Traveling to Budapest during coronavirus and other epidemics outbreak
This blog post will give you a few recommendations on visiting Budapest during the coronavirus outbreak.
What is coronavirus?
Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases.
What are the symptoms of coronavirus?
Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
It has a 2-3 week incubation period, you are contagious while asymptomatic. People need to be mindful and careful right now. That doesn’t mean panic, but dismissing it as relatively harmless is just as dangerous.
Who’s most at risk of being infected and who’s most at risk of developing severe or even lethal illness?
Older persons and persons with pre-existing medical conditions (such as high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, cancer or diabetes) appear to develop serious illness more often than others.
Things to do to avoid coronavirus infection
International travelers: practice usual precautions
- Clean hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth
- Cover nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with tissue or flexed elbow
- Avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms
- Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
Should I travel to Budapest during coronavirus?
I am more than happy if people around the world choose Budapest as their travel destination. I wouldn’t necessarily cancel my travel plans, but I recommend you to be cautious.
So far the general public is not affected by the coronavirus in Hungary.
For most people in most locations, the risk of catching COVID-19 is still low.
However, new outbreaks can emerge rapidly. It’s important to be aware of the situation where you are or intend to go.
No-one can guarantee that any region, any city will not be infected. There are now places around the world (cities or areas) where the disease is spreading. For people living in, or visiting, these areas the risk of catching COVID-19 is higher.
Be sure to comply with any local restrictions on travel, movement or large gatherings.
Cooperating with disease control efforts will reduce your risk of catching or spreading the virus.
Even if you are a young, healthy person, you can transfer the virus for the elderly, or those who are immunocompromised.
Probably most of you aren’t concerned about getting sick. You’re concerned about getting stuck or quarantined.
This is a very valid concern. The situation is super fluid.
Cities can be shut down anytime.
Buy travel insurance.
Most travel insurance do not cover the costs of a quarantine (accommodation, boarding, loss of salary).
You can find policies that are “cancel for any reason” but, most policies specifically exclude coronavirus. Still, they will still cover you if your hotel or airline cancels, the government declares an emergency, or something else interrupts your trip. Read the policies thoroughly.
What should I do in Budapest during the coronavirus outbreak?
If you decide to travel to Budapest anyway, or you are already here, you will need to decrease the chance to get infected and spread the virus.
The most important task is to avoid crowded places.
Studies to date suggest that the virus that causes COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through contact with respiratory droplets rather than through the air.
Budapest public transportation
Public transportation in Budapest is developed and reliable, but as in any other big city, hand rails and seats are touched by a bunch of people every day.
Avoid touching the interior unless absolutely necessary.
Use hand sanitizer frequently.
These attractions and areas are among the less crowded ones in Budapest:
Gellért Hill is a 235-m high dolomite rock, topped by the fortress of Citadel and the statue of Liberty, rising above the Danube in Buda, one of the favorite excursion spots of the city. Actually, the dolomite hill is the easternmost bastion of the hills of Transdanubia to the west.
The Castle District is one of the three World Heritage sites of Budapest. It is also the first stop of every sightseeing tour in Budapest, one of the main attractions of the city. The Royal Castle, Matthias Church and Fishermen’s Bastion are all clustered here, surrounded by quiet cobbled streets with spectacular panorama of the city spread out below.
Tomb of Gül Baba
Tomb of Gül Baba is one of the most special reminders of 16th – 17th-century Hungarian history, when for a long period Buda and central Hungary were under Turkish occupation. This is one of the quirkiest attractions in Budapest.
First, let’s make a clear distinction between two quarters of Budapest for they are often mistaken for each other. The one in Buda is called the Castle Quarter and the other in Pest is called the Palace District.
Budapest’s Palotanegyed (Palace District) is a smaller part of Józsefváros (Joseph town) that was named after the heir to the Austrian throne, Joseph, the later Emperor Joseph II.
The term ‘palota’ (‘palace’) is used in a wider sense in Hungary. In Palotanegyed it refers to everything from genuine palaces (such as the Wenckeim Palace) for aristocratic families, to buildings with generously-proportioned apartments for the wealthy upper-middle classes (such as the Emich Palace on Horánszky utca).
The communist regime neglected the district’s buildings and committed some great acts of vandalism, especially the demolition of the National Stables behind the National Museum in 1948, replacing them in 1969 with a modern office block unsympathetic to its grand surroundings.
Since the mid-1990s, the Palotanegyed’s fortunes have steadily recovered. Many of the district’s palaces have been restored, and slowly but surely other buildings are following suit.
Today, the area is renewed, some of the district’s streets are converted into pedestrian-only areas, converting the slum into a friendly neighborhood, where restaurants and cafes are thriving.
What you will not see in the area are tourist groups. This neighborhood is still left out of mainstream tours.
People you see here are mostly Hungarians (mainly residents) and (both Hungarian and foreign) students.
It gives the distinct a calm atmosphere, where wandering around – while paying attention to the details of the buildings, trying to imagine the everyday life of the past – can be a really touching, memorable experience.
The Danube Promenade (Dunakorzó) stretches between the Elizabeth Bridge and the Chain Bridge in Pest along the banks of the Danube. Back in the 19th century the Promenade was home to several famous hotels and their cafés, with their spectacular view of the Danube and the Buda Castle, they were very popular. Even today, the Promenade is one of the main attractions of Budapest.
Andrássy Avenue is one of the main attractions of Budapest, the arterial road of Terézváros, and also the most polished avenue in Budapest. It is our “Champs-Élysées”, a boulevard full of high-end boutiques, embassies and villas.
The avenue connects downtown Pest to the City Park and together with the Millennium Underground underneath it and the Heroes’ Square, it became World Heritage Site in 2002.
Heroes’ Square played the main role of the Millennial Celebrations. It commemorates the 1000-year anniversary of the arriving and settling down of the nomadic Magyar tribes in the Carpathian Basin.
Normafa is the most popular excursion spot of the Buda Hills. Easily and quickly accessible, perfect for those who would like to get out from the buzz of the city but don’t have time to go further. We can feel that we are doing something great to our body and soul in the “great outdoors” while we are just 20 minutes away from Széll Kálmán Square, the hotspot of Buda.
Easily accessible by bus no 21 and 21A from Széll Kálmán Square and by the Children’s Railway.
Margaret Island is another great place to spend some time outdoors. This huge park is in the center of the Danube River, accessible from Margaret Bridge.
Vehicles are prohibited, so the island is a great place to stroll, rent a bike, work out or go for a run.
Attractions near Margaret Island:
If possible, choose restaurants that have outdoor sitting areas and use hand sanitizer before eating.
What should I do if I feel unwell in Budapest?
If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early. Do not visit hospitals, call these “green numbers” instead:
+36 80 277 455 (from Hungarian phones: 05 80 277 455)
+36 80 277 456 (from Hungarian phones: 05 80 277 456)
Emergencies: ambulances and hospitals
For a public ambulance, free-call 104 or 112. The ambulance will take patients to the nearest available hospital (“kórház” in Hungarian).
For more information check out my blog post: Practical information
Remember: you’re unlikely to get sick. Go out and enjoy the world. Be cautious. Be clean. Get insurance. Monitor the situation.
But don’t panic.
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Memento Park showcases the life in Hungary under the Soviet rule. Located on the outskirts of Budapest this park is not on the main tourist