Budapest has an amazing (and a bit horrifying) history, that it has beautiful architecture, that it’s one of the most important European cultural centers.
When people travel they tend to do some research about the place where they are traveling. The first thing that you will find out about Budapest is that it has an amazing (and a bit horrifying) history, that it has beautiful architecture, that it’s one of the most important European cultural centers and that paprika is the main ingredient of almost every dish. It really is; Hungarians are crazy about paprika.
However, what you rarely find out are some tips that you only discover once you get there. People usually think that they can simply improvise and that they don’t need any insider’s information, but that’s where they are wrong. You will have a much easier time once you truly get to know the details about Budapest and your visit will be much more pleasant.
Budapest = Buda + Pest
This is not some 3rd grade math formula. Actually, it represents the past of Budapest – it used to be two separate cities divided by the Danube River. Buda was on the one side of the river, while Pest was on the other and they united in 1870s to form the city we know today.
This information sounds irrelevant, but once you figure out that these two cities existed separately in the past, you will realize that each part of the city has its own magic and flare. While spending most of the time in Buda, visiting castles and fortresses might be fun, you can’t truly discover Budapest unless you also visit Pest. It has become a commercial center, filled with hotels, pubs and other stuff attractive for younger generations. Buda is much more traditional, with old architecture and filled with history, while Pest is modern, eclectic and new.
While Hungary is a member of the European Union it still hasn’t adopted the Euro as the national currency. National currency is the Forint and your best bet is to check the exchange rate online before making any exchange. Also, there are ATMs all around the city, so this shouldn’t be too much of a hustle.
A huge problem might be the enormous number of zeros you will start seeing on your bills. You will be forced to handle bills of 1000 Forints and more, and it can be confusing sometimes. The best trick is to count the zeros in order not to mix a bill and maybe tip too generously, while the biggest amount of cash you should have on you shouldn’t exceed 10 000 Forints.
Use the public transport
Budapest has a really developed their public transport system, which includes many bus lines, trams, trains, taxis and a Metro system which is one of the oldest in the world. You shouldn’t be afraid to use the public transport as it will transport you quickly and relatively cheaply to any place desired. Make sure to buy a ticket, because you may get fined if you are caught without one. You can buy a daily ticket that will allow you to travel anywhere in Budapest for the next 24 hours.
If this doesn’t sound too exciting, then you might want to get a chairlift that will give you a beautiful look on the city or a ride in the cable railway, known as Funicular railway. The railway is a sweet little cable car on the side of the Buda Castle Hill and it takes you from the Chain Bridge to the top of the Castle Hill. Funicular railway really does sound fun.
However, if you don’t like to use public transport for whatever reasons, you should know that Budapest is very bicycle-friendly. You can get around Budapest using bikes with relative ease and safety, and there are even biking tours that you can take, which will take you around town.
Eat like a king…or at least a butcher
Hungary is known for delicious traditional meals filled with tons of paprika. Also, in more recent times, Budapest has started evolving a more modern approach to the whole cuisine situation. However, a thing that you mustn’t miss is eating in a butcher’s store.
It may sound a bit peculiar, but Butcher shops aren’t used only in a traditional way of buying unprepared meat – they are a dining experience of their own. Blood sausages or pork knuckles served with mustard and sauerkraut are a delicacy and, while you will probably have your meal while on your feet, you will certainly not regret this experience.
When drinking beer
Hungarians usually don’t clink their glasses when they drink beer. The reason is that, according to a story, Austrian generals celebrated the suppression of a Hungarian uprising in the mid-1800s by clinking their beer glasses. Hungarians vowed not to do it for the next 150 years. The anniversary was around the year 2000, so it’s still debatable whether you should or shouldn’t do it, but maybe the best option is to ask a local if it’s appropriate…or simply not do it at all.