According to an urban legend, there’s a sign at the Budapest airport that reads Welcome to not Bucharest. These two cities are often mistaken for each other, but let us not believe for a second that they share a plethora of common features. The most glaring difference is that Budapest is the capital city of Hungary, while Bucharest is the Budapest of Romania. On a more serious note, Budapest is divided by the Danube, while Bucharest lies on the bank of the Dâmbovița River. It’s not that complicated, right? Wrong, apparently – at least for football fans, rock stars, and impolite foreigners.
Excuse me, is this Budapest or Bucharest?
It happened more than Budapestians and Bucharestians would like to admit: people confused the cities and all hell broke loose, although the funny kind. Here are some famous stories about this most amusing mistake:
- In 2012, 400 Spanish sports fans ended up in Budapest when they were meant to be in Bucharest for the Europa League final. Even if they had tried to get to Romania, it would’ve been impossible to get there on time, and in the end, they missed the match. But hey, at least they got to know Budapest.
- When greeting his fans at a Bucharest concert, Michael Jackson famously said “It’s great to be here in Budapest!”. Oops! A royal mistake by the King of Pop.
- Something similar happened to Lenny Kravitz in his first concert in Bucharest. Standing in front of 17.000 fans, he dedicated a few words to a Budapestian crowd that wasn’t exactly there. Fly away, Lenny. In shame.
- Several other rock icons fell into the Budapest-Bucharest trap, including Metallica, Iron Maiden, and Ozzy Osbourne. What is wrong with you, guys? Too much partying?
Budapest vs. Bucharest
Do you remember how you felt when your grandma called you a different name? There’s nothing wrong with any of your cousins or neighbors or whoever it is your grandma mistook you for, but it’s still not you. Budapest needs to be uniquely known as Budapest. And so does Bucharest.
Budapest is often referred to as the Paris of the East or the Pearl of the Danube, and is a concoction of past and present, of architectural styles, and of distinctively different vibes. Interestingly enough, Bucharest’s essence is akin to that of Budapest, hence the nickname from the 1930s Little Paris, so there seems to be reason behind all the confusion. Regardless of these similarities, Bucharest and Budapest are day and night, Brian and Stewie, basketball and football, or use whatever analogy you deem adequate. Let’s compare some of the most significant elements in the cities:
To further widen the gap between the two Bs, we must point out that both Budapest and Bucharest boast unique, symbolic buildings. No Arc de Triomf in Budapest. No
impressive bridges, ruin pubs, World Heritage sites in Bucharest? Nope. No Little Princess on the bank of the Danube neither
with those lights that leave you breathless? Check and check. Sorry Bucharest, but here we love Budapest.
Welcome to Budapest (not Bucharest)!
Both cities deserve to be known and loved for what they are, and with that goal in mind, Romanians launched a campaign called BucharestnotBudapest, which naturally has a Hungarian version, BudapestnotBucharest.
Happy Bucharest vs Happy Budapest