20 Most Amazing Things to Do in Budapest
There are so many amazing things to do in Budapest and therefore it is one of the most popular travel destinations for an unforgettable city trip in Europe. During a visit you will enjoy a very special flair, a unique historical charm and countless breathtaking attractions. Just think of the magnificent Budapest Parliament, the imposing Buda Castle and the world-famous Fisherman’s Bastion, which are the most famous places to see in Budapest. Apart from these main tourist attractions, there are many other things to do, so you won’t get bored on a city trip to the Hungarian metropolis!
In this post we have summarized the ultimate best things to do in Budapest with the most interesting places that should not be missed on any trip. Additionally, we provide also plenty of 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 staircase with the artistic frescoes and the Hungarian crown jewels.
Budapest is divided into two halves by the Danube, Buda in the west and Pest in the east, and is connected via 9 bridges. Probably the most beautiful one and at the same time one of the best places to visit in Budapest is the world-famous Chain Bridge, which is guarded by two giant stone lions on each side. This landmark was built between 1839 and 1849, which makes it the oldest bridge in the Hungarian metropolis.
Really beautiful is a visit of this attraction at night. Then the chain bridge is brightly lit and with the glittering city and the river you will enjoy an impressive panorama.
Tip: A real insider tip is the Hotel Clark Budapest – Adults Only – here they offer rooms with a fantastic view of the Chain Bridge!
Another important attraction in Budapest is the picturesque fisherman’s bastion. It enchants with countless cylindrical turrets, beautiful stairs and magnificent viewing platforms. Built between 1899 and 1905, this historic building is one of the most visited sights in the Hungarian capital and for sure one of the most instagrammable spots in Budapest. Due to the location on the Budapest Castle Hill, you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the city and the blue Danube from the Fisherman’s Bastion. The views over the Danube bank and the Buda Castle District have been on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1987.
The beautiful neo-Gothic Matthias Church is situated right next to the Fisherman’s Bastion. This 1,000-year-old church was the first here in the castle district and is now one of the most popular attractions on the Castel Hill.
Tip: The entrance fee to the Fishermen’s Bastion is free, a small charge is only required for certain areas and viewpoints.
Budapest Castle Hill Funicular (Budavari Siklo)
One of the best things to do in Budapest is to take a ride with the Budapest Castle Hill Funicular. This nostalgic train was built in 1870 and worked with a steam engine. During World War II, the railway was badly damaged and could only be reopened around 40 years later in 1986. Also today, the Burgberg funicular takes you up to the castle district in only 2 minutes. During the trip you will enjoy a wonderful view down to the chain bridge, the Danube River 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.
Don`t miss to visit the lovely castle grounds. The entrance is free and 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.
Tip: To experience Budapest at night is just lovely. Without a doubt, the best view of the glittering city can be admired from the garden of the castle palace.
Great Market Hall
Really worth a visit is also the Great Market Hall in Budapest, Nagy Vásárcsarnok. This attraction is located near the Liberty Bridge and has become a famous attraction in recent years. Above all, the unique steel structure of the 120-year-old hall makes this sight an architectural highlight and always lets the market hall shine in bright light.
Both, locals and tourists visit this huge market hall and rush through shops that sell fresh food, delicacies, spices, cheeses and meat products. On the upper floor there are various food stalls that sell tasty local delicacies as well as countless shops displaying souvenirs and handicrafts.
On a trip to Budapest, a visit to one of the legendary Ruin Bars is almost a must do. These unusual 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, for example, is one of the best hotels in the trendy district.
St. Stephen’s Basilica
Another important attraction in Budapest is the beautiful Roman Catholic St. Stephen’s Basilica. The 3rd largest church in the country impresses with its huge dome and beautiful facade. Also from inside the magnificent church is extremely worth seeing and can be visited for a fee. Here you can marvel at magnificent paintings, the treasury and also the relic of St. Stephen, 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
What makes Budapest so unique, are the numerous thermal and medicinal springs in town. They are among the top tourist attractions and a visit to one of the thermal baths is high up on many bucket lists.
Especially the historical Szechenyi Thermal Bath is highly recommended. This thermal bath thrills with an extraordinary nostalgic design and lots of old times charm. The bright yellow colors and the turquoise blue baths guarantee a very special outdoor bathing atmosphere, which you can enjoy regardless of the season. This thermal bath is not only beautiful, but the warm healing water comes from a natural source and promises healing effects and relaxation.
Tip: Online tickets for the Szechenyi bath can save you the hassle of queuing!
There are many interesting museums to visit in the Hungarian capital. Probably the most famous museum in Budapest is the Hungarian National Museum, also called Magyar Nemzeti Múzeum. More than 1 million works of Hungarian history are exhibited here inside the huge museum halls. Also impressive are the frescoes in the pompous staircase and the large domed hall. Lovely are also the National Museum Gardens, where you can enjoy the neoclassical style.
House of Terror
Another highly recommended museum in Budapest is the House of Terror. Here, the dark history of Hungary is told and they show the oppression by National Socialism and Communism. Numerous photos, videos and rooms describe the terrible events in an oppressive way. An educational visit that definitely gets under your skin.
Gellért Thermal Bath
The Gellért Bath is one of the most beautiful thermal baths in the city. Located at the foot of the Gellert Mountain of the same name, it enchants its visitors with an historical atmosphere. 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.
Gellért Hill & Citadel
If you are looking for the best viewpoints in Budapest, you should definitely hike up to the 235-meter-high Gellért Hill. Many small hiking trails lead over the forested hill and in around 30 minutes’ walk you will reach the top. During the walk you will marvel at the lovely landscape and enjoy a beautiful view of the Danube, the old town and the castle palace. Once at the top, the Statue of Liberty, which was constructed in 1947 to commemorate the conquest of Budapest by the Red Army, and the Citadel – a fortress built in 1854 – await you.
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
Another important place to visit in Budapest is the memorial monument “The Shoes on the Danube“. 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 Liberty Bridge, which was built in 1896, is one of the most beautiful of the 9 Danube bridges in the Hungarian capital. It connects Gellért Square on the Buda side with the main customs square (Fövám tér) on the Pest side. During the war in 1945, the bridge was bombarded, but rebuilt as a Liberty Bridge a year and a half later. Today, it is a popular attraction for visitors from all over the world!
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.
The Heroes’ Square, in Hungarian Hősök tere, is located in the Pest district near the Budapest City Park. It is another important attraction on any city trip. The huge square is dominated by magnificent colonnades and the 36-meter-high millennium monument, which commemorates the heroes of Hungarian history. Various museums line the edge of Heroes’ Square, such as the Museum of Fine Arts and the Hall of Arts.
Tip: The world’s oldest underground line – the M1 is on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and takes you from the city center directly to Heroes’ Square.
City Park & Vajdahunyad Castle
The City Park is another popular attraction in Budapest. It is located right behind Heroes’ Square and enchants with an extremely pretty backdrop. There are several interesting sights in the park, but the main attraction is the beautiful Vajdahunyad Castle. The castle was built in the early 20th century out of cardboard and wood for the occasion of the Hungarian millennium celebration. However, it was later converted into a permanent structure.
The small pond in front of the castle is very romantic. In winter you can go ice skating, in summer you can do your laps with a rowing boat.
Another attraction in the city center of Budapest is The Budapest Eye, located on Erzsébet Square. A ride with the white Ferris wheel takes you up to around 65 meters. From this point you can enjoy a wonderful panorama. A ride with the Budapest Eye is especially worthwhile at night when the city glitters!
The Great Synagogue
Another important sight in Budapest is the Great Synagogue in Dohány Street on the Pest side. After the synagogue in New York, it is the second largest in the world. Inaugurated in 1859, this holy site enchants with its Moorish style, the red brick facade and the many oriental details. This synagogue is not only an eye-catcher from the outside, but it is also worth a visit from the inside.
Tip: The rush to this attraction is enormous. With an online ticket you can easily save yourself the hassle of queuing up here!
City tours of Budapest
If you do not want to explore the most beautiful sights of Budapest on your own, you have the option of joining a guided tour. On the online platform GetyourGuide you will find a wide range of city tours, entrance tickets, bike tours, cooking classes, boat tours and much more.
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:
- 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.
- 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:
- Hotel with pool: The Cortile Budapest Hotel offers a yummy breakfast, lots of flair and even has an infinity pool on the 6th floor.
- 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.
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