Budapest in one day - travel tips
Arrival and transfer to the city center.
As you can guess from the title, in these pages we will talk about our trip in the city of Budapest. Landed at the airport around 22:00, we immediately headed to the exit where there are bus stops. To go to the city center, the cheapest solution is the bus which in about 50 minutes took us about 350 meters from the hostel where we stayed. The buses that go to the city center are the E100 and E200 lines. These buses require a special ticket at the cost of 900 Hungarian forints (about € 2.50) which can be purchased at vending machines, or in cash directly from the driver. So even if you plan to buy a public transport pass, you always need a separate ticket for the transfer to and from the airport.
Arriving at the hostel given the late hour, we preferred to rest to prepare ourselves the next morning to visit this city.
The next morning wake up early and go out, having only one day available, there are not many places to see, but by organizing the program well, you can visit most of the city. Most of the attractions chosen are not very far from each other so we have used little public transport. For this reason we used single tickets without making season tickets. The cost of a single ticket is 350 florins (about € 1.00), it can be used on all means, has a duration of 80 minutes, but is valid only for a single trip, that is, you cannot transfer to a other medium. Many other types of tickets and passes are available, on the official website all the information.
Via the M2 metro line from the Akácfa utca stop we went to the Kossuth Lajos tér M stop where the Parliament Building in Budapest is located about 300 meters away. We are talking about a symbolic city building, one of the main tourist attractions. It is located on the Danube bank in the Pest area. The palace can be visited by tourists and inside there are sculptures, paintings, frescoes and many works of art by the most important Hungarian artists. In the dome room there is also the crown of King Santo Stefano. On the official website all the information on times and prices of visits are available.
Shoes on the Danube bank.
On the same bank of the Danube, about 500 meters from Parliament is the Holocaust memorial “Shoes on the Danube bank”. It is a bronze sculpture that depicts shoes located right on the river bank. It was created by the sculptor Gyula Pauer together with the director Can Togay, in memory of a massacre of Jews that took place right on the bank of the Danube during the Second World War. The work can be viewed for free.
We continue on the same bank towards the south and arrive at the Chain Bridge. It is the oldest and most famous bridge in Budapest, which connects the two parts of the city Buda and Pest. It is made of cast iron, has two imposing pillars that support it and at the base of each of the two pillars there are two stone lions.
After crossing the Chain Bridge we head towards Buda Castle. The fastest way to get there would be the castle funicular. We instead preferred to arrive on foot by taking a nice uphill walk in the park, often making short stops to admire and photograph the panorama. The castle was the residence of the Hungarian rulers for about seven hundred years. Today, however, it is home to museums, the Hungarian National Gallery, the Szèchenyi Library and is a UNESCO heritage site. The courtyard and gardens of the museum are always open and can be visited for free. The interior, however, can be visited by paying a ticket.
Fisherman’s Bastion and Matthias Church.
Also in the Buda area about 700 meters from the castle are the Fisherman’s Bastion and the Matthias Church. The Fisherman’s Bastion is a belvedere made up of seven towers and a panoramic terrace. From here you can admire the whole Pest area, the daisy island and the Gellert hill. Behind the bastion there is the equestrian statue of Saint Stephen, the first Hungarian king. If you go at sunset it is also one of the best points to admire the city illuminated from above. A part of the Bastion can be visited for free, the towers and the Chapel of San Michele instead are paid.
A few meters from the bastion in the center of the Santa Trinità square is the Matthias Church. This Church is actually dedicated to Our Lady and the real name is Our Lady of the Assumption of the Castle Hill. It is one of the most famous and interesting buildings in Budapest. The name Mattia was given to it in honor of the Hungarian king Mattia Corvino. Both the Church and the tower can be visited, each with a ticket costing approximately € 5.10, on the official website all information on costs and viewing times.
After the tour of the Buda area we always went down again on foot towards the Chain bridge. We went to the Pest area and given the time we decided to have lunch in one of the many places.
After having lunch and having a little rest we moved to the other side of the city. By metro M1 from the Vörösmarty tér station we arrived at the Széchenyi fürdö station where the Vajdahunyad Castle is located about four hundred meters away. The castle is located in the Vàrosliget park and is surrounded by a lake. Depending on the time of year, the lake becomes a large skating rink or boats and pedal boats can be hired. At the beginning it was built in wood and papier-mâché, then given the great success it was rebuilt in masonry. Inside it houses the Museum of Agriculture. The museum and the two towers can be visited individually or with a single ticket. On the official website all information on visiting hours and on prices and types of tickets.
As mentioned, the castle is located in the Vàrosliget park, the green lung of Budapest, one of the main places for recreation and relaxation. In the park there are numerous restaurants, the zoo and the botanical garden, a municipal circus, the Szèchenyi thermal baths, the castle, the Petöfi Csarnok concert hall, the Transport Museum, Heroes’ Square, the Museum of Fine Arts and the Mücsarnok Art Gallery. Entrance to the park is free.
Still in the park, about 400 meters from the castle, there are the Széchenyi Baths, one of the largest thermal structures in Europe. There are indoor swimming pools, saunas and various massage rooms. Outside there are pools with hot water at 37 degrees where you can swim when the temperature is freezing in winter. On the official website there are all information on prices and timetables.
After visiting the exterior and main entrance of the spa, we headed to Heroes’ Square, one of the most important squares in Budapest.
The main attraction of the square is the Millennial monument, represented by a 36 meters high column with the statue of the Archangel Gabriel at the top. At the base there are seven horse figures representing the Magyar chieftains. In the back there are two rows of columns with each seven statues representing figures from Hungarian history.
After turning the square far and wide, after dinner, we went to one of the many typical places in the same area to enjoy an excellent goulash accompanied by an excellent beer.
After dinner, as we always do during all our travels, we dedicated ourselves to night photography.
So “armed” with a tripod and camera, I started taking photos both at Vajdahunyad Castle and Heroes’ Square, even though there were many people. Then we went near the Chain bridge on the river bank on the Pest side. Here I took pictures at Buda Castle and towards the Chain Bridge. Then we went to the bank of the Buda side to take photos of the Parliament Building and again towards the Chain Bridge.
Conclusions and advice.
This trip also came to an end, I liked the city (I love the cities of Eastern Europe), but my wife a little less. In one day you can visit and photograph enough. It must be said, however, that we have not visited any attraction from the inside to take advantage of all the time available.
Budapest is quite cheap, even with regard to the price of flights. We arrived from Prague (see Prague in two days: travel tips), but flights from Italy are also cheap. You also spend little on accommodation, obviously if you are satisfied, for example we stayed in a hostel. It is also cheap for food and catering in general. Instead the transport and attractions are a little higher than the average of other cities in Eastern Europe.
For those who decide to visit Budapest for two or three days, the main attractions not to be missed are the Széchenyi spas where you can spend at least two or three hours of relaxation, the Chain Bridge, a visit inside the Parliament building,of the Matthias Church, Buda Castle and admire and photograph the sunset from the various lookout points in the castle courtyard or from the viewpoint of the Fisherman’s Bastion. Hopefully if you plan to make a subscription for public transport and visit many attractions, you should take a look at the Budapest card to save something.