Hungary · 6 Days · 34 Moments · December 2013

Christmas time in Budapest

11 December 2013

Dohány Street Synagogue This Synagogue is the biggest one in Europe and the third largest in the world! It was designed by the famous Viennese architect Ludwig Förster! In the rear courtyard the Memorial of the Hungarian Jewish Martyrs is located — at least 400,000 Hungarian Jews were murdered by the Nazis. It looks like a tree whose leaves bear inscriptions with the names of victims.
The Hungarian Parliament To get a great picture it's much better to take a walk on the opposite side and take a picture with the Danube on it.
The Fischerman's Bastion I absolutely fell in love with this viewpoint and photospot. The cute architecture is really great and you can get nice portraits there!
Perfect Viewpoint! I think it was kind of an coincidence that we found this great viewpoint! Go up inside the Museum as high as you can and you will be inside the cupola! It was really amazing up there!
The Hungarian National Gallery There are some great permanent exhibitions, where you have to pay HUF 1400 (or half prize if you are between 6 and 26 years old). But they also have temporary exhibitions where you can't go in with your normal ticket. But there is a combined ticket as well which costs about HUF 3600. I was really impressed by the architecture! Don't forget: closed on Mondays!
Some help for your orientation! I photographed this Map because I find it really helpful! The Buda Castle areal is bigger as we thought.
The Buda Castle Funicular Budavári Sikló is a funicular railway originally built in 1870. It looks pretty cute! It was destroyed during World War II like many other buildings but it reopened in 1986! If you don't want to pay just to drive up the hill, I can assure you that also walking over the pedestrian bridges (which cross above the line) is an adventure - the view is fantastic!
Why is the Szechenyi Bridge interesting? Most commonly known as the "Chain Bridge", the Szechenyi Bridge was one of the modern world's engineering wonders at that time! An English engineer designed it in 1839 and the bridge really became a symbol of advancement! Secret thing to know: The engineer said:"If someone finds a mistake at the bridge, I will kill myself." Unfortunately a little boy found out, that the lions, at the Pest side of the bridge, have no tongues! - He kept his word.

10 December 2013

How to get to Gödöllő from Budapest city center There are several options to get to Gödöllő from the city center, though we found using the HÈV suburban train, which is operated by the Budapest transport company, to be the most convenient one. The train leaves from the eastern terminal of the red metro line 2 (Örs Vezér tere), make sure you take the train H8 towards Gödöllő. There are 4 stations in Gödöllő itself, but Szabadság tér is the best one, as it is located really close to the Royal Palace and city museum. The ticket costs about FT 745 and can be bought at the station or on board of the train.
Gödöllő Royal Palace As Austrians and admirers of Empress Elizabeth of Austria (Sissi), we had to visit the Royal Palace of Gödöllő. During her stays in Hungary, the Empress always loved to spend time here, as she was always warmly welcomed by the Hungarians. In summer the place is a great to stroll around the gardens and also visit the old riding halls. In winter the palace charms with it's great lightning and is definitely worth a visit. Around 14-15 Dec there are always the Advent Palace Days taking place, with Christmas specialties to be enjoyed, wonderful arts and crafts shown and some great festive activities held.

9 December 2013

Relax and bath! This place is amazing, especially after ice skating when your feet and hands are a little bit cold and sleepy! Outside it really looks like a royal palace or something like that - but actually it is the oldest Thermal Bath in Pest. It was build in 1913. The outdoor swimming pools are open till 10pm - this is great for a late night visit! There are 15 indoor pools as well but they are not open until ten and I liked the outdoor ones best. There are always some old men playing chess inside the pool on special tables! The entry costs about 4000 Ft which is about €14. It is worth it - believe me! You have to bring your own towels and slippers!
Ice-Skating! A local girl told me, that nothing changed here since her grandpas era except the music. Every generation is coming here to have fun while ice skating, locals as well as tourists. It is a great place - the Castle within sight and smiling people everywhere. We really enjoyed going there. The palace where you enter the Ice Rink is a heated place where you can get changed, rent skates, drink some hot drinks, etc.! The opening hours do change often, but on average it is open between 9am - 1pm and 4pm - 8pm. It costs about 1300 Ft for an one day ticket and additionally you have to pay for your skates if you don't bring your own (1 Hour: 700 Ft). ENJOY!
Visit Anonymos Anonymus lived in the 12th century and his true identity is unknown! He was a notary of the King of Hungary and wrote a well-known book: the chronicle Gesta Hungarorum (Deeds of the Hungarians). I found the first page and a description at Wikipedia (see Link).
Reheat inside! Inside the Vajdahunyad Castle you can have a look at the Agricultural Museum which is the biggest agricultural museum in Europe! I think it is really well done and especially for kids great fun! We also had a coffee inside. Look out for the beautiful stained glass windows!
Disneyland of Budapest - Vajdahunyad Castle Vajdahunyad Castle is a great place to have a walk and it's free to visit! The Castle, despite all appearances, was built in 1896, and is in fact a fantasy pastiche showcasing the architectural evolution through centuries and styles in Hungary. Artful people say that the styles reach from the Middle Ages to the 18th century: Romanesque, Gothic Renaissance and Baroque buildings. There is also a Christmas market in December! Skilled craftsmen as well as contemporary artists and designers sell their Christmas goods and gifts - if you happen to be looking for some special Hungarian Christmas gift.
Visit the 2nd oldest zoo! Start your day in the 2nd oldest zoo worldwide (after Vienna). It is really nice and there are a lot of different animals to see. The most lucky ones (like locals say) are the elephants. They have a really great building which you will also see from outside with its cute bluish roof!
Heroes' Square A local told us, that this place is like a historical book of Hungary. From the left to the right you will see statues of all famous people, not only Kings, but people who where important in the Hungarian history.

8 December 2013

Margaret Island This is the Number one hangout spot for locals! They come here to make sport, to go for a walk, to relax or to swim in the outdoor pools in SUMMER. But also in Winter this is a nice place to go for a walk. The island is completely car free. There is only one bus driving on the island.
For Sale Pub Well known within expats living in Budapest, this pub is beloved by travelers and locals alike! Even though it's not the authentic Hungarian place, their food and especially stews are amazing - fusing typical English Pub dishes with tasty Hungarian food. The walls are fully covered with notes from people from all over the world. I'd totally recommend stopping by, prices are ok - and waiters are extremely fun and friendly.
Pull&Bear - I love it This is a great store! Clothes as cheap as H&M but way more stylish! I got myself a great and fluffy pullover! Actually the brand is a Spanish one and they also have an online store! From what I could see, men's clothes were pretty awesome too!
Where locals drink beer This is a famous bar in downtown Pest, which has a cool and somehow weird indoor-outdoor atmosphere. There are both, indoor places, and outdoor places that give the feeling of being in a huge beer tent. Still, the decoration is crazy and the prices are really perfect for a student (or early-stage startup founder) budget. We loved it and would go back to grab a beer again!
Halkakas - fish restaurant with love Halkakas is a great example for local startups. Husband an wife decided to open a fish restaurant in Budapest and I was totally in love! Nice design, especially all the details like the lights and their cool logo. The food was wonderful, the prices too! Take a starter and a main course - everything tasted great! We tried the catfish gyros platter and the halafel fish platter! Amazing! Did I mention that all ingredients they use come from local producers? Special tipp: If you want a more private atmosphere: Downstairs are some more tables.

7 December 2013

Great food at the local stands We wandered around all the great food stands on the market and decided to eat there, even though it was really really cold. They have no gas heaters so bring warm socks and definitely a pair of gloves so you don't have to stop eating and warm your fingers during enjoying your dish! Here is what we tried: - Smoked pork with bread dumplings and sauerkraut - Stuffed cabbage filled with rice and meat with sauerkraut and a slice of bread The portions are really big and the food is absolutely delicious! We paid 5000 Ft (€ 16.5), and think that this was a great deal considering the amount of meat on our plates. Also get yourself a hot wine! The ones we found were very sweet, but there are so many option, so maybe you do better ;)
A fairytale store - Philanthia When I first visited Philanthia a few years ago I was really impressed from all the little details. It starts with the detailed shopping window. The store is completely full with small puppets, Christmas things, beautiful Christmas tree balls and other kitschy stuff. It really is like a fairytale wonderland!
Visit THE christmas market I really liked the Christmas market in Budapest! There are so many great products and handmade things to buy and see. One shop smells like Myrrh, another one has fluffy sheep's wool flippers and another one offers really well manufactured wooden cutting boards and bowls. It is rarely to see so many different and great handmade things! Go and find great christmas products there!

6 December 2013

Drive up to Gellert Hill This is a really nice viewpoint. I would suggest to go up here as one of the first To-Do's in Budapest - you really get a feeling of the city and of course an awesome view. From up there you can especially get a sense for difference in landscape between Buda (hilly) and Pest (flat) and can start picking out the perfect points to visit according to their location.
Lanchid - award winning Design Hotel Lanchid is a multi-award winning design hotel in Budapest! It is directly under the Buda Royal Castle and offers a really great view in direction of the Pest riverbank. If you can afford it - stay here!
ZONA - exclusive food, wine and bar This is really an exclusive tip for Budapest food lovers. The offer small courses here, so take around 4 and it will be fine. The food is great, try the home made szörp. I really liked the stylish interior with huge lightbulbs hanging from the high ceiling and wood furniture. But the prices here are much higher then normally in Budapest - but still if you want to go there it's great!

5 December 2013

We came by train! From Vienna, Budapest is just a three hour train drive away! We really liked the train station which was build between 1881 and 1884. It was one of the most modern railway stations of Europe in that time! We bought some public transport tickets right at the corner and took the tram 24 to the city (you can also take the red metro line M2).
Hungarian. Such a great language! Hungarian is part of the Uralic language family and therefore completely different from Roman languages like Italian, Romanian or Spanish. It is often described as the hardest language to learn because of its difficult pronunciation, declinations and many exceptions. Still, it's a fun language to learn and as Hungarians are aware that so many foreigners have problems, they instantly act friendlier if they hear you trying. Basic words to know: Köszönöm - Thank you (Short form: Köszi) Szia - Informal "Hello" Egészségedre - Cheers!
Public Transport Budapest's public transport network is great and very similar to other Central European cities like Vienna, Prague, etc. There are 3 Metro lines and lots of old buses, streetcars and trams, zigzagging through daily traffic. Close to the bigger stations you find ticket booths, where you can get your day passes or single tickets. A single ticket costs FT 350, about € 1.15.
Pest Pest is the part of the city located on the eastern side of the city. It is full of life and the real center of the capital. From Géllert Hill it only takes an about 5-7 minutes drive by car to get to the old town of Pest, which makes this hill again a very attractive place to live in for the richer crowd. Usually students move to Pest in order to be close to all the bars, restaurants and clubs, but when you finish university you strive for moving back to Buda, because this is where you would want to start your family as Hungarians say ;)
Buda Buda, Pest and Óbuda were only united in 1873, when they became one city. Before that year, the parts were still cities on their own. Buda is now the hilly part of the Hungarian capital, where also most of the richer families live. Interesting enough, the villas often are not really beautiful, but rather old and worn-down buildings - though the prestige and good reputation of a family or place goes up with the view. Meaning, the better your view is (the higher up on a hill you live), the richer is your family. One of the most beautiful look-out points is Géllert Hill, but more about that later.
BrassTacks - EIT ICT Labs Budapest The reason for our visit in Budapest was the BrassTacks training program of the EIT ICT Labs. It was held in a workshop style for the duration of 3 days, where different kind of mentors and coaches helped us rethinking our business model approach, marketing ideas and talked us through early-stage startup practices. Furthermore we got the possibility to network with startups in Budapest and met investors who we could pitch our startup to. Still, the full-day program didn't keep us from exploring, which is why there are many tips about local restaurants, pubs and the places to see around Christmas Time in Budapest in this Travel Box.