1 About the Guide In this document, you will find some practical, useful, and also some additional interesting information about Hungary and Budapest. I tried to organize them according to different topics, to make it easier to find the information what you need. I tried to write this guide, select the topics after the needs, and interests of foreign people, who I met before. If you have any feedbacks please share them with me. ( write to ) I wish you to enjoy my wonderful city, and discover it as much as you can. Tibor Fekete PS.: if you want to bring this guide with yourself, and about to print it, please think about the environment, and print only the pages, what you actually need. About Hungary General Information about the Country Hungary is in Central Europe, situated in the Carpathian Basin Population: about 10 million Area: km 2, 0,74% water Capital: Budapest, with about 1,7 million citizens Currency: Hungarian Forint (HUF; in Hungarian: Ft) 1 EUR ~ 310 HUF Form of State: Parliamentary Republic Language: Hungarian General time: GMT+1 hour (CET) Practical Information: Language: The Hungarian language is spoken only by the Hungarians. As an agglutinative language, it s really hard to learn and speak without mistakes. But also as an agglutinative language, it s really colorful, has many variations for words and so we have wonderful literary words. The language belongs to the Ural-Altaic family of languages. We write the family name first and the given name after it. In the next page you can find some useful expressions.
2 English Hungarian Pronounciation Hello/Bye Szia [see-ah] Good bye! Viszontlátásra! [vee-sont-laa-taash-ra] Good Morning! Jó reggelt! [yo reh-gelt]with hard G Good Afternoon! Jó napot! [yo nah-pot ] Good Evening! Jó estét! [yo esh-tate] Good Night! Jó éjszakát! [yo ay-sah-kat] Thank you! Köszönöm! [kur-sur-nurm] Yes Igen [ee-gen]hard G like in gate No Nem [nem] You look good Szép vagy [sairp vodge] I love you! Szeretlek! [seh-ret-lek] Cheers! Egészségedre! [eges-shai-ged-re] A beer, please! Egy sört kérek! [edj shirt kay-rek] How much is it? Mennyibe kerül? [menn-yibe keh-rul] Excuse me! Elnézést! [el-nai-zeisht] Excuse me, I don't speak Hungarian. Elnézést, nem beszélek magyarul. How are you? Hogy vagy? [hodj vadj] I feel fine. Jól vagyok. [yol va-djok] I feel sick. Nem vagyok jól / Beteg vagyok. [el-nai-zasht, nem be-sail-ek madga-rool] [nem va-dgok yol/ be-teg vadgok] I m a strawberry, eat me! Eper vagyok, egyél meg! ;) Ask the Besties ;) street square Bridge exit entrance ticket ticket office restaurant pub/ bar út/ utca tér híd kijárat bejárat jegy jegyiroda étterem kocsma/ söröző
3 Money: The currency of Hungary is the Hungarian Forint (HUF). One Euro is about 310 HUF. There are coins: 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 HUF, and notes: 500, 1 000, 2 000, 5 000, , HUF You can find many change offices in the city, especially at the frequented attractions, busy squares, and transport hubs. They always change Euro, US dollar, and currencies of the EU. Some approximate prices: products and services HUF EUR* Budapest Public transport ticket 350 1,2 10 tickets beer in a pub ,8-1,7 1 bottle of wine ,6 A pack of cigarettes ,3 1 kg of bread ,2 1 liter of milk ,6-1 slice of pizza ,6-1 Gyros ,6-2 Pizza (32 cm) ,3-5 *: Approximate, it depends on the changing rate. Climate Hungary has a continental climate. The summer is warm and sunny. However, the summer is also the rainy season, so you can experience sudden and intensive rain showers, which come suddenly and go away fast, even in the middle of a hot day. The temperature is the highest in August and July. The average temperature is between 23 and 28 degrees, but at Budapest it s sometimes higher than 40 degrees. The nights at Budapest are warm in the summer. After a hot day, the temperature usually stays above 20 degrees until the morning. If you come during the summer you should bring clothes mainly for the warm weather, but it s a good idea to bring an umbrella or a raincoat with you. The autumn from the end of September is cloudier and has long and slow rainy periods. The temperature is lower, so you should bring some warm clothes instead of the summer clothes, and an umbrella as well.
4 During winter, the average temperature is between 0 and -5 degrees in Celsius. However 5-10, and also the degrees are possible to be. The spring is similar to the autumn, but with less rain and cloud. From the middle of April the sunny weather allows to wear summer clothes many times. So in general we have hot summers and cold winters. The weather is changeable, so always check it out before coming here. Geography Hungary has an area of km 2, 0,74% of it is water. The largest lake is Lake Balaton. The largest rivers are the Danube (Duna in Hungarian), Tisza and Dráva. The largest plain of Hungary is the Great Hungarian Plain (Alföld) which covers 56% of the country. It s located in the southern and eastern part of Hungary. The highest point of Hungary is Mt. Kékes (1014 metres), located in the Mátra, part of the North Hungarian Mountains. Governance Hungary is a Parliamentary Republic, the president of the republic is János Áder, and the prime minister is Viktor Orbán. The country has 7 regions, and 19 counties. (19 counties + Budapest as an individual administrative body) The largest cities are: Budapest, Debrecen, Miskolc, Szeged, Pécs, and Győr Hungary is member of the European Union, the NATO, the OECD, the Visegrád Group, and the Schengen Agreement. Other good to know Smoking is forbidden at every bus, tram and underground stop, at railway stations, underpasses, bars, restaurants, schools, hospitals, casinos, and also at the airport. Cigarettes and shisha can be bought only in a few shops, called Nemzeti Dohánybolt = National Tobacco Shop. They look like a sex shop because they have an 18 in a red circle and the windows are darkened. You can buy alcohol and cigarette only if you are at least 18 years old. In case of emergency you can call the number 112 for free.
5 If you come from the European Union, you need only your valid ID card. If not, you (might) need a valid passport, or maybe a visa as well. And bring your blue European health insurancecard with which you can have emergency social care whenever you need. Electricity: 230V AC, 50Hz, socket looks like: Public Holidays: 1 st January: New Year; 15 th March: Anniversary of revolution and fight for freedom of ; Eastern Monday; Whit Monday; 20 th August: St. Stephan s day; 23 rd October: anniversary of revolution of 1956; th December: Christmas On national days (15 th March, 20 th August; 23 rd October) many programs are organized, the most spectacular is the firework of 20 th August. On these days many museums are free to visit for students, or for everyone. Check them before you arrive, it can be useful. About Budapest The capital of Hungary lies on the banks of the river Danube. Budapest was founded in 1873, by the unification of the west-bank towns Buda and Óbuda, and the east-bank town Pest. With the hilly Buda, and the plain Pest, Budapest is a really many-sided city. Arrive to Budapest The spine of the Public Transport of Budapest are the four metro lines, and the tram line 4 and 6, so you now will find information about how to reach them after arriving to Budapest By Airplane: Budapest has one international airport, the Budapest Liszt Ferenc Nemzetközi repülőtér (Budapest Liszt Ferenc International Airport; code: BUD). The traditional flights are using terminal 2A, the low-cost flights like WizzAir or RyanAir the terminal 2B (for check-in). From the Airport you have to take the bus number 200E, and go until the final-station, called: Kőbánya-Kispest M. This is the final station of the metro line M3. Both airport terminals are connected to the final station of Bus number 200E, and easy to find it. The bus terminates at the same level as the arrival part is.
6 By train: Budapest has 3 international train stations. These are the Nyugati Pályaudvar (Western Railway Station), Keleti Pályaudvar (Eastern Railway Station) and the Déli Pályaudvar (Southern Railway Station). All of them are connected to the Metro lines, the Nyugati to the line M3, the Keleti, to the M2 and M4 and the Déli to the line M2. The Nyugati Station is also connected to tram line 4 and 6. By coach: The international coaches arrive to Népliget buszpályaudvar (Népliget bus station), or to Stadion buszpályaudvar (Stadium bus station). The Népliget is connected to metro line M3, the Stadion to metro line M2. By car: every motorways of Hungary goes to Budapest. All of them have a common 0 km stone, at Clark Ádám tér (Clark Ádám square - the western end of Chain Bridge). You have to buy ticket for the motorway, which you can do at the gas stations. Travelling inside the city public transport Budapest is divided to 23 quarters. Many of them used to be separate city, so most of them have its own flag, coat of arms, and name. All the quarters has its own mayor, and own assembly. However Budapest also has one main mayor, and assembly for the whole city. What is important to know, that since all the quarters are like separate cities from some point of view, many street names can appear in multiple quarters. So when you search a location, always check the quarter also, because for example Petőfi Street can occur in many quarters. The postal code has 4 characters, and in Budapest the 2 nd and 3 rd character means the quarter, like 1047 means quarter nr 04, or 1145 means quarter nr 14. Budapest has 4 metro lines, the M1 (yellow, other name: millennium underground), M2 (red), M3 (blue), and M4 (green). Tram route 4 and 6 on Nagykörút (Grand Boulevard) are the busiest tram lines of Budapest, connects every metro line, and most of the suburban railway lines. Many buses, night buses, trolleybuses and suburban railway lines help the city s transport service. There is also cogwheel railway, boat service, funicular, public bikes called Bubi, and chairlift called Libegő. The transport service in night is also excellent, so don t hesitate to enjoy the night life till dawn. At peak hours, especially afternoon before weekend of holidays, the downtown often has large traffic-jam, so better to take tram or metro, instead of bus. However the most frequented bus lines usually have bus-lane. Here you can find many useful links for maps about the public transport service of Budapest.
7 With a season, ticket, 24-hour or 72-hour travel card you can use all of the buses, trams, trolleybuses, metro lines, boats from Monday to Friday, every railway, suburban railway, and coaches between the city borders. Some other good to know signs: M is for Metro lines; H is for suburban railway lines; D for boats. Please note that the passengers are informed well enough in English language only on the metro lines, bus line 200E and the tram line 4 and 6, and several frequented bus lines. So if you use other lines, you have to pay attention not to miss your stop. But you find maps at every metro-station with all the transport-lines. You can buy tickets at the stops of the metro lines, the most frequented transport hubs, and from the ticket machines all over the city. One ticket is enough for one journey on any traffic line (except the boat, funicular, or the chairlift). On the metro lines if you change line (eg. at Deák Ferenc tér), you don t have to validate another ticket. There are season tickets, and travel cards as well. You can use student ticket if you have a valid student ID card from the European Union, Switzerland, Norway or Liechtenstein. Otherwise you have to buy the total-cost ticket. If you stay for longer term then one day, plan to travel more than 12 times, and have a student ID from the countries above it worth to buy a monthly student ticket. There is more information here. If you are about to use Taxi, you should order one by phone, instead of just get into one on the street. Many of the yellow taxis are fake, and can make you to overpay a lot of money.
8 Short summary of the history The history of Budapest is very long, and colorful. Here you can find just some of the important dates and events, which are important to understand the origin of buildings, memorials, etc. 1st century AD: The Roman Empire founds the city of Aquincum (in northern Buda). 896: Hungarian conquest of the Carpathian Basin, foundation of a city at the castle hill 1241: Tatar armies attack Hungary, and occupy Buda for a year. Afther they leave Béla IV rebuilds the city, and starts to build the first castle of Buda. 1458: Matthias starts his reign; Buda becomes the center of the Hungarian Renaissance : Buda is under Turkish control. (Many memories can be still found from this era, like pools) 1773: election of the first mayor of Pest 1777: Maria Theresa moves royal institutions, and universities to Buda and Pest, many German-speaking people move here : The reform era, Pest becomes the cultural center of Hungary. The first National theatre, and National museum are built, beginning of the construction of the Chain bridge, the first permanent bridge between Buda and Pest, foundation of many casinos, the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. 1838: Huge flood on Danube, many buildings are destroyed. 15 th March 1848: Revolution starts in Pest, which soon turns into fight for freedom. Lasts till 13 th October th October 1849: execution of Lajos Batthyány, the first prime minister of Hungary, and the 13 army officials of the Hungarian army. 1867: Compromise between Hungary, and Austria, born of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. Never seen development starts in Budapest, which lasts until the first world war. 1873: By the unification of Óbuda, Buda and Pest, a new city, Budapest was born. 1874: first cogwheel railway starts to operate 1878: Public electric lights occur in the city center 1896: for the Millennium celebrations many new things were inaugurated like: example the first underground (second in Europe, after London), the Parliament, and the Liberty-bridge.
9 1944: Germany occupies Budapest, beginning of the reign of the nazi government 1945: on the 5 th of January the Soviet army starts the siege of Budapest. Most of the buildings were hit or destroyed, all the bridges were destroyed. 1950: 23 surrounding towns and cities were attached to Budapest. (That s why all the quarters, even smaller neighborhoods have their own names, the quarters even have own flag and coat of arms) 1960: Most of the city is rebuilt after the world war, and many buildings are rebuilt in their original style, and with original look. 23 rd October 11 th November 1956: Revolution against the Soviet suppression. 1987: Buda castle and the view of the bank of Danube becomes part of the UNESCO world heritage list. The Andrássy út, Heroes square, and the millennium underground as well in Short information of the main tourist focuses, and important places: In general, you have to know, that most of the buildings in the elder part were built at the same era, after the big flood of 1838, and during the time of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. However many styles are represented in the city. The goal was to reach the level of Vienna, but at the same time be different from the Habsburg-preferred styles. Due to the geography of the city, and the other circumstances mentioned above, Pest is very organized with boulevards, avenues etc. while the hilly Buda is the chaos itself, where buildings and roads were built where it was possible. The Castle of Buda is the eldest part of the city. It is built onto the Castle hill, and was completed in the 13 th century. The castle is full of historical buildings and has wonderful places to see. You can admire the amazing city view from Halászbástya (Fisherman s bastion) next to Mátyás templom (Matthias Church). The Nemzeti Galéria (National Gallery) is situated in the royal palace, with the Országos Széchenyi Könyvtár (Széchenyi National Library), and the Budapest History Museum. It would be impossible to write about everything, which is worth visiting in the Castle, so you will see when you re here. Spend some time for just walking here, and enjoy the atmosphere. The whole quarter, and the view of the banks of the Danube are part of the Danube. You can go up by foot, on one of the many upstairs, or use the bus line 16 or 16A.
10 The banks of the Danube are part of the world heritage list. The charming look of its romantic houses and wonderful bridges, as well as the landscape of the river makes Budapest one of the most wonderful places of the world. The first bridge of Budapest is Lánchíd (Chain Bridge) was built in 1849, and even today this symbolizes the unity of the city. Budapest have 9 other bridges, connecting Buda and Pest two of them are for trains. On Pest side the tram number 2 and 2A goes along the whole length of the bank in the downtown, and you can enjoy the charming look of Buda, if you dedicate some time for this journey. This line also connects many worth-to-visit places, such as the Parliament, the Vigadó square, the Széchenyi square, and the Grand Market hall. The Parliament is the 3 rd largest in the world, and probably one of the most beautiful ones, so Hungarians in general are very proud of it. The Országház (House of the country) is situated on the east bank of the river, between Margit híd (Margaret Bridge), and the Chain bridge. It can only be visited by guided tour, which have to be booked in advance. (Either at the visitor centre at the Parliament or via internet.)you can get here by metro line M2 (Kossuth tér station) or tram line 2 and 2A. One of the most beautiful streets of Budapest, is the Andrássy út. This avenue with its historical environment, and the heroes square at its end are part of the UNESCO world heritage list, together with the metro line M1 under it. The metro is one of the oldest ones of the world, and along the avenue, you can see wonderful mansions, palaces, the national Opera, and many museums, restaurants, shops, etc. This street could be called, the Champs-Elysées of Budapest. One end is the Elizabeth square, close to Deák square, where metro line M1, M2 and M3 has a station. Also tram line 4 and 6 goes across the avenue, at Oktogon.
11 At the end of the Andrássy út lies the Hősök tere (Heroes square) is a bit far from the other tourist focuses, but still worth visiting. Here you can see the statues of the most famous kings and leaders of Hungary. The Szépművészeti Múzeum (Museum of Fine Arts) and the Műcsarnok (Hall of Arts) are situated on the two sides of the square. You can get here with the metro line M1, or bus line 20E, 30, 30A and 230 from the Keleti station. Spend some hours for take a walk in the smaller streets of Pest. Start it from the Large Market at Fővám tér, and head to the Parliament. Don t be afraid to turn for random streets, and discover the beauty of the old buildings. Visit also the St Stephan s Basilica, go up to the Gellért-hill, and enjoy the beautiful panorama on the city, The Margaret Island, the largest park of Budapest is an island in river Danube, between the Árpád Bridge, and Margit Bridge. It s very popular with the citizens, a lot of people go there to relax, do some sports, family programs, or have a date there. You can get here on foot via Margit híd (Margaret bridge) and Árpád Híd (Árpád bridge), or tram number 4 and 6 (Margitsziget station). Museums Many of the most important museums are situated in very impressive buildings, like the National Gallery and Budapest History museum in the Royal Palace, the Folk art museum in the former Palace of justice, or the National Museum. Budapest has over 100 museums, and the in general they are not expensive, have student discount, the most frequented ones have English titles, or even audio-guide. If you are about to go for museums, I can recommend you the next ones: For get to know better with the Hungarian history, visit the National Museum (Nemzeti Múzeum). It s near to Kálvin Tér metro station. To see the largest masterpieces of Hungarian painters, visit the National Gallery. For this huge collection better dedicate at least a half day. At the same place, visit the Budapest History Museum, to get to know the history of the city. Another historical topic is offered by the House of Terror, in the infamous building, the so called Andrássy 60 referring the address, Andrássy avenue 60. Here you can learn about the dictatorships of the 20 th century. Let me warn you, that this is not an easy topic, and prepare to face the hardest parts of the Nazi and Socialist dictatorships in Hungary. However if you come from a non-post-socialist country and interested in history, you will find this place very interesting. At heroes square you can visit the Museum of Fine arts, and the Hall of arts. Previous one offers the largest art collection of the country, with permanent collection from many eras Pay attention: The Museum of Fine arts is closed from February 2015 until the beginning of 2017 due to reconstruction works.
12 and places (like paintings of Italian, or Flemish painters), and also good temporary collections. If you want to get to know with the culture of the Hungarians visit the folk art museum at Kossuth square. Last but not least, you have the possibility to join a guided tour in the Parliament in many languages. You can visit one of the two halls of the National Assembly, and the Hungarian Holy Crown as well. Spas, pools Budapest and the whole country are famous for its thermal water. We say if you dig a hole, you ll find hot water there. At Budapest there are many spas to visit, not only thermals. The most famous is Széchenyi Spa near to Heroes Square, connected to the metro line M1. If you wish to visit a spa for family, not a thermal one, you can visit the Dagály spa near to the Árpád Híd metro station of line M3, or the Palatinus at the Margaret Island. Many spas are open for night too, but you have to buy a night ticket for this. Pubs, nightlife In the downtown there are many pubs and nightclubs. We must tell about the special kinds of pubs, called romkocsma (ruin pub). These pubs have simple, second-hand furniture, located in old houses which are waiting for renewal or breakdown. They have a special atmosphere, and very popular with the youth. For pubs it s worth to visit the place covered by Andrássy út, Erzsébet Körút, Rákóczy út and Károly körút. You can find also pubs around the Universities. If you want to try the night life, don t hesitate. In every day you can find open pubs, and party places open. The city has a very intense night life, with many events, like concerts and parties. What to eat or drink from local cuisine? At Budapest many restaurants are waiting for you, in every category, from the cheapest takeaway to the luxury ones. The typical Hungarian dishes are made from the meat of our traditional animals, like cattle, pig, sheep, chicken and fish. Usually our dishes are spicy and fatty. We like to eat dishes hot, so in every restaurant you can ask for hot spice (or even you have to ask your food without it). Our most famous dish is the Hungarian Gulyás leves (Goulash soup) made from the meat of cattle. This is a meaty soup, in its own can be enough for lunch. You can also taste our stews made from cattle, pork, lamb or chicken. Other typical soup is the Fisherman s soup. Soups in general are very popular in Hungary as a first meal. There s also stuffed cabbage. If you wish some lighter dish, you can ask for some pasta with cottage cheese, we eat it with greaves or bacon optionally. However, the city is full of takeaway restaurants with pizza, gyros and hamburgers; you can try out our own easier kind of takeaway food. This is called lángos, and it s a kind of fried dough. We eat it with sour-cream, cheese, ketchup, onion, garlic, or salt on it. Not all of them,
13 but in a preferred combination of them, even on its own with salt. Nevertheless it s not a difficult dish to make; its quality can change, so better ask somebody for a good place to try it. Usually it can be found at markets. We have desserts as well. The pancake filled with cottage-cheese cream, cocoa, other sweet stuff is very popular but can even try out the salty kind for example with meat. It s called Meaty pancake Hortobágy style. Other dessert is the Somlói Galuska. It s a kind of pie with chocolate cream, and whipped cream. On streets many times find places with Chimney Cake (Kürtős kalács) in many flavors. Buy one, and eat while walking in the city. For sure you can t leave without trying out our drinks. Probably the most famous is the Hungarian Pálinka. This traditional Hungarian drink is under protection, and only those drinks can be called Pálinka, which were made in Hungary and only from fruits. The most typical are the plum, and peach, but the pear, cherry, and sour cherry are common as well. It can be made out of grape, but we more likely produce wines out of grape. Hungary is famous for its wines. We have many historical wine areas, producing fine wines, the most famous is Tokaj. If you have a lunch or dinner in a restaurant, don t hesitate to ask for a bottle of wine. Even if our wines not as famous as the French ones, they can reach that level. Hungarian wines won for example the gran prix at world expos multiple times. Another really good, but less known product is the Zwack Unicum. The original one is an aperitif, made from herbs. For the youth the company makes Unicum Szilva, which is totally the same, but made with plums. Its flavor is strongly influenced by plum, and so is sweeter and popular with the youth. Where to stay, eat, drink, go out? If you want to spend some night at Budapest, you can choose from many hotels, hostels, pensions, etc. In the city center there are many cheap hostels. There are two, which I know, and would recommend: There are many restaurants in the city, in every quality, cheap and more elegant ones too. From own experiences, here you go some: You can buy takeaway soups in cups in many places, called leves (leves = soup). They are cheap, and good. There is one at the Vámház Körút for example, near to Kálvin Tér metro station. To eat Lángos, you can visit a market, or there is a good place at the Arany János utca metro station. (Directly in the building of the station, not directly in the building of the station, but opened for the street)
14 For pancake visit of the places called Nagyi Palacsintázója (Granny s pancake place). Here you can try a wide variety of pancakes. There are some of them in the city, easiest to find is at Batthyány tér (metro station), next to the market hall. Most of the restaurants offer pancake as dessert, but most of them only has a few kinds of them. For Chimney cake for example there are some stalls in the downtown, for example in front of the Nyugati Railway station, In front of Andrássy Avenue 1, Astoria, etc. For bread, and other bakery products, like sweets for breakfast go for any bakery, called pékség. To eat something during the day, there are many possibilities. Street food is nowadays an important part of Budapest gastronomy. You can find the traditional Hamburger-Gyros- Pizza trio in every corner, but there are many other, even very unusual places, such as pasta as street food at Kálvin Square. If you are about to go for a pub, or party, then Pest is your side. The most important partyquarter is between the small and grand boulevard, especially the part, covered by the Grand boulevard, Bajcsy-Zsilinszky street, Small boulevard, and Rákóczi street. (In hungarian: Teréz Körút and Erzsébet körút, Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út, Károly körút, and Rákóczi út.) In this neighborhood there are many-many pubs in every category, and also party-places. Especially among the Király street, Wesselényi street, and the grand boulevard. And at the end I have to mention the ruin-pubs, which are unique kinds of pubs, in Budapest. The city in general has many different and many unique pubs, but probably the ruin-pubs are the most famous, and special. The most popular is the Szimpla Kert in the Kazinczy street. There are also many other special pubs, with furniture, and atmosphere, organized on one specific theme, so don t hesitate to try them.
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