within the day to be able to optimize our short trip. For the cruise, we opted for the evening one since we wanted to the see the Parliament lighted up. There are also cruises with dinner included if you want to experience dining along the Blue Danube.
The Parliament Building of Hungary is also called by many as the Parliament Building of Budapest because it is located in the city. I took this picture while we took an evening cruise along the Great Blue Danube. It is located on Lajos Kossuth Square along the banks of the Danube. The building is just as impressive by day.
We wanted to get off at New York Cafe which is a cafe in Budapest which is said to be the most beautiful Cafe in the world. They serve both Hungarian and international cuisine. They pride in saying that they established the essential Hungarian gastronomy. The New York Cafe is inside the Boscolo Budapest Hotel. However, it is always really full so we ended up in a very simple bistro not too far away. The Montenegro Gurman was a small and simple place, but the food was divine. We had a three-course meal, and up to this day, I still long for their triple chocolate-chocolate cake. It is one of those places one accidentally discovers but leaves a pleasant memory to the diner.
To end they day, we went to Szimpla Kert. This is what they call a ruins bar in Budapest. For the young ones and the young at heart, do visit a ruins bar in Budapest. This is short 15-20 minute walk from Deak Szimpla Kert. They call it a ruins bar because it was an old ruined factory which was supposed to be destroyed. However, a group of young urbanites changed it to an open-air cinema and pub. It is actually several pubs in one old building. A lot of graffiti, the doors are dilapidated, the chairs and tables do not match, there are some uneven panels and stairs. But that is part of its charm. Nothing matches but they seem to have a harmonius combination and the energy is high. Do come a bit early. There are loooooong lines to get it. We got in at around 9 p.m. which was reaaaaaallly early but I just wanted to see the place and get the feel of it.
The next day we spent mostly at the Castle District. Set aside at least half a day for this part of Budapest. There are a lot of things to see here.
The Castle District has a lot of places to visit. Among these are: St Matthias Church, Fisherman’s Bastion, Maria Magdalene Tower, City Hall, Medieveal Jewish Prayer House, Museum of Music History & Institute for Musicology, Primate Palace, Telephony Museum, Alexander Palace, Prime Minister’s Office, Royal Palace, Orszagzaslo (Hungary’s Number one flag), Artbazaar Shop, Open-Air stage, Hauszmann information pavillion, Holy Trinity Square, and the Ritual Jewish bath. There is also a tourist information office around and for tired feet, there is an escalator and elevator to the palace, which in itself is worth seeing.
Fishermans Bastion provides the most dramatic views you can ever get of Budapest. Above is St Stephen King of Hungary. This sculpture was done by the artist Alajos Strobl. King St Stephen was the first ever crowned king in Hungary.
The St Matthias Chuch in Budapest is located on the Castle District, right next to the Fishermans Bastion. It is official name is the Church of Our Lady, but “everyone” calls it St Matthias, even the locals. This is a Roman Catholic church. It is located right beside the Fishermans Bastion. The slender tower seen on this picture, is visible from several places in Budapest.
The St George Hotel in Budapest was once a castle. On my first visit to Budapest, I attended a fairy-tale wedding and we stayed on this castle hotel. Because it was once a home, no two rooms are the same. All rooms, however, are equipped with modern-day facilities. It is not a big hotel, either, so you really feel that you are at home with some guests. The hotel is located in the Castle Area of Budapest. This area is also worth spending several hours in. You get to see several landmarks here like St Matthias Church, the castle, Fisherman’s Bastion, old streets, and great views of Budapest everywhere.
Getting to the airport is easy, whether you take a taxi or the public transport. By public transport, get on (almost) any tram that stope by Deak Ter. From there, change to the airport bus. This alternative is very cheap, costs HUF 900 per person and the trip takes about half an hour. Taxis cost HUF 6000 per car and it takes maximum of three passengers.
So that is my trip to Budapest. A short one but we were able to see and experience a lot of things.
Until my next trip. Keep on traveling.