Budapest is the city of contrasts, east and west are much more visible here than in the more visited Prague cultural center. Not only socially, but also geographically. On a hill west of the magnificent Danube lies the aristocratic old town of Buda. From the castle you can look down on the much grayer Pest side to the east.
Budapest is the undisputed centerpiece of Hungary. Almost all of the administration, culture and business are based in Budapest, all the main roads start from the city, and around a fifth of Hungary’s just over 10 million inhabitants live there.
Budapest can be visited at any time of the year, as a weekend trip with partner or family, or as a base for a longer exploration of the rest of Hungary.
You still get very good value for money in Budapest compared to the rest of Europe, and commercialization has almost never gone as far as in, say, Budapest. Praha. We only wish you a good holiday!
- Abbreviation: BP
- Country: Hungary
Get to know Budapest
Budapest is the capital of Hungary and is located 136 meters above sea level in the middle of Central Europe. Throughout the centuries, Hungary has constantly been invaded and annexed. Budapest has its origins as a Roman colony, and then became a throwing ball between the Huns, the Germans, the Mongols (who left the city in the 13th century) and the Turks, who occupied the country for 150 years.
The country was then incorporated into the Austrian Habsburg Empire, which was disastrous for the region as it entered the First World War on the wrong side. And after 1945, the Communists took control, which lasted until 1989, when the Hungarians were finally able to hold their first free elections in over four hundred years.
Most people have come to know that Budapest is a merging of two cities and shared by Central Europe’s largest river, the Danube. Actually, there were three cities: Pest, Buda and Óbuda that were united in 1873. Traditionally, Buda on the west side is called Old Town, with its castles and cathedral, and the flat, industrialized Pest for the newer part, with shopping and nightlife. Óbuda means Old Buda, where the city’s real roots lie and the Roman colony of Aquincum. Today, this district is best known for housing the large rock festival Obudaj Sziget on an island in the Danube.
Most of Budapest that is of interest to tourists can be found between the Margaret Bridge and the Szabadág Bridge, and within the large ring road Nagykörút on the Pest side, and Buda’s castle district, Gellérthegy and Viziváros.
In Pest, you are sure to become more acquainted with Belváros, which is the heart of the city and forms the core of the city’s shopping district. The pedestrian street Váci Utca can be called Budapest’s main street, and in this and the nearby streets you will find modern shopping malls, designer shops, fast food restaurants and trendy sidewalk restaurants in a quirky mix with small local traditional Hungarian shops. Architectural enthusiasts should also take a closer look at the facades of Váci Utca, where you will find several Art nouveau buildings.
Just north of Belváros, in the area between the Chain Bridge (Széchenyi Lánchíd) and Margaret Bridge (Margit Híd), lies Lipótváros (Leopold’s Town). The area is dominated by 19th-century apartment blocks and office buildings, but along the river banks is also one of Budapest’s most photographed buildings, the Gothic-looking Parliament of 1904. This is also the tallest building next to St. Stephen’s Basilica (Szent István Basilica). 1905, which is a little further south.
Northeast of Belváros lies the Erzsébetvaros artist district, and this was the historic Jewish quarter in Budapest, with the last walled Jewish enclave in Europe. Here you will also find the Dohány Utca Synagogue, the largest operational synagogue in Europe, built in the 1850s.
East and southeast of Belváros are Jozsefváros and Ferencváros. The former is mainly a not very well-maintained residential area. Keleti Railway Station is also here. Ferencváros is best known for the football team of the same name, but here are also the National Theater and Nagycsarnok, the largest indoor marketplace in Budapest.
On the west side of the Danube, the city is dominated by the two heights Gellérthegy and Várnegyed. At the top of the 235 meter high Gellérthegy lies the city’s famous citadel, with glorious views both up and down the river. During the 1956 revolution, Russian tanks stood here firing at the center of Budapest. Today, this is a better residential area where you will also find many embassies.
In Várnegyed, or the Castle District, Buda Castle is at the top of the hill. The area within the old city walls is very nice with cobblestone streets and detached houses, and you can spend a whole day here. Originally the working class lived in this district, but today there are many more affluent residents living here. The Royal Castle was built in the 13th century, but has never had any kings living there. The castle instead houses the National Gallery and the City Museum.
Finally, we must mention Margaret Island (Margit Sziget), [see photo first in article] a 2.5 km long island in the middle of the Danube. With its vast green spaces and warm health baths, it has been a popular excursion area among the city’s residents for 140 years. The island is linked to the city by two of the bridges that cross the Danube, so it is quite possible to walk there on foot from both sides. Most of Margaret Island is reserved for pedestrians and cyclists.
Budapest and the city bridges
It makes sense to orient yourself to the six bridges that connect Buda with Pest. All bridges were destroyed by the Nazis during World War II, but have since been rebuilt. From north to south you have:
- The Arpad Bridge, which crosses the northern tip of Margaret Island, you can also swing into the island from here.
- The Margaret Bridge crosses at Margaretøy’s southern tip and continues into Pest as the Ring Road. Also exit to Margaret Island.
- The Chain Bridge (Széchenyi Lánchíd) is the oldest and best known, and guarded by large lion statues.
- The Elisabeth Bridge was opened in 1903 and had the world’s largest bridge arch.
- The Liberty Bridge (Szabadság Hid) is heavily laden with both cars and trams, connecting the southern center with the foot of Gellérthegy.
- The Petofibro Bridge is the southernmost and newest, and was built in 1952.
Facts about Budapest
Budapest is located on both sides of the Danube River, and is both the largest city and capital of Hungary. Budapest, like Hungary, is known for its thermal springs.
|Population||Around 1.7 million|
|Official languages||Hungarian (commonly called Magyarsk)|
|Religion||Roman Catholicism is the largest, with around 52%. Calvinism 16%|
|Currency||100 Hungarian forints are about 3-4 Norwegian kroner. Visa and Mastercard are accepted in most major cities such as restaurants and hotels. ATMs are available almost everywhere.|
|Tips||Here you give 10%. but don’t put the money on the table – give the waiter the tips. In the taxi is also 10% normal to give.|
|Embassy||The Embassy of Norway is located in Ostrom utca 13. Tel: +36 12129400.|
|Tourist||The airport, Buda Castle, at Oktogon and at Deak Square|
|Emergency||International emergency number 112. Ambulance 104, fire 105 and police 107.|
|Electricity||220 volts as in Norway. In some places 230 volts|
|Holidays and Holidays||March 15, May 1, August 20 (National Day, State Formation), October 23 (National Day, Freedom Camp 1956), November 1.|
|Visa||Not required for Norwegians|
|Vaccinations||No vaccines are required|
|Water||Can be drunk from the tap, but often has a taste of chlorine.|
|Nearest major cities||Debrecen, Szeged, Gyór, Pécs, Miskolc|
|Safety||Some violent crime, but be aware of pickpockets.|
List of Budapest Acronyms
The most commonly used abbreviations about Budapest is BP which stands for Budapest. In the following table, you can see all acronyms related to Budapest, including abbreviations for airport, city, school, port, government, and etc.