Budapest Events Calendar 2012

Spruce up your Budapest holiday with some of the amazing and fun events taking place in Budapest – a few ideas have been gathered in Budapest Events Calendar 2012 by Top Budapest Travel Guide

Budapest Events Calendar - agenda view

Budapest Events Calendar – agenda view

Each day Budapest has something peculiar to offer, so enjoy Budapest nightlife, live music at bars, cool concerts, classical music events, contemporary dances, sports events like Budapest Formula 1 this summer, or the upcoming Hungary – Netherlands Qualifying Match in September 2012.

Pick a concert, a musical, an exhibition or a gastronomy festival with great wines and traditional Hungarian foods. Pick any genre and you will definitely find something which appeals to you.

Budapest Events Calendar is quite flexible, although it may take some time to download all the events (which is not even a comprehensive list of Budapest events!)

Budapest Events Calendar in agenda view – it is the default view. But you can also take a look at the upcoming events in a monthly overview, which is especially useful if you are planning your Budapest trip in advance. Mind you, many many events are not published until 2-3 weeks before they start (especially smaller concerts and parties).

Budapest Events Calendar in calendar view – if you click on the little calendar icon in the upper left hand corner, you can switch to calendar view in this neat little Budapest Events Calendar

Budapest Events Calendar - calendar view

Budapest Events Calendar – calendar view

Budai Gourmet Festival 2012 – Foodies Welcome to Budapest!

Now the Budai Gourmet Festival is coming at the beginning of June again to make all foodies, locals and foreigners happy in Budapest.

Budai Gourmet Festival Budapest

Budai Gourmet Festival Budapest

The even better news is that you can watch all the Euro 2012 games right at the festival venue on huge outdoor screens, plus enjoy the gourmet foods and drinks, probably the best bites and sips Hungary can offer. There will be lots of jazzy – folksy concerts too to make you really feel relaxed.
The venue is one of our favorites in Budapest: Millenaris Park, a contemporary cultural complex, almost at the foot of the Castle Hill (a 15 min walk down from the Buda Castle District).

Please enjoy! June 8 – 10, an amazingly good event to put down in your calendar for your Budapest trip.
Oh, and almost forgot, you can take a look at the detailed program of the 2012 Budapest Gourmet Festival here

Iguana Bar & Grill Restaurant in Budapest: Mexican Dishes

Iguana Bar & Grill Restaurant has been voted the best Mexican restaurant in Budapest for five consecutive years (and before you start getting suspicious: not only because competition is slacking in this area). Iguana Bar & Grill – La Cantina de Budapest opened in 1997 serving authentic Tex-Mex cooking (quesadillas, guacamole, burritos, fajitas, jalapeno, guadalajara soup, chorizo sausages, special kids menus, etc.) “Colorfully decorated and always buzzing with activity, you might have trouble finding a seat at this buzzing restaurant. This is a real hangout for Budapest expatriates, but also draws younger crowds and families. … You might also try the Iguana Beer, made especially for the restaurant by a small Csepel Island brewery.” (Frommer’s). Here’s a lively party shot from summer:

Iguana Bar and Grill Restaurant in Budapest Mexican Dishes in Hungary

Address: Zoltán utca 16., Budapest 5th district (V. ker.)
Phone: 00-36-1-331-4352
Opening hours: Sun – Thu 11:30 am – 12:30am, Fri-Sat 11:30 am – 1:30am
Getting here

  • metro (red line) Kossuth tér station,
  • tram/streetcar: number 2 or 2A
  • bus number 15

Note: Book a table in advance (try to get one upstairs on the balcony). The restaurant can comfortably seat large groups too (max. capacity 120 people, gallery 40). Regular popular events include: the anniversary party in Sept, or the Cinco de Mayo (usually May 5) Street Party

See the location of Iguana Bar & Grill Restaurant on the Budapest Tourist Map (check the knife and fork map icon in the middle, and click on the icons to learn more about the neighboring places of interest or click on the View Larger Map blue link under the map). Notice that Iguana Bar & Grill Restaurant is very close to the Parliament, the Basilica and Roosevelt square with the Chain Bridge, plus there’s the Funicular Railway on the other side of the bridge (5-10 min walk).

View Larger Map

Read more about the Best Restaurants in Budapest.

Haxen Restaurant (Haxen Király Étterem): Bavarian Feeling in Budapest

Haxen Restaurant (Haxen Király Étterem) is a highly popular Bavarian beerhouse and restaurant in Király utca, Budapest, offering huge pork knuckles, knödels, sausages, what have you. The atmosphere is light-hearted in the all-wooden place (pine-paneled walls, wooden tables and chairs, and stairs, etc.). Picked as one of the best of Budapest restaurants by the Hungarian food blog,

Haxen Restaurant (Haxen Király Étterem) Bavarian Feeling in Budapest

Address: Király utca 100., Budapest 6th district (VI. ker.)
Phone: 00-36-1-351-6793
Opening hours: Sun-Thu 12 pm – 12 am, Fri-Sat 12 pm – 1 am
Getting here:

  • underground (yellow metro line), Vorosmarty utca station
  • trolley buses: 73, 76, 78

See the location of Haxen Restaurant on the Budapest Tourist Map (check the knife and fork map icon in the middle, and click on the icons to learn more about the neighboring places of interest or click on the View Larger Map blue link under the map). Notice that Haxen Restaurant is very close to the House of Terror museum as well as the Puppet Theater on Andrassy út.

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Read more about the Best Restaurants in Budapest.

Ocean Bar and Grill Restaurant (Óceán Étterem) Budapest

Ocean Bar and Grill Restaurant (Óceán Étterem) is your sure bet if you want to eat high quality fresh seafood in Budapest. No wonder it easily wins the Best of Budapest award in Seafood categories in the past few years. Besides the seafood restaurant there’s also an Óceán Delicatessen store where you can buy your own fishes, prawns, scampis, mussels, lobsters – anything from black tiger to sea scallops no roe. Chef Giuseppe Monti and the management make seafood dining a mission in Hungary (offering recipes, nutrition advice, what have you).

Ocean Bar and Grill Restaurant (Óceán Étterem) Budapest
Address: Petőfi tér 3., 1052 Budapest
Phone: 00-36-1-266-1826
Opening hours: Mon – Sun 12 pm – 12 am (Óceán Delicatessen Tue-Sat 10.00am – 9.00pm. )
Getting here

  • metro (blue line) Ferenciek tere station,
  • tram/streetcar: number 2 or 2A
  • bus number 7 (green or red), or number 78

Note: Book a table in advance. Expect specialty prices. Attire: casual.

Ocean Bar and Grill Restaurant (Óceán Étterem) interior Budapest

See the location of Ocean Bar and Grill Restaurant on the Budapest Tourist Map (check the knife and fork map icon in the middle, and click on the icons to learn more about the neighboring places of interest or click on the View Larger Map blue link under the map). Notice that Ocean Bar and Grill Restaurant is very close to the Elisabeth Bridge, Váci utca shopping street and the luxurious Hotel Marriott Budapest.

View Larger Map

Read more about the Best Restaurants in Budapest.

Budapest Chairlift: Libego on Janoshegy

The Chairlift in Budapest is on János hill (Jánoshegy) in a beautiful green part of the hilly Buda side of Budapest. Although the Chair Lift is run by the Budapest Public Transportation company, Budapest travel passes and tourist cards known as Budapest cards, do not include a free ride on the Chairlift.

Budapest Chairlift

Budapest Chairlift

Opening hours: weekends and fair weather 10 am – 4pm
Prices: 500 HUF for adults, 200 HUF for kids, 400 HUF for students and retired people. Return tickets are double.
Address: Zugligeti út 97, Budapest
Phone: 00-36-1-394-37-64
Note: Groups need to book in advance.

The location of the Chairlift is indicated in the middle with a blue (sorry) ‘helicopter’ icon on the Budapest Tourist Map, you can see the Children’s Railway (Gyermekvasut), the Lookout Tower and the Langos vendor close by. All highly recommended for a relaxed family-friendly or inspirational romantic program.

View Larger Map

Here’s a nice video on the Chairlift on Janos Hill (the second major part of the video is about the neighboring lookout tower, Erzsebet kilato from 1910). Watch out for the retro panpipe music characterizing the 1980s:


Elisabeth Lookout Tower (Erzsébet kilátó) on János Hill, at the Children’s Railway in Budapest

If you want to breathe some nice fresh air, be in the green and take panoramic photos of Budapest, it’s a good idea to take the Children’s Railway and get off at Janoshegy, at the Elisabeth Lookout Tower (in Hungarian Erzsébet kilátó). Skip to the video at the bottom if you want to watch not read.

Although it’s a beautiful memorial, admission is free and kids also love it very much. Most of the time it is open all year round. On the first floor there is a mini-exhibition (a few words about the history of the lookout tower), which tells you that the tower was built between 1908 and 1910 from lime and sand stone (by Pál Kluzinger), and the top part was rebuilt by Frigyes Schulek (who also planned the Fishermen’s Bastion, so if you felt a resemblance between the rampart in the Buda Castle and Erzsebet kilato, you are right). Renovation took place between 2001 and 2005.

Elisabeth Lookout Tower (Erzsébet kilátó) at the Children’s Railway in Budapest on the Buda hills

It’s on the highest point of Budapest at 527 m/ 0.33 miles, while the tower itself, which has six floors, is about 23.5 m/ 77 ft. If the weather is truly clear you can see the hill tops of Pilis and Mátra as far as 77km/ 48 miles without binoculars.

The beloved Elisabeth or Sissi liked taking tours here, similarly to many Hungarians, so when the wooden lookout structure was replaced by a stone one, it was named after Sissi (in Hungarian Erzsébet, say: air-jay-beth)

The guard of the lookout tower used to live on the ground floor, then in 1923 he got a new building not far from Erzsebet kilato (not in use anymore). Now the guard uses the ground floor places again.

Needless to say, just like any other important building, the Lookout tower got a red star in the communist era:

Elisabeth Lookout Tower (Erzsébet kilátó) with a communist red star

To go back to the city center you can take the mini railway operated by kids (the engine is driven by an adult), you can take a good walk or you can get on the Chair lift (Libego) and then on bus 158 to get back to Moszkva tér metro station.

Here’s the Lookout Tower on the Budapest Tourist Map in the middle (map icon for panoramic photo spots: lilac cameras)

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The video (made by Cix688) is good for three reasons: a, it starts with the Chairlift, which helps you decide if you want to sit on it or not, b, Erzsebet Kilato is shown from inside out, c, you can hear the cheesiest panflute-soft rock music since the 1980s:

Lookout Towers in Budapest: Where Can You Take a Good Panoramic Photo?

There are several lookout towers in Budapest where you can take a good panoramic photo, and I think one of the best gifts for your friends is a beautiful shot shared with them of the places you have been to.

City Center

To start with the city center, you should definitely get to the top of the Basilica on the Pest side, either being sporty and climbing the 364 stairs, or taking the elevator (see the link for more details on the opening hours). The Pest side is totally flat, so this could be the topmost part of the eastern part of Budapest.

As for the Buda side: the Fishermen’s Bastion is a typical choice since you can get a clear view of the River Danube with the Szechenyi Chain Bridge, the Parliament, the Gresham Palace, etc. Another frequented spot on the Buda side is around the Statue of Liberty on top of the Gellert Hill. I think the top of the Tunnel (right overlooking the Chain Bridge) is also a good spot.

Outside the inner city

Outside the city center you can take panoramic photos on Normafa, for instance, or take the Children’s Railway and get off at Janos

hegy, at the Elisabeth Lookout Tower (in Hungarian Erzsébet kilátó). Although it’s a beautiful memorial, admission is free and kids also love it very much.

Elisabeth Lookout Tower (Erzsébet kilátó) at the Children’s Railway in Budapest on the Buda hills

Another option on the route of the railroad is to go to the Szechenyi Memorial Lookout Tower, which is slightly lower than the Elisabeth. The ride on the Children’s Railway itself also has a panoramic part.

Szechenyi Memorial Lookout Tower at the Children’s Railway in Budapest on the Buda hills

Check out the lilac camera icons on the Budapest Tourist map to find your panoramic photo places easily:

Millennial Velodrome in Budapest: Feel Like Playing Bike Polo?

The Millennial Velodrome in Budapest is one of the oldest arena for track cycling in Europe: it was built in 1896 as part of the developments celebrating the 1000 year old Hungarian state. Little wonder, many of the famous buildings in Budapest were built in 1896, like the Millennial Velodrome, the Millennial Monument on Heroes’ Square, or the romantic Castle Vajdahunyad. Would you think that not so long ago, there were plans to demolish this fantastic facility? Luckily many bikers, architects and locals joined their forces and achieved a certain protection for the athletic national monument of the Budapest Velodrome.

These days, you will see bike polo players. Join them on Wed afternoons & Saturday mornings on the Millenáris Velodrome. It is fun and they are totally open to have foreign players. See this short video to get an idea:

In 1896 the first few sporting competitions included shot putting, javelin throwing, jumping, etc. The then gold-medalist weight-lifter (Horvath) lifted a 33 kg (!) weight in the air fifty-five times (sounds funny now, I know). And then, there was of course, cycling. The winners of the first Velodrome cycling race were the Belgian Emile Huet and Raymond Depage, plus the French Fournier. By the end of the year though, the later European champion Ferenc Gerger gathered the most medals in cycling. It was a novelty at that time that ladies also took part in the contest: yes, on tandems, and their partners on tandem were male competitors.

There were competitions for every weekend in 1896, the king was sitting in the Royal Pavilion, sportsmen were enjoying the modern facilities, spectators saw unknown sports: Velodrome meant a new chapter in the Hungarian sports life. The snag was that several millennial buildings were originally planned to be make-shift temporary structures with a short life: the Velodrome, for instance, was planned to get demolished and cleared away in Oct 31 in 1896, in the same year that it was constructed. All the sports clubs came together to lobby for the Velodrome, and many locals were against the makeshift Velodrome – then made of wood, meaning fire hazard to neighbouring houses. Locals also feared that homeless people would move into the wooden structures, etc. etc. The main point is that the clubs won the right to use the facilities for another 3 years. More and more football players came to the Velodrome arena, and in 1901 the Hungarian Football Association and the first National League was founded, played on the premises of the Millennial Velodrome. The athletics competition in the same year attracted 4000 athletes, and tickets could only be bought if one had multiple connections.

But back to cycling: in 1899 the city made the decision to make cyclists pay a pretty nice amount of annual tax. The result? Fewer cyclists. The taxation was canceled in 1911, and by that time football became by far the most popular sport, pushing behind the budding cycling in Hungary. From 1905, Wiegand started to organize cycling races as a sort of gambling. In 1902, the first few steher motorcycles arrived (soon banned due to locals’ complaints about the noise). In 1906 Woody Headspeth won the cycling race, which was sensational and disheartening at the same time. But even such sensations did not reach the profit of football matches.

In 1915 – when the Millennial Velodrome or Sports Center has become too small for professional football (although earlier hosting Southampton, Tottenham, Woolwich and Celtic – the arena got taken over by the capital again and gave place to thousands of schoolchildren as a regular sports facility. After WWI, the Velodrome was totally renewed, new structures, new lawn, and a fabulous new cycling track based on the Dresdan Velodrome. The Cycling track was now built from reinforced iron.

In 1925 the modern Velodrome was ready to attract thousands of spectators: 450 metre (0.27 miles) , 12–42° leaning, over 100 kmh (62 mph). Further rebuildings were carried out by Alfred Hajos & Aladar Mattyok sports architects. Cycling became fashionable again in the 20’s in Hungary. And at last, Cycling World Race, 1929: Budapest (after some tug of war with the Dutch). In the 30’s one name jumps out: Laszlo Orczan. Swimming and football also came back to the Millennial Centre. But WW2 meant first less and less rubber & then bombardments. During the war the arena turned into a supply centre, the changing rooms were haunted by cyclists who did not want to go to war or deserted the army. The Millie (nickname of the Millennial Velodrome) was heavily damaged in the WW2, but enthusiasm brought the Sports Centre back to life by May 1945! At least, there was a race already.

The 1950’s reconstruction changed the parameters of the cycling racing track. the length is now 412 metre (0.25 mile), which is not in line with the international standards, so world races gradually disappeared from the site (also for political reasons & the iron curtain). The 1970’s had several track races called Golden Mocca (Arany Mokka), but then the new media, TV primarily, meant the end of sports life in a sense. However, the last couple of years show a new revival. If you like bike polo, join the guys on the track!

See the green bike icon in the middle for the Budapest Velodrome. Look for the green bike signs on the map for further bikers’ tips in Budapest, e.g. Bike Rentals.

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sources: Zeidler Miklós: Egy régi pálya a polgári korban: a Millenáris Sporttelep, wiki

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?):

One Day Tour in Budapest: Get The Most Out Of 24 Hour

If you only have one day in Budapest, although it is not much time to really look around to see the sights and enjoy fun things to do, you can still make the most out of it in a one-day tour, and hopefully you will come back to see more. Let’s suppose you arrive late afternoon, so all you are ready for is having a good dinner, maybe a feel of Budapest nightlife, and you leave discovering the attractions for next morning.

Night in Budapest

If you plan to have a few drinks in the happening area, Pest side gives more options than Buda side (where the castle is). Here’s a great map of the pubs, bars, clubs and party places of Budapest. The different color-coded icons on the map show you different styles: e.g.

  • Green for Irish pubs,
  • Blue for Best – based on tourists’ feedback
  • Blue dot for Best alternative pubs
  • Blue pin for Belgian beers
  • Light blue for maybe good
  • Yellow for themed pubs (e.g. Western, Cuban, etc.)
  • Pink GL-friendly, etc.

Here’s the map, color-coded: double-click to enlarge, or click on an icon to get more info on the pub / bar.

View Larger Map

Whichever pub or bar suits your style and wallet more, one thing is sure: don’t miss the Danube river-view at night. It is beautiful: classical yet intimate beauty. Read more about the Best Restaurants in Budapest or the Best Cafes in Budapest.

Next Morning in Budapest

1, (7-9am) I would start with an early morning Széchenyi bath and wash away my headache in the thermal water: it’s for both men and women, and kids. Take your towel.
2, (9-10:30) go over to Heroes’ square & have a look at the Millennial monument, then (depending which attracts you more)
a, Arts: peep into the Museum of Fine Arts
b, Agriculture: the Vajdahunyad Castle in the City Park (hosting the Museum of Agriculture)
c, History: the House of Terror on Andrássy: tricks and tools of Nazi and Soviet dictatorship at the former HQ of the Hungarian Secret Police. Not for small kids.
d, Model trains, cars, planes etc.: Museum of Transport, Budapest
e, none: you saved 1.3 hours!

Follow your route on the Budapest Tourist Map: double click to enlarge or simply click on the view large option under the map.

View Larger Map

3, (11-12:00) take the underground to Vorosmarty ter, have a quick snack, coffee, cake in Café Gerbeaud OR walk over to Gresham Palace and have a snack there.
4, (12-12:30) walk over the Chain Bridge, get on the Funicular on the Buda side at Adam Clark square (Clark Ádám tér) up to the Castle Hill.
5, (12:30-14:00) have a quick look around the Castle District, take photos at Fishermen’s Bastion (you will see the beautiful Parliament, which is highly worth checking out but no time now) & at Matthias Church.
6, (14-16:00) take the bus (number 16) from Dísz tér to Deák tér, then the tram (number 2) along the Danube embankment up to Fővám tér – go to the Central Market Hall to do some gift shopping and or have late lunch or a quick snack (e.g. Lángos). Note: the Central Market Hall is closed on Sundays and closes early on Saturdays, so change the order if it is not convenient for your travel, please.


You can do the whole thing backwards, or with variations. Start with the Castle, down to Gresham Palace (then to the Basilica or the Synagogue & the old Jewish district) or directly to Heroes’ square.
I usually leave shopping at the end to avoid having to wade through the city with bags. If you are more shopping-minded, use the Budapest Shopping Map to guide you.

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No need to rush: you can come back any time and take a closer look at Budapest. It’s well worth it: after more than 20 years I am still discovering a lot of new things to see, do, eat – it’s a city that does not let you get bored, and which always welcomes you, alone or with friends & family.