DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Budapest Paperback – Mar 21 2011
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"Known… for its four-color maps, photos and illustrations, the [DK] Eyewitness Guides are extremely user-friendly for travelers who want their information delivered in a concise, visual way." — Chicago Tribune
"The best option… Color photos, maps, and diagrams bring the place to life." — The Philadelphia Inquirer--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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However, I was very disappointed to see that although it was supposedly updated in December 2012, most of the maps and directions still use the names that were changed in May 2011. There are still references to Moskva tér (now Széll Kálmán tér) Roosevelt tér (now Széchenyi István tér) on some of the maps and guides, although the big pull-out maps and part of the text have the new names.
Rick Steves' Budapest is a better choice for updated information, although it lacks the gorgeous visual allure. I'm still planning on taking both books, but since now I'm concerned about the overall quality of the maps and directions in the Eyewitness Budapest, I'll use it only as an index of attractions.
I was suspicious about the recommended restaurants section, as I had some really bad experiences when relying on the corresponding section of the DK Eyewitness Paris guidebook. But this should be no serious issue, as I found that there were no problems whatsoever in finding great food in Budapest (Paris, it seems, is mostly spoiled in this respect by the vast hordes of tourists that visit the city annually, attracted by that city's quasi-mythical status and reputation as the world's tourist attraction no. 1). Some of the restaurants we visited were mentioned in the guide, others were not (you should also note that the restaurants of Budapest are well represented on the Internet, so it might be a good idea to do some Googling before your trip to find some worthwile restaurants NOT mentioned in the guide).
Visually, this is an engaging book to read, as are indeed all the other DK Eyewitness travel guides that I have read (see above). The wealth of illustrations, including the street maps and floor plans of famous buildings, really enhance this book's usability. Although many of the photographs are rather small, their quality is quite good throughout. In addition to the usual street map section, this year's version also includes a fold-out map of Budapest, which is a nice and useful bonus.
Just remember to use the most up-to-date version of the travel guide, especially if you want to use the hotel/restaurant/café/bar section of the book. The other sections are more time-resistant: for example, there are lots of information about the history of both Budapest and Hungary, which gives you the necessary background info to get the most of your trip.
If you are planning a trip to a big city like Budapest, you should also bear in mind that there are always a lot of more things of interest in a big city that can be included in a travel guide, however good. So keep your eyes open when roaming the streets - it is never a good idea to spend your holiday entirely "by the book"...
The book comes with all one would expect: a short history and timeline of the city of Budapest; a description of the most popular attractions broken down by region within the city; an index with dozens of hotels, restaurants, and bars with a short description and estimated cost; a list of useful words and phrases; a survival guide to discuss local culture, currency, warnings, and pointers; diagrams, charts, pictures, maps within the sightseeing pages, and a pull-out map for easy use when navigating the city's streets with or without utilizing public transportation options outlined on the pull-out map.
This Budapest guide could improve upon the sections dedicated to travelers trying to find the most interesting activities for the least amount of money. The inclusion of three self-guided walking tours is quite welcome. The enormous number of photographs help decide what activities appeal to one's tastes. However, the section of the book dedicated to sightseeing only states whether or not an activity costs money or is free. This fact makes it difficult to decide whether it's a better use of one's money to spend time in the museum district or take a tour of a specific historic building. The Parliament building, for instance, costs non-EU travelers somewhere around $15. The building's tour guides narrate without much depth and five minutes worth of dialogue is stretched to 45 minutes. I would like to have price estimates for the attractions so that I know $5 in the museum district can provide countless hours worth of entertainment while the Parliament tour is $15 for a strict 45 minutes. Likewise, I would like to have a little more information about the available hostels in Budapest.
All in all, this is a handy travel guide. But like the caveat given by another reviewer, definitely try to watch where the locals eat and spend their time for a well-rounded Budapest experience.
The maps alone are worth it. However each section is broken up to show us very interesting small out of the way sights you might never know of otherwise. Letting you know the approximate time everything is open as well as if a fee is involved is also valuable.
When we went across the border for a day, we took our passports, a change of clothes, our money..this book as well as our book for Rome - it was one of the few things we couldn't imagine being without.
I will from here on out be buying the eyewitness series whenever I travel.