While looking through some old pictures, I was inspired to feature a city I visited on one of my favorite trips I’ve ever taken. I visited Budapest about a year ago on my first trip out of the country. Even until the airport check in counter, I was unaware of what country Budapest was located and definitely didn’t know the language. This both hindered and heightened my experience in the city, but I still think about that trip and my experiences there often. Beautiful, shocking, and with a feeling of a dangerous and tumultuous history, a trip to Budapest stays with you for a long time after you leave.
I unfortunately didn’t have to opportunity to ride my bike in Budapest, but whether you favor mountain or pavement cycling, Budapest has what you’re looking for. A little about the geography in Budapest is probably necessary for those of you not versed in Central European landscape. The city is divided into two sections: Buda, which features green rolling hills, off-road trails, walking paths through parks with monuments and castles, and Pest, which is more tourist, government, restaurant and shopping oriented with cobblestone and brick roads that are surprisingly flat in comparison to the city’s other half. These two parts are separated by the Danube river and both offer long trails that follow the path of the river and provide some amazing views. The Montague Paratrooper or NEW X70 is probably your best bet for cycling in Buda. The trails and lush landscape and rolling hills makes it the perfect area for mountain biking. Enjoy the views of Pest and the Danube River from the hills of Buda on your Montague Folding Bike! For navigating the streets of Pest, the Navigator or Crosstown would be nice for the longer rides out to the public Hot Spring Bath Houses while the Boston is great for zipping around downtown while shopping or riding along the river.
Ironically, the city is arranged much like our website: Montague Folding Bikes, with mountain and trail riding on one side (Buda) and pavement riding on the other (Pest). Budapest offers several different options for touring the city on a bike in Budapest. The charge ranges, but is typically about 5000 to 5500 Hungarian forint (HUF) which equals about 22 US dollars. The exchange rate is currently about 1 USD = 224.744 HUF, according to the Budapest Pocket Guide.
“In addition to seasonal events, Budapest offers visitors a very lively theatre life, high level alternative culture, colourful musical life, several museums, galleries, restaurants and night clubs,” says Gábor Demszky, the Mayor of Budapest. This was my experience as well. Trevor (who you can see in our recent photoshoot on Facebook) and I stayed in a hotel outside the downtown area of Pest and loved the walk through the college area of Budapest and past some beautiful churches and monuments. The man at the front desk (we only saw one the entire time we were there, morning and night) was great! He offered us candy and juice, and kindly pointed us in the direction we wanted to go. He greeted us by name and was extremely friendly. He was also one of the only ones that spoke English in the entire city! We spent most of our time walking around the city, struggling to navigate through the busy streets that sport absolutely no English signs, exploring the hills of Buda, the Chain Bridge connecting the two parts of the city, Hungarian Parliament, the Natural Hot Spring bathhouses (my favorite part of the trip) and the many historical landmarks around the Hungarian Capital.
Probably one of my most memorable experiences in Budapest was on the last day of our trip. We visited Budapest’s House of Terror (The Terror Museum) which housed the torture chambers and interrogation rooms originally used by the Soviet Union manipulated Hungarian Communists. Unlawful imprisonment of Hungarian citizens for not joining the Communist party led to many deaths and horrible torture of the country’s people. This “police force” showed up to liberate the country from Nazi Germany, which also occupied the House of Terror and contributed to its name, but, instead, plagued the country with violence as recently as 1989. (I actually read that the last prisoner of war was released from the holds of this police force in 1994, but don’t have the brochure from the museum to site, so I’m just going by memory with that fact.) The museum is open to the public Tue-Fri 10-6pm, Sat-Sun 10-7:30pm. The admission fee is 1,500 HUF ($6.70) for adults, 1,100 HUF for students ($4.90), with group discounts available.
Experiencing this rich culture and historical city by bike is definitely the best way to go. It’s a huge city with lots to see, so walking can be too exhausting and slow to really be able to take in the city around you and experience all it has to offer. This short blog is not sufficient enough to explain what you’ll get out of a trip to Budapest, but I can say that I truly regret not bringing my bike along with me.
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