Budapest--what to see/do?

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Friends and I have 2 full days in Budapest Nov 8&9. I would appreciate suggestions for sights, activities, restaurants. Thanks.

Budapest is a walking town. If you have never been there before,the Hop-on-Hop-off bus would be a good idea to get your orientation. A good walk would be to start at the Central Market and cotinue on the pedestrian street until you get tired. There are lots of interesting shops, restaurants, cafes,etc. You will pass a church (St.Stephens?) that offers concerts a few nights a week. Dinner at one of the nearby restaurants followed by a concert is a perfect evening.
You can also walk across the bridge and explore the hill. I didn't find much of interest past the Hilton.
Another nice activity is to visit one of the thermal baths, but you need at least 3 hours to really enjoy it. Ask which one is closest to your hotel.
Busses are inexpensive. Be forewarned about taxis - make sure they have a meter that you can see.

Joe was correct. Budapest is a walking town. Also, public transit enhances explorations. For our visit last summer, we used the DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Budapest. It's survival tips on using the metro, bus, and tram help. For example, Tram 2 runs along the Danube and allows easy sightseeing between Parliament and the Central Market Hall. To reach the Castle District, take Bus #16A and not the pricy funicular. If you want a concise walking route, follow the Guide's "90 Minute Walk from Buda to Pest." Beyond these specific tips, I suggest you sleuth both the Budapest guide as well as "Things to Do" on various web sites for ideas that fit your interests followed up with Trip Advisor comments. Of course, your query is superb too!

Now for our favorites: 1) St. Stephens Basilica which is smaller in scale to St. Paul's in London, but impressive. While most tour groups focus on Matthias Church, the Basilica is far less crowded offering better opportunity to savor its atmosphere as well as impressive architecture. With an additional donation, you can take the elevator into the tower for an impressive 360 degree view of the city. Our visit with both entry donation and elevator to the dome cost equvalent $5.10 pp. We also enjoyed dining at Japanika on St. Stephens Square while watching the lighting change on the Basilica as sun set. The Basilica has evening organ concerts, but we did not attend.

2) Nearby the Basilica on Szechenyi Istvan Square near the Chain Bridge is the amazing Gresham Palace Four Seasons Hotel. From the exterior, the hotel could be easily missed; however, it's art nouveau interior especially the iron gates and mosaic flooring are not to be missed. We enjoyed afternoon respite in their lobby cocktail lounge. Pricy, but so worth the experience!

3) The Dohany Great Synagogue and Jewish Quarter. While access seemed pricy at equivalent $20 pp with guided tour, we found it worthwhile. Note that women must have legs and shoulders covered. Men will be given a paper kippah. Inside the grounds are the Synagogue, a memorial garden, the Holocaust Memorial, and a museum. This is an active synagogue so check its hours before going.

4) Very near the Great Synagogue is Szimpla Kert, Kazinczy utca 14, considered the most authentic ruin bar in the Jewish Quarter. Although we do NOT recommend dining in their café, we do suggest stopping for drinks to absorb the funky atmosphere. This bar is spread over two floors in a damaged communist block. We visited other ruin bars in the area, but this was the most impressive.

5) Immediately upon arrival in Budapest, if not earlier, book a seat on an evening sightseeing cruise. We opted for the 20:15 sailing on the Danube Legend which sailed during sunset at equivalent $38 pp. We enjoyed a narration in English and drink during the cruise. Our route took us from Dock 7 up and down the Danube with our passing Parliament just as the lights flickered on. It was magnificent! [www.legenda.hu] Fellow travelers who took the pricier candlelit dinner cruise complained that they lacked the narrative.

6) Beyond our favorites, you will find scads of options from museums to baths. We took the pricy equivalent $25 tour of the Hungarian State Opera House which was disappointing since we've attended amazing productions in the old theaters in Chicago and Melbourne. We did not take the interior tour of Parliament, but walked the entire exterior. We did find the Shoes on the Danube Promenade Memorial and many other fascinating sights. Your challenge will be to use your limited time as efficiently as possible since there's so much to see and do. Enjoy!

We followed your suggestions (my friends were very impressed and grateful for all the information you offered) and had a wonderful time in Budapest. Our hotel was centrally located near the Opera so we could easily walk to many sites. Our final night we did the dinner cruise and enjoyed recalling all the places we'd seen. Our meals on that cruise were excellent, by the way. Thank you so much for your help.