Help Me Plan My Long Weekend in Budapest

by on September 29, 2011 · 39 comments

in American Express, Delta, Four Seasons, KLM, Starwood, Trip Reports

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I’m off to Budapest tonight for the first time and in typical fashion, I don’t have my trip planned out. I’m staying until Monday evening, so I hope to take in all the city has to offer – hit up some baths, eat some good food and even try some Hungarian wines (which my former Hungarian coworkers used to rave about).

The real reason for the trip is that I am taking my best friend Lori who lives in Madrid (who appeared in this post) to see Britney Spears for her birthday. Since we live across the pond from each other, I try to visit at least 4 times a year and since we’ve both never been to Budapest, I thought this would be a great birthday weekend.

Quick backstory: I actually met Lori in 2005 on a US Airways flight from Philadelphia to Madrid. I was jealous because she was in the bulkhead (for some reason I was in a regular coach seat) and at one point during meal service I asked her nicely to un-recline her seat, which she did. That was it and then 3 days later in Madrid at 2am at then popular club Ananda I felt someone poking me – it was Lori who was shouting, “You’re that tall guy from the flight!” Long story short, she was visiting her friend Claire who just so happened to be in the same study abroad program as me in Alacala de Henares. We all became close friends and I even helped Lori get a job with me as an assistant buyer at Lord & Taylor in NYC after she graduated. After a couple years she (smartly) decided to move to Madrid, where she is now a teacher and editor of her own fashion blog,

The point of my story is that I’ve met some of the most influential people in my life from traveling. In fact, just last night I went to a fabulous dinner at Soho House NY (curated by Danyelle Freeman of fame) with a recent seatmate I met in first class on a Delta flight from Miami to JFK. While I’m 100% respectful and don’t start unnecessary conversations with those who don’t want to, I’m also always interested in meeting interesting people, which happens more often than not on planes – especially in the front of the bus.

Back to Budapest, what sealed the deal was Starwood Preferred Guest’s offering of 2 premium tickets to the Britney concert for only 5,000 points.  The face value on the tickets is 17,900 Forint ($83) so with fees it would have been at least $200 for the two tickets, so I’m getting 4 cents per Starpoint. I generally just use SPG points for hotels, but this was a good redemption in my opinion. I have a friend who recently redeemed Startpoints for a concert and he said the seats were phenomenal. My expectations are high!

Hotel: Since becoming an Amex Platinum cardholder I’ve been meaning to check out the FHR (Fine Hotels & Resorts) benefit, which provides nice perks like 12pm guaranteed check-in, free breakfast, 4pm checkout, space available upgrades and other perks. However, I normally book my hotels in advance at good rates and I get most of those benefits from being a top-tier elite with Starwood, Hyatt and Intercontinental.

Well, it just so happens that the Four Seasons Gresham Palace is one of Amex’ Budapest FHR hotels and I’ve always wanted to stay there since reading about it on Conde Nast Traveler’s Gold List of hotels. I’ve only ever heard amazing things and I decided to splurge since I used miles for my flight. My rate is 390 euros a night for a Gresham room. I’m staying Sunday night in Budapest alone, where I’ll switch to the cheaper Le Meridien Budapest and get my triple points for a Sunday night stay, so expect a review of that hotel as well.

Flight: For Lori’s flight, I redeemed 20,000 American miles and got her a non-stop Madrid-Budapest roundtrip on Malev. Most flights were $400+, so I felt like this was a good redemption, especially for a coach ticket.

For my flight, I was torn. I’m currently 45,000 elite miles away from hitting Delta Diamond (125,000 MQMs) so sneaking in a trans-Atlantic hop would certainly give me a nice boost. However, Delta makes it really expensive to upgrade internationally on paid coach fares. They require Y, B or M fare classes on their own flights, but they also allow upgrades on Air France from Premium Economy (S, A,W fares) to business using systemwide upgrades or miles. The cheapest premium economy flight was $1,700 and there were no upgrades available in either direction, so I’d have to roll the dice and hope for Air France to release space. However, if they never did I’d be stuck in premium economy with a tight connection in Paris on the outbound and a 4 hour layover on the return. Not ideal.

On the flip-side I’m swimming in miles and points and I might as well use them like I recommend to everyone else! Plus, with Delta’s current 100% transfer promotion, I could buy the 100,000 miles needed for only $1,130 and be confirmed in business class on all legs. Sure beats paying more to fly in premium economy! Since I’m going to Europe for a long weekend, I didn’t want to risk not sleeping on the outbound and being jet-lagged and worn out for Ms. Spears.

So for 100,000 SkyMiles and $90, I booked a KLM itinerary on the outbound with a reasonable 2 hour connection in Amsterdam and coming home I’m spending a night in Rome and then flying Alitalia nonstop to Miami (where I have to be next week anyway). So now I avoid having to buy a JFK-Miami ticket and I get to try out a new carrier’s business class (even though I had already purchased an Alitalia business class ticket for my premium November elite status run).

I found all of the award inventory in about 10 minutes using ExpertFlyer‘s Awards & Upgrades search function. I tried booking it at and all of the KLM and Alitalia flights showed up when I used the multi-city search, but when I went to book the ticket, the engine barfed and gave me a crazy error. Oh – the bane of my existence! A quick call to the Medallion line at Delta and my ticket was booked.

So now to the point of this post – what should I do in Budapest? What restaurants should I hit up? What baths should I go to? I’ll be there from a Friday afternoon to late Monday afternoon.

Expect a full report when I’m back!

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Kbulo

    A fares on AF are not upgradeable, fyi. Found that out a couple of weeks ago when my SWU have been deemed unusable. Have fun in Buda.

  • Mitch

    I was just in Budapest for a conference and tacked on a couple days of sightseeing while there. Here are a couple of thoughts.

    Definitely get up to the Citadel (Citadella) for a great view of the city. If you can bring yourself to get up really early, the sunrise is pretty nice from up there.

    Walk the Danube’s bridges after dark. They do a beautiful job of lighting them up. The Parliament building is also gorgeous from the Buda side at night. (Depending on where you’re staying that night, I suggest knowing what time the last metro train or tram you’ll be using to get back will leave to get you back, especially after a full day, as you’ll probably not be keen to walk the entire way.)

    The Terror House museum is really interesting. It will give you a bit of a look at the impact of the Fascists/Nazis and leave you with a better understanding of the horrors of Stalinism. (Closed Mondays, from what I recall.)

    St. Stephen’s Basilica is impressive. It’s unlike any of the other major churches I’ve visited in Europe, since it’s much newer (19th century). The synagogue is also worth a visit.

    I spent time at Gellért and Szechenyi baths. I preferred Gellért, but both were pretty good. Be sure to bring your own towel!

    Food: Stay off Vaci utca (touristy street) and you really can’t go wrong with Hungarian food. (As opposed to Czech food, which is repulsive.) The two meals I enjoyed the most in Budapest were at Lizard Etterem (Ráday utca 16, near Kalvin Ter) and Bohemia Etterem (Liszt Ferenc Ter).

  • Jim

    it’s been years since I was there, but my Hungarian cousin took us to the Gellert bath/spa ( i was travelling with a college buddy and this was his first time out of the country. they gave you a token with your entrance fee for a short massage. later when he saw the older, burlier men giving the massages to the men, he bailed on the cultural experience.

  • Susan

    Have fun in Budapest! For restaurants – try the Onyx or Gundel (if the weather is nice you can sit outside) – both recommended to me by friends. And, since you are in the Four Seasons, you may want to try their own restaurant – the Gresham. Mitch’s recommendations are excellent as well.

  • JohnnieD

    Is the return stopover in FCO unavoidable or is it a 23 hr ‘stopover’?

  • Anonymous

    The FCO-MIA is at 920am and the only nonstop BUD-FCO with award seats was 645pm so i figured I’d just spend the evening in Rome, even though I only have about 12 hours. I’m sure I’ll sneak into Rome for a quick late night meal :-)

  • Joseph May

    Brian, I am an avid reader of your webpage, facebook page and I follow you on twitter. Please may I never see “Britney Spears” again in any of your writings…..

  • Anonymous

    Dos: Walk Around. Walk Andrassy all the way to the big park by the art museum. You will walk by the Museum of Terror, it is worth your time. Also along your way is the Opera, there are tours at 3pm and 4pm. Near the opera is “Budapest Broadway” which is closed to vehicle traffic, enjoy a snack or a drink there outdoors. You can buy a beer at a kiosk in the park as your reward for the long walk.

    The bath in the park is Szechenyi. Bring your own towel, or borrow one from the Gresham Palace. Yes, you can buy a beer at the baths, too.

    Metro stop at Szechenyi, you can ride it back to very close to the hotel. If you buy a one ride pass be sure to validate it before you enter the platform. Easier to buy a 1 day pass which you can use on the trams, too.

    Walk over the bridge to the Buda Castle. Take the tram up the hill if you feel tired. Don’t spend too much time in the very touristy flea market area.

    If you have time get to Monument Park (Memento Park, or Statue Park). A selection of Soviet era statues are on display in a very well thought out memorial to the terror of Communism. If you are out for adventure take transit, for luxury the hotel can arrange a car.

    An afternoon on Margaret Island is also nice, and free. Take the tram from near the hotel, be sure you buy a pass in advance.

    Don’ts; Avoid any tourist food. Be careful to understand your taxi fares, some drivers may take advantage of you. A short river cruise may sound like a good idea, it is probably not the best use of your time although the views are nice.

  • Anonymous

    haha don’t be jealous! :-)

  • Sarah Chang

    Ohhh Budapest is Fantastic! You should skip the museums…Museums are for Vienna. The ones in Budapest are alright…nothing special and not really worth the prices. You should definitely hit up Szechenyi baths. They are the largest and you don’t find many tourists there (as opposed to Gellert) mostly because of its location. The central market is a great place to walk around and find food, but the souvenirs there are overpriced and not very unique, unless you like a lot of paprika.

    What you should do if you’re into unique spots, is you should hit up the many design shoppes that Budapest has to offer. I was there for over 2 months and I couldn’t hit them all, but they were so fabulous when I did. If you take the tram or walk to the district between Kalvin Ter and Astoria, you can find all these awesome design shops that are small stores stuck in the walls but they sell the most unique items with special design-y postcards that are much better than those overpriced and crappy cards you get on vaci utca. If you’re lucky, you can hit the WAMP design fair. It usually occurs during the middle of the month though, so perhaps not, but artists and designers from around the region come to show off their goods.

    When you arrive, you should just chill and even though vaci utca is touristy, its worth walking around just to get a feel of how the tourist industry works in Budapest. But, don’t buy the first thing you see that you like…wait several meters and you’ll find the same thing for cheaper. The more expensive stuff is near the hotels (towards the north of the river) and the cheaper stuff is going towards the central market (south). The postcards down there cost 80 ft as opposed to 200 or whatever they sell them for.

    Ice cream on the main street is expensive, but you should still get a cone. 1 scoop is usually 180 so a two scoop is just double the price. Not too bad if you convert to usd, plus you’re getting a more favourable exchange rate than I did (which can go a long way as you will notice, Budapest is cheap :D :D)

    You should try Langos in the Central market. It costs about 700 ft but pretty good. Share it with anyone you’re with because it’s not really that good for you and it’s rather big, but it’s sooo delicious. Try it with Poppy Seed (makos) and definitely try their sour cherries (Meggyes).

    For a good drink, go to the Jewish district. There’s an awesome beer garden called Szimpla Kert ( . You’ll feel like you’re in Alice in Wonderland there. Try a beer (Soproni lemon is good…but I love yummy flavoured beers) or whatever else. They speak english so just ask. If you don’t want beer there, definitely go for their lemonades. Lemonade in Budapest (maybe Europe in general?) is really good! Not like the ones in the states…they use a bunch of lemons and limes and different flavours are added with syrups or other fruits. Its delish and super cheap at around 200 ft.

    On sundays, go to the Jewish quarter. There’s a gouba market. Its like fair or something but it’s awesome!!! It spans a few blocks..or..i’m not sure. But it’s rather long ( You can find crazy unique things and there’s a stand there that sells the cutest clay earrings…ohh…I wish I can go back :D. But they also have these snack foods that are absolutely delicious. They have their pretzels and omg everything there is so good but you have to bring an appetite because I ate a pretzel and was full before I saw there were more things like (Trdelník…I know the Czech word but not the Hungarian…Haha.. but it’s basically this dough wrapped around a metal bar and baked over fire and then they roll it over cinnamon or almonds or whatever.. But it’s absolutely delicious!!! There is one store on Vacy Utca near the white bridge that sells it. They give samples outside the front of their shoppe in the middle of the street too so maybe you’ll be lucky!! But Yes, if you want cheap, get it on sunday at the gouba market!!

    If you want to venture across the river, skip the gellert there’s nothing there..and go to the top of buda hill. You can see the big citadel and fisherman’s wharf. You can get a great whopping view of the Pest side as well as Parliament. You can take the red train to Moskva Ter (They call it Szell Kalman Ter now) and you can go up the steps and ride the bus up there. Make sure you buy train tickets. Buy several because you use the stamping systems on the trams to ticket them. There are control officers that randomly check and if you ever get caught, they will lie to you and make you pay 12000 fts. You will see on the buses and trams theres a sign that says you are fined 6000 if you misuse the public transportation system. But you could also just feign not understanding english and run away but…

    You should also go ahead and climb up gellert hill, if you are the athletic type! I didn’t go up there, but I heard it was really worth it and has one of the best views ever.

    If you want to catch dinner, you should go to Raday Utca (across the street from Kalvin Ter) and that street is ALL restaurants. There are some pretty hip ones there but..up to you to choose. There’s also a really fun pub next to the burger king on vaci utca and across the central market (the green bridge road) called “For Sale” which serves a lot of traditional hungarian food and…was rather expensive for my college budget, but it was very nice atmosphere.. .they give you peanuts and you eat the peanuts but throw the shells on the floor haha.

    You should go to Stephen’s basilika (on the end of Andrassy ut) as I’ve heard the climb up their is awesome. See the golden arm..or whatever is in there. You should walk all the way down Andrassy and you will pass a lot of high end boutiques (LV, gucci, etc) and you will meet the Opera. You can walk into the opera and look around. Look what they are playing the weekend you’re going and see if it’s worth it. It’s going to be in hungarian with hungarian subtitles..or was it italian with hungarian subtitles…but you can get tickets for very cheap (500-1000) for budget travelers like me..but you have to go through the side door cause we weren’t good enough to enter through the entrance haha. But the inside is beautiful.

    There’s a bookstore called Alexandra.. Parisz bookstore or something. It’s on Andrassy and maybe one block down the opposite side of the opera. If you go inside, the cafe in their is amazing. The seats are all leathery and super huge that even american butts can sit in them and the walls are all mirrored and the ceiling is like the opera…you should go go go and drink coffee or something there. Its much cheaper than places like Coffee Heaven (avoid it because it’s way WAY overpriced)

    If you keep walking down Andrassy, you will hit Oktogon (just a 4-way intersection) and if you keep going you will see Terror Haz (Maybe at this point you should take the metro. Terror haz is prolly one or 2 stops away.. ) And if you are interested in Holocaust history, its worth it. Prepare to spend some time in there..or not. Because everything is in Hungarian and you must read their essay pamphlets for information on each exhibit which might take some time. But the inside is awesome!!!

    And take the metro down to Hosok Ter (Hero’s Square). This is the famous..hero’s square. I knew what it was when I learned…but I forgot. It’s a big square that’s between two museums. It’s a bit of history for you and has something to do with some war..but I’m not sure…you’ll have to read about it. If you go past the hero statues and their columns, you’ll enter a lake area which is the front to a blue roofd museum (I think it was blue) but here, they had Art on the Lake when I was there. It was really great..all these sculptures in the lake. And a really cool pub on the pier. If you walk around the lake, you will go into this pathway that goes across a small stream and you’ll see this massive…cathedral? And there is the “anonymous” statue. Forgot the history behind it..but i think it was a castle..or a cathedral..I’m not sure. I remember a big gate so it might have been a tiny fortress. If you leave the fortress and walk kind of straight diagonally to the right, you will run into a run down circus and right in front is the Szechenyi baths, so you can dip in after a long day of tired feet..

    You should try various wines. Tokaj wine is hungary’s sweet white dessert wine from Tokaj (a city/town). I’m not a wine person so that’s all I know.

    Oh! and go to the synagogue. If you have time, go for a tour inside. It’s cheap and it helps out the community. It’s really amazing and there are some amazing places to walk around in the jewish quarter as well.

    Try all the food you think looks good. Hungarian food tends to be really heavy so I didn’t actually eat too much of the actual “hot dishes”, but it’s good every once in a while. Don’t eat italian there (c’mon…)

    There are also these metal shoes down by the river. I don’t remember where, but it’s somehwere on the riverside. They are a famous kind project on the Duna (Danube in hu) and were meant to commemorate the hu-jews. Along the river has a lot of nice little cafes as well but mostly just further up north.

    If you really want to go to malls…Nyugati (west end) is the biggest but most malls are the same as anywhere else.

    If you have more time, you should take 2 hours and go to the Kinai Piac (chinese market). You can find a lot of interesting (cheap) things that you see people selling at subway underground stations for a lot cheaper (since this is where they prolly get it anyways). But if you don’t have a tight budget i guess it doesn’t matter paying the 1000 ft markup haha

    I don’t know much about where to eat really nice dinners since I was scraping for money and buying rice cakes from the interspars so..can’t really say much. But you should stop by the hungarian bakeries.. Of course the ones you see in the train stations are very good (princess princess and fornetti) so if you’re ever hungry…take a bite since they are cheap and oh so delicious :) Bakeries are called Cukrászda in Hungarian. So if you can, find a “non-chain” one as they’re the most delicious~!

    Have FUN I love Budapest it’s really great!! I hope you have fun!!!

    Jo Napot (yo na poat) is hello..
    Koszonom Szepan (ku su num say pan) is thank you very much..
    Koszonjuk (ku su nyuk) is informal thank you.
    Mennyi (men yi) is “how much”
    Szia (see ya) is like..hello and good bye but informal. (think..salut in french or aloha in hawaiian)

    Also.. Trams and trains go only until..maybe 11 at night or so. Don’t get caught at random hours. The only buses that go 24/7..or..kind of are the 4-6 which circle around buda and pest. If you have a phone, keep a taxi number programmed in your phone to get flat rates of like..something like 1200 within city limits. If you ever hail a taxi, be prepared to get ripped off so bad your mother would throw a rage at not teaching you how to handle your money correctly.

  • TravelSort

    Have fun staying at the Four Seasons and in Budapest! If you ever want to save money on the Four Seasons, Ritz-Carlton, etc., TravelSort offers lower Four Seasons rates than FHR. 390 Euros + tax is ~$648, while we offer the Gresham Room from $495-$584 incl. tax (depends on date), $64-$153 cheaper, and we offer Superior Rooms from $412 incl. tax.

    Here are a few dining recommendations from our Budapest Foodie guide:

    For Hungarian classics, try Café Kör (Sas utca 17), located near the Basilica, or 21 Restaurant (Fortuna utca 21) in the Castle District. Both serve hearty soups and good portions of traditional Hungarian dishes. Try crepe Hortobagy style, or just tuck into a decadent chesnut dessert.

    Onyx (Vörösmarty tér 7-8) is one of the restaurants in the city that’s been awarded the prestigious Michelin Star. Under the watchful eye of a fantastic chef who isn’t afraid to mix things up, a skilled kitchen serves contemporary Hungarian dishes and offers fantastic tasting menus and lunch specials. Treat yourself to the Hungarian Evolution, a menu of fine dishes with Foie Gras, lamb, goat cheese, and rabbit.

    Try the New York Café (Erzsébetkörút 9-11) for its traditional splendor or Ruszwurm (Szentháromság utca 7) for some mouthwatering desserts and a cozy atmosphere in the Castle District. Nibble some of their Dobos cake or sour cherry strudel, and enjoy the chance to people-watch.

  • ucipass

    I am hungarian (born in Budapest) living in Chicago now. I fly back every year with the family and thanks to you and other bloggers flying is actually getting “cheaper”. So hopefully my comments will be useful:

    One things that we do every year is taking a cheap river cruise day trip from Budapest to Visegrad. On a nice day this is better (IMHO) than an expensive rivercruie. You can also do a 1 hour boat trip if you would like. The dock (Vigadó Square Shipstation) is 6 minutes on foot from the Le Meridien

    The website is:,+Erzs%C3%A9bet+t%C3%A9r+9,+Hungary+(Le+Meridien+Budapest+Sz%C3%A1lloda)&hl=en&ie=UTF8&ll=47.496321,19.050947&spn=0.005263,0.013894&sll=47.495705,19.050894&sspn=0.010525,0.027788&geocode=Ffy51AIdLKsiASElCKP3lw4K0w%3BFR7B1AIdpboiASErn0GvGZ95qg&vpsrc=6&dirflg=w&mra=ltm&t=m&z=17

    The view from the Pest side at night is beautiful as you can see the castle’s reflection on the danube.
    The other posters have some excellent recommendations. My votes:

    Buda Castle
    River cruise
    Gellert Bath

    My favorite hungarian food (Parikash Chirke (Chicken) with Galushka) I tried to write this out the best I can.

  • Cindy

    I don’t have any recommendations – my partner has spent a good deal of time in Budapest but she forgot her cell phone today so I can’t text her for recommendations. That said, if you have time, pick up this book for the flight: Ballad of the Whiskey Robber: A True Story of Bank Heists, Ice Hockey, Transylvanian Pelt Smuggling, Moonlighting Detectives, and Broken Hearts. It’s a true (and funny and fascinating) story that takes place in Hungary. It’s a great read!

  • Sean

    best post reply — ever?

  • Tenmoc

    If in Budapest for a Sunday I always go get brunch at the Gellert Hotel.

  • AwardTravelConsulting

    Highly, highly, highly recommend dinner at Restaurant Krizia. I was there earlier this year and absolutely loved it…they had generous portions and were reasonably priced. Overall this was an amazing trip to a beautiful city. Check out my trip report (Restaurant Krizia starts at post 36). I just hope your travel goes smoother than mine!

  • Andrew

    +1000 on the Szechenyi baths – I did these last summer with some friends (on my honeymoon, actually) and my wife and I both agreed that they were one of the absolute highlights of the whole trip.
    Otherwise, we spent a lot of time walking around. Go see Castle Hill, of course.

  • EricP

    box seats at the opera house are surprisingly affordable and very romantic.

  • Autisticglobetrotting

    Our favorites are;
    The Citadel for perfect shots of the entire city
    Gellert Baths-beautiful glass stained windows and great relaxation
    Mattias Pince restaurant right off Vaci Uta-one of the only ‘touristy’ reatuarants I know worth dining in.Check out their Chicken Paprikas-

  • David


  • Kathy K

    Can’t help you out here, Brian. I’ve been to Prague, but not Budapest (I hear that as long as you remember to say BudapeSHt, you’ll be fine). Have an awesome trip! p.s. This seatmate would love to travel with you again!

  • David

    Don’t listen to Joseph May, I think it’s sweet! I mean, seriously, how good is that new album?
    Plus, Lori’s a stone cold fox, and Joseph is just jealous!!

  • Todd

    I’m going to Budapest tonight as well. Hope we can meet up!

  • ENT

    For a bath, I recommend an authentic Turkish Bathhouse such as Rudas or Kiraly. It may feel a bit intimidating but if you want to experience a truly unique experience there is nothing like sitting under a stone dome that has been in place since the 16th century with the light streaming in illuminating the steam rising from the bath. The other baths mentioned here are more like large swimming pools. Very ornate and beautiful, but not steam baths in the Turkish sense. Another treat is a meal at Gendel restaurant. Very formal service, with a small string quartet that roams the dining room. Food is served under huge silver domes that the waiters lift in unison. It is one of the top restaurants in the city and worth the price. We ate there twice it was such a great experience. It is near the Szechenyi baths if you decide to go there. Finally, the subway in central Budapest runs just below the street. It is one of the oldest subways in the world.

  • Gavinmac

    Budapest is, in my opinion, one the most beautiful cities in Europe. A good mix of traditional and Stalinist architecture. The House of Terror was good. The tiny metro cars are fun. Make sure you validate your ticket before passing the imaginary line marking the entrance to the platform (i.e. before stepping beyond the validation machines). I hear the ticket inspectors are quite aggressive.

    The Meridien is pretty nice and well located.

  • Mama Claire

    I recommend rent boys in front of major hotels in BUD. Can’t get any more unethical than sexual tourism and exploitation.

  • LikeBright

    Yes, beware of taxi drivers. Be sure to know around much a taxi will cost.

    My favorite part was walking along the river at night. Eerily beautiful, especially in the hill looking over the illuminated buildings. Also be sure to walk around Fisherman’s Bastion. There are many quaint cafes in the area.

    Café Gerbeaud is touristy, but part of the old guard.

    Have fun!

  • Anonymous

    Its even better when the hotel is in the FHR list AND you are in elite! I did that last week in Rome with SPG Excelsior in Via Veneto, but you have to book through AMEX so they know to give you the upgrade.

  • Mighty Mouse

    Hello from Budapest Brian,

    How lucky for me that you are coming and I get to benefit from all these great posts (thanks Sarah Chang) for stuff to do. I arrived by accident 2 days ago and I am loving it here. I can’t really recommend what to do as I have just wandered around taking in all the great sites. I can tell you your hotel is FABULOUS. It might be the most stunning hotel I have ever seen.

    I ate at a really great restaurant on our first night.

    We ate there after checking out ALL the restaurants that exist along this “restaurant row”. Some might say it is touristy but I heard plenty of Hungarian spoken there and the setting was really nice. Trip Advisor gives it some crappy reviews but all 5 of us in my party had really great food. The service was perfect and the Palinka on the house :). It is not fine dining…. just good food and good service. I ate goose liver encrusted in pistachio (YUMMY)! We also sampled the steak, rucula salad, trio of appy’s, wild game goulash and a dessert. The only miss was a side of risotto which was a bit salty. In fact we are going back there tonight.

    Perhaps you would like to meet for a drink before you concert? I’ll email you my contact info seperately.

    Enjoy the fabulous weather today!

    Mighty Mouse

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  • SemperFi

    Why use just one exclamation point when two or three or fourteen will convey your meaning so much better? Oh, I forgot. This is akin to a note you write in class in junior high. This “college student” should take a look at her execrable grammar and usage before writing such a breathless screed.

  • Susan

    Wow.. you’re a pompous douchebag

  • Therese

    Go to the Gellert Baths – so elegant and old world. Best if you stay at the hotel and get to take the special elevator in your bathrobe. And take the M1 subway – oldest in Europe.

  • Michael

    I recommend Kéhli Vendéglő –
    Veal paprikas always makes for a good meal. Be sure to try the side salads, like cucumber or cabbage. And of course red wine.

    Try some pastries like Dobostorte. You can find this anywhere.

    If you’re willing to go off the beaten path for a really good museum, check out the Skanzen outdoor museum in Szentendre. This is right outside Budapest and I strongly recommend it.

  • Mitch

    Last time I checked, the UK was still part of Europe (although some of the English would like to revisit that decision), so the London Underground is the oldest subway in Europe. Budapest’s crummy metro does claim the oldest line in CONTINENTAL Europe, however. :-) The M2 and M3 lines are ghetto. Some of the cars still have plates on the side in Cyrillic, demonstrating their heritage as Soviet hand-me-downs. The M1 line is OK, but not as special as some who love Budapest like to make it out to be.

  • Eugene Lipsky

    Britney Spears aside I am glad you mentioned this option to get into these random concerts and events via SPG. I just got a package to see The Fray in 2 weeks which seemed like a very good value. Any similar benefits from other credit cards besides SPG?

  • Anonymous

    Sarah- you rock! I really enjoyed the recs… I leave Budapest today and feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface. Appreciate the time you took to give me ideas.

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