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6 Days in Budapest - May 2012

India
Level Contributor
126 posts
65 reviews
6 Days in Budapest - May 2012

Hi,

We are a family of 5 who will be visiting Budapest from May 11 through to May 16. I have shortlisted a few must-do things based on everything that I have read on Trip Advisor so far. They include, the Free Walking City Tour on Day 1, a Hop-on Hop-off city tour on the rest of Day 1 (and Day 2) although I am not too sure about this, a Day trip to Szentendre, Visegrad and Esztergom on Day 3, a Day trip to Eger and the Tokaj region on Day 4, a Day trip to Lake Balaton and the Herend Porcelain Factory on Day 5, a Day trip to Pecs (if I decide to let go of the Hop-on Hop-off city tour). Since we are 5 of us, the organized group tours are working out rather expensive. Can anyone help me with the most economical yet convenient way to see all the above on my list? We are comfortable taking the public transport or hiring a car. Also, will the 24 HR GROUP CARD FOR BUDAPEST TRAVEL (bkv.hu/en/…budapest_24_hour_group_travel_card) be helpful for the Day Trips? Please assist, thanks!

Budapest, Hungary
Destination Expert
for Budapest
Level Contributor
3,394 posts
128 reviews
1. Re: 6 Days in Budapest - May 2012

Hi Jan,

Just a thought to ponder.....you are coming into Budapest and planning to spend the bulk of your time outside of the city trying to take in everything. Budapest in itself can be a solid 3-4 days of relaxing touring. While I don't know the background of your planned trips, I might suggest to drop at least one to spend additional time here (if indeed you have never been).

Eger and the Tokaj region are not relatively close - 1.5ish hours from each other - and the trip from Tokaji back into Budapest is 3+ hours driving - train assume much more. Lake Balaton and the Herend factory are in the same area (20KM apart).....It appears to me you're best off hiring a private driver or renting a 5-person vehicle for these trips......The Szentdendre, Visegrad and Esztergom trip can be done in one day - in a large hurry....and without much enjoyment of a single town.

From the 30,000 foot view, my initial opinion is you are trying to pack way too many places/sights in and instead of enjoying it, you're family will all be looking at their watches because they'll soon be back in the car heading elsewhere....

Jeremy

Szada, Pest, Hungary
Level Contributor
425 posts
43 reviews
2. Re: 6 Days in Budapest - May 2012

I agree with Jeremy, the plan is simply too much for 5 days, unless you have a helicopter.

From Esztergom/Visegrád/Szentendre I recommend to select max. 2 places. Ie. go to Esztergom in the morning, go further to Visegrád, and take the boat at 17.50 in Visegrád to go back to Budapest, arriving around 20.00.

Eger is ~ 2 hrs by train, manageable in 1 day - Tokaj is really +1.5 hrs. If you interesting wines, you can taste them in Budapest also, ie. in the castle: http://www.en.magyarborokhaza.com/node/19

Balaton is beautiful - sadly the most interesting parts are on the north-western part, far from Budapest. Maybe you can visit Tihany peninsula in 1 day, but there are no good public transport connections to get there. Try to get to Szántód and take the ferry. If you have a hired car, you can go further to Herend and back to BP.

Pécs is also beautiful, by train is 2.45 hrs, by car 2 hrs on the highway.

Generally, from Eger/Balaton/Pécs I would drop at least 1. Pécs is maybe more interesting than Eger, but Eger really can be visited in 1 day.

Denver, Colorado
Destination Expert
for Pecs, Budapest
Level Contributor
4,811 posts
6 reviews
3. Re: 6 Days in Budapest - May 2012

I'm absolutely in agreement with both of the previous two posters. A single day in Budapest even with the HOHO bus won't begin to touch it. (And note that every time you get off, you'll spend time at that location and then have to wait for the next one).

As mentioned above, Eger + Tokaj won't work unless you you plan on spending the whole day on trains. A day trip to Eger can be done.

With considerable fortitude and a long day, one can make a day trip to Pecs, (see the Top Wuestion on the Pecs forum, but some of the buses listed aren't correct. as the renovations for the "European City of Culture in 2010 made all of Szchenyi ter pedestrian.) (Given the parking situation in central Pecs, I very much doubt that 2 hrs will get you there, parked, and into the central area.)

I would recommend that you decide on one (or at the most two) day trips out of Budapest. Given your time, I think I'd say Eger (without Tokaj) as a first choice, and the long day to Pecs as second.

The group card is valid only inside the city limits of Nudapest, and not on the HOHO buses. So it will not be helpful for all the 'outside of Nudapest ' things. aside from getting you part way to Szetendre.

Sorry to be puting something of a damper on things.

USA
Level Contributor
1,880 posts
29 reviews
4. Re: 6 Days in Budapest - May 2012

They are setting up one of those “if its Tuesday this must be Brussels” kind of tours … okay, that’s valid. But they only work if they are cohesive and well structured; and I am not too sure that one is. If it can be done it could be fun but the problem is that Budapest is a hub for the entire country so it’s difficult to get anyplace from any other place without going through Budapest. Result is you spend your life driving in and out of Budapest. As day trips the Bend isn’t bad but it is all day. Eger can be done, but again it’s all day. And the lake can be done but again it’s all day. You will spend almost as much time on the road as being in these places. If it were me I would pick either Eger or Tihany for an overnight trip and then take the commuter train to Szentendre and then the boat back to Budapest.

11 arrive, so you get a half day maybe?

12 Budapest. HOHO if you must, otherwise this is a great town to walk and use the trams

13 Budapest and Szentendre in the morning and then the early afternoon boat back to Budapest.

14 Budapest to either Tihany or Eger in the morning. Spend the night.

15 Back to Budapest in the late afternoon.

16 Depart? Hopefully not, hopefully this is one more day in Budapest otherwise skip the overnight side trip and instead go all the way to Visegrad and Esztergom and then work your way back to Szentendre and take the late afternoon boat from Szentendre back to Budapest.

With five hiring a guide isn’t that bad per person. Hiring a car and driver also isn’t that bad per person. The guide I like is Andrew ILLES. Google Andrew ILLES Budapest Guide and you should get a hit or two. The Driver Service I like is First Class Limousine Service. Again Google it in Budapest.

India
Level Contributor
126 posts
65 reviews
5. Re: 6 Days in Budapest - May 2012

Thanks guys!! Those are some great eye openers...I guess I was really trying to make the most of it leaving aside the fact the the city itself has loads of stuff to do!

I think i'll stick to 2 day trips. One would definitely be the Danube Bend and the other one is going to be a toss up between Lake Balaton / Tihany / Eger.

India
Level Contributor
126 posts
65 reviews
6. Re: 6 Days in Budapest - May 2012

Few questions -

- Is it advisable to book day trips locally or online through companies like Viator? I researched private tours / public transport thinking they would be cheaper alternatives to group tours when it comes to a group of 5 adults but was proved wrong!

- Also, can anyone recommend some good but inexpensive tour companies? We are looking at The Danube Bend, Eger and Lake Balaton / Herend.

- Which of these tours would you suggest - Eger or Puszta?

Szada, Pest, Hungary
Level Contributor
425 posts
43 reviews
7. Re: 6 Days in Budapest - May 2012

Regarding Eger or Puszta: Eger is a city between hills, with baroque houses, Turkish minaret, a castle as a musem, etc, and good wine.

Puszta is a place on the plain where you can see a horse-show, eat a gulash, etc. If Puszta, then definitely Hortobágy, where are really quality horse-shows, a small zoo, restaurant, etc. thus it is more complex. And seeing the totally flat land from a horse-pulled coach, is really looks like a see.

India
Level Contributor
126 posts
65 reviews
8. Re: 6 Days in Budapest - May 2012

Thanks Salamon, I'm leaning towards Eger but my mom prefers Puszta for some reason. In any case, would you be able to recommend some reliable and inexpensive tour companies for these day trips. I read the reviews of the Viator tours which I have found to be the cheapest so far but they seem to be making some unnecessary stops that compromise on the quality of the tour. Please advise.

Szada, Pest, Hungary
Level Contributor
425 posts
43 reviews
9. Re: 6 Days in Budapest - May 2012

I don't know tour operators, because I live here.

But in my view, if you have your own (rented) car, you can do it yourself.

Hortobágy and Eger are not far from each other, with an early start you can visit both on one day. Distances: BP-Hortobágy 2.5, Hortobágy-Eger 1.5 hrs, Eger-Budapest 1 hr 45 mins.

For Hortobágy, I recommend you their website:

http://www.hortobagy.eu/en/

Hortobágy is a village on the puszta, all the things are close to each other and to the 9-hole bridge, by the main road.

I recommend to book a coach tour at Máta farm. They bring with horse-pulled coaches, while you can see horse-riding show, animals and the Puszta itself. For me it was really amazing, beeing in the middle of the empty flatland. (This you can not feel from the main road, because there are buildings, trees, etc.) See information here:

hortobagy.eu/en/matai-menes/idegenforgalom/

According the more informative Hungarian version, coachings start 10AM, 12AM, 2PM and 4PM.

Beside the farm there is an animal park, a "csárda" (inn), a small museum, etc. - check the first link.

See my pics about Hortobágy: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/…

For Eger you don't need a guide, if you can be prepared what to see.

Anyway, I recommend:

- an early start and have a coach tour at 10AM in Hortobágy;

- after that get a lunch, look around in Hortobágy animal farm and museum

- before 2 PM head toward Eger, arrive 4 PM latest

- see at first the castle, closing 5 pm

- walk in the city; head for wine. There are many winemakers; the Szépasszony valley is a place with a lot of cellars where you can taste wine and eat something. Quality is changeable. For a really good quality wine you should contact a certain winemaker for a taste, like the followings among many others:

http://www.demeterpinceszet.hu/

http://www.kovacsnimrodwinery.com/ (also in English)

http://orsolyapince.hu

India
Level Contributor
126 posts
65 reviews
10. Re: 6 Days in Budapest - May 2012

Thanks again Salamon! The only problem with driving to Eger is that the driver will not be able to drink. I have read that the drink and drive regulations in Hungary are quite strict. As such, we were thinking of taking a tour / private car because the public transportation was proving expensive for 5 persons.