Before arriving to Budapest, or as you leave Budapest, you might be extremely lucky and get a beautiful view of the city. If you sit by the window, make sure to have your camera or your phone ready, just in case.
I just bumped into the following image on Facebook recently, taken by someone just before landing in Budapest. It is an amazing picture, and it is so rich in detail. You can easily see the most important bridges in Budapest, the Hungarian Parliament, the City Park, the Gellert Hill, the Castle area, and so much more.
Budapest is an amazing city, and if you like the way it looks from above, it will get even more beautiful as you reach the inner city and walk along the Danube in the evening.
Today is the time for the opening of the annual Christmas market in Budapest. During the Christmas season the city gets even more beautiful, especially in the evenings, so you have even more to look forward to then!
The most popular spot in Budapest for beautiful pictures might be from the citadella at the Gellert Hill. But, if you climb down the hill, you can get some awesome shots as you walk towards the Gellert hotel as well.
The picture above was taken a month ago as I walked from the citadella on the hill towards the Gellert hotel. It was a beautiful day with nice a nice temperature and a lot of sunshine. And yes, Budapest is beautiful on such days. A
In the picture, you can see the Liberty Bridge (Szabadsag hid). This is the third oldest bridge between Buda and Pest, and it is very easy to recognize because of its green color. You can read more about this and all the other bridges of Budapest here. If you walk across the bridge, you will get to the Pest side, and here you will find the start of the popular shopping street Vaci utca. You can also find the Business university here (first building on the right as you cross the bridge). More interesting is the building coming after the Business university, that is, the Grand Market Hall. It looks like a train station, but it is much more exciting than a railway station. Read more about the Grand Market Hall and what you can find inside of it here.
In the upper right corner of the picture, you can see the small cupolas of the Gellert hotel (you can find the Gellert bath in the very same building).
The Danube is the river dividing Buda from Pest. The distance between Buda and Pest here is between 400 and 500 meters, making it a wide river, and perfect for river cruises. You can also see some of the boats used for longer river cruises on the Danube river at the picture. These travel between cities like Vienna, Bratislava, and Budapest. For river cruises inside the city of Budapest, they use much smaller boats.
Do you like the picture? Come to see Budapest for yourself, it is even prettier then!
Budapest has a lot of hidden treasures, and one of them is the amazing Egyetem square (University square). It can be found between the popular Ferenciek square and Kalvin square, and it is very close to another hidden treasure, the Karolyi garden.
The square has been named after the university at the square, the University of Law in Budapest. The University was moved to the location in 1784, and the University of Law has been present here since the start of the 19th century.
The building of the university is really beautiful, and at night it is illuminated, making it even nicer. At the right side of the university (see the picture above), you can see the so-called University Church, also known as the “University Church of St Mary the Virgin.” This is a very special church as it was raised by the only Hungarian Monastic order, the Pauline Fathers (Pálosok). The construction work started at the start of the 18th century, and the first stone of the church was set on the ruins of the destroyed Mosque from the Turkish reign.
By the end of the 18th century, the Pauline Fathers were dissolved by Emperor Joseph II, and the church was given to the university.
A perfect place for eating
The Egyetem square is a perfect place to grab something to eat. There are many restaurants in the area, and if you want to enjoy a nice wine dinner just next to the square, check this article.
Do not miss out on the square as you walk the streets of Budapest. It for sure deserves a few minutes of your time!
A few weeks ago I got to visit the quite newly opened Jamie Oliver Pizzeria in Budapest. I read somewhere that it is the first Jamie Oliver pizzeria in Europe, but I am not completely sure if that is true or not.
I am a big fan of Italian food, and I could eat pizza every day without getting bored of it. But, I am not always a big fan of Italian food in Italian restaurants. Why? It often feels as if I am eating tomatoes, and I miss the spices that makes me satisfied. So, how did I enjoy my stay in Jamie Oliver’s Pizzeria in Budapest?
Jamie Oliver’s Pizza in Budapest
The pizzeria is located in the Gozsdu Court, a fantastic area in Budapest with lots of restaurants and lots of things to do. So, the location couldn’t be better. The interior of the restaurant is modern, and as we visited the restaurant we listened to hits from the 90’s quite loudly in the restaurant. The volume was a bit louder than what I would prefer, but at least I enjoyed the music, so that made up for the volume.
We visited the pizzeria during lunch time and arrived very early (meaning there were almost no other guests in the restaurant). The waiters were all extremely friendly, and it felt like they were really proud to work there, and they did their best to satisfy the customers!
We ended up ordering one lunch menu and one lasagne. The lunch menu consisted of a pizzetta (a pizza with a different shape), a salad next to it, and a chocolate souffle for dessert (they didn’t call it chocolate souffle, but it sure tasted and looked like one).
The main courses in Jamie Oliver’s Pizzeria
The pizzetta was a nice and tasty pizza. I am a big fan of the American style, meaning a thick crust, but I have no problem eating the thin Italian crusty pizzas either. This was totally fine. Not a pizza I would die to eat again, but I had no complaints against it. The tomato sauce was okay, and the rest of the ingredients were nice. But, the best with the entire course was the very nice and fresh salad served next to the pizzetta.
I have told myself that eating lasagne in restaurants is dangerous. It never tastes as good as home, but since we visited a Jamie Oliver restaurant, we thought we would give it a try anyway.
Yet again, the salad was nice and fresh. But, the lasagne had lots of problems. It was a bit burnt, and it was floating in tomato sauce. It was simply a big tomato overdose, and we didn’t manage to finish it at all. Maybe this is the way a lasagne is supposed to be, but if it is, then I am not a big fan of the real lasagne (only the one we make at home).
The dessert in Jamie Oliver’s Pizzeria
The dessert was something I would call a chocolate souffle, served with ice cream, and some other snacks. All in all, this was the highlight of the meal. The chocolate souffle was made of real chocolate (dark chocolate), making it a bit more bitter than in most other restaurants where they rather use “cheaper” chocolate, but that caused us no trouble.
All in all, we were satisfied with some parts of our lunch experience in Budapest, but it could have been a much better one. The lasagne wasn’t the only problem. As I mentioned earlier, the service was splendid, and everything was fine. But, we hoped this would be a fast lunch, especially considering that the restaurant was almost empty, but instead we spent more than 65 minutes in the restaurant. That is a long time for someone who wants to eat a lunch. It should then be said that we placed our order at once.
Again, this was a big minus for us that it took so much time to get the food on the table during lunchtime, especially as this might be a place business people would consider a fast lunch between some meetings.
That was our stay in Jamie Oliver’s Pizzeria in Budapest
This was the story of our first visit to the Jamie Oliver Pizzeria in Budapest. This is a very subjective article, based on our experience, and we are no gastro experts, nor nothing. But, we like good food, and that is the foundation of this article.
Have you been to Jamie Oliver’s Pizzeria in Budapest? Did you like it? We would love to hear your comments!
Few tourists have ever seen or visited the Károlyi garden, but if you want a breath of fresh air and a green lounge in the midst of your shopping time in Budapest, this is a garden worth visiting.
The Károlyi garden is located close to Váci utca, the shopping street in Budapest, but still hidden away. It is found in somewhere in the middle between famous spots such as Ferenciek tére, Astoria, and Kalvin tér. The park is one of the oldest parks of its kind in Hungary, and it has a rich and a long history.
It had its “prime-time” in the 19th century when it had lots of exotic flowers, its own tennis court, and other nice elements. The Károlyi family (the owners of the park) planned on selling the park at the start of the 20th century. However, it ended up in the hands of the state. Unfortunately, the park was heavily damaged during the Second World War, but after the war, it was quite quickly restored. But, during the 1970’s the park was closed down for almost ten years due to the construction of metro line three (the blue line). As a result, most flowers and green areas in the park died, and this had to be fixed over again as the construction work was finished.
Today it is a beautiful park. It doesn’t have the exotic flowers anymore, but it is still a peaceful lung in the heart of Budapest. There are two playgrounds in the park, there is a fountain, and there are several places where you can sit down to relax and gain new strength before discovering more hidden parts of Budapest.
You can buy tickets to hop-on-hop-off buses in Budapest. You can pay a private guide to show you around. Or, you can buy a single ticket for the public transportation and enjoy a ride with tram 2 in Budapest.
Let us get started right away. The best way to start the tour is by heading for the Margaret Bridge. The bridge is located a bit north of the Hungarian Parliament. You can, of course, start by jumping on the tram from the Rakoczi Bridge (or the Petöfi Bridge, or the Liberty bridge instead), but as you join us on this trip, we will start from the Margaret Bridge (name of the stop is Jaszai Mari tér).
Let’s get started with the panoramic tram ride in Budapest
As you board tram line 2 in Budapest, do not forget to validate your ticket first. The people inspecting tickets are not known to be tourist-friendly. As a consequence, lots of people have ended up paying unnecessary fines, even if they didn’t intend to do anything wrong at all. Again, validate your ticket. You can not buy a ticket on the tram, so you need to bring a ticket with you (you can buy from vending machines, from small kiosks, and in all metro stations).
You do not need to travel for a long time with tram 2 before you see this magnificent building ahead of you! The Hungarian Parliament is the building, and it is one of the most beautiful of them all in Budapest.
Depending on who tells you about the building, you will hear that it was constructed sometime between 1884 and 1903, and it was designed by Imre Steindl. It is very inspired by the British Parliament building, but it ended up even nicer than its source of inspiration!
There has been a lot of construction work on the Hungarian Parliament building, but it is now mostly finished. As a result, it is shining on all sides (earlier it has been almost black due to dirt). The building is fantastic all times of the day, but it is at its most amazing after sunset with the big lights turned on!
As the tram drives next to the Parliament you will see two other beautiful buildings. These were all part of a design competition at the end of the 19th century, but they both lost the competition to the present Parliament building. Instead of throwing away the drawings, they decided to build both the buildings as well. The first building you see is the home of the Ethnographic museum while the second building belongs to the Ministry of Agriculture.
Once you leave the Parliament and the other buildings behind you, the tram will take you along the River Danube again. You will be met by a stunning view in all directions as the tram moves on towards the Chain Bridge, the most famous of all bridges in Budapest. But, before we pass by the Chain Bridge, let us take a look across the Danube to enjoy the view of several beauties.
A nice Danube Panorama to the right
As we look to the right we will see four different structures that should be highlighted. Take a look at the picture beneath to see which those buildings are.
Down by the Danube on the Buda side you can see the Szilágyi Dezső Square Reformed Church. It was built between 1893 and 1895, and it is well known for its special shape, and the beautiful Zsolnay tiles on the roof.
As you look further up you can see three interesting structures next to one another. The one marked as number two on the picture is the Fishermen’s Bastion. This was built at the start of the 20th century, designed by the Miklos Ybl. While working on the Fishermen’s Bastion, he was also leading the work of renovating the Matthias Church (number 3), a church that was originally built in the 13th century. This church is the favorite church of many who visit Budapest, not only because of its interior, but because of the fantastic Zsolnay tiles on the roof, and that you can visit the tower and enjoy one of the best views in Budapest from the top.
Number four on the picture is the Hilton Hotel. This is a debated building, as many feel as if it shouldn’t be there. It is, however, a very special building due to the fact that it was constructed onto the remains of a Dominican monastery from the 15th century. As you enter the hotel, you can still see the ruins of the original building, making this one of the most special Hilton hotels in the world.
The beautiful Chain Bridge and the Castle
The tram ride from the Parliament to the Chain Bridge doesn’t take more than 1-2 minutes, so you will not have a long time to study the buildings we have just described. Soon you will get into a little tunnel taking you to the other side of the Chain Bridge. But, do not forget to take a closer look at the bridge before you drive beneath it. This was the first permanent bridge constructed between Buda and Pest. It was finished in 1849, and it has been one of the most famous landmarks in Budapest ever since. It was destroyed in 1945 (Second World War), but was quickly fixed and was ready for use again in 1949.
Now it is time to look to the Buda side again. On the top of the hill on the other side, you can see the Buda Castle. It was originally constructed in the 13th century. It has served several kings and flourished especially during the reign of King Matthias in the 15th century. During the Second World War, it was heavily damaged, but most of the damages were fixed during the Communist reign. Today the Castle is the home of the National Gallery, Budapest Historical Museum, and the National Library. In addition, it is a very popular venue for festivals and other popular events.
The Elisabeth Bridge and the Gellert Hill
In front of us, we can now see a white bridge, better known as the Elisabeth bridge. It was originally constructed in 1903, and it was the largest suspension bridge in the world as it was finished. Just like the Chain Bridge, it was destroyed during the Second World War. The citizens of Budapest had to wait for more than 20 years for this bridge to be reconstructed.
On the Buda side of the bridge, we can see a statue portraying Bishop Gellert. He was on his way to Jerusalem as a pilgrim in the 11th century, when Hungary’s first king (Stephan), convinced him to stay. Gellert stayed in Hungary, but after the death of King Stephen, he was taken captive by rebellions trying to get rid of Christianity, and he was thrown down the hill in a barrel (and died).
On the top of the hill, you can see the Citadel and the liberty statue. This hill has been used for thousands of years, but the citadel (fortress) was built between 1850-1854. The statue portraying a lady with a palm branch in her hands was built after the Second World War in honor of the Communist soldiers who liberated Budapest (the construction was ordered by the Soviets, so the Hungarian didn’t have the chance of saying no to the job). The Gellert Hill is maybe the nicest place in Budapest if you want to take stunning panorama shots of the city, both during daytime and by night.
You will now quickly reach the green bridge, the Liberty Bridge. This was the third bridge built between Buda and Pest and it was finished by the end of the 19th century. Since the tram will drive into a tunnel to get beneath the bridge you cannot actually see the building, but on the Pest side next to the tram line, you can now find the famous Market Hall, a must-see place while in Budapest.
As the tram moves on, you can see the Gellert hotel on the Buda side, and almost next to it, the Technical University. But, just as interesting is the building on the Pest side built in the shape of a whale. This is often referred to by locals as the whale (Bálna), and it is a cultural center with some nice shops, and several restaurants and bars. It is a nice place to sit down and have something to eat and drink while enjoying the view of the Danube and the city.
The end of the tram ride is approaching, but there are still a few more things worth noticing. First, we will pass beneath the Petőfi bridge (named after a famous Hungarian poet who lived in the 19th century). On the Pest side, you can now see a whole lot of newly built buildings. It is a modern area with new flats and quite a lot of offices. But, do not be fooled, and do not leave the tram yet. You will soon reach the final stop, and Budapest has some goodies left for you, just take a look at the picture.
As the tram ride ends, you will end up next to the Palace of Arts (to the right) and the National Theater (to the left). These are some magnificent buildings that were built quite recently (between 2000 and 2005). They are extraordinary buildings, but most people would say that they are most impressive by night, just look at the picture above again.
Now that the tram ride has ended
The tram ride has now ended, and you have just enjoyed a very cheap panoramic tour of Budapest. But, you are far away from the city center by now, so you should probably just remain on the tram and enjoy the ride back to the city center. You will then have one more chance to pick up on those attractions you didn’t really have the time to see during the first ride.
Do not forget that this is a ride you should do both during daytime and nighttime. As you can see, lots of the pictures are portraying Budapest by night, and the city is even more beautiful then. If you want to save even more money, you could do this tram ride instead of a River Cruise on the Danube. Most cruises travel between the Margaret Bridge (where the tram ride started) and the Rakoczi Bridge (where the tram trip ended), so you will see exactly the same. It might be better and easier to spot everything from the Danube, but if you are on a budget, this is a fantastic tram ride that will let you discover Budapest on your own without spending more than 1 Euro.
Doesn’t this sound like a treat when you come to Budapest? Have you tried it? Have you got any questions? We would love to hear your comments, thoughts, and questions.
It is summer, and in the summer Hungarians escape Budapest and visit Lake Balaton instead. And what do they eat there? The most popular “Hungarian” fish!
You should be warned, some people will not agree on calling this the most popular “Hungarian” fish. There are some other popular fish types in Hungary, for example, carp, catfish, perch, and pike. But, when the Hungarians travel to Lake Balaton, they eat something completely different, namely the “Merluccius Merluccius“, better known as the European hake (in Hungarian “Hekk“). The funny thing is that this fish doesn’t origin from Hungary, and not even from Europe, but from the coasts of Argentina.
According to this article, the fish is captured in Argentina and transported to Hungary, where it is almost served as a “national” fish. According to Wikipedia, it is a popular fish to catch also in Europe, but the one we are eating in Hungary is supposed to origin from Argentina. It is, however, due to the popularity of the fish in Hungary that it is often considered a fish of the Hungarians, and thus it should origin from Hungary, at least in the minds of the people.
How do Hungarians eat the fish?
If you buy this fish by Lake Balaton, or somewhere else, it will most likely look something like this.
It is normally fried in oil and server together with white bread. It is very easy to eat as the meat can easily be removed from the fish-bones (which are so big that it is no trouble at all getting rid of them).
So, the next time you want to eat a fish course in Hungary, consider the European Hake, better known as “hekk” in Hungary. But, be warned – you will not find it in normal restaurants, only by Lake Balaton, along with the “Romai part” (in Budapest), and other places with beach-like circumstances.