COLA Study Abroad Tips- Ryan Doonan- Budapest

Top Places to go (in city)


  1. Margaret Island. A small island right between Buda and Pest. The 4-6 will take you right to it. Nice break from the urban jungle. There is a track around the island that makes for a scenic jog. Also, if you go before November, the fountain in the island will be synced with music, jetting multi-colored water into the sky in tempo with the music. They’ll play anything from Katie Perry to Beethoven. (Pictured Above)              
  2. Cave climbing under the city. Under Budapest, there is a huge, labyrinth like. cave system. Beware, it’s as fun as it is intense. If you can’t do small places, then pass but otherwise it’s a great experience. It can also be a bit taxing on your body but it’s still worth it. Our tour guide was fantastic, extremely knowledgeable and friendly.  
  3. House of Terror. It’s a museum dedicated to remembering all those who were affected by the Nazi Arrow Cross Party that took over Hungary at the end of WWII and those who the victims of the Soviet Union secret police. Very effective use of visuals to convey the horror that went on during that time. Not the cheeriest thing to do but it’s a can’t miss if you’re in Budapest.                    


Top Places to eat                                                                                                                                          

  1. I made a habit of trying not to go the same place twice and there are so many good places. Most restaurants near the water are top notch and if you go near Deak Ter, there are a lot of good places their as well.


Top Events to attend

8228480794_f103c138ba_z                                                                  Credit: Top Budapest

  1. Random street fairs will appear over the city. They sell homemade goods, authentic food and some will have live music. They are easy to spot.
  2. Orchestral performances. There are a few in Budapest and they are fairly cheap. Try to buy a few weeks in advance because they sell out quick. 
  3. Christmas Fairs. These are like the streets fairs but bigger, more condense and obvious with emphasis on the holidays. Great way to do some Christmas shopping for friends and family back home


Top Stores/shops to go to

  1. The Westend mall is a good place to get a lot of stuff at once. Very easy to get with a ton shops to buy whatever you need.                                                                    
  2. Some great tourist shops near Fovam Ter, next to the school. The stuff they’ll have there won’t be as “Hungarian” as the ones you’ll find at the fairs, but the stuff they have may be more appealing to most people. Unlike the street fairs, these are opened all year around, not sporadically.                                    
  3. Alexander Book shop near Oktogon is worth a visit. There is a decent size foreign section where you’ll find some English books if you’re looking for a read. Also, there was a great coffee shop located inside as well. Lots of art work, a live pianist, very classy.


Top Transportation tips

16358119193_084119d22b_z                                                       CreditChico Boomba

  1. The above ground tram, the 4-6, goes all around Budapest in a giant circle. Good way to explore the city without getting lost.                                                              
  2. Use the metro, it’s easy, reliable and very convenient. A month long student pass is very affordable.                                                                                                          
  3. Metro doesn’t run 24 hours and above ground tram runs very infrequently late at night. If you are going out late, be prepared to walk or wait.


Top Random things to know

  1. To ask “do you speak English?” say “beszélsz angolul?” Most people do but it’s much more polite to ask someone first than to just to assume they do. It’s a small gesture but most people seemed to respond better if you at least acknowledge that they may not know English.                                                                                        
  2. It’s Hungarian law for restaurants to serve free tap water. If you just ask for water, they’ll charge you for it. Specify tap water and it will be free. Don’t worry, the tap water is safe to drink. We only found this out because it’s in the Hungarian Constitution, another pro about going with the Justice Program                              
  3. A lot places are English friendly, grocery stores aren’t. Translate some of the things you need and write them down before you go. Save yourself the hassle of accidentally buying duck when you wanted turkey.