Cafe Ruszwurm (Ruszwurm Cukrászda)- the Old-style Confectioner’s in Budapest

Cafe Ruszwurm is one of the oldest traditional cafes & confectioner’s in Budapest. It’s also one of the best cafes in Budapest. As Frommer’s guide puts it: “the Ruszwurm is an utterly charming little place, with two rooms outfitted with small tables and chairs, and shelves lined with antiques.” There is a wide range of great pastries, which you can have in a century old beautiful Biedermeier interior (now the furniture is protected). You will see traditional tools of the old confectionery trade, glass cabinets, mortars, models, etc.

Café Ruszwurm in Budapest

Address: Szentháromság u. 7., 1014 Budapest, Hungary
Phone: 00-36 1 3755-284
Opening hours: 9am-8pm (spring-fall) 10 am-7pm (winter)
Prices: (cakes) 200-500 HUF

Location of Café Ruszwurm on the Budapest Tourist Map (check the Cup icon indicating cafes in the middle of the map – you can enlarge the map by clicking on the View larger map blue link under the map). Ruszwurm Cukrászda is located on Várhegy (the Castle Hill on the Buda side): once you go up the hill to see the Royal Palace, and the Fishermen’s Bastion, it’s only a 2 minute walk from the Matthias Church and you should not miss it. You will find Ruszwurm cream pastry, Esterházy cake, Szamos cake, Dobos cake (Dobos torta is highlighted by several guides but I would rather suggest the heavenly Ruszwurm cream pastry, or – for the less sweet-toothed – traditional Hungarian scones/ pogácsa).


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Confectioner Ferenc Schwabl set up his business almost two-hundred years ago in 1827. Now it’s owned by the Szamos dynasty whose name is a trademark for good pastry and sweets in Hungary. The biedermeier cabinets were made by Krautsiedler and the sculpture by Lőrinc Dunaiszky in the 1830s, surviving the Hungarian revolution of 1848-49 against the Austrian oppression and the world wars too.

Read more about the Best Restaurants in Budapest or the Best Cafes in Budapest.

Fishermen’s Bastion (Halaszbastya) in Budapest

Fishermen’s Bastion (Halászbástya) built in 1905  is one of the best panoramic views of Budapest & the river Danube (part of UNESCO world heritage). Halaszbastya is located on the Buda side overlooking the beautiful attractions on the Pest side with the river Danube and the 19th – 20th century bridges.

Fishermen Bastion Budapest Attractions

Fishermen Bastion Budapest (photo: Robert Marse)

The bastion can be approached by the minibus circulating in the Buda Castle District on top of the hill, or you can climb the many scenic stairs leading up to the Fishermen’s Bastion. The open air attraction is literally open, an open arcade with stairs, towers and balconies. It is one of the best sights to visit if you are staying in Budapest one day only.

Address: Szentháromság tér 5, 1014 Budapest

Opening hours: 24/7
Prices: free


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Labyrinth (Budavári Labirintus) – Maze under the Castle District in Budapest

Labyrinth ( Budavári Labirintus) is an intricate maze under the Buda Castle Hill (Várhegy).

UPDATE: the former Labyrinth under the Buda Castle was closed down and reopened under new management with a different concept. The Hungarian government decided to make the labyrinth state owned again and shut it down for good. Sorry.
Do you dare to go through the dimly lit labyrinth? And drink wine from the wine well? Yes, there is an actual wine well in the maze!
There are Budapest kids programs every Sunday in the labyrinth, and children love the adventure and the excitement.

Address: Úri utca 9, 1014 Budapest or Lovas utca 4.
Phone: 00-36-1-212-0207
Opening hours: 9:30 – 19:30
Prices: 1500 HUF, and 1100 HUF for kids & retired, family ticket 3000 HUF
Getting here:
minibus from Szell Kalman Square (former Moszkva tér) (Várbusz)
number 16 bus from Deák tér

Here are the two entrances of the labyrinth indicated with yellow balloon icons in the middle of the Budapest Tourist Map (click the View larger map under the map if you need it in a bigger version).


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Here’s a video: some guys tasting the wines of the Budavári Labirintus (maybe not of the utmost quality?):

Budapest Bike Rentals: Where Can You Rent a Bicycle?

OK, so you want to rent a bike in Budapest? Make your bike rental decision informed. Riding a bike in Budapest is fun and not fun: conditions are not so much acceptable presently, although Budapest could potentially offer one of the greatest urban cycling experiences ever. Once the bike culture will be even more improved (more careful drivers, a lot more biking routes)… and cycling in Budapest will be in the top ten things to do in Budapest!

Attitude towards biking in Budapest has changed a lot in the past few years, the Critical Mass movement has grown stronger than ever, and luckily, more and more Budapest pubs and bars offer bike parking facilities, especially the so called ruin pubs. So enjoy it, but don’t expect to have conditions like in Amsterdam. Here’s a pic from Budapest Critical Mass :)

Good to know:

  • Geography: Budapest has two parts. Buda is hilly and Pest is totally flat, easy to bike. In some places there are quite good bike routes along the river Danube, mostly on the Buda side
  • Public transport with bike: you cannot travel on the metro= underground with bike. On trains you must buy a ticket for your bike (nominal fee, but a must).
  • Biking routes: bike routes are oftentimes shared with pedestrians, who are not used to speeding bikers, please be careful.
  • Cars vs. Bikes: car drivers don’t really like bikers (euphemism), and unfortunately won’t typically yield to bikers or pedestrians – again, be careful.
  • Bike thieves: unlike in the Netherlands, for instance, you should NOT leave your bike unlocked – it will disappear in a moment. Lock it safely, lock it well.

There are some bike rental places in Budapest (some ask for a deposit). The ones that are conveniently located are the following:

Bike Base

BikeBase bicycle rental offers a wide range of bikes, from MTBs to city cruisers, plus you can also rent customized biking tours in Budapest.

  • Bikes: from mountain bikes through city cruisers to children’s bikes, something to suit all ages and styles.
  • Extras: (included in the price) helmet, locks, tour tips, map, if outside Budapest: panniers, repair tool kit
  • Address: Podmaniczky utca 19, 1065 Budapest
  • Phone: 00-36-70-625-85-01 or 00-36-1-269-59-83
  • Opening hours: 9 am – 7 pm (earlier or later too, if arranged via phone)
  • Rental prices:

9 EUR (2 600 HUF) for 24h
16 EUR (4 600 HUF) for 48h
Special price for longterm rent. If you cannot pick up or return the bike to the shop, for a nominal fee, Bike Base will collect or deliver anywhere within Budapest city limits.

Budapest Bike

Besides renting bikes here, the guys at Budapest Bike also promise to take you to places you should not but might miss, to help with avoiding tourist traps while in Budapest, to point out where to go and what to see. You can also rent biking tours here for about 5000 HUF (dirt cheap in Budapest), or Pub Crawl bike tours (min 4 pubs, 4 hours) for 20 euros. Bikes can be rented for 3 or more days 2500HUF /day and you can hire tandem bikes too.

  • Bikes: Gepida Alboins (women’s & men’s)
  • Extras: (included in the price) helmet, chain, lock and limited insurance as stated in the rental contract.
  • Address: Wesselenyi u. 18. Budapest 1077
  • Phone: 00-36-30-944-5533
  • Rental Prices:

6 hours: 2000HUF
1 day: 3000HUF
2 day: 5000HUF
3 or more days 2500HUF/day

Budapest Tourist Map shows the different bike rental locations (check the green bicycle map icon)

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Bringo Hinto

BringoHinto rental offers bikes and bike carts or kids cars, etc. on Margitsziget (Margaret Island).

  • Bikes: mountain & city bikes, adult and kid bike carts
  • Address: Hajos Alfred setany 1., Budapest 1138
  • Phone: 00-36-329-2746

Free Riders bike rental, Budapest

Free Riders bicycle rental is close to Petofi Bridge, so you can take a ride to the Palace of Arts, to Rakoczi Bridge, etc. 

  • Bikes: not specified
  • Extras: helmet, lock, basket container, etc.
  • Address: Lonyay street 60. Budapest, District  IX. (close to Petofi Bridge on the Pest side)
  • Phone: 00-36-30 816 4192 or 00-36 30 816 4192
  • Opening hours: Mon-Fri 14.00-18.00, closed at weekends
  • Prices:

1-5 h 300 HUF/ hour
24 h 3,000 HUF
24+ h 2,000 HUF
Deposit is HUF 10,000

Some useful Cycling words in Hungarian:

  • bike: bringa (brin-gah), bico (bits-oh), bicaj (bi-tsoi)
  • bicycle: kerekpar (care-ache-phaar)
  • wheel: kerek (care-ache)
  • pump: pumpa (poom-pah)
  • lock: lakat (lock-ot)
  • berel (bay-rel)

Please help me to update the info. Thanks.

Market Halls in Budapest: Fény Utcai Piac

Fény Utca Market Hall (Fény utcai Piac) is located just behind the Mammut Shopping Mall. It is not as elegantly rustic, and architecturally grand as the Vásárcsarnok (Central Market Hall) on the Pest side, but it is a good market with fresh fruits, vegetables, paprika, home-made dairy products and honey, bakery, herbs, fish, meat, poultry, and an amazingly good Lángos (fried dough)!

There are about 10,000 – 25,000 shoppers at the market per day.

Feny Market Hall Feny utcai Piac in Budapest

Address: Lövőház utca 12., Budapest Hungary
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 6am-6pm, Sat 2pm, Sun (up to individual vendors)
Phone: 00-36-1-345-4101
Getting here:

  • Metro: red line, get off at Moszkva tér stop and walk 2 min towards Mammut Shopping Mall.
  • Trams/ Streetcars: number 4 or 6, Moszkva tér stop

Location of Budapest Fény Market on the Budapest Shopping Map:


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What else can you do at Fény utca Market Hall?

Once you decide to go to Fény Piac in Budapest, you can connect this program with various other programs:

Mammut Shopping Mall (from high end boutiques to international journals, electronics, perfumes, books & maps, batteries, sports equipment, restaurants, cafes, bars, movies, arcade games etc.) – right next to the market (basically one building). Children-friendly places: Child care (in Mammut 2 building), Libri Book store with a kid section, Movie, McDonald’s, etc.

Millenary Park (Millenáris Park): a huge complex offering ongoing entertainment, and educational programs, surrounded by a bigger park

Buda Palace in the Castle District: from the market it should take about 15 minutes or so to go up the hill to the Castle District on foot (you can take the Vár minibus from Moszkva tér – make sure you have a ticket or a Budapest pass)

Children’s Railway: it’s about 35 min to go up to the Children’s Railway on Széchenyi hegy (see detailed explanation about the mini train, the attractions, location etc. in the Children’s Railway Budapest article). By taking the train, you can also get to the highest point of Budapest where there is a nice Lookout tower (Elisabeth) on the hill ( János hegy). Good for taking panorama photos.

Budapest Museum of Fine Arts: Szepmuveszeti Muzeum

The Museum of Fine Arts (Szépművészeti Múzeum) in Budapest has an extraordinary permanent and a hugely successful temporary exhibition series.

Opening hours: Permanent Exhibitions are open from Tue to Sun 10 am – 5pm. Oftentimes, the museum is open until 9:30 pm on Thursdays (if there’s an extra program). Temp exhibitions are basically the same, but you have another half an hour to enter (until 17:30). The museum is closed on Mondays.
Prices: 1200 HUF (if you are from the EU and aged between 6-26 or 62-70 you can get a 50% discount). Temporary exhibition prices start at 1200 HUF, and if you buy a ticket for a temp exhibition, you can go to the permanent exhibition free.
Tip for budget travelers: For individuals, the Museum of Fine Arts provide FREE guided tours in English in the Collection of Old Master Paintings from Tue to Fri at 11am & 2pm, on Sat at 11am. The Old Master Paintings are the core of the permanent exhibition (so the free guided tour excludes other collections and temp exhibitions, and guidance for groups, of course). More advanced guided tours need to be paid. But again, there are audio tours available for 1000 HUF (both perm and temp, flexible route)! You can listen to some samples here (e.g. Gauguin: The Black Pigs, Raffaello Santi: The Esterházy Madonna, Cézanne: The Buffet)

Budapest Museum of Fine Arts Szepmuveszeti Muzeum download audio tour samples

Phone: 00-36 1 469 7100
Getting here:
metro (yellow line): Hősök tere stop
trolley buses: 72
buses: 4, 30, 75, 79

Location of the Museum of Fine Arts on the Budapest Tourist Map:


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Permanent exhibitions in the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

Not only will you find here approx. 3,000 excellent foreign art works (especially Flemish, Dutch as well as Spanish, French, German paintings, graphics and statues ranging from the 13th to the 18th century etc.), but also valuable collections from the ancient times (Egyptian, Greek & Roman artifacts) displaying original works of the art of Hellas, Italy and Rome.

Temporary exhibitions in the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

To mention but a few of the temp exhibitions from the past few years: Van Gogh, Tiziano, the Incas, Hundertwasser, etc. If you drop by these days, you can see the Splendour of the Medici, Art and Life in Renaissance Florence (until May 18, 2008). Prices are very favorable (starting at 1200 HUF, and if you are under 26 or over 62, it will only cost you 600 HUF). Temp exhibitions were tremendous success, oftentimes tickets sold out, so you may wish to book your admission in advance.

Budapest Museum of Fine Arts Szepmuveszeti Muzeum full of foreign artworks like Cezanne Raffaello Gauguin

Children in the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

There are regular museum educational classes where art touches children through stories, dances, creative movement, dance, etc.- not boring! Also for kids between 5 and 7, who learn about Seasons, Colors and Shapes, Stories in Art and, of course, Animals. There’s even a summer camp! Most of these programs are in Hungarian (e.g. the Sat morning museum immersion classes), so please contact the Museum of Fine Arts for further details at Phone: 00-36-469 7180, Email to muzeumpedagogia@szepmuveszeti.hu.

History of the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

When Hungary was celebrating its 1000th birthday in 1896, the Hungarian Parliament passed a new law, which said that art collections scattered in different institutions were to be placed in the newly-established Museum of Fine Arts. The Museum of Fine Arts was designed by Albert Schickendanz and Fülöp Herzog, and it finally opened its gates in 1906 (inaugurated by I. Franz Joseph ). At that time, only plaster casts were available to illustrate the complete history of European sculpture. “It was for these life-size copy sculptures that the Doric, Ionic, Romanesque, Renaissance and Baroque halls on the ground floor were designed, imitating the styles of individual periods of art history,” writes Szilvia Bodnár. Over the years, the number of original works increased, so the plaster sculptures were out, and the ground floor galleries are now used to display exhibitions of the Classical Antiquities and of 19th century paintings & sculptures, Renaissance frescoes & fountains, the Prints and Drawings Gallery & the Marble and Baroque halls. During WW2, the Museum of Fine Arts was heavily damaged (only opened again in 1949) and many of the finest works were taken out of the country in order to save them.

Museum Quiz: Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

  • Who is at the top of the entrance gate?
  • Who painted The Sermon of St. John the Baptist?
  • Who painted this portrait and who is the Petrarch-follower depicted on the oil canvas?

museum quiz of the museum of fine arts budapest

  • When was this painting made?

museum quiz 2 of the museum of fine arts budapest

  • How many El Greco paintings can you see in the museum?
  • Which collection is the basis of the world-renowned Old Painters Gallery and when was it bought?

Please don’t spoil the quiz by writing the answers in the comments. Thank you. Drop Anna a mail if any of the answers bug you at LuxuryBudapest [@] gmail [dot] com.

Budapest Children’s Railway: A Cheerful Blink From The Pioneer Past

Budapest Children’s Railway is not only an ideal program for those who come to Budapest with little kids, or who simply fell in love in (and with) Budapest and want to see the gentle green forest, the panorama, the old nostalgia trains, and to spend a nice sunny day away from the hustle and bustle. It is also a great historical tour: going through 50 years of the pioneer history in the adjoining Children’ Railway Museum.

Budapest Childrens Railway at Normafa stop in summer

Opening hours:
May-August every day from 9am to 7pm
September-April: (except for Mondays) every day. from 9am to 5pm
Phone: 00-36-1-397 5392
Prices:

  • Adults: one-way ticket for a few stops 450 HUF, full line ticket 600 HUF (return 1200 HUF)
  • Children (6-14): one-way ticket for a few stops 250 HUF, full line ticket 300 HUF (return 600 HUF). Kids under 6 travel free. Budapest card enables you & a kid to buy full line tickets at the price of a ticket for a few stops.
  • Pets (with lead and muzzle): 100 HUF
  • Family daily ticket: HUF 3000

Pioneer working at Budapest Childrens Railway

Getting here: the Children’s Railway is in the Buda hills (the hilly Buda side of Budapest), so don’t expect a central location. It’s about 35-50 minutes by public transportation from the city center. First go to Moszkva tér (red line metro), take a tram (choose either from 18, 56 or 59 – people speak English, so ask them where the stop is) and get off at the 2nd stop called Fogaskereku Vasut (Cogwheel Railway). Hop on the Cogwheel Railway and lean back until the terminal. You are at Szechenyi-hegy (Szechenyi hill), walk a few steps, and you are at one end of the Children’s Railway line. You can take a return tour if you are only here for the railroad ride.

But if you want to walk or get to know another part of Budapest, buy only a one-way ticket, get off at the terminal called Hűvösvölgy (‘Cool Valley’) and take the trams (again, choose either from 18 or 56) for about 13 stop to get back to Moszkva tér. Or get off at János hegy, check out the highest point of the Buda hills at the lookout tower called Erzsébet kilátó, and then take the Chairlift downwards. Number 158 bus takes you back to Moszkva tér again.

I would recommend another third way to get to the Children’s Railway from Moszkva tér though, which won’t take you to the terminal, but to the 1st stop called Normafa. Take buses 21 or 90 (about 16 stops or 20 minutes), get off at Normafa, try the freshly made strudel with mulled wine at the strudel vendor, or the goulash in the ski house (both great and highly popular in winter), or some more exquisite courses at the Normafa Cafe and Grill, which has a lovely, family-friendly summer terrace (open from 12 to 24). At Normafa stop, don’t expect a building for the Children’s Railway, it is a stop, wait, get on, and get your ticket from one of the children railway guys.

Location of Children’s Railway (map icon: blue train) on the Budapest Tourist Map. If you are specifically interested in other ex-communist traces in Hungary, check out the red flames icons for more tips.


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FAQ of Budapest Children’s Railway
Is it true that the trains are operated by kids?
Yes, it is. Children aged 10 to 14 years of age control the traffic, operate railroad switches & signals, sell and validate tickets, etc. under the supervision of adults (many times former kid employees of the Children’s Railway). The train/ engine itself is driven by an experienced adult. However, the railway is not a children’s toy train – all services and operations are in line with the regulations of any other railway line of the Hungarian State Railways (MÁV).
How long is the ride?
Length: 11 km/ 6.8 miles. Duration: about 40 minutes (full length from Szechenyi hegy to Huvosvolgy)
Is there any good Budapest panoramic view?
Sure, just by getting on top of the hill, you’ll surely have some nice photos of the beautiful view. Plus, on the train, you can get an exceptionally good glimpse of Budapest from a height of 323 meter/ 0.2 miles between Szepjuhaszne and Harshegy stops. Further places: Szechenyi Memorial Lookout, Erzsébet Lookout (527 m/ 0.3 miles).
Are there any special programs at the Children’s Railway?
Yes, there are. Quite a lot of them, from spring to fall. March 15 sees hundreds of people participating in a 6-hour tour from the foot to the top of the hill: the route touches upon the major spots of the Children’s Railway and some other memorable places in the neighborhood. The tour is about 6 km in length, starting from Széchenyi hegy leading to Hűvösvölgy. Join the tour for a nominal fee, get your map and off you go. Spots are to be ticked off in order and you can expect warm lunch at the end of the tour (included in the price). :) April 12: the day of the Children’s Railway. May 25 is Children’s Day celebrated at the Children’s Railway. June 14 Graduation ceremony for new children’s rail staff, June 23 Museum Night, July 31- Aug 03 (in 2008): 60 year old birthday of the Children’s Railway, Aug 20: the firework tour on August 20 (a Hungarian national public holiday, the celebration of bread, the Hungarian state and the first king), Aug 24 Farewell party of young children’s railway professionals, Sept 13 Nostalgia Day.

Check out this great video on Budapest Children’s Railway (yes, kids still salute the train and travelers):

History of Budapest Children’s Railway

The idea of the Children’s Railway in Budapest came only two years after the end of WW2, in 1947, and in a year (strictly in line with the expectations of the government) in 1948 the first 3 km of the railway was completed, the first couple of boys and girls aged 12-14 took part in a six-week course and started to operate the Children’s Railway (in the beginning it was called either children’s or pioneer railway). Mind you, some people were quite unhappy about the Children’s railway. There were opponents: those who doubted that kids could possibly run such a serious institution, and those who wanted to allocate resources to re-build the country elsewhere.

The Children’s Railway was modeled after the pioneer railways in the Soviet Union and the former Yugoslavia. The aim was not simply a railway for and by kids, but the establishment of a tightly-knit children’s community. Needless to say, the plot for the Children’s Railway (as well as the neighboring pioneer mega-camp, also called Pioneer Republic in Csillebérc, Budapest, also build at that time) was a free gift from the Budapest municipality. By 1949, the second, more challenging part of the Children’s Railway was given over. There was special attention paid to the design: panoramic view and a tunnel were default, so they added a fancy tunnel of 198 m length to make the railway trip more interesting. The first elevator in Hungary was also built here, for the Children’s Railway. In 1956, during the Hungarian revolution against the Soviet dictatorship and occupation, the railway stopped working: but people saw the railway more for kids and families than as the emblem of autocracy, so there was no damaged caused. As the communist regime forgot to notify the Pioneer Railway management that the railway services should be resumed, the director sat down with the kids and decided to resume normal services at their own responsibility. Strangely enough, nobody made a big fuss about it. From the 1950s to the 1970s about 6-700,000 people used it per year (these days it’s about 300,000). It was extremely popular and it was a great pride to be a pioneer railway girl/boy.

After the change of regime in 1989, the Children’s Railway way reconstructed, and modernized. The communist red star emblems disappeared from the trains, the red scarves of the pioneers were replaced with blue ones, and the Children’s Railway pioneers stopped greeting each other with the traditional pioneer greeting ‘Előre’ (which means approx. “Forward!”). Instead, they just used the normal Hungarian greetings in accordance with the daily hours. Another big change was making the Pioneer Railway Museum public (earlier it was restricted to special guests).

Photos and info from the official Children’s Railway site.

Gellért Spa Bath in Budapest: Merry Healing in Art Deco Environment

Gellert Bath in Budapest/ Gellért Fürdő (say: Gal-ay-rt Fur-dur ) is one of the most frequented spa baths in Budapest by locals and tourists alike. Gellert Spa Bath is located in Hotel Gellert (Danubius Hotel Gellert), but the thermal spa bath is open for the general public (there is a separate entrance for non-hotel guests). Both the hotel and the spa bath are in a fascinating Art Nouveau – Art Deco building (including Hungarian folk art motifs, phenomenal colorful lead glasses and painted eosin mosaics).

The quality of the thermal water is superb (already in use in the 15th century!). In addition, Gellert Furdo has 13 baths including a wave bath and a children’s pool, so it is not only recreational but it’s fun. Needless to say, there are pampering massages, treatments, drinking cures, etc. Gellert Spa Bath – as part of Hotel Gellert Budapest was built in 1918. There are 13 baths 20-38 °C (68-100 degrees Fahrenheit).

See the Frequently Asked Questions about Gellert Bath and the Video at the bottom!

Gellert Spa Bath Budapest Hungary Gellert Furdo montage

The thermal water is recommended for:
damaged joints (e.g. worn hip and knee joints), degenerative diseases, arthritis, Ankylosing spondylitis or Bechterew’s disease, low back pain or lumbago, after accidents as a post therapy.
Address: Kelenhegyi út 4, Budapest, H-1118, check its location on the Budapest Tourist map (blue waves indicate major spa baths)
Location: Gellert Spa Bath is on the Buda side, almost at the foot of Liberty Bridge Budapest (Szabadsághíd), next to Gellert Hill, which is a great green area with the Statue of Liberty and a superb panoramic view of the Pest side of Budapest with the Parliament, Chain Bridge, Basilica, Gresham Palace, etc.
Opening hours: Mon-Sun 6am to 8pm
Phone: 00-36-1-466-6166
Getting there: Trams/ Streetcars: 18,19, 47, 49, Buses: 7 (green normal, not the red express!), 86
Prices: general admission with cabin HUF 5,300. There are all kinds of massages available, which can be booked online in advance for your convenience.

More  in depth info about Budapest Baths


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Miscellaneous: Saint Gellert (also known as St Gerard) was a Hungarian bishop who came from Italy to spread Christianity and educate the son of the first Hungarian king, St Stephen in the 11th century. Pagans threw him off the Gellert Hill. Unfortunately, Gellert Furdo is slightly worn down and will need some reconstruction to get back its truly five-star beauty.

Gellert Furdo FAQ

Are the baths inside or outside?
Baths are both outside and inside.
Is Gellert Spa Bath closed in winter?
No, it is open all year, on weekdays from 6am to 7pm, and at weekends from 6am to 5pm (except for some public holidays).
When is it the best time to go to Gellért Fürdő?
Well, that’s a good question. Although Gellert Furdo has 13 baths, weekends tend to be crowded, so it is worth going there a bit earlier.
Do you need anything else than yourself, a swim gear and money?
A towel, flip-flops or rubber shoes (for general hygienic and preventive reasons too), and water-resistant purse for the buffet or for massages & treatments will come in handy (although you can hire some of them for a nominal price). If you want to swim laps in the pool, besides using the thermal baths, you will need a swim cap too.
Can you book massages in advance?
No, unfortunately, massages cannot be pre-arranged. Gellert Spa Bath is operated on a first come first served basis.
Is Gellert Furdo good for children?
Yes, Gellért Spa Bath is a family-friendly place. For instance, there is an outside bath whose thermal water starts to wave periodically: its gradient depth ranges from 0.4m/1.30 feet to 2.75m/ 9 feet) . Then there’s a separate children’s spa bath (30 degrees Celsius/ 86 degrees Fahrenheit and 0.4 m/ 1.31 feet deep). Nevertheless, the spa bath is still a calm thermal bath and not a water amusement park (no big and complex slides, spring boards, etc.).
Shall I go to Gellért or Széchenyi Spa Bath?
Ideally, you should try both baths to discover which suits better your tastes. Both are located in a beautiful building (Szechenyi is neo-baroque, Gellert is fabulous art-deco). Both have world-renowned healing properties and good massages. Gellert Spa Bath might be a bit more touristy as it’s located in Hotel Gellert, while Szechenyi Furdo is an individual spa bath (note: contracted with several Budapest hotels). In addition, Szechenyi Spa Bath is slightly less expensive than Gellert Spa Bath (e.g. admission with cabin: 2,800 HUF vs. 3,100 HUF). Gellert might be a better choice for families with kids though, but several travelers suggest Szechenyi for children. Good question. Let me know what you found out: add your comments, please.

Do you know of the best Spa Hotels in Budapest?

We think that Hotel Gellert is really great, but may seem a bit outdated, if you want something high-end, upscale, and are willing to splurge. Here is a good list of the best Budapest spa hotels, and if you ask us, we recommend Corinthia Hotel Budapest.
How do you get from Keleti railway station to Gellért Spa Bath?
The easiest and quickest way is to take the red line Metro at Keleti pu. until Astoria. At Astoria, get off and take the green number 7 bus, which will take you over the Elisabeth Bridge to the Buda side. About 3 stops. See the Gellert Hill and the nice Hotel? There you are!

Watch Gellert Spa Bath Budapest on this video made with Michael Palin (comedian, writer, Monty Python member, as well as maker and presenter of several BBC travel documentaries). Hey, one of my favorite comedians!

Vásárcsarnok in Budapest: Central Market Hall

Vásárcsarnok (Central Market Hall) in Budapest offers a great rustic market experience in a beautiful building: you can buy several Hungaricums, as well as organic vegetables, home-made andouille sausages, salamis, pastries, etc. Great place for buying gifts, souvenirs (e.g. Szeged or Kalocsa paprika, embroidered tablecloths, blouses, Hungarian spirits like Zwack Unicum, cans of goose liver, various Russian dolls, etc.). As you can see all sorts of people here Vásárcsarnok (say: vaash-are-char-knock) is also a great place for people-watching! Here’s a photo of Budapest Vasarcsarnok on a less busy day:

Vasarcsarnok Budapest Central Market Hall on a less busy day

What is worth trying?
Tastes differ, but for a gastronomical tour you may wish to try the following foods, dishes, drinks:

  • Lángos (say laan-gosh) is a sort of salty fried dough, usually served with sour cream and grated cheese (Tip: put some garlic dip on top of the lángos, under the sour cream & cheese toppings, to make it even tastier). Don’t look at the calories, enjoy the little vice of your taste buds! :) Lángos is a great favorite of Hungarians especially in summer between two dips in the water on beaches and lidos (e.g. at Lake Balaton, on Csillaghegyi Strand, etc.)
  • Goulash soup: forget the canned versions of goulash and try the real Hungarian goulash for authenticity. It is filling and great with some spicy paprika.
  • Organic fruits: try some organic fruits produced in Hungary. I suggest the wide variety of apples, pears, apricots, peaches, plums. Yummy. They might not be huge & pleasing to the eye, but they are not watery, they are really full of flavor.

Opening hours: Mon: 6.00 am – 5.00 pm, Tue-Fri: 6.00 am – 6.00 pm, Sat: 6.00 am – 3.00 pm, Sun: closed
Address: Vámház körút 3, Budapest Hungary
Phone: 00-36-1-366-3300
Getting here:

  • Trams/ streetcars: number 2, 47 or 49
  • Metro: blue line, get off at Kálvin tér stop and walk towards the River Danube for about 5 min.

Vásárcsarnok, Central Market Hall on the Budapest Tourist Map (see the yellow basket in the middle):


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Video of Budapest Central Market Hall
Here’s the video made for budapestinfo.hu:

If you are absolutely in the shopping mood in Budapest, here’s a great map for Budapest Shopping,, nothing else but shopping: ranging from wine shops through designer jewelry or hats to fake 18th century umbrellas on the Ecseri flea market. The different types of shops and stores are color and symbol coded, which hopefully will save you time, money & headache. For example, click on the symbol of a Cocktail Glass for wines, spirits, palinka etc.


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History of Vásárcsarnok Budapest

The idea of establishing a central market hall came in the 1860s. In fact, the idea was not simply to have a well organized venue for selling foods and farm produces, but also to improve the quality of products by ensuring quality assurance standards in the new market. The newly formed Food Committee put together a proposal in 1883 to establish market halls. They chose the present venue of the Central Market Hall in Fővám Square, on the site of the Salt depot. The location was very logical as it could be easily accessed from the River Danube, by rail, by wagons, or on foot. As the plot was the property of the state treasury, “the royal government relinquished the plot for the sake of the capital”, according to the history of Vásárcsarnok. There was a tender for design announced in 1892. The most practical design came from Samu Pecz, and basically the Central Market Hall was built from 1894 to 1896.

design from 1893 for Vásárcsarnok Central Market Hall Budapest
Samu Pecz’s design for the Fővám Square front (1893

Just ten days before the completion of the market, however, there was a sudden fire breakout, which caused serious damages. The investigation into the fire accident, which lasted for a whole year, could not reveal what caused the fire. Then Samu Pecz started the repair works, this time with additional structures in order to increase safety. Petz worked with well established names in the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, like Schlick (iron foundry making the steelwork for the building), or Zsolnay (making the pyrogranite coloured ceramic roof tiles), etc. The Central Market Hall finally opened its gates in 1897. The Central Market Hall supplied goods both to the capital and the countryside, and people were not always satisfied. Clients often complained that traders lacked manners and cheated with the measures.

Zsolnay tiles on Vásárcsarnok roof, Central Market Hall Budapest
Zsolnay pyrogranite loft ventilation caps and chimney pots on the Fővám Square front

The Association of Market Hall Traders established in 1897 was formed to solve such problems, come up with better rules to create a fair competition. However, when World War I broke out and the market police disappeared from the Central Market Hall, prices surged, so police had to be called back to resume order. Unfortunately, in WW2, the market hall was heavily damaged. Despite reconstructions in the 1960’s, the pillars of the building badly deteriorated, so the market hall was closed down in 1991. Vásárcsarnok was reopened as a protected monument, and a city favorite in 1994. Now you can hear the market hall clocks play Zoltán Kodály’s folksong tune, “I went to the fair…” every hour.

Capoeira in Budapest

If you feel like joining the local capoeira group in Budapest, check out Senzala. Capoeira trainings are twice a week in 3 different locations: the most central is in Ponty utca (3 minutes from Batthyány tér, which is on the red line metro and opposite the Parliament).

Grupo Senzala was started in the 1960s by some young people who wanted to create a perfect capoeira style. In 1984 the increasingly popular group arranged its first meeting in Paris. Since then the now 48-year-old group has acquired an internationally famous name, and has spread itself around the world. It is thanks to Contra Mestre Chiquinho, a pupil of the Carioca Mestre Peixinho, one of the group’s founding members, that since January 2006 Budapest has been one of the Senzala group’s centres.

Here’s a video about their January workshop:

Circus Festival in Budapest, Hungary

The International Circus Festival in Budapest will be from Jan 24 to 28 in 2008, so if you are staying in Hungary these days, and you love circus or your children love it, you can take them to the Hungarian National Circus in Budapest, which is right next to the Zoo and the Amusement Park/ Theme Park, and very close to Széchenyi Spa Bath and the City Park. Performers are coming from Asia (China), America (Canada, US) and Europe (Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Ukraine etc.).

You can order tickets online here. Tickets are available from about 3,000 to 5,000 HUF.

Address: 1146 Budapest,Állatkerti Krt. 12/a. See it on the Budapest Tourist Map.

Hungarian National State Circus in Budapest, Circus Festival stamp series

The Circus building, which is the only stone circus in Central Europe (1850 seats), is not affected by the weather , so it is opened around the year for the audience. On 7th May in 1891 the Holland-German circus director, Ede Wulff opened the wave-tin circus building on iron frames, which he built with a metropolis show. This building would be the later Hungarian State Circus in the place of the Zoo. The sizes of this building were the same like the present day Circus, the only difference was the seating of the room, it seated 2290 before.

(from the website of the Hungarian National Circus)

The heydays of the circus were form 1904 to 1944, featuring for instance, Gábor Eötvös music clown, who has been so far perhaps the most successful Hungarian circus artist. He was not only presented with the national Jászai-prize, but also appreciated by Charlie Chaplin.

Hungarian National State Circus in Budapest, next to the Zoo and the Theme Park The building of the circus is not in a great condition, still radiating a sort of worn-down communist atmosphere. So the retro feeling will soon begone, and a new circus will be constructed in the future (the circus is practically state owned, i.e. it’s in the hands of the Hungarian Circus and Variety Ltd., which belongs to the Ministry of Education).