With the growing popularity in Eastern European travel, I am frequently asked what is the best way to maximize a three-day trip to many of the more well-known cities. So let’s start with Budapest, capital city of Hungary.
Budapest perfectly combines modern lifestyle with old-world charm, giving the visitor plenty of diversity in sightseeing choices. I suggest that you start with finding accommodations that are centrally located to the center of the city, therefore cutting down on commute times to major attractions.
Unlike many other ancient European cities, Budapest is quite spread out, and therefore, in order to maximize your time, forsake the rental car and opt for public transit. The vast array of busses, trams, trolleys, and under and over-ground trains. The system is efficient and inexpensive. It is important to note that tickets must be purchased ahead of time, in books for multiple days (best value) or singles. Buy them at tobacco stands, in the subway or vending machines. Validate your ticket once you step onto the transit, otherwise a ticket inspector may fine you. Taxis are also readily available, but make sure you know exactly where you are going.
Queen of the Danube
The Danube River bisects the city down the middle, creating two cities within itself. To the west lies hilly Buda, with its green parks and rich cultural history with the flatter, industrial Pest to the east. The Chain Bridge, completed in 1849 and stretching 1230 ft. across the Danube River, was the first permanent structure to link Buda and Pest. It has become one of Budapest’s most famous landmarks.
A visit to Castle Hill on the Buda side is a must, containing most of the country’s medieval buildings. You can get there on foot, by tram, or on the funicular. At the top, you will be rewarded with a wonderful view of the city as well as tours of the Royal Palace, National History Museum and the national Gallery. The Fisherman’s Bastion on the old fort wall is a beautiful viewing spot as well. Enjoy a stroll through the lush gardens, and spend some time shopping for souvenirs from the vendors. (Hungarian paprika makes a nice gift)
Walking the Andrassy ut
Often referred to the Budapest’s Champs Elysees, the 1 ˝-mile stroll down this avenue takes you past a multitude of neo-Renaissance palaces, including the famed Opera House. Continue walking past abundant world-class shopping, trendy cafes with cozy terraces to Hero’s Square and City Park.
Budapest has also been called the “City of Spas”, and no trip would be complete without experiencing the age-old tradition of the Turkish bath. With more than a dozen to choose from, the Gellert Bath complex is the most famous and arguably the most beautiful, with a combined 13 indoor and outdoor pools of various temperatures. Other spa services are available here, as well.
With advance planning and wise time management, the many wonders of Budapest can be enjoyed in as little as three days.