Divided into 2 distinct areas by the great Danube River, Budapest is Hungary’s capital and largest city with a population of 1.7 million. The first settlement in the region was more than 2,000 years ago, yet the 2 sides of the river (Buda and Pest) were only consolidated into a single city in 1873.
Described as the ‘Pearl of the Danube’, Budapest is one of Europe’s most beautiful cities and most popular tourist destinations. Complementing its remarkable man-made beauty is an extensive natural thermal cave system and the largest medicinal spring in Europe.
Boats on river cruises down the Danube are able to dock on either side of the river, with both having their distinct local flavour and attractions. Buda is home to more historical buildings and renowned architecture, whilst Pest is known for some of the great contemporary sites such as restaurants, clubs and shopping districts.
How to Get Around
Getting around the city of Budapest is best done on foot, with many tourist attractions and cultural and historic locations easily accessible from the waterfront.
Alternatively, the city operates 3 underground train lines with services running regularly. Tickets for the metro are also valid on trams and buses within the city. If possible, use correct money when purchasing tickets from the automated machines, as they are known to not dispense change.
Taxis are readily available throughout the city and may be flagged down or secured at taxi ranks. It is recommended to agree on your fare with the driver prior to the journey. Alternatively, book your taxi through an official dispatcher.
- Currency - the currency of Budapest is the Hungarian Forint. Coins come in denominations of 5, 10, 20 and 100-forint (ft). Notes come in 200, 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000 and 20,000-forint denominations.
- Time Zone - Budapest uses Central European Time (CET), which is 1 hour ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC+1). From April to October the city uses Central European Summer Time (CEST), which is 2 hours ahead (UTC+2).
- Weather - Budapest has a humid continental climate with average daily temperatures ranging from -1.6 degrees Celsius in January to 21 degrees Celsius in July.
- Széchenyi Medicinal Bath - accessible by metro line 1, the Széchenyi Medicinal Bath is the largest thermal bath in Europe. Water is supplied from 2 thermal springs with temperatures maintained at 27-38 degrees Celsius. The large neo-baroque complex that houses the bath dates back to 1913.
- The Castle District - located in the Buda side of the city, the Castle District is a certified World Heritage site. With examples of architecture through the ages, its crowning glory is the Buda Castle. A sprawling complex once home to Hungarian royalty, it presides over the Danube River and is a striking view from the water.
- Great Market Hall - set on the banks of the Danube, this Budapest institution is spread over 10,000 square metres across 3 floors. The market’s specialties are its local produce; Hungarian paprika and a deep fried bread called lángos being perennial favourites.
- The Nightlife - Budapest is home to a thriving nightclub and bar scene, with patrons being spoilt for choice. Live music, dance clubs and luxe cocktail bars co-exist and give this historic city a nocturnal edge. Head deeper into the Pest side of the city for late night crowd pleasers.