Visiting Budapest Hungary
Four Tips for the Traveler
[to Our Main Budapest Page]
1) Buy a guide book -- heck they are such a small part of the cost of your trip that there is no reason not to. Heck, buy two or three!
- The Blue Guide to Budapest
The strength of this guide is the detail with which it describes architectural, historical and cultural sites. A guide for people who want to know a lot. Our copy is a 1996 imprint, but the age seems little drawback for the way we use it.
- The Expatriate's Guide to Hungary
This may be available only in Hungary. You can live without it, but it explains lots of things that the other guides do not. Buy it if you are going to be here more than two or three weeks. It has a pretty good resturant section too. Look for it in bookstores that carry English language books.
The Our Budapest guides (see illustration below) -- published by the City of Budapest on a variety of topics, over a dozen at last count.
These pamphlets (again probably available only in Hungary) are written by very knowledgeable enthusiasts. Don't consider them as guides -- they are written with the assumption that you know the city. You may have to do some hunting (which is why you should buy a map) to find out exactly where the things being talked about are.
If you only buy one get the "Bridges of Budapest." The author, Peter Buza, is a careful researcher and is quick to express his opinion about anyone past or present who has failed to appreciate the beauty and utility of these structures. He is solidly opinionated in the manner at which Hungarians seem to excel.
2006 upadate --
The Our Budapest serries is alive and well but no longer seems to be carried by bookstores. This makes them a bit harder to find.
We found then (English, German and Hungarian versions)at the bookstore of the National Theater. You might try looking in museum bookstores. Some of the guides are being re-issued in a slightly different format -- I'll add a picture soon. Some of these guides are over 10 years old and have not been updated, for many this is not a problem since they deal mostly with history, but do check the date.
The translations may be a bit rough at times, but at the price ($2-$3 each, actually 350huf in December of 2005) they are a great buy.
2) Buy a Map -- not just any map. Get the:
Cartographia Map of Budapest (illustration below)
This is a map of separate sheets with a wire spiral binding. It comes in two sizes:
The jacket pocket size for about $8.00 and the Magazine size for about $12. The smaller one is easier to carry and adequate for most people. We keep saying that we are going to buy a big one just to keep at home, but we never do.
The street index at the back is excellent, and the most popular sections of the city are printed at a larger scale for easier navigation.
But the greatest feature is that it shows all the bus, trolley and subway routes. With this you can figure out how to get anywhere in the city. You even get the night bus (after about 11:30 p.m.) routes. Buy it at almost any bookstore (and there are a lot of bookstores in Budapest.)
3) Use Mass Transit.
Mass transit in Budapest is wonderful. You can probably buy tickets at your hotel desk -- about 40 cents each, but you need a new ticket every time that you change to a different vehical. Buy a pass if you will be here more than a few days. (For two week and one month passes you need a passport size photo.) The transport is so frequent and dependable that we think nothing of planning a trip that takes three different routes. You may want to read my explaination of the the Budapest subway (Metro) system.
4) Learn a little Hungarian
At least try to get feel for the pronunciation of place names.
Buy a phrase book -- we like:
- Say It in Hungarian, But
- Berlitz is also acceptable
There is an excellent introduction to the Hungarian language on the web at
Another introduction to Hungarian with lots of quizzes and exercises at
Hungarian has the bad reputation for being a hard language -- but this is mostly because it has very few cognates (shared words) with other languages.
The basic truths about Hungarian are:
BUT -- you will never guess what the letters sound like without some help.
- If you can read a word, you can pronounce it.
- If you can say a word, you can write it.
The Cartographia Map. Note the yellow globe trademark top center.
Two books from the Our Budapest series.
This page is at: http://drott.cis.drexel.edu/hungary/