UPDATED February 7, 2007
TOURIST OFFICE: A wonderful resource, with
all the best information to visit Budapest and Hungary = http://www.hungary.com
TOURIST OFFICE: Visit the Budapest's
official touristical homepage to perfectly organize your trip. It provides
on a mouse click most useful information on the city, sights, excursions
and, last but not least, it allows very convenient on-line
hotels booking and on-line
services (Travel Offers, Domestic holidays, Travel Agencies , Programs
, and Air Tickets) = http://www.budapestinfo.hu
BUDAPEST CARD: "The whole city in your pocket" is the motto of the Budapest Card, introduced by the BUDAPEST TOURISM OFFICE in 1997. The Card offers its holder more than a hundred services: unlimited travel on public transport, free entry to 60 museums and to some sights, sightseeing tour for half price, reduced price tickets for cultural and folklore programs, discounts in restaurants and spas, discount for the airport minibus service, car rental, sports facilities, and in many other places.
The services of the card are detailed in a 100 paged, coloured publication in Hungarian, English, German and Italian languages. This publication introduces the use of the Budapest Card and the servicing enterprise (with photo, address, opening hours, entrance fees and discounts).
Card, valid for one adult and one child up to 14 years of age, costs HUF
3950 for 48 hours or HUF 4950 for 72 hours. It is available in more than
250 places in Budapest: main metro ticket offices, tourist information
bureaus, travel agencies, hotels and the airport. You can also find
it abroad : at major tour operators, and several representations of Malév
BUDAPEST OPERA HOUSE: Built in 1884 by Hungarian architect Miklos Ybl, very much influenced by the neo-Renaissance Wien Stadt Oper, the Budapest Opera House is widely regarded as one of the finest in Europe. Smaller than any other world class concert hall, this is nevertheless one of the most charming in the world. Hundred thousands tourists and opera aficionados come each year from round the world: sometimes just to see the frescoes painted by Karoly Lotz. Despite of Communism (which made the seats affordable for everybody) the Opera House always kept its quality in term of programs, musicians and singers. Of course, time when prestigious foreign directors like Gustav Mahler were hired to manage it is over. But the last concerts we could hear recently at the Budapest Opera House were very high standard. Richard Wagner, Mozart, but also national composers like Bela Bartok or the much venerated Ferenc Erkel (author of Hungary's anthem), are particularly well served. Blue Beard Castle (from Bartok) or Hunyadi Laszlo (from Erkel), though both quite hermetic to the non initiated melomaniac, are regularly at the program: this is worth the booking, as few opera houses in the world ever show those purely Magyar creations. Still cheap compared to the Western concert halls, mostly when reservation is done directly at the Opera booking office, the place is actually worth the trip. During the break, don’t forget to have a glass of Tokaji at the Buffet or on its terrace. Black tie is not necessary; but formal dress is kindly suggested.
OPERA HOUSE (Magyar Allami Operahaz): Andrassy ut. 22, Budapest VI
BUDAPEST SPRING FESTIVAL: Just like each year since decades, the Budapest Spring Festival (March 16th – April 1st , 2007) will open the musical season in Hungary with prestigious events and a remarkable street animation in Pest downtown (Vorosmarty square, Vaci street, River Danube banks...). This event, attended by international melomaniacs and tourists alike, is not thematic: it is characterised by variety and abundance, by the concentration and juxtaposition of highly promising concerts, stage productions and exhibitions, involving the whole city; in contrast to festivals that are addressed to connoisseurs and concentrate on a single theme.
Everything is given for the festival: famous orchestras, celebrated performing artists, world opera première, experimental dance, contemporary artists –including Farkas Kempelen’s chess-playing Turk. The Budapest Spring Festival 2007 will highlight chamber music: featuring the performance of rarely heard duos and trios, with evenings are devoted to rarely heard composers. Don't miss the concerts in the new Palace of Arts (wonderful design and acoustic), Budapest Opera House, Pesti Vigado, and Academy of Music.
BUDAPEST SPA CITY: The abundance of medicinal waters in Budapest is unparalleled. A capital city featuring the highest number of medical thermal springs in the world, Budapest was granted the title of « Spa City » in 1934. The Celts and the Romans used the hot springs on the Buda side, and the name of Aquincum may also refer to the springs. (The name may be a derivation from the Celtic word for ‘water’, or from the Latin aqua quinque, ‘five waters’.) There is probably no other capital city on the globe with swimming pools and bathing halls dating back to the Turkish occupation and still in use today, with thermal spas irradiating the rich colours and forms of Art Nouveau and featuring one of the largest spas in Europe. Natural springs and wells in the territory of Budapest (a total of 118 different sources) provide up to 30,000 cubic metres of 21-76o C thermal water every day: mostly dolomitic water ranging from lukewarm karst to thermal hot water. Romans used 14 thermal spas, and a British traveller reported 10 spas in Turkish times (1669). There are 24 medical spas, public baths, indoor and outdoor swimming pools in the capital today, ten with a special medical capacity and therapeutic value.
CITY & EXCURSION TOURS: Since 1996, this tour operator is ranked about the top best in Hungary in term of quality and level of services. Featured for high-class operations, it cares about each detail. Those include airport pick-up by a luxurious air-conditioned car. Hungarian are proficient in term of gallantry: the ladies will receive welcome bouquet of flowers. After some rest at the hotel, a professional multilingual guide (all major languages are spoken, including Arabic and Japanese) will take them to a custom tailored tour 3 hour tour of Budapest. This is a standard package which gives an opportunity to see the city highlights. But, what we actually liked in CITY & EXCURSION TOURS, is this alternative to go "behind the scene" and explore areas not highlighted by the guidebooks. When choosing, up to your hobbies, tastes and age, a philatelic tour, a gourmet tour, a business opportunity tour or, why not, a retirement tour, you may be sure to see Hungary a much different way than anybody else visiting it with a group of tourists. But tourism isn't set apart: with recommended excursions to the Balaton lake (the Hungarian Sea), to the amazing Danube Bend and Visehrad, or to the Serb Szentendre artists’ village with its art galleries and splendid orthodox churches. Behind the scene again, visits to the Heviz hot water lake, or to the Eger and Tokaj wine regions are warmly recommended. They will give the traveller a true picture of this very unique country in Europe. Golf and horse riding are also available through CITY & EXCURSION TOURS.
Many letters sent to the agency show the complete satisfaction of a clientele very much impressed by the personal care they received during the stay. When the trip is over, a driver will take clients back to the airport where, as a departing gesture, they will be surprised with a bottle of famous Hungarian wine! Children under 12 are given a gift to remember Budapest. Which large-scale tour operator could act such a nice way, indeed?
Available at much affordable rates, the classical package includes transfers from/to airport, and three-hour sightseeing. A limousine service is also available. In that case, same tour can be done driven into a luxurious Mercedes-Benz. If you really want to look like top VIP, then rather use their stretched Ford-Lincoln, with a bar featuring Champagne!
|FIRST CLASS AROUND THE WORLD|