Downtown Budapest lays between the Inner Ring Road, the “Kiskörút” and the Danube. Its borders follow the long disappeared medieval city walls.
The center is the place where you find the main shopping hub, most of the five-star hotels and number of restaurants. It is a desirable district for any shop owner.
The main square is Vörösmarty square, named after a romantic poet of the first half of the 19th century. His statue is in the middle of the square.
Before Christmas, a traditional market is set up here with hand-made artifacts and traditional dishes and drinks.
Right now the whole square is under reconstruction. It will be reopened during autumn.
Vörösmarty Square is also the first/final station of the Millenium Underground (main stations: Opera, Heroes’ Square, Széchenyi Baths).
Café Gerbeaud is one of the most famous cafés in a city known for its cafés. It has tables outside during summer, while inside it is very elegant, decorated with chandeliers and dark wood. Since 2009, the Gerbeaud has a little sister in Tokyo! 🙂
The main shopping street, Váci street runs straight form Vörösmarty square, parallel to the Danube.
This is the busiest commercial street of Budapest, almost permanently packed with tourists.
Many international brands have their stores here: ZARA, Desigual, H&M, Mango, etc. Also, there are several restaurants here, but I honestly I can’t recommend any of them.
Váci street runs to Szabad sajtó út that carries traffic over Elizabeth Bridge.
At the foot of the bridge stands the Inner City Parish Church that was founded 900 years ago and that survived the construction of the modern-day bridge in the early 1960s. Originally it was planned to be lifted and moved somewhere else.
This is where Saint Gellért, whose statue stands on the other side of the bridge, was buried in the 11th century.
In front of the church, you can see the Roman remains of Contra Aquincum, dating back to the second century AD.
South part of Váci street
Váci utca continues across Szabad sajtó út, here the shops are somewhat more eclectic. This is the historic quarter of the inner city, dotted with churches, museums, and schools. It ends at Vámház körút, that is dominated by the Great Market Hall.
Múzeum körút (Museum Boulevard)
The National Museum is officially not in the city center, as it stands in district VIII, but in reality, it is just on the other side of the Inner Ring Road. The grand Neo-Classical building is not only known for the exhibitions that cover the history of Hungary from its foundation until 1990, but also for its role in Hungarian history. Sándor Petőfi read his “National Song” to ignite the 1848 Revolution against Austria on the steps of the Museum.
Not far from National Museum is the pocket park of Károlyi-kert, which once belonged to the aristocratic family of the same name. Today it is fenced, but opened to the public and around it, there are contemporary fashion boutiques and bars. It is a great place to rest and eat some snacks.
Walking towards the Great Synagogue, you pass the famous Hotel Astoria, where the first Hungarian government was formed in 1918. Its coffeehouse is a popular meeting point today.
Keeping the Synagogue and the Jewish Quarter to your right, you arrive at Deák Ferenc square, the main transport hub of the city.
Towering over the area stands Budapest Eyes Ferris wheel. This square is called Erzsebet square.
Also named after Ferenc Deák, a leading Hungarian statesman from the mid 1800a, you find Deák Ferenc street that leads you back to Vörösmarty tér. This street has been recently rebranded as Fashion street and it is lined with upscale boutiques.
Downtown Budapest is a place where you can have a leisurely walk while enjoying the World Heritage sights of the Danube banks and the Castle District, do some shopping and taste Hungarian dishes. Be sure to stroll along its streets! 🙂
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