History – Culture – Museums – Café life
Few cities can match the sheer variety of Budapest: the mighty river with its islands; the hills with their children’s railway and chairlift; the markets; the caves and the Turkish baths; the skating rink in the park; the street cafés and ruin pubs; the amazing public transport network and the wonderful food….
Below you can find details of the many General Tours and activities available:
Hungary’s parliament building stands on the banks of the Danube. Its interior is spectacular with its many staircases, statues, frescoes and stained glass, while the building houses the Holy Crown of Hungary which is depicted in the country’s coat of alms. It was taken for safe-keeping (from the USSR) to The United States, and was returned to Hungary in 1978.
The Castle District
This World Heritage Site sits above the city on the Buda side of the capital. It can be approached on the funicular railway, or by bus. This oldest part of the city is full of quaint courtyards, cobbled squares, cafés and restaurants, and contains a number of important places to visit: the Matthias Coronation Church, the Castle, the former Royal Palace, the Military Museum and the National Gallery. The views over to Pest from the Fisherman’s Bastion are spectacular.
Aside from the museums linked directly to school subjects (on the ITINERARY pages), there are a number of other – some quite quirky – museums around the capital. Some are quite small and may only have Hungarian-language information, though we can translate this for you.
Below are pictures of these museums – the captions will tell you what they are.
Great Market Hall
No visit to Budapest would be complete without a visit to the Great Market Hall. Every district in Budapest has its own market, this being the grandest in the capital. The market covers three floors with a wide variety of food – including Hungarian specialities (and the stall where Margaret Thatcher bought paprika in the 80s!) – to the top floor with its eateries and huge number of souvenirs.
Szentendre – town
The picturesque town of Szentendre which lies on the Danube, is a mere 40-minute trip by overground train from the centre of Budapest (or you can take a more leisurely boat trip). It is full of art galleries, souvenir shops, cafés and restaurants, museums and churches.
A trip here can easily be combined with a visit to the open-air museum (Skanzen) – see Fun Extras.
Ecseri flea market
One man’s junk is another man’s treasure – and you’ll find it all at Ecseri Market. There is a great deal of retro memorabilia, including, of course, communist medals, small statues and so on. The market is on the outskirts of the city but can be reached by public transport.
The city of Budapest is built on well over 100 thermal springs and no trip to the capital would really be complete without a visit to one of the many thermal baths. The oldest are the original Turkish baths while the Géllert baths are a wonder of Art Nouveau architecture; at the Széchenyi you will see the chess players in the water – even in winter.
Below you can see pictures of the baths on offer.
There are many impressive churches in Budapest illustrating a variety of architectural styles. Some of the most important are pictured below:
Budapest has a Planetarium which has three shows in English: Light Years from Andromeda (40 minutes), The Hubble Universe (30 minutes), and Wonders of the Sky (50 minutes).
Cafés in Budapest were an integral part of the life of the city: poets, writers and philosophers had their regular establishments where they read their latest works and discussed the political ideas of the period. The timeless atmosphere of cafés is a long way from the more recently arrived coffee shop chains.