Budapest Opera and Classical Music Introduction
Those who live in Budapest are justly proud of their country's musical heritage. It's certainly no mean feat for such a small nation to have produced two of the world's greatest 20th century composers in Zoltán Kodály and Béla Bartók. And, in such an emotive city, where you start to think that even taxi rides should be accompanied by a soul stirring rhapsody, it's not surprising to learn that the classical music and opera scenes are flourishing here.
What's more, local appreciation isn't just limited to the nationalistic verve of traditional folk songs sung late into the night after a few beers. All of the orchestras and venues that existed during the Kádár years which, back then, relied heavily on state subsidies, still exist today. And that's not because tourists keep these places afloat. Rather, that Hungarians are a cultured bunch who, by and large, have not yet succumb to the western ideal that going to a classical recital is a 'fairly extravagant' thing to do.
The same is also true of the opera. Unlike London or Sydney, tickets aren't the sole remain of a select few. A royal box in the majestic State Opera House for instance costs the princely sum of £25, while the cheapest seats start at only £5.
With an impressive number of decent venues, chances are that whatever time of year you travel to Budapest, it won't be difficult to plan a great evening out. The impressive Zeneakadémia, a huge arena near Oktogon, is the city's principle concert hall with acoustics matched only by the MATÁV Zeneház (see below). Other halls, including the famous Pesti Vigadó, are also listed below:
Budapest Congress Center (Budapesti Kogresszusi Központ)
XII. Jagelló út 1-3, Tel: 372 5400, 372 5700, Fax: 372 5735, Website: www.bcc.hu, Box office open 1:30pm-6pm Wed, Fri and on performance days, Metro: M2 Déli pu, bus no. 8 and 112, tram 61
A large modern auditorium adjacent to the Novotel Hotel which functions as a conference centre as well as concert hall. While it doesn't have the charm of the Zeneakadémia, the acoustics are surprisingly good (certainly better than those of the Pesti Vigadó). Performance schedules vary, so check listings on the BCC website - which has performance listings for the next three months - or at Koncert Kalendárium (in Hungarian only).
Bartók Béla Memorial House (Bartók Béla Emlékház)
II. Csalán út 29, Tel/Fax: 394 4472, Website: www.bartokmuseum.hu, Bus 5, 29, Tickets on sale during museum opening hours: 10am-5pm Mon-Fri (closed Mon)
One of the more intimate halls in Budapest, part of the house is also given over to the Belá Bartók memorial museum. A concert series by the world famous Bartók String Quartet takes place from September onwards (most Fridays). Arrangements from other guest groups make for one of the most well-balanced and innovative programs around.
Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music (Zeneakadémia)
VI. Liszt Ferenc tér 8, Tel: 462 4600, Fax: 462 4616, Websites: www.musicacademy.hu and www.zakbk.hu, Metro: M1 Oktogon, Tram 4/6 to Király utca
Built at the turn of the 20th century, the Academy is without doubt Budapest's premier concert hall. Art-Nouveau in style and with a huge auditorium seating 1200 people, the only real alternative to a grand night out here is the State Opera House. The Zeneakadémia closes during July and August, when the equally fine (but much smaller) Kisterem is used. Listings, which can be found at Koncert Kalendárium and Fidelio (both Hungarian only) are also posted outside the hall's Király utca entrance.
Opera House (Operaház)
VI. Andrássy út 22, Tel: 353 0170, Website: www.opera.hu, Box office open: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm (or until the start of the programme on performance nights), Metro: M1 Opera
As Budapest's principle venue for opera and ballet productions, Miklós Ybl's fine neo-Renaissance building has, over the years, played host to the likes of Ferenc Liszt and Gustav Mahler. The main season here runs from September to mid-June and includes over 50 major productions, many of which are familiar to opera lovers abroad. For tickets, it's advisable to book a couple of days in advance, though cheaper seats are often available at the last minute. Performance listings (which are posted in the main box office) are easy for foreigners to decipher - unlike, it has to be said, the official State Opera House website, which is currently in Hungarian only. Best then to book online via Jegymester (Ticketmaster) at: online.jegymester.hu (English and Hungarian). See also our sightseeing page for a detailed description of the Opera House.
Vigadó (Pesti Vigadó)
V. Vigadó utca 5, Tel: 318 4619, Fax: 318 9167, Website: www.vigado.hu, Metro: M1 Vörösmarty tér
Although the acoustics of Budapest's second largest concert hall are sadly lacking, the building itself (designed by Frigyes Feszl in 1859) makes a bold impression along the Pest embankment. Built to replace another concert hall on the same site (which was destroyed by fire in the 1848 War of Independence) Feszl's Vigadó was also badly damaged, this time during World War II. The post-war reconstruction, which took some thirty-six years to complete, remains faithful to his original design and continues to attract leading conductors and performers from around the world. Performance schedules can be found at: www.vigado.hu/rendezv/index.htm.
VIII. Köztársaság tér 30, Tel: 333 0540, Box office open: Tue-Sat 10am-5pm (or until the start of the programme on performance nights), Metro: M2 Blaha Lujza tér,
The other major venue for opera and ballet in Budapest, the Színház is neither as grand or atmospheric as the State Opera House. Listings and online ticketing can be found at: online.jegymester.hu.
Elsewhere in Budapest
Between June and August, a whole host of temporary concert venues spring up, bringing classical music to the masses. The beautiful outdoor setting of the Hilton Hotel's Dominican Courtyard is the scene for recitals in July, while the nearby Mátyás templom holds regular organ concerts until the end of September. Most impressive of all however, is the Dome Hall of Budapest's Parliament building, which stages concerts on the second Friday of each month, running from June to September. Other established venues in Budapest include St. Stephen's Cathedral, the Óbuda Social Circle and the MATÁV Zeneház (home of the MATÁV Symphony Orchestra).
Budapest Theatre Introduction
Budapest is a city with a fine theatre tradition, even if nowadays the money to stage more elaborate productions is in short supply. International musicals, together with long established domestic shows make up the vast majority of what's staged here, although alternative productions (including some fairly radical offerings from around the world) also have a firm footing at smaller, fringe venues.
Budapest's larger theatres are mostly early 20th century affairs, many of which have been renovated over the last ten years or so. If you're interested in the architecture just as much as the performances, then Budapest's most famous theatre - the Vigszinház (comedy theatre) - is perhaps the best place to take in a show.
For performance listings check out Pesti Est or Pesti Müsor, or the pages of www.theatre.org.hu for individual theatre (and theatre company) websites. Although most are in Hungarian, it's fairly easy to work out what's on and where. Alternatively, Budapest Week carries reviews for new shows which hit town. Curtain up for most theatres is 7-8pm, while it's obligatory - almost everywhere - to check your coat before taking your seat (pictured above left: Thália színáz).
A list of Budapest's most popular theatres/performance venues is given below:
VIII. Üllői út 82, Tel: 303 6505, Website: www.barka.hu, Metro: M3 Nagyvárad/M3 Klinikák
Having been founded in 1996, the Bárka Theatre has gone from strength to strength even reaching the dizzy heights of staging Harold Pinter plays. A calendar of performances is given on the company's website, while the theatre itself has four auditoriums and lies next to the Orczy-kert (garden) in Józsefváros.
VI. Nagymező u. 19. Tel: 353 2172, Tel/Fax: 269 0118, Website: www.szinhaz.hu/operett, E-mail: email@example.com, Metro M1 Opera
Staging everything from Fiddler on the Roof to Chicago, the Operettszínház is a lovely Art Noveau venue just around the corner from Budapest's State Opera House. An excellent website gives detail of what's on, while tickets can be booked by calling the theatre's box office (number given above) or online at: www.ticketportal.hu.
Castle Theatre (Várszínház)
I. Színház út 1-3, Tel: 375 8011, Várbusz, Bus 16
Updated details to follow shortly.
Katona József Színház
V. Petőfi Sándor utca 6, Tel: 318 6599 (Katona), 318 2487 (Kamra), Ticket Office: 266 5200 and 317 4061, Website: www.szinhaz.hu/katona, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Metro: M3 Ferenciek tere, Bus 7, Box Office Open 10am-6pm daily
One of Budapest's most famous independent theatre companies, which also plays regularly overseas (in cities such as Paris, Chicago and London). Comprising of over 30 actors, the theatre's Katona auditorium - seating 400 - stages modern innovative productions, while the smaller Kamra often focuses upon heavyweight classics by writers such as Goethe.
Erzsébet körút 31, Tel: 478 2000, Website: www.madachszinhaz.hu, E-mail: email@example.com, Metro: M2 Blaha Lujza tér, Box office open: 1pm-7pm daily (Tel: 478 2041)
From May 2003, the Madách Színház will stage one of the world's most popular shows - The Phantom of the Opera. Until then it's a mix of other popular favourites such as Cats, Les Miserables and Fiddler on the Roof (with up to date show information made available in English, German and Hungarian on the theatre's excellent website).
V. Gerlóczy utca 4, Tel: 317 9338, Website: www.szinhaz.hu/merlin, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Metro: M3 Ferenciek tere/M2 Astoria, Box office open: 10am-6pm daily (and 1 hour before curtain up)
Downtown theatre which also stages cabaret shows and classical concerts. Popular with tourists (as performances are usually in English), the Merlin has won critical acclaim over the years for exciting, alternative programming. A revamped restaurant adds to the pleasant atmosphere, while plans are also afoot to stage French and German productions in the near future.
Nemzeti Színház (National Theatre)
XI. Bajor Gizi Park 1, Tel: 476 6800, 476 6801, Website: www.nemzetiszinhaz.hu, Box Office open: Mon-Fri 1pm-7pm (1 hour before curtain up on Sat).
Replacing what was, without doubt, the ugliest theatre in Budapest (a stark 60s concrete nightmare is putting it mildly), the brand new Nemzeti theatre stages mainly domestic and international musicals/dramas. Much more interesting than the run-of-the-mill programming, however, are the events that gripped Budapest over the construction of the building.
Back in 1996, the go ahead was given by the previous socialist Government for a $75 million building in Erzsébet tér. However, following the election of Viktor Orbán (now thankfully the ex-premier), work was halted and the square was left looking like a bombsite (much to the chagrin of the popular city Mayor Gábor Demzsky). Plans for the new cheaper $40 million building (which is now located way out in District IX) were then subsequently approved. Although the finished structure - opened in March 2002 - is hugely impressive, the words "white" and "elephant" do spring to mind (simply because of the out of town setting).
V. Váci utca 9, Tel: 266 5557, Website: www.vigszinhaz.hu (shared website), Metro: M1, M2, M3 Deák tér, Tram 47, 49, Box office open: 11am-7pm daily
Budapest's most cliquey theatre, the Pesti Szinház stages classics from heavyweight writers such as Shakespeare and Anton Chekhov. Despite the hustle and bustle of Váci street, you only need to step into the Pesti's foyer to realize this place takes itself far too seriously.
VI. Nagymezö utca 22-24, Tel: 312 1280, Website: www.thalia.hu, E-mail: email@example.com, Metro: M1 Opera, Box Office open: 10am-6pm daily
A historic theatre that has, in recent years, enjoyed a no expense spared overhaul of stage and public areas, including a much needed air-conditioning system. The Thália's 522 seat auditorium is among the best in Budapest, while performances range from the challenging (such as the Vagina Monologues) to West Side Story.
Új (New) Színház
VI. Paulay Ede u. 35. Tel: 269 6021, 269 6024, Website: www.szinhaz.hu/ujszinhaz, Metro: M1 Opera, Box Office open: 2pm-7pm daily
With two auditoriums (the Nagyszínpad and Stúdiószínpad) Budapest's Új Színház has a wide-ranging performance schedule, with the twenty strong company recently staging adaptations of Othello, as well as Georges Feydeau's frantic comedy 'A Flea in Her Ear' (Bolha a Fülbe). Ticket prices are very reasonable too.
Vigszínház (Comedy Theatre)
XIII. Szent István Körút 14, Tel: 329 2340, Website: www.vigszinhaz.hu, Metro: M3 Nyugati pu, Box office open: 11am-7pm daily
Budapest's biggest and most enchanting theatre has an extensive range of programming from Woody Allen's Play it Again Sam to Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. For those also interested in the history of the Vigszínház, an excellent account can be found on the theatre's own website (address as above).
Budapest Nightlife Introduction
Many guide books on Budapest give the impression that, before the political changes of 1989, there was little in the way of nightlife. Although it's fair to say that back then most venues (especially those in university halls) were a throw back to the days of cheesy 70s disco, glitter balls and alarmingly wide trousers, locals have always found places in which to party until the early hours.
Of the more 'sophisticated' western style clubs which have sprung up since then, many come with burly bouncers, expensive beer and journeymen DJs. That said, it's still easy to find a lively salsa bar or enjoy the laid back atmosphere of a Budapest jazz club.
As well as our listings for nightclubs and casinos below, further details about nightlife in the city can be found in the Budapest Sun or Budapest 'In Your Pocket' Guide.
A38 Ship (A38 Hajo)
XI. Pázmány Péter sétány (at the Buda side of Petőfi Bridge), Tel: 464 3940, Website: www.a38.hu, Open: 11am-midnight Mon-Sat. When club nights are advertised in advance 4pm-4am.
We're fine with party boats just so long as they stayed moored all night (essential after a few shots of Unicum). Luckily, the A38 does just that, being an old stone-carrying ship in its previous incarnation. Having been dragged all the way from the Ukraine, its new owners set about giving it a full refit before opening for business in 2003. The A-38 attracts big name DJs from across Europe, with the fun and games spread over three floors (incorporating a restaurant, roof terrace, lounge and club). Those in the know rate it highly.
Ba Bar Lounge Café
VII. Huszár utca 7, Tel: 06-20-919-7979, Website: www.babar.hu, Open: Sun-Thu 11.30am-2am, Fri-Sat 1130am-4am, Metro: Keleti pu.
Located just a short walk away from Keleti railway/metro station, the Ba Bar Lounge is an modern, attractively decorated bar cum restaurant, with small dance-floor attached. In keeping with its upscale aspirations, service and attention to detail are both good, while the comfy chill out areas and tasteful music are a far cry from some of Budapest's dodgier venues. Nice.
Bahnhof Music Club
VI. Váci utca 1, Tel: 302 4751, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Open: 9pm-4am Wed-Sat, Metro: M3 Nyugati pu, Tram 4, 6
With a catchy name and some talented resident DJs (for Budapest at any rate), Bahnhof is one of the better clubs in Budapest. At weekends both dance floors are packed solid. Quite how they attract so many good looking Hungarians into a single place at any one time is beyond us. Chances of pulling=100%.
Cha-Cha-Cha Underground Café
IX. (located in Kálvin tér metro station), Tel: 215-0545, Website: www.chachacha.hu, Metro: M3 Kálvin tér
Looking like a set from Carlito's Way, the retro chic of Cha-Cha-Cha makes it great venue for both daytime drinks and a good boogie at night. Sure, it's located in a grotty subway just across from Kálvin tér metro, but don't let that stop you from checking out this likeable haunt on a party night.
XV. Késmárk utca 32, Tel: 06209 213 845, Website: www.colosseum.hu, E-mail: email@example.com, Open: Sat 9pm-5am (with extra parties some Fridays), Bus 77 and 177
If you hanker for a night out in Budapest's 15th District, then this sport/dance club combo may just be for you! There's a sort of archetypal 70s throwback feel to the place, with techno-house and dance hits blasting away until the early hours. Oh, and one of the chaps spinning those steel wheels is called DJ Dive...
X. Népligeti út 2. Tel: 263 1614, Website: www.e-klub.hu, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Open: Fri 9pm-5am, Sat 10pm-5am, Metro: M3 Népliget
Located next to the Planetarium in the Népliget, E-Klub is as hedonistic as they come (in a not too subtle way either). And, with the likes of Ganxsta Zolee playing here - he's famous in Hungary - you know this place is popular. Strictly over 18s - and that's just for those visiting their website!!
Fat Mo's Music Club
V. Nyári Pál u. 11. Tel: 267 3199, Fax: 328 0706, Website: www.fatmo.hu, Open: Mon/Tue noon- 2am, Wed noon–3am, Thu/Fri noon–4am, Sat 6pm–4am, Sun 6pm–2am, Metro: M3 Kálvin tér/M3 Ferenciek tere
A music venue, bar and restaurant rolled into one, Fat Mo's is included here (rather than on our bar/pub pages) as the club stages regular DJ sets, along with jazz, soul and blues nights. Seemingly around forever, the club has still managed to retain its popularity, both with locals and expats alike.
II. Lövőház u 1-5, Tel: 345 8358, Fax: 345 8547, Website: www.kameleonmulato.hu, E-mail: email@example.com, Tram 4, 6 to Széna tér,
Looking a bit TOO much like Tony Montana's boudoir, the Kaméleon Club is actually located on the 4th floor of the Mammut II shopping mall. Lots of Latin nights (making us even more certain he chose the furnishings) while there's a pleasant enough restaurant and bar area. Proclaims itself a techno/trance free zone!
VI. Nagymező utca 25, Tel: 312 3823, Open: 10pm-6am daily, Metro: M1 Oktogon
Anyone with vaguely Bohemian leanings seems to wind up at Piaf, a stylish and sophisticated night-club, named of course, after the famous French Diva. Red velvet furnishings abound, while the music upstairs (which is often provided by a resident pianist) has a distinctly jazzy feel. The basement bar is an altogether different proposition though, with all sorts of weird and wonderful characters cutting shapes on Piaf's lively dance-floor.
School Club (Közgáz Pinceklub)
IX. Fővám tér 8, Tel: 215 4359, Website: www.schoolclub.hu, Open: Mon-Sat 8pm-5am, Metro: M3 Kálvin tér, Tram 2, 47, 49,
Student disco located in the bowels of the city's Economics University. Disco oriented grooves and a weekly karaoke are supplemented by cheap beer and no-nonsense food. Bouncers have a reputation for being real bruisers, so keep out of trouble!
Budapest Cinema Introduction
To fully appreciate just how seriously Hungarians take their cinema pop down to Uránia on a Friday night. Just make sure you get there early though, as otherwise you'll find yourself at the wrong end of a queue snaking off into the Budapest night! It's much the same elsewhere in Budapest, with the small foyers of the city's oldest and grandest theatres bursting at the seams with punters keen to see the latest blockbusters from Hollywood or Europe. While US, British and French productions make for the bulk of what's shown here, anything vaguely Bohemian or art house also has an appreciative audience (above left: Puskin cinema).
The domestic scene also enjoys a good reputation for high quality, innovative film making, with the heyday of Hungarian cinema often being touted as the 60s - a time where film was one of the few media where free expression and mild subversion were tolerated. Although there's arguably less home grown talent about today, a steady flow of interesting material still comes out of Hungary.
New multiplexes cater for those after the widest screens and thumping Dolby surround sound (with the renovated Corvin and UCI's Mom Park being among the best examples), although for a grand night out it's still difficult to beat venues like Müvész and Broadway. English language movies are usually subtitled (feliratos) rather than dubbed (szinkronizát), which is obviously a blessing for foreign tourists. As with cinemas at home, advanced bookings can be made in most venues.
Finding your seat is arguably the most difficult part of going to the movies in Budapest. As well as showing seat (szék) and row (sor) numbers, tickets also designate the side of the theatre your sitting on; left is "bal oldalon", right "jobb oldalon" and the middle "közép".
Popular Budapest Cinemas:
II. Margit krt. 5/b, Tel: 316 8708, Tram 4, 6 to Margit utca
Hungarian, art house and independent cinema, plus critically acclaimed US movies. Also focuses upon domestic releases from the 60s and 70s and French cinema.
VII. Károly krt 3, Tel: 322 0230, Tram 47, 49, Metro: M2 Astoria
Large, circa 1930 auditorium, providing the right sort of atmosphere for the French art house movies shown here. Hollywood films also screened.
Campona (UCI Palace Cinema)
XXII. Campona Bevásárlóközpont, Nagytétényi út 37-45, Tickets: 424 3333, Websites: www.palacecinemas.hu and www.campona.hu, Bus 3 to Nagytétény
Housed on the first-floor of the Campona Shopping Center, the 11 screen UCI Palace Cinema may be a bit soulless, but nonetheless offers a good-range of reduced rate tickets for children, students and senior citizens, as well as being open from midday Monday-Friday and 10am on Saturday and Sunday. With free parking.
Cinema City Csepel Plaza
XXI. Rákóczi F. út 154-170, Csepel Plaza, Tel: 425 8111, Website: www.csepelplaza.net, HÉV to Szent Imre tér
Hollywood releases to a thumping Dolby Digital sound system. A bit out of the way (being within the Plaza shopping centre on Csepel Island) but easily accessible on the suburban HÉV railway.
Cinema City Új Udvar
Új Udvar Bevásárló és Szérakoztató Központ. III. Bécsi út 38-44, Tel: 437 8383, Tram 17 to Kolosy tér
Another successful opening from the ever-expanding Israeli Cinema City group, with a strict diet of Hollywood and mainstream releases.
Corvin Budapest Filmpalota
VIII. Corvin-köz 1, Tickets: 459 5050, Film info: 459 5059, Website: www.corvin.hu, Tram 4, 6 to Ferenc krt, Metro: M3 Ferenc körút
Historic cinema, which has benefited enormously from a recent overhaul. Now the second largest multiplex in town. Comfortable seating, the very latest projection equipment and accurate sound staging make the Corvin hugely enjoyable. Hard to believe that the square in which it stands was damaged terribly during the 1956 revolution.
Duna Plaza (Hollywood Multiplex)
XIII. Váci út 178, Tickets: 467 4267, Website: www.hmplx.hu, Metro: M3 Gyöngyösi utca
Located in the Duna Plaza shopping mall (which looks uncannily like something from the set of Logan's Run) this nine-screen multiplex is as modern as they come. Despite the fact that you could be anywhere, screens are among the best in town. 20% discount for students if you have a Hollywood Multi-card, but also very popular with local Britney clones though, so beware...
VII. Erzsebet krt. 26, Tel: 322 3741, Tram 4, 6 to Wesselényi utca
Often re-runs popular English language movies, most of which are already on sale as DVD or video releases.
Kossuth 4 Mozi
XIII. Váci út 14, Tel: 349 3771, Metro: M3 Nyugati pu.
Independent films, with European and art house releases, feature alongside Hollywood blockbusters.
IX. Kinizsi u. 28. Tel: 476 0116, 215-3388, Metro: M3 Ferenc körút
Half-price tickets (compared to other venues listed on this page) and new European/Hollywood releases make the small, but likeable Kultiplex worth seeking out. Open film festivals also staged here.
Mammut Budai Moziközpont
II. Lövőház u 2-6, Tel: 345 8140, 345 8160, Website: www.mammutmozik.hu, Tram 4, 6 to Széna tér
As well as a rather swanky bowling alley, the Mammut II shopping mall also boasts a 13 screen cinema with state-of-the-art sound (Dolby Digital/DTS) and free car parking for 3 hours (handy in this part of town). What's more, as Mammut II is actually one of Budapest's nicer malls, a trip here can be combined with a daytime shopping spree!!
XII, Alkotás út 53, Tickets: 487 5670, Websites: www.palacecinemas.hu and www.mompark.hu, Tram 59, 61, Bus 8, 139
Arguably the best new cinema in Hungary, the nine-screen UCI Palace (housed within Mom Park Shopping Center) features all the latest digital technology, over 2,500 seats, wall-to-wall screens, an amazing sound system, comfy seating and a lobby snack bar. Free parking for three hours, providing you get your ticket validated at the cinema's box office. Recommended!!
VI. Teréz krt 30, Tel: 332 6726, Tram 4, 6 to Király utca, Website: www.artmozi.hu, Metro: M3 Nyugati pu.
Upmarket cinema showing mainly art house and classic movies (including European film weeks). Five screens ensure a good selection for even the pickiest of movie goers. The in-house restaurant is a nice enough distraction, particular as it helps avoid the pre-match squash in the lobby. Offers a 20% reduction if you sign up for a Budapest Film Klubkártya.
Pólus Center (Hollywood Multiplex)
XV. Szentmihályi út 131, Tel: 467 4627, Websites: www.hmplx.hu and www.polus.com, Tram 69, Bus 173 to final stop
A bit out of the way, but nonetheless a decent venue that comes under the Hollywood Multiplex chain of cinemas. 20% discount for students if you have a Hollywood Multi-card.
V. Kossuth L. utca 18, Tel: 429 6080, Website: www.artmozi.hu, Metro: M2 Astoria
Central location makes this an ideal venue to unwind in after a hard day's sightseeing. Two screens show Hollywood and (art house) Hungarian releases. Offers a 20% reduction if you sign up for a Budapest Film Klubkártya.
XIII. Szent Istvan krt. 16, Tel: 349 2773, Website: www.artmozi.hu, Metro: M3 Nyugati pu
Along with the Muvész, Puskin and Taban cinemas (see below) this is the fourth of Budapest's Art Mozi venues. Offers a 20% reduction if you sign up for a Budapest Film Klubkártya.
I. Krisztina krt. 87-89, Tel: 356-8162, Website: www.artmozi.hu, Tram 18 to Krisztina tér
Although we've yet to visit the Taban, it's yet another historic venue that comes under the Art Mozi group. Offering a good mix of European and Hollywood films, the cinema has also been upgraded to offer good quality projection and sound. 20% reduction if you sign up for a Budapest Film Klubkártya.
Toldi Studio Cinema
V. Bajcsy-Zsilinszky ut 36-38, Tel: 311 2809, Metro: M3 Arany János u.
Art house cinema that frequently stages film festivals and independent releases not shown elsewhere in Budapest.
VIII. Rákóczi út 21, Tickets: 486 3400, Website: www.urania-nf.hu, Bus 7, 7A, Metro: M2 Astoria
Difficult to beat from a fun night out and undoubtedly the most charming venue in Budapest. Huge 700 seater auditorium provides for a lively atmosphere at weekends. Particularly good when Hollywood blockbusters first hit town.
VIII. Üllői út 4, Tel: 311 4542, Metro: M3 to Kálvin tér
Although only Dolby Stereo is offered here, a good choice of European/American movies, plus a downtown location and cheap prices make the Vörösmarty a good choice for a movie in Budapest.
WestEnd (UCI Palace Cinema)
VI, WestEnd City Center, Váci út 1-3, Tickets: 238 7222, Website: www.palacecinemas.hu, Tram 4, 6, Metro: M3 Nyugati pu
One of Budapest's best multiplex venues, appropriately housed within the city's best shopping mall (the Westend City Center). A large auditorium, along with Dolby Digital Surround make it perfect for Hollywood fare, while afterwards enjoy a drink/meal in one the center's many bars and restaurants. Free parking for three hours, providing you get your ticket validated at the cinema's box office.
Casinos in Budapest
If you prefer to gamble, rather than dance the night away, Budapest has over a dozen casinos, most of which are sited in the luxury hotels along the Dunakórzo. Formal dress is often a prerequisite for entry (as is a sizeable wallet). All accept hard currency only (usually US dollars, sterling or Euro).
Casino Budapest Hilton
I. Hess András tér 1-3, Tel: 375 1001, Open: 7pm-2am daily, Free Entry, Metro: M2 Moszkva tér then Várbusz
Slots plus Blackjack, Caribbean Stud Poker, English Roulette, French Roulette, Red Dog and Video Poker. See Hilton Hotel.
Las Vegas Casino
V. Vígadó u. 2, Tel: 266 3062, Website: www.tropicanacasino.hu, Open 2pm-5pm daily, Free Entry for Hilton guests, reduced entry for Budapest Card holders, Metro: M1 Vörösmarty tér
Popular casino just off Váci utca which is easily recognizable thanks to a bright neon entrance (see left). And, even if you don't plan on gambling away a fortune, the Tropicana can provide a few hours entertainment without emptying your wallet. Slots plus American Roulette, Black Jack, Caribbean Draw Poker/Stud Poker and Punto Banco.
I. Ybl Miklós tér 9, Tel: 202 4244, Open: 2pm-5am daily, Free Entry, Website: www.varkert.com, Tram 19, Bus 86/116,
The nicest of Budapest's casinos, the building was designed by Miklós Ybl - the architect responsible for the city's State Opera House. Slots plus American Roulette, Black Jack, Craps, Punto Banco and Stud Poker.
Budapest Sport Introduction
With a population of only 10.5 million it's surprising that, over the years, Hungary has had such a high level of success in major sporting competitions. At the Olympics especially, the nation often achieves a respectable tally of medals in disciplines such as football, fencing, gymnastics, water polo and swimming.
Back home, major athletics meetings and football matches are held at the Puskás Ferenc Stadion (formerly the Népstadion) - Budapest's 68,000 all seater arena - while indoor events will take place at the nearby Budapest Arena (a purpose built, futuristic looking venue, that replaces the old fire damaged Sportcsarnok).
Football (Soccer) in Budapest
The most popular spectator sport is football, with Budapest providing most of the nation's popular teams. The standard of domestic football is moderate, while the international team failed (yet again) to reach the Euro 2004 Championships in Portugal.
Sadly, Hungary hasn't really had a world class team since the golden team (aranycsapat) of the 1950s, which many hold to be the greatest footballing side ever. The team's domination of the world stage at this time, through players such as Ferenc Puskás, Jószef Boszik, Sándor Kocsis and Nándor Hidegkuti was most famously demonstrated in a friendly match against England on a cold November afternoon in 1953.
The home side, who had previously joked about Puskás being a couple of stones overweight ("who's that fat little fellow?") knew they had a match on their hands when, during the warm-up, the Hungarians began volleying the ball to each other continuously from opposite sides of the pitch. The final scoreline of 6-3 to Hungary (which flattered England) saw Hidegkuti help himself to a hat-trick.
The following year, as a prelude to the World Cup in Switzerland, a return friendly in Budapest was marked by a similar scoreline, this time 7-1 to Hungary. With Puskás's team now seemingly unbeatable, they waltzed through the early stages of the World Cup to play Germany in the final. Although in qualifying, they had trounced a deliberately under strength German side (and despite going 2-0 up early on in the final) the combination of a change in tactics by their opponents and an injured Puskás saw Hungary lose 3-2. Older locals of course still claim that the team was robbed (a thunderous last minute equalizer by Puskás was disallowed for offside) although the sad reality is that the match marked the beginning of the end for Hungary's global supremacy. Less than two years later, the players who had made up the team dispersed to the four winds after the Soviets invaded in 1956, with both Puskás and Kocsis (nicknamed "the man with the golden head") staying in the west.
While today's Hungarian teams aren't even on the same planet in footballing terms (with many top players being arrogant, lazy and unable to fathom the concept of a tackle), a trip to a match in Budapest can still be good fun. It's certainly cheap compared to western prices and although there's some hooliganism (particularly centred around Ferencváros the most popular team), thugs are hardly on a par with those in Germany, Holland or the UK. Budapest's most popular local teams are:
IX. Üllöi út 129, Tel: 215 6025, Fax: 215 3698, Website: www.ftc.hu, Capacity 18,000, Colours: green and white, Metro: M3 Népliget
Hungary's biggest and most successful club. "Fradi" as they are affectionately known, have the best stadium in town and the most ardent fan base. Local rivals Honvéd provide the best fixture of the season. Be warned though wearing red in the home end is not a bright idea.
XIX Újtemető utca 1-3, Capacity 15,000 (5000 seated), Colours: red and black, Metro: M2 Határ út then tram 42 to the end of the line
Not surprising really that Honvéd's prodigal son Ferenc Puskás is still hero worshipped here by those old enough to remember his wizardry during the 1950s. Occasionally he attends on match days, although what he must think of this famous old army side's current team is anyone's guess.
MTK Hungária FC
VIII, Salgótarjáni út 12-14, Tel: 333 8368, Fax: 303 0592, Website: www.mtkhungaria.hu, Capacity: 12,700, (5000 seated), Colours: white and blue, Metro: M2 Népstadion then trolleybus 75 or tram 1
Playing at the Hidegkuti Nándor Stadion (named after the famous Hungarian forward who played in the "aranycsapat" of 1954) MTK have seen a resurgence of late, now overtaking both Kispest and Újpest as Budapest's second best team.
IV. Megyeri út 13, Website: www.ujpestfc.hu, Capacity 32,000 (12,000 seated), Colours: white with purple trim, Metro: M3 Újpest Központ then Bus 104 or 96 to Megyeri út
Not the force they once were during the 1930s, these days Újpest play second fiddle to Ferencváros. Mention András Töröcsik (their finest ever player) in glowing terms though and you'll be guaranteed a few pints after the final whistle.
With the benefit of Lake Balaton and a Strand or Fürdő in most towns, you'd expect Hungarians to love water sports. Swimming, waterpolo and canoeing are all very popular in Hungary, with swimming baths also being a major social meeting place for people. Best of all, most are family-oriented with good facilities and cheap entrance prices:
Alfréd Hajós Swimming Complex (Nemzeti Sportuszoda)
XII Margaret Island, Tram 4/6 the bus 26, Open 6am-6pm Mon-Fri, 6am-7pm Sat/Sun. See Margaret Island
XI Kelenhegyi út 4, Trams 18, 19, 47 to Gellért tér, Open 6am-7pm daily. See Gellért Baths in our sightseeing section.
XII Margaret Island, Tram 4/6 the bus 26, Open May-mid September
A massive sprawling complex on the Margaret Island which becomes unbelievably busy during the summer. See Margaret Island
Hungarian Formula One (F1) Grand Prix
The Hungarian grand prix is held each August at the Hungaroring, east of Budapest at Mogyoród (take the M3 motorway out of Budapest). Having proved to be extremely popular over the years, the Hungarians are justly proud of hosting such a prestigious event. Although the race itself isn't in the same league as say San Marino or Monaco (due to a narrow, slow circuit), the warm weather and excellent facilities make the Grand Prix a pleasant event to attend. In particular, good natured Finnish fans always have a great time (they jokingly believe that the Hungarians are distant cousins, see language). Tickets are not cheap though and can, on occasion, be difficult to obtain. For further information visit www.hungaroring.hu (official ticket sales) or www.formula1.hu (unofficial website).
Basketball and handball
These sports are both popular in Hungary with an enthusiastic and noisy following. Hungary has had a strong record in major handball tournaments with good men's and women's teams. The basketball league has attracted sub-NBA standard American players, though unusually, the strongest teams are not based in the capital. Further details can be found on the Hungarian basketball Federation's website at: www.hunbasket.hu.
Golf has only recently begun to take a foothold in Hungary, being seen as a status symbol by many of the city's new young professionals (who can usually be found trudging around in the rough or cursing from the bunkers). Hungary's best golf course is Birdland Golf and Country Club, located in the spa town of Bük-fürdő (a long way from Budapest) although the Pannonia Golf and Country Club at Alcsútdoboz lies only 40km west of the city. The Petneháza Golf Club (driving range) is also worthy of consideration if you just fancy whacking off a few balls during your Budapest stay. For further details about golf courses in Hungary visit: www.hungolf.hu or www.golfhungary.hu.
The city guide lists scores of restaurants of different tastes and budgets. Just about every ethnic style is available: Mexican, Jewish, Greek, Japanese, French, Slav and many, many others.
The top-of-the-range Gundel, is where visiting royalty and heads of state often eat at. Your local corner etterem will offer an impossibly large menu of usually fried foods and a piled-high plate for reasonable prices.
A tip: Hungarian wines range from undrinkable plonk to award-winning, well-made and delicious Cabernets. If you don't have time to experiment, stick to wines from the Villany region, preferably Cabernet Sauvignons, or Chardonnays from Balaton. The prices are very reasonable. Local beers are also sold at a good value. Try Dreher on draught; a light, lager-style beer.
1146 Budapest, Állatkerti út 2.
Open: Noon - 4 pm, 6:30 pm - 12 am. Sunday brunch 11:30 am-3 pm
1014 Budapest, Országház u 2.
1036 Budapest, Árpád fejedelem útja 94 Tel: (36-1) 436-4100
1126 Budapest, Kiss János altb. u. 38.
1146 Budapest, Állatkerti u. 2 468-3110
Open: daily from noon - 11pm
Bécsi szelet Restaurant
1085, Budapest, József krt. 63 318-4934
Open every day 12-23 pm
Champs Sport Pub
Budapest, VII., Dohány utca 20. Tel.: 413-1655
1011 Budapest, Bem rkp. 16-19. 487-9416
Open: daily from noon - 3pm, and 6pm - 12 am (last orders 11pm)
Csárda - Budapest Marriott Hotel
1052 Budapest, Apáczai Csere János u. 4.
Budapest, VII., Városligeti fasor 46-48. Tel.: 352-1641
1033 Budapest, Óbudai hajógyári-sziget 122.
Daily, 12 p.m. - 4 a.m.
Budapest, XVIII. Dobozi u. 70.
Budapest, Hess András tér 6. Tel: 488-7416
1053 Budapest, Ferenciek tere 7-8.
Daily, 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.
1036 Budapest, Mókus utca 22 250-4241
Kék Rózsa Restaurant
1072 Budapest, Wesselényi u. 9. 342-8981
1014 Budapest, Táncsics Mihály u. 25. 212-8565
Open: daily from 12pm to 12am
1034 Budapest, Kenyeres u. 34 368-6402
Open: Monday - Saturday noon - 12am. Closed on Sunday
1025 Budapest, Csatárka u. 58 325-9967
Open: restaurant: daily noon - midnight, salon: 6pm-3am
Budapest, II. Kisrókus u. 23 316 02 31
1125 Budapest, Virányos u. 4/a. 212-2413
Open: daily from 6pm - 12am
Remiz Cafe and Brasserie
1021 Budapest, Budakeszi u. 5.
Telephone: 00-36-1-275-1396, 00-36-1-394-1896
Budapest, V. Deák Ferenc u. 2 266 62 10
1148 Budapest, Városligeti tó 422-0222
1087 Budapest, Mosonyi u. 3.
1065 Budapest, Podmaniczky u 14. 302-4456
Open: daily from noon - 1am
Szép Ilona Kisvendéglő
1021 Budakeszi út 1-3.
Tel : 275-1392
1025 Budapest, Pentelei Molnár u. 15.
- Budapestapartments: Leave your message and we will call you back as soon as possible.