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  • Writer's pictureJay Hicks

So is it Buddha or Pest?

Updated: Sep 15, 2020

Traveling to Budapest Hungary can be Both Exciting and Confusing!

Hungarian Parliament Building from the Fisherman's Bastion

Budapest is an intriguing place. After visiting on the cities on several occasions, I still must refresh my memory of what city is what. You may already be aware that the name Budapest is a combination of two city names (technically 3 if you count Óbuda). Buda is on the hilly West Bank of the Danube. Pest is on the eastern bank and sprawls for miles. The city of Obuda was united with the first two in 1873, creating Budapest.

Both Buda and Pest have spectacular characteristics and features. If you are there for a short time, no that both are exciting but Buda is best for visiting for a short time experiences. But please take time and visit both if you can. Regardless, How do you get there? Where do you stay? Where do you eat? What must you see?

Getting There

Saint Matthias Church on Castle Hill

If you arrive by air, you will want to get to the center of the city as quickly as possible. If you have the money, take a cab, as most cabdrivers speak a bit of English. Taking the metro and bus is certainly less money but can be a challenging experience if you don’t speak Hungarian.

The language is daunting and certainly not related to Germanic, English, or romance languages. With 14 vowels and extremely long words, Magyar (Hungarian name for the language) is among hardest languages in the world to learn.

Frodo: It's some form of Elvish, I can't read it. Gandalf: There are few who can.

It is good to know that English is spoken by many, but you will have to continue to look for someone that speaks English if you need help.

The link below has it up-to-date information on moving from the airport to the city center. A great link for the most up to date on how to get from the airport to the city center is:

Where the Stay

View From Papillion Hotel

If you can find a place near the city center of Buda, you will be in the heart of things. There are some pensions less expensive than others, but western hotels in this area are going to be pricey. The hotel Papillion is one of my favorites. Comfortable rooms in the heart of Buda can be had hear for as little as $40. It is a lively area with comfortable and clean rooms. The staff are friendly, and it is adjacent to the city center; shopping & sightseeing.

If you desire to stay in a more modern or western hotel there are several Marriott and Hilton Hotels in the Pest and Buda, but are not as convenient and certainly much more expensive than some of the hotels and pension in the Buda Center. However, if you have the ability, a great location are the St. George Residence and Hilton Budapest, both conveniently atop the Castle District.

Eating in Budapest

Hungarian food is delicious and heavy – probably due to the central European location and cold winters. You will find the traditional dishes like Goulash and Stropachka (similar to German spaetzle). Make sure to try the street food, it is all delicious. One remarkable item is Lángos a Hungarian popular quick snack that is sure to please as it is only goodness such as fried dough, shredded cheese, and sour cream.

Traditional restaurants are everywhere, as dining out is a big deal for the locals and tourist alike. Chicken Paprikas, Beef Stew and schnitzel dishes with potatoes and noodles can be found everywhere. Additionally, I always enjoy markets! Budapest's largest and most expansive indoor market, Central Market, offers a variety of freshly cooked food and vegetables, meat and wine and liquor shops. It will not disappoint.

What to See

Fisherman's Bastion

The Castle District is the first place to visit, with stunning views of the Hungarian Parliament Building from the Fisherman's Bastion, Buda Castle and Matthias Church. If you have the time, ride the Budapest Castle Hill Funicular or Budavári Sikló, walk across the Széchenyi Chain Bridge to Pest and enjoy the nearby Budapest Christmas Fair and Winter Festival, should you be there during the Holidays!

Safe Travels and remember to say “beszélsz angolul” or “Do you speak English”!

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