Day 2 – suggested day itinerary in Budapest
This day itinerary for Budapest includes a visit to Parliament, a few museum suggestions, shopping, and the Opera House.
To see more photographs of Budapest, Hungary including the Parliament building and more, click here for Monica Goslin Photography
1 – Parliament in Budapest
The Parliament building in Budapest is remarkable in size and stunning in architecture. The Parliament building dominates the river skyline. Construction of the Parliament building in Budapest started in 1885 and was completed in 1904; the architect Imre Steindl who sadly went blind before the completion of building designed it. The Budapest Parliament is designed in the Gothic Revival style and has a symmetrical façade which extends into the interior, so there are two identical parliament halls, one is now used for guided tours and the other for government offices and meetings. There are over 600 rooms in the Parliament buildings, including over 200 offices, 29 staircases, 10 courtyards, and 13 elevators; plus there are over 240 sculptures outside and inside the building.
The guided tours of Parliament in Budapest take you up the main staircase, to see the Holy Crown of Hungary and the dome, and through some hallways to an assembly hall. When visiting Budapest, I would say having a guided tour of Parliament is a must because the building is absolutely stunning and not something you will forget. There are so many details, so many paintings, patterns, and artistry in the Parliament building to appreciate!
*Tours only for Parliament –Get there early to stand in line to right of parking lot. Bring your passport to show the guard. One person from each group goes in to arrange the tour time – each tour is based on a different language group (English, German, Spanish are common languages). If you won’t make the specific language tour, just join any group so you can see the building! Tours last about one hour.
-Fun Fact- The story of the Holy Crown of Hungary – The crown of Saint Stephens was the coronation crown, and used to coronate more than fifty kings. It is unclear when the crown was created, but it is suspected to date back to the 11th century! A notable feature of the crown is the slanted cross which is likely to have been added to the crown in the 16th century and is thought to have bent when placed in a box with a lid that was not tall enough. The tour guide will tell you that no one wanted to fix the crown, fearful of damaging it further. The Holy Crown of Hungary has been on display in the Hungarian Parliament building in the central Domed Hall since 2000 and is under constant watch by two guards.
2 – Ethnographic Museum
The Ethnographic Museum is across from Parliament and houses exhibitions of Hungarian traditional costumes, pottery, jewelry, textiles and more. It is an excellent museum that I highly recommend if you are interested in cultural artifacts and folk culture. Plus the Ethnographic Museum in Budapest has a wonderful museum store!
Museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10-6 (closed Mondays) and tickets cost 1400 HUF (price as of summer 2012).
3 – Suggestion of coffee at House of Hungarian Art Nouveau museum café – located on Honved Street near Szabadsaf ter plaza. This is a funny little “museum” that feels more like a store, crowded with art nouveau furniture, artwork, jewelry, and even more amusing is that items are for sale! If you like Art Nouveau architecture and art, this is fun stop to make and the little café has good coffee and fresh snacks which you can eat at mismatched tables and chairs decorated with old postcards, giving the feel of an Alice and Wonderland set. If you visit the museum it is 1,500 HUF (prices as of summer 2012) for a ticket and the hours are Monday to Saturday 10-5, closed Sunday (hours are for the café as well).
4 – Walk through Szabadsag ter park – note the fountain at one end of the park. The fountain is flat and imbedded in the sidewalk and while it looks like a box outline of water, if you approach the wall of water a section in front of you drops down and you can enter the box!
5 – Walk down Sas St and turn when you see St. Stephen’s Basilica, a Roman Catholic basilica named in honor of Stephen I of Hungary, the first King of Hungary. St. Stephen’s Basilica is one of the tallest buildings in Budapest (96 meters or 315 feet) and took 54 years to construct (completed in 1905) and it is the largest church in Budapest as well, seating about 8500 people. In fact, to this day there is a building regulations law in Budapest, that a building cannot be taller then 96 meters. The basilica is beautifully decorated inside with marble floors and columns, painted ceilings and a large cupola.
*Note-You can go into St. Stephen’s Basilica during services, but stay at the back.
6 – Andrassy Avenue – locals refer to as the Champs Elysees of Budapest
The Andrassy Avenue is a long street in Budapest that links Erzsebet Square with Varosliget (park with Heroes’ Square) and was constructed in the 1870’s. The avenue is lined with mansions and grand buildings, including the Opera house, and beneath this grand avenue is the first underground railway line constructed on the Continent in 1896 making it the second oldest in the world after London’s metro which was built in 1863.
*Get to by walking behind St. Stephen’s, turn right and walk one block to Andrassy Way
7 – Hungarian State Opera house on Andrassy Avenue
The Opera House in Budapest is the largest Opera building in Hungary. The Opera House was completed in 1884, it was renovated in the 1980’s and reopened on September 27, 1984 which was 100 years after the original opening. The horseshoe shape of the theater was ingeniously engineered and said to have the third best acoustics in Europe after La Scala Opera House in Milan and Palais Garnier in Paris! Andrassy Avenue was named a World Heritage Site in 2002. The Opera season in Budapest runs from September to June, however if you miss the season you can go on a guided tour, which is offered in six languages! The Opera house also houses the Hungarian National Ballet.
– Guided tours for the Opera House in Budapest are at 3 and 4pm; tickets can be purchased at the Opera shop on the right hand side of the building (it is suggested that you buy tickets for the next day).