How much time to spend in Budapest, ?

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Nov 25th, 2008, 11:00 AM
  #1
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How much time to spend in Budapest, ?

We’re planning our first trip to Eastern Europe in Sept of next year. We’ve probably spent several years (total) in Western Europe – about 1 ¾ yrs in France, 4 months Italy, 3 months England, etc.

Our itinerary so far looks something like this:

- Fly SFO to Prague
- 4 nights/3 ½ days in Prague
- Pick up car, drive south visiting Kunta Hora, & Konopiste Castle. Visit & sleep in Cesky Krumlov
- Visit Telc & perhaps Trebon (by car) mid-day when day-trippers invade Cesky Krumlov. Sleep Cesky Krumlov
- Passau, Germany – 2 nights, visiting Berghausen Castle during the day.
- Drive to Melk, Austria & stay 4 nights, enjoying the Danube & visiting many castles & villages in the immediate area. We have visited Vienna & Salzburg several times on previous trips – but we’ve never explored the countryside around there.
- Drive to Sopron, Hungary & stay 1 night
- Drive towards Budapest & visit the Danube Bend on the way.
- Dump the car in Budapest & stay 5 nights/4 ½ days. Visit Pecs as a day-tip by train. Visit Eger as a day-trip by train.
- Fly from Budapest back to SFO

My concern is Budapest. We will have 2 full days there, plus 3 early evenings. None of these days are Sunday or Monday. Is this enough time to explore Budapest??

What we like to do:
- Admire the architecture of the city
- We do not visit museums with only paintings.
- We love to visit castles and interiors of old buildings. From the Michelin Green Guide, we have chosen 7 museums/houses that we want to visit. We may be able to visit 1 of them on the days we do a day trips to elsewhere.
- We never have a sit-down lunch. We use that time to visit the sites. A sandwich on-the-run is our style.
- Evenings are reserved for dinner, although a cruise on the Danube might be something we would enjoy.
- “over touristy” things like trinket shops & poor street performers do not interest us.

Do you think we have planned enough time in Budapest??

As a reference, we spent 3 nights/2 ½ days in Vienna (Incl. a visit to Schonbrunne) and that was plenty. 1 ½ days in Brugges (no museums with paintings), 3 days in Amsterdam (no museums with paintings), 1 full day in Lyon. Paris, London, & Rome are not in the same league, I assume.

Also, what is the countryside like around Budapest, other than to the Danube Bend? Should we allocate another day to visit the countryside by car? There doesn’t seem to be many Michelin “green” roads on my map, and the Green Guide only has a small driving itinerary described. We’ve seen almost all of France and a lot of Italy & England by car. We spent 5 days in Switzerland this year. Will I find something around Budapest as scenic as Tuscany, Provence, Alsace, Pays Basque, Dordogne, Languedoc, Cotswalds, Scotland, Dolmites, French Alps, etc??? Is the Danube Bend really a “must see”. We’ve visited the Loire in Germany several times, and we’ve been under-whelmed – but we love the Mosel.

Thanks
Stu Dudley
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Nov 25th, 2008, 11:16 AM
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Do you enjoy classical music or opera? If so both Prague and Budapest offer great opportunities to enjoy these sorts of performances, in lovely surroundings and at much lower cost than in other places. I saw "Tosca" in Budapest and it was probably the best production I'd ever seen.

I'd also consider visiting the baths in Budapest. Again, if you like that sort of thing.

I'll point out that I'm also not too fond of "nothing but paintings" musuems. I enjoyed the Museum of Applied Arts as well as the Museum of Ethnography and Hungarian Culture. Both of them were sort of old school experiences in which the presentation said as much (or more) about Hungary as the content did.
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Nov 25th, 2008, 11:39 AM
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Sorry - I should have mentioned that operas & live classical music does not interest us. We don't do baths either.

The Museum of Ethnography is on my list of 7, and I'll add the Applied Arts museum to the list - making it #8. Thanks for the info.

Stu Dudley

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Nov 25th, 2008, 11:49 AM
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Hi, Stu -

Normally, I would suggest a longer visit to Budapest, but given your interests - and your lack of interest in paintings-only museums - two and a half days might be enough for you. The comparison to Vienna is apt - if 2.5 days worked for you there, it will probably work for you in Budapest. BTW, I did enjoy a short cruise along the Danube. The one I took ended around sunset, with very picturesque views of light glinting off the Parliament building and other edifaces. Lovely!

Hope that helps!
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Nov 25th, 2008, 12:00 PM
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Here's the link to my photos of Budapest. www.pbase.com/annforcier/budapest

I was there 7 nights/6 1/2 days this past July. I was not bored. I didn't do many museums. You definitely want to go into the Museum of Applied Arts lobby, even if you don't 'do' the museum. The lobby was described to me as what it must be like to be inside a wedding cake, and it was. I had just come from 4 nights/3 1/2 days in Vienna (with a morning at Schonbrunn)which I considered to be about right. I could have used more time in both Vienna and Budapest but I kind of feel that way about every place I go, I'm rarely ready to leave.

Szentendre was an easy half day trip on the train from Budapest. I didn't do Pecs or Eger but it seemed like they might be easier by car since you'll have one. Perhaps do them before you dump the car, and save Szentendre as a day trip on the train. The country side around Budapest didn't look that great, not like Tuscany certainly. Szentendre was cute enough but not in the same league as most of the Tuscan small towns (or the French or English ones for that matter). Worth doing I felt, as I wanted to see something else in Hungary besides Budapest. It really only took a few hours to see.

Have you got a place to stay in Budapest yet? I can highly recommend Buda BandB (www.budabab.com/index.htm), run by two Americans who really know Budapest inside and out. Very economical too, and they are just nice guys to stay with.
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Nov 25th, 2008, 02:47 PM
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hi stu,

you copycat - your itinerary looks suspiciously like the one we're hoping to do within the next two years or so, at least up to the Vienna bit.

we're not going onto Budapest - we spent 3 days [and nights ]there two christmases ago, and feel no great urge to go back, though it was fun being there. being winter, museums were very attractive[they are well heated] and we like that sort of thing on holiday as we have little of it in rural Cornwall. we also like opera and music when we 're on holiday too. good job we don't go on holiday with you!!

despite your antipathy to all such activities, you might like Franz Lizst's house [or liszt ferenc as they call him, putting the first name before the surname which takes a bit of getting used to like the US habit of putting the month before the day!] I was really blown away by being able to see Beethoven's piano which was given to Lizst after his [ludwig's] death - it's so tiny!

also, i remember reading a very good trip report somewhere here of a visit to Eger using the trains and buses which in Sept would be a really good choice for a day trip.

regards, ann
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Nov 25th, 2008, 03:54 PM
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>>you might like Franz Lizst's house<<

Thanks, Ann. It was already on my "list of 7", which is 8 now that both Teherese & isabel recommended the Applied Arts museum. My Michelin Green Guide compared the architect of the Applied Arts museum to Gaudi - who we love.

Looks like I might need to add a night so we'll have 3 full days there.

Isabel - based on your opinion & considering we've visited hundreds of small adorable villages in France, Italy, & England - do you think we should just take a twilight boat trip up & back on the Danube, and skip visiting Szentendre (and other villages) by train or car. I suppose we could save it for last & visit it if we run out of things to do in Budapest. We like small villages, but not if they are ultra touristy & filled with trinket shops - like many that we visited on the Rhine & some on the Mosel (Cochem).

From Budapest, we can get to Pecs in 3 hrs by train - which is the same as the driving time. Same situation with Eger. As long as the countryside is not that scenic compared to other places we've visited - going by train would be less "stressful" for my wife (she does the driving).

Stu Dudley

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Nov 25th, 2008, 05:17 PM
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I agree with isabel's description of Szentendre and would do the Danube cruise instead, considering your time and the fact that you've visited a number of semi-equivalent villages in the past.

Is the House of Terror on your list?
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Nov 25th, 2008, 05:49 PM
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>>Is the House of Terror on your list?<<

I could not find it mentioned in the Michelin Green Guide, but Rick Steves devotes 3 pages to it. In all of our many travels in Europe, I've seen many, many "reminders" of the Nazi atrocities. This year in Besanson, Fr. we visited a museum dedicated to it. The "experience" really tears me up. I can't even look at a picture of Anne Frank without becoming a mess. From the description in the Rick Steves book, the House of Terror sounds like it may add a little more history to the subject - perhaps that will make it #9 on my list of 7.

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Nov 25th, 2008, 06:19 PM
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Stu, you seem to do things at a faster pace than I do, so I'll pass on the question of how long to stay in Budapest. Just some suggestions:
- I thought the House of Terror was well worth visiting. For me, the visit was made more interesting by the fact that I had just read a history of the 1956 revolution.
- I suspect that you might not like Szentendre, mainly because it has been taken over by commerce.
- The Buda Hills are pleasant. They are not far from the city, and there is a mixture of wealthy suburbia and forest park. The children's railway is a really enjoyable piece of kitsch.
- I didn't see much that recalled Gaudi in the Museum of Applied Arts.
- Be sure to ride on line 1 of the metro. It's old, small almost to the point of cuteness, and the stations are lovely.
- Do you like Parks? Budapest has some good ones. It also has a permanent funfair; I'm sure that's just what you need.
- There are interesting buildings all over the city, many recalling the style of the Austro-Hungarian empire. A lot of them have become dilapidated, but many are being restored.
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Nov 25th, 2008, 06:21 PM
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Oh, and I should add that Herself was not best pleased that we failed to make time to see the excavations and the Roman museum at Aquincum. I don't know if that is your cup of tea.
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Nov 25th, 2008, 06:36 PM
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Stu, The House of Terror covers much more than the Nazi and Arrow Cross atrocities. The Commuinist era is well documented and represented.

The stroll up Andrassy is most pleasant also.
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Nov 25th, 2008, 06:59 PM
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Padraig

I'm also worried about the pace in Budapest. We like to visit a city thoroughly. But like I stated, lunch for us is a sandwich or pizza slice on the run - so we gain some time there. We don't usually return back to the "hotel/home base" till after 4PM or later. In the many years we've traveled in Europe, we've never turned a TV set on, so evenings in cities are spent eating dinner and wandering around. The museum/house/castle count is now up to 9 - and I don't see any way I can do that in 2 full days plus some time (perhaps small) after our day trips. I'll add another day to Budapest - that will put us there on a Sunday, which is usually a nice day for parks. Thanks for the opinion on Szentendre. I'll delete it from the itinerary. Love Roman ruins.

The House of Terror seems like something we can not afford to miss. We just need to do it slow & "contemplate"

Thanks, all

Stu Dudley
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Nov 25th, 2008, 07:05 PM
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Stu - I think your idea to leave Szentendre till last and do it if you have time is a good one. The main street is very touristy, but get off that and the rest of the town was not. Since I didn't go anywhere else in Hungary I'm glad I saw at least one small town, but if you are doing the other two you might skip Szentendre. I didn't do a cruise on the Danube, I felt the main things to see were right in central Budapest and those could be seen from the bridges and from one side of the river to the other.

Don't miss the shoe memorial - it's one of the most moving memorials I've seen. It's on the Pest side embankment, between the Chain Bridge and the Parliament.

Another thing not to miss is Langos - a kind of fired dough with a choice of about 50 kinds of toppings. You can get it several places but an easy one to find is the second floor of the great market, a building worth seeing for the building itself even if you don't like markets.
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Nov 25th, 2008, 07:11 PM
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>>Don't miss the shoe memorial - it's one of the most moving memorials I've seen.<<

Geeze - If we visit both the House of Terror & the shoe memorial, I'll be a wreck !!!!!

Stu Dudley
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