Budapest for Beginners
Budapest is my hometown and I love this city. Like every destination, Budapest has also it's specialties. I collected some questions I received regarding Budapest and CWG Conference in Budapest.
If you don't have time to browse through your favourite travel site, maybe you'll find some useful information here.
How to get a cab at the airport?
After you got your luggage, walk out of the terminal and look for the taxi booth of FŐTAXI. If anyone offers you a cab while waiting at the luggage belt, I do not recommend you to accept the offer.
At the taxi booth they will ask your target address and provide you an approximate price based on the distance. Traffic jams make the final price eventually higher.
If you tell at the booth that you'll pay by credit/debit card, the driver should be able to accept it. Mastercard and Visa are definitely accepted, however I never tried Amex. If you worry, ask the driver.
You should get a bill. If you didn't get one, don't be shy to ask for it. 'Számlát szeretnék.'
Approximate price without much traffic jam is 25 € (8000 Ft) to the conference location.
Should I exchange money? Where can I exchange money?
In Hungary we still use Forint (HUF, common abbreviation Ft). There is little chance that you can already exchange HUF in your home country.
Check with your bank, sometimes withdrawing cash abroad is actually OK. In this case you can use the ATM at the airport.
However, if you need to exchange money, I wouldn't recommend to exchange a larger sum at the airport. They have horrible exchange rates.
There is a small shopping center next to the CWG hotel: MOM Park. On the ground floor they have a money exchange office with acceptable rates.
I will arrive by train. What should I expect?
Sounds like an adventure. Two German colleagues tried recently a night train from/to Mannheim, they wish they hadn't.
The main international railway station (Keleti Pályaudvar) will be renovated 13-26th May.
Trains will be rerouted to different smaller railway stations (public toilets are not always available).
If you have a chance, get off at Kelenföldi Pályaudvar or Déli Pályaudvar. Those are the closest to the hotel.
I heard that Budapest is a dangerous city. Is that true?
Sure, in many spy movies Budapest played Moscow.
Use your common sense, do not keep all your money with your passport in your back pocket, keep a hand on your bag/phone while using public transportation or being in the crowd and think twice before accepting the invitation of an unknown beautiful lady to a nightclub. If you choose a restaurant on Váci utca, check some opinions before, in best case you get some way overpriced but tasty meal.
Last year we had multiple occasions at the airport when luggages arrived opened or with damaged locks. Some people have been arrested in Budapest (in Italy and Spain as well). If you are afraid of this, use a bag wrap service. Generally the selection criteria is how hard it is to open a luggage.
I want to use public transportation. Where can I get tickets?
Here you can find the available ticket types: https://bkk.hu/en/tickets-and-passes/prices
Please keep in mind that in Budapest with a single ticket you are not allowed to switch lines.
At most stops there are ticket vending machines (purple-white) including the tram and bus stops around the hotel.
If you are traveling as a group of people or you plan to travel a lot, consider buying a 10-er block which consists of 10 individual tickets (15% cheaper than 10 single tickets) or a 24-hour group travel card for up to 5 people.
During weekends our metro line #3 (blue line) is being renovated, there should be some replacement bus. If you have the chance, avoid this metro line during the weekend.
Ticket vending machines are sometimes subject of criminal activities. You can recognize it quickly, if you don't get your change or ticket. Getting refund is a somewhat burocratic process. If you are afraid of this, you can start a dummy transaction, drop in some small coin and abort the transaction.
I'm lost. What should I do?
Download Budapest as offline map before you arrive. Is it too late? Google or ask for guidance :)
The CWG Hotel's location is known to all locals as BAH Csomópont. To be pronounced as Bach (like the composer) jomopont (for English speakers) or tschomopont (for German speakers).
Following bus stops at the hotel: 8E, 108E, 110, 112, 139, 140, 140A, 142, 212.
Or find tram 17 or 61.
What to visit in Budapest
Buda Castle (the CWG tour on Sunday will not go to the Castle)
- from the hotel take tram 61 or 17 to Széll Kálmán tér and than take the bus 16A or 116 (also known as várbusz - castle bus)
- from the hotel take the tram 61 to Szüre utca and then take the bus 27 to Búsúló Juhász
Parliament visit (buy ticket in advance!)
- from the hotel take the tram 61 or bus 139 to Déli Pályaudvar and then take Metro line 2 (red line) to Kossuth tér
- alternatively take the bus 8E, 108E or 112 to Ferenciek tere and walk a bit
- it's in the castle area
- I'd take the bus 8E, 108E or 112 to Astoria and then walk on Károly körút and Andrássy út. There are amazing buildings around those streets.
- Alternatively pick a subway line to Deák tér (from Ferenciek tere, Astoria or Déli Pályaudvar) and switch to metro line 1 (yellow) to Hősök tere
Museum of Fine Arts (also the building is beautiful)
- it's at Heroes' Square
Museum for Modern Arts
- it's at Heroes' Square too
Basilica (go for the panorama)
- if you visit the Parliament or be around Deák tér subway station, you can walk there in 5 minutes
- Deák tér or Astoria would be a good starting point
Walk around the Danube between the bridges (from Szabadság híd to Margit híd), walk on Lánchíd (Chain bridge) or take tram line #2 (one of the most beautiful tram lines of Europe) or the public transport boat (special ticket required, available from vending machine).
Thermal/Turkish baths: https://www.offbeatbudapest.com/budapest-city-guide/best-thermal-baths
Batch experience with disco and lightshow: https://spartybooking.com/events/sparty-bath-party-18-may-2019-szechenyi-bath/
Great Market Hall (the building is really nice)
- take the bus 8E, 108E, 110 or 112 to Március 15. tér and walk a few minutes along the Danube
Margaret Island: https://welovebudapest.com/en/venue/margaret-island/
I'm lazy to go out. Are there any restaurants near the hotel?
Sure, there are many around the shopping center next to the hotel. There is Italian, Bavarian, Mexican and some more international restaurants within 5 minutes walking distance.
Can you recommend some place to drink craft beer?
or walk through the 7th district and look for ruin pubs e.g. Szimpla Kert :-)
And what about wines?
We have really good red or white wines (and sure we also have rosé). They are rarely exported due to the low quantity of each family is able to produce during a year.
It's hard to recommend anything, it depends on your taste what you'll like. The wine region Tokaj is known for its dessert wines, but you can also try something from Balaton region (Badacsony) if you prefer white wine. For red wine I'd propose something from Villány or Szekszárd. Again, it's just my preference.
If you are interested, you may go to a wine bar: https://welovebudapest.com/en/toplists/9-divinely-romantic-budapest-wine-bars/.