The Road Whisperer

Here you can find free-of-charge ready-made travel itineraries for some of the places I’ve visited so far. These include interesting sights, tips on where to eat and drink (on a budget), suggestions for day trips, etc. I will try to add new ones as regularly as possible, depending of course on how often I travel myself.

I tend to avoid travel agencies because I don’t like traveling on someone else’s schedule and I like discovering places for myself. Travel planning may very well be the only aspect of my life where I’m a control freak. 🙂 I’m also passionate about my pre-travel research and I enjoy building itineraries which eschew the usual tourist routes and traps. In fact, I specialize in hidden & tucked-away – in roads less travelled. (Or if you like more literary references, far from the madding crowd.)

So, if you’d like to travel somewhere but don’t have the time or patience to research your destination, I will be happy to assist you, whether it be sorting out accommodation, providing restaurant tips, or planning day trips to nearby places – or all of the above. I can do this to a certain extent even with places I haven’t visited because I know where to look for reliable information. And since I always travel on a budget, my tips and advice will tend to be of the economizing kind. And if you end up being happy with my service, please recommend me to your friends.

Here is an example of an itinerary I compiled on Tripadvisor in 2007:

Experiencing Budapest

Image

This post represents a stitching-together of the experiences I had visiting Budapest on 3 different occasions in 2007, so some of the information may very well be inaccurate now. But since I’ll be visiting again in October, I’ll have a chance to update the information and add fresh items.

The list is suitable both to those who come to Budapest on a short weekend break and those who have a whole week to see it. It includes the major sights and I’ve added a couple eating and drinking options, as well as some interesting day trips and uniquely Budapestian experiences. I hope you find it useful.

  • 1. The House of Terror
    Museum dedicated to the period in Hungary’s history from 1944 to 1965 when Soviets occupied Hungary and established a totalitarian government system, imprisoning, torturing and killing over ten thousand Hungarians. A truly mind-blowing permanent exhibition whose purpose is not to allow people to forget their past. Three floors of reconstructed prison cells, rooms for questioning, instruments of torture, and media reports, all accomplished using 3-D multimedia. 
  • 2. Statue Park (Szobor Park)
    Memento Park, Budapest, Central Hungary
    Outdoor musem, soon-to-be memorial center, exhibiting bronze statues made during the Soviet occupation of Hungary and placed all over Budapest, and removed after 1989. Extremely interesting but a bit complicated to reach as it’s on the outskirts of Budapest and involves swapping a tram for a bus. 
  • 3. Fortuna Self-Service Restaurant
    A modest but large restaurant in the heart of of old Buda, right across the street from the Hilton Hotel and St Matthias Church. Serves typical Hungarian food at budget prices. 
  • 4. Andrassy Street
    Long, lovely avenue in downtown Pest, packed with beautiful early-20th-century houses, museums and cafes. It’s a continuation of Teres Krt. (Avenue) and ends in Hero’s Square. Wonderful for a long walk at sundown. 
  • 5. Hero’s Square
    Huge square in downtown Pest, at the end of Andrassy Street, with a breath-taking memorial to Hungary’s fallen heroes. The statues in the colonnades feature the complete line of Hungary’s kings from two ruling houses. Behind the square is the lovely City Park with a lake, part of which is turned into a huge skating rink in winter. Abutting the lake is a castle-like complex housing the Agricultural Musem.Image

  • 6. Fisherman’s Bastion (Halaszbastya)
    Fisherman’s Bastion (Halaszbastya), Budapest, Central Hungary
    Playful arhictectural accomplishment, posing as a wall of the once-fortress of Buda Castle. You can walk the walls and there’s a stunning view of Pest and the Parliament on the other side of Danube. In the warmer months, a cafe sets up shop inside the walls, offering stunning views across the Danube, but also hefty prices. Avoid visiting on a foggy day.Image 
  • 7. Mammoth Shopping Mall
    A huge shopping mall extending to a second building, near Moscow Square in the Buda part of town. Great if you want to shop for clothes, grab a bite or just have a drink all in one place, especially when it’s freezing cold outside. 
  • 8. Tram line no. 19
    Tram line going from Batthyany Square right along the Danube in the center of Buda and all the way to Etele Square on the southwestern outskirts of town. You want to take the ride starting from Batthyany Square and get off on the fourth or fifth stop, at Gellert Square. It’s worth your while, especially during daytime, because the tram line strecthes right along the Danube with a great view of Pest across the river, and skirts Sczecheny and Elizabeth Bridges with a stunning view at both. If you continue up Bela Bartok Avenue after Gellert Square and get off at the next stop, there is Marcello’s across the street, an Italian restaurant famous for its lasagne. 
  • 9. City Zoo
    Worth visiting perhaps more for its architectural qualities than the animals themselves. It’s one of Europe’s oldest zoo gardens built in the late 19th century Secessionist style, with extravagant colors, domes and whatnot. 
  • 10. Nig Cafe
    A lovely French-looking cafe next to the Opera. Reasonable prices, good atmosphere with subdued lights. Good coffee. 
  • 11. Vaci Street (Vaci utca)
    Vaci Street (Vaci utca), Budapest, Central Hungary
    A very long street running all the way to the northwestern outskirts of town, but you only need to see the downtown part of it, starting from Vorosmarty Square with its Christmas stalls and the famous Gerbaud Cafe. Vaci Street is primarily a shopping street lined with shops, many carrying designer names, but there are also high-street names such as H&M, Mango, Zara. 
  • 12. Millennium Metro Line
    The first metro line in contintental Europe built at the end of the 19th century. Also the shortest of the three metro lines in Budapest, going between Vorosmarty Square and Hero’s Square in downtown Pest, with sights at almost each stop. The stations are beautiful and well-preserved, with coloured ceramic tiles on the walls, and wooden doors with golden handles at exits. Something very MittelEuropean about it.13. Flea market in City Park

    • Second largest flea market in Budapest located in City Park near the Youth Center. The best day to visit is Sunday, ticket is 0,50 EUR. Has everything from antiquities, clothing, Playstation games, films on dvd’s to food and old books 
    • 14. Great little tour on a sunny day
      This is recommended primarily for sunny days in the warmer months: after you’re done visiting the Old Town in Buda, return to Moscow Square on the little blue bus touring only the Old Town. On Moscow Square don’t go down to the metro line, but choose tram line no. 4 or no. 6 which cross Margit Bridge. The trams stop in the middle of the bridge, givin you a chance to get a stunning look on your right of both sides of the Danube, with Parliament, the Sczecheny Bridge and the Old Town facing each other, bathing in the sun and all glittering from the reflection of the water. Then get out at the Oktogon stop and continue on foot down Andrassy Street to Hero’s Square and City park. If you have time, stop at the Zoo in City park or just relax in the Park. 
    • 15. Old Man’s Pub
      Apparently the first pub in Budapest and something of an institution with the locals, Old Man’s Pub is located on Akacfa Street just off Blaha Lujza Square, easily accessible by metro line 2 or trams no. 4 and 6. It’s open until dawn during the weekends, serving food until 4 a.m. and with live bands playing almost every night until midnight, after which there is dancing. Prices are regular and they have good beer, local as well as foreign. The crowd is mixed, quite a bit of middle-aged people, and the place is obviously full on weekends, so it might be hard to get a table if you arrive after 11 p.m.16. Menza Restaurant

      • Restaurant on leafy, French-looking Liszt Ferenc Square just off Oktogon, serving traditional Hungarian food with an international spin at moderate prices. Very tastefully decorated interior, lovely terrace with blankets on chairs for chillier days. The food is excellent. 
      • 17. Bajok Sarok Sorozo Pub
        A homey pub with a warm, friendly atmosphere on Akacfa Street just off Blaha Lujza Square. Serves very good Dreher and Pilsner Urquell beer on tap, and the food is typically Hungarian, at very reasonable prices, quite tasty. Recommended for lunch, as the amount of food served is overwhelming, but great also for just having a quiet, relaxing drink in the evening. 
      • 18. Yellow tram no. 2
        Tram line going along the Danube on the Pest side, from Margit Bridge to Boraros Square. Twin of line no. 19 starting from Battyhany Square on the Buda side. A great way to see the Danube waterfront, especially at night, not to mention when it’s cold.Image

      • 19. West End City Center Shopping Mall
        A huge, beautifully decorated mall right next to Nyugati Train Station, easily accessible on the blu metro line (3) or on tram lines 4 and 6. A wide selection of shops, a cinema multiplex with screenings in English, and a food court with tastefully decorated bars and restaurants. 
      • 20. Erszebetvaros – Seventh District
        A very interesting, centrally located district on the Pest side, ideal as a lodging base, and absolutely recommended for its dining and clubbing scene, as well as for shopping. The district is ringed by important, busy, traffic-ridden avenues, and therefore remarkably well connected with other parts of the city via public transportation – all the major tram and bus routes run through it, as well as the red metro line (2). Some of Budapest’s best and most popular restaurants, bars and clubs are located in this district, and they are serviced by regular and efficient night bus lines running every half-hour or full hour all night long. There are also several cinema venues and a couple of theaters around. The whole district used to be Jewish, turned into a ghetto during WW2, and there are still quite a few Jewish restaurants and stores selling kosher food in the area. Not to mention the beautiful and biggest synagogue in Budapest. 
      • 21. Godor Club
        Relatively new rock club, located underground, beneath the fountain and memorial site on Erszebet Square, just off Deak Ferenc Square. It sports an eclectic, mostly live program, with jazz, blues and rock nights, and the entrance is more often than not free. It attracts mostly a young, studenty crowd, but should nevertheless be taken seriously, as it’s a plaesant, modern venue with good live music in a relaxed atmosphere. 
      • 22. Esztergom
        Town north of Budapest on the Danube, in the area called the Danube Bend, only 55 km distant and easily reachable by car, or on regular train, bus and boat routes from Budapest. Its main and only attraction is the wonderful Basilica located on top of a hill overlooking the Danube and the town of Ostrovice on the Slovakian side of the river. Esztergom was founded in the 10th century A.D. and was the first royal seat of Hungary, as well as the crowning place of the first Hungarian king (later St. Stephen) and the seat of Roman Catholicism in Hungary. It’s worth visiting because of the imposing church and stunning views around the Danube. There is also a bridge connecting the Slovakian and Hungarian side which you can cross on foot, get some excellent pictures of the Basilica and enter Slovakia.(*all photos taken off Google photo search)

3 thoughts on “The Road Whisperer”

  1. Ok. I am thinking about taking a trip to either Budapest or Stockholm in Autumn. I have been to both cities once before, but mainly did the tourist thingie in Budapest. I might go for it again and visit some of the places you mention here. I highly recommend a trip to Szentendre by boat as well!

  2. Yes, I’ve always wanted to do the boat trip on the Danube, but I was there either in winter or the stay was so short I didn’t have time for it. It shall be remedied this time, I hope, if the weather stays nice in October.

    If you choose Budapest, I hope you come in October while I’m there, it would be lovely to meet up. I hear that the so-called ‘ruin bars’ in the 7th district are a great experience, and I also never got round to visiting any of the spas.

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