Elizabeth Square Budapest
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Introducing Elizabeth Square
Elizabeth Square, or Erzsébet tér in Hungarian, sits right in the centre of downtown Budapest. Smack dab in the city centre, it’s a large green space adjacent to Deák Ferenc tér, and just a few minutes’ walk from St. Stephen’s Basilica.
Part of the 5th District, Elizabeth Square marks the point where the 5th district, 6th district, and 7th district all meet. This makes it super central and convenient in terms of being a great area to stay in Budapest. It’s also excellent for getting around by public transit, sitting on the M1, M2, and M3, with easy access to Trams #2, #47 and #49.
Elizabeth Square History
The Elizabeth in the name is Queen Erzsébet, second-to-last queen of Hungary. More widely known by her nickname Sisi, Elizabeth was the wife of Hapsburg Emperor Franz Josef, who ruled from 1848 to 1916. She was assassinated in 1898 in Geneva at the age of 60.
Elizabeth Square has had a few different names throughout the years, and is currently back to its original name:
Erzsébet tér: 1858 to 1946
Stalin tér: 1946 to 1953
Engels tér: 1953 to 1990
Erzsébet tér: 1990 to present
From 1949 to to the late 80s, Erzsébet tér was home to the city’s bus terminal. When the bus terminal closed, it sat empty for some years, until the building was transformed into a cultural space. In the early aughts, the east side of the square was renovated into what it is today.
Elizabeth Square Today
These days, Elizabeth Square is a popular spot to hang out in the city, especially in the warmer months. The square is essentially divided into two parts, with the old bus terminal building acting as the divider.
The west side of the square is home to a lovely fountain and the Budapest Eye ferris wheel. There are large green areas where people spread a blanket and hang out.
The east side of the square is home to a reflecting pool where people dangle their feet into the water in the summers, and hang out for a chat.
Book Your Trip to Budapest
Save Money in Budapest
The Budapest Card includes free, unlimited public transportation for the duration of the card, and is available as a 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5-day card. In addition to free public transport, the card includes free entry to many museums, a complimentary tour, discounts throughout the city, and more. Click for prices and details.
Book Your Flight to Budapest
CheapOair is our current favorite when it comes to searching for flight deals. It’s a meta aggregator, and will find the best deals and routes for you by searching airline websites and other aggregators.
Book Your Budapest Hotel in Advance
We use Booking.com when making hotel reservations in Europe. In our experience, it has the best inventory/selection of hotels and holiday apartments, and we’ve had good experiences with their customer service team when things go wrong (which has been a rarity for us, thank goodness!). TripAdvisor is also trying to get into the hotel booking game, and may be worth checking out.
Skip the Line in Budapest
Budapest is getting busier by the year, meaning you should expect to wait in line at the most popular attractions, especially in high season. If you only have a short vacation, consider getting a Skip-the-Line ticket for the most popular attractions: The Great Synagogue, Széchenyi Thermal Baths, and the Parliament. If you want to visit the interior of the Parliament, you have to pre-book. You can either use an international tour aggregator like Get Your Guide or use the Hungarian website Jegymester.hu.
Book Your Budapest Tour
Why use an aggregator instead of going direct? Personally, we like to compare the different tours available for each attraction, as well as read reviews. Both Get Your Guide and Viator let us see multiple, similar tours, and compare prices and past reviews before making a booking.
Getting from Budapest Airport to the City Center
Budapest’s public transportation system is generally excellent, and this extends to the airport. For a detailed post about getting from Budapest Airport to the City Center via public transit, shared shuttle, or airport taxi, read our guide here.
If you’re arriving late at night, coming in on a long-haul and expect to be exhausted, or would rather have the peace of mind of a private transfer, you can book one here.
Buy Travel Insurance (Just in Case)
We can’t actually recommend a travel insurance provider. Apparently it’s against the law.
However, we can say this: we know several people who racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical expenses during separate, life-or-death situations while traveling. They were both insured by Allianz, they both received life-saving care, and they both made a successful claim.
No one wants to need travel insurance, but you’ll certainly be glad you have it if something goes wrong. And if something does go wrong in Budapest, we personally go to FirstMed for our healthcare. Staff and doctors speak English.
Make Restaurant Reservations in Advance
If you visit Budapest in winter, you’ll probably be okay if you don’t make restaurant reservations, although we’d still recommend you reserve in advance Thursday to Saturday evenings where possible.
In summer, things fill up pretty quickly, although capacity at many restaurants increases when the city’s terraces open, usually sometime in May. It’s worth noting Budapest’s restaurants are all non-smoking inside, but get quite smoky on the terraces.
Things to Do at Elizabeth Square
Built in 1880, the Danubius Fountain was actually Budapest’s first (fountain). It originally sat at Kalvin ter, inaugurated in 1883. The fountain was designed by Miklós Ybl, Hungary’s most important architect of the time (he was responsible for the Opera House). The sculptures were created by Leó Feszler.
The fountain was actually carved in a town near Budapest, and had to be transported to the capital, travelling over Margaret Bridge. It was so heavy some Budpaesters worried the bridge would collapse under the weight of the fountain!
The fountain’s four statues represent the four main rivers of Hungary: the Danube, Tisza, Drava and Sava.
In 1959, the statue was placed in its current location on Elizabeth Square. Prior to moving to its new home, it underwent a significant reconstruction due to damage incurred during WWII
The Eye has sat on Elizabeth Square since 2013, although it only recently became a year-round fixture. The draw behind the Eye, of course, is the view: from up atop the wheel, you can see quite the spectacular panorama of the city.
The Budapest Eye is open from 10:00 am daily, and closes at 23:00, 24:00, or 01:00, depending on the day. Adult tickets are HUF 2,700. There are options for groups, families, and special tickets and experiences, as well.
On the east side of the square is a pretty reflecting pool that’s a popular spot to meet friends and hang out in the summer. It’s not uncommon to see friends or couples sharing a bottle of champagne or wine while dangling their feet into the water to cool off on hot days.
Under the reflecting pool is Akvárium Klub, a cultural center/bar/music club that’s most popular when the weather is nice. Akvárium has a wide stepped terrace down to the main hall, which is filled with tables in nice weather. Grab a table and a drink, and enjoy the scene.
The former bus terminal building is now home to Fröccsterasz, named after the ubiquitous Fröccs drink (wine spritzer) you’ll see all over Budapest. Look for tumblers full of a rosé-like drink, and you’ll have found the rosé fröccs.
The building itself was designed by Nyiri Istvá, inspired by the Bauhaus School. It was completed in 1949.
Budapest Hotels Near Elizabeth Square
|Hotel||Guest Rating||Star Rating||Price & Availability||Distance from Elizabeth Square|
|Kempinski Hotel Corvinus||9.1/10||5-star||Check Now||1-minute walk|
|Ritz-Carlton Budapest||9.3/10||5-star||Check Now||1-minute walk|
|Hotel Zenit Budapest Palace||8.9/10||4-star||Check Now||6-minute walk|
|Budapest Marriott Hotel||8.7/10||5-star||Check Now||6-minute walk|
|InterContinental Budapest||9.0/10||5-star||Check Now||7-minute walk|
|Sofitel Budapest Chain Bridge||8.7/10||5-star||Check Now||5-minute walk|
|Four Seasons Gresham Palace||9.3/10||5-star||Check Now||6-minute walk|
|Hotel Moments Budapest||9.6/10||4-star||Check Now||7-minute walk|
|Prestige Hotel Budapest||9.4/10||4-star||Check Now||7-minute walk|
|Carat Boutique Hotel Budapest||8.7/10||4-star||Check Now||6-minute walk|
|Callas House Budapest||9.3/10||4-star||Check Now||9-minute walk|
|La Prima Fashion Hotel||8.6/10||4-star||Check Now||8-minute walk|
|Mercure Budapest City Centre||8.7/10||4-star||Check Now||6-minute walk|
|Aria Hotel by Library Collection||9.6/10||5-star||Check Now||4-minute walk|
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