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Budapest – thermal baths, Sziget island, shopping & chairlift to a little castle

I have visited Budapest more than once, but during my last trip I noticed that the city is flourishing more and more. In general, Eastern Europe is undoubtedly recovering from a roaring past.

Whereas Budapest was formerly grimmer, it now is noticeably improved.

Budapest is thé place to visit thermal baths, walk along the Danube river, explore Sziget island and certainly eat fulfilling meals.

How to get to Budapest

Visit Budapest by plane: Liszt Ferenc International Airport (BUD)

When in Europe, flying to Budapest is cheap! The budget airlines aren’t always that comfortable, but evidently more inexpensive 😊 Budget airlines that operate Budapest from other cities in Europe are Ryanair and Wizzair.

Intercontinental flights to Budapest are available from North America, Middle East and Asia. I always use Skyscanner to check the best deals.

The cheapest (and also convenient) way to get from Budapest Airport to the city is by bus. You can take the 100E to get to Astoria M, close to Váci utca main street, or Kalvin tér (close to Great Market Hall) in about 35 minutes, where you can hop on the metro. Of course, you can always take a taxi from the airport if you are not keen on taking the bus. Taxi's are regulated and have to put on their meter.

Visit Budapest by train

Budapest has two big railway stations, that is Budapest Keleti and Budapest Nyugati. Both train stations operate internationals trains and are also connected to the metro network of Budapest. Depending on where you come from you will depart on one of these stations. The operating trains are of very high standard and run generally on time. Because I find it useful to read more about train journeys before I go, I hope I can help you too: read more about the train from Timisoara (Romania) to Budapest and the train from Budapest to Bratislava (Slovakia).

Visit Budapest by bus

Depending on where you come from, there are multiple bus operators that can take you in or out Budapest. To find the bus operators on your route I advise googling it or use the website Rome to Rio. You can put in your departure and arrival city and they will show your options (all transport possibilities), the orange icon is the bus. For the details of your trip then head to the website of the bus operator.

Visit Budapest by car

The main roads in Europe are overall of very high quality. In the same way are the roads that are connected to Budapest. If you have rented a car in Europe or are driving your own car, put Budapest in your navigation and there you go. For navigation I recommend Google Maps or the offline application Maps.me. If you use it offline, make sure in that case you downloaded the map that covers the route, so you can access it without being connected to the internet.

Danube river view


Great Market Hall


What to do in Budapest

The Market hall, shopping street and weekend market in Budapest

The Great Market Hall in Budapest

Budapest has a stunning Great Market Hall, or Central Market Hall, named Nagyvásárcsarnok. It was built in 1897 and is located in the city centra at Vámház krt. 1-3. As long as it exists it certainly draws the attention of a lot of people, and nowadays a lot of tourists. Nonetheless it is a must-see when in Budapest. They sell fresh products. For example, fruits, vegetables and meat. The duck liver and goose liver are the specialty here, it is expensive but of high quality. Also visit the upstairs to buy local non-food products, for instance embroidery, rugs and souvenirs.

Shopping street

Walking out of the market hall you walk right into the main street of the city centre, called Váci utca. It’s a busy street full of locals and tourist. You can shop till you drop and get a coffee or hot wine at a restaurant on every street corner. However, I wouldn’t advise eating here, whereas the quality of the restaurants at this street are not that good.

Best sneaker store Tisza

When we are in Budapest, we always stop at the shoe shop Tisza (Tiszacipo Markabolt). They have multiple locations where they sell their brand of sneakers. It’s a Hungarian shoe brand from 1971 and their shoes are of very high quality.

Weekend markt Gozsdu

Friday to Sunday from 10am to 5pm there is a lively streetmarket at Gozsdu (enter at Király u. 13). Whereas this street always has a good vibe to it (restaurants, escape rooms, bars, pubs), as a matter of fact, the weekend is the time to go. There are little market stalls with self-made jewellery, antiques, gems, cutlery and all kind of trinkets.

Thermal bath

When going to Budapest, visiting a thermal bath is a must do activity. The thermal baths are all of a great architecture and have been there for many years. The inside is beautiful and the experience is relaxing. In general, you buy an entrance ticket that gives you access to the thermal baths. If you want a spa treatment like a massage you will pay extra. I went to the Géllert Thermal baths and the Széchenyi Baths whereas the latter is the biggest thermal bath of Budapest, they were both a pleasant experience. Bathing suit required and a swim cap for some areas. It’s not cheap, for Géllert we paid 11.200 HUF for two persons (€35 / US$40). Széchenyi Baths is about the same. Prices can differ between weekdays and weekends.

Sziget island: Margaret Island, the ‘central park’ of Budapest

Sziget island, in fact called Margitsziget or Margaret Island, is well known of its big music festival in summer. It is even more enjoyable outside the festival season. Margaret Island really is the ‘central park’ of Budapest. You can reach it by using the west side of the bridge Marit híd and exit at the middle. There is a magnificent water fountain (with water shows), people are playing sports, picnicking, run bathing, or riding around in all kind of bicycles and electric vehicles. There also is a little zoo, an old castle, a hotel and some places to get a drink.

Walking along the Danube river

The Danube river separates Budapest into two parts, Buda and Pest. There is lot of activity at the water, you can take a boar tour and also a lot of cruises stop here. Just strolling next to the river is a great experience. You will also have the best view at the Presidential Palace.

Take Chairlift – Zugligeti Libego into the mountains in Budapest

We had such a great morning when we took the Chairlift Zugligeti Libego into the mountains! To get to there, take bus 291 from the city centre. The bus will go all the way to the chairlift, in fact it is the last stop. You buy your tickets at the start, I would advise the two-way ticket (1400 HUF / € 4,33 / US$ 5). Everything is very well organised and all in English. Follow the ‘Boarding’ sign and wait for you turn. Your ticket will be checked and you go stand on the yellow mark on the floor, the chairlift will come and get you 😊 Safety bar down, an enjoy the stunning view! At the top there is a restaurant, a playfield and walking paths. Visit the little castle to take the best pictures of Budapest.

Széchenyi Baths


Géllert bath


Where and what to eat in Budapest

Hungarian menu

Local food! Visit Restaurant Intenzo, located at Kalvin Tér, number 9. The interior, menu and service is great. You feel like you are outside of the city for a while. They serve gooseleg, duckbreast, goose liver and so on, the real local specialties. Although it looks touristy and probably is, we always really enjoy our time here. We paid 9260 HUF (€ 29 / US$ 33) for main courses, desserts and drinks for two people.

At Nagyi Kifőzdéje you can get real grandma-made food, at Frankel Leó út 36. Although the process of ordering wasn’t clear to us, we managed 😉 You have to walk to the bar at the open kitchen and choose what you want, and then you can take a seat. They speak very good English. Despite there being a lot of (unreadable) chalkboards with prices that are between 1200 and 1500 HUF, we paid 5290 HUF (€ 16,50 / US$ 19) for two plates, two drinks and some bread.

International cuisine

Everyday food

With multiple locations in Budapest the Hummus bar is not to be missed! They offer affordable and good food. In particular you should get the hummus and falafel here, but they serve all kinds of pita breads (e.g. chicken). We spend 2640 HUF (€8,15 / US$ 9,45) for main course and drinks for two people.

Delicious Turkish ‘fast food’ can be found at the restaurant Divan Török Etterem, Fehérvári út 83. You take a plate and you choose what you want. It’s fast, big portions, and cheap, but definitely not an average döner bar. The food is well prepared and really good. You can choose anything from chicken to falafel to little hamburgers (probably not the authentic name 😊). And they have chocolate baklava, need I say more? We had two mains, two drinks and three flavours of baklava. All for only 3500HUF (€11 / US$12,50).

Al Dente (Krúdy Gyula u. 9) is a great Italian restaurant. We went for a lunch to their little version: Al Dente On The Road, at the opposite side of the street. Quicker, less fancy, just as good food, with tables upstairs. For two meals, two drinks and one dessert: 4420 HUF (€14 / US$ 16).

Dinner in Budapest for a special night out

Fine dining near the Chain Bridge: ZONA
Something to celebrate or just in the mood for a fancy dinner? Visit ZONA, located at the west bank of the Danube river (Lánchíd u. 7), and you will have a great evening! There is a pianist, the interior is beautiful and the food and wines are very good. We spent 33310 HUF (€ 103/ US$ 119) for a luxurious meal (cold plate, starter, main, coffee and drinks).

Michelin star Costes✨
If you like Michelin star dining, visit Costes at Ráday u. 4. You will have an outstanding experience here with special and amazing (good looking!) food and the Hungarian wines are remarkable!

Al Dente




Nagyi Kifőzdéje



Dutchie-Budapest-Costes restaurant

Get around in Budapest

Buy tickets for public transport in Budapest

The public transport in Budapest is organised by Budapesti Közlekedési Központ, for short: BKK. There are excellent metros, busses and trams in Budapest. You buy your tickets from the machine and you choose one ticket or a package deal. One ticket for public transport costs 350 HUF (€1,10 / US$1,25). You can also buy the package deal where you buy 10 tickets for 3000 HUF, 300 HUF per ticket (€0,93 / US$ 1,08). Important to realize is that you need to validate the ticket for your travel with public transport. You validate your ticket before entering the metro or, when traveling by tram or bus, ín the vehicle.

Validity tickets for public transport in Budapest

Tickets are valid for one uninterrupted ride for 80 minutes after you validated it. Important to know is thattransfer only allowed between metros). Make sure you validate a new ticket when transferring from one line to another (except for metro’s).

Plan your route for public transport in Budapest

It is very easy to plan your route, if you have internet you can use Google Maps and you will get real-time results of the times of the public transport. If you do not have 4G make sure to plan your trip when you have WIFI. Make sure you know what busline or tramline to take and what stop to get off. It’s really easy to get around by metro and all the vehicles are of very good quality. They keep improving the stations and trains and expanding the metro lines. Fun fact, metroline M4 is fully automated and has no driver, drives completely automatic!

The traffic in Budapest

Traffic in Budapest is very safe and well taken care off. Sidewalks everywhere, pedestrian crossings and traffic lights.

Cars are in general very friendly to pedestrians and do stop for a zebra crossing.

Margit Sziget


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