budapest recommendations

We will be sailing on the ms Joy from Budapest in June 2018. The Bridges tour begins on Saturday at 2 pm and leaves Budapest that evening. According to the itinerary online, day 1 will visit sites such as Hero's Square and Fisherman's Bastion. We plan to arrive 2 days early for the trip so that we can experience a bit more of Budapest. I'd like to know what sites we will be seeing on the brief Tauck tour of the city (in addition to the 2 previously mentioned) so that we do not repeat those on our own tours. From research online, it seems that Hero's Square is part of the City Park area which also includes many other interesting sites. Will Tauck explore the park at all or just visit Hero's Square and move on? I have the same question regarding Fisherman's Bastion in the Castle District. Finally, I've seen many recommendations to do an evening cruise on the Danube to see the lights, especially those at the Parliament Building. Will we be able to see those as the Tauck cruise departs Budapest on Saturday evening, or should we do that on one of our evenings before the tour starts? I realize that I am asking these questions WAY before the actual cruise, but I am hoping a Tauck cruise director or someone who has taken this cruise recently can help me out with some details. Obviously we are very excited for this trip!

Comments

  • We have just returned from the land tour that includes Budapest. First question, are you taking children with you? If so what are their ages? What interests you? One place we thought was not worth while was the covered market food and crafts, food was interesting, crafts were the same as any of the stores selling the same and notthst wonderful and it's quite a walk to that area. We did drive by tours and walking tours with Tauck and then we had free time to do other tours ourselves. You get a lot more time in each city on the land tours. You will not need to do a river cruise to see the lights of Budapest, you are on the riverboat. An evening dinner cruise on the Danube was part of our tour and the buildings look lovely. Budapest and all the other cities were very crowded even though it was mid to late September, almost like the crowds of NY in December, which surprised us.
  • edited October 2017
    In the past you could tell what type of activity was planned by Tauck's description in the online Itinerary, but from my recent experience, that is no longer true:

    In the past when you saw a description like this (from the itinerary for your tour), "Your 7-night cruise begins with a sightseeing tour of the city . . . you'll learn about the city's turbulent history and see iconic sites such as Heroes' Square and Fisherman's Bastion", it usually meant you were scheduled for a bus drive-by.

    When you saw a description like this, "Enjoy a guided visit to . . . ." , it meant you were going to leave the bus and walk on foot, with a local guide or guides.

    However, this past August we took the Romantic Germany tour. The description of our morning activity in Munich said, "Take a sightseeing tour of the Bavarian capital today that includes the celebrated Maximilianstrasse, the 17th-century Residenz, and the old town hall" which would normally mean just a bus trip around town. While we saw the buildings mentioned- from the moving bus- we had a local guide and he exited the bus with us for a short walk and presentation at the former Nazi Party (and Hitler's) headquarters and nearby Königsplatz (Kings Square), former Nazi rally/parade grounds. We had a similar surprise in Berlin- the itinerary says, "Join our local guide for a tour of Germany’s capital city." We toured parts of Berlin by bus but also got off for presentations at the Brandenburg Gate, at a section of the Berlin Wall (preserved as a memorial to those who died trying to escape East Berlin), and at Berlin's Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.

    So, I guess my recommendation is, if you don't get a precise answer from a recent Family Riverboat Adventure traveler, give Tauck a call. Keep in mind, however, that the itinerary can change slightly from tour to tour and Tauck often throws in "surprises" along the way, which they won't tell you about before hand.
  • edited October 2017
    Yes Alan is correct about the surprises. While on some recent tours we have not noticed any, our land tour had around four or more I can remember and they all added to the tour's enjoyment. It looks like you will have to call Tauck. We could only drive by Hero's Square because it was being set up for an event. Also, when you do decide to visit any indoor place, make sure that you check that it is not closed that day, or closed for renovations which happened for one of the places we wanted to visit, always have a Plan B. Finally, weather can also impact tour plans, a planned Tauck guided walk was cut short due to rain on our tour.
  • Thank you British and AlanS for your replies. We will be traveling with our 2 children ages 13 and 16. It was good to get the opinion of the market as that was one of the places high on my list to see. I pictured it as being a bit like Pike Place Market in Seattle. Was that not the case?
  • I think your children would enjoy the Hospital in the Rocks tour under the Buda castles area, tours are strictly on the hour, we walked up and got tickets and only had to wait a short while. Be sure you pick the tour with an English speaking guide. To find it, it's below the castle, can't recall exactly where but we took an elevator down from one street level to the street below and it was near there. Look it up.
    The covered market is larger than Pike Place, food on the ground level and crafts on the upper floor. The crafts are not 'home made' like at Pikes but very typical Hungarian gifts like Russian dolls and embroidered tablecloths that you can find in any stores in the streets for exactly the same prices. We stayed at the Ritz Carlton, hundreds of stores in that area, many high end designer label ones. Who would think a so recent communist part of Europe would appear so wealthy. So many young people. So many people shopping in the middle of the day and the middle of the week that you never see in the US.
  • "Most Tauck river cruises technically begin at 4pm which is the earliest time you can get your stateroom keys, unpack luggage, etc. I think you can assume the sightseeing tour is only about 2 hours long. I suspect you're pretty safe going to see anything that interests you. "

    I saw this on a post from 2015. It seems like although Tauck will take us to see Fisherman's Bastion in the Castle District, that it will be a very short visit. We will have Thursday afternoon through Saturday at 2pm to sightsee on our own. We plan to walk across the Chain Bridge, ride the funicular up to Castle Hill, visit Hospital in the Rocks, Matthias Church, and Fisherman's Bastion. Is the Labyrinth worth seeing? I was wondering if all of this could be done our first afternoon/evening or if we should save it until our full day on Friday?
  • edited October 2017
    I had never heard of the Labyrinth so just looked it up and most reviews are pretty negative. We did not go on the funicular because we chose to walk back to Pest... We've been on plenty of these and you get great views from the bastion and castle so we walked to our next destination. I think the Shoes memorial by the river not far from the chain bridge is a must if you are prepared to tell your children's about it's significance. It's hard to say if you could do all this in one afternoon, it depends on your speed, how long you want to spend in time at each place, the crowds and the weather, say it is very hot. Plus, you should never underestimate how you are with jet lag.... we just arrived in England At 8-15 this morning. I was not tired, my husband was. We compromised, went to the local store I always go to for British supplies together, had bacon butties, we got back. My husband was then Ok and had to make a visit for family business, I was then tired, just woken up, he will be back. Tired of course. So today is pretty much a washout, and it's been raining, glad it is not a Tauck tour because this first day has literally been a washout. By the way, I think the Hospital tour was 11/2 hours long.
    Back on point....As far as rushing to see everything, we always think it is very important to sit and if possible mix with the locals, get a feel of the place, children get so much out of this.... I feel ours have benefitted greatly from early travels abroad and as adults can pretty much mix with anyone, understand that everyone has a different lifestyle, has a different point of view and outlook on life and no one way is the way to conduct your life. We have our adult son with us on this trip, no one would know he is not an all American boy, but hiding under that is a once British teenager, it was so good watching him interact with the Uber driver on the way to our hotel who was from Pakistan, listening them talk about their families. So take time to really soak it all in by doing nothing, talk to people and watch the world go by.
  • Has anyone visited the Gellert Baths while in Budapest? I'm curious if it is worth the effort to lug swimsuits and towels across town for a soak in the pools?
  • sstar, I found this from a long and detailed review from 2015 on cruisecritic.com. I'm just coping a small part about the tour of Budapest. This starts at the Kempinski Hotel.

    "Three buses arrived and we were loaded up for a quick spin around town. The bus drove past some things we had not seen—Hero’s Square for example and also gave us completely different views of things we had seen the day before. The buses unloaded at the bottom of Fisherman’s Bastion (the day before we took a city bus to the top). Because it was such a different view, we didn’t realize where we were at first as we climbed the huge outdoor staircase. At the top, we had our first Tauck extra. We didn’t realize it the day before because our private guide didn’t take us there, but there is an upper walk that’s kind of like being on top of a castle wall. The Tauck Tour Directors went to a ticket booth and bought tokens to get everybody up on that upper wall. A nice view! Our added bonus was that we were up there at a different time of the day, so the sun was in a different direction and we got some better shots of the river below and of the city!

    The buses took us to the ship which were docked near the city market we’d heard so much about. Unfortunately, the market closes by mid-afternoon, so we never were able to go inside. "

    Here is the link if you want to read the full review.

    https://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=512438

    See you in Budapest!
  • sstar wrote:
    We will be sailing on the ms Joy from Budapest in June 2018. The Bridges tour begins on Saturday at 2 pm and leaves Budapest that evening. According to the itinerary online, day 1 will visit sites such as Hero's Square and Fisherman's Bastion. We plan to arrive 2 days early for the trip so that we can experience a bit more of Budapest. I'd like to know what sites we will be seeing on the brief Tauck tour of the city (in addition to the 2 previously mentioned) so that we do not repeat those on our own tours. From research online, it seems that Hero's Square is part of the City Park area which also includes many other interesting sites. Will Tauck explore the park at all or just visit Hero's Square and move on? I have the same question regarding Fisherman's Bastion in the Castle District. Finally, I've seen many recommendations to do an evening cruise on the Danube to see the lights, especially those at the Parliament Building. Will we be able to see those as the Tauck cruise departs Budapest on Saturday evening, or should we do that on one of our evenings before the tour starts? I realize that I am asking these questions WAY before the actual cruise, but I am hoping a Tauck cruise director or someone who has taken this cruise recently can help me out with some details. Obviously we are very excited for this trip!
    We were on the Bridges Danube cruise one year before you're going - it was absolutely fabulous!!! The tour of Budapest is basically a bus tour around Hero's Square but not Fisherman's Bastion - it could be different this year but that's what we did. The ship sailed in the late afternoon so the buildings were not lit up. We've done the dinner cruise on another trip and it is beautiful. I'd be happy to answer any other questions you might have!
  • edited May 2018
    We just returned from Blue Danube, Eastbound so the tour ended in Budapest instead of starting there.

    The first day in Budapest (last time on the ship) we boarded the buses to visit to famous covered market. Then we headed to Castle hill where a local guide escorted us to the main square by the Holy Trinity Column. The guided walk was followed by a guided visit inside St. Mathias Church. We were then given tickets (it is not free) to the Bastion's upper walkway and given time on our own for lunch and further exploring before meeting up at the Column and walking back to the bus which took us to the Ritz-Carlton. As an alternative to taking the bus, we could take an optional guided walk down to the hotel. I'm sure this all different on your Bridges, Westbound tour but it gives you an idea of how Tauck fills the schedule.

    I learned from looking at Google Street View that last year the area we visited on Castle Hill was undergoing major road work which could be one reason onthego's tour didn't visit there. No sign of construction when we were there last month.

    Also, if they haven't done it before, and maybe even if they have, I'm sure they would love a Segway tour of Budapest. You'll need to check to see if 13 is old enough. There are so many things to see in Budapest, Tauck just scratches the surface.

    You should have already received your green book with slightly expanded (and possibly slightly different) itinerary, but if you need more detail, give Tauck a call. They can give you more details about the itinerary including times. You won't see TD's on this forum.
  • Thank you UConn93, onthego, and AlanS for the additional information and the link to a previous review. It is all very helpful. I am especially glad to know that we sail away before the city is lit up. It has been highly recommended to us that we do an evening cruise to experience it at night. Hopefully we can arrange it before departure day if jet lag doesn't get the best of us!
  • The responses you received are all helpful. I offer a dinner suggestion:

    COMME CHEZ SOI

    This Italian Restaurant is one of the best we have enjoyed anyplace! It is rated #1 for Italian on Trip Advisor and #2 for all Budapest restaurants. I offer this suggestion, as should you want to go, you need to try and get a reservation NOW. If dinner is not available, I would suggest lunch. Budapest is a great city and there is much for you and your kids to see, but if you get a meal at this place, you will not regret it. As far as the river at night, there are many tourist cruises that leave for about a 2 hour cruise in the early evening and you can enjoy the incredible views of the illuminated buildings off one of these cruises. One leaves near the Marriott and your concierge can book for you.
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