Country: Hungary
Currency: Forint (HUF)
Peak Season: July-September
Shoulder Season: October, May, December
Median Temperature: 11.10 C / 51.98 F
Main Languages: Hungarian, English, German,
Primary Modes of Transportation: Metro, bus, tram
Recommended Duration of Stay: 4 days
Recommended Pocket Money: $120.00/day
Tourist Passes: Budapest Card
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Budapest is probably more famous for its medicinal spas and thermal baths, but more precisely, it is host to a number of refined operas and concert halls. And for a city that’s been hounded by religious and political turmoil in the last millennia, the 20th century breathed a sigh of relief, as a spurring interest in technology and tourism made Budapest reinvent itself rapidly, due to favorable economic conditions and the known diligence of its people. Getting here isn’t a hassle for international travelers, as Budapest is usually part of a cross-country itinerary within Central Europe, with cities including Vienna and Prague.

Don’t be fooled by the Romanesque and Gothic architectural overtones of buildings that overlay the city on postcards. Dubbed as the “Central European Hub of Innovation,” Budapest has numerous, important innovations to back its acclaim. Many Hungarian innovators own rights to many “firsts” that are still exhaustively used to this day:

1. Ballpoint Pen in 1931

2. Pulitzer Prize in

3. Rubik’s Cube in 1976

4. Safety match in 1936

5. Binoculars in 1840

6. Soda water in 1824

7. Vitamin C in 1932

8. Storage-capable computer in 1994

Packing List

  • Classy clothing; locals here dress sharply and there are very few instances of even teenagers sporting “gangster” or “statement” clothing
  • Swimwear, sandals and towels for the spas and hot springs; you may also want to bring your own toiletries and board games
  • Swimwear, sandals and towels for the spas and hot springs; you may also want to bring your own toiletries and board games
  • Thick insulation (sweater, scarf, earmuff, boots) during the wintry months; temperatures can plummet to -20 °C
  • Photography equipment, essential medication (especially for flu) and a trusty guidebook/GPS device

Things to Do

  • Soothing yourself in Rudas Baths, Szechenyi Baths or Gellert Baths; being positioned in a thin layer of earth just above thermal springs, the city a hotspot for thermal baths at competitive rates
  • Visiting Buda Castle at Castle Hill, the monarchial residence for six centuries; it retains a distinction as being one of the most ravaged-and-rebuilt castles in history due to many wars waged in Hungary
  • Catching a an opera, ballet or concert performance at the Hungarian State Opera House; famous, recurring performances include A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Anna Karenina and Romeo and Juliet
  • Visiting St. Stephen’s Basilica, named after the first King of Hungary; other than the neoclassical architecture, the church also relics St. Stephen’s incorruptible fist, having no signs of decay
  • Witnessing a section of the Danube, Europe’s second longest river, passing through ten countries; Day and night cruises are available, offering views of the bisected Buda hills and Pest plains

DON'T

  • Drink and drive, nor smoke in public transportation vehicles; heavy fines are imposed on both infractions
  • Hail taxis off the street whenever possible; make prior arrangements with a taxi company or have an agency help you out with customary rates
  • Arrive any later than 30 minutes when invited to an event; Hungarians are quite discerning of punctuality
  • Ignore table manners even in humble residences; proceeding to eat before the host starts and resting elbows on the table are both signs of crudeness
  • Be startled if a local asks you a very personal question; this is common practice for Hungarians to break the ice, especially when acquainting themselves with tourists