Top 20 Amazing Things to Do in Budapest
There are so many fantastic things to do in Budapest, making it one of the most popular destinations for an unforgettable city break in Europe. When visiting Budapest, you will enjoy a very special flair, a unique historical charm and countless breathtaking attractions. The magnificent Budapest Parliament, the imposing Buda Castle and the world-famous Fisherman’s Bastion are just some of the most famous places to see in Budapest. Apart from these major tourist attractions, there are many other things to do in Budapest to ensure that you won’t get bored while visiting the Hungarian metropolis! But what are the top things to see in Budapest, what are the insider tips, and what are the attractions you should not miss?
In this travel guide, we have compiled the most beautiful attractions and the best things to do in Budapest that you should not miss. There are also numerous tips to help you plan your trip!
The impressive Hungarian Parliament Building is one of the most famous things to see in Budapest. Beautifully situated at the river, the Danube, this huge almost 280-meter-long building captivates with its magnificent construction, the many turrets and gables. In the middle, the building is 96 meters high, making the Parliament one of the largest buildings in the old town. In addition, the dark red domes and the bright, almost white facade present a wonderful contrast. It is also advisable to visit the Parliament from the inside. On a 45-minute guided tour, you can marvel at the dome hall, the great staircase with the artistic frescoes and the Hungarian crown jewels.
The world-famous Chain Bridge, guarded on either side by two giant stone lions, is certainly the most iconic attraction and one of the best things to see in Budapest. This iconic landmark was built between 1839 and 1849, making it the oldest bridge in the Hungarian metropolis. Budapest is divided by the Danube into 2 parts, Buda in the west and Pest in the east, connected by 9 bridges. The Chain Bridge is especially impressive at night, when it is lit up to create an impressive panorama of the glittering city and the river.
The picturesque Fisherman’s Bastion is one of Budapest’s main attractions. It features countless cylindrical turrets, beautiful staircases and grandiose viewing platforms. Built between 1899 and 1905, this historic structure is one of the most visited attractions in the Hungarian capital and a must-see on any city tour. Located on Budapest’s Castle Hill, the Fishermen’s Bastion offers a breathtaking view of the city and the blue Danube. The view of the Danube embankment with the Buda Castle district has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1987.
Next to the Fishermen’s Bastion is the wonderful neo-Gothic Matthias Church. Also known as the Church of Our Lady, this approximately 1,000-year-old structure was the first to be built in the Castle District and is now one of the most popular landmarks on the Castle Hill.
Tip: The entrance fee to the Fishermen’s Bastion is free of charge. A small admission fee is only required for certain areas and viewpoints.
Budapest Castle Hill Funicular (Budavari Siklo)
A ride on the Castle Hill Funicular is one of the best things to do in Budapest and almost a must on any trip to the city. This nostalgic railway was built in 1870 and used to be powered by a steam engine. It was badly damaged during the Second World War and only reopened 40 years later in 1986. Even today, the historic Castle Hill funicular takes visitors up to the castle district in 2 minutes. During the ride you can enjoy a magnificent view of the beautiful Chain Bridge, the Danube and the city.
Tip: As soon as you get out, on the left, you will come to the Castle Palace. On the right, it goes over to the Fischerman’s Bastion and the Matthias Church.
The heart of the castle district and part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site is the magnificent Buda Castle. It is located in the southern part of the Castle Hill and dominates the cityscape of Budapest. This castle palace used to be the residence of the Hungarian king once. Today, parts of the palace are museums and exhibitions like the National Gallery, the Historical Museum and the Széchenyi National Library. The castle grounds can be visited free of charge.
There is a lot to discover on a walk through the picturesque complex. The Lion Gate, through which you can get into the courtyard of the palace complex, the beautiful Habsburg staircase, the Matthias fountain and, of course, the fabulous view of Budapest are worth seeing.
Tip: Experiencing Budapest at night is just unique. Undoubtedly, the best view of the glittering city can be admired from the Castle Garden.
Great Market Hall
A visit to the Great Market Hall of Budapest, the Nagy Vásárcsarnok, is a really worthwhile experience. It is located near the Liberty Bridge and has become a famous attraction in recent years. The unique steel construction of the 120-year-old hall makes this sight an architectural highlight and lets the interior of the market hall always shine in bright light. Both locals and tourists visit this huge market hall and browse through the shops selling fresh food, delicacies, spices, cheese and meat products.
The traditional Hungarian food in Budapest is really delicious and on the top floor you will find some inexpensive snack bars selling local delicacies. For those who like to shop, this floor also has countless stores with souvenirs, kitsch and handicrafts.
On a trip, a visit to one of the legendary ruin bars in Budapest is a must-do. These unusual legendary bars, which actually opened out of necessity, were taken over by students and decorated with bulky furniture. Colorful graffiti and motley wallpaper adorn the walls, and the atmosphere is exuberant. The most famous of the ruin bars in Budapest is probably the Szimpla Kert, which amazes with a very unusual ambience. Also recommended is a visit to the Mazel Tov restaurant, the cozy Csendes Letterem bar or the Instant & Fogas Ház, a bar that is notorious for its parties.
Tip: Most of these pubs are located in the area around the Jewish Quarter, which is actually also a fantastic area to stay in. The Barceló Budapest is one of the best hotels in the trendy district.
St. Stephen’s Basilica
The beautiful Roman Catholic St. Stephen’s Basilica is a particularly imposing attraction in Budapest. As the largest church in the capital and the 3rd-largest church in Hungary, this historic building impresses with an impressive dome and a beautiful facade. The interior of this magnificent church is also well worth seeing and can be visited for an entrance fee. You can admire magnificent paintings, the treasury and also the relics of St. Stephen, which is actually his right hand.
A real highlight, however, is the viewing platform on the dome of St. Stephen’s Basilica. The elevator takes you up to the main dome in the middle of the church. Once you are at the top, there is a wonderful panorama with an incredible view of the old town, the rooftops of Budapest and the castle district.
Szechenyi Thermal Bath
Highly recommended is the historic Szechenyi Thermal Bath. This spa inspires with an extraordinary nostalgic design and a lot of old charm. The bright yellow colors and the turquoise blue baths guarantee a very special outdoor bathing atmosphere, which can be enjoyed regardless of what time of year. But this spa is not only beautiful, the warm medicinal water comes from a natural spring and promises healing effects and relaxation. These thermal and healing springs in Budapest are among the top sightseeing attractions, and so a visit to the spa is high on the bucket list of many travelers.
Tip: The Szechenyi Bath is a very popular bath in Budapest. With buying an online ticket, you can save a lot of time and annoying queuing!
Probably the most famous museum in Budapest is the Hungarian National Museum, also known as the Magyar Nemzeti Múzeum. There are many interesting museums to visit in the Hungarian capital, but the Hungarian National Museum is an absolute must. More than 1 million objects from Hungarian history are displayed in the huge halls. The frescoes in the grand staircase and the large domed hall are also impressive. But the National Museum is also beautiful from the outside, and you can enjoy a wonderful view of the neoclassical building in the green museum garden.
House of Terror
A highly recommended museum in Budapest is the House of Terror. Located in a neo-Renaissance building, it was the headquarters and prison of the Hungarian Arrow Cross Party between 1937 and 1944. Today it is a place where the dark history of Hungary is told and where the oppression of National Socialism and Communism is portrayed. Numerous photos, videos and rooms describe in a shocking way the terrible things that happened. An educational visit that will definitely get under your skin.
Gellért Thermal Bath
The Gellért Bath is one of the most beautiful thermal baths in the city. Located beneath the Gellert Mountain of the same name, it enchants its visitors with an historical atmosphere of a time long gone. It opened in 1918 as part of the Gellért Hotel. Today, however, it is open to the public and so non-hotel guests can also come and relax in the stylish thermal bath. The beautiful Art Nouveau building and the historical interior with the many columns and tiles are particularly beautiful and make this bath very special.
Tip: The Gellért Hotel is a popular hotel for a city trip. Guests love the good location, the nostalgic flair and the connection with the Gellert Bath.
Gellért Hill & Citadel
A hike to the 235-meter-high Gellért Hill is a real insider tip, especially if you’re looking for the best viewpoints in Budapest. Many small paths lead up the wooded hill, and it takes about 30 minutes to reach the top. Along the way, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the Danube, the Old Town and the Castle. At the top there is the Statue of Liberty, erected in 1947 to commemorate the conquest of Budapest by the Red Army, and the Citadel, a fortress built in 1854.
Tip: If you don’t want to walk up to the Gellert Hill, you can also get there by bus No. 27 or with the Hop-on/Hop-off Bus.
Shoes on the Danube Bank
An important place to visit in Budapest is the memorial monument “Shoes on the Danube Bank“. It is located about 300 meters south of the Parliament and can hardly be missed on a walk along the banks of the Danube. In 1944 it was here that innocent people lost their lives. 60 Jewish Hungarians were shot on the banks of the Danube by the fascist arrow cross militiamen and thrown into the river. These metal shoes were designed by the artists Gyula Pauser and Can Togay and since 2005 the shoes have served as a memorial to remind visitors, locals and tourists of the executions of the persecuted Jews.
The Great Synagogue
The Great Synagogue is located on the Pest side and is certainly one of the most popular sights in Budapest. In fact, it is the second-largest synagogue in the world, after the one in New York, and is accordingly well attended. Inaugurated in 1859, this holy place impresses with its Moorish style, red brick facade and many oriental details. But it is not only from the outside that this synagogue is an eye-catcher, the inside is also well worth a visit. Moreover, the famous “Tree of Life” in the inner courtyard is very interesting, as well as the Hungarian Jewish Museum.
Tip: A tour of the Great Synagogue is one of the most popular things to do in Budapest. With an online ticket you can save a lot of time and queuing!
The Liberty Bridge, built in 1896, is one of the most magnificent of the 9 Danube bridges and an architectural masterpiece of the Hungarian capital. It connects Gellért square on the Buda side with the main customs square Fövám tér on the Pest side. The bridge was destroyed during the war in 1945, but was rebuilt just one and a half years later as the Liberty Bridge. Today, this imposing 333-meter-long steel structure is a popular attraction for visitors from all over the world!
The Heroes’ Square, in Hungarian Hősök tere, is located in the district of Pest and is practically the gateway to the City Park of Budapest, a beautiful sight of the city. Magnificent colonnades and the 36-meter-high Millennium Monument, which commemorates the heroes of Hungarian history, dominate the huge square. On the edge of Heroes’ Square there are many different museums, such as the Museum of Fine Arts and the Art Hall. The oldest subway in the world, the M1, which is even listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, can also be visited there. It is still in operation and takes you directly from the city center to Heroes’ Square.
City Park & Vajdahunyad Castle
The City Park is a very popular attraction in Budapest and a true oasis of peace. It is located just behind Heroes’ Square and enchants with a wonderfully pretty scenery. There are several interesting attractions in the park, the centerpiece being the spectacular Vajdahunyad Castle. This brick castle was built in the early 20th century, on the occasion of the Hungarian millennium celebration, out of cardboard and wood. Later, however, it was transformed into a permanent structure. The famous Szechenyi Bath is also located in this park.
Tip: The small pond in front of the castle is also romantic. In winter you can skate here, in summer you can make your rounds in a rowing boat.
Located on Erzsébet Square in downtown Budapest, the Budapest Eye is one of the city’s most popular attractions. A ride on the white Ferris wheel takes you up to a height of about 65 meters, from where you can enjoy a magnificent panoramic view of the center of the city. A tour on the Budapest Eye is especially worthwhile at night, when the city is lit up and the Ferris wheel is illuminated by more than 10,000 lights. The Budapest Eye is open all year round, even in winter.
The Opera House, in Hungarian Magyar Állami Operaház, is one of the most impressive buildings on the Pest side. The exterior of the opera house is currently undergoing renovation, but from 2021 onwards, you will be able to admire its entire splendor. Here you will be delighted by the beautiful neo-renaissance architecture and the pompous rooms, which are decorated with gold and statues.
Tip: You don’t necessarily have to go to a concert to visit the Hungarian State Opera. Interesting tours through the opera house are offered here every day.
Budapest: Excursions, Tickets & More
On the online portal GetYourGuide you can find cheap entrance tickets, boat tours, cooking classes, excursions and city tours for Budapest. Great are also the reviews, which you can compare before booking. Perfect if you want to organize your trip in advance.
Where to Stay in Budapest
Budapest offers a huge range of accommodations. From budget hostels to holiday flats and boutique hotels, everything can be found here and so everyone is guaranteed to find their perfect place to stay. If you are still looking for fabulous accommodations in Budapest, then we can give you these tips on where to stay…It’s worth a look!
- Hotel with Pool: The Cortile Budapest Hotel offers a yummy breakfast, lots of flair and even has an infinity pool on the 6th floor.
- Hostel: The Central Market Hall Zen Hostel is a fantastic hostel, family-run and in a central location. Everything is very clean here and also the price is great.
- Nice Apartment: The Apartment Bp Central Home impresses with its brilliant location in the hip Jewish quarter and even offers an apartment with a cool roof terrace:
- Spa Hotel: The Corinthia Budapest is beautiful and perfect for a very special holiday in Budapest. The spa is breathtaking and the breakfast is fantastic too.
Find the best accommodation in Budapest:
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links. Meaning that if you click on certain links, and then subsequently purchase a product, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.