Which is the best way to say “Hello”? Jó napot kívánok or Buna ziua? Well, it seems that you are another victim of one of the most popular Bucharest/Budapest funny confusions. Suddenly, Hamlet’s “to be or not to be” becomes less challenging when faced with this geographic dilemma, right?
Probably one of the most common diplomatic confusions is related to these two European capitals. Not just ordinary people are victims of this problem but also public figures. Of course, for Budapestians and Bucharestians, this thing makes no sense as their cities are very different. The “Bud” and the “Buch” might sound similar, but the “pest” is different from the “rest.” We believe that the best way to avoid this mistake is to visit both capital cities and consider taking some tours to Bucharest and Budapest.
Bucharest and Budapest. Differences and similarities
First of all, Budapest is Hungary’s capital city, and Bucharest is Romania’s capital city. Both countries are neighbors, and indeed they share a common history. But this is not enough to be mistaken for each other.
Budapest is divided into Buda and Pest by the Danube River, while Bucharest lies on the banks of the Dambovita river.
If Budapest has one of the most beautiful buildings for administrative purposes, i.e., the Palace of the Parliament, Bucharest, in the meantime, has the largest administrative building in Europe and second-largest in the world, also the Palace of the Parliament.
Budapest has a fairly recent historical area built after WWI and WWII, while in Bucharest, its old town dates from the 18th to 19th century. You will find a better preserved Jewish quarter and beautiful Catholic Cathedral in Budapest, while in Bucharest, you can admire smaller and jewel-like Orthodox churches.
You can eat goulash in Budapest, but in Bucharest, you can taste the delicious sarmale and papanasi. Indeed, you can drink good wine in both countries and most of all the plum brandy, palinca.
Bucharest/Budapest funny mistakes
Despite all these differences, there were still some who have made this mistake in public. The list is long and interesting.
We will start with the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, who visited Romania twice: in 1992 and 1994. He gave two concerts, and during one of his visits, he greeted his fans by saying, “it’s great to be here in Budapest!”. We could say that Romanians didn’t get upset back then as Michael gave one of his best performances ever in Bucharest.
Let’s not forget about Lenny Kravitz. During his first concert in front of more than 15,000 people in Bucharest, he gave a speech while convinced that he was actually in Budapest.
We can continue with Metallica, Iron Maiden, and Ozzy Osbourne. The same city, Bucharest, and the same mistake, Budapest.
But probably the most tragic mistake belonged to no less than 400 Atletico Bilbao football fans who traveled unintentionally to Budapest to support their team during the Europa Football Cup final in 2012, which was taking place in Bucharest. Imagine their amazement when they realized that they were in “Wrongaria” and not in “Romania.” Related or not, their team lost by 3 to 0 that day to Atletico de Madrid. It was a tough day for them.
Apparently, now all the foreign bands or singers are greeting their public more safely: “Hello, Hungary!” or “Hello, Romania.” Certainly, no one will repeat the same mistake this way.
“Welcome to Bucharest, not Budapest!”
If this was funny initially, the Romanians and the Hungarians realized that action was required to put an end to this confusion. Hence, they created a public campaign to help tourists worldwide know the difference between the two European capitals.
One example comes from Romania, where ROM Autentic, a Romanian chocolate manufacturer, launched a campaign with the main purpose of explaining this issue once and for all. They have created a website and Youtube videos promoting small tutorials explaining the differences between the cities.
Also, the hotels in Bucharest joined in and welcomed their guests with ROM Autentic chocolate bars in their rooms with the traditional message: “Welcome to Bucharest, not Budapest!”.
Hungary didn’t stand aside and placed billboards on the way from Ferenc Liszt International Airport to Budapest, with the obvious message: “Welcome to not Bucharest.”
Tours to Bucharest and Budapest
It seems that this whole struggle was not for nothing as now, people worldwide are more aware of their travel destinations. Some decided to visit only one of them. Others were more courageous and traveled to both of them.
If you plan to visit Bucharest, do not forget to look at our First Timer’s Guide to Bucharest, where you will read about what you can do in Romania’s capital city. If you have more time at your disposal, check out some Day Tours from Bucharest and the Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Romania.
Budapest is without a doubt a fascinating city, and you need more than one day to explore it properly. Nevertheless, here you can find some of the most important landmarks in Hungary’s capital city, and here is a complete city guide that can help you plan your trip to Budapest.
Better still, visit both cities on only one tour and consider our tours to Bucharest and Budapest. Explore two of the most beautiful countries in Eastern Europe, starting from the colorful city of Bucharest, cross the Carpathian Mountains into the legendary land of Transylvania, discover forgotten villages, well-preserved medieval towns, and terrifying legends. On the way, experience the rural life of Maramures, and while in Hungary, admire the medieval town of Eger and the magnificent city of Budapest.
What better way of visiting both cities than taking a Romania and Hungary tour?