MONEY: HUF (HUNGARIAN FORINT)
Bills: 20 000, 10 000, 5000, 2000, 1000, 500
Coins: 200, 100, 50, 20, 10, 5
1 EUR = approx. 300 HUF
How to calculate: take 2 zeroes off, and divide by 3
1 USD = approx 270 HUF
How to calculate: take 2 zeroes off, and divide by 3
Money exchange: You get the best rate at cash machines, widely available in Hungary.
CHANGE booths are better than banks, airport or railway station.
Most places accept credit cards. EUR and USD might be accepted in restaurants and souvenir shops. However, it is useful to have 10-20 EUR/USD in HUF, as small places only accept local cash.
ARRIVAL IN BUDAPEST
By train: Overnight from Prague, or 3 hours from Vienna
By plane: There is only one airport in Hungary, in the suburbs of Budapest, for passenger flights: terminal 2 A and B. They are besides each other.
How to get in Budapest from the airport?
By taxi: flat rate of approx 8000 HUF, credit card is accepted
By airport shuttle: 3000-5000 HUF depending on your destination in the city. There might be a waiting time!
Public transport: No 200 bus to the blue subway line M3. Tickets are available at the airport.
TRANSPORT IN BUDAPEST
Car rental: possible at the airport, railway stations, rental places, also can be delivered to your place.
Parking costs approx 600 HUF/hour in the centre of Budapest, 500 in the suburbs and in small towns. It is possible to find parking places in Budapest.
How to pay: throw change in the parking machines.
Taxi: There is now a rather unified rate, and you can pay in EUR and credit card. Average cost within the city is 2000-4000 HUF. Airport flat rate is approx 8000 HUF. It is always cheaper to have a cab called for you than to hail one in the street. Good companies: Fotaxi, City-taxi.
Public transport is excellent in Budapest! In many cases faster than the car. Bus, trolley bus, tram, suburban train (HEV), subway (4 lines). It is worth using public transport, as walking in Budapest could be too much for most visitors. Vehicles come often, every 3-5 minutes.
Ticket for one trip, any length: 350 HUF
10 tickets: 3000 HUF
Transfer ticket for 2 vehicles: 530 HUF
24 hour pass: 1650 HUF, it is worth if you take more than 5 vehicules/day
72 hour pass: 4150 HUF
1 week pass: 4950 HUF
24 hour group travel card for max 5 people travelling together: 3300 HUF
Where to buy tickets and passes: subway stops, news agents, airport, railway station, bigger hotels. You can also get separate one way tickets on buses, but it is more expensive there.
Just to have a ticket is not enough, you have to validate it on the vehicle! You put your ticket in a small red box, which stamps it. On buses, tram and trolley busses there is an honor system: if the controller comes, and you don’t have a validated ticket, you pay a fine: 16 000 HUF. In the subway, there are controllers at the entrance.You keep your ticket until the end of your trip, as it might be controlled again at the exit.
WHERE TO STAY IN BUDAPEST?
In the centre of Pest, or in the old town of Buda
Budapest is divided into 2 parts by the Danube river: flat Pest, and hilly Buda. Pest has the centre, Buda has the old town. There are many excellent hotels!
The most elegant 2 hotels in Budapest: Four Seasons Hotel (Gresham Palace), and Boscolo (New York Palace), both in Pest
5 star hotels with Danube river view: In Pest centre: Mariott, Intercontinental, Sofitel, In Buda old town: Hilton (in the Castle)
Other 5 star hotels: Kempinsky, Le Meridien, Buddha Bar (Klotild Palace)
3-4 star central hotels
Pest: Carat Boutique Hotel, Fraser Residence Budapest, Casati Budapest Hotel, Hotel Boutique Zara, Palazzo Zichy, Iberostar Grand Hotel, Continental Hotel Zara
Buda: Castle Garden, Baltazar
PLANNING YOUR VISIT
Many people take a private tour at the beginning of their stay. While showing you around, a tour guide can help you set up a programme for 3-4 days, and can give you money & time saving tips! They can also book you tickets and reserve restaurants.
10 Things You Must Visit in Budapest
1. The Castle: Matthias Church & Fishermen’s Bastion, and the Royal Palace
No question, this is the highlight of Budapest, and part of World Heritage. The 800 years old Matthias Church was Coronation Church of Hungary, with absolutely stunning interieur: every inch is painted in colour by hand!
Halfway between Matthias Church and the Royal Palace you find the Funicular upper station. The lower station is at the Chain Bridge in Buda. This is the second such cable car of Europe!
3. The Best View of Budapest: Gellért hill
No. 1 view of Budapest is from the Gellért hill! Also recommended at night. Walk around the Citadella (abandoned fort), enjoy the great panorama all around, and say hello to the Statue of Liberty.
4. Market Hall
The great Covered Market is an absolute Must See in Budapest! Even Margaret Theather bought paprika here... Spectacular, and full of locals buying their groceries. The 100 years old building is an impressive iron structure where you can buy handicraft (upstears) , and actually try local food.
5. Budapest Synagogue: the second biggest Synagogue in the world!
The visit includes the Jewish Museum (small but captivating), the Tree of Life - weeping willow monument and foundation of Tony Curtis, and the Jewish Cemetery in the courtyard of the Synagogue.
6. St Stephen's Basilica: Marble and Gold
The biggest catholic church of Budapest has 30 different kinds of marble, and 5 kg /10 pound pure gold! As the Basilica was build for 54 years, people had a saying in those days: ”You lent me money - I'll give it back when the Basilica is ready…”
7. Hungarian Parliament – the National Pride
Our Parliament is among the 5 biggest parliament buildings in the world! It is absolutely worth visiting inside. It is much more beautiful than you think…like a gorgeous palace.
8. Andrássy Avenue: a World Heritage Avenue
From Pest centre to the Parc and Heroe’s Square, it offers an interesting 3 km /2 mile walk. The Avenue’s 3 sections has a variety of typical, 19th century Budapest apartment buildings.
9. Heroe’s Square: Cartoon Strip of Hungarian History
This is a big and spectacular monument of Hungarian kings and polititians in the City park. If you are interested in Hungarian history, it is very stongly recommended to visit this square with a local guide.
10. Szechenyi Spa:
Szechenyi Baths looks like a fantastic palace - this is the biggest thermal bath of Central Europe, with 18 thermal – water indoor and outdoor pools, hot spring baths, steam rooms, saunas and massage rooms. You will certainly see Hungarians playing chess at the edge of the hot pool!