For Central European travel, Budapest has long been in the shadow
That is unjust, but good news for budget travellers on the lookout for
In many ways the Hungarian capital is even more beautiful than its
Czech cousin, and certainly more affordable.
Budapest is an easy city to navigate around as it is divided by the
grand sweep of the Danube river, with the West bank the Buda side and Pest on the East.
There is a good choice of cheap but well-equipped hostels in Budapest, most of them centrally located on
the Pest side of the river, in Districts five, six or seven.
What to see in Pest
The best of Pest can be experienced by a walk along Andrassy Ut
As well as the citys finest shops and cafes this elegant
boulevard contains the neo-Renaissance City Opera House, a UNESCO
world heritage site, which is as good a place as any to remind yourself that you are in a
city with a nearly unmatched musical tradition.
There is a statue outside of the composer and pianist Franz Liszt,
whose long-fingered hand most visitors find it impossible to resist being photographed
If your curiosity about Liszt is aroused, his home has been turned
into a museum with much of the original d�cor is intact. Entry costs only 1,300 forints
(about $5) or 600 forints for students, but be warned you have to take your shoes
off, otherwise the lady curators turn fierce.
Liszt Ferenc Memorial Museum:
The museum is a reconstruction of Liszt's last Budapest flat on the first floor of the old
Academy of Music, where the composer lived between 1881 and 1886.
Before you reach Heroes Square at the end of the avenue, a
fascinating but grim reminder of Hungarys oppression, first under the Nazis and then
under the Soviets, comes at the House
of Terror (Terror Haza), the walls of which are lined with portraits of hundreds of
victims, many of whom died in prison as they resisted the regime.
The River Danube and Refreshments
Though classy, the cafes and bars around Andrassy Ut are not the most
economic option for eating. Better to head back towards the Danube, and a place that
cant be recommended highly enough: The Great Market Hall.
In this cavernous glass-ceilinged structure, youll find stalls
selling some of the tastiest produce that is ideal for a picnic on the grassy bank of the
nearby river. Hungarian spicy sausage is especially delicious.
Buda and The Castle
Crossing by one of the bridges, Buda is much hillier than Pest and
Castle Hill rises steeply up from the bank.
The castle on the top, the site of a royal residence since King Bela
made it his home in the 13th century, can be reached by a funicular railway for 1,000
forints (about $4) or for free with a bit of exertion up the switchbacks of a tree-lined
The castle complex also holds St
Stephens Basilica, which along with the Parliament is the tallest building in
the city. Climbing its dome offers the reward of unmatched views across the river to Pest
Don't Delay, Go Today
There are many more reasons to recommend Budapest to the
Previous visitors may be shocked Ive not even found space here
to mention the traditional baths. But perhaps the best thing to say about the city is
this: you will get so much pleasure from simply walking around, that the cost of entering
places will come as a bonus to an already magnificent trip.
By Simon Clark.
- Travel Notes Directory.
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