Some of us were born in Budapest. Some of us adopted Budapest as a temporary home. All of us became Budapesters. One way or another, we all keep making little or not so little discoveries about this ever-changing city every day because, like any city, it is in constant motion, just like our own lives. We would like to share some of our most precious discoveries with you, so that you may love Budapest for what it really is.
Picnic Over Budapest
Picnic over Budapest - plendid panorama For me, Budapest is best enjoyed from Buda. Because leafy Buda is built on a series of hills overlooking the Danube and commercial Pest, you get the most striking impressions of the city from the Buda Hills. My favourite vantage point is at the top of Gellért Hill, the Citadella area, where I walk to have a picnic over the city, 140 m above the Danube. The Citadella was once a fortress, and one can enjoy the lush greenery of Buda as well as views of Buda Castle, which sits like a crown on top of the next hill. Then there is the blue Danube, with its many bridges of differing architectural styles, split by Margaret Island. It is the perfect opportunity to bring the family together for a hiking outing, and frankly, for me, it is also the most romantic part of the city, especially at night, when the Citadella and the night-lit city below show the unforgettable sparkle of Budapest.
Front Office Manager
Fun on the River Danube
The best part of my Budapest is that it’s a truly unique waterside city. The breath-taking views never fail to amaze me, and I enjoy the buzz of its people coming and going. I never miss a chance to look at the view over the floodlit Castle and Chain Bridge as I drive home on Elisabeth Bridge. To experience such unforgettable moments of beauty, I sometimes take a river cruise on the Danube. There are several kinds of boat trips both within and in and out of Budapest. Apart from sightseeing, you can also dine and wine aboard. If you’re looking for adventure, I would recommend River Ride, which is an amphibious vehicle. The experience is something like taking a floating sightseeing bus, as it shows Budapest’s main attractions on both land and water. There is more to the Danube than views and cruises. Since I am a music fan, I go to the A38 Music Boat. This decommissioned stone hauler ship holds some of the coolest music events both Hungarian and international. In 2012, it was voted the best bar in the world by Lonely Planet.
The Most Spectacular Tram Ride in Europe. I’ll let you in on a secret: to discover the world-famous sights Budapest has to offer, the best way to experience the must-sees is by taking public transport; namely, tram No. 2. This signature yellow vehicle chugs along the Danube on the Pest bank and its route showcases thrilling views of historical and architectural gems. I get on the tram at the magically lace-like parliament building and head south, enjoying the scenery of the river, the grandiose bridges and the Royal Castle. I get off at the Eötvös tér stop and walk on the picturesque Danube promenade, where Budapest’s buzz quietens and slows. I would continue my ride to the iconic Great Market Hall (Vásárcsarnok), which is the largest indoor market in Budapest. Simply put, this is foodie heaven and a fabulous landmark! By all means, savour lángos on the first floor. You know the saying, “it’s so good they do it twice”? It definitely applies to this experience. Ride tram No. 2 by day and by night.
St Stephen’s Basilica and its Neighbourhood
There are many squares and terraces in Budapest where you can enjoy a drink or two, but my square of choice is definitely Basilica. Every sightseeing tour stops here because it is dominated by the gorgeously restored and magnificently monumental Roman Catholic St Stephen’s Basilica, but for me, this central area and its pedestrianised streets offer the coolest and most popular hangout in the city. Amongst the many restaurants and bars, my favourite is DiVino, right in front of the Basilica. I find it unique in that all the wine on its menu is sourced from young winemakers. DiVino holds events to give both vintners and wine aficionados the opportunity to meet and sip while the winemakers tell all about their wines. My personal favourites are wines from the Szent Tamás and Árvay wineries. As the first rays of sun come out, people rush to sit outside by the fountain and sample a glass of wine. To me, the whole scene and atmosphere conveys a very Mediterranean flair.
Director of Human Resources
The Castle District
I am a proud Budapester, and for me, it is in the Buda Castle District that I find myself the proudest and happiest. I love wandering in and out of the quaint alleyways on the cobbled streets, popping into a bar for a glass of wine and taking in the sweeping vistas all over my beautiful Budapest. I love the Castle District’s play of scale. It has the biggest royal landmarks on the one hand, such as the Palace and Fisherman’s Bastion. On the other hand, you have the contrasting remnants of the original medieval settlement, full of tiny houses with Baroque or neo-classicist façades. Nearby is another delicate landmark, the Gothic Matthias Church. When in the Castle District, I will stop at one of the oldest and most traditional family-owned Hungarian patisseries, Ruszwurm. Its menu features an irresistible selection of original and signature Hungarian pastries, such as Esterházy and Dobos tortes. I always treat myself to something yummy there.
The Landmark of Budapest: Parliament
My favourite spot in Budapest is the Hungarian Parliament building. It is an architectural gem and a true landmark with a central dome and a symmetrical façade, overlooking the River Danube. This massive building was built in a magnificent Gothic Revival style and it took almost 20 years to complete. It is the second largest parliament building in Europe. Its external lighting has recently been upgraded, which covers it in a luxurious shower of light by night. Its massive scale contrasts with all things delicate: the elegant slim towers, the façade’s lacework, the countless stained glass windows and the 242 sculptures of historical rulers of Hungary and Transylvania. I also like to take their various guided tours as well as the themed walks offered inside the building, which is full of stunning detail. You can also view Hungary’s most important historical artifice, the Holy Crown, which belonged to Saint Stephen, Hungary’s first Christian ruler.
Andrássy Avenue and the State Opera House ("Andrássy út" and "Operaház")
My Budapest is on Andrássy út. This Parisian boulevard connects the city with Heroes’ Square and City Park. Its Eclectic NeoRenaissance palaces and houses were built by the most distinguished architects of the time. Aristocrats, bankers, landowners and noble families moved in. The iconic avenue was named after Prime Minister Gyula Andrássy, a key advocate of the project. Andrássy boulevard was built for the 1900 Millennium, and underneath it runs the European continent’s first, still functional underground. The yellow underground line with its vintage train carriages is a unique experience and mustsee attraction on its own. For me, it is the essence of monarchical Budapest. My favourite stretch of this avenue lies between Erzsébet Square and Oktogon, with its stunning architecture and countless restaurants, bars and cafés. I have a special spot reserved in my heart for the State Opera House. This Neo-Renaissance building is a stunning masterpiece of Miklós Ybl, one of the most famous Hungarian architects.
Eat & Drink Like a Local
My Budapest wakes up slowly, gets busy during the day and starts to beat at night. There is one thing you can rely on: you’ll always find delicious local food and matching wine, or pálinka, Hungary’s signature fruit brandy. I can have breakfast, a quick coffee, a long lazy chat over sumptuous tortes or evening drinks in one of the cafés, depending on my schedule. Gourmet palates will also find Michelin-starred restaurants, innovative Hungarian food and Central Europe’s only Nobu, right in our hotel. As a professional and enthusiastic foodie, I am in heaven in Budapest because the city holds countless annual food festivals. Even the world-famous Vörösmarty tér Christmas Market has a great selection of food stalls. In May, the Gourmet Festival showcases a tremendous array of stalls for every taste. I especially like discovering artisan regional products. In September, we go to the Castle District to sample and savour wine from the 22 wine regions of Hungary at the Wine Festival. There is also a festival dedicated to Hungary’s indigenous black pig, mangalica.
Executive Assistant Manager
Buda's Hills and Buda's Best Strudel
I love outdoor activities, which makes Budapest a very special city because of the hilly Buda side. One of my favourite destinations is Normafa, which is very popular with the locals and where my family and friends will go for a hiking excursion. It offers an awesome panorama of the Buda Hills and there are several paths available in the forest to walk along. There’s more! I sometimes insist on taking the Children’s Railway, just for the fun of it. It is a small train which operates on the outskirts of Buda, between Hűvösvölgy and Széchenyi Hill. This 11 km (6.83 miles) long line is operated by children aged from 10 to 14 (except for the locomotives, which are driven by adult professionals). The trains call at various sites of interest to tourists. Every time my family goes to Normafa, our special treat is the strudel bar there (Normafa Rétes Büfé), which has been offering its mouth-watering fresh strudels based on authentic traditional recipes, since 1978.
My favourite part of Budapest is City Park, or “Városliget”, one of the oldest green patches in the capital. It conjures up so much of history, to begin with, not just because Heroes’ Square commemorates the chieftains and kings and heroes of our history but because the Park and some of the facilities in it were built at a time when Hungary was at its most self-confident and proudest, at the time of the Millennium. There are two world-class museums on either side of the Square, the contemporary Kunsthalle and the recently renovated Museum of Fine Arts with its stunning Roman Hall. Then there is the Budapest Zoo, and the Circus. One of the best winter things is the huge open-air ice rink in front of the picturesque Vajdahunyad Castle. After skating, Széchenyi Baths are an absolute not-to-miss, especially if you want to experience steamy outdoor thermal bathing at the coldest time of the year. I am excited to witness the complex development and renewal of City Park. There will be a new running track too. Plenty to do, you see!
Carefree locals playing chess in hot thermal water during the freezing winter. You must have seen these images in Budapest guides. I could be in one of those photos, as my preferred thermal bath of the many the city has is Széchenyi Bath in City Park. This one happens to be bright yellow and neo-classical and is also one of the biggest and most special bath complexes in Budapest. It was recently upgraded and renovated, but there are others that have retained their original Ottoman features and are more indoorsy. This outdoor pool, open in every season remains to me the definitive experience of the bath. It could be sub-zero temperatures but I’m in there, to enjoy a splash, or a game of chess, outside! But it’s also popular with locals because of its great variety of indoor and outdoor pools, thermal and wellness sections, spa treatments and medical services. My very own personal tip is to go there very early in the morning to be the first in the outside pool. Sit in peace in the steam and relax, with no one around but the almost invisible stone sculptures.
Jogging in the city
I love Margaret Island’s peace and quiet, but what I find especially fascinating is its sports life. The island is plopped in the middle of the Danube, just off the romantically restored and candelabra-rich Margaret Bridge, and as soon as you go there it will instantly become your sweet spot. It is my relaxing escape from the city; in its very heart yet splendidly isolated by the river. Another positive for the island is that car traffic is restricted. To me, it’s better than Central Park! I run along the island’s full 5.35 km dedicated, rubber-coated running tracks, which are conveniently marked every 500 metres. I swim in the Palatinus water park, which is Europe’s largest open-air swimming complex, and the Alfréd Hajós swimming pool. There are also tennis courts and an athletics centre. Alternatively, you can just meander through this almost 1 sq. km island to discover its attractions, such as the Music Fountain and the Water Tower, both of which are protected UNESCO sites, or the small Japanese garden and the tiny zoo.
Director of Sales & Marketing
Golfing in Hungary Etyek and its Surrounding Vineyards
Let me take you outside Budapest. My favourite “perfect day” destination is Etyek, a quaint village 30 km (18.6 mi) from the city. Its lush vineyards produce some of the best white wine in Hungary, as it has been made there since Roman times. After a visit to the 18-hole Pannonia Golf & Country Club, I never miss Etyeki Kúria or the Haraszty Vineyards. I could not wish for a better afternoon than to relax and enjoy the beautiful view from the cellar's terraces, which give you the feeling that you are in Tuscany enjoying varieties of delicious wine. There’s another side to Etyek as well – a side that can be seen in its film history. As a matter of fact, Etyek is like Napa Valley and Hollywood rolled into one. It is here in the Korda Studios that Jeremy Irons shot "The Borgias", and you can actually book a tour of the studios. After having a light meal at Rokusfalvy restaurant, which I have been visiting for many years, I always return to Budapest with a smile on my face.
Be sure to head back to our Destination page to discover more of what to see and do in Budapest. Of course, our Clefs d'Or Member concierges and our entire staff at Kempinski Hotel Corvinus will be more than happy to assist in any way they can during your stay too.