What is the Grand Market Hall in Budapest like?

Budapest is a city with fantastic buildings, and an amazing panorama as you walk along the Danube. But, one of the most fantastic places to walk around is in the Grand Market Hall, at least if you have a kitchen you can use afterward to prepare some royal meals.

The Market Hall is a melting pot in Budapest. Here you can see old ladies with their trolleys, buying whatever they need for the day. Next to them, you will meet a group of 30 Japanese tourists taking photos, while a local chef heads towards his favorite seller for some fresh meat for the daily menus in the restaurant. Here you can find all sorts of people, at all ages, from all around the world.

Last week I had the chance to walk around in the Grand Market Hall in Budapest. It is located in the city center of Budapest, at the very end of the shopping street named Vaci utca. The market hall opens at 6.00 in the morning, to make sure that those eager to prepare lunch before eating their breakfast, can get fresh meat and vegetables before sunrise. But, what can you actually find inside the Grand Market Hall? Join me on this little culinary walk in the Grand Market Hall of Budapest.

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A walk in the Grand Market Hall in Budapest

The first thing that hits you as you enter the building (and look at it from the outside), is that it reminds you of a railway station. Lots of persons actually believe it is a railway station, but end up deeply surprised after actually entering the building. The Grand Market Hall was only one out of five market halls that were built in the capital of Hungary at the end of the 19th century, but this is the most famous and popular of them all.

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The Grand Market Hall has a basement in which you can find a grocery store, a meat store, and some small places where you can buy fish. The locals, however, spend most of their time on the ground floor, while tourists (especially women) walk around on the first floor.

The Ground Floor

At the ground floor, you can find fruits, vegetables, and meat. One of the first things you will see (depending on where you enter), might be lots of Hungarian paprika. At the picture beneath you can see the Hungarian paprika in all sorts of shapes.

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You will often notice that Hungarian food has a red color. It might be a soup, a sauce, or a stew, but the red color normally comes from using the Hungarian paprika. In the market hall, you can buy it as a powder (ideal for use in soups, stews, and sauces). But, you might also buy the real paprika, but that is often used as a decoration, and not so much for actual cooking. One of the coolest things to bring home from the Grand Market Hall is a glass with paprika-stew, named Erös Pista (Strong Stephen). Add a teaspoon of this to your food, and it will give a strong Hungarian taste to your food.

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If you want to have a nice lunch, then you shouldn’t forget about the dessert. But, no need to worry. You can find lots of dessert solutions in the market hall. At the picture above you can see some of the most traditional Hungarian cakes, including the round biscuit covered in chocolate, with jam in the middle, the so-called Ischler.

Would you rather eat some hand-made chocolate for dessert? There are lots of chocolate with all sorts of spices and extras in the Market Hall.

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All sorts of meat

If you are a meat-lover, then you will find all sorts of interesting meat in the market hall. You can, of course, find traditional meat like chicken wings, chicken breast, minced meat, steaks, and so on. But, you will also find more interesting pieces like the ones you can see on the image beneath. There you can see larynx from a pig, cow interiors like lounges, hearts, kidneys, spleen, and other delicious stuff. Besides these, you can also find testicles, tongues, ears, and other culinary exotic objects, so get ready for cooking!

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Would you rather buy some Hungarian sausage, salami, or maybe some liver paste? You can buy such objects as you walk around inside the Market Hall. It might not be as exotic as the meat portrayed above, but it is easier to prepare, and maybe also digest for some of those with a faint heart and scared of eating interior parts of animals.

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Not only meat, luckily!

Hopefully, the vegetarian readers of this blog still read the article, because now comes the part they might prefer. Hungary is a nation of agriculture, meaning that there are fresh vegetables and fruits available throughout the year, at very nice prices.

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Maybe you want to enjoy a fruit salad before continuing your walk? You can easily buy such a salad in the market hall, and you can also find places, where you can buy fresh, pressed orange juice and grapefruit juice if that sounds good.

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Would you like to drink raw juice? There are lots of vegetables ideal for juicing in the market hall. But, you can, of course, buy some beetroot and create a creamy soup with it instead? Or maybe buy a cabbage to create the traditional Hungarian stuffed cabbage?

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There is a lot of fruits available in the market hall, and they are sold at great prices. During harvest season, this is one of the cheapest places in Budapest to buy watermelon, grapes, strawberries, raspberries, peach, apricot, pears, apples, plums, and other juicy fruits. You might not bring with you several kilos of fruits as you leave Budapest, but you should absolutely eat some kilos of fruits while in Budapest! You can also buy dried fruits in the market hall, making it even easier to digest fruits while walking the streets of Budapest throughout the day.

Would you rather buy some fresh seeds, peas? Everything is possible in the market hall!

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We have just been walking around the ground floor of the market hall in Budapest, but there is much more to see (also on this level). But, maybe you have gotten tired and want to take a break and grab something to eat? Let us visit the second floor to see what it has to offer!

The second floor

The most popular place to eat in the Market Hall is in the Fakanal restaurant on the second floor. Here you can eat in a very traditional environment (typical red/white tablecloth), and you are served all sorts of traditional dishes. If you want to taste Hungarian fruit-spirits (Palinka), that is possible as well in this restaurant.

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As I mentioned earlier, the second floor is where most tourists spend their time in the market hall. Do you need to buy some souvenirs that you should bring home to your kids or some other family member? This is the floor in which that can be done.

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Does a typical Russian doll (a matryoshka doll) sound interesting? You can find them with all sorts of motives, making it a possible funny gift to bring with you home. Maybe you want to buy a chess board instead? There are handmade chess-tables waiting for you on the second floor, as well as keyholders and other small objects.

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But, what is it that most ladies prefer to buy in the Grand Market Hall? The number one answer in Budapest is table clothes. These are (mostly) hand-made, and they are either clean white or made with typical Hungarian colors. These are very popular, and a gift many bring home to their elder family members.

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The only problem is that most people fear to use them, as they are afraid to spill on them. For that reason, lots of people have 3-4 similar table clothes in their cupboard at home already, but still, they manage to buy at least one more during a visit the to Market Hall in Budapest.

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I hope you have enjoyed this culinary walk in the Grand Market Hall of Budapest. It is an amazing place everyone should visit, and if you have a kitchen available during your stay in Budapest, it is even better!

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Have you been to the market hall in Budapest? Did you enjoy it? I would love to hear your thoughts and comments!

Budapest best – the best five of Budapest!

In today’s world people turn quite lazy and when searching in Google they end up typing Budapest best, a very strange „expression” instead of typing for example Best of Budapest. In a time when everyone uses such strange expressions surfing the internet it has a quite strange influence on the written language, and it is strange when you see smiley faces and other internet abbreviations in official letters and work communication around the world.

In the city of Budapest there are several highlights and incredible places to see, restaurants to visit and activities to enjoy, but in this article our aim is to present what we consider to be Budapest best or in a more normal way to write it, the best of Budapest. This list is of course a list of my personal favorites (Budablogger), so I guess you might disagree at several points, and if you do, feel free to write a comment about it, but if not I believe that you might find the list both amusing and interesting and maybe also inspiring if you have not been to Budapest yet.

In this list I have decided only to list the five best of Budapest, so maybe in another blog post I will focus in on the top 10 attractions or maybe top 10 activities of Budapest, but here I will simply list the overall best of Budapest. The list will consist of the best five of Budapest, so keep on reading, and let us start with the place listed as number five on my list named Budapest best!

Budapest best – nr. 5: The view from the Margaret Bridge

The first object on my list presenting the best of Budapest is the view from the Margaret Bridge, the second oldest bridge between Buda and Pest finalised in 1876. It was designed by Ernest Gouin who worked together with Alexandre Gustave Eiffel, the creator of the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty in New York (source: Budapest Guide). The view from the bridge is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list and from here you can see the Chain Bridge, the Hungarian Parliament, the Fishermen’s Bastion, the Matthias Church, the Castle, the Gellért Hill and much more. The view is at its best from the middle of the bridge, and if you plan a visit to the bridge, make sure to do it after the sunset, because then you can see Budapest at its most beautiful.

Budapest best – nr. 4: The view from the Gellért Hill

The panorama along the Danube is what makes Budapest one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Few cities can brag about such a beautiful river and marvelous buildings on both sides of it. One of the special places to visit along the Danube is the Gellért Hill, located on the Buda side between the Liberty Bridge and the Elisabeth Bridge. It has had an important part in the Hungarian history and today visitors can drop by Second World War museum at the top of the hill, drink some champagne at the outdoor cafe/bar/restaurant or eat a nicer meal at the Panorama restaurant. Still the symbol of the hill is the liberty monument which can be seen from almost all parts of Budapest, originally raised in honor of the Communist liberators (the Hungarians were forced to build it), but today it stands commemorating the heroes who sacrificed their lives for Hungarian liberty. The statue and the citadella on the hill is illuminated in the evenings so it is beautiful to look at, but it is even more beautiful to stand at the hill and look out towards the Danube and both the Buda and the Pest side. Our advice is to visit the Gellért Hill in the evening, and take a scroll around the entire top of the hill. The hill has a piece of bad rumor among locals, so young girls should not walk alone, but in general nothing ever happens here, but it is better to be a bit too careful!

Budapest best – nr. 3: The Goulash soup

When you come to Budapest there is one thing you will find in almost all restaurants and as a part of all menus used as standard menus for tourists… the Goulash soup. Many people ask if the Goulash is a soup or more of a stew in Hungary, because in Prague it is more of a stew. But, when you come to Budapest and Hungary the Goulash as people mention it always deals with a soup. There are some different versions of the soup when it comes to ingredients, but in general it always starts with Hungarian pepper, onion and oil, and later potatoes, carrots and beef meat is added to it, together with other delicious stuff. The tourist version is very „thin” and not to tasty, but the real grandmother version of the Goulash soup in Budapest is packed with ingredients, it has a very good soup (the water feels thick and tasty) and it makes you extremely full if you get a large portion. There are several places in Budapest where you can get a good Goulash soup, but my personal favorite is the one at Lazar Equastrian Park (outside Budapest).

Budapest best – nr. 2: The Hungarian Parliament

Hungarian Parliament

When considering what five things to add to my best of Budapest list I wondered whether I should add the Hungarian Parliament or St. Stephen’s Basilica. I am a big fan of both of them, but in the end I made up my mind and the Hungarian Parliament became the winner. The building is magnificent both on the inside and the outside, and it shines like a real diamond in the Hungarian capital. Of course, the Parliament looks best from the Danube, or from the Batthyány tér on the Buda side of the Danube, but when watching it from Kossuth tér on the Pest side you can see the greatness of the building as well. From the Buda side it is clean and majestic, while it looks more dirty from the Pest side, but all in all a real beautiful neo-gothic building. It has quite some similarities to the Parliament in London, but in our eyes it is much more beautiful. Since 2011 it also has a fairy tale like illumination in the nighttime, so do not miss out on that one!

Budapest best – nr. 1: The City Park

Why should someone make the City Park the number one place in Budapest? I have debated the question myself, but as I prepared writing this article I wondered whether I should add the Széchenyi Fürdő (thermal bath) to the top list. I also considered adding Budapest Zoo to the list, and in fact the Vajdahunyad Castle could also end up on such a list presenting the Budapest best. In the end the smart idea came to my mind, and I joined them together and made the City Park (Városliget) the winner. The area has something very few large European cities has, an enormous park area ideal for families with children where they can spend several days, making Budapest a perfect destination for families with children. Don’t get it? Consider the following. In the City Park you can find the zoo. It is a great zoo where you can easily spend 3-4 hours while watching elephants, crocodiles, spiders, snakes, butterflies, monkeys, pet some goats and eat, drink and enjoy life. As you walk out and continue your walk you will end up by the State Circus where you can see different performances (changing three times a year) at one of the few permanent circus buildings in the world. If you walk across the street you can enter into the Széchenyi Fürdő where you can enjoy 3 outdoor pools and 15 indoor pools throughout the entire year. It is made up of natural thermal water, so the hottest outdoor pool is 38 Celsius throughout the entire year. Many people are afraid that children will get bored on the inside, but the opposite is the reality. Children love this place!

As you leave the thermal bath and walk across the street again you will find a small part of the zoo again which is free to enter where you can see some more animals close up. After a small stop there you can walk further on and there you will find the Amusement Park of Budapest. It is not the best in the world at all, but if you just want a small adrenaline kick or a place where the children can hang out and have fun with a roller coaster, go-karts and similar activities, the amusement park will do it. A couple of hundred meters from the amusement park you can then find the Vajdahunyad Castle, a fairy tale castle constructed in four different styles making it especially interesting to those who love architecture and creative buildings. Inside the castle area you can find a restaurant, an Agriculture museum and some more stuff. In my eyes the City Park is a worthy winner!

Much more to see in Budapest

There are so many other things, places, sights, attractions and activities that could be listed here. Preparing to write this article I consulted friends and family and they all had suggestions to other things that could be added to the list of the best of Budapest. But, in the end I wrote the article and my ideas and thoughts are the ones featured here in my article Budapest best – Best of Budapest. You probably have comments, input or maybe you disagree or agree with what I have written, and when that is the fact, please write a comment and share your thoughts on the matter! I look forward to hearing from you, and maybe I will have to write a revised version in a while if someone manage to persuade me and make me change my mind concerning what is listed on my Budapest best list.

Five secret attractions in Budapest worth visiting

Of course, these places aren’t secret, but not everybody knows about them. This means that they are not crowded, so you and your family can walk in peace without being bothered by crowds of people. If you like visiting such attractions, but don’t want to go far from the center of Budapest, then you should read this article about these five secret attractions in Budapest worth visiting.

1. Philosopher’s Garden

Philosopher’s GardenThe first on our list is the Philosopher’s Garden. This attraction is closer than you think; it is located on the other, not too-visited side of the Gellért Hill. The approach is easier than it sounds like, you just need to go to Pest bridgehead of the Elisabeth Bridge, where you can find a bus stop (8,112) and go one station with it to Sánc Street. From here you need to walk a little on the street with the same name as the bus stop and the Philosopher’s Garden is immediately on the left side. The little green place got its name from the statue group, which image the world’s most famous philosophers in one circle. Visitor could meet with the statue of Jesus, Buddha, Mohamed, and Gandhi too. Besides this we can’t forget the fantastic panorama which shows the whole capital.

2. Normafa

The second is the Normafa, which is a huge and beautiful place on the Buda side. The approach is not complicated neither, you just need to go with the bus 21 or 21A from Széll Kálmán Square, exactly from Várfok Street. Be careful, the 21’s bus final station is not the destination that you are looking for, check the station list. From the Normafa station it is just half minute and you suddenly see the panorama of the capital from Buda perspective. There is everything here: buffet, strudel, kindergarten, nature and peace.

Do not forget to read our article about the top five attractions in Budapest.

3. Feneketlen tó

The third on the list is the Feneketlen Lake. This artificial lake located a little bit out of the center, but it is still easy to get here, because it is just five minute walk or one stop with tram 61 from Móricz Zsigmond Square. You can walk around the little lake, lie down on the grass, there are duck food machines and the most important: green is around you. Moreover there is a great restaurant near to the Feneketlen Lake, the Hemingway Restaurant. Besides this there is a fantastic kindergarten next to Feneketlen Lake.

4. János Hill Lookout Tower

 János Hill Lookout TowerThe fourth is the János Hill Viewpoint. We firstly recommend this place for those who like hiking. The easiest way to reach the János Hill Viewpoint is from Normafa by foot with the help of hiking signs; you can read about these more on the external tables. If you reach the little bit sweaty but beautiful trip’s destination, you just need to climb stairs to see the breathtaking view. You can see everything from this place! Of course there is a buffet here too, so you can have a little rest and a drink after the “mountaineering”. The most special and easiest runoff from the hill is with the Libegő (Chairlift). Underway the whole city unfold in front of you.

5. Szent Istvan Park

Our fifth and last hidden attraction in Budapest what you need to talk about is the Szent István Park. This hidden place is perfect especially for families. The Park has two parts: a smaller with kindergarten and a bigger one, which is a beautiful garden with fountains and amazing flowers. The approach of this place is not complicated, you just need to go to Jászai Mari Square and it is just five minute walk on the street next to McDonald’s, the Pozsonyi Street, at the end of the walk you straightly run into the Szent István Park. Next to the Park there is a lovely restaurant, the Duna Park, here you can have an ice cream, a coffee or anything what you want. Otherwise the whole area is family friend and safe. There are lots of restaurants, pastry shops, café shop and lovely little shops in the district. Advantage for dog keepers; next to the Park there is a safely fenced and well equipped dog running too.

We hope, you like our list presenting five hidden attractions in  Budapest. This is a little bit different, a little bit more peaceful, than the crowd center city, but it could be an unforgettable experience for those, who visit one of the places.

Top five Budapest attractions

Coming to Budapest and wonder what are the most important attractions to see when in town? We have created a list telling you what are the top five Budapest attractions.

The attractions on this list are things to see, which means that we have not included activities and programs. These are buildings and landmarks that you simple need to see, because they are stunning and because if you do not see them, you can not return home claiming to have seen the most important sights in Budapest. So here we go, our top five Budapest attractions.

Top five Budapest attractions

St. Stephens Basilica
We have always been big fans of the St. Stephens Basilica. It has a beautiful exterior and interior. From the square outside the church it is possible to make magnificent pictures, from the dome you can enjoy the best view available on the Pest side, and inside you can enjoy the mixture of prayer, organ music and beautiful paintings, sculptures and much more!

St. Stephens Basilica in Budapest
St. Stephens Basilica is in our eyes the most beautiful church in all of Budapest! Majestic both on the inside and the outside.

The Hungarian Parliament might be the most impressive of all buildings in Budapest. It is located by the Danube and it reminds quite a lot about the Parliament in London. As you watch the building from the outside you will be extremely impressed, but do not make the mistake to think that you have seen it once your bus or taxi has driven next to it during daytime. It is when the lights are turned on in the evening it turns into one of the most beautiful buildings Europe has to offer.

The Hungarian Parliament
One of the nicest Parliament buildings in the world can be found in Budapest

Heroes Square
If you want an introduction to the history of Hungary, bring a guide book or a guide with you to the Heroes Square. The square is beautiful both during daytime and nighttime, but be aware of the fact that in the hottest months it is hard to be out on the square for more than 5-10 minutes. The monuments and the statues at the square are delightful, and the two wonderful museums at both sides of the square just gives a plus to it all.

Heroes Square in Budapest
The best place to get an introduction to the history of Hungary, the Heroes Square

Chain Bridge
If you buy a postcard from Budapest, it is very possible that the Chain Bridge is the landmark you will see on it. The bridge is first of all a favorite object to photograph when it is illuminated in the evening, and it is also the oldest bridge connecting Pest with Buda. Beautiful, and almost impossible to miss out on when in Budapest.

Top Five Budapest attractions
The Chain Bridge is one of the most beautiful attractions in Budapest

Castle Hill
The fifth and last attraction on our list of the Top five Budapest attractions is the Castle Hill. We realize that the Castle Hill in fact is a hill and not one attraction, so it is kind of tricky. However, as we write the Castle Hill as an attraction it includes the castle building itself, but also the Matthias Church and the Fishermens Bastion.

Matthias Church in Budapest
The Matthias Church is beautiful, and its location next to the Fishermens Bastion is perfect.

The best route to see these five attractions

If you decide to see all these five attraction on one and the same little trip on your own, then we recommend the following route.

  • Start your tour at the Heroes Square
  • Take the yellow metro or walk your way down the Andrassy avenue to the St. Stephens Basilica
  • Continue towards the Chain Bridge and walk across it
  • Walk on foot or use the funicular to get to the Castle Hill
  • Walk from the Castle towards the Trinity square (Szentharomsag ter)
  • Enjoy the view of the Matthias Church and the Fishermens Bastion
  • Walk to the top of one of the viewing points at the Fishermens Bastion and see the beautiful Parliament from there.

Enjoy your trip and if you have further thoughts and advices, just write a comment!

Hungarian Parliament – More beautiful than ever

As of August 20th, 2011, the Hungarian Parliament can yet again be seen in its total beauty as darkness breaks forth in Budapest. After some quite boring years the Parliament is yet again beautiful, and below you can see a picture made on August 21st, 2011. For more pictures and fresh Budapest news, visit Budapest Guide on Facebook.

The Hungarian Parliament
The Hungarian Parliament

Matthias church updates and pictures

Matthias Church in 2003
Matthias Church in 2003

I remember making a photo of the Matthias Church in 2003, and I liked it quite a lot. I did of course not imagine, that just some months later the church would be wrapped with scaffold for the upcoming years, making it impossible to take a good picture of the church. The good news is now that they have removed the last scaffolds from the main entrance of the church, and it is finally possible to make good pictures again. Now the backside of the church, facing the Danube is under construction, but hopefully they will be finished with the entire church within shortly.

During the work they have in the last days found some caves beneath the church, just one meter away from the main entrance. These caves (two in total) needs to be strengthened, if not they are afraid that the church will sink down into the ground. It is not possible to visit these rooms, so if you want to go “underground”, you better visit the Labyrinth, or join us on a winetasting and guided tour underground in the castle area!

Matthias Church 2010
Matthias Church 2010
Matthias Church in 2010
Matthias Church in 2010

Budapest synagogue by night pictures

The Dohányi Utcai synagogue in Budapest is the second largest in the world and it attracts hundred thousands of visitors every year. I just added some pictures of the synagogue by night for our visitors to enjoy, but I also did so to answer a question I received during a guided tour half a year ago. The tourists asked me what the “tablets” above the entrance of the synagogue are. I was not sure, but I guessed that they were some “model” of the Ten Commandments or something similar.

Tablets above Synagoue entrance

As I walked by and made these photos not long ago I zoomed in with my camera and made a picture. As I came home I checked the pictures and compared them with my Hebrew Bible. The answer; on the tables you can find parts of the Ten Commandments. The first and the third commandment are very long, so you can not find them completely, but commandments such as “You shall not kill” , “You shall not commit adultery” and “You shall not steal” can be found in its complete beauty!

Synagoue by night pictures

Budapest attractions

Free Fishermens Bastion

Fishermens Bastion and King Stephen

Good news to everyone coming to Budapest between October 16 and March 15. In this period it is free entrance to the Fishermens Bastion, so if you would like to enjoy the second best view in Budapest, you are free to do so, without even having to pay for it. In my opinion the best view can be seen from the Gellert Hill, and then the Fishermens Bastion can be ranked at a nice second place.

A building such as the Parliament cant be seen at all (almost) from the Gellert Hill, but from the Fishermens Bastion that can be seen very nicely (though it is most pretty from a boat on the Danube or from the Batthyány Square).

Anyway; enjoy the freen entrance to the Fishermens Bastion, and lets hope they will soon finish the work at the part of the Fishermens Bastion located outside the Hilton Hotel.

Budapest attractions

Just some more Budapest Pictures

Yet another time I just brought my camera as I walked around in Budapest (of course working with tourists), and below you can see some of the Budapest pictures. None of them are extraordinary, but they will still give a little feeling of what Budapest is like for those who have never been around in the capital of Hungary before.

On the pictures you can see the Matthias Church, the Fishermens Bastion, the Hungarian Parliament (all nice Budapest attractions) and the Ferihegy Airport (not so much of an attraction, but probably more people visit the airport than any other Budapest attraction, so its kind of nice to add a picture of the airport as well).

Seven Budapest pictures

Shining Elisabeth Bridge soon…

Not long ago the Liberty Bridge received its floodlights! The Margaret Bridge is on the way to receive its floodlights.The Chain Bridge has always been illuminated by the beautiful lights! And now soon we will experience yet another nice bridge during night time.

They have already tested out the new lights to be used on the Elisabeth Bridge and from November 17 they will be there permanently. The lighting system was designed by Ishii Motoko from Japan, and the Japanese state provided Ft 130 million to the project, which in other words means around half the cost. This is to mark the fiftieth anniversay of the Hungarian-Japanese diplomatic relation.

Elisabeth Bridge by night (from urbanista.blog.hu)
Elisabeth Bridge by night (from urbanista.blog.hu)

Budapest bridges
Budapest attractions