Buda Castle, Castle district or Buda Castle Hill, what’s the difference?
These are often mixed up, as they are almost the same thing. Buda Castle is the name commonly applied to the Royal Palace of the Hungarian Kings at the southern end of the Castle Hill, which is only one of several sights connected to this previously-bustling capital area. The entire walled area is known as the Castle district. Stroll this area for a few hours and you have seen one of the great sights of Hungary. It is even UNESCO protected. Walk across the chain bridge to Buda, marvelling at the enormous bicycle chain-style chains that support the roadway.
Getting up to the Buda Castle
Cross Adam Clark Square (named after the Scottish engineer who oversaw the construction of the bridge, and hike up either of the serpentine paths to the right and left of the tunnel. Those less able-bodied, or desperate to give up a few euros for a 2 minute ride can take the funicular railway up to the top. It all ends up at the same place, the scenic lookout point just behind the President’s residence at the Alexander or Sándor Palace.
To the south lies the great domed Royal Palace, the courtyard of which was the setting for the big dance finale in Katy Perry’s “Firework”. This is also the entrance to the National Art Gallery and the Budapest History Museum.
What to see at the Buda Castle
Take a walk along the quiet “inland” side of the castle walls for some great views of the Buda Hills and you will miss a lot of the crowds and end up with a nice side view of the Matthias Church. Turn in and walk past an area full of cafés. If you feel peckish while wandering the Buda Castle, do take the chance to try a few local snacks:The Luxury version is Ruszwurm Cafe, just down the side road from the large Trinity Statue. If there is enough space, do squeeze inside to enjoy a sticky cake, hot chocolate on the largest sofa, like ever. You can also buy ice cream here, but the real deal is to sit and people-watch inside or outside or in ( the waiting staff are sometimes a glorious study in inefficiency, topped off with a hilariously kurt manner.) At the very least, these are good places to pick up an ice cream in the summer.
Take a look at the Church, the large holy trinity statue before it, and the completely over-the-top Fisherman’s Bastion.
Finish your visit with a stroll around the quiet north end of the Buda Castle district. There are a few things to see though – a passable war museum, the tall ruins of the Magdalen Church opposite it, and the national archives building at the very end next to the Vienna gate, which has a beautiful tiled roof. From here it is easy to take a bus down to Széll Kálmán Square, and Metro line 2 (red) back to Pest.
The Buda Castle cannot be reached by Metro 1.