Budapest   Travel Guide

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things to visit in budapest

19 Best Things To Do in Budapest

Updated May 8, 2023

The thermal baths are king here, but there are plenty of other ways to kill a day. World-class museums, island parks, shopping and cafes are available in spades. Foot it around Castle Hill for a taste of medieval Budapest or spend an afternoon

  • All Things To Do

things to visit in budapest

Fisherman's Bastion (Halászbástya) Fisherman's Bastion (Halászbástya) free

Located in the historic district of  Castle Hill , Fisherman's Bastion is a neo-Gothic terrace that looks like a structure taken straight out of a fairy tale. Designed and built in 1905 by Frigyes Schulek – the same architect who built the adjacent Matthias Church – Fisherman's Bastion is named after the medieval guild of fishermen who protected Budapest from invasion.

Visitors say Fisherman's Bastion's gleaming white structure provides panoramic views of the city: From here, you can snap some breathtaking pictures of the Danube River , Margaret Island and Pest. Also save time for exploring the sight's seven ornate turrets, which symbolize the tents of the seven Magyar leaders who settled the Carpathian Basin, ultimately leading to the existence of modern-day Hungary. 

things to visit in budapest

Danube River Danube River free

Dividing the city's Buda and Pest sides is the impressive Danube River. Flowing roughly 1,770 miles from west Germany through Austria, Slovakia, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova and, of course, Hungary, before meeting the Black Sea in southern Ukraine, this sprawling river is the second longest in Europe. Along its Budapest shores, travelers will find iconic sights like the Hungarian Parliament and Buda Castle .

Recent visitors highly recommend checking out the Danube River on foot or by boat. If you decide to go for a stroll, consider doing so at the Danube Promenade, which offers picturesque views and the must-see Shoes on the Danube Bank Holocaust memorial, according to past travelers. Many also suggest signing up for an evening sightseeing cruise through local operators like Legenda Sightseeing Boats and Portum Lines .

things to visit in budapest

Castle Hill (Várhegy) Castle Hill (Várhegy) free

Located on the west side of the Danube River , Castle Hill is a must-see district for any Budapest visitor. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987, the area's iconic Buda Castle was constructed in the 13th century. Walk the cobblestone streets, take in the medieval atmosphere and dive deep into Budapest's history.

From the castle to  Matthias Church  to the underground Castle Labyrinth to  Fisherman's Bastion , you'll find there's almost no end to what you can learn about Budapest's past. The lack of vehicle traffic also lends an old-world charm to the area. Plus, travelers say you'll discover sweeping city panoramas from multiple locales in the neighborhood.

things to visit in budapest

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things to visit in budapest

Széchenyi Chain Bridge (Széchenyi Lánchíd) Széchenyi Chain Bridge (Széchenyi Lánchíd) free

It's hard to miss the nearly 1,250-foot-long Széchenyi Chain Bridge. Originally built in the 1800s by English engineer William Tierney Clark, this stunning suspension bridge was mostly destroyed during World War II. Though it was badly damaged, it still features its original pillars and stone lions that flank its entrances. Since being reconstructed in the late 1940s, visitors have flocked here to walk, bike and drive across it.

Travelers rave about this impressive bridge, saying it's a superb subject for photos. For the best views, visitors suggest arriving at night when lights illuminate the bridge and surrounding attractions. Sights you can see from the Széchenyi Chain Bridge include Buda Castle and the Hungarian Parliament .

things to visit in budapest

Heroes' Square (Hosök tere) Heroes' Square (Hosök tere) free

Heroes' Square is one of Budapest's grandest landmarks. In fact, it's the largest public square in the city. Swing by this area to take a picture of the Millenary Monument, which was erected in 1896 to celebrate Hungary's 1000th anniversary.

The square and the monument are dedicated to those who lost their lives while fighting for the country's independence. At the base of the famous column (topped with the Archangel Gabriel) are statues representing seven Magyar chieftains – considered to be the founders of the Hungarian nation. Behind the column are matching colonnades with 14 statues of royalty and other important figures in Hungarian history.

things to visit in budapest

Hungarian Parliament (Országház) Hungarian Parliament (Országház)

Completed in 1902, the Hungarian Parliament is one of Budapest's most famous landmarks. The Hungarian National Assembly still meets here, but visitors come mainly to take in the building's architecture (primarily Gothic Revival-style) and beautiful statues and paintings. According to many, there is no structure in Hungary that serves as a better symbol of the country's independence and commitment to democracy. 

Travelers and locals alike say this structure is a must-see for any visitor's first trip to Budapest. It not only features incredible architectural details but also stunning Danube River views and significant artifacts, such as Hungary's crown jewels. If you're interested in touring the inside, visitors suggest booking well in advance since tours – which are the only way to gain interior access – fill up fast. Photography is permitted during a tour; however, taking pictures inside the Dome Hall (where the crown jewels are located) is not allowed.

things to visit in budapest

St. Stephen's Basilica (Svent István Bazilika) St. Stephen's Basilica (Svent István Bazilika) free

One of downtown Budapest's most popular sights is St. Stephen's Basilica. Featuring two clock towers and an impressive cupola, this historical church, which was dedicated to Stephen I (Hungary's founder and first king) upon completion in 1905, took more than 50 years to build. Visitors flock here to catch a glimpse of its main attraction – the Holy Right. This mummified, jewel-adorned right hand of the property's namesake rests inside an ornate golden reliquary in the church's Holy Right chapel.

Past travelers praised St. Stephen's Basilica's stunning architecture and interior, as well as the breathtaking city views from the cupola's balcony. Visitors can explore the church on their own, but for more insight about its history, reviewers recommend paying for the guided tour, which includes looks at the Holy Right chapel, the on-site treasury and the cupola.

things to visit in budapest

Buda Castle (Budai vár) Buda Castle (Budai vár) free

As its name implies, Castle Hill 's main attraction is its medieval castle. Built in the 14th century to accommodate various kings, the structure now features Baroque and neo-Baroque details added during various restorations. It's also home to the Hungarian National Gallery, the Budapest History Museum and the National Széchényi Library.

Like Gellért Hill and the  Széchenyi Chain Bridge , Buda Castle boasts picturesque city panoramas, according to past visitors. However, previous travelers had mixed feelings about using the Buda Castle Funicular. Some enjoyed riding it to the top, while others bemoaned its pricey fees and suggested walking. If you are not keen on walking but want to avoid paying 1,200 forints (about $5) for a one-way fare or 1,800 forints ($7) for a round-trip ticket, consider using the No. 16 bus. Each ticket costs 350 forints (roughly $1.50) when purchased in advance; to get a ticket on board, expect to pay 450 forints (less than $2). For Budapest Card holders, rides on public transportation are covered.

things to visit in budapest

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things to visit in budapest

Matthias Church (Mátyás-templom) Matthias Church (Mátyás-templom) free

The neo-Gothic Matthias Church in  Castle Hill  has been around for centuries and, in many ways, its history corresponds to that of Budapest itself. Built in the 13th century, Matthias was the city's first parish church. However, it was transformed into a mosque during the 1541 Ottoman occupation and remained an Islamic place of worship until the Turkish expulsion nearly 150 years later. Today, tourists come to admire its imposing architecture, take in its historical symbolism and spend some time studying its impressive artwork.

Recent visitors said the church's architecture is striking and the informational place cards throughout the property give you a sense of its expansive history. Don't forget to check out the Ecclesiastical Art Collection, also housed inside. You can see the medieval crypt where 10th-century King Béla III and his wife Agnes are buried, as well replicas of royal jewels and other religious artifacts. And if you enjoy organs, the church's (with 7,771 pipes and 18 bells) is regularly the star of on-site concerts and shows.

things to visit in budapest

Dohány Street Synagogue (Dohány utcai Zsinagóga) Dohány Street Synagogue (Dohány utcai Zsinagóga) free

Also referred to as the Great Synagogue, this place of worship is the largest synagogue in Europe and the second-largest in the world (only Temple Emanu-El in  New York City  is slightly bigger). Opened in 1859, this building features Romantic and Moorish Revival-style architecture and can accommodate up to 3,000 people.

Travelers suggest you visit for the atmosphere and to learn of the synagogue's historical significance  –  particularly its connection to the Holocaust.  In 1939, the synagogue was bombed by a Hungarian pro-Nazi party, and between 1944 and 1945, Dohány Street itself constituted the border of Budapest's Jewish ghetto. Visit the adjacent Hungarian Jewish Museum and Archives to learn about the history of Hungarian Judaism and to pay your respects at the Garden of Memory in its courtyard.

things to visit in budapest

Museum of Fine Arts (Szépmuvészeti Múzeum) Museum of Fine Arts (Szépmuvészeti Múzeum)

Located in City Park by Sz é chenyi Baths and the Budapest Zoo & Botanical Garden, the Museum of Fine Arts showcases Hungarian art dating back to the Middle Ages, plus Egyptian antiquities and 13th- to 19th-century European paintings. Exhibitions feature medals, prints, drawings, wooden sculptures, altarpieces and modern art – all of which contributed to Hungarian history and art development.

Previous museumgoers heap praise on the Museum of Fine Arts, adding that the renovation it underwent until October 2018 is beautiful. Some past visitors specifically raved about the informative displays, noting that they're so well-done that you don't need an audio guide.

things to visit in budapest

Thermal Baths Thermal Baths

A soak in a thermal bath is a quintessential Budapest experience. (It hasn't cultivated a reputation as the "City of Spas" for nothing.) These baths, or fürdok in Hungarian, are heated by natural thermal springs and usually include on-site massage services, as well as steam rooms.

With more than 100 thermal springs, the various baths around the city cater to different tastes – from relaxation to cures for illness – and some transform into pulsating dance clubs at night, so if you're bathing with your family, you might want to do so during the daylight hours.

things to visit in budapest

Gellért Hill (Gellért-hegy) Gellért Hill (Gellért-hegy) free

Across the Danube River from the Inner City lies Gellért Hill. Measuring 771 feet high, this neighborhood is best known for its 19th-century citadel, but the area is also home to an arboretum, a church built into a cave and various statues, such as the Liberty Statue (a traveler favorite) and one of the region's namesake, Saint Gerard. Legend has it that the Italian monk was pushed off of the hill to his death in the 1000s.

On a sunny day, visitors say Gellért Hill offers jaw-dropping views of the river and downtown Budapest. Travelers also praise the neighborhood's statues but recommend learning more about their histories before arriving to supplement your visit. What's more, some caution that the walk up the hill is exhausting, but limited parking is available by the citadel for a fee. You can also take the No. 27 bus most of the way up to the Búsuló Juhász stop.

things to visit in budapest

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Hungarian State Opera House (Magyar Állami Operaház) Hungarian State Opera House (Magyar Állami Operaház)

Central Pest's Hungarian State Opera House has been an institution in Budapest since its opening in 1884. Featuring a neo-Renaissance style, the opera house holds more than 1,200 seats and has a reputation for its exceptional acoustics. But the building's main draw is its opulent architecture –  inside and out.  Marble columns, gilded vaulted ceilings, an enormous bronze chandelier, and murals and frescoes depicting Greek mythological scenes provide a romantic setting.

According to recent visitors, the opera house's exterior justifies a stop, even if you don't head inside for a guided tour. If you do decide to take a tour, keep in mind that the building is currently undergoing renovations. Some past travelers bemoaned not being able to see the auditorium during their visits. 

things to visit in budapest

House of Terror Museum (Terror Háza Múzeum) House of Terror Museum (Terror Háza Múzeum)

Located in the Terézváros neighborhood in Pest's District VI, the House of Terror Museum is a jarring but important museum that documents the dictatorial oppression Hungary faced during its fascist and Stalinist regimes. Once the headquarters of the State Protection Authority (similar to the Soviet Union's KGB), the building was where brutal interrogations and the torturing of countless political activists and dissidents took place throughout the 20th century. Tour the chillingly realistic prison cell replicas in the basement, and brace yourself for the powerful and moving exhibit on Hungary's post-World War II years leading up to the 1953 uprising against its Soviet-controlled government.

Recent visitors said this museum's exhibits are thought-provoking and informative. However, a few lamented the no photography policy inside. Another drawback: the Hungarian-only displays. To understand the material presented in each exhibit, you'll need to ask for handouts with English translations or pay an extra 1,500 forints (roughly $6) for an English audio guide. You can also reserve a guided tour with an English-speaking guide at least 10 days in advance for 8,000 forints (about $31).

things to visit in budapest

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Home » Europe » Budapest

16 BEST Places to Visit in Budapest (2024)

Nicknamed the Paris of the Easy, Hungary’s capital city of Budapest is a treat for the senses. It boasts beautiful historic architecture, is famous for classical music, has many thermal spas, and there are plenty of places to sink your teeth into traditional Hungarian cuisine.

Split in two by the Danube River, today’s city of Budapest is actually an amalgamation of three former cities. Many people know about Buda and Pest, but the third area – Obuda – is often overlooked. Lots of travelers tend to stick in the area that they are staying and thus miss out on many of the city’s highlights.

I’ve created the ultimate guide to the best places to visit in Budapest so that you don’t miss a thing. Combining places in all three parts of the city and a mixture of well-known Budapest must-dos and places that are more off the beaten track, there’s no better list to arm yourself with when exploring Hungary’s vibrant capital.

Spoiler alert: Some of these best places to visit in Budapest are sure to blow you away!

Need a place quick? Here’s the best neighbourhood in Budapest:

These are the best places to visit in budapest, faq on the best places to visit in budapest, some more of the best places to visit in budapest.

Terezvaros, Budapest

District VI, Terézváros, is one of the smallest yet most densely populated neighbourhoods in Budapest. Located on the Pest side of the Danube, this lively district is a hub of excitement and activity.

  • Dive deep into Hungary’s communist and fascist history at the House of Terror Museum.
  • Wander along the iconic Andrassy Avenue, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Get back to nature and take a relaxing stroll through Városliget, one of the largest public parks in the city.

And, without further ado, here are the best places to visit in Budapest:

I know you are absolutely rip-roaring ready to go to Budapest already. So, check out where some of the best Airbnbs in Budapest are and book yourself an excellent home away from home before embarking on your adventure.

things to visit in budapest

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#1 – Hungarian Parliament Building – A great place to see in Budapest if you love architecture

Hungarian Parliament Building

  • Prominent landmark;
  • Guided tours;
  • Impressive architecture;
  • Riverside setting.

Why it’s awesome: If it’s your first time visiting Budapest then you may wonder what the awesome building sat on the river banks is. The Hungarian Parliament Building is one of the most famous landmarks in Budapest. Sitting on the edge of the Danube River, the cream and red architectural gem is a beautiful sight. Open since 1902 it is one of the biggest buildings in Hungary. Inside, there are more than 650 rooms (including two identical parliament halls), 10 courtyards, and 29 sets of stairs.

The interiors are symmetrical and there’s lots of impressive artwork, statues, stained glass, and other decorative features. The striking Gothic Revival building also has Baroque and Renaissance elements. Topped with a mighty dome, the spires, turrets, and towers look especially fairytale-like when illuminated at night time, and the building casts gorgeous reflections on the shimmering waters of the Danube.

What to do there: Admire the handsome building from the outside, both from across the river and from a closer perspective to see the many sculptures of Hungarian leaders and other historical figures that adorn the external walls. Take a 45-minute guided tour of the interiors to be further dazzled by beauty. (

Top tip: book your tickets online to save queuing!) Climb the grand staircase, flanked by lion statues, to reach the main entrance. Inside you can marvel at exquisite frescoes, more sculptures, mosaics, and stained glass. Step into the impressive hall, visit the old House of Lords, peek inside a decadent lobby, and view the alluring Hungarian Crown Jewels.

#2 – Széchenyi Thermal Bath – Great place to visit in Budapest for couples!

Széchenyi Thermal Bath

  • Beautiful architecture;
  • Romantic atmosphere;
  • Natural hot springs;
  • Various spa treatments.

Why it’s awesome: The largest and most famous of Budapest’s thermal baths, Széchenyi Thermal Bath is a great place for anyone looking to unwind and add something different to their trip. Although suitable for groups of friends, families, and solo explorers, it’s also one of the most romantic things to do when you travel to Budapest.

The naturally heated spring waters were first discovered in the late 1800s and the bathhouse later opened in 1913. The waters have medicinal and soothing properties, thanks to the diverse mineral content and constant heat. With indoor and outdoor bathing areas, it’s possible to bathe here all year round. The palatial building itself is impressive, built in a neo-Baroque style, and there are various ways to treat yourself to some TLC while at the spa.

What to do there: Ogle the handsome palace and explore its diverse areas, from the beautiful yellow façade and the main hall with its chequered flooring to the gigantic outdoor pool filled with deep blue water and the smaller interior pools.

Choose your favourite from the 18 pools and hop in to soothe away any stresses and strains, aches, and pains. You will probably want to spend at least a couple of hours at the spa trying out several of the pools. There are also a bunch of saunas and if you’re feeling brave, some plunge pools too. Though I much prefer bathing in the 36-degree pool. Lush.

Book a massage for some extra pampering—special couples’ massages are available too. Enjoy features like saunas, steam rooms, water jets, and whirlpools. On a sunny day, you can unwind alongside the water with a nice cool drink.

things to visit in budapest

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#3 – Castle Hill – One of Budapest’s coolest historical sites!

Castle Hill

  • Diverse attractions;
  • Long history;
  • Awesome views;
  • Interesting caves and tunnels.

Why it’s awesome: Perched on top of Castle Hill, the UNESCO-listed Buda Castle is one of the most famous places in Budapest. The Buda Castle is the former residence and stronghold of Hungarian kings of old, the stunning palace can trace its history back to the 1200s. Most of the present-day Baroque beauty, however, was built in the mid-1700s, and the oldest remaining section was constructed in the 1400s.

Today, the Buda Castle is home to the Budapest History Museum, the Széchenyi National Library, and the Hungarian National Gallery. To be honest, the Buda Castle isn’t Hungarian National Gallery which proves that you should never judge a book by its cover – the inside is stunning! Mathias Church on the other hand is one of the main reasons to venture up the hill. Just the roof is worth checking out, as it’s made entirely from porcelain and intricately designed.

In addition to the Buda Castle and Mathias Church, Castle Hill boasts many other cool things to see and do. There are caves and passageways beneath the hill, used for various purposes over the years. Some of the underground chambers were used as air-raid shelters and a hospital during World War II. Other points of interest in Budapest’s Castle Hill include the Fisherman’s Bastion, Matthias Church, and several charming walkways and squares.

What to do there: Explore the streets surrounding the hill to see the eye-catching blend of quaint homes and churches in various architectural styles, including Baroque, Medieval, and Neoclassical. Stroll along the atmospheric street of Uri Utca (Gentlemen’s Street) and appreciate the architectural beauty.

Enter the Labyrinth beneath the hill to walk through subterranean passages and caves, visit an old war-time hospital (now converted into a museum, the Rock Nuclear Bunker Museum), stand in a nuclear bunker, and learn more about past uses of the caves, caves around the world, war-time history, and nuclear weapons. The Rock Nuclear Bunker Museum is probably one of the coolest and yet most underrated museums in Budapest.

See ancient Turkish tombstones that stand in front of the hill. Ride the funicular up the hill and get an impressive up-close view of the spectacular palace. Visit the museums inside the castle and marvel at the lavish interiors. Walk through pretty squares like Trinity Square and Andrew Hess Square, admire the views over the city, see various statues and memorials, and have a look inside landmarks like the House of the Hungarian Culture Foundation, the old Town Hall of Buda, and the ruins of St. Nicholas Tower.

Two major hotspots in Budapest are located on Castle Hill: Matthias Church and the Fisherman’s Bastion. The Baroque Matthias Church dates back to the 1260s and was once used as a mosque. The whimsical Fisherman’s Bastion has splendid designs and offers great views over the Danube river.

Look out for interesting statues and sculptures as you explore the complex, including the Fountain of the Fishing Children, Matthias Fountain, the War and Peace memorial, Turulbird, Horseherd, and the Monument of Prince Eugene of Savoy.

#4 – Szabo Ervin Library – A nice non-touristy place to visit in Budapest

Szabo Ervin Library

  • Off the beaten track;
  • Opportunities to relax and escape the crowds;
  • Beautiful surroundings;
  • Secret feeling.

Why it’s awesome: Close to the Palace Quarter, the charming Szabo Ervin Library is an offbeat hidden gem to add to your Budapest itinerary. A peaceful retreat in the bustling heart of the city, it takes visitors back in time and offers a sanctuary of calm.

Located in the historic Wenckheim Palace, built by a local aristocrat in the late 1800s / early 1900s, it has since been surrounded by a modern library. The elegant and intimate library is quite difficult to find, but it’s well worth seeking out to admire the interiors and relax in splendour. It’s a pretty cool place to stay in Budapest .

What to do there: Explore the Central Library and seek out the hidden Szabo Ervin Library within the larger complex. The former mansion now forms the reading rooms of the library. Travel back in time and feel like you’ve stepped into a lavish abode, complete with dark wood walls, a spiral staircase, and atmospheric chandeliers.

Settle into a comfy leather seat and bury yourself in the pages of a great book. Your surroundings and the words on the pages help to transport you to another time and place and the neo-Baroque designs are impressive.

#5 – Hungarian State Opera House – One of the most amazing places in Budapest!

Hungarian Opera House

  • Historical building;
  • Beautiful designs;
  • Excellent acoustics;
  • Hosts varied program of musical events.

Why it’s awesome: The Hungarian State Opera House is one of the grandest attractions in Budapest. Construction began on the handsome building in the 1870s and the opera house opened in 1884. Today, it is the country’s second-biggest opera house. Built in a neo-Renaissance style with several Baroque details and a musical theme, it is beautiful both inside and out.

It has hosted a number of famous performers over the years and is the home of the traditional Budapest Opera Ball. Performances at the opera house continue to draw large crowds and the acoustics are world-class. Indeed, it is often said to be one of Europe’s most beautiful opera houses with some of the best acoustics in the continent.

What to do there: Appreciate the fine details of the symmetrical building, taking in the opulent decorative touches and artistic features. See the statues of Franz Liszt and Ferenc Erkel (composer of the Hungarian national anthem) that stand proudly in front of the building, and take a daily guided tour (available in several languages) to admire the gorgeous interiors.

The marble columns and ceiling murals of the nine Muses inside the foyer help to set the scene. Ascend the wide stone steps, lit by wrought-iron lamps, be dazzled by the sublime main hall (complete with a huge chandelier and paintings of Greek deities), see the royal box with its symbolic sculptures, and spot other art throughout the building. You can also book tickets to attend a high-class performance.

If you are travelling to Budapest in the summer, make sure to check out Heroes Square, which also has some live performances and events during the weekends.

#6 – House of Terror – Possibly one of the most important places to visit in Budapest

House of Terror

  • Vital educational experience;
  • Learn more about Hungary’s turbulent and troubled past;
  • Memorial to victims;
  • Audio tours available.

Why it’s awesome: The House of Terror is an informative, moving, and thought-provoking museum and a memorial to those who suffered under the Nazi and Communist regimes in Hungary. It is a Budapest must-do for anyone who wants to know more about the nation’s past.

While a visit is sure to stir up a range of emotions, it’s a vital place to teach lessons from times gone by. The stern-looking building was once the city’s Nazi headquarters. Despite only being in control for a short period, the group tortured and murdered hundreds of victims, mainly Jews, in the underground cellar, dead bodies later tossed into the river.

A short while later, the Soviet Union took control of the city and used the building as the head office of the State Security Authority. A brutal and feared organisation, it sought to control the people through fear and oppression.

Spies kept an ever-watchful eye on the population and many people were tortured and killed. The building is a painful reminder of the scars left behind in Budapest and Hungary by power-hungry and cruel regimes. It has been open as a museum and memorial since 2002.

What to do there: Shudder as you look at the imposing and drab building from the outside and mentally prepare yourself for the harrowing scenes to come. While there’s good information in English, an audio tour really helps you to delve deeper into the city’s tragic story.

Explore displays and see gruesome exhibits that bring the country’s horrifying past to life, learning more about the times of Nazi and Communist control. One of the biggest items is an old tank. You’ll see how the building played a pivotal role in the past and learn about the hardships faced by Hungarian people.

For many visitors, the most jarring section is the cellar network. Descend underground and stand in rooms and tunnels where horrific events took place.

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#7 – Vajdahunyad Castle – One of the most romantic places to visit in Budapest!

Vajdahunyad Castle

  • Whimsical and unusual sight
  • Lovely grounds
  • Interesting museum
  • Blend of architectural styles

Why it’s awesome: One of the most charming, romantic, and attractive landmarks to see when visiting Budapest, Vajdahunyad Castle is located in City Park. Despite its ancient appearance, the fairytale-like building is only a little more than a century old. The original castle was built from cardboard and wood as a temporary feature for the Hungarian Millenarian Festivities.

It had become such a popular landmark by the time that it was dismantled that it was subsequently rebuilt in sturdier materials. Sitting alongside a lake and surrounded by verdant nature, the folly blends various architectural styles from across the country. From Renaissance and Baroque to Gothic and Romanesque, the different styles certainly help to create a visual treat.

What to do there: Take a stroll around the lovely grounds, hand in hand with your significant other. There’s no charge to enter the castle’s gardens and courtyards and appreciate the magnificent building from the outside. You can also see a number of large statues.

Go inside to visit the Hungarian Agricultural Museum, home to a wide selection of farming tools and implements as well as folk and everyday objects. Exhibits include clothing, tools, weapons, and more. When you’ve finished, why not keep the romance alive for longer with a boat trip on the lake?

#8 – St. Stephen’s Basilica – One of the most religious places to see in Budapest

St. Stephen's Basilica

  • Large place of worship;
  • Fascinating artefacts;
  • Photogenic building;
  • Terrific city views.

Why it’s awesome: Named after the first king of Hungary, St. Stephen’s Basilica is one of the largest churches in all of Hungary. The fabulous building can fit up to 8,500 worshippers at any given time. Located on the Pest side of the River Danube, it is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Budapest.

Standing on the site of an old theatre, the construction of St. Stephen’s Basilica began in the mid-1800s. Built in the shape of a Greek cross, two soaring bell towers flank the main Neoclassical dome-topped structure. Filled with religious art and artefacts and with an air of tranquil spirituality, the church is also home to several gigantic bells (including the biggest in the country, which only rings out on very special occasions).

What to do there: Gaze in wonder at the fantastic place of worship before letting your eyes adjust to the dim light inside. There is no charge to look around the main part of the church or attend a religious service, but a guided tour will provide many more insights and help you to spot the finer details that you may otherwise miss. Fees are payable to visit the tower and treasury, but both are well worth the costs.

Take the elevator (or climb the 360-plus stairs) up the tower for far-reaching panoramic views across Budapest. See an incredible array of religious memorabilia in the Treasury. Don’t miss visiting the reliquary, which is said to contain the corpse hand of Saint Stephen I of Hungary! During the summer, you can hear the Basilica Choir sing each Sunday, and there are regular musical performances at St. Stephen’s Basilica throughout the week too.

#9 – Margaret Island – A perfect place to visit in Budapest if you are on a budget!

Margaret Island

  • Ancient ruin;
  • Different leisure activities;
  • Musical fountain;
  • Pretty parks.

Why it’s awesome: Budapest can be expensive at times so this is a great place to come if money becomes a bit tight. Located in the River Danube, the charming Margaret Island is 96 hectares (238 acres) in size. It is connected by a bridge. Mainly covered in lush parks, there is no charge to wander around the island and soak up the sights. (Do note that some attractions on the island do have entry fees, though.)

There are some medieval-era ruins on the island, legacies from times gone by when the island was filled with religious buildings, convents, and monasteries. They include the remains of a Premonstratensian church from the 12 th century and Dominican and Franciscan churches from the 13 th century. Today, there are diverse sightseeing and leisure opportunities.

What to do there: Cross to the island on the Margaret Bridge, pausing to enjoy the great views along the Danube. Travel back in time as you explore ancient ruins, climb to the top of the 1911 Art Nouveau Water Tower for great views, stroll through the Japanese Garden, watch squirrels scampering through the parks, and see animals typical to the island at the small zoo.

See the 1973 Centennial Memorial, which was erected to celebrate the 100 th anniversary of Budapest’s unification. In the summer, watch the beautiful musical fountain in action. You can visit the large swimming pool, thermal baths , running tracks, athletics centre, too.

#10 – Semmelweis Medical Museum – Quite the quirky place in Budapest!

Semmelweis Medical Museum

  • Learn about medical developments;
  • Discover the interesting life story of Dr. Semmelweis;
  • Old medical equipment;
  • Unusual museum.

Why it’s awesome: Located at the bottom of Castle Hill, Semmelweis Medical Museum is housed in the birthplace of its namesake—Dr. Semmelweis. It’s one of the most unusual things to do in Budapest and also one of the most underrated. Dr. Semmelweis was a pioneering doctor in the mid-1800s who tried hard to make other medical professionals aware of the need for cleanliness.

He had a basic awareness several years before Louis  Pasteur came up with the germ theory of disease. Sadly, Dr. Semmelweis passed away before he saw medical advancements, and his insights were confirmed. He did, however, lower the death rates in his hospital through his efforts. The museum shows how Western medicine has advanced over the ages and contains some unusual items.

What to do there: Learn more about the developments of medicine from prehistoric times to the 1900s and discover more about the life and work of the interesting Dr. Semmelweis. See how, through actions considered the bare basics today in medicine, the doctor helped to prevent the needless deaths of pregnant women and new mothers. He understood the importance of washing hands in the hospital and cleaning surgical instruments in between operations.

You can also see an array of medical instruments and objects used in research and teaching from yesteryear, including a shrunken head, a rare and delicate anatomical sculpture by Clemente Susini, surgical implements, and an old X-ray device.

#11 – Budapest Zoo & Botanical Garden – Awesome place to visit in Budapest with kids!

Budapest Zoo & Botanical Garden

  • Many species of animals;
  • Lots of plant life;
  • Beautiful Art Nouveau architecture;
  • Diverse tourist attractions for kids.

Why it’s awesome: One of the top things to include on your Budapest itinerary if visiting the Hungarian capital with children, Budapest Zoo & Botanical Garden is home to more than 1,000 species of animals from all over the world. Open since 1866, it is one of the oldest zoos in the world and the oldest zoo in Hungary.

Operating as a nature reserve, it is also home to many interesting plant species. Furthermore, visitors can admire the various Art Nouveau buildings scattered throughout the well-maintained grounds. There are interactive displays, various demonstrations, play areas, places to eat and drink, and, in short, everything you need for a great family outing.

What to do there: Take time to fully explore the zoo’s different areas and see the various creatures and plants that live in the zoo and botanical gardens. Step inside the palm house of America Tropicana to see wildlife from the tropical Americas. Journey to Africa at the Savannah Zone, home to creatures like zebras, rhinos, gazelles, and giraffes. Spot hyenas and lions in the India zone, animals from Southeast Asia in János Xántus House, and kangaroos, wombats, and other Oceanic creatures at the Australia Zone.

Other animals that call the zoo home include elephants, monkeys, gorillas, marmosets, birds, snakes, and the fearsome Komodo dragons. Watch animals being fed and learn about the zoo’s breeding and research programs. Don’t miss taking the kids to Holnemvolt Vár too.

Standing on the site of an old amusement park, the complex offers tons of fun for younger members of the family. The four-level Hetedhét Palace houses a fabulous play area with each room designed around traditional Hungarian stories. There’s also a small petting zoo, an aquarium, art events, small fairground rides, and horse riding.

#12 – Wekerle Estate – An unknown (but awesome!) place to see in Budapest!

Wekerle Estate

  • Art Nouveau architecture;
  • Delightful main square;
  • Workers’ housing;
  • Green suburb.

Why it’s awesome: Located in Budapest’s 19 th District, the Wekerle Estate is an often overlooked place. It’s named after a former Hungarian prime minister. Charming and picturesque, the village dates back to the early 1900s.

Built-in a vernacular secession from Hungary style (Art Nouveau), a number of pretty buildings surround a quaint main square, with two large gateways leading into the estate. Inspiration came from rural peasant architectural styles from the past. Although initially built to provide housing for local workers, the eye-catching village is a pleasant place to simply walk around and admire the designs.

What to do there: Take a walk around the photogenic estate and see the various buildings created in the Garden Style. There are houses and apartments, shops, schools, churches, a post office, a cinema, and various other amenities.

Stand in the main square and admire the surrounding buildings, designed by eminent architect Károly Kós. You could also consider taking a guided tour of the area to learn more about its construction and purpose as well as hearing local stories and anecdotes.

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#13 – Central Market Hall – A great place in Budapest if you love to shop!

Central Market Hall

  • Local food;
  • Souvenir shopping;
  • Wide array of goods;
  • Oldest market hall in Budapest.

Why it’s awesome: The Central Market Hall is one of the best places to visit in Budapest for shopping and browsing. Open every day except Sundays, the great market hall has been in operation since the late 1890s. The building was eventually restored in the 1990s following damage during World War Two. It’s the biggest and most attractive great market hall in the city, with orange walls and a colourful roof.

As well as being a Budapest must-do for people who love to shop, it’s also a top place for window shopping and people watching. There are stalls spread across three levels, offering all manner of goods. It’s also among the best hotspots in Budapest for foodies, with a huge selection of tasty treats to tempt hungry visitors. It’s one of the top places to eat in Budapest for quick and easy local fast food and snacks. Another bonus: it’s an ideal all-weather attraction.

What to do there: Join the crowds and make your way through the stalls laden with a huge selection of goods. Pick up traditional souvenirs like Hungarian dolls, glassware, embroidered items, and hand-painted ceramics, as well as trinkets and souvenirs. You can also browse fashions and accessories and come across stalls selling household items, footwear, kitchen accessories, toiletries, and more.

There are many stalls selling fresh produce, dried goods, and typical Hungarian products. Look out for paprika, jars of pickles, Hungarian wines, Pálinka (a fruity brandy), confectionary, and salami. Savour some local fare from food stalls as you wander, or sit down for a meal in the affordable café. You’re sure to get some great photos of the bustling market. Some of Budapest’s best hostels are located nearby in this central location too!

#14 – Cinkota Old Cemetery – A nice quiet place to see in Budapest

Cinkota Old Cemetery

  • Abandoned cemetery;
  • Sleepy village;
  • Off the beaten track.

Why it’s awesome: Rather eerie and with a forgotten feel, the peaceful and historic Cinkota Old Cemetery can be found on the outskirts of the city. All but abandoned with the passing of time, nature is trying hard to reclaim the land, engulfing tombstones from days long past. An old church stands next to the graveyard and adds to the atmosphere. Definitely away from the typical tourist trail, the cemetery is usually empty.

What to do there: Experience a sense of the stillness of time as you look at the aged tombstones among a tangled mess of overgrowth. Statues adorn some of the graves and it’s difficult to stop your imagination from running wild as you imagine the lives of those who have long since departed from this Earth.

The sounds of nature fill the air. The surrounding village also has a timeless feel, with old homes at the edges of the winding streets, chickens pecking at the dirt in back gardens and a slower pace of life than in the heart of the city.

#15 – Old Jewish Quarter – A great place to visit in Budapest at night

Dohany Street Synagogue Budapest

  • Famous ruin bars;
  • Cool street art;
  • Lively area;
  • Interesting architecture.

Why it’s awesome: One of the most fascinating neighbourhoods to visit when you explore Budapest, the Old Jewish Quarter is a hotbed of activity both by day and by night. Whispers from the past echo along the streets and the Jewish heritage is evident in the synagogues, homes, and former ghetto area. Colourful street art covers now-crumbling walls, and the neglect of many parts of the area enhances the atmosphere.

Far from being sad, however, many of the once derelict and abandoned properties have been given a new lease of life in the form of so-called ruin bars. Scruffy buildings that were slated for demolition were taken over by fun-loving locals, artists, and entrepreneurs and turned into bars full of character. Visitors can sip a drink while surrounded by the ravages of time for a night out that’s different to the norm.

What to do there: Visit one of the biggest synagogues in Europe (the Dohány Street Synagogue ) and contrast the religious practices and architecture with the synagogues on Rumbach Sebestyén Street (no longer in active use) and Kazinczy Street. See the houses, once designated with the Yellow Star label, where Jews were forced to live in cramped conditions and see what remains of the old ghetto wall.

Admire interesting street art, sample tasty street food, and peek inside cool and quirky shops. Stay in the old Jewish Quarter until nighttime to experience the famous ruin bars . Whether you’re looking for laid-back and chilled-out establishments or places that know how to rock, there’s a ruin bar for all tastes.

#16 – Evening Dinner River Cruise on the Danube

Dohany Street Synagogue Budapest

  • See all the best landmarks from the river danube.
  • A romantic evening for couples.
  • Delicious food and an affordable price.
  • A relaxing activity after a day of exploring.

Why it’s awesome: One of the most famous rivers in the world, the Danube, runs right the way through Budapest, separating the Buda and Pest side. The Danube river is also the centerpiece for many historical tourist attractions and events. The Buda Castle and Mathias church can be seen perched on top of Castle Hill from the waters, and on the pest side, the river passes all the way from the central market hall towards Margaret Island, passing by the Hungarian Parliament building and the Danube promenade too.

In the summer, tourists and locals flock to the bridges across the Danube river and hang out in the sunshine. The Danube promenade is a lively place lined with luxury hotels and restaurants, but when the sunsets, the river really comes to life as it glows in the orange sun. Budapest sunsets are out of this world. It’s not something that is widely talked about, but if you know, you know.

What to do there: One of the best ways to see the Danube river is on an evening sightseeing cruise with dinner . There is usually some light entertainment and plenty of wine to go around. If you’re travelling as a couple, this is the ideal romantic setting to catch the sunset and marvel at the best Budapest attractions from the dinner table.

Before the cruise, I highly recommend taking a stroll along the Danube promenade, where you will find a monument called ‘Shoes on the Danube Bank’, a fine art installation placed to mark the remembrance of all the jews who died there during World War II. This sobering installation is one of the most important tourist attractions, aside from the House of Terror, to learn about the history of World War II in Budapest.

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Find out what people want to know about the best places to visit in Budapest

What should I not miss in Budapest?

You cannot take a trip to Budapest without trying a thermal bath…or two!

What is Budapest famous for?

Budapest is famous for its mix of romanesque, gothic, renaissance, and baroque architecture, historical landmarks, thermal baths and ruin bars.

Is 3 days enough in Budapest?

If you just want to see the highlights, then you can see them all in three days. However, you would need to rush. Ideally, five days would be ample amount of time to see everything and have some chilled days in the thermal baths too.

Why is Budapest so cheap?

Although being part of the EU, Hungary is not part of the Eurozone and has therefore not adopted the Euro. This means their own currency, the Forint, has decreased in value over the years and means tourists can get more bang for their buck.

Step away from the beaten path and wander around the quaint Óbuda Main Square, a neighbourhood that is often forgotten by locals and tourists alike. The Old Town Hall is especially impressive. Soak up the views from the top of the Budapest Eye, located in the vibrant Erzsébet Square, enjoy the beauty and peaceful air in Füvészkert Botanical Garden, and see the unusual statues in the offbeat Memento Park.

Tour Budapest’s many museums around Heroes Square, including the Hungarian National Museum, Budapest History Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Franz Liszt Memorial Museum, the Museum of Ethnography, the Hungarian Railway Museum, and the quirky House of Houdini. There are museums in Budapest to suit all tastes and interests.

Go hiking in the scenic Buda Hills and escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, and spend a few hours (or longer!) exploring the diverse spots around Gellért Hill. You can explore the mighty Citadella on top of the hill, one of the most famous places in Budapest, and soak up the splendid vistas. Other highlights include Gellért Hill Cave, walking trails, and the Liberty Monument. A visit to the Dohány Street Synagogue is also highly recommended.

Once you’ve covered most of the best places to visit in Budapest, take day trips to exciting nearby destinations like Esztergom, Szentendre, and Lake Balaton. You certainly won’t have any reason to feel bored when visiting the Hungarian capital city!

Start planning your memorable trip and don’t forget to include these best places to visit in Budapest when exploring the diverse city.

things to visit in budapest

And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links . That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!

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Parliament House - Budapest - Hungary

The 13 best attractions in Budapest

From gorgeous architecture to lesser-known curiosities and quirky museums, these are the finest sights in the Hungarian capital

Budapest is a darling of a city, one of the most picturesque capitals in Europe and objectively one of its best nights out . Tourists, travellers, nomads and explorers alike have been wandering the streets of Buda and Pest for centuries, looking for excitement and experience in equal measure. The Hungarian capital doesn’t let the side down, and those serene thermal baths and spas are always on hand to provide a little rejuvenation. The best attractions in Budapest are the greatest hits of sorts, showcasing the capital’s fascinating history, architectural majesty and fiery creative side. Looking for your Budapest bucket list? Look no further.

Recommended:   📍 The best things to do in Budapest 😋 The best restaurants in Budapest 🍻 The best ruin bars in Budapest 🏡 The best  Airbnbs in Budapest 🛏 The best  hotels in Budapest

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Best Budapest attractions

Buda Castle

1.  Buda Castle

Crowning the capital atop Castle Hill, Buda Castle presents an architectural melting pot, with Renaissance ruins around the foundations, a grand Habsburg-era neoclassical façade, and a stark communist-style interior. The palace is divided into three museums: The Hungarian National Gallery, the Budapest History Museum and the National Széchényi Library. You could easily spend the whole day just mooching around these three. But make sure to bring a camera – the views over the river and cobbled courtyards are quite something.

Széchenyi Baths

2.  Széchenyi Baths

Take a plunge in Budapest’s most famous thermal bath. The Széchenyi Baths are a visual feast with their canary-hued colonnades and steaming outdoor thermal pools. Make sure you go inside to explore the vast interior clad with ceramics, marble and mosaics. Budapest is known as the ‘City of Spas’ for its 120 geothermal springs – so don’t miss out.

Madame Tussauds

3.  Madame Tussauds

The world’s 24th, and arguably most elegant, Madame Tussauds waxworks museum occupies the 200-year-old Palazzo Dorottya in the heart of Budapest. Using the Hungarian capital as its main theme, this English-friendly attraction takes visitors on an interactive and immersive journey, accompanied by movie stars and famous figures from Hungarian history. Without leaving this spot by the Danube, you can zoom around town on the back of Tom Cruise’s motorbike, accompany Habsburg Empress Elisabeth in her carriage or schmooze with Brad Pitt at a wrap party at the Gellért Baths. Hungarophiles will enjoy the life-like representations of pre-war torch singer Katalin Karády and football star Ferenc Puskás, both showcased in suitable settings.

Children’s Railway

4.  Children’s Railway

Get out of the city centre and escape to the Buda Hills on this nostalgic 45-minute train ride through the forest. Why ‘children’s’? It’s not aimed at kids, necessarily – but run by them. This vintage railway is a remnant of a communist youth programme called ‘The Pioneers’, which encouraged children to develop a work ethic and learn about responsibility. These days, a staff of uniformed children still operate the narrow gauge railway, but sans propaganda. Fortunately, the drivers and engineers are grown-ups.

Memento Park

5.  Memento Park

Memento Park may be on the city’s outskirts, but its graveyard-like array of communist statues is well worth the trek. Bronze statues of Lenin and Hungarian political figures from the Communist Party are dotted around the vast park alongside monumental pieces of street propaganda. Don’t miss the barracks next to the main gate where you can watch films from the secret service. And make sure to have a go on the time-travelling telephone booth just inside the entrance.

Dohány Street Synagogue

6.  Dohány Street Synagogue

It’s hard to miss this neo-oriental building, topped as it is with two gold-dappled onion-dome turrets. Inside, the synagogue dazzles with its rare rose window, lavish gold leaf detailing and carved wood features. A poignant graveyard marks where some 2,000 Jews were killed during the Holocaust, alongside a weeping willow sculpture that bears the name of the victims on each of its leaves. Europe’s largest synagogue definitely merits a visit, but you can only go in with a guide.

St Stephen’s Basilica

7.  St Stephen’s Basilica

This domed basilica is Budapest’s most photographed monument and its tallest building at 97 metres (tied with the Hungarian Parliament). Go inside for the spectacular frescoes and the mummified hand of Hungary’s canonised first king. Make sure you head to the viewing platform for 360-degree views over the city. For a truly magical experience, check out an organ concert. 

Hungarian Parliament

8.  Hungarian Parliament

Another Danube-side icon, the Hungarian Parliament dominates the Pest side of the river with its neo-gothic spires, gargoyles and a dome that peaks at 97 metres. Tour the building, see it from a boat or simply look over from Buda. If you take a guided tour, climb the golden staircase, and ogle the crown jewels that once belonged to Hungary’s first king (plus the rooms where the Hungarian government now meet). 

Heroes’ Square

9.  Heroes’ Square

Heroes’ Square bookends the north-eastern end of the elegant Andrássy Avenue. It feels more like a memorial than a square, thanks to the arcade filled with statues of Hungarian kings and leaders. In the centre, a column rises with the Angel Gabriel at the top; at the bottom, you’ll find the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Each side of Heroes’ Square is flanked by two neoclassical, temple-like buildings: The Museum of Fine Arts and the Kunsthalle.

Central Market Hall

10.  Central Market Hall

If you’re feeling peckish, make this your first stop – and don’t get too distracted by the surroundings (save that for afterwards). This red-brick building, with its striking yellow and green tiled roof, is a big draw for architecture buffs. And the cavernous interior, accented with steel beams, is even more spectacular. But most importantly, the ground floor bursts with a cornucopia of fruit and veg, sausages, cheese and pickles. Game and fish counters populate the labyrinthine basement, while the first floor is split between folk art and embroidery and an effervescent food court.

Margaret Island

11.  Margaret Island

The 2.75-kilometre-long Margaret Island stretches from Margaret Bridge in the south to Árpád Bridge in the north. Apart from the local bus, most of the island is traffic-free, and it’s a refreshing, leafy hangout for Budapestians and visitors alike. Visit the ruins of a medieval convent, climb an art nouveau water tower, kick back in the Japanese or rose garden, or picnic by the musical fountain. The island also boasts an open-air art deco thermal bath, the Palatinus.

Hospital in the Rock

12.  Hospital in the Rock

This underground hospital saw action in the Second World War and the 1956 Revolution before it became a nuclear bunker. For decades it was top secret and only became declassified in the early 2000s. Today it offers a fascinating insight into frontline medicine in Hungary, with guided tours through the hospital, now enhanced with creepy waxwork figures. The bunker’s decontamination chambers are brilliantly eerie, too. 

Szimpla Kert

13.  Szimpla Kert

Szimpla Kert is the original and most famous ruin bar in Budapest. Step inside this crumbling building, and you’ll feel you’ve entered a surreal, fairy-light-wrapped wonderland with graffiti-daubed walls and mismatched furniture likely brought in off the street. Original art and sculptures adorn the walls, and the complex is vast (it takes up an entire gutted apartment block). On Sunday mornings, it turns into a farmers’ market with a charity cook-off and live music.

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The Crazy Tourist

Home » Travel Guides » Hungary » 25 Best Things To Do In Budapest (Hungary)

25 Best Things To Do In Budapest (Hungary)

Hungary’s capital city Budapest is actually made up of 3 unified cities, with Buda and Óbuda on the west bank of the Danube and Pest on the east bank. Much of the city has been granted UNESCO World Heritage Site status, and many visitors consider the city to be amongst the most beautiful cities in Europe.

The city successfully mixes its fascinating history with a brilliant, laid-back contemporary artistic style. There are a wide range of different things for visitors to see and do, from museums to thermal spas, so everyone should be able to find something that tickles their fancy.

Lets explore the best things to do in Budapest :

1. Parliament Building

Hungarian Parliament Building

The Hungarian Parliament Building, which was designed and built in the Gothic Revival style, is one of the largest buildings in Hungary, and is home to hundreds of parliamentary offices. Although the impressive building looks fantastic from every angle, to see the whole building in its full glory, it is worth viewing it from the other side of the Danube.

Tours of certain areas of the building are available daily, and run in different languages. You will need identification to get in, and your bag may be searched on entry. There is a top selling guided tour which you can book here .

2. Gellért Baths

Gellért Baths

One of the grandest spas in the city is the Gellert Bath and Spa centre, which includes an open-air pool (which turns into a wave pool), an effervescent swimming pool, a Finnish sauna, and a range of other saunas and plunge pools.

Massages and other spa treatments are also available at an extra fee. The complex was originally built between 1912 and 1918 in an Art Nouveau style, but it sustained serious damage during World War II. The whole spa was extensively renovated in 2008 to bring the baths back to their former glory. The baths are open all week for mixed bathing.

3. Heroes’ Square

Heroes’ Square

Heroes’ Square (Hosök tere), which marks the end of Andrássy Avenue is home to an iconic monument which features depictions of the Seven Chieftains of the Magyars, who are believed to have led the Hungarian people from central Asia to the Carpathian basin.

Atop the central pillar is the Archangel Gabriel, who is holding the Hungarian crown. At either side of the central column are two matching colonnades, which depict a variety of other historical Hungarian figures. The impressive buildings at either side of the square are art galleries. Take care when crossing to the statue, because traffic around the monument can be erratic.

A great way to explore the city: Budapest Segway Tour

4. Margaret Island

Margaret Island

Margaret Island is a 2.5km long island which sits in the middle of the Danube, which is covered in parkland and recreational facilities.

There are a number of companies which rent pedal carts, golf carts, and other self-powered vehicles, so that you can explore the island properly.

A rubber-coated 5.5 km running track encircles the island, and is a popular jogging spot for runners who want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. One of the most famous features of the island is the “music fountain”, from which water regularly “dances” in time to classical music.

Other notable features on the island include medieval ruins and small aviary which primarily caters for injured water birds and wildfowl.

5. Danube Promenade

Danube Promenade

This stretch of the Danube walkway goes from the Elizabeth Bridge to the Chain Bridge, and is perfect for those who want a short, but interesting walk. Promenading along the Danube is a great way to see many of the most famous sights in the capital.

Looking over towards to Buda side of the river, you will see the Buda Castle, the Liberty Statue on Gellert Hill and the Fisherman’s Bastion. On the Promenade side of the river you can enjoy restaurants, cafes, Szechenyi Istvan Square and a range of different sculptures, including the Little Princess.

The Danube is also perfect for a river cruise, there’s a fun dinner cruise and folk show (with gypsy music) which you can book here .

6. House of Terror

House of Terror

The House of Terror holds exhibitions about the successive Fascist and Communist regimes which ruled Hungary during the 20th Century. The building itself was the former headquarters of the Fascist Arrow Cross party, and the building was subsequently used as a prison and torture venue by the State Security services of Hungary.

There is the opportunity to tour some of the prison area in the basement. The exhibition includes information about both regimes, as well as testimonials from some of the victims. As well as exhibitions about the fascist and communist “security services”, the building often houses other temporary exhibitions.

7. St. Stephen’s Basilica

St. Stephen’s Basilica

This basilica is one of the most important religious buildings in Hungary, and visitors to the reliquary can see the (reported) right hand of Stephen, first King of Hungary. As this is a holy site, visitors who plan on entering the church are asked to keep their knees and shoulders covered.

Those with a head for heights can travel up to the base of the dome and look out over the city. On a clear day, this is a great vantage point from which to survey Budapest from the air. Classical music concerts and organ concerts regularly take place inside the Basilica, and sometime spill out into the square outside. Fun fact: You can book an Organ Concert in the Basilica right here .

8. Hungarian State Opera House

Hungarian State Opera House

This Neo-Renaissance building was first opened in 1884, following a commission from Emperor Franz Joseph. Outside of the building, you can see statues to Ferenc Erkel (composer of the Hungarian National Anthem) and Ferenc Liszt (Hungarian composer).

The 1200 seat auditorium is considered to be one of the best in the world for operatic performances, and it is well worth it to buy a ticket to a show.

Ticket prices start from as low as 500ft. If you cannot find time to see a show, guided tours of the Opera House are available during the day, although these usually need to be booked in advance.

9. Fisherman’s Bastion

Fisherman’s Bastion

Although the Fisherman’s Bastion looks like a medieval monument, it was actually built in the early 20th century in a neo-Gothic style, specifically to act as a panoramic viewing platform across the Danube, Margaret Island and Pest.

It is named after the Guild of Fishermen, which was responsible for defending that stretch of the city walls during the Middle Ages.

The seven towers of the Bastion represent the seven Magyar tribes that helped to settle the Magyar people in the Carpathian Basin. Come at sunset to see a particularly beautiful view of the city.

10. Invisible Exhibition

Invisible Exhibition

The Invisible Exhibition aims to give visitors the chance to experience what life is like for people who are completely blind. A registered blind guide will take you on a tour through various different artificially created environments (garden, supermarket, bar etc) which are in completely dark rooms.

On arrival, you will be asked to turn off any potential light sources, such as mobile phones or digital watches, so that there will no light at all in the rooms. After the exhibition, you can enjoy dinner in the dark, served by blind waiters, who will help you to find your way around your dinner plate.

You may also like: Private Art Nouveau Budapest Tour

11. Faust Wine Cellars

Hungarian Palinka

This historic wine cellar, which is located underneath the Buda Castle is the perfect place to sample wines from some of the 22 Hungarian wine regions. You will also have the opportunity to sample traditional Hungarian fruit palinka. A sommelier will give you tasting notes during your visit, so that you can get the most out of each wine that you try.

There are a range of different tasting programmes available, depending on how much time you have and how much you want to spend. Due to the size of the cellars, you are advised to book ahead.

12. Memento Park

Memento Park

This wonderful sculpture park is now home to some of the many Communist monuments and statues which dotted the city during the Communist Era.

These statues were either removed by the government as part of the decommunization process, or they were forcibly removed by the Hungarian people in protest at the previous regime.

When the park was opened in 1993, it became a place to display some of these monuments and showcase an important part of the city’s history.

A small museum on site also includes temporary exhibitions about life under the communist regime, including information about the Hungarian Secret Police.

13. Dohány Street Synagogue

Dohány Street Synagogue

This synagogue is currently one of the largest in the world outside of Israel, despite the fact that Hungary’s Jewish population was significantly depleted during World War II.

The interior and the garden were restored in the 1990’s, with much of the funding coming from the Hungarian Jewish diaspora population worldwide.

In the garden you can see a weeping willow memorial, whose metal leaves bear the names of some of those killed during the war.

There is also a memorial to Swedish diplomat Roual Wallenberg, who helped to save hundreds of Hungarian Jews from concentration camps and ghettos.

14. Ecseri Flea Market

Ecseri Flea Market

This fantastic flea market on the outskirts of the city is a great place to find a bargain. It is possible to pick up a variety of different treasures from here, although you may have to search through stalls full of things that you consider to be trash in order to find them.

Even if you are not planning on buying anything, it is still possible to wander for hours amid the stalls, dreaming about the past owners of all of this bric-a-brac. Stalls sell everything from retro clothing, through to memorabilia from the Communist era.

Haggling is recommended, although you should expect to pay a bit more if you are not a local.

15. Ruin Pubs

Ruin Pub Szimpla Kert

Budapest is famous for its “ruin pubs”, in which shabby-chic is the order of the day. The best ruin pubs are set up in sprawling, deserted buildings, which have been filled with comfortable, but slightly worn out furniture.

Each pub has its own unique style, so you will often find visitors referring to their favourite pub as “the one with the…”. Popular ruin pubs include Instant (“the one with the crazy animal pictures”), Fogas Ház (“the one with the teeth), Kuplung (“the one with the whale”) and Szimpla Kert.

16. Central Market Hall

Central Market Hall, Budapest

The Great Market Hall in central Budapest is Budapest’s most famous marketplace.

Whilst many locals still use the market hall as a place to buy their groceries, the market is incredibly popular with the tourists too.

Locally grown fruits and veg, and locally sourced meats are found on the lower floors, and souvenirs including lace, chess sets and leather goods are available in the upper floors.

As well as individual ingredients, it is possible to pick up homemade local delicacies like goulash and langos from the food stall upstairs.

17. Buda Castle Hill Funicular

Buda Castle Hill Funicular

This funicular, which first opened in 1870, is the second oldest funicular of its kind in the world. A system of weights and counterweights is used to help to raise the carriages up and down the hill. The funicular is the fastest way to get to the top of Castle Hill, and is exceedingly popular because of its panoramic views out across the Danube. (You can also get there with this Segway tour )

The speed of ascent was actually slowed down as of 1988, to give passengers more time to enjoy their ride. The track is open daily until 10pm, so it is also a great way to enjoy views of Pest at night.

18. The Buda Hills

Buda Hills

The Buda Hills are one of the greenest areas of the city, and are very popular with Budapest citizens who want to take a little time away from city life.

There are various hiking trails to follow and mountain bike paths as well, which range from easy to medium level of difficulty.

For those who want to explore the hills in a more leisurely fashion, visit the Children’s Railway, which is entirely staffed by children aged 10-14 (with the exception of some adult staff who are responsible for safety).

There are plenty of picnic spots dotted around so that you can enjoy a lovely packed lunch.

19. Andrássy Avenue

Top View on Andrássy Avenue

This wonderful boulevard takes visitors from Erzsébet Square in central Pest, out to the City Park. Due to its interesting cultural heritage, it was declared a World Heritage Site in 2002.

Taking a walk down Andrássy is a great way to see a number of Budapest’s different architectural styles, including the Hungarian National Opera House, neo-renaissance townhouses and mansions, and a number of different national embassies.

If you do not fancy promenading down the boulevard, the metro line which runs underneath the Avenue is the third oldest underground railway in the world.

20. Liberty Statue

Liberty Statue, Budapest

The Liberty Statue on Gellert Hill is one of the few prominent Communist statues which remained in situ after the transition to democracy, in part because of its iconic location overlooking the city.

The statue was first erected in 1947 to commemorate the Soviet troops who lost their lives liberating the country, however the engraving was later changed so that it commemorated “all who sacrificed their lives for the independence, freedom, and prosperity of Hungary”.

The panoramic views from underneath the statue are unparalleled, and help to make the walk to the top of the hill well worth it.

21. Citadella

Citadella

The Citadel, which sits atop Gellert Hill, was constructed by the Hapsburgs following the failed Hungarian War of Independence.

It was thought that its prime strategic position would make it easy to control both Buda and Pest, should any future uprisings occur.

Troops were stationed at the Citadel until 1897. Soviet forces once again used the fortress to control the city during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, and tanks which were situated there fired down on the city.

The Citadel now houses a restaurant, a hotel and a museum.

22. Széchenyi Thermal Baths

Széchenyi Thermal Baths

The Széchenyi Baths complex is the largest “medicinal” bath centre in Europe. The waters are rich in sulphates, calcium, magnesium, bicarbonate and fluoride, which are believed to help patients with degenerative joint illnesses and other medical issues.

For those who just want to enjoy the relaxing powers of the thermal pools, there are a variety of different thermal pools on site, as well as saunas and steam rooms.

Massages and beauty treatments are also available at an additional fee.

The two outdoor pools are fantastic places to visit on a cold, dark night, as the steam rising from the hot water makes the whole place seem wonderfully mysterious.

23. City Park

Vajdahunyad Castle in the City Park

The City Park is a wonderful leisure facility for the citizens of Budapest, and includes sports facilities, swimming baths, and a boating lake.

During the winter months, the boating lake is transformed into one of Europe’s largest ice rinks.

The park is also home to the Budapest Municipal Zoo and Botanical Gardens, the Budapest Circus and the Vajdahunyad Castle (housing the Museum of Hungarian Agriculture).

Just outside of the park you can find the Time Wheel, which is one of the largest sand timers in the world.

In this sand timer, all of the grains of glass take 1 year to fall from the top section to the bottom, and the timer is rotated every New Year.

24. Hungarian National Museum

Hungarian National Museum

The Hungarian National Museum is home to thousands of exhibits detailing the history, art, religion and archaeology of the country, including exhibitions from areas which are now considered to be outside of Hungary’s borders.

The spectacular Neoclassical museum building itself is worth looking at, even if you do not plan on touring the inside.

The peaceful gardens outside of the museum are considered to be a popular meeting spot, and are particularly popular during the summer months.

25. Aquincum Museum and Ruin Garden

Aquincum Museum and Ruin Garden

This is a great chance to explore some of Hungary’s ancient history. Aquincum was a Roman city which stood where Budapest stands today, and served as an important military base in the ancient Roman Empire.

It is possible to walk around some of the ruins, including those of an ancient gladiatorial amphitheatre, and other structures, such as the city bathhouse.

In the museum itself, you can view various Roman relics, and a working replica of famous water organ which was discovered in the area in 1931.

Want to know what to do in Budapest with the little ones? Check out this post by trip101: Things to do in Budapest with kids

25 Best Things To Do In Budapest (Hungary):

  • Parliament Building
  • Gellért Baths
  • Heroes’ Square
  • Margaret Island
  • Danube Promenade
  • House of Terror
  • St. Stephen’s Basilica
  • Hungarian State Opera House
  • Fisherman’s Bastion
  • Invisible Exhibition
  • Faust Wine Cellars
  • Memento Park
  • Dohány Street Synagogue
  • Ecseri Flea Market
  • Central Market Hall
  • Buda Castle Hill Funicular
  • The Buda Hills
  • Andrássy Avenue
  • Liberty Statue
  • Széchenyi Thermal Baths
  • Hungarian National Museum
  • Aquincum Museum and Ruin Garden

things to visit in budapest

The 53 Best Things To Do In Budapest

From the medieval old town to thermal baths, unique architecture, and ruin bars — discover the top attractions of Budapest.

  • Offbeat Budapest

If you're a first-time visitor to Budapest, the sites below will give you a snapshot of the city’s past and present. Refer to this map for the specific locations.

The Matthias Church, pictured above, is the main jewel of the Castle Hill beside the Royal Palace. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#1 - Roam the streets of the Castle Hill: Budapest’s charming medieval Old Town, located atop the Castle Hill on the Buda side, is usually swarming with tourists. But if you go up here a little before sunset, after visitors have returned to the Pest side, you should have the Buda Castle, the Matthias Church, the Fisherman's Bastion, and the winding historic streets mostly to yourself. This step-by-step guide will help you navigate the Castle Hill.

The Museum of Fine Arts (Szépművészeti Múzeum) has a major collection of old masters paintings. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#2 - Go to the Museum of Fine Arts (Szépművészeti): The Museum of Fine Arts is often the greatest surprise for visitors to Budapest. The giant building flanking Heroes' Square holds a world-class collection of old masters paintings. Think Lucas Cranach the Elder, Albrecht Dürer, Raphael, Giorgione, Correggio, Titian, Bronzino, Tintoretto, El Greco, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony van Dyck, Frans Hals, Jan Steen, Diego Velázquez, Francisco Goya, and many others.

How did all this come together in our neck of the woods? Much of the collection had belonged to the Esterházy family, one of the wealthiest in Austria-Hungary, before the financially strapped Miklós Esterházy sold it to the museum in 1871. These are my favorites; perhaps you'll also like some of them.

things to visit in budapest

#3 - Visit the Hungarian Parliament & Liberty Square : Built during Budapest’s golden era when the city was a capital of Austria-Hungary , this monumental Gothic Revival building dominates its Danube bank. The 45-minute guided tour is just the right amount of time to appreciate the lavish interior without getting tired and lost in one of its 691 rooms. After the tour, be sure to stop by the poignant Shoes Memorial just steps away on the riverbank. Nearby Liberty Square is also worth a glimpse for its strange amalgam of statues and dramatic buildings from this period.

Budapest's Andrássy Avenue seen from above. Photo: terezvaros.hu

#4 - Stroll down Andrássy Avenue : Budapest’s version of the Champs-Élysées and the Ringstrasse, this 2.3 km (1.4 mile) grand boulevard connects the city center with Heroes' Square and the City Park. Starting in downtown, you'll pass fancy retail stores, then end up among handsome villas, many of them embassies now, taking in the heart of the city along the way, including the impressive Opera House. As you saunter along, peep into the side streets too, all of them the result of the great 19th-century buildup of Budapest. Those with extra energy should visit some of the treasures hidden among them.

Gellért Baths is known for its ornate interior decorations, inspired by the Art Nouveau and executed by the Pécs-based ceramics manufacturer, Zsolnay. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#5 - Go to a thermal bath: Budapest's bathing culture harks back to the Romans, who first enjoyed soaking in the mineral-rich hot water here. Today, you can visit medieval hammams built during Budapest's occupation by Ottoman Turkey or ornate baths dating back to Austria-Hungary. This thermal bath guide will help you choose one that suits you best.

A painting from 1910 by Károly Kernstok at the Hungarian National Gallery. Kernstok was a member of the Nyolcak, the art group most receptive to French influences at the time. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#6 - Go to the National Gallery: The National Gallery, located inside the Buda Castle, is home to paintings and sculpture by Hungary's leading artists. 15th-century Gothic triptychs; strangely fun Biedermeier paintings; the solemn 19th-century romanticism of László Mednyánszky; Károly Ferenczy's brand of impressionism; the works by Nyolcak, the Hungarian art group inspired by Parisian fauvism and German expressionism; the proto-abstract Lajos Vajda; the haunting sculptures of Tibor Vilt. And so much more! More Budapest museum ideas.

Located in the heart of downtown, the Saint Stephen's Basilica is Budapest's biggest church. The building's dome provides panoramic 360-degree views. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#7 - Take in the bird’s-eye view of Budapest from the St. Stephen’s Basilica

Named after Hungary's first king, Stephen, Budapest's biggest church is a beautiful fusion of neo-renaissance and neo-Roman details (1851-1905). Sculptures of Hungary's saints grace the inside – Stephen, Emeric, Gerard, Ladislaus, Elizabeth, and Margaret – and there's a striking painting in the right transept by Gyula Benczúr showing the moment when Stephen offers the Holy Crown of Hungary to the Virgin Mary. Via elevator or stairs, you can also visit the dome, which offers completely open vistas of Budapest. (There's an admission fee to both the church and the dome.)

The Robert Capa Photography Center in Budapest has a major permanent exhibition of Capa's works. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#8 - Go to a smaller museum: There are also smaller, thematic museums in Budapest, for example one about Unicum , the iconic herbal liqueur, which, yes, does include a taste. Or the recently opened exhibit on Robert Capa , the famous war photographer. Or an architecture show inside a modernist house , the Walter Rózsi-villa. Is it stamps that get you going? No problem . Here, more Budapest museum ideas.

The eye-catching building of the Museum of Ethnography complete with a roof garden is located inside Budapest's City Park. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#9 - Wander through the City Park : With the completion of several striking museum buildings, Budapest's City Park has reinvented itself in recent years. Take in the eye-catching architecture of the Museum of Ethnography, the House of Music, the Millennium háza, the Vajdahunyad Castle, and the Széchenyi Baths as you roam the park. For those with children: the country's top playground is also here. You can walk to the City Park from downtown via the grand Andrássy Avenue; on the way back, take the museum-worthy M1 Millennium Underground (see below).

The House of Music in Budapest's City Park was designed by Japanese star architect, Sou Fujimoto. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#10 - Go to the House of Music: Budapest's most recent museum tracks the development of music from its tribal beginnings to the present day. The high-tech exhibition halls provide countless samples and take visitors to detours about Hungary's great composers, such as Ferenc Liszt, Béla Bartók, and Zoltán Kodály. The museum is located inside an astonishing building designed by well-known Japanese architect, Sou Fujimoto. Be sure to check the concert calendar , too.

things to visit in budapest

#11 - Take a ride on Europe's oldest subway line : Budapest's M1 line was completed just in time for the thousand-year birthday celebrations of Hungary in 1896. The adorably undersized cars, at least by today's standards, connect the city center with the City Park and Heroes's Square (locals refer to it as the "kisföldalatti," meaning small underground). The stations are located conveniently close to the ground level and the train runs below Andrássy Avenue, so you can hop on for a few stops for the experience (tickets are sold at the machines). Just be sure to watch your head.

Photo: legenda.hu

#12 - Take a river cruise on the Danube : It's one of the best ways to appreciate Budapest's beauty in the fullest. As part of a cruise ride, which takes about an hour, the Chain Bridge, the Buda Castle, the Hungarian Parliament building, and Margaret Island all appear within arm's reach. There are many cruise operators to choose from; my experience is that Legenda offers a consistently comfortable experience (and audio guides in 30 languages).

The exhibition of the House of Terror focuses on the 1950s, the most repressive years of the Communist regime in Hungary. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#13 - Learn about the Communist-era at the House of Terror: Democracy may indeed be the way forward, but Hungary is still suffering the legacy of the four-decades-long Communist regime that reigned until 1989. This museum, inside the building that once headquartered the Communist secret police, is a must-see for anyone interested in exploring Hungary’s past and understanding its present.

The one-bedroom apartment is located between the lively old Jewish Quarter and the city center with panoramic fifth-floor views. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#14 - Stay in a panoramic one-bedroom apartment in the heart of Budapest

Consider staying at this cozy one-bedroom apartment during your Budapest trip. The fifth-floor place is located in the heart of town, just steps from the lively Jewish Quarter. The balcony overlooks the Dohány Street Synagogue as seen above. I only accept advertisements from tried-and-tested sources and this Airbnb rental is one of them. (x)

The rear facade of the Kazinczy Street Synagogue. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#15 - Walk the “synagogue triangle” in the old Jewish Quarter: Before Hungary’s alliance with Nazi Germany and participation in the Holocaust, the country was home to a thriving community of almost one million Jewish people. In Budapest, where nearly a quarter of the population was Jewish, Jews had been central to the development of the economy, the arts, and many academic fields. Inside the city's old Jewish Quarter , you can visit three dazzling synagogues near one another, including Europe’s biggest in Dohány Street.

A Budapest street named after Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who saved the lives of thousands of Jewish people in 1944. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#16 - Pay Tribute to Budapest's Holocaust Memorials: As mentioned above, Jewish people contributed immensely to Budapest transforming into a successful metropolis by 1900. Unlike in Vienna, antisemitism had been rooted out by the political leaders of Hungary until WW I. Not so in the following period: nearly all Jewish people from the Hungarian countryisde were deported to and killed in Auschwitz in 1944, with active support from locals. Budapest fared somewhat better, but members of the Arrow Cross movement murdered tens of thousands. Here , the main memorials.

The inside of Budapest's Great Market Hall. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#17 - Explore the Great Market Hall: Opened in 1897, this enormous brick-and-steel indoor market is usually teeming with tourists, but plenty of locals, too, come here for fresh fruits, vegetables, and paprika-laced sausages . Upstairs, amid vendors of knick-knacks and tchotchkes, you'll find food stalls that serve lángos, a popular flatbread topped with sour cream and cheese.

things to visit in budapest

#18 - Eat your way through the city with our Foodapest card : I've logged the city's quintessential foods and drinks that locals rely on to get through their days. Note: this isn’t a list of strictly traditional Hungarian fare; it’s a deeply local, beloved cross-section of what Budapest residents actually eat and drink. So you, too, can feel like one, even if you’re visiting. Read this brief explainer to each of the featured items and then print the card.

Blanketed in chocolate and split by a layer of whipped cream, Indiáner is a popular cake across Budapest and Vienna. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#19 - Go to a pastry shop: Dating back to the days of Austria Hungary, there's still a vibrant pastry shop culture in Budapest. After all, who doesn't like to socialize over luscious cakes and hot chocolate? Many pastry shops ( cukrászda ) scatter across the city; these places are my favorite for a Dobos or an Esterházy torte. Before you trip, learn more about the top traditional Hungarian cakes .

Drop Shop wine bar in Budapest. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#20 - Try Hungarian wine: Unlike beer, wine has been essential all throughout Hungary's history. The most renowned wine region is Tokaj , once the drink of emperors and presidents. Native grapes include furmint and hárslevelű (white) and kékfrankos/Blaufränkisch, which you can try at these Budapest wine bars . If you're new to Hungarian wines, read my beginner's guide .

The hip Garden Studio combines a designer clothing store and a cafe. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#21 - Go shopping: Budapest's shopping options span antiques, contemporary designer products, high-end china, vinyl records, handmade shoe manufacturers, craft chocolate, and more. See if the city's top stores offer something of interest to you.

Gellért Hill is topped by the Liberty Statue, erected in 1947 to honor the Soviet troops that liberated Budapest from the Nazis. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#22 - Climb up to the Liberty Statue: The reward of the half-hour cardio exercise that's required to mount the verdant Gellért Hill is the sweeping 360-degree views of Budapest. For the best experience, take the quieter path setting off opposite the Gellért Baths and descend on the other side.

The Postal Savings Bank building (1900-1901) shows off Ödön Lechner's unique brand of Hungarian Art Nouveau. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#23 - Take in the city's architecture: Budapest offers plenty of eye candy for architecture fans. The consistent revival architecture from the turn of the 20th century still dominates the cityscape, but also unique are the buildings of Ödön Lechner , who pioneered Hungary's distinct style of Art Nouveau.

Bubi, Budapest's public bicycle sharing system, is cheap and provides an excellent coverage of all downtown neighborhoods. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#24 - Use MOL Bubi, Budapest’s city bike system: With densely built streets and a flat surface, the Pest side lends itself to be discovered on two wheels. Bubi ( App Store ; Google Play ) provides an excellent coverage of all downtown neighborhoods, featuring more than 1,800 bikes and 170 docking stations. You can pedal away at wallet-friendly rates (a 30-minute ride amounts to less than €2). Just keep your wits about you and be respectful of others sharing the road. ( More tips about getting around Budapest.)

Photo: gyermekvasut.hu

#25 - Take the Children's Railway and the Libegő chairlift: Since 1948, Budapest runs an official rail line operated by children with adult supervision. The small train lumbers through beautiful nature with occasional panoramic vistas over Budapest. Get off at Jánoshegy and take the Libegő chairlift down from the hillside, also with striking views. The Children's Railway departs from Hűvösvölgy, about half an hour away from the city center by public transport. Both of these activities are ideal for families with small children.

Várkert Bazár with the Buda Castle in the background. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#26 - Amble through Várkert Bazár: These nicely refurbished neo-Renaissance buildings lie between the Castle Hill and the Danube's bank. In the past, the area was home to everything from stores to artists' studios and open-air concerts but today you're here for the panoramic views. Note that there's direct access to the Royal Castle, so you can combine this with #1 above.

Photo: Müpa Budapest.

#27 - Go to a classical music concert: Every year, many tourists head to Budapest specifically for its rich classical music scene, which is far from stuffy or old-fashioned. Start by perusing the musical calendars of Müpa Budapest , the Hungarian State Opera , and the Liszt Academy , or that of Iván Fischer's Budapest Festival Orchestra . The chamber music concerts at the charming Bartók Memorial House are another option. If experimental contemporary art is what you're after, head to Trafó .

The 4th floor of the Szabó Ervin Library, which was formerly the Wenckheim Palace, has retained its aristocratic splendor. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#28 - Discover the Palace Quarter: With pre-war mansions and quaint courtyards, the Palace Quarter (inner parts of District 8) was once the most desirable and the playground of the wealthy. Communism’s gray pallor is still notable, but the area is currently springing back to life thanks to charming restaurants and cafés.

Szimpla Kert, the mother of all ruin bars. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#29 - Grab a drink at a ruin bar: Budapest’s ruin bars started when a few creatively minded locals opened unpretentious drinking joints inside the neglected buildings of the old Jewish Quarter that barely escaped the bulldozers. Cheap drinks and a hodgepodge of flea-market furniture became their defining featues. Although Szimpla Kert , the city’s first ruin bar, has become a major tourist attraction, it's still worth a visit.

The interior of Budapest's New York Cafe. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#30 - Travel back in time at a coffeehouse: Similar to Vienna , Budapest also enjoyed a thriving coffeehouse culture in the late 19th century. The city's fast-growing population, especially artists and journalists, spent endless hours working and socializing under the sky-high ceilings. Though popular tourist attractions today, the few coffeehouses that remain offer a journey back in time in addition to coffee and cakes.

Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#31 - Experience the contemporary side of Budapest: Sure, you don't need to come all the way to Budapest to try specialty coffee , craft beers , or bespoke cocktails , but if you're already here, you could see how the local artisanal scene stacks up against those in other cities you've visited. Budapest's specialty coffee culture is especially vibrant.

A modernist building in Újlipótváros, Dunapark apartments, built in 1935-36. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#32 - Visit Újlipótváros, a hip residential area set along the Danube: With a unique architecture and well-heeled residents, Újlipótváros is a little city within the city that flies under the radar of most tourists. Specialty cafés, bookstores, and impressive modernist buildings from the 1930s and 1940s line Pozsonyi Road, the artery of the neighborhood.

Kelet Kávézó was a pioneer behind the nascent rebirth of Budapest's District 11. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#33 - Discover the Bartók Béla Boulevard: Although the Pest side is where most of the action is, the lively Bartók Béla Boulevard in Buda gives it a run for its money. This revitalized area is teeming with cafés, bars, and art galleries. Local residents are an eclectic mix: fashionable Millennials, engineering students from the nearby university, and old-timers.

Krisztina Kovács, the curator of Budapest's Várfok Gallery, describes a painting. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#34 - Go to an art gallery: After more than four decades of Communist-era censorship , Budapest's art world is slowly coming back to life. At the city's top contemporary art galleries you can sample anything from conceptual art from the 1960s to works of the younger generations. Most artworks command high prices but the exhibits are free and open to the public.

The Lehel Market on a Saturday morning. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#35 - Visit the Lehel Market: Inside a quirky postmodern building lies one of Budapest's liveliest markets. You'll find here everything from Hungarian cold cuts to fresh and pickled vegetables and homemade jams. There's also low-priced drinking joints where you can accompany local regulars for a beer and a shot of Unicum, the local herbal liqueur. Compared with the Great Market Hall, Lehel draws fewer tourists. For the best experience, visit on a Saturday morning.

The limestone mausoleum of Lajos Kossuth at the Fiuemi Road Cemetery in Budapest. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#36 - Explore the Fiumei Road Cemetery: This vast 56 hectare (140 acre) park near the city center hides a beautiful garden cemetery. Stroll through the towering limestone mausoleums and impressively designed tombstones while getting to know Hungary’s prominent statesmen and artists (or Communist heroes), including Lajos Kossuth and Tivadar Csontváry Kosztka . In the back but accessed from outside is the Salgótarjáni Street Jewish Cemetery, with elaborate tombstones of the Jewish upper class.

The Danube promenade is one of the highlights of Budapest's Ferencváros (District 9). Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#37 - Stroll down the Danube promenade in Ferencváros : Unfortunately, cars in Budapest have better access to precious Danube River views than people, but an exception is the green promenade stretching from the Great Market Hall to the Müpa cultural center (a 25-minute walk). Along the way, you can grab a drink at the whale-shaped contemporary building, Bálna, where bars offer panoramic vistas.

Margaret Island shown from a birds-eye view. Photo: Danubius Hotels

#38 - Walk or bike around Margaret Island: This car-free, leafy island perched in the middle of the Danube River is a true paradise — no wonder the Habsburgs family kept it close to its chest before finally selling it to the city in 1908. Bike around the island's manicured lawns; observe the remains of the medieval monastery where lived Saint Margaret (1242-1270), daughter of King Béla IV; see how many busts of Hungary's greats can you recognize along the "artists' promenade;" or join packs of locals on the running track ringing the island.

The open-air Chinatown Terrace in Budapest's Chinatown is open from May to September. The regular restaurants, sixteen in total, operate year-round. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#39 - Eat in Budapest's Chinatown: With more than 30,000 people, Budapest's Chinese community is the biggest in Central Europe. This means that excellent Chinese food abounds , be it Sichuan fare, seafood, noodle soups, or Chinese hotpot. Budapest's Chinatown (Monori Center) is located a bit outside the city center, reachable in half-hour by public transport from downtown.

A dish at Costes Downtown. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#40 - Go to a Michelin-starred restaurant: While a Michelin meal always runs the risk of being a bit over-the-top, Budapest's Michelin-starred restaurants could still be worth a visit: most of them showcase a unique blend of traditional Hungarian fare and contemporary fine dining trends.

The recently completed (2014) Fővám tér subway station in Budapest features massive concrete beams. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#41 - Check out the award-winning M4 subway stations: A crisscross system of exposed concrete beams, playful lighting solutions, and customized designs lend a distinctly 21st century feel to the platforms of Budapest's recently completed M4 subway line. The Fővám Square and Szent Gellért Square stations won the prestigious Architizer A+ Award in 2014.

The Chain Bridge, recently car-free and bicycle-friendly, is the first permanent connection between Buda and Pest and a symbol of the city. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#42 - Walk across the Chain Bridge: The first permanent connection between Pest and Buda and a symbol of the city, the Chain Bridge dates back to the first half of the 19th century when ancient Rome inspired architecture. Hence those stone pillars resembling a triumphal arch. In 1945, during the siege of Budapest, both the advancing Soviet and the retreating German armies tried blowing up the bridge (the Germans succeeded in this). Recently car-free and bicycle-friendly – and no longer with a toll, as was the case until 1918 – there's never been a better time cross the Danube via the Chain Bridge!

View of the Danube from a hilltop in Szentendre. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#43 - Take a day trip to Szentendre: Szentendre is a small, picturesque town about 45-minutes from Budapest, best known for its Mediterranean atmosphere and vibrant museum scene. If you need a break from the Budapest crowds, it makes for a relaxing day trip. This Szentendre guide will help you get around.

Pécs's main square, Széchenyi, is anchored by the 16th-century Mosque of Pasha Qasim. The building was later converted to a Roman Catholic church and still functions as such. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#44 - Take a weekend trip to Pécs: The city of Marcel Breuer , of excellent museums, of rich Roman and Ottoman remains, Pécs is the most cultural city in Hungary beside Budapest, reachable within two hours by car. It's also a dynamic university town with a growing restaurant landscape. Here , find out how to spend an event-packed weekend in Pécs.

The Festetics family's 101-room Baroque Revival estate was one of the largest palaces in Hungary. It functions as a museum today. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#45 - Take a weekend trip to Lake Balaton: During the warmer months, locals like to wind down by Balaton, Central Europe's biggest lake located in Western Hungary. There are countless villages and vacations resorts to visit; my favorite is Keszthely, historically the cultural capital of Balaton. Although less fashionable and a bit farther than some other parts, the rich legacy of the Festetics family makes Keszthely a worthy weekend destination. My guide will help you discover it.

Bottles of aszú lining the cellar of Disznókő winery in Tokaj. Photo: Barna Szász for Offbeat

#46 - Take a weekend trip to the Tokaj wine region:  "The wine of kings, the king of wines," said Louis XIV of France about Tokaj, the world's oldest designated wine region, located about three hours from Budapest by car. If you're into wines and curious about a uniquely beautiful (and rather poor) part of the Hungarian countryside, you should consider a Tokaj trip. This beginners guide will get you started, and I also wrote about Tokaj's top wineries , hotels , restaurants , and non-wine-related activities .

My interview with Professor Barry Bergdoll at the InterContinental Budapest, with the Castle Hill in the background. Photo: Regina Papp for Offbeat

#47 - Prepare for your Budapest trip by reading some interviews: Find out what other people think about Budapest. Whether it's an art historian from Columbia University; a local star professor ; a New York Times journalist ; an expert of Austria-Hungary; or a culinary ethnographer who knows everything about Hungarian food. Here , the full list of people.

The elephant house at the Budapest Zoo. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#48 - Visit the Budapest Zoo: Not far from Budapest's city center lies one of the oldest zoos in Europe, dating back to 1866. With elaborate Art Nouveau buildings housing the animals, a visit doubles as a tour of architecture. Although open year-round, note that some of the animals might be hibernating in the winter months away from the public eye. Economically, the thermal water of the neighboring Széchenyi baths provides much of the zoo's heating.

The assortment at a Budapest supermarket. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#49 - Visit a local supermarket: One of the best ways to see the real side of a city? Visit a grocery store! It's there that you'll glimpse a broad cross-section of Hungarian people and what they actually eat and drink. Any grocery store will do, but try a CBA store , part of a domestic chain, for the truest-to-Budapest experience.

The octagonal tomb of Gül Baba was erected in the 16th century. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#50 - Climb up to the scenic tomb of Gül Baba: Gül Baba, "father of the roses," was a muslim monk who died in 1541, when Ottoman Turkey occupied Budapest. His impressive octagonal tomb (türbe) is tucked away on a tranquil hillside with sweeping views. For the best experience, climb up on Mecset Street through the rose garden, and leave the area on the other side down the winding Gül Baba Street.

The A38 ship viewed from the Pest side. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#51 - Go to a concert on the A38 ship docked in the Danube: The ship was a Ukrainian stone carrier lumbering on the Danube before being converted into the city's go-to concert venue, hosting well-known international and local bands almost every night of the week.

Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#52 - Experience the nightlife of the old Jewish Quarter: After the Holocaust, Budapest's Jewish Quarter was neglected for decades. Recently, though, thanks to an influx of young people and tourists, the streets are home to a revitalized culture, lined with cafés , bars , and restaurants .

The 19th-century extension of the Imperial Palace. Vienna’s city center is still defined by 600-plus years of Habsburg legacy. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#53 - Prep for your Vienna trip:  The two capitals of Habsburg-ruled Austria-Hungary, Vienna and Budapest, still share many similarities when it comes to food, architecture, and culture in general (notable differences also exist, of course, starting with language). If your next destination is Vienna, where I live part-time, you could read a similar things-to-do list or about the city's restaurants , coffeehouses , and museums . My interview with Habsburg historian Steven Beller might also be a good starting point.  

My content is free and independent. I never accept money in exchange for coverage. If you've enjoyed this article, please consider supporting me by making a one-time payment ( PayPal , Venmo ).

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The 25 Best Things to Do in Budapest

The skyline of Budapest, Hungary during a bright and sunny summer day as seen from over the Danube

When I first visited Budapest , the gritty, rundown streets charmed me. Budapest felt edgy. This was a city of underground bars in abandoned buildings , hearty food, and serious people.

Originally founded by the Celts around 1 CE, the region was later annexed by the Romans, who founded the city of Aquincum here (which present-day Budapest now covers). The Magyars eventually invaded the region after being pushed out of Bulgaria , founding the Kingdom of Hungary around the year 1000 CE. In 1361, the king built Buda Castle here, solidifying present-day Budapest as the capital and cultural hub of the kingdom.

In 1873, the towns of Buda and Pest were merged with the third area of the city, Óbuda (Old Buda), to form modern-day Budapest.

Over the years, I’ve seen the city change as tourists discovered this hidden gem and made it not so hidden anymore. And, while no longer as edgy as it once was, Budapest is still one of the best cities in Europe . It offers some of the best nightlife on the continent, beautiful districts, tons of spas and hot springs, stunning historic buildings and museums, and lots of green space.

To help you make the most out of your next trip, here are my top 25 things to see and do in Budapest.  

1. Take a Free Walking Tour

The historic old town of Budapest, Hungary and its many churches and monuments

2. Soak at the Baths

Budapest is known for its thermal spa baths (it’s one of the best things about this city). There are more than 120 mineral hot springs here, many dating back to the Roman Empire.

The most popular is the Széchenyi Baths in City Park. With 18 pools, it’s the largest and most famous in Europe. The historic buildings that house the spa were built in 1913, and it’s a popular spot for locals and tourists alike. Don’t forget your bathing suit and flip-flops (you can rent towels and lockers).

Other baths, such as Lukacs and Gellert are also worth a visit.

Állatkerti krt. 9-11, +36-20 435 0051, szechenyifurdo.hu. Weekdays from 7am-8pm and weekends from 8am-8pm. Admission starts at 9,400 HUF on weekdays and 10,900 HUF on weekends (11,900 HUF on holidays).  

3. Party at the Ruin Bars

The wild Ruin Bars in Budapest, Hungary

For a more detailed list, check out my post on the best ruin bars in Budapest!

Even if you’re not a big drinker, these bars are still worth seeing (Szimpla Kert especially; it’s one of the most unique bars in the world).  

4. See Castle Hill

Located on the hilly Buda side of the city, this historic area is home to baroque houses and Habsburg monuments. Cobblestone streets and narrow alleys that hark back to the city’s medieval roots parallel panoramic views of Pest and the Danube. This section of the city is actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with the Old Town in the north and the massive 13th-century palace to the south. You can get up the hill by bus or funicular, but you often have to wait. The hill isn’t really that steep so I prefer to walk. It’s a beautiful spot to come at sundown.  

5. Tour Buda Castle

The iconic Buda Castle in Budapest, Hungary

Fun fact: Beneath the castle, Vlad the Impaler (colloquially known as Count Dracula) was imprisoned for 14 years. In the dungeon area, there is also a labyrinth which is super cool. There are some museums here as well (see below).

Szent György tér 2, +36 1 458 3000, budacastlebudapest.com. The courtyards are open 24/7 while the castle has hours that align with the museum and gallery (see below).  

6. Explore the Hospital in the Rock

Over the years, this museum has served as a hospital, bomb shelter, prison, and nuclear bunker. Here you can learn about the impacts that World War II, the 1956 revolution (a countrywide revolution against the Soviets that was crushed after 12 days), and the Cold War had on the city and its people. Opened in 2008, it’s one of the most popular attractions in town. Admission includes a one-hour guided tour of the museums, which has all sorts of wax figures, tools, equipment, and furnishings.

On Friday nights, they offer a flashlight tour, where you explore the below-ground museum with the lights off using a flashlight.

Lovas ut 4/c , +36 70 701 0101, sziklakorhaz.eu/en. Open daily 10am-7pm. Admission starts at 9,214 HUF. Daily tours available in English.  

7. Visit the Hungarian National Gallery

Opened in 1957, this museum focuses on Hungarian artists and history (of which I knew very little before my first visit). The gallery is located in Buda Castle, home to paintings and sculptures from the renaissance and middle ages, including wooden altarpieces from the 1400s. World War II damaged the palace severely and it was restored again in the 1960s before becoming home to the National Gallery in 1975. During your visit, you can also check out the underground Habsburg Palatine Crypt and climb to the top of the iconic dome for panoramic views of the city.

The gallery hosts rotating temporary exhibits too so check the website to find out what’s on during your visit.

1014 Budapest, +36 20 439 7325, mng.hu. Open Tuesday-Sunday 10am-6pm (last tickets sold at 5pm). Admission is 4,200 HUF.  

8. Wander the Budapest History Museum

Buda Castle on the edge of the Danube River in Budapest, Hungary

Be sure to get the audio guide as it provides a lot of good supplemental information. It’s worth the cost.

2 Szent Gyorgy Square, +36 1 487 8800 , btm.hu/en. Open Tuesday-Sunday 10am-6pm. Admission is 3,800 HUF).  

9. See the Cave Church

In the 1920s, Catholic monks built this church in a large cave system that had been previously used by a hermit monk. Known as Saint Ivan’s Cave, the cave was used as a hospital during World War II. When the communists came to power after the war, they covered the entrance in concrete and executed the head monk. In 1989, as the Iron Curtain fell, the church was reopened and is now a popular place for tourists as well as a place of worship for locals. Get the audio guide to make the most out of your visit. There is a lot of history here.

Szent Gellért rakpart 1, sziklatemplom.hu/eng. Open Monday-Saturday 9:30am-7:30pm. Admission is 1,000 HUF which includes an audio guide.  

10. Visit Matthias Church

The famous exterior of Matthias Church in Budapest, Hungary

During the Turkish invasion of the 16th century, it was converted to a mosque, which is why it has vibrant colors and designs that aren’t as common in European churches (the church has a colorful roof that almost makes it look like it was built from Lego). Once inside, you’ll see huge, vaulted ceilings and ornate décor. In the Royal Oratory, you’ll find the Matthias Church Collection of Ecclesiastical Art, which has stunning artifacts like chalices and replicas of the Crown of St. Stephen.

Szentháromság tér 2, +36 1 355 5657, matyas-templom.hu. Open Monday-Friday from 9am-5pm, Saturday 9am–12am, and Sunday 1pm–5pm. Admission is 2,500 HUF (2,900 HUF including the tower).  

11. Visit Fisherman’s Bastion

A solo female traveler sitting at Fisherman's Bastion in Budapest, Hungary

Szentháromság tér, +36 1 458 3030, fishermansbastion.com. Open 24 hours a day. Admission is free, with an additional charge of 1,200 HUF to visit the upper turrets. Tickets for the upper towers are available from 9am-7pm (8pm in the summer).  

12. Admire the Hungarian Presidential Palace

The Hungarian Presidential Palace has been the workplace of the president since 2003. Known as Sándor-palota (Alexander Palace), it’s not nearly as impressive as the surrounding buildings, but if you time your visit right you can see the changing of the guard ceremony at the top of each hour from 9am-5pm (excluding Sundays). Sometimes the palace is open for tours (but this rarely happens so don’t get your hopes up).

Szent György tér 1-2, +36 1 224 5000. Admission to the changing of the guard is free.  

13. See Buda Tower

This reconstructed “tower” is all that remains of the Church of Mary Magdalene, which was originally built in the 13th century but was destroyed during World War II. When the Turks occupied the city between 1541-1699, the church was converted into a mosque. It reopened in 2017 and you can now climb the 172 steps that lead to the top. That said, the views from Castle Hill are just as good — and free — so I’d skip climbing the steps and just admire this historic tower from the outside.

14. Walk Across the Chain Bridge

The Széchenyi Chain Bridge connects Buda with Pest and is a wrought-iron and stone suspension bridge. The bridge originally opened in 1849 but was damaged during World War II and had to be rebuilt. Spend some time strolling across the bridge and taking in the view. Don’t miss Gresham Palace, located on the Pest side. It’s an Art Nouveau building that is now a luxurious Four Seasons hotel.  

15. Visit Parliament

The parliament building in Budapest, Hungary lit up at night

Kossuth Lajos tér 1-3, +36 1 441 4415, parlament.hu. Open daily 8am-6pm (4pm in the winter). Admission is 12,000 HUF for non-EU adults, 6,000 HUF for EU adults.  

16. Stroll Along the Danube

The holocaust memorial

17. Eat at the Great Market Hall

This is the oldest and largest indoor market in the country. Built in 1897, there is mostly produce, meats, baked goods, and candy on the ground floor while the upper floor is home to restaurants and souvenir shops. It has a lot of traditional places to eat, so be sure to walk around and explore first. Yes, it’s touristy (it’s the central market, after all), but I still found the food quite good (and affordable). Even if you don’t plan on buying anything, it’s still worth a quick visit to walk around.

They also have a guided Market Hall Tour with Tastings for 9,900 HUF on Saturdays at 11am (you can book directly on their website below).

Vámház körút 1–3, budapestmarkethall.com/great-market-hall-budapest. Open Monday 6am-5pm, Tuesday-Friday 6am-6pm, and Saturday 6am-3pm. Closed on Sundays. Admission is free.  

18. Admire St. Stephen’s Basilica

The towering St Stephen's church in Budapest, Hungary

Szent István tér 1, +36 1 311 0839, bazilika.biz. Open Monday from 9am-4:30pm, Tuesday-Saturday from 9am-5:45pm, and Sundays from 1pm-5:45pm. Entry is 2,300 HUF or 6,000 HUF to visit the church, tower, and treasury. Tours are available in English starting at 25,000 HUF.  

19. See Dohány Street Synagogue

Also known as the Great Synagogue, this is the second-largest synagogue in the world (it seats 3,000 people). Built in 1854, the synagogue offers guided tours that shed light on the building and its place in the city’s history. You’ll learn all about the construction of the synagogue, Jewish life in the city, and much more. As a follow-up to your visit, check out Wallenberg Memorial Park (right behind the synagogue) and the nearby Hungarian Jewish Museum.

Dohány u. 2, +36 1-413 5584, jewishtourhungary.com/en. Hours vary from month to month; call ahead or check the website for details. Admission to the synagogue is 10,800 HUF.  

20. Hike Gellért Hill

The towering Gellert Hill covered in lush greenery in Budapest, Hungary

21. Visit the Museum of Terror

Life in Budapest under the fascist and communist regimes was brutal. The building that houses this museum was used by the ÁVH (Secret Police) and Arrow Cross Party (the Hungarian Nazi party) during their reigns of terror. Over 700,000 Hungarians were killed or imprisoned by the Soviets, and the museum does an excellent and moving job of highlighting just how terrible their daily lives were. The museum’s permanent exhibits are spread over four floors and house all sorts of propaganda, weapons, and informative multimedia displays. They also host temporary exhibits too (for information on those, check the website for the most up-to-date information).

Andrássy út 60, +36 (1) 374 26 00, terrorhaza.hu/en. Open Tuesday-Sunday 10am-6pm. Admission is 4,000 HUF and you cannot order tickets online.  

22. Stroll Around Heroes’ Square

Heroes’ Square (Hosök Tere) is the largest square in Hungary. Here there are statues of Hungarian kings and other historical figures, including the seven chiefs who led the Magyars (modern-day Hungarians) in the 9th century. The monument was built in 1896 to celebrate Hungary’s 1,000th anniversary and originally included Hapsburg monuments (as the Hapsburgs ruled the country at that time). The square is also home to the Millennium Monument, a large stone cenotaph dedicated to those who gave their life for Hungary’s independence. It’s located on the Pest side of the city.  

23. Go Island-Hopping

There are a few islands on the Danube that you can visit to escape the city. The most popular is Margaret Island. It’s connected by the Margaret and Árpád Bridges and has a large park, swimming pools, and a musical fountain. Óbuda Island is known for its outdoor activities, including wakeboarding, jet skiing, and golf (there’s a driving range here). In August, they host the Sziget Festival of music and culture, which brings in thousands of people (there are over 1,000 performances during the festival).  

24. Visit the House of Houdini

Born in 1874, Harry Houdini was a famous escape artist and illusionist. He was best known for his elaborate and sensational escape tricks, including escapes in handcuffs, chains, and even a grave where he was buried alive! Born in Hungary, this is the only museum in Europe dedicated to the Budapest native. The museum, which requires you to solve a small mystery before you can even visit, is home to original Houdini props and pieces of memorabilia, as well as props from the Houdini film starring Adrien Brody.

11 Dísz Square, +36 1-951-8066, houseofhoudinibudapest.com. Open daily from 10am-7pm. Admission is 3,400 HUF.  

25. Day trip to Lake Balaton

The stunning, clear waters of Lake Balaton in Hungary

From its wild ruin bars to its relaxing spas, Budapest offers everything you can find in Western Europe — but for a fraction of the price. Plus, it also sees a fraction of the crowds that you’ll find in cities like London , Paris , and Prague .

With tons to see and do and budget-friendly prices, it should come as no surprise that Budapest keeps becoming more and more popular. It’s a city that won’t disappoint!

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Get Your In-Depth Budget Guide to Europe!

My detailed 200+ page guidebook is made for budget travelers like you! It cuts out the fluff found in other guides and gets straight to the practical information you need to travel while in Europe. It has suggested itineraries, budgets, ways to save money, on and off the beaten path things to see and do, non-touristy restaurants, markets, bars, safety tips, and much more! Click here to learn more and get your copy today.

Book Your Trip to Budapest: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight Use Skyscanner to find a cheap flight. They are my favorite search engine because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned!

Book Your Accommodation You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the biggest inventory and best deals. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. My favorite places to stay in the city are:

  • Carpe Noctem

If you’re looking for more places to stay, here is a complete list of my favorite hostels in Budapest !

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance Travel insurance protects you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

  • SafetyWing (best for everyone)
  • Insure My Trip (for those over 70)
  • Medjet (for additional evacuation coverage)

Looking for the Best Companies to Save Money With? Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use to save money when I’m on the road. They save you money when you travel too.

Got a comment on this article? Join the conversation on Facebook , Instagram , or Twitter and share your thoughts!

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above may be affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase. I recommend only products and companies I use and the income goes to keeping the site community supported and ad free.

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22 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Budapest

Written by Joni Sweet and Bryan Dearsley Updated Dec 28, 2023 We may earn a commission from affiliate links ( )

Budapest, the capital of Hungary, is considered by many to be the "Paris of the East." Not only is this beautiful city one of the most culturally important metropolises in Eastern Europe, it's also home to numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites .

Hungarian Parliament Building

Straddling the River Danube , Budapest is famous for its thermal springs , some of which have been used for therapeutic purposes since prehistory. In fact, Budapest has so many things to do that you'll want to spend at least a few days exploring this dynamic city. Popular attractions range from impressive architecture and poignant reminders of 20th-century history to its vibrant cultural and entertainment scene, with everything from street buskers to classical concerts in beautiful churches.

Budapest is also a shopper's paradise , from the traditional wares and foodstuffs available at the grand old Central Market Hall to Vaci Street, noted for its mix of luxury boutique stores and big brand names.

Whatever your sightseeing preferences, get the most out of your Hungary travel itinerary with our guide to the top tourist attractions in Budapest, Hungary.

1. Buda Castle & Castle Hill

2. hungarian parliament building & crown jewels, 3. st. stephen's basilica, 4. fisherman's bastion, 5. the danube promenade, 6. matthias church (church of our lady), 7. exploring gellért hill, 8. central market hall, 9. the museum of fine arts, 10. heroes' square and the millennium monument, 11. széchenyi thermal bath, 12. hungarian state opera house, 13. budapest zoo & botanical garden, 14. hospital in the rock nuclear bunker museum, 15. the university church, 16. hungarian national museum, 17. city park (városliget), 18. margaret island, 19. gellért spa, 20. labyrinth of buda castle, 21. ferris wheel of budapest, 22. the garden of philosophers, where to stay in budapest for sightseeing, tips and tours: how to make the most of your visit to budapest, map of tourist attractions in budapest, budapest, hungary - climate chart, more must-see destinations near budapest.

Castle Hill

Towering over the Danube, Budapest's Castle Hill (Várhegy) contains many of the city's most important medieval monuments and museums. Topping the list of these impressive structures is the 18th-century Buda Castle (Budavári Palota), a massive 200-room palace that replaced a 13th-century castle built to protect the stronghold from Mongol and Tartar attacks.

Although badly damaged in World War II, much of the exterior has been restored, along with sections of the interior, which now houses a number of important museums. These include the Hungarian National Gallery in the main wing, while in the south wing, the Budapest History Museum occupies four floors.

View from Castle Hill

In front of the castle, overlooking the Danube, stands a bronze equestrian statue of Prince Eugene of Savoy, a hero of Turkish attacks on the city. Castle Hill is worth exploring for its medieval lanes and it Romanesque, Gothic, and Baroque architecture. This entire historic complex is a UNESCO World Heritage Site .

Like much of the city, Buda Castle is spectacularly illuminated at night, and the castle courtyards remain open 24 hours a day. You can reach the castle on the restored historic Castle Funicular Railway , which departs from the Buda end of the Chain Bridge.

Address: 1014 Budapest, Szent György tér 2

Parliament Buildings and Crown Jewels

A highlight of a walk around Budapest's lovely pedestrian-friendly cobbled streets is the area around the country's architecturally pleasing Parliament building (Országház). Along with its neighbors, the Museum of Ethnography and the Ministry of Agriculture, it's perhaps one of the city's most attractive quarters architecturally.

The world's third largest parliament building, this Neo-Gothic building was inaugurated in 1886 to mark the country's 1,000th anniversary. (Hungary was then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.) This impressive structure boasts 691 rooms, as well as an impressive 19 kilometers of corridors and stairs.

Guided tours last approximately 45 minutes and are available whenever the government is not sitting, and include many of the building's highlights, such as the main entrance hall, various lobbies, and the Hungarian Crown Jewels. Most tickets sell out a week in advance, so make your reservations as early as possible.

Address: 1055 Budapest, Kossuth Lajos tér 1-3

Official site: http://hungarianparliament.com/tours/

St. Stephen's Basilica

Budapest's St. Stephen's Basilica (Szent István-bazilika) is a popular attraction for its impressive architecture, the beauty of its interior, and the panoramic views from its dome. The cathedral is dedicated to St. Stephen, Hungary's holy king and the founder of the Hungarian state, and construction began in 1851, but after several construction setbacks—including the collapse of its unfinished dome—it was not dedicated until 1905.

The roof, towers, and external walls were badly damaged in World War II, and the church's precious mosaics fell from the walls. However, these were successfully restored to their original place and are the highlight of the richly decorated interior. The most impressive of these, the five-part Venetian mosaic is in the sanctuary and represents the allegories of the mass.

St. Stephen's Basilica

The cathedral's most precious holy relic, the mummified right hand of the church's patron saint, the first king of Hungary, is displayed under glass in the chapel to the left of the high altar.

One of the best things to do here, if time permits, is to take one of the two elevators that carry visitors up to the cupola for sweeping 360-degree views over the city and the Danube (alternatively, you can climb the 364 steps). Guided tours of the basilica are available on weekdays. Also, be sure to check the cathedral's website for details of one of its frequent organ and classical music concerts .

Address: 1051 Budapest, Szent István tér

Official site: http://en.bazilika.biz/

Fisherman's Bastion

Overlooking the Danube, on the spot where the city's fishermen's guild built their defence walls in the Middle Ages, stands the impressive Fisherman's Bastion (Halászbástya). This exquisite collection of Neo-Romanesque towers, courtyards, colonnades, and walls was built between 1895 and 1902, and is one of the most popular points in the city for tourists, largely for its spectacular views over the city and the Danube.

While here, be sure to look for the bronze equestrian statue of St. Stephen, the first King of Hungary, in the south courtyard. The reliefs on the sides of the base depict scenes from Stephen's life, and make for an incredible selfie backdrop.

Fisherman's Bastion

For more great photo ops , head to the upper towers or turrets. There's a small entry fee, but it helps reduce crowding on that part of the attraction.

Address: Szentháromság tér 5, Budapest

Official site: www.fishermansbastion.com

The Danube Promenade

The Danube (or "Duna" in Hungarian) flows through Budapest from north to south, and in some places within city boundaries is as much as 640 meters wide. One of the top free things to do in Budapest is strolling along the Danube Promenade (Dunakorzó), a pleasant century-old riverside walk that extends between the Elisabeth and Széchenyi Chain Bridges.

Although there are many places from which to enjoy views of the majestic river as you stroll its banks (either the Buda or Pest sides, they're both good), the Danube Promenade is definitely one of the best vantage points to take in views of the city's stunning architecture.

It's also on the banks of the Danube (the northeast side, close to the Hungarian Parliament buildings) that you'll find the chilling Shoes on the Danube Bank memorial. It consists of a series of 60 pairs of steel sculpted shoes memorializing Jews shot here by the Nazis, and is a poignant and moving reminder of the Nazi atrocities suffered by Hungary in World War II.

Another great way to view the city is via a boat cruise along the Danube . Numerous tourist excursions depart regularly from the landing stages at Vigadó tér on the Pest bank and Bem József tér on the Buda bank, and are highly recommended. It's also fun watching these sturdy vessels from the historic Freedom Bridge as they whip down river only to have to struggle back against the current.

Alternatively, you could enjoy incredible views on a budget by taking a ride on the number 2 tram . Skirting the eastern bank of the Danube, it's considered to be one of the most beautiful tram lines in the world .

Matthias Church (Church of Our Lady)

Matthias Church, also known as The Church of Our Lady (Nagyboldogasszony-templom), is a prominent landmark on Castle Hill. It was completed in 1269, and its magnificent south doorway with its relief depicting the Death of Mary was added in the 1300s.

During the Turkish occupation of 1541-1699, the church was used as a mosque, and was later renovated in the Baroque style. It has been the scene of several historic events, including the coronation of King Charles I of Hungary in 1309 and the coronation of Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria and his consort Elisabeth (Sissy) as rulers of Hungary. It was for this event that Franz Liszt composed his coronation mass.

Matthias Church (Church of Our Lady)

The free organ concerts held here on some Sunday evenings are well worth attending (check the website for specific dates).

Also worth checking out, the Ecclesiastical Art Museum is located on the church's medieval crypt and features a collection of sacred relics, stone carvings, and replicas of the Hungarian crown jewels.

Address: Szentháromság tér 2, Budapest

Official site: https://matyas-templom.hu/home

Gellért Hill

Another of Budapest's most striking features is the panoramic Gellért Hill (Gellért-hegy), a 235-meter block of dolomite that falls steeply down to the Danube. It's here along the hill's geological fault line that several of the city's most famous medicinal springs emerge to supply the Gellért Spa and Rudas Baths , which have lured visitors from far and wide since the 13th century.

The Rudas Baths are one of a handful of buildings remaining from the Turkish occupation, and are among the few original Turkish bathhouses in the world still in use that date back to the 1600s.

On the hill's northeast slope is the Gellért Monument , a tribute to Hungary's beloved famous saint, a Benedictine monk who died in 1046 and after whom the hill is named. Perched high above a man-made waterfall, it offers magnificent views over the city. The Citadel on the summit was built by the Austrians in 1851, and the Liberation Monument was erected in 1947 in memory of the Soviet soldiers who died fighting in WWII.

Finally, if you have energy left, take a stroll around Jubilee Park . Laid out to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the October Revolution, it's home to many charming walkways, beautiful flowerbeds, and sculptures.

Budapest's Central Market Hall

Located just across the Freedom Bridge from the Gellért Spa is Budapest's Central Market Hall (Nagyvásárcsarnok), also known as the Great Market Hall. You can't miss it for its central location and its roof of colorful Zsolnay tiles from the town of Pécs.

Built in 1897 and the largest and oldest of Budapest's many markets, it's as interesting to view from the inside as it is on the outside – particularly if you enjoy people watching. As cavernous as any major rail terminal in Europe, this popular indoor marketplace encompasses an area of over 10,000 square meters and is as popular with the locals as it is with tourists, here for the abundance of fresh produce, food stuffs, and other goods being traded across its many levels.

Food for sale in the Central Market Hall

Feeling peckish? Grab a bite to eat from one of the vendors on the second mezzanine level, or a pastry and coffee on the go as you continue to explore. There, you can try typical Hungarian street food, like lángos, a delicious deep-fried dough smothered in sour cream, cheese, and your choice of veggie and meat toppings.

While Saturdays are naturally the busiest days at the market (it's closed on Sundays), you can avoid the larger crowds with a weekday visit. If you're an early riser, get here for early morning; it opens at 6am, when it's fun watching the vendors setting up and prepping their produce for sale.

Address: Budapest, Vámház krt. 1-3, 1093 Hungary

Official site: https://piaconline.hu/en/central-market-hall/

The Museum of Fine Arts

The Museum of Fine Arts (Szépmuvészeti Múzeum) is not only Budapest's most important art gallery, it houses one of the largest collections of works by the Old Masters to be found in Europe.

The extensive array of Italian, Spanish, and Dutch paintings are on display in a spectacular, classically influenced 19th century building with long rooms for the larger paintings, cabinets for smaller and more intimate items, together with architecturally interesting space such as the Renaissance Hall.

Interior of the Museum of Fine Arts

Established in 1870 after Hungary inherited a fine collection of paintings, drawings, and prints, the museum is divided into six excellent departments: Egyptian Art, Ancient Art, the Old Sculpture Gallery, the Old Painter Gallery, the Modern Collection, and the Graphics Collection.

The adjacent Palace of Art is the city's leading contemporary art museum and hosts many temporary exhibits, so be sure to check for current offerings. (Note that this is not to be confused with the Palace of Arts, a high-tech arts center that houses the Ludwig Museum , a contemporary art collection with works by Picasso, David Hockney and numerous Hungarian Masters.)

Address: 1146 Budapest, Dózsa György út 41

Official site: www.szepmuveszeti.hu/main

Heroes' Square and the Millennium Monument

The impressive Heroes' Square (Hosök tere) was largely the work of architect Albert Schickedanz, who was also responsible for the huge Museum of Fine Arts that flanks this large open space.

Highlights include the Millennium Monument, a 36-meter column crowned by a figure of the Archangel Gabriel and unveiled in the late 19th century. Around the plinth can be seen a group of bronze horsemen representing the conquering Magyar Prince Árpád and six of his fellow warriors.

On either side of the column, colonnades extend in a semi-circle, and between the individual pillars stand statues of Hungarian rulers. Above the corner pillars are beautiful works in bronze by Zala.

Millennium Monument in Heroes' Square

In front of the Millennium Monument stands a memorial to the Unknown Soldier. It's an especially nice place to visit at night when illuminated.

Address: Budapest, Hosök tere, 1146

Szechenyi Thermal Bath

Budapest is well-known worldwide for its incredible thermal springs, many of which have been harnessed to provide citizens, as well as visiting tourists, the opportunity to relax and rejuvenate in thermal baths.

Of the many such attractions Budapest, the best known is Széchenyi Thermal Bath (Széchenyi gyógyfürdo). Established in 1913, it's supplied by two thermal springs; it's also the biggest such facility in Europe, capable of handling thousands of bathers at a time in its three outdoor pools (including an adventure pool that's great for families) and 15 indoor pools.

Szechenyi Thermal Bath

In addition to its pools, guests can enjoy its saunas and steam rooms, as well as spa services including massages. For a special treat, pay a visit to the baths after nightfall. Day tickets, which include use of a locker, can be purchased online, or upon arrival. Don't forget to bring your bathing suit, a towel, and flip-flops!

Address: Budapest, Állatkerti krt. 9-11, 1146

Official site: www.szechenyibath.hu

Hungarian State Opera House

As impressive inside as it is on the outside, the Hungarian State Opera House (Magyar Állami Operaház) is a must-see when in Budapest. The building's dimensions alone are impressive, and since it opened in 1884, it has commanded top spot on the city's cultural events calendar.

As delightful as its many performances (more on that in a minute) is the sumptuous interior of the building. Festooned with wonderful artwork and sculptures from the country's most significant artists, the Opera House can seat up to 1,300 people in its horseshoe-shaped (and acoustically pleasing) auditorium.

The Hungarian State Opera House is home to the Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra and the Hungarian National Ballet , and you'd certainly find attending a performance a crowning moment in your Budapest travel itinerary. The orchestra's season typically runs from September to June, and tickets can be purchased online. Daily guided English-language tours are also available.

Address: Budapest, Andrássy út 22, 1061

Official site: www.opera.hu/?lan=en

Camels at the Budapest Zoo

Said to be one of the world's oldest still-operating zoos , Budapest Zoo & Botanical Garden (Fovárosi Állat- és Növénykert) is one of the top things for families to do when visiting the city. Established over 150 years ago, the park is home to over 1,070 different species of animals, and has the rare distinction of being located in the heart of its host city, just around the corner from the Museum of Fine Arts.

In addition to its well-preserved Art Nouveau animal homes , this top-notch zoo park features a nature reserve, themed animal enclosures, and a variety of kid-friendly programming including feeding opportunities. If you're not in a big hurry to leave, hang around for one of the regular evening concerts.

Address: Budapest, Állatkerti krt. 6-12, 1146

Official site: https://zoobudapest.com/en

Hospital in the Rock Nuclear Bunker Museum

Underneath Castle Hill, the rock is a maze of caves and passageways that have been used for various purposes since prehistoric times. In World War II, some were fortified as an air raid shelter and emergency hospital. Now known as the Hospital in the Rock Nuclear Bunker Museum (Sziklakórház Atombunker Múzeum), this site was, at the time of the Cold War, further secured against nuclear contamination.

This former hospital and bunker is well worth exploring and features a variety of exhibitions on the kind of lifesaving efforts seen here during the Siege of Budapest in World War II. Another exhibit explores the devastating consequences of nuclear weapons. Admission is via guided tours only (English language tours available).

Address: Lovas 4/c, Budapest

Official site: www.sziklakorhaz.eu/en

The University Church

Budapest's University Church (Kisboldogasszony-templom) is widely regarded as the most beautiful Baroque church in the city. Although somewhat hidden—it stands in the south of Pest away from the main shopping streets—its main front faces onto a narrow side street, which scarcely does it justice.

Built between 1725-42 (the two mighty towers were not completed until 1771), the principal façade incorporates a triangular tympanum with representations of St. Paul and St. Anthony, as well as the arms of the Pauline Order (a palm between two lions and a raven).

The church has a single nave with pilasters and enclosed side-chapels, and its walls are clad in artificial marble. Highlights include the frescoes on the barrel-vaulted ceilings depicting scenes from the life of Mary (1776), the choir-stalls, and the sculptures of St. Paul and St. Anthony on the High Altar (1746). Also of note is the Pauline Monastery near the church.

Address: Budapest, Papnövelde u. 8, 1053

Hungarian National Museum

Although founded in 1802, the superb Hungarian National Museum (Magyar Nemzeti Múzeum) didn't move into its current home, a large classical building surrounding two courtyards, until 1847. In addition to its massive portico, a monument to the famous Hungarian poet János Arany impresses, as does its park-like gardens with their numerous busts of famous people.

Major exhibits comprise the Royal Regalia , including the magnificent Crown of St. Stephen with its precious stones and pearls, as well as Hungary's pre- and early history from the Stone Age through to Roman times and the early Middle Ages.

Interior of the Hungarian National Museum (Magyar Nemzeti Múzeum)

Also of interest are the exhibits and artifacts dealing with the country's many struggles for independence, as well as historic Hungarian and Turkish weapons.

For music buffs, Beethoven's grand piano, which later belonged to Franz Liszt, can be seen here.

Address: 1088 Budapest, Múzeum körút 14-16

Vajdahunyad Castle, City Park (Városliget)

With its pretty lake, the 302-acre heavily wooded City Park (Városliget) is a popular recreational site for both Budapest locals and visitors. Laid out in the 19th century, the park has had many additions over the years.

Sightseeing highlights include the Museum of Fine Arts and the Palace of Art; the Municipal Zoological and Botanical Garden ; the excellent Transport Museum of Budapest ; Tivoli Pleasure Park , with its kids' rides and arcades; and the massive open-air Széchenyi Medicinal Bath .

Also worth seeing are the fairy-tale Vajdahunyad Castle and the 100,000-seat People's Stadium.

Margaret Island

Margaret Island (Margitsziget), barely 2.4 kilometers long and 503 meters wide, is Budapest's main recreation and recuperative center for locals. Thermal spring-fed medicinal baths, carefully tended gardens and paths, as well as the ruins of many historic buildings also serve to attract many tourists, too.

A highlight of any visit is the Palatinus Baths , a huge spa complex that covers more than 17 acres and includes a bath with artificial waves, together with various medicinal, swimming, and children's pools capable of accommodating up to 20,000 bathers at a time.

Other island highlights are the pretty Rose Garden (Rózsakert); the Union Monument , a metal sculpture by István Kiss (1972) in the form of a flower; ruins of the Dominican convent, once home to Princess Margaret, the daughter of King Béla IV; the 51-meter water-tower, built in 1911, with its excellent viewing platform; and a large open-air theater.

Other things to do here include bike rentals or enjoying a meal at one of the many restaurants. If visiting at night, be sure to head to the Margaret Island Musical Fountain for its illuminations.

Gellért Spa

Gellért Spa is another famous thermal bath in Budapest. The Art Nouveau bath palace has welcomed bathers to take to its medicinal waters, fed from deep underground springs, since 1918 (check out the vintage photos on display!).

Inside you can soak your muscles in five thermal baths, get a refreshing chill in two plunge pools, and take a few laps in the stunning swimming pool, flanked by tropical plants and columns. The spa also boasts lovely outdoor facilities, including a wave pool and thermal sitting pool.

Address: Budapest, Kelenhegyi út 4, 1118

Official site: http://gellertspa.com/

Labyrinth of Buda Castle

If you're looking for a unique thing to do in Budapest , check out the Labyrinth of Buda Castle.

Located in natural caves beneath Castle Hill , the underground attraction allows you to visit the dank chambers where the man now known as "Dracula" was imprisoned for many years during the 15th century.

You can also see a series of statues of historical Hungarian figures, and try your best to navigate the Maze of Darkness in pitch blackness. Whatever you do, don't let go of the garden hose flanking the wall – it's the key to finding your way around the maze.

Address: Budapest, Úri u. 9, 1014

Ferris Wheel of Budapest

For the best views of the entire city, take a ride on the Ferris Wheel of Budapest in Erzsébet Square . Its 65-meter height allows you to get amazing vantage points of Buda Castle , St. Stephen's Basilica , and the Hungarian Parliament Building from any of the 42 partially open cabins.

You're guaranteed to take at least three full turns on the wheel for a ride that lasts up to 10 minutes.

Hot tip: Sunset is the best time to ride the Ferris Wheel of Budapest, so plan your visit accordingly.

Address: Budapest, Erzsébet tér 1051, 1051

Official site: https://oriaskerek.com/en/

The Garden of Philosophers

Atop Gellért Hill is a series of serene sculptures called the Garden of Philosophers. The installation was created in the 1990s by Hungarian sculptor Nándor Wagner who wanted his work to inspire a better understanding of the world's religions and philosophies.

It features Buddha, Abraham, Jesus, Laozi, and Akhenaten situated around a shiny orb. You can also see statues of Mahatma Gandhi, Saint Francis, and Bodhidharma along the sidelines.

The beautiful attraction offers the opportunity to take a few moments out of a day of sightseeing for quiet contemplation.

The best option when it comes to finding accommodations in Budapest is to focus on the Pest side of the Danube (the east bank), home to wide cobbled streets as well as attractions such as the Parliament Buildings and the Museum of Fine Arts.

Luxury Hotels:

  • For stunning views over the Danube, try the Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace , popular for its large rooms with high ceilings and excellent indoor spa and pool.
  • In the heart of Pest's palace district, historic Hotel Palazzo Zichy impresses from the get-go with its palatial foyer and sumptuously decorated, spacious rooms.
  • Equally luxurious, the Corinthia Hotel Budapest boasts large, well-appointed rooms, some overlooking a lovely courtyard. Guests can also enjoy the terraced indoor pool.

Mid-Range Hotels:

  • Steps from great shopping and dining, the Casati Budapest Hotel offers a relatively quiet, intimate experience of the city due to its small size (check out the sauna and gym in the brick-lined cellar).
  • Another boutique hotel in the heart of Pest, Gerloczy Rooms de Lux offers larger rooms with high ceilings, the best with balconies overlooking a picturesque city square.
  • A little more modern, the Bo18 Hotel Superior offers well-appointed rooms, along with amenities such as a gym, hot tub, and Finnish and infrared saunas.

Budget Hotels:

  • Popular for its affordability and central location in the heart of Pest, Hotel Erzsebet City Center offers good-sized modern rooms.
  • Although a little further east of Pest's inner city area, Hotel Chesscom offers large rooms and is close to public transport and the airport.
  • Also close to public transport, the charming Kis Gellert Guesthouse offers excellent value in a quiet area of town.
  • Sightseeing: For independent sightseeing and to get oriented with the city, the Budapest Big Bus Hop-on Hop-off Tour is a great option. This excellent tour option incorporates bus stops at all major tourist attractions. Tickets are valid for 24, 48, or 72 hours. If you are pressed for time or would like a more in-depth guided tour, the Budapest Half-Day Sightseeing Tour is your best bet. For a unique perspective on this scenic city try a Budapest Night Walking Tour and River Cruise to see the Buda Castle and the Chain Bridge lit up at night and capture some awesome photos.
  • Day Trips: If you want to see more of this fascinating region than just Budapest, there are some wonderful day trip options. You can visit Slovakia's capital on this Private Bratislava Day Trip from Budapest . The 10-hour tour will show you popular attractions, like Michael's Gate and Bratislava Castle. Nature lovers can also hike the beautiful mountains surrounding Budapest on this One Day Wonder Hiking Trip . A private guide will take you to Prédikálószék peak and Ram Canyon at whatever pace is most comfortable for you, giving you time to appreciate the scenic waterfalls and forest.

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Some of the top destinations in Hungary can be visited on easy day trips from Budapest , which makes it a good base for visitors. A tour of Eastern Europe's capitals combines Budapest with visits to Bucharest in Romania , and the picturesque city of Prague in the Czech Republic. Like Budapest, Prague is crowned by a beautiful hilltop castle .

A good stopover en route to Prague is the art-filled city of Brno . Only 2.5 hours by train or a three-hour drive from Budapest is the cultural city of Vienna , on the Danube River in the heart of beautiful Austria.

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Buda Castle

Buda Castle

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Classic Buda Castle Walking Tour in Budapest

Parliament Building

Parliament Building

Explore the magnificence of the Parliament Building in Budapest, Hungary. This iconic landmark, overlooking the Danube River, is a masterpiece of neo-Gothic architecture and a symbol of the city's rich history and political significance. Admire the grandeur of its intricate details and majestic domes as you learn about Hungary's governance and cultural heritage. A must-visit destination for history enthusiasts and travelers seeking to experience the timeless charm of Budapest's parliamentary legacy.

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Visit this architectural beauty - House of Parliament, Budapest

Hospital In The Rock Nuclear Bunker Museum

Hospital In The Rock Nuclear Bunker Museum

Shoes On The Danube Bank

Shoes On The Danube Bank

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Take a visit to the gorgeous Danube Bend

Budapest Pinball Museum

Budapest Pinball Museum

Gellert Hill

Gellert Hill

Explore the scenic wonder of Gellert Hill in Budapest, Hungary. This iconic landmark offers panoramic views of the city and the Danube River. Climb to the top to witness the breathtaking sight of Budapest's majestic bridges and historic monuments. A must-visit destination for travelers seeking to immerse themselves in the natural beauty and cultural charm of Gellert Hill, providing a memorable experience of Budapest's captivating essence.

Welcome to the Szechenyi Thermal Bath

Matthias Church

Matthias Church

Margaret Island

Margaret Island

Hungarian State Opera House

Hungarian State Opera House

The Hungarian State Opera House, located in Budapest, Hungary, is a captivating architectural gem and a cultural treasure. Built in the 19th century in neo-Renaissance style, it boasts opulent interiors and world-class acoustics. Renowned for hosting exceptional opera and ballet performances, the opera house attracts music enthusiasts and tourists alike. A must-visit destination for experiencing the artistic grandeur and rich musical heritage of Hungary's vibrant cultural scene.

Fisherman Bastion

Fisherman Bastion

St. Stephens Basilica

St. Stephens Basilica

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Gellert Baths

Gellert Baths

Heroes Square

Heroes Square

City Woodland Park

City Woodland Park

Hungarian National Museum

Hungarian National Museum

Museum Of Fine Arts

Museum Of Fine Arts

Szechenyi Thermal Bath

Szechenyi Thermal Bath

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Budapest Zoo & Botanical Garden

Budapest Zoo & Botanical Garden

The University Church

The University Church

Palinka Museum Budapest

Palinka Museum Budapest

The Palinka Museum in Budapest offers visitors a captivating journey into the world of Hungary's beloved fruit brandy, pálinka. Located in the heart of the city, this museum showcases the rich history and traditions of pálinka production through interactive exhibits, informative displays, and tastings of various pálinka flavors. Discover the art of distillation, learn about the diverse fruit varieties used, and savor the unique flavors of this iconic Hungarian spirit. Whether you're a pálinka enthusiast or just curious about this cultural treasure, the Palinka Museum provides an immersive experience that's both educational and enjoyable.

Children’S Railway Budapest

Children’S Railway Budapest

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21 Fun Things To Do In Budapest – 2023

By: Author Hannah Lukaszewicz

Posted on Last updated: 30 October, 2023

21 Fun Things To Do In Budapest – 2023

Are you traveling to Europe? Don’t overlook Budapest! We’ve spent over four months traveling around Europe, and Budapest is our favorite European city. We also love Barcelona, Prague, and Paris, but Budapest is the whole package!

Budapest is beautiful, has plenty of history, is safe, has tons of things to do, tasty food, good beer, and is budget-friendly! We’ve put together the best things to do in Budapest to put on your Budapest itinerary.

*When looking for the best price and biggest selection of hotels in Budapest, check prices on Booking.com . We’ve found they are the best option and have a great cancelation policy.

Best overall hotel in  Budapest – Kempinski Hotel Corvinus Budapest  We stayed at the Kempinski Hotel and loved it for so many reasons, but one of the best is there is a Christmas Market right out your door. From our room, we could see down onto it. It’s also one of the best locations to stay in.

Things To Do In Budapest

1. walk across the chain bridge.

The Chain Bridge is easily Budapest’s most famous bridge that connects Buda and Pest. The Chain Bridge was built in 1849 with its official name  István Széchenyi .

If you’re sightseeing in Budapest, start your morning on one side and walk across the Chain Bridge to the other side. We highly suggest seeing the Chain Bridge at night. It makes for some great night photos.

Related Post: The Perfect 3 Days in Budapest Itinerary

2. Explore the Buda Castle

The Buda Castle is at the top of Castle Hill, and the complex is home to the Buda Castle (formerly Royal Palace), the National Gallery, and the Budapest History Museum.  

The Castle was home to the Hungarian kings and was completed back in 1265. The Buda Castle was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987.

The best way to explore the castle is on a guided tour. Several Budapest city tours include visiting the Buda Castle. Click  here to see all Budapest tours.

The grounds are open 24 hours a day, but Buda Castle’s hours are the same as the museum: Tuesday- Sunday, 10 am-6 pm. There are several festivals at the Buda Castle throughout the year: beer festival, wine festival, chocolate festival, palinka festival, etc.

Related Article: The Best Places to Stay in Budapest

Fun fact: Budapest is actually two cities, Buda and Pest, which are divided by the Danube River. The two cities are connected by several bridges, the most famous being the Chain Bridge. Each side of Budapest has several tourist attractions, each very different.

We suggest spending at least three days in Budapest . There are a ton of things to do in Budapest, but as an added bonus, Budapest is super affordable.

3. Watch the Changing of the Guards at the Hungarian Parliament Building

If you time your visit right, you can watch the changing of the guards at the Parliament. You literally can’t miss the Parliament Building. It’s Hungary’s most recognizable building, and it’s huge!

The Hungarian Parliament is the 3rd largest parliament building in the world and the largest building in Hungary. It took 17 years to construct, and it was finished in 1902. There are parliament tours, but since tours are limited, lines can be long, and it often sells out days in advance, it’s best to book a Budapest Parliament tour in advance online here.

Head to the Pest side at night to get a great photo of the Parliament Building lit up at night.

Related: Gorgeous Castles in Hungary to Visit

4. Relax in the Széchenyi Baths

5. cruise the danube river.

It wouldn’t be Budapest without the Danube River. There are tons of river cruises in Budapest, from lunch/dinner cruises, half-day cruises, or even a Danube River cruise to/from Germany.

Click here for all river cruises available. We took a Christmas market cruise that started with the Budapest Christmas Markets and ended in Germany with the best German Christmas Markets .

6. Fisherman’s Bastion Viewpoint

One of the best views of Budapest is from the lookout at Fisherman’s Bastion. Originally the towers were lookout towers, but now it’s the best lookout in Budapest.

Seven towers are free to enter, and some of the upper towers have a small fee (under $3) during peak season. When you’re visiting Matthias church, walk around the balcony to reach the Fisherman’s Bastion.

7. Head To The Top Of  St. Stephen’s Basilica

A visit to St. Stephen’s Basilica is worth the trip alone but head to the observation deck for an epic panoramic view of Budapest. The church is free to enter. However, there is a sign suggesting a 1 Euro or 200 HUF donation.

There is an observation deck that costs HUF 400 to access using the stairs of HUF 600 by taking the elevator.  It’s 365 stairs to the top or an elevator from April 1-October 31st. We visited in December, so we walked up, but the staircase is gorgeous make sure to pop in for at least a photo. It’s worth the trip up while in Budapest. It’s one of our favorite things to do in the city!

8. Go Hungry To The Great Market Hall

Don’t eat before heading to the Central Market Hall, the oldest & largest indoor market in Budapest. The market has more than enough food stalls and restaurants to fill you up.

We highly suggest picking up some Hungarian spices & liquor to bring back home. The prices are the lowest you will find in Budapest. Make sure to read our complete guide on Great Market Hall when planning your visit.

  •   Closed SUNDAY 
  • Address: Vámház krt. 1-3, 1093

Related Article: Best Foods To Try in Budapest That Aren’t Goulash

9. Party at Budapest Ruin Bars

It’s hard to describe what a ruin bar is; the Budapest ruin bars are one-of-a-kind bars. Ruin bars have been around since 2001 in Budapest’s District VII  neighborhood, aka the old Jewish Quarter .

The ruin bars are in abandoned buildings that were left after World War II. If you are just walking down the street, you may not even realize it’s a bar, but as soon as you enter, you are transformed into another world. Each ruin bar is different, but they all are full of character, except that every room is different and very strange.

Related Post: Top 9 Budapest Ruin Bars and Nightlife

The oldest ruin bar in Budapest is Szimpla Kert, which is open daily. Ruin bars are super popular and can get crowded. We suggest going before 11 p.m. to avoid the long lines and to grab a table. There are Budapest ruin bar tours that visit several bars, but you can easily create your own ruin bar crawl.

  • Szimpla Kert Address: 14 Kazinczy Street, Budapest District VII (a few minutes walk from the Great Synagogue)

Don’t forget your insurance! You never know when you’ll need it. We suggest getting  travel insurance with Safety Wing. Which coverage includes medical, trip interruption, lost luggage, and more. Often rates are as low as $12 a week. 

10. Visit The Great Synagogue

The Dohány Street Synagogue, typically called the Great Synagogue, is the largest Synagogue in Europe and the second-largest synagogue in the world. Built back in 1854, the synagogue can seat 3,000 people. It is are located on the same street as the Jewish Museum, memorial, Heroes’ Temple, and cemetery.

11. Go on an Abandoned Jewish Cemetery Tour

One of the most unique tours in Budapest is the Jewish Cemetery Tour with Budapest 101. Visit the Salgótarjáni út cemetery is the oldest Jewish burial ground on the Pest side of the city.

Most of the Jewish population was forced out of Budapest during World War II. Therefore the cemetery turned into ruins. The trees and plants began to take over the graveyard. You’ll have to watch your step as many of the tombs have fallen through the ground or opened and looted for any goods.

Some of the tombstones and burial chambers are massive and really gorgeous, even though that sounds weird to say a headstone is pretty…It’s a strange place to visit but really photogenic.

The cemetery is not open to the public but can be opened for visitors if arranged in advance, which is why you will need to go with a local. We went with Budapest 101 and highly recommend them.

12. Heroes Square

At the end of Andrassy Avenue is Heroe’s Square, the largest square in Budapest. The square has iconic statues featuring the Seven Chieftains of the Magyars . Visit Heroes’ Square before or after visiting the Széchenyi baths.

13. Sip Some Sour Cherry Pálinka (liquor)

Don’t leave Budapest without trying a local favorite, Pálinka, which is a fruit liquor made with different fruits similar to brandy. This firewater has a lot of fruit flavor coming through as you throw them back. Pálinka is commonly drunk before or after a meal and is the go-to spot at the Budapest ruin pubs.

14. Ride The Budapest Eye Ferris Wheel

Ride one of the world’s largest traveling Ferris wheels\ standing over 200 feet tall with 42 cars. Every night the Budapest Eye Ferris wheel lights up the square with over 10,000 colored lights.

No matter if you ride day or night, the Ferris wheel has excellent views to offer. Operating daily in Erzsébet Square.

15. Stroll The Budapest Christmas Markets

Come the end of November, Budapest turns into Christmas Market heaven. We started our Christmas market cruise with Viking River Cruises in Budapest, and we both agreed Budapest had the best Christmas markets in Europe.

You can just walk around Budapest and stumble across several different Christmas markets set up throughout the city. Here are a few of the best Christmas markets in Budapest :

  • Vorosmarty Square
  • St Stephen’s Square

16. Visit The Shoes On The Danube Bank

The “Shoes on the Danube Bank” is a memorial to honor those who were killed by the Arrow Cross militiamen during World War II.

There are 60 pairs of shoes placed on the ledge in memory of 3,500 people who were forced to take off their shoes and were literally shot at the edge of the water, where their bodies were swept down the river.

17. Buy some paprika

Hungarians love the smoky and savory red spice of Paprika. You can find it in just about every dish while in Budapest. Bring some of the spice home with a tin of Paprika – available at every market in town.

18. Ride the Funicular up to Buda Castle

The easiest and most scenic way to the Buda Castle is to ride the Buda Hill funicular to the top. The Buda Castle Funicular has connected the shores of the Danube and the Buda Castle since 1870 and was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987.

There are two stations, the lower station is on the Buda side of the Chain Bride, and the upper station is on the Pest side on Castle Hill. Two trams that run the 300-foot track and will have you to the top in ten minutes.

The funicular runs daily 7:30 am-10 p.m. We highly suggest going early in the morning or just before sunset.

19. Matthias Church

Matthias Church is over 700 years old and one of the oldest buildings in Buda. This gothic-style cathedral with a colorful tiled roof is one of Budapest’s best sights. Inside, the church is just as beautiful, with high vaulted ceilings and ornate decorations throughout.

20. Budapest Cave Church

Hands down, the most interesting church in Budapest is the Cave church, tucked away in the Gellért Hill Cave. Don’t expect vaulted ceilings like in the other Gothic churches in the city.

This church was built in a natural cave by monks in the 1920s. The name of the church is Sziklatemplom, which in Hungarian means Rock Church. During WWII, the church served as a hospital and took in refugees from the war.

After the war, the new communist government that took power arrested all the monks, and the head monk was executed just for helping people. The cave church is a top sight in Budapest for both its uniqueness and its history of the place.

21. Drink a glass of Unicum (liquor)

After a long day sightseeing in Budapest, take a sip of Budapest’s locally made herbal liquor. Unicum is basically Hungary’s version of Jagermeister, and it’s said to cure many things. This potent concoction has been made here for over a century according to a secret formula of more than forty herbs and aged in oak casks.

Short on time? Check out our 3-day guide to Budapest !

It shows you the best way to see all of the city’s highlights during a short itinerary.

Recommended Budapest Hotels We’ve Stayed At

We split our time between two hotels in Budapest. Our first hotel Kempinski Budapest was right in the center of everything and literally right next to one of the Christmas Markets. Our second hotel, the Fraser Residence, are basic serviced apartments. Where we had our one-bedroom apartment complete with a kitchen and washer/dryer, which was great for us. Click here to read our complete where to stay in Budapest guide .

  • Kempinski Hotel Corvinus Budapest   | Agoda  | Hotels.com
  • Fraser Residence Budapest  | Agoda | Booking.com

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We hope you have an epic time in Budapest, and make sure to pin me!

Tram crossing the liberty bridge in Budapest

Vivek Jeyakumar

Sunday 21st of July 2019

Hi, Appreciate the article,very informative. I would be in Budapest for 48 hours in August, would it be sufficient time to cover most of the places mentioned in the article?? Thank you

Monday 22nd of July 2019

I would say it would be tough to cover this list in 48 hours, but you can still cover a lot. I would scale this list down to about half and pick the items that are most interesting to you. We also have a 3-day guide, while still a bit longer than what you have but could help form your Budapest itinerary -->> https://www.gettingstamped.com/3-days-in-budapest-itinerary/

Wednesday 28th of November 2018

Hungary is the best place according to me. It has all the elements which makes a holiday A WOW experience.

Hannah Lukaszewicz

Sunday 2nd of December 2018

Hungary is great and we hope on our next trip we get to explore more of it! Budapest is amazing and we'll always spend a few days exploring the city, it's our favorite city in Europe.

Richa Thakur

Thursday 4th of October 2018

Hey! Loved the pictures! they seem to be super helpful. I am going to make a copy of this guide while I'm there!!! We're planning to visit Amsterdam, Budapest & Prague between 25 October to 4th November, and I plan to be at the best of three spots at the right time.. Halloween celebrations is what I want to definitely experience!! Any suggestions on where I could go and when to make the best of the limited time I have?

Tuesday 9th of October 2018

You are visiting some of the best cities in Europe! Budapest is our personal favorite city in Europe. I am sure the ruin bars in Budapest would be an epic place to spend Halloween. I would for sure plan on Budapest for Halloween. Have a blast!

Wednesday 30th of May 2018

Hello! Just came across this two weeks before my trip to Budapest and it is definitely very helpful!!

However I have a question about the baths. How do you buy the tickets and should you buy them in advance? Are they for the whole day or just for a period of time? I plan to go on a Sunday. Also is there any place to leave your stuff under lock? I take photography as a hobby and I would like to take some nice pics of the baths and then be able to leave my camera in a safe place.

Thank you!!:D

Wednesday 15th of August 2018

There are lockers and private rooms available (for a fee) to leave clothes and valuables. You can buy tickets and stay for as long as you want at the baths. Tickets are available in advance if you are traveling on a tight schedule or peak season.

Janine Thomas

Tuesday 8th of May 2018

I loved visiting Budapest. It delivered so much more than I expected. It is such a charming city that you can't help but fall in love with it. The ruin bars were wacky, but what an experience. I highly recommend visiting them. 3 days was perfect, but I could have easily spent more time in the city.

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The 15 Best Things to do in Budapest, Hungary

Divided in two by the River Danube, Budapest is one of Europe’s most aesthetically astounding and historically intriguing capitals. You’ll love how many fascinating things there are to do all over Hungary ’s largest city! 

Budapest is really a tale of two cities: Buda and Pest. On one side of the roaring Danube, the tall towers and mighty bastions of Buda Castle stand on a prominent rocky outcrop high above the city. Buda is where the royalty of centuries past lived, and you’ll find iconic landmarks like Fisherman’s Bastion, the Castle Hill Funicular, and the Liberty Statue to explore. 

On the other side of the Danube, the flat neighborhoods of Pest are home to the Hungarian Parliament, to long, elegant 19 th -century streets like Andrassy Avenue, and to the coolest pubs, clubs, and Ruin Bars in the city. Enjoy long walks along the banks of the Danube, escape the city with a cruise along the river, and quickly fall in love with a city that’s as historic as it is trendy.

With so many cool things to see and do in Budapest, you might not know where to begin. That’s why we’ve compiled our list of the absolute best things to do in Budapest for you. Stick to these fun and unique Budapest bucket list recommendations, and there’s no doubt you’re going to have an amazing time exploring this gorgeous European city!

Don’t forget to check out our web story: The 15 Best Things to do in Budapest

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase or booking through one of our links we may earn a small commission (don’t worry, it’s at no extra cost to you).

The 15 Best Things to do in Budapest

1. take a bath in budapest.

Best Things to do in Budapest: Bath in Budapest

At the top of any Budapest bucket list should be taking a bath. No, we don’t mean in your hotel room (although we’re not stopping you!), but in one of the city’s many traditional thermal baths. 

Budapest is built above hot springs, and the Hungarian capital has a long history of bathing that stretches back to the Romans. The Ottoman Empire refined bathing to an art, and even today, the oldest baths you can visit are the Turkish-style Kiraly Baths, which date back to 1565. 

Unique Things to do in Budapest: Bath in Budapest

There are many spa options to consider, but if it’s your first time in the city, then one of the best things to do in Budapest is to spend the day at Szechenyi Thermal Bath . Located in City Park, these are the largest public baths in Budapest. 

You’ll find there are three enormous outdoor pools surrounded by a brightly colored baroque palace, where you’ll also find a whopping 15 indoor pools. Everything is heated, except for the ice-cold plunge pools, which you can brave in between sauna and steam room sessions!

If you’d like to get away from the crowds, though, then you can book a slot at the Lukacs Baths instead. Located across the river in Buda, this is a local favorite that dates back to the late 19th century and is complete with modern infrared saunas. While you’re in Buda, you can also visit the Gellert Baths , an art nouveau-style spa that’s said to be the most architecturally beautiful of all Budapest’s bathhouses! 

2. Tour the Parliament Building

Fun Things to do in Budapest: Parliament Building

You really can’t miss Budapest’s magnificent parliament building. Standing tall on the Pest side of the River Danube, you’ll instantly recognize the red dome and red roof of the Hungarian Parliament Building from almost any skyline photographs you might have seen of the city.

The Hungarian Parliament Building really is an iconic landmark, so if you’re wondering what to do in Budapest when you first arrive, we recommend heading here. Start by strolling along the eastern bank of the Danube and admiring the tall, almost dreamy architecture as it rises high above you.

Budapest Bucket List: Parliament Building

Once you’ve found the entrance of this mammoth building, you can find out more about its history and inner workings by joining a tour. You’ll discover how the parliament building was first opened in 1902 and remained the largest building in all of Budapest. 

The unique architecture, as you’ll also discover, is a contrasting mix of Gothic and Renaissance Revival, while Hungary’s National Assembly only ever meets in the Lower House of the building, leaving the Upper House to be used for conferences, meetings, and events. 

3. Admire Architecture On Andrassy Avenue

Budapest Things to do: Andrassy Avenue

You have to take a stroll along Andrassy Avenue because it’s one of the must-do things in Budapest! Andrassy Avenue is one of Budapest’s longest, most elegant, and most famous boulevards, and you’ll love admiring the beautiful architecture and soaking up the history as you stroll from one end to the other.

Andrassy Avenue is found on the Pest side of the river, and it was designed as a central thoroughfare that could be lined with impressive neoclassical buildings. Opened in the 1870s, so important is the street’s architecture to the city’s image that Andrassy Avenue is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site!

What to do in Budapest: Andrassy Avenue

You can start at either end, but we recommend beginning your walk at Erzsebet Square, the side closest to the River Danube. From here, you’ll stroll past townhouses, the opera house, museums, cafes, and restaurants as you walk for almost 2 miles to the endpoint at Hero’s Square.

We recommend walking this way because once you reach Hero’s Square, you can continue on through the park and take a dip in the pools at Szechenyi Thermal Bath !

4. Stroll Along the River Danube

Unique Things to do in Budapest: River Danube

Make sure you bring a sturdy pair of shoes when you’re visiting all of the top Budapest attractions because walking is often the best way to explore the city. 

One of our favorite walks anywhere in Europe is along the banks of the River Danube in Budapest. This is the geographical feature that defines the Hungarian capital more than any other – and we think it’s important to see it from the ground level! 

You can walk for miles along the river in either direction and on either side, but for a taste of what the banks of the Danube have to offer, we recommend starting at the Szechenyi Chain Bridge on the Pest side of the river. 

Cool Things to do in Budapest: River Danube

Walk north, and you’ll soon reach a moving monument known as the Shoes on the Danube Bank , which remembers the Jewish citizens who were killed here during World War II. Continue, and you’ll be walking under the spires of the Hungarian Parliament Building before you reach Margaret Bridge and the southern end of Margaret Island. 

That’s a good 45 minutes of walking, not counting stopping time, and if you cross over the river, you can continue the walk on the Buda side of the river. This time you can walk south toward the Szechenyi Chain Bridge. Along the way, you’ll pass below Castle Hill and enjoy spectacular views across to the Parliament Building you visited earlier. 

Of course, if you’re tired, worn out from too much sightseeing, or just don’t want to walk, you can always take a river cruise along the Danube instead of walking!

5. Ride the World’s Second-Oldest Metro System

Must do things in Budapest: World’s Second-Oldest Metro System

The flat streets of Pest are made for walking, but there’s also a much quicker way to get around when you’ve got no time for a leisurely stroll. Deep underground, you can find the Budapest Metro, a rapid transit system that can get you almost anywhere in the city (especially when combined with the iconic yellow trams above ground).

But this isn’t any ordinary metro system. In fact, you’ll be happy to hear that a ride on the Budapest Metro is an experience unto itself because this is the second-oldest underground metro in the world!

What to do in Budapest: World’s Second-Oldest Metro System

The oldest in the world is the London Underground, and that dates back to 1863. It took a while for Europe to catch up, and Budapest opened its first underground line in 1896. The first line to open was, of course, Line 1, and today Line 1 is of such historical importance to the city that it has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

6. Visit the Castle on the Hill

Budapest Things to do: Castle on the Hill

Cross over the Szechenyi Chain Bridge from Pest, and you can walk or ride the funicular to the top of Castle Hill. Since at least the year 1265 AD, Castle Hill has been the site of royal castles, built to control the River Danube and the flat plains below.

The medieval castle was destroyed in the endless wars between Hungarians and the Ottoman Empire, and the large, baroque-style palace you see on the hill today was built in the 18th century. It was then destroyed in World War II before being rebuilt again. 

Best Things to do in Budapest: Castle on the Hill

You’ll find a tumultuous history on top of the hill, but today, things are calm and peaceful around this UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can take a guided tour through the palace itself or a guided walking tour through the surrounding Castle Quarter where you’ll find famous landmarks like Fisherman’s Bastion and Matthias Church, as well as formal ceremonies like the changing of the guard. 

You’ll also find that Castle Hill is home to some of the best museums in Budapest, including the Budapest History Museum and the National Hungarian Gallery . You’ll need at least an entire day to see everything, so get an early start before making the journey to the top of Castle Hill!

7. Eat Everything at the Great Market Hall

Cool Things to do in Budapest: Great Market Hall

Are you a big foodie? If so, you’re going to love visiting the Great Market Hall, which we guarantee is one of the most fun things to do in Budapest!

Eating and drinking your way through this extravagant local marketplace is one of the best Budapest activities for hungry travelers. You’ll be spoiled for choice as you peruse the stalls and dig into the local cuisine. 

Unique Things to do in Budapest: Great Market Hall

The market hall itself is a thing of beauty, as the building dates back to 1897 and is the largest of its kind in Budapest. But the real action is among the traders on the ground floor, where you can try local wines and fiery Hungarian spirits, Kolbasz sausages, pickled vegetables, and smoked fish. 

You can take a guided tour to learn more about the local delicacies and dishes, but if you’re particularly hungry, then head to the upper floors, where the local eateries serve up hearty Hungarian food at excellent prices. You can order steaming bowls of goulash, langos flatbreads smothered in sour cream, or the famous fisherman’s soup! 

8. Drink Beer in a Ruin Bar

Budapest Things to do: Ruin Bar

One of the coolest things to do in Budapest is a tour of the city’s unique Ruin Bars. Ruin Bars aren’t your average bar or pub, although they are incredibly trendy. Ruin Bars began to pop up in the 2000s, as abandoned buildings were taken over and turned into cool and unusual places to drink beer, hang out, and play music.

These peculiar bars are quite unique to Budapest, and they are found primarily in District VII, which was the old Jewish Quarter of the city with the largest concentration of derelict buildings. You’ll love how Ruin Bars are characterized by unique themes and designs, where nothing is in the right place or where nostalgia has been allowed to take over.

What to do in Budapest: Ruin Bar

The first Ruin Bar to make it big was Szimpla Kert , and there you’ll find a labyrinth of bars and cafes surrounding a central garden. There are free concerts, great craft beers, and an old East German car for decor. Another favorite is Red Ruin , where you can try local beers in a Communist-themed bar that even Lenin would be proud of!

Many of the best Ruin Bars are hidden away, so we recommend taking a Ruin Bar tour to help you uncover the quirkiest places to drink in Budapest. 

9. Take a Walking Tour of the Jewish Quarter

Best Things to do in Budapest: Walking Tour through the Jewish Quarter

Just as Budapest is a tale of two cities, so too is the Jewish Quarter. Today, you’ll find some of the city’s coolest pubs and bars in the old Jewish Quarter, where tourists and locals flock when night falls over Budapest. 

You’ll also find some of the best restaurants, including the delectable Middle Eastern cuisine of Mazel Tov . There are vintage shops, design cafes, co-working hubs, and so much more for the savvy modern traveler to experience, but there’s also the history!

Cool Things to do in Budapest: Walking Tour through the Jewish Quarter

While the Jewish Quarter is always one of the trendiest things to see in Budapest, a walking tour will show you the darker side of the district. This was where the Budapest Ghetto was built during World War II, as the city’s Hungarian population suffered immensely under the fascist regime. 

Most did not survive the war, however. In the 1990s, the Dohany Street Synagogue was fully restored to its pre-war glory and is now the second-largest synagogue in the world. Enjoy the modern outlook of the Jewish Quarter, but try not to forget the past while you’re enjoying craft beers in the Ruin Bars. 

10. Brave the House of Terror

Fun Things to do in Budapest: House of Terror

Budapest endured many decades of fascist and then communist rule in the 20th century, and the locals suffered many privations throughout the reign of totalitarian regimes. While little remains visible in the streets themselves of this often dark history, you can learn more with a visit to the quite terrifying House of Terror . 

This is no haunted home or theme park-style house of horrors. This is a museum dedicated to telling the story of Hungary’s secret police. It’s also a museum dedicated to the many victims of both fascism and communism. 

Budapest Bucket List: House of Terror

The House of Terror will take you on a journey through the horrors of World War II and then into the often bleak days that followed until Hungary became a democracy in 1989. You’ll see mock prison cells, a Russian T-34 tank, and come face to face with pictures and portraits of those who died fighting either the fascist regime or the communist regime.

11. Experience the Communist Past at Memento Park

Budapest Things to do: Memento Park

Regimes loved to build statues, but despite enduring five decades of communist rule, you’ll notice that the streets of Budapest are firmly entrenched in their 19 th -century character rather than the more recent 20th century.

That’s because much of the socialist-style architecture, particularly the statues, was completely dismantled or torn down when Hungary became a democracy. You may be wondering where statues end up once they’ve been taken down, and in Budapest, it’s a place called Memento Park . 

Best Things to do in Budapest: Memento Park

This is one of the most unique Budapest attractions, and a visit to Memento Park will throw you back in time to the communist era. Located in an old sports field on the outskirts of the city, Memento Park is home to statues of Lenin, Stalin’s Boots , and many other communist statues that were removed.

You can tour through the resurrected statues in this Disney-esque theme park for nostalgics before learning more about communism in the attached exhibition hall. 

12. Attend a Summer Festival

Fun Things to do in Budapest: Budapest Summer Festival

Budapest is a glorious city to visit in the summer, not only because the sun is always shining, but because the Hungarian capital hosts so many events throughout the season!

There really is something for everyone. Sziget Festival is held every August on an island in the Danube, for example, and it’s now one of Europe’s biggest and best outdoor music festivals.

Cool Things to do in Budapest: Budapest Summer Festival

The Budapest Summer Festival sees classical music concerts held in open-air venues across the city and on Margaret Island, while the Budapest Beer Festival will need little introduction. 

And then you have the outdoor baths, the alfresco dining, and so much more to experience throughout those long summer days in Budapest.

13. Shop at Budapest’s Christmas Markets

Budapest Bucket List: Christmas Markets

Budapest is a wonderful city to visit any time of the year, but you’ll find that in the winter, things here are very different from summer. Wrap up warm because Budapest gets cold, but there will be plenty of opportunities to warm up with mulled wine and hot bowls of goulash!

The winter season sees Budapest’s central squares bursting with holiday joy as market stalls crowd the streets and impromptu concerts and carol-singing events fill the city with music. You’ll love trying all the traditional food and drink on offer at this time of the year because Hungarian winter food is designed to be hearty, and it’s designed to be served piping hot.

Must do things in Budapest: Christmas Markets

The traditional markets pop up all over the city, from Andrassy Avenue across the Danube to Castle Hill. Rest assured, you’ll find plenty of excellent souvenirs that will make for fantastic presents back home. 

14. Visit Margaret Island

Budapest Bucket List: Margaret Island

If you’re looking to escape the city, then you don’t have to go far, because one of the best sights in Budapest is Margaret Island. Located in the middle of the River Danube, you’ll find Arpad Bridge at the northern end and Margaret Bridge at the southern end of the island. 

You can quickly reach Margaret Island by boat, tram, or just by walking over from either Pest or Buda. Once you’re there, you’ll have several square miles of beautiful urban parklands to explore. You’ll feel like you’re worlds away from the city!

Budapest Things to do: Margaret Island

There are lots of things to do on Margaret Island. You can rent a bicycle or golf cart and traverse the length of the island, you can climb the water tower for views over the city, or you can stroll through the many gardens that are all open to the public.

Best of all, Margaret Island is home to its own set of thermal swimming pools. The Palatinus Baths is an outdoor, open-air swimming pool that’s fed by thermal hot springs. There are slides, plunge pools, and fountains. Plus, the baths are open throughout the year.

15. Take in the Views from Liberty Statue

Fun Things to do in Budapest: Views from Liberty Statue

Are you looking for one of the best views in Budapest? Then you’ll love the 360-degree panoramic views from the Liberty Statue. This is one of the best Budapest attractions because the Liberty Statue is located high on top of Gellert Hill, and it’s here that you’ll have a complete view of all of Budapest below.

The statue itself is an impressive monument, and it was built in 1947 to commemorate all those who lost their lives fighting during the Second World War. The statue was built next to the Citadella, which saw fierce fighting and action at the end of the war.

Unique Things to do in Budapest: Views from Liberty Statue

A network of steep walking trails leads from Szechenyi Bridge and the Danube below, all the way to the top of the hill. Visit when the sun is about to set, and you’ll have colorful views over the skyline before seeing the city lit up spectacularly at night. Bring your camera because this viewpoint is one for the photographers!

There you have it! The 15 best things to do in Budapest. What’s your favorite thing to do in Budapest?

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The Best Things to do in Budapest

Frequently Asked Questions

At the top of any Budapest bucket list should be taking a bath. No, we don’t mean in your hotel room (although we’re not stopping you!), but in one of the city’s many traditional thermal baths. There are many spa options to consider, but if it’s your first time in the city, then one of the best things to do in Budapest is to spend the day at Szechenyi Thermal Bath. Located in City Park, these are the largest public baths in Budapest.

Are you a big foodie? If so, you’re going to love visiting the Great Market Hall, which we guarantee is one of the most fun things to do in Budapest! Eating and drinking your way through this extravagant local marketplace is one of the best Budapest activities for hungry travelers. You’ll be spoiled for choice as you peruse the stalls and dig into the local cuisine.

Budapest is a glorious city to visit in the summer, not only because the sun is always shining, but because the Hungarian capital hosts so many events throughout the season! There really is something for everyone. Sziget Festival is held every August on an island in the Danube and it’s now one of Europe’s biggest and best outdoor music festivals.

Cross over the Szechenyi Chain Bridge from Pest, and you can walk or ride the funicular to the top of Castle Hill. Since at least the year 1265 AD, Castle Hill has been the site of royal castles, built to control the River Danube and the flat plains below. This hill has a tumultuous past, but today, things are calm and peaceful around this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

One of the coolest things to do in Budapest is a tour of the city’s unique Ruin Bars. Ruin Bars aren’t your average bar or pub, although they are incredibly trendy. Ruin Bars began to pop up in the 2000s, as abandoned buildings were taken over and turned into cool and unusual places to drink beer, hang out, and play music. These peculiar bars are quite unique to Budapest, and they are found primarily in District VII, which was the old Jewish Quarter of the city with the largest concentration of derelict buildings.

About the Author:

Richard Collett

Richard is an award-winning travel writer based in Southwest England who’s addicted to traveling off the beaten track. He’s traveled to 75 countries and counting in search of intriguing stories, unusual destinations, and cultural curiosities. Richard loves traveling the long way round over land and sea, and you’ll find him visiting quirky micronations and breakaway territories as often as he’s found lounging on a beach (which is a lot). When he’s not writing for BBC Travel, National Geographic, or Lonely Planet, you can find Richard writing for the Wandering Wheatleys or updating his off-beat travel blog, Travel Tramp.

View all posts

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30 Top Things to do in Budapest

Budapest: 30 cool things to do in queen of the danube.

Visiting Budapest ?

Welcome! This comprehensive guide has all the cool things to do in Budapest . In this guide, you shall find the 30 best things to do in Budapest that makes the capital city of Hungary famous, alongside with best tips for timeless experiences. This flexible guide is ideal for a three-to-five-day visit to the capital city of Hungary.

With settlements dating back as far as the Stone Age, a turbulent history, an interesting mix of medieval ruins and architectural marvels, along with endless cobbled streets and alleys, Budapest is a city worth exploring to your heart’s content.

things to do in Budapest | timeless travel steps

This article and related articles are sprinkled with affiliate links. We may earn a commission from qualified purchases and bookings at no additional cost to you. These links have no influence on the editorial content we produce. Our travel to Budapest, Hungary was 100% self-funded.

TTS Team off-season travel to Budapest, Hungary

We visited Budapest recently during the last week of March, just before the onset of the travel season in Budapest which begins in April. Travelling off-season has its benefits — less crowds, shorter queues, easy availabilities at restaurants, and opportunities for people-free photographs. The downside — some attractions may be closed. This was okay. We experienced the best of Budapest during our almost a week stay at ‘ Queen of the Danube .’

BEST TIPS: Book tours and tickets in advance: Best tours in Budapest . Select the Budapest City Card for free entrance to museums, a guided tour, discounts and unlimited use of public transport.

What is Budapest famous for?

Budapest | Things to do at Queen of the Danube

Budapest is famous for its spectacular architecture and rich culture. The Hungarian Parliament Building dominates the shores of the historic Danube River and the magical Fisherman’s Bastion on the hills of Buda overlooks the great river. The stunning Dohány Street Synagogue , a 13th century St Mathias Church, the celebrated St Stephens Church, Central Market , Underground Caves , Ruin Bars , The Shoes and thermal baths along with its natural hot springs . The city’s historic Chain Bridge has become the symbol of the city . To top it all off, is the city’s European and local delectable gastronomy .

Read: The Complete Guide to Buda’s Old Town District

Exploring Budapest , Queen of the Danube

Budapest has 23 districts and it is a stunning city. The Hungarian capital runs an efficient tram and bus system , along with a modern high-speed train system. If you wish to use the local taxis in Budapest, use the app, Bolt (similar to Uber or Lyft). Most of your time, you will want to enjoy the treasure trove of baroque and neoclassical architecture alongside a piece of the city’s intriguing past without boarding the buses or trams all the time.

An enchanting Queen of the Danube is also best explored at dusk and into nightfall. The city is lit up like one big party stage!

While Budapest has so many beautiful and fascinating sites to explore on both sides of the Danube, this list on the 30 very best things to do in Budapest is by no means an exhaustive list. You are sure to find additional experiences while travelling to Budapest.

Timeless Travel Steps Best Tips:

things to visit in budapest

For a quick overview of the best of Buda and Pest, the Danube, and the city’s history, begin with a 3-hour guided city tour. Transport included. Check availability

30 VERY BEST THINGS TO DO IN BUDAPEST, HUNGARY

If you are ready to explore, here are the 30 cool things to do in Budapest, Queen of the Danube . We begin with attractions in Pest (East of Danube), the bridges, followed by the unmissable attractions in Buda (West of Danube River). If you have time, you could also escape the city for a day and I have included an easy day trip to Szentendre. These are highly recommended, easily doable experiences, accompanied by best, tried and tested tips.

UNMISSABLE EXPERIENCES IN PEST, EAST BANK OF RIVER DANUBE

1 | Széchenyi  Thermal Bath in Budapest

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One of our highlights in Budapest was our morning visit to the Széchenyi Baths . The Széchenyi Baths and Pool in Budapest is the most popular and largest thermal bath in the city. It is set within a breathtakingly beautiful castle-like historic ornate building in the city’s largest green oasis, Budapest City Park . Experiencing the Széchenyi Baths is one of the best things to do in Budapest.

Europe’s spectacular medicinal bath was built in 1913, with a cupola, baroque pools, and healing spring waters that feed 18 pools. Széchenyi also features a range of wellness treatments, steam rooms and 10 saunas. The temperatures in the pool ranges from 18 °C to 38 °C

Where: City Park, Budapest, Állatkerti krt. 9-11, 1146 Hungary

Cost: Széchenyi Bath Fast Track with Private Cabin starts from €25.00, purchased at the ticket window.

1.1 Timeless Travel Steps Best Tips;

The best time to visit Széchenyi Baths and Pool in Budapest is first thing in the morning. It gets really busy from 11:00 onwards.

2 | Pre-book your visit online and avoid the queues. Spend as much of a full day at Széchenyi Baths and Pool in Budapest and, afterwards take advantage of complimentary tasting of Hungary’s famous spirit “pálinka” on an optional guided tour inside the Pálinka Museum.

Check availability to Széchenyi Baths and Pool in Budapest

2 | Budapest City Park

Occupying an area of 302 acres, Budapest City Park is the largest green oasis in Budapest where the first trees were established in 1751. The millennium celebrations of Hungary in 1896 took place in this park. The City Park is home to a multitude of things to see and do.

The entrance to Budapest City Park is the Heroes’ Square. Within a short stroll, you shall find lawns, lakes, museums, castles, botanical gardens, a zoo and the world renowned Széchenyi  Spa (#1 above).

3 | Vajdahunyad Castle Budapest

things to visit in budapest

Located within the City Park is Vajdahunyad Castle Budapest , regarded as one of the most beautiful castles in Hungary. The Vajdahunyad Castle is a large castle complex that is home to the most interesting of historic buildings in Hungary. This beautiful fairy-tale castle is surrounded by a boating lake (in the summer) which simulates a moat surrounding medieval castles or an ice-rink (in winter). The castle was built in 1896 in celebration of the 1000th year of Hungary. This incredible castle complex boasts several architectural styles from the Middle Ages to the 18th century, including Romanesque , Gothic , Renaissance and Baroque .

When visiting, look out for the medieval tower by the entrance which was modelled in Hunyadis’ medieval Vajdahunyad Castle in Transylvania.

Presently, Vajdahunyad Castle Budapest is host to the Museum of Hungarian Agriculture .

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The outdoor surroundings of the castle are freely accessible. There is a statue of a hooded figure, Anonymous opposite the main entrance to the exhibition hall. Anonymous was a 12th century monk who is the unknown notary of King Béla III . He is credited as the author of the first Hungarian history book, Gesta Hungarorum .

Just a few steps away from the Anonymous statue is a restaurant/bar, Anonymous Étterem . Ideally set by the lake, where we went for lunch. It was a quiet afternoon and prior booking was not needed.

Fun fact: Apparently touching the sharp end of the monk’s pen will make you a better writer.

Where: City Park, Budapest, 1146 Hungary

4 | Heroes’ Square Budapest

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Heroes’ Square Budapest is one of the prime squares in the city. The Square is located at the end of Andrássy Avenue , a boulevard dating back to 1872, and recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with Buda Castle and the shores of Danube . At the Heroes’ Square, you shall find three main sites — Hall of Art, Museum of Fine Arts and the Millennium Monument .

The Millennium Monument includes two broad semi-circular colonnades with a central column. The central column stands at 36-metres high, topped by a statue of Gabriel, an archangel, holding a Holy Crown and two apostolic crosses. The colonnades on both sides hold bronze statues of Hungarian leaders

5 | Museum of Fine Arts Budapest

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Towards the east of Heroes Square, about a three-minute walk is the Museum of Fine Arts Budapest. The museum is home to a remarkable collection of European Art spanning from ancient times to the end of the 18th century. In particular, the Museum of Fine Arts has a rich Egyptian Art Collection along with a Classical Antiquities Collection.

Where: Budapest, Dózsa György út 41, 1146 Hungary

Open: 10:00 A.M to 6:00 P.M | Closed on Mondays

6 | Andrássy Avenue Budapest

things to visit in budapest

The Andrássy Avenue is one of the most emblematic boulevards in Budapest that links Erzsébet Square, near St Stephen’s Basilica to the City Park Budapest . A historic street of 2.4 kilometres that was formed between 1870 and 1876.

Andrássy Avenue is lined with trees, spectacular mansions, townhouses and buildings of elegant architecture along with stunning facades. It is also one of the renowned streets for shopping and you will find all the high-end labels. Nicknamed the ‘Champs-Élysées’ of Budapest, this is a boulevard where you can shop till you drop, escape to a quintessential cafe for a quick pick-me-up or simply window-shop and people-watch as you walk along, what seems an endless array of shops. Andrássy Avenue has been acclaimed as a World Heritage Site since 2002.

7 | Hungarian Parliament Building on the Danube River Budapest

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Located on the Kossuth Lajos Square, in the heart of Budapest is the Hungarian Parliament Building . Its main facade overlooks the UNESCO listed banks of the Danube River. This formidable, majestic piece of architectural marvel stuns visitors and is the busiest as well as the most intriguing of attractions to experience in Budapest.

The Hungarian Parliament Building has stood testament to over a hundred years of history. You can explore the secrets within the walls of this monumental marvel by joining one of the timed-tours.

The Parliament building in Budapest is colossal. Designed by Imre Steindl, who astutely incorporated key numerical facts into the construction to demonstrate the structure’s importance, hence making it extraordinarily unique.

7.1 What to see in the Hungarian Parliament Building when you join a tour

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The guided tour of the Hungarian Parliament Building allows you to discover the beautiful, sometimes jaw-dropping interiors. During your visit, you will experience the Central Dome, the magnificent Main Staircase, the Dome Hall, the Upper House along with the Lounge.

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The central dome is 96 metres high, signifying the year Hungary was formed — 896 AD. The inviting Main Staircase has stunning frescoes by the Hungarian painter, Karl Lotz. The staircase has 96 steps, leading to a magnificent hallway. The spectacular Hungarian Coronation Jewels is showcased in the Dome Hall.

The priceless Hungarian jewel, the Holy Crown of Hungary or more popularly known as the Crown of St Stephen is displayed in the Dome Hall and guarded 24/7. The Crown dates back to 1000 AD and is a beautifully molded piece decorated with pearls and gems.

Additionally, the Hungarian Parliament Building has 365 towers, to represent each day of the year. It has 691 rooms, 28 entrances, 10 courtyards and 29 staircases.

The Hungarian Parliament Building tour takes 45 minutes and includes ten to fifteen minutes of security check.

Where: Budapest, Kossuth Lajos tér 1-3, 1055 Hungary

Open: 8:00 A.M

7.2 Timeless Travel Steps Best Tips:

1 | The Hungarian Parliament Building is a top attraction in Budapest. Avoid waiting in a long line to obtain tickets and book online before hand. Alternatively, you could go to the Visitor Centre at the Parliament Building, and queue for the tickets. You could purchase one if there are any left in your preferred language.

2 | Plan ahead and Book your Guided Tour of the Hungarian Parliament Building .

8 | Shoes on the Danube Budapest

things to visit in budapest

Close-by to the Hungarian Parliament Building, along the banks of the River, stands sixty-pairs of shoes cast in iron and anchored to the ground. The shoes face the Danube River. Varying styles and sizes can be seen, representing men, women and children. A symbol that no one was safe at that time in history — not man, woman or child.

Shoes on the Danube is a poignant reminder of a horrific time in history, where hundreds lost their lives as a result of the atrocities of the Arrow Cross militiamen in Budapest during the Second World War . The militiamen rounded up Jews in Budapest on the banks of the Danube. The Jews were forced to remove their shoes before being shot into the Danube, where the waters would carry them away. Made of leather, shoes were a valuable commodity during the war and the militiamen would either sell them or use it themselves.

The memorial was created by film director, Can Togay, and was erected on April 16, 2005. A plaque reads:

“To the memory of the victims shot into the Danube by Arrow Cross militiamen in 1944–45. Erected 16 April 2005”

Where: Budapest, Id. Antall József rkp., 1054 Hungary

9 | Budapest Opera House

things to visit in budapest

One of the most elegant places in the heart of Pest, is the Budapest Opera House ( Magyar Állami Operaház ). A magnificent Neo-Renaissance building built between 1875 and 1884 features frescoes, statues of Puccini, Mozart, Liszt, and Verdi along with gliding marble and plush chandeliers. This historical and cultural venue in Hungary opened its doors in September 1884.

The Budapest Opera House is worth a visit. You could purchase a ticket for guided tours online or see one of the scheduled performances.

Where: Budapest, Andrássy út 22, 1061 Hungary

9.1 | Timeless Travel Steps Best Tip: How to Visit Budapest Opera House

Join the Discovery Tour of Budapest — a small group guided tour of Budapest that includes a visit to the Budapest Opera House. With this guided tour, you visit all the highlights in Budapest and learn the history along the way. Enjoy a panoramic view of the Danube from the Fisherman’s Bastion.

The Discovery tour of Budapest is highly popular and numbers are limited. Check availability and book early>>

10 | Liberty Square Budapest (Szabadsag Square)

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A large green space in the heart of Pest, not too far from the Hungarian Parliament Building, the Liberty Square is worth a stop for a quick respite. There are many significant memorials such as the statue of Ronald Reagan, Michael Jackson along with a controversial monument. The park is surrounded by banking houses and buildings of notable architecture . There is an interactive fountain in the centre where kids can play.

Where: Budapest, Szabadság tér, 1054 Hungary

11 | St Stephen’s Basilica Budapest

Things to do in Budapest

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Named after the Hungarian beloved first king, Stephen , St Stephen’s is a Roman Catholic place of worship. It is the largest church in Budapest and home to Hungary’s most sacred treasure, ‘The Holy Right’ — the mummified right hand of King Stephen who died in 1038.

St Stephen’s Basilica was built between 1851 and 1905, displaying an incredible Neoclassical architecture. By far the most impressive is the 300-foot dome with striking architecture. Framed by two bell towers , the largest bell in Hungary hangs on the southern tower. At 96 metres (314 feet), you could also climb to the viewing terrace for splendid views over the city.

To the viewing gallery: 302 steps up or an elevator + steps;

Where: Budapest, Szent István tér 1, 1051 Hungary

11.1 | Timeless Travel Steps Best Tips on St Stephen’s Basilica:

1 | Enjoy skip-the-line access along with a guided tour to St Stephen’s Basilica. Learn about its monumental artworks and an exclusive access to the dome for a panoramic view over Budapest. Check for availability now >>

2 | Listen to beautiful classical music in a unique venue, a timeless experience in St Stephen’s Basilica. Book your tickets ahead of performances >>

3 | Alternatively, experience an Organ Concert at St Stephen’s Basilica. The melody is performed by Kolos Kováts, one of the most famous and talented concerts and oratorio singers in Hungary. He received the Liszt Ferenc prize, Merit of Art and the Kossuth Prize. Check availability>>

12 | Cruise the Danube in Budapest

Marvel at the beauty and grace of this centuries old city when you embark on a Budapest river cruise along the Danube River in the evening. A leisurely cruise either during the day or evening makes a pleasant experience. Somehow, seeing Budapest from the waters makes the experience, special.

Budapest, also often known as ‘Pearl of the Danube’ or ‘Queen of the Danube’ is best experienced in the evening on a cruise. The grand buildings and the eclectic architecture are all beautifully lit in the evening. Watch a snippet of our experience along the Danube River – it was one of the best things in Budapest that we experienced.

Most cruises take about 60 minutes for a complete loop. You will pass various landmarks including, the iconic Parliament Building, Buda Castle, Széchenyi Chain Bridge, Elisabeth Bridge, Fisherman’s Bastian and the Liberty Statue on Gellert Hill.

There are several cruises you could select from and you could take a look here>>

12.1 | Timeless Travel Steps Best Tips about Cruises on the Danube River

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1 | We went on a one hour evening cruise along the Danube with a welcome drink. The commentary was excellent, highlighting the landmarks along with its history> Check availability

2 | If you prefer, opt for the hop-on hop-off open top bus package which includes a river cruise. Select from 24, 48 or 72 hours ticket to suit your itinerary. Routes and stops are carefully designed to maximise your experience of the historic city. Select your option>

13 | Explore the Jewish Quarter in Budapest

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The Jewish Quarter Budapest is located in the heart of Budapest, in District 7 and is encircled by Király Street, Erzsébet körút, Dohány Street, Károly körút. It is the smallest district in Budapest but has the highest population density. Known as the party district of Budapest, the Jewish Quarter exudes a lively atmosphere of modern day lives, trendy restaurants, street art and galleries along with old history and historic landmarks. This gentrified neighbourhood is home to world famous synagogues, eccentric ruin bars ( Szimpla Kert ) and quirky design shops while offering a wide selection of cuisines to indulge as well.

A visit to the Jewish Quarter almost always tops a visitor’s list and a popular stop for guided tours. The Great Synagogue is located at Dohány Street and, just blocks away is the Rumbach Street Synagogue built in 1872. The synagogue in Kazinczy Street is also interesting. Each synagogue is aesthetically different while The Great Synagogue is a ‘must-see’ landmark in Budapest.

TTS Best Tip: Visit Szimpla Kert , a place full of life that serves food all day long with music and a lovely garden;

14 | Dohány Street Synagogue Budapest

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The Great Synagogue , more popularly known as Dohány Street Synagogue is the largest synagogue in Europe and the second largest synagogue in the world. Without a doubt, this is one of the best things to do in Budapest, an unmissable site in Budapest and you may wish to add it to your itinerary.

The Dohány Street Synagogue features an inspiring 1200-metre-square hall in a splendour of coral red and gold leaf. It is split into two sections, with gallery seating for women and men downstairs.

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On the outside, there is a mass grave that commemorates the 2000 Jews killed during the Holocaust. A little further down the corridor, there is Raoul Wallenberg Park with its metal willow Memorial Tree . Each leaf on the tree bears the name or number of a Holocaust victim.

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The Great Synagogue is home to AM Rosenblum Jewish Museum . The Museum showcases the outstanding collection of Jewish artefacts including textiles, ritual silver and paintings.

In the basement of the Great Synagogue is the recently opened museum that tells the history of the Jewish Quarter, the persecution endured during the war, Ghetto , the Yellow Star Houses and much more.

14.1 | Timeless Travel Steps Best Tips for Visiting the Great Synagogue Budapest:

1 | You can only visit the Dohány Street Synagogue on a guided tour. Book your fast track ticket to The Great Synagogue before visiting and join the guided tour at the designated time. After the guided tour, you will have plenty of time to explore the museums and learn more at your own pace. Check availability and book your tickets>

2 | Jewish Heritage Walking Tour with a guide

3 | Jewish Cuisine and Culture walk in Budapest

15 | New York Café Budapest

things to visit in budapest

Be transported to an era of elegance at the New York Café , Budapest, a meeting place for the local bourgeois. Built in Neo-Renaissance style with marble columns, sparkling chandeliers, stunning frescoes and gilded details, the New York Cafe is definitely a place to experience if you have the time.

The New York Café in Budapest opened its doors 128 years ago. It is a place for tourists to enjoy coffee, and dobos torte in an opulent setting.

Dine-in only.

Open daily: 8:00 A.M. to 12:00 A.M.

Where: Budapest, Erzsébet krt. 9-11, 1073 Hungary

16 | Margaret Island Budapest

Margaret Island is a tranquil , green oasis within the capital city of Hungary. The island is rather small, measuring 0.5 kilometres wide and 2.5 kilometres in length. There are defined pedestrian paths around the parkland, jogging tracks, sports centre, and a swimming pool along with ruins of a 13th century convent and a musical fountain.

To reach Margaret Island, you need to either walk across the Margaret Bridge or take a taxi but the taxi will drop you off at the barriers to the park. No vehicles are allowed on the island.

17 | Margaret Bridge, Budapest

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Margaret Bridge in Budapest is the second oldest public bridge in Budapest and is a three-way bridge , connecting Buda and Pest across the Danube while also linking Margaret Island . The bridge leads to the banks of Margaret Island.

18 | Elisabeth Bridge Budapest

things to visit in budapest

Elisabeth Bridge connects Buda to Pest on the narrowest part of the River Danube, spanning only 290 metres.

Named after their endearing Habsburg queen, Elisabeth , known as Sissi, Elisabeth Bridge was originally built without riverbed pillars. However, during World War II, the bridge was blown up in 1945. The bridge was beyond repair and a new bridge was commissioned in 1960. The new Elisabeth Bridge was built in the same place, standing on its old pillars with added width. It was completed in 1964.

19 | Széchenyi Chain Bridge , Budapest

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Széchenyi Chain Bridge spans the River Danube, connecting Buda in the west and Pest in the east of Budapest. Designed by William Clark, an English engineer and was built by Adam Clark, a Scottish engineer. The Széchenyi Chain Bridge opened in 1849 and was the first permanent bridge in Budapest.

19.1 | Timeless Travel Steps Best Tips on Bridges in Budapest

If you have the time, walk across at least one of the bridges when you are in Budapest. It is a great opportunity for some awesome photos. If you do not wish to walk through it, you do not have to. Hop onto a sightseeing bus , and enjoy the views that are ahead of you as you cross the Elisabeth Bridge – Gellert Hill and the Liberty Statue. It’s awesome!

UNMISSABLE EXPERIENCES IN BUDA, WEST BANK OF RIVER DANUBE

20 | Fisherman’s Bastion Buda

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One of the best known attractions in Budapest is Fisherman’s Bastion . Built between 1895 and 1902, the Fisherman’s Bastion has seven turrets to represent the seven Hungarian tribes who founded the country in 896 AD. There is a Chapel inside the Fisherman’s Bastion.

The magical castle offers viewing points for stunning vista over the bustling Pest and the Danube River. You could watch the boats flow up and down the Danube, seek out the iconic landmarks such as the St Stephen’s Cathedral in the distance and admire the splendid Hungarian Parliament Building by the shores of the Danube.

The Fisherman’s Bastion Terrace Cafe offers spectacular views over the Danube.

views over the Danube from the Cafe Terrace, Fisherman's Bastion Budapest

Open all year round.

The entrance is free. Balconies are accessible freely. Access to turrets and viewing points incur a fee.

Address: Budapest, Szentháromság tér, 1014 Hungary

20 | Timeless Travel Steps Best Tips: Fisherman’s Bastion

If you could, be here for the sunset.

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The changing hues of the mild and mellow light, the gentle tint of blue, pink, lilac amidst the evening winds are absolutely glorious and magical.

2 | Combine an evening visit to Fisherman’s Bastion with a historical-ridden evening tour of the Buda Castle District. This tour is about the bloody side of Hungarian history . Stories of draculas and vampires amidst the backdrop of Buda Castle at night, all lit up in gold. >> Check availability

3 | Join a daytime Walking Tour . Learn the city’s 1000 years of history, look out for hidden gems, explore the Buda Castle District and walk on the very old cobblestones of the Castle District. >> Check availability

21 | St Matthias Church, Holy Trinity Square, Buda

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Just across from the Fisherman’s Bastion, is the slender and graceful architecture of St Matthias, a Roman Catholic Church. Believed to have been constructed in the 13th century, St Matthias is an important church with a momentous history. It has been rebuilt several times over the years, and has been pivotal for coronations of the Hungarian kings. With a height of 78 metres, St Matthias dominates the main square of the Castle Hill area. It has a splendid interior, showcasing one of the finest Gothic architecture of its time. The tower’s viewing points are 200 steps up.

Opens: Monday to Saturday > 9:00 A.M to 5.00 P.M.

Sunday > 1:00 P.M. to 5:00 P.M.

Where: Budapest, Szentháromság tér 2, 1014 Hungary

21.1 | Timeless Travel Steps Best Tip: St Matthias Church

Experience an extraordinary evening of classical favourites from Mozart, Bach, Saint-Saens by extraordinary musicians at a stunning venue.

Check availability of this sell-out event

22 | Buda Castle and the Gardens + Courtyards of the Royal Palace | Budapest

things to visit in budapest

The colossal Baroque Buda Castle seen today was built between 1749 and 1769. It has been rebuilt many times over the centuries since it was first built in 1265. Presently, Buda Castle is home to the Hungarian National Gallery , National Library and Budapest History Museum.

More popularly known as the Royal Palace , the castle is a magnificent symbol of the Hungarian capital city . Occupying an enviable position atop Castle Hill Buda, the Royal Palace dominates the city, giving an opportunity to enjoy stunning views over the Danube , Pest , and the iconic Chain Bridge .

22.1 The Gardens and Courtyards of the Royal Palace

things to visit in budapest

Habsburg Gate and Steps

One of the entrances to the Royal Palace is via the Habsburg Gate. An ornate gateway dating from 1903. Beyond the gate, are the Habsburg Steps, which leads to the front of the palace where a statue of Prince Eugene of Savoy, hero of the Turkish wars stands.

Matthias Fountain

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The Matthias Fountain is associated with a romantic story albeit a sad one.

The fountain portrays a young King Matthias Corvinus in his hunting attire, standing on the highest rock. The story goes that Ilonka, a heroine of a famous 19th century ballad by Mihaly Vorosmarty fell in love with this young and dashing hunter. She did not know that he was King Matthias. Upon finding out his status, Ilona felt unworthy of his love. She died of a broken heart. Ilonka is represented by the bronze statue on the right.

The gardens and courtyards are open every day 24/7.

National Gallery & History Museum : Tuesday to Sunday > 10:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M. (Closes at 4:00 P.M. during autumn and winter).

22.2 | TTS Best Tip: Buda Castle

Buda Castle Walking Tour > learn all there is to the 1000 year old history of the oldest district in Budapest from a knowledgeable guide. Walk on some of the oldest cobblestones and be mesmerised with the stunning views over the Danube and Pest from Buda.

Check availability and reserve your place

23 | Explore Buda’s Old Town District

While visiting the Castle Hill area of Buda, stop for a moment at one of the best statues of St Stephen , the first King of Hungary . You can see the statue in the square between Fisherman’s Bastion and St Matthias Church . The impressive monument of an equestrian bronze statue was erected in 1906, with a pedestal of 5.4 metres high. Another notable space is the Trinity Square , where the amazingly beautiful Matthias Church stands gallantly. Within the Trinity Square is Trinity Column , the first foundation stone of which was laid in 1700.

24 | The Underground Labyrinth beneath Castle Hill

An intriguing part of exploring and discovering Budapest is the complex, and vast system of underground caves beneath Castle Hill. The caves date back to prehistoric times. The underground Labyrinth has a long known history of human use and has inspired many legends. Mixed with the general spookiness of the underground world, the caves are reputed to have been the home of Vlad Tepes, better known as Count Dracula.

24.1 | TTS best tip: Castle Hill Caves Guided Walking Tour

things to visit in budapest

The length of the tour is approximately 1.5 km (1 mile), where you will walk through tunnels, limestone caverns and a 800-year old man-made cellars.

Book your unique experience at one of the most extraordinary caves in Hungary.

Georgina: This activity was closed during our visit in March – an activity which I very much wanted to experience. Something to look forward to, next time.

25 | Ride the historic Budapest Castle Hill Funicular

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The Castle Hill Funicular links Adam Clark Square at river level to Buda Castle above. This historic funicular line opened in 1870. The journey is very brief, just 1.5 minutes. Rides are free if you purchase the Hop-on Hop-off Sightseeing tickets.

Address: Budapest, Clark Ádám tér, 1013 Hungary

Open daily: 7:30 A.M. to 9:30 P.M.

26 | Gellert Hill and Monuments on Gellert Hill, Buda

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Belonging to the Buda Hills range , Gellert Hill sits on a geological fault line at 235 metres high on a block of dolomite. Home to some of the city’s most favoured medicinal hotsprings and baths such as Gellért Spa and Rudas Baths . These hotsprings have been the centre of wellness, beckoning visitors from far and wide for centuries.

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Additionally, Gellert Hill overlooks the Danube River and offers viewing points for incredible panorama over Pest and as far as you can see down the Danube.

26.1 | Monuments on Gellert Hill, Buda

things to visit in budapest

The hill takes its name from Bishop Gellért . The bishop was rolled down to his death by pagans in 1046. A large statue of Bishop Gellért holding a cross was erected on the northeastern side of the hill, facing the Elizabeth bridge .

There are two other main monuments on Gellert Hill which are worth visiting: the Citadel built by the Austrians in 1851 and Statue of Freedom erected in 1947.

Visit also the Jubilee Park , put in place to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Hungarian October Revolution in 1956. The park is home to many shady pathways, flowerbeds and sculptures.

26.2 | Practical Information: Gellert Hill

1 | If you are walking from the Pest side, you could walk up Gellert Hill either from Elizabeth Bridge or Liberty Bridge;

2 | The path up via Jubilee Park is less steep.

3 | Take bus #27 and get off at Busulo Juhasz;

26.3 | Timeless Travel Steps Best Tip:

Don’t want to hike up or take the bus? Opt for the best deal > the hop-on hop-off tour bus .

things to visit in budapest

The hop-on hop-off bus is the best way to see the city and go up to Gellert Hill if you do not wish to hike or walk all of the time. This ticket includes a guided walking tour and a cruise.

Learn more about this best deal and check availability >>

27 | The Cave Church, Gellert Hill Budapest

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The Cave Church at Gellert Hill is part of a network of caves set within Gellert Hill. You can see the modern entrance to the cave as you drive past church to Buda Hill. The church is run by Pauline Monks, who were inspired by rock chapels in Lourdes, France. There is a replica statue of the Black Madonna of Czestochowa, Poland.

The cave was once home to a 9th century hermit monk, Saint Ivan. He used the thermal waters from a nearby muddy lake to heal the sick.

The Cave Church is located at the base of Gellert Hill, near the Gellert Hotel. Open daily with a small fee.

28 | Sunset over the Danube River and Pest from Buda

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An unmissable experience in Budapest is to witness a sunset at Buda Hill. Buda has an enviable natural landscape where you can spot some stunning sunsets over the city’s iconic landmarks. Places like the Fisherman’s Bastion treat you to an extraordinary panorama over the Danube, Parliament building and Pest. You could also catch stunning views as you walk through the grounds and courtyards of the Royal Palace.

Highly recommended read: Castle Hill Budapest | 17 Best Things to do in Buda’s Old Town District

29 | Central Market Hall Budapest

things to visit in budapest

The Central Market Hall is the most expansive, and oldest of indoor markets in Budapest. This historic market was built in 1897. Budapest Central Market offers a vast range of food stalls, from freshly sourced vegetables, fowl and meat, to wine, liquor and clothing. The top floor of the market hosts many restaurants, offering authentic Hungarian food.

Hungarian food in Budapest | things to do in Budapest | timelesstravelsteps.com

“We had lunch here, at the Great Market Hall Budapest, one afternoon. It was a busy time of day, and we opted for a restaurant that had indoor seating and live music. We tried the Hungarian Goulash and Hungarian Beef Stew. The Goulash was served with bread while the options to accompany the beef stew were rice, baked potatoes or fries. It was a good meal.”

30 | Escape Budapest City for the day and Visit Szentendre

things to visit in budapest

A little town on the banks of Danube Bend, Szentendre is one of the easiest day trips you could do if you wish to escape the cityscape for a day.

Szentendre is a perfect little town of winding cobbled streets, some dating back 2000 years. Buildings painted in cheerful pastel colours, little shops line the street, plenty of gelato shops, churches and galleries. The unmissable places are the Marzipan Museum and the Christmas shop.

ESSENTIALS FOR BUDAPEST:

1 | From Budapest Airport to Budapest City Centre by Airport shuttle

2 | From Budapest Airport to Hotel Private Transfer

3 | Budapest City Card: Public Transport, 30+ Attractions and Tours

4 | Hop-on hop-off + walking tour + cruise

5 | 1-hour Evening Cruise + welcome drink

6 | Jewish Quarter: Jewish Cuisine + Culture Walk

7 | Day trip: Szentendre + Danube Bend

Budapest has an enviable natural landscape, with stunning views across both sides of the Danube. Having admired the palace, the churches, the ornate architecture of the Hungarian Parliament building, the historic narrow alleys, the vibrant Jewish Quarter, unforgettable panorama from the Fisherman’s Bastion, I can firmly say that Budapest is definitely one of the most beautiful cities in Europe and should top a European visit.

Have a splendid time in Budapest, xoxo

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Introducing Georgina, the insightful Content Creator behind Timeless Travel Steps. A champion of off-season journeys and cultural immersion for the mature traveller, Georgina has explored 4 continents and over 30 countries. Her blog offers practical tips and personal insights into responsible, comfort-oriented travel along with slow travel destinations. Accompanied by classical, country, and jazz tunes, Georgina's solo adventures and time with her adult children, A & M, enrich her unique travel narrative. Join her for inspiring, immersive global explorations.

62 Fun & Unusual Things to Do in Budapest, Hungary

fun things to do in Budapest

Undisputed as one of the most photogenic cities on the continent, the Pearl of the Danube is racing up the tourist ranks, quickly establishing itself as the premier eastern European capital (sorry, Prague, not this time).

From its Disney-esque riverside Parliament Building to its collection of marvelous basilicas, trendy ruin bars, relaxing spas, mouth-watering restaurants, and non-stop entertainment, the list of things to do in Budapest never ends.

As a comparatively cheap destination (up against the western European metropolises of London and Paris), even budget travelers can treat themselves to a slice of luxury in Budapest.

So, where to begin? We can help with that.

Uncover castles dating hundreds of years back, tour royal palaces, and see architectural delights that have stood the test of time.

Step into the world of the weird and wonderful as you learn about Dracula, witness a real torture chamber or take a ride on an actual locomotive train run by kids … As you can see, there is something to delight all ages in this vibrant, historical city.

Spend your days wandering the postcard-perfect streets, snapping millions of photos as you go along, exploring the different districts or day-tripping to cities in countries nearby.

Just the tip of the iceberg, here are epic activities, attractions and places to visit in Budapest.

1 – Check out Buda Castle

Buda Castle tickets

You simply can’t miss this grand royal residence at the center of Budapest!

For 800 years it has undergone plenty of facelifts and renovations, so taking a guided tour to hear the secrets hidden in every wall and every room of the palace (and the surrounding Várhegy district) is considered a quintessential tourist activity.

If you’re feeling snackish, swing by nearby Ruszwurm for a famous sweet pastry!

  • Buda Castle tickets

2 – Step back in time and visit Budapest’s Royal Guard and Riding Hall

Royal Guard and Riding Hall, Budapest

After visiting the Buda Castle, don’t miss the chance to explore the Royal Guard and Riding Hall exhibition – taking you on a chronological journey through the 18th century to the termination of the guard.

You’ll be greeted by the grandeur of the Royal Guard’s uniforms, helmets, headwear, private objects, medals, and full personal records.

These relics offer a rare glimpse into the everyday life of the guards who protected kings and royal families, even at the cost of their own lives.

For the food lovers, their restaurant is also a must-visit.

  • see price and reviews

3 – Take in the view from St. Stephen’s Basilica

St Stephen’s Basilica tickets

Filled with fine art, a mummified hand, and an antique organ for classical music concerts, this vibrant building is more than just a famous religious site — it’s also Budapest’s tallest building!

So, of course, make sure to take the elevator up to the terrace and snap a perfect Instagram post.

Many of the city’s free walking tours will stroll past this landmark, however, to appreciate its true energy, an organ concert ticket is highly recommended.

  • St. Stephen’s Basilica tickets

4 – Cruise down the Danube

boat tours in Budapest

Whether seated on the open-air deck or behind the comfort of the glass, cruising down one of Europe’s most famous rivers is a great way to see Budapest.

By day, enjoy a cup of coffee and listen to the live narration about the passing landmarks; by night, sip on a cocktail surrounded by romantic ambient candlelight; or even join a boat party.

Any cruise is a memorable experience, so pick your preferred style and add it to your list of things to do in Budapest!

  • boat tours in Budapest

Read more about the best Budapest river cruises .

5 – Ride the historical Buda Castle Hill Funicular

Buda Castle Hill Funicular, Budapest

Have you ever ridden a funicular before? Ditch the mundane and hop on board the Buda Castle Hill Funicular — a combination ride between a tram and a cable car built on a slope.

In operation since 1870 (with upgrades made since then to keep the original mode of transport running), if you want to see Buda Castle but aren’t set on hiking to the top of Castle Hill, this is an excellent alternative.

Built to run along a 95-meter route running up and down the hill with its 50-meter slope, it connects the Danube River and Buda Castle. There are two stations: the lower station is located by the Chain Bridge, and the upper station is at the top of Castle Hill.

Lap up the views during the journey, which lasts a few minutes, and the historic cable railway runs every ten minutes, opening from morning until evening.

6 – Find the Tree of Life in the Jewish Quarter

Jewish Quarter tickets

Budapest’s multifaceted Jewish Quarter has nightlife for party-goers, great restaurants for foodies, and dynamic tales for history buffs!

Dohány Street Synagogue is a marvel and the second-largest synagogue in the world, a mainstay attraction in private tours of the area.

The Tree of Life, another unmissable landmark, sits is in the Raoul Wallenberg Memorial Park, commemorating World War II and the heroes who defied the German occupation.

  • Jewish Quarter tours

7 – See the changing of the guards at Parliament

Budapest Parliament tickets

If you’re wondering how a House of Parliament building could top lists of things to do in Budapest, just wait until you catch sight of this architectural triumph.

With the royal crown jewels, plenty of artistic prowess, and 40 kilograms of gold on site, there are few buildings anywhere in the world that can rival this masterpiece on the Danube.

If the building isn’t striking enough (inside and out), the daily changing of the guards ceremony includes rifles, drums, and sublime choreography ought to do the trick!

During city tours , the impressive structure is never missed and guides love to bring travelers straight to the Visitor’s Center to take photographs, and to gain inside knowledge and information about the building, first built in 1904.

Investigate some of its standout features during tours like the Grand Stairway, the Dome Hall, the Lounge of the Chamber of Peers and the Béla Neÿ hall.

  • Budapest Parliament tickets

Read more about Hungarian Parliament tickets price .

8 – Take a hop-on hop-off bus tour

bus tours in Budapest

With so many things to do in Budapest, boarding an open-top double-decker bus with detailed audio commentary is a great way to see all the best attractions (without tiring out those legs)!

There’s always another bus around the corner to take you to your next stop, so you’ll never have to worry about racing against the clock.

For those staying for at least a few days, the recommended deluxe ticket also includes a Danube River cruise and night-tour of the city.

  • bus tours in Budapest

9 – Tour the Royal Palace of Gödöllő

Royal Palace of Gödöllő tickets

About 40-minutes from the hustle and bustle of Budapest awaits a holiday house fit for a king!

The royal palace is a testament to Hungary’s rich history; combining the charm of old Budapest with the Italian village vibes of Szentendre, a colorful riverside town known for its museums.

Hot tip: if traveling with youngsters, take them to the nearby Lipizzan farm, home to animals and an amazing horse show!

  • Royal Palace of Gödöllő tickets

Read more about the best day trips from Budapest .

10 – Put on your sneakers and enjoy a walking tour

walking tours in Budapest

With so much to see in this sprawling, historic metropolis, it’s often hard to decide where to begin.

Travelers often choose to start their trip by walking the vibrant streets on a walking tour, with a knowledgeable guide who will delve into the culture, history, and gastronomy of the lively city.

With a plethora of epic walking expeditions to choose from, you don’t just have to opt for a regular sightseeing tour — unless, of course, that’s your vibe.

For example, choose an eerie vampire and dark history walking tour in the evening, or foodies can take a dedicated culinary walking tour around the city.

Spend 90 minutes being shown around to classic monuments and must-see city attractions, or set aside three hours and explore both Buda and Pest districts by foot.

Walking tours range from a 40-minute walkabout to four-hour adventures.

  • walking tours in Budapest

11 – Zip through Budapest at night on an e-scooter

scooter tours in Budapest

A scooter tour is a unique way to quickly see Budapest’s main attractions and hidden gems all in a night’s work!

For an experience you won’t get on any run-of-the-mill tour bus, e-scooter adventures allow guests to see the city shine at night, with discounts offered at restaurants and bars across town.

Best of all, there’s often complimentary goulash and drinks!

  • scooter tours in Budapest

12 – See the Millenium Monument at Heroes’ Square

Millenium Monument at Heroes’ Square, Budapest

The focal point of Budapest’s biggest town square is the 36-meter pillar topped with the Archangel Gabriel — you can’t miss it.

Locals love taking their picnics to dine under the grandiose statues of former statespeople and rulers, while tourists often put this iconic spot at the top of their list of things to do in Budapest due to the unbeatable views of the river below.

13 – Savor the excitement of a Formula One race at the Hungarian Grand Prix

Hungarian Grand Prix, BudapestHungarian Grand Prix, Budapest

Just 20 minutes northeast of the city, the Hungaroring, which is known for its twisty layout and challenging corners, welcomes racers to the Hungarian Grand Prix every year in late July.

The event lasts for three days, with practice on the Friday, qualifying on the Saturday and finally, the exhilarating race taking place on Sunday.

Besides the roaring cars whizzing around the track, the event also offers a range of entertainment, from live music to food and drink stands, evening fireworks and more.

Whether you’re a motorsport enthusiast or just looking for an exciting weekend, Budapest’s Grand Prix is the perfect opportunity to experience a totally different side of Hungary.

  • Hungarian Grand Prix tickets

14 – Take a trip back in time on a communism tour

communism tour in Budapest

Uncover Hungary’s turbulent 20th century with a historical tour of a city that spent the Cold War being pulled between East and West.

Budapest is full of buildings, bullet holes, and brilliant stories from this era, all of which will be presented by a knowledgeable guide who will make the sites and sounds of the past come alive.

  • communism tour in Budapest

15 – Solve an escape room

escape rooms in Budapest

Grab your hostel buddies, get your detective hat and your magnifying glass, and try to solve the puzzles at one of the many escape rooms around the city.

As the door locks behind you in the fully interactive rooms, the clocks start to tick — with only an hour to uncover the clues, not everyone has what it takes to escape in time.

A popular choice is the Gingerbread House room, where challengers must solve the puzzle for a recipe to endless chocolate!

  • escape rooms in Budapest

16 – Delight your taste buds on a foodie tour

food tours in Budapest

No trip to Hungary is complete without trying a hearty goulash soup, its local wine and cheese pairings, or lángos (deep-fried flatbread with cottage cheese).

For the meat-lovers, take it up a notch with local smoked duck breast, water buffalo salami, Mangalica pork sausages, and grey beef sausages with traditional pickled vegetables on the side!

Whatever your preferred palate, there’s a food-centric tour for everyone.

  • food tours in Budapest

17 – Day trip to Danube Bend and Esztergom

Danube Bend and Esztergom day trips from Budapest

A few hours out of Budapest, the picturesque city of Esztergom was once Hungary’s capital and today boasts stunning views of the mighty Visegrád Castle, the Danube River , and the sprawling European countryside.

For the adventure-seekers, set out on foot to the river for vistas of volcanic hills, waterfalls, and canyons!

In fact, hiking in these parts is extremely popular, particularly around the Danube Bend — a section of the river lined with traditional villages and towns comprising their own historical attractions from medieval castles to ancient fortresses.

Esztergom, Vác and Visegrad are some of the towns located along the riverbanks, and Szentendre is a tiny town on a little island in the river (loved for its Mediterranean feel).

If you’re keen to spend the day out in nature, there are half and full-day hiking tours around the region.

While you could rent your own car, a pre-organized tour is the easiest and most popular choice.

  • Danube Bend day trips

18 – See Portrait of a Young Man at the Museum of Fine Arts

Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

With over 100,000 pieces of art from across all time periods, this striking building that focuses on fine art and sculpture is an art-lover’s paradise!

While notable pieces line each and every wall, one particularly emotive piece is Giorgione’s self-portrait, a priceless work stolen from the museum in 1983 and recovered by police in Greece.

That, along with the Esterhazy Madonna also on display, are two of the crowd favorites.

19 – Visit the galleries at Szentendre

day trips to Szentendre

Known as the Artists’ Village, Szentendre is just beautiful.

The Old City’s famous galleries and museums are diverse, sure to excite any art-lover; while the cobblestone streets are vibrant and artistic in their own right!

Many travelers couple it with the Royal Palace of Gödöllo; so sign up for a day trip, let the knowledgeable guides lead the way, and simply enjoy yourself as the 18th and 19th centuries come alive around you!

  • Szentendre day trips

20 – Get a little tipsy on a wine-tasting tour

wine tours tastings in Budapest

Anyone thirsty? As you’ll quickly discover, Hungary definitely holds its own in the wine department!

A couple of regions worth checking out are the Tokaj region, which specializes in sweet white Tokaji wines, and Etyek , which specializes in Hungarian ‘Champagne’ with more acidity.

There are plenty of tours that escort you to those regions (designated driver included) and, of course, allow you to sample the blends to your heart’s content!

  • wine tours tastings in Budapest

21 – Take a day trip to Lake Balaton

day trips to Lake Balaton

Missing the beach? The expansive, shimmering Lake Balaton is where landlocked Hungarians longing for a swim go to take a dip!

At any time of year, it’s a beautiful spot to visit, with travelers particularly fond of the promenades of Balatonfüred and the famous porcelain factories of nearby Herend .

Most visitors prefer to take the hassle out of the trip and simply book a tour. It’s often the most affordable option too (unless you go for the VIP experience).

  • Lake Balaton day trips

22 – See a horse show in the Puszta region

horse riding in Budapest

Around the nearby historic city of Kecskemét , the fabulous fields of Puszta really know how to put on a show!

After sampling a traditional barack pálinka and pogácsa (apricot schnapps and a salty scone), you’ll ride in a retro horse carriage to a stunning equestrian display that features a range of jaw-dropping stunts.

Post-performance, why not take up the chance to ride a horse yourself?

  • horse riding in Budapest

23 – Keep your balance on a Segway tour

segway tours in Budapest

Don’t worry, with a quick introduction to your zippy ride you’ll be a natural!

On a segway tour — of which, throughout this beautiful city there are many — you’ll be part of an intimate group of travelers, shadowing a local guide who will give you the lowdown on all the essential tourist sites, eateries, and hidden gems.

By the end, you’ll know all the ins and outs of the city!

  • segway tours in Budapest

24 – Eat and shop at the Lehel Market

Lehel Market, Budapest

Is it a ship? … An Art Deco attempt? … No, it’s the Lehel Market — one of the best places to stock up on all sorts of yummy (and interesting) traditional Hungarian goods.

Selling mainly food at this indoor market in District XIII (District 13), there are two levels that comprise the shopping space.

Foodies particularly find themselves in a slice of heaven, moseying between stalls and vendors selling a variety of fresh local produce, from fruits to veggies to herbs to meats, as well as plenty of authentically procured goods, like cheeses, honey, pickled items, and more.

If you haven’t yet tried out the city’s baked goods selection, munch down on langos, biscuits and pastries.

The one level is where most vendors set up shop the old-school way, and the second floor is where you can also buy other random products, from clothing to pet accessories. There are a few Hungarian and one or two Vietnamese restaurants on this floor too.

25 – Explore Budapest’s creative side on a street-art tour

street art tours in Budapest

Admiring the bustling bohemian street-art is a really cool way to discover the city’s creative side, as well as understand the lesser-known issues and themes affecting the locals.

Tour groups are usually limited to small numbers, so it’s also a great way to meet a handful of like-minded travelers and check out some parts of town off the beaten path in District 7 and the Jewish Quarter.

For the cherry on top, free drinks at a ruin bar are usually included too.

  • street art tours in Budapest

26 – Get on a bike!

bike tours in Budapest

What’s more European than exploring a city on two wheels? Exactly.

Plenty of tours offer the opportunity to zip through the bike-friendly town with a local guide — a wonderful way to get into the smaller streets and alleyways, ditch the tourist crowds, and discover those little-known gems that hide in between all the major attractions.

If you prefer exploring solo, self-guided bike tours are also available.

  • bike tours in Budapest

27 – Climb to the top of Gellért Hill

Gellért Hill, Budapest

At 235 meters high, looking over the sparkling city from the 1st and the 11th districts, Gellért Hill is the perfect excuse to lace on those hiking boots!

After tackling the scenic hike, enjoy the view and keep an eye out for a unique church in a cave.

At the top, the Citadella fortress is worth exploring, and if time permits, make sure to hang around for sunset!

Standing proudly at 14 meters high, the Liberty Statue is another monument to investigate once you summit the top of the hill, representing an important part of local history. Here, a bronzed statue was erected on top of a 26-meter-tall pillar, and so it soars into the sky.

Constructed in 1947, it was built in remembrance of the soldiers who lost their lives during the Soviet liberation of Hungary during WWI, signifying the country’s liberation.

Remaining as one of the few major Communist statues left in Budapest, snap photographs and then drink in the views overlooking the city before making your way back down the hill.

Directions in Google Maps

28 – Take a cooking class

cooking classes in Budapest

Travelers love the local cuisine, so learning a few recipes to take home is a surefire way to impress the family and friends back home.

Led by a local chef, you’ll learn about both the flavors and stories behind the country’s treasured dishes, while sampling fresh ingredients and strong drinks the whole way through.

If you can perfect the goulash, we promise your future dinner-party guests will be… Hungary for more.

  • cooking classes in Budapest

29 – Indulge in some self-care at the spas

spas in Budapest

After spending so much time exploring Budapest, putting your feet up at either Széchenyi Spa or Gellért Spa is a great way to unwind. While there are countless spas around the city, these two are the most popular among tourists.

The indoor Gellert is known for its art nouveau-style architecture, while the indoor-and-outdoor Széchenyi is one of the largest spa baths in Europe.

Not the typical spa gal or guy? With both medical and wellness services available, the Rudas Bath Rooftop Hot Tub has an ancient Turkish-style thermal pool as the main attraction. Built in 1896, it has been open to the public since 1936 — originally only for men.

Night bathing is available here too, however, guests only older than 14 years old can use the therapeutic springs.

Thermal pools, massage, and spa sessions are available to soothe any sore muscles (or help with headaches from the ruin bars the night before).

Even if you’re not here for the spa-time, it’s worth popping in just to see these unique Hungarian spas.

  • spas in Budapest

30 – Find a bargain at the Grand Ecseri Flea Market

flea market tour in Budapest

This expansive flea market has more collectibles, knick-knacks, and quirky items than anywhere else in central Europe!

There are a mix of serious stalls and lone traders trying to offload a few things — either way, it’s great for a souvenir if you can haggle the price down!

Hot tip: Bring cash (so you can haggle) and come early before the best items get swept up.

  • flea market tour in Budapest

31 – Drive a Trabant through Budapest

Trabant tours in Budapest

Known as the paper Jaguar, the quirky 1960s Trabant 601 was the car of choice for Communist-era Hungarians.

So, riding one through the preserved period neighborhoods inside of your very owm paper Jaguar is sure to take you back to the Budapest of a by-gone era.

While cute, they’re not exactly fast: with its roaring 26-horsepower engine, this bad boy goes from 0-60 kilometers per hour in 21 seconds!

  • Trabant tours in Budapest

32 – Try not to tilt at the Budapest Pinball Museum

Budapest Pinball Museum

Gamers, get excited. With over 150 pinball machines from the 1800s until today available to play —including the first-ever machine with flippers — Budapest’s Pinball Museum is a delight for kids and adults alike

So grab something from the snack bar and entertain yourself the way they used to before Minecraft and PlayStation came around.

  • Budapest Pinball Museum tickets

33 – Treat yourself at the Chocolate Museum

Chocolate Museum, Budapest

Now this is a museum you’ll want to sink your teeth into!

Indulge in chocolate tasting, get an introduction to how chocolate is made, make your very own sweet treat, and watch films about the history of chocolate with a hot mug of cocoa in hand!

If you’re not already full of cavities, don’t forget to pass by the gift shop for a few souvenirs!

34 – Visit the Hospital in the Rock Nuclear Bunker Museum

Hospital in the Rock tours

This is no regular museum: it started life as a hospital and bomb shelter during World War II, during which it was filled to 10 times its capacity during the 1944-45 Siege of Budapest.

After that, it was briefly a prison before quickly becoming a nuclear bunker.

Clearly, it’s a fascinating story — the museum’s dramatic displays give visitors a glimpse into all of its chapters.

  • Hospital in the Rock tours

35 – Admire the view from Fisherman’s Bastion

Fisherman's Bastion tours

The locals call it Halászbástya, tourists call it Fisherman’s Bastion, but after checking it out first-hand you’ll be calling it the best view of Budapest!

After snapping a few selfies, nearby, the stunning Matthias Church is worth checking out too — fitted with stained glass windows and a colorful roof, and housing the tomb of King Bela, it adds to the ambiance of this truly unique city.

  • Fisherman’s Bastion tours

36 – Put on your thinking caps during scavenger games

scavenger games in Budapest

Do you think you have what it takes to be the next Sherlock Holmes? Put your detective skills to the test AND have fun city sightseeing whilst doing so during these epic Scavenger Games in Budapest.

If you’ve never tried this type of city tour before, here’s how to play the game: Using a mobile phone, your team is given a storyline and a set of clues — each clue is at a designated city monument or attraction.

As you solve one puzzle, receive the next clue to point you in the right direction to follow, ticking off must-see places en route. Having fun all along the way, you get to learn the history behind the sites you pass by whilst cracking the mystery.

Scavenger games are awesome bonding experiences for families, couples and a group of buddies after a great time.

  • scavenger games in Budapest

37 – See Dracula at Vajdahunyad Castle

Vajdahunyad Castle tours

Believe it or not, there was actually a real Dracula, and his name was Vlad Dracul the Impaler!

Born in Budapest’s Vajdahunyad Castle, which holds spooky tours for any history buffs or vampire-enthusiasts (or Team Edward supporters), Vlad’s reputation is now etched into history.

Besides the fangs and black capes, in the courtyard you’ll find a statue of Anonymus — Hungary’s first history author — and an informative exhibit on Hungarian architecture.

  • Vajdahunyad Castle tours

38 – Pay your respects at the Shoes on the Danube Bank

Shoes on the Danube Bank, Budapest

One of Budapest’s most tragic tales occurred during World War II when 3,500 people, including 800 Jews, were ordered to remove their shoes and stand by the river, after which they were executed.

The poignant and powerful memorial along the Danube river immortalizes the shoes left on the riverbank — a stark reminder to never forget the past.

39 – Hear the bell ring at Matthias Church

Matthias Church, Budapest

As well as hosting occasional Friday night organ concerts, this over-500-year-old church has orchestral bells that ring out every day at noon!

But there’s plenty to see as well as hear: inside, you’ll find a plethora of frescos, stained-glass windows, decorative roof-tiling, and a throne used to coronate kings!

Before leaving, be sure to climb to the top for more breathtaking Budapest views.

40 – See the Komodo dragon and wombat at Budapest Zoo & Botanical Garden

Budapest Zoo tickets

A surefire hit for visitors young and old, the popular zoo boats over 1000 different animals and over 2000 species of plant from Australia to the Americas and everywhere in between!

While the wombats and tigers are always exciting, visitors also love the shimmering colours of the butterfly garden and the cute creatures of the Madagascar Zone.

If the zoo is a little busy, the Botanical Garden is a quieter spot to relax or reflect among the greenery.

  • Budapest Zoo tickets

41 – Take a dip at Margaret Island

Margaret Island, Budapest

This island in the middle of the Danube river is a treasure trove of rose gardens and archaeological ruins (not to mention all of the fuzzy squirrels!).

On a hot summer’s day, head to Palatinus Strand to cool down in the swimming pools, wave pools, water slides, and kids pools — there’s plenty of fun for adventurers of all ages!

42 – Follow your nose (and your stomach) at Central Market Hall

Central Market Hall tours

Enthusiastic foodies are obsessed with the Central Market Hall — 5 minutes inside and you’ll see why.

There are plenty of opportunities to smell and sample the freshest Hungarian ingredients and dishes; feel free to grab a few for a picnic in one of Budapest’s pristine parks — and don’t forget to pick up a bottle of wine and a hand-crafted souvenir!

For the ultimate foodie experience, combine it with a cooking class or VIP tasting tour!

  • Central Market Hall tours

43 – Stop by the Aquincum Museum and its ruin garden

Aquincum museum and ruin garden, Budapest

Travelers fascinated by ancient history, stepping inside the Aquincum Museum will transport you back in time in an instant.

Fun fact: Óbuda, now commonly known as District III, was once a separate town from Budapest hundreds of years ago, and a Roman city first laid its foundations here.

Today, have the chance to see some of the Roman ruins in person at this special museum located in District III and around the original sites.

Permanent exhibitions to investigate are ‘Rome in Aquincum’, ‘House of the Painter’, ‘TEGVLARIVM’ (diving into the role of ceramics in the Roman period), ‘Mithras in Aquincum’ and ‘Thermae Maiores’ (a 2,000-year-old spa).

Apart from the life-size museum features, the museum houses different archaeological items and collections.

Investigate the Prehistory Photographic Archive, animal bones, the Lapidarium to see famous stone monuments, different materials used throughout the ages from bricks to coins, to mosaic to wood, learn about the Migration Period, and so much more.

The on-site Archaeological Park contains a ruin garden, and other spots around the grounds worth seeing are the Hercules Villa, Military Town Museum, fortresses, amphitheaters, aqueducts and ancient walls.

44 – Get a selfie with Lenin at Memento Park

Memento Park tickets

At the fall of the communist regime, Budapest preserved most of its totalitarian statues and symbols at Memento Park.

These days, it acts as a large, open-air museum perfect for locals and tourists to pause and reflect, while bringing the old relics to life.

Travelers often take a moment to appreciate the symbolism of the statue of Lenin, sitting next to the retro Trabant car.

  • Memento Park tickets

45 – See all of Budapest at the Miniversum Museum

Miniversum Museum tickets

How can you see an entire city in an afternoon? Miniversum!

This unique installation offers a perfect 1:100 scale model of Hungary, complete with interactive screens, sounds, and lights bringing it all to life!

With lots of interesting information about the area and its history, it’s a solid option for a rainy or snowy day.

There’s also a full-sized playhouse for the kids, making it one of the more family-friendly things to do in Budapest.

  • Miniversum Museum tickets

46 – Go stand-up paddleboarding at sunrise

paddleboarding in Budapest

What’s more relaxing than a gentle paddle on calm water? We’ll tell you: doing so at sunrise on the Danube, before the city wakes, in the crisp, fresh Hungarian air.

For any total newbies, there’s minimal river traffic in the morning, making it a great opportunity to try it for the first time!

Set that alarm and make yourself a coffee, it’ll be worth it.

  • paddleboarding in Budapest

47 – Browse through the Hungarian National Museum

Hungarian National Museum, Budapest

Hungary’s vast, grand, and often turbulent history needs a museum every bit as vast and grand as it is; luckily, their National Museum fits the bill!

With exhibits spanning from ancient times through the middle ages, focusing on themes like the Hungarian struggle for independence, its submission to totalitarianism, and its current state of freedom, there’s plenty to be learned within these walls.

48 – See a real torture chamber at the House of Terror

House of Terror tours

The House of Terror lets visitors discover the dark side of the Hungarian dictatorships.

With no shortage of eye-opening displays, the torture chambers, jail cells, and execution room make for confronting yet fascinating viewing for visitors who want to understand what it was really like living under an iron fist.

  • House of Terror tours

49 – Investigate the tomb of Gül Baba and its rose garden

Gül Baba and Rosegarden, Budapest

As one of the last few remaining monuments that date back to the Turkish occupation of Europe during the Ottoman Empire, the Tomb of Gül Baba and its wonderful rose garden is an interesting one.

Starting with some background history; Gül Baba, an Ottoman-Turkish soldier-monk, arrived in Buda in 1541 and was a well-respected dervish who accompanied the army. He was well-known for his turban decorated and adorned with a rose (hence his nickname, Father of Roses).

After his passing, his body was buried and an octagonal-shaped mausoleum was erected in his honor. Hundreds of years later, excavators discovered a skeleton inside the tomb — believed to belong to Gül Baba.

Today, the interiors contain a wooden coffin designed with a replica of the iconic Rose turban.

In the 1800s, the property was privately sold and the owners built a villa around the mausoleum. Surviving wars, since then the grounds have been renovated, and recently in 2018, lavender and magnolia gardens were grown beside the existing rose garden.

The former villa was also transformed and now houses a cultural center with an exhibition space, workshops, a souvenir store as well as an authentic Turkish cafe.

50 – Pet the stingrays at Tropicarium

Tropicarium, Budapest

Tropicarium is not just an aquarium!

Tucked away in Campona Mall with shopping and a food court, it also has animals from alligators to little swinging monkeys!

Visitors love the giant shark aquarium where brave handlers hand-feed the sharks, and the rays touch tank where the friendly rays rub up against your arm!

51 – Sightsee in between Hűvösvölgy on the Children’s Railway

Hűvösvölgy Children's Railway, Budapest

Holding the (Guinness World) record for the ‘longest children’s railway line’ in the world, there’s probably no activity more unique (and exhilarating) for the little ones than the Children’s Railway .

Connecting the Hűvösvölgy and Széchenyihegy neighborhoods, the line officially runs for 11.2 kilometers between the two destinations, however, what makes it so extra special is that the train is run by little humans!

That’s right … from the purchasing of tickets at the booth to checking the dockets onboard to providing train hand signals, older kids and teens are the ones in control here. Not to fear though — the conductor is an adult!

Veering along the Cogwheel Railway, chug through forests and past points of interest like lookout towers.

The Children’s Railway Museum and Souvenir Shop is worth popping into whilst you’re here and is found on platform 1 at the Hűvösvölgy station. Through its interactive exhibits, learn of the history of this narrow-gauge style railway first built in the late 19th century.

52 – Be entertained whilst learning something new during a Folklore Show

Folklore Show in Budapest

From whirling red and white skirts to an evening of traditional dance and song; a folklore show is a brilliant way to get an up close and personal look at Hungarian history.

Over the course of 1.5 hours, sit back, relax and enjoy the entertainment whilst learning about local traditions and customs through the performance show at the Aranytíz Kultúrház.

Translating to the ‘Aranytíz Cultural Center’, the theater is housed inside a neo-Renaissance style building that was first constructed between 1879 to 1880, adding more ambiance to the show.

Either dancing troops from the Rajkó Folk Ensemble, Danube Folk Ensemble or the Hungarian State Folk Ensemble take to the stage for the evening, dressed in embroidered shirts, splendid skirts, and classic headpieces.

The performance is based on local mythology, folk performances and dancing rituals carried out in local villages throughout the centuries across Hungary.

  • folklore shows in Budapest

53 – Sample the local brews with beer tastings

beer tasting in Budapest

Discover what the beer scene is like in Budapest with a beer-tasting experience around the city.

Brewing the alcoholic beverage for over 1,000 years, the country does know a thing or two when it comes to beer, and there’s an abundance of beer tastings to choose from, depending on the vibe that you’re after.

For an extraordinary crusade, visit a private brewery within a monastery and sample beers made by the monks who live there. Or get this; stop by a Hungarian beer spa and unwind in a traditional wooden spa bath with unlimited beer at your disposal.

Craft beer aficionados; enjoy tasting the local craft beers during private tours, where you will stop at pubs and drinking holes as you venture around the city and do a bit of sightseeing.

A second way to tour the city whilst staying merry is on a super fun electric beer bus, sipping back on Hungarian drafts while cruising around to must-see attractions, viewpoints and monuments.

Beer tastings range from one to eight hours.

  • beer tasting in Budapest

54 – Take a ride on the M1 – Continental Europe’s Oldest Metro Line!

M1 Continental Europe’s Oldest Metro Line , Budapest

Don’t pass up the chance to ride on the oldest underground railway, the M1 (located at Oktogon Station underneath the historic Andrássy Avenue).

Its placement suits this beautiful neighborhood — renowned for its bygone architecture — and it feels as if you’re traveling through Budapest in the late 1890s the moment you walk down the steps to enter Europe’s first electric underground line.

Dripping in character and old-world charm, the metro tram line was built between 1894 and 1986, opening to the public that same year.

Climb into the original yellow carts and travel along the five-kilometer line, running from Mexikoi út (Mexican road) to Vörösmarty tér (Vörösmarty square) with 11 stops in between.

The M1 isn’t the only underground line, and there are lines M2 (red), M3 (blue) and the M4 (green) operating daily.

55 – Sip coffee at New York Cafe

New York Cafe, Budapest

Ever wondered, “what if the Sistine Chapel was a coffee house?” Wonder no more!

The world’s most dazzling cafe , found in one of the world’s premium luxury hotels, will leave you in awe — you’ll be gazing in every direction at marble columns, elegant paintings, and sculpted angels in this grand Rennaisance-themed cafe.

The good coffee is just a bonus.

56 – Dine at the best Michelin-awarded restaurants

Michelin-awarded restaurants, Budapest

Wondering where the best places are to fill your belly in Budapest? The capital city is home to multiple Michelin-awarded restaurants, so take your pick of the very best in town.

Sophisticated and refined, from the food to the interiors, Costes Downtown is not only a one-star winner but was the first restaurant in Hungary to win a Michelin award. Naturally, it’s one of the best dining spots in the country.

Sublime presentation and modern gastronomy, whether it’s the ingredients or the cooking style, Babel Budapest is another one-star Michelin treat.

Intimate and inspiring, take your place around the 21-seater dining bar and watch the chefs in action at Rumour .

The plates of food that arrive out of the kitchen at Borkonyha Winekitchen (almost) look too pretty to eat and pop with color and classy, creative flair.

Combining Portuguese and Hungarian flavors, ingredients and cooking techniques, book a table at Essência Restaurant for a fusion like none other in town.

As the only restaurant in Budapest with a Michelin two-star, Stand celebrates and highlights Hungarian ingredients and its cuisine, but with a contemporary twist.

57 – Catch a show at Hungarian State Opera House

Hungarian State Opera House, Budapest

Before the show even starts, the Opera House captivates its audiences with its glimmering marble staircases, bright chandeliers, and striking architecture.

The likes of Gustav Mahler have conducted here, so it doesn’t matter if you catch an opera, ballet, or classical music performance; you’re in for a world-class performance with world-class acoustics!

58 – Adventure through the city via Jeep Tours

jeep tours in Budapest

Jump into a vintage Russian military Jeep and hit the roads (less traveled) during exciting Jeep tours, winding through the streets of Budapest and beyond the city walls.

Adding three hours to your schedule clock, this adventure is ideal for travelers hunting down different things to do in Budapest and when it comes to touring the city.

Be shown off-the-grid locations and unusual attractions usually not covered in ordinary city tours, such as the “Champs-Élysées of Budapest”, i.e. Andrássy Avenue, Heroes’ Square (Hosok Tere) and Budapest-Nyugati, nicknamed the Western Railway Station.

There are also jeep tours for tourists keen on a classic city tour by vehicle, instead of trekking the streets on foot.

Lasting two hours, be driven around to iconic monuments and not-to-miss sights like Buda Castle, Gellert Hill, the Hungarian Parliament Building, the House of Terror Museum, Liberty Bridge, Vajdahunyad Castle and plenty of others.

  • jeep tours in Budapest

59 – Walk across the Széchenyi Chain Bridge

Széchenyi Chain Bridge

One of Budapest’s most iconic landmarks actually has a rather sad backstory.

Originally, the bridge was conceived by a man who could not cross the river to see his father; years later, during the War of Independence, The Austrians unsuccessfully bombed the bridge.

Then, a century later, the Germans did so successfully in World War II.

Incredible views aside, walking across the bridge is a walk through history itself!

60 – Lose yourself at Szimpla Kert

Szimpla Kert, Budapest

What started as a pub in an old factory is quickly becoming the heartbeat of the city.

This bohemian center still slings drinks but also screens movies, hosts concerts, displays art, contains a library, and turns into a market!

Hot tip: make a point of visiting on different days and times because it always has something different happening!

61 – Dine in style on the river

dinner cruises in Budapest

The only thing more intoxicating than the complimentary glass of champagne you get as you board a river cruise is the view of Budapest’s skyline (particularly the majestic Parliament building) reflecting off the water.

With live Hungarian music playing in the background and a scrumptious four-course dinner, it’s a surefire hit for romantics.

  • dinner cruises in Budapest

62 – Pub crawl through the ruin bars

pub crawls in Budapest

The recent craze in Budapest is the ruin bars, built in the ruins of abandoned buildings like stores and factories.

Many of them look like normal homes, so a guided tour with a local guide is the best way to discover them!

With drinks flowing — cheap drinks, we might add — it’s a fantastic chance to meet other party-goers, score a few free shots, and let your hair down!

  • pub crawls in Budapest

How to get to Budapest?

Forget about trying to decipher Hungarian and haggle with cab drivers. For the most seamless, hassle-free arrival experience, it’s recommended to book an airport transfer in advance.

As you arrive at the airport, your private driver awaits you ready to transport you to your accommodation in Budapest. After a lengthy flight, sit back and be driven to your stay in style.

Where to stay in Budapest?

One thing is for certain, your accommodation can either make or break a holiday. Make sure that your stay during your time in Budapest is all that — and a bag of Hungarian candy — at any one of these fabulous hotels.

Classy yet ultra-trendy, Kozmo Luxury Hotel is ideal for couples. Boasting gorgeous finishes and features on all fronts, relax at the spa or dine at the world-class restaurant.

Certainly feel like royalty at the grand Aurea Ana Palace Hotel . From the floor-to-ceiling marble bathrooms to the underground spa, the service and set-up are all-round impressive.

Loved for its location, on-site facilities and bright, spacious and extra comfy interiors, rooms and suites at the 5-star Kempinski Hotel exude warmth and luxury.

Donned in tips of gold here and there and rich finishings, the Anantara New York Palace Budapest goes the full nine yards.

With a close eye and attention to detail, the adults-only Hotel Clark Budapest is a boutique-style setup and absolutely dreamy.

Living up to its name’s reputation, stay in absolute style at The Ritz-Carlton, Budapest . It’s got excellent on-site facilities, incredible dining options and a fabulous location — naturally.

Feel like a celebrity at Matild Palace, a Luxury Collection Hotel , fusing the past and present in the most perfect way possible.

Take a step back in time and stand in awe from the moment you enter the Párisi Udvar Hotel Budapest . This is old-world elegance at its finest.

  • best hotels in Budapest

Visiting Budapest on a budget?

Traveling around Europe can become a pricey endeavor, however, there are ways to save money and be wise with how you spend your vacation savings.

One of the easiest ways is to opt for free walking tours when traveling to Budapest. Costing you absolutely nothing, be guided around to monuments, attractions and iconic sites with the help of a knowledgeable guide.

Moving from one place to the next, learn about each site you pass thanks to the titbits given by your expert local.

If your Budapest bucket list is long, and if you plan on getting around town using mostly public transport, then the Budapest Card might just be the best option for you.

The tourist card includes free public transport all over the city, offers discounts to some of the city’s premier attractions, free entry to 12 museums (like the Museum of Fine Arts and Budapest History Museum), and also slashes prices on a range of spas and restaurants.

To find out more and all you need to know about the best free walking tours in Budapest , take a squiz through our informative read.

Where to go next?

Situated in Eastern Europe, there are plenty of other neighboring countries to see while you’re in this part of the world or, make your way to a completely different side of the continent like the Mediterranean, for example.

Whether you’re an island-gal or more of a metro-man, here are some of the best places to visit in Europe from Paris to Santorini.

If you’re keen on traveling nearby, there are many things to do in other countries close by like Bratislava — the capital city of Slovakia, and a two-hour drive from Budapest.

Passing Bratislava, drive a further 30 minutes until you reach Vienna , Austria where there are many things to do, and both destinations are ideal for a day excursion. Tourists especially love taking a day trip to Vienna .

Head south and reach Belgrade , the bustling capital of Serbia, with a strong blend of modern vitality and ancient traditions. Step into the charming past of Belgrade Fortress and Kalemegdan Park, or discover the vibrant atmosphere of Skadarlija, the city’s bohemian neighborhood.

If your time in Hungary is limited, multi-day trips are a fabulous way to conveniently see a multitude of neighboring countries in a few days. There are excursions that last two days and travel to Vienna, or longer adventures journeying through to Bucharest in Romania.

Final thoughts

From castles to river cruises to weird and wonderful history learnings, there is so much to see, you might find a few days in the capital is not nearly enough!

Have you traveled to Budapest before and are back for more? What are your favorite things to do in Budapest, or places to visit? Share with us in the comments.

As always, happy and safe travels.

The Telegraph

The 13 best things to do in Budapest

W hether you're a culture vulture or an outdoorsy type, Budapest has a host of things to see and do, from blockbuster collections of classical fine art and archaeological finds gathered over centuries, to sightseeing cruises on the Danube and narrow-gauge railway rides into the forests of the Buda Hills. It's worth remembering that Monday – rather than Sunday – tends to be the day when certain attractions like galleries and museums are closed, so do check in advance.  

Soak under the stars

The Széchenyi Baths, the biggest 'medicinal' spa complex in Europe, sit on a natural thermal spring and have occupied a neo-Baroque mansion in City Park since the early 20th century. Indoor halls contain 16 pools of differing temperatures, as well as saunas and steam rooms, while outside are more pools where bathers play chess on stone boards at the water’s edge. The baths – inside and out – are open all year round.

Insider's tip: Take your own towel and flip-flops or you will have to pay to rent/buy them. Because the pools are open all year, if you happen to be in the city during winter months then you can bathe outside – it’s quite an experience, with the surface of the water steaming in the cold air.  

Contact: szechenyibath.com

Nearest metro: M1 Széchenyi Fürdő

Prices: £££

Book tickets

Go ballooning

If you fancy getting above it all for a bird’s eye view of City Park, Heroes’ Square and the rest of Budapest beyond (and, assuming the air is clear, you’ll be able to see the Buda Hills far in the distance), take to the sky with a trip on Balloonfly. This tethered balloon (attached to the ground with a thick cable) carries up to 30 people to a height of 150m, offering a hot-air balloon experience without the difficulty of unpredictable take-off and landing sites. Each ride lasts around 15 minutes. 

Insider tip: There are reduced-price tickets (HUF5,000 rather than HUF8,500) for rides taken during the first two hours every Monday morning. .

Contact: balloonfly.hu

Nearest metro: M1 Széchenyi Fürdő/Hősök tere

Prices : ££

Take to the ice

When the temperature drops, Budapesters head to the largest outdoor ice rink in Europe. For most of the year, this is part of City Park’s leafy boating lake, but from late November the freezing machines are turned on and it becomes a dramatic spot to go skating, with Heroes’ Square in front and the eccentric, turreted Vajdahunyad Castle looming in the background.

Insider's tip: Children under the age of six can skate free of charge. You can rent skates and buy hot drinks at the adjacent palace-like entrance building.

Contact: mujegpalya.hu

Get lost in music

If you visit one exhibition during your stay, make it the permanent one at the House of Music, Hungary. Housed in a building with real wow factor – Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto’s design uses gold and glass to create a structure that feels organic, like a man-made forest – the exhibition focuses on both Hungary’s musical heritage and international influences. You’ll don a headset that offers relevant narration or sounds depending on where precisely you are standing, before heading off on a journey that takes in everything from choral music and folk music to the works of Liszt and Haydn, Hendrix and Clapton, and many more. There is the chance to bang drums and twiddle radio dials, try a traditional Hungarian dance – complete with authentic costume – or just sit and absorb some very, very well put together displays. This is a place that’s guaranteed to engage young and old alike.  

Insider's tip: As well as its temporary and permanent exhibitions, the centre has a state-of-the-art, glass-walled concert hall where a range of ticketed performances are hosted. But there’s an open-air stage too where concerts and festivals (featuring everything from classical to techno music) are held most days during the summer, and two out of every three of these are free to attend. 

Contact: zenehaza.hu

Browse for foodie finds

Whether you’re buying or not, the Great Market Hall – constructed in 1897 – is worth an hour of your time. Its multi-coloured ceramic roof tiles and chunky girders bring an architectural artistry that you wouldn’t expect from a market building. Its floors bustle with activity, with stalls offering fresh produce and craft items.

Insider's tip: The Great Market Hall is a good place to pick up a souvenir, from a bag of powdered paprika to a lace tablecloth. But it’s also a handy spot for a cheap snack – booths on the first floor sell buffet-style hot food.

Contact: piaconline.hu

Nearest metro: M4 Fővám tér

Step back in history

The Terror Háza, or House of Terror, isn't your typical museum. If the walls could speak, you’d probably close your ears, for this seemingly innocuous building was the headquarters first for the Nazis and then for the much-feared Communist secret police. It was a place of brutal interrogation, torture and execution. The museum tells the story of the terror regimes with photographs of victims, videos of witnesses who survived, examples of Communist propaganda and more. It's as fascinating as it is chilling.

Insider's tip: Note that on the first Sunday of each month, admission is free for people under 26, children under 18 and an accompanying adult of the EEA-European Economic Area.

Contact: terrorhaza.hu

Nearest metro: M1 Vörösmarty utca

Get your steps in

The dome of St Stephen’s Basilica has had a chequered history: it collapsed when first built in 1845 and then burnt down in 1946. Fortunately it rose from the ashes – its 96-metre height a symbolic nod to the year AD896, when the country’s ancestors are said to have arrived here – and today has a gallery running around the outside that offers visitors some of the city’s best views.

Insider's tip: It’s a 300-step climb to the gallery, but those wanting a gentler ascent can take a lift two-thirds of the way. While you’re at the Basilica, take a look at the mummified right hand of St Stephen, the country’s founding Christian king, which is displayed in a casket inside.

Contact: bazilika.biz

Nearest metro: M1/2/3 Deák tér and M3 Arany János utca

Seek out some statues

Some huge landmark statues grace Budapest’s squares and skyline – think the freedom fighters of Heroes’ Square or the Liberty Statue at the top of Gellért Hill. But look out too for some of those at a smaller scale in places a little out of the way. ‘Shoes on the Danube Bank’ is a poignant sculpture on the eastern bank that commemorates the execution of Jews here during the Second World War. The ‘Garden of Philosophy’ features a ring of the world’s most significant religious figures, standing quietly in a little park on the side of Gellért Hill.

Insider's tip: Perhaps most striking is ‘Umbrellas’, a shiny sculpture of women sheltering from the rain by Imre Varga; you’ll find it outside the Imre Varga Collection, a museum dedicated to the artist in Óbuda.

Go for a moonlit riverside stroll

On a warm summer evening, or a winter’s night when the pavements sparkle with frost, there’s no better way to let your dinner settle than with a walk along the pedestrianised Danube Promenade (Duna-korzó). This 500-metre stretch of riverside – running between the sleek Elizabeth Bridge and the classical Chain Bridge, illuminated against the dark water – is surely among the most romantic in Europe.

Insider's tip: Buda’s choicest sights are strung along the skyline opposite, from the Citadel to the Fishermen’s Bastion, while on the Pest side you’ll pass lively restaurants and intriguing street sculptures (look out for the Little Princess, perched on a railing).

Nearest metro: M1 Vörösmarty tér

Castle Hill

Explore the medieval district.

Castle Hill – with its domed palace looming high above the river – is a must visit during a trip to Budapest. This is the city’s medieval district, an area that has witnessed more than 30 sieges over its long history, and suffered terrible damage when the Germans made a last stand during World War II. You wouldn’t know it now. Among its pretty cobbled streets are the white turrets of the Fishermen’s Bastion monument, which pays tribute to the nomadic Magyar tribes who founded the country, and the breathtaking Mátyás Church, every inch of its interior painted with pastel colours. The palace itself houses the Hungarian National Gallery , an immense collection of the nation’s most precious art, from Renaissance stonework to monumental works of 19th-century Romantic painting. 

Insider tip: The Castle District is at its best early in the morning or at the end of the day, when it’s free from coach parties, and you can enjoy the views in peace from its fortified walls.  

Address: I, Castle District

Nearest metro: Funicular railway; M2 Batthyány tér

Go beneath the surface

The Buda Hills sit above a system of caves, and some of them can be explored. Szemlo Hill Cave is over 2,000m in length, including several larger chambers and some impressive natural mineral deposits on the walls that glint and sparkle under light. The cave is cool – just above 10 degrees Celsius all year round, which offers welcome respite from the fiercest heat of the summer – and the purity of the air inside is said to help those with asthma. You can take a 40-minute tour along specially built walkways (suitable for all ages); wear long sleeves and suitably supportive shoes.

Insider's tip: A combined ticket is available to buy that also offers access to both the Szemlo Hill and Pál-völgyi caves.

Contact: szemlo-hegyi-barlang.hu

Nearest metro: N/A – bus 29 from Szentlélek tér (Árpád híd)

Take to the hills

The Buda Hills are the perfect stop for a bike ride, but there are other ways to explore too. Start your journey into the hills on the clattering, open-sided Cogwheel Railway from Városmajor to Széchenyi Hill; from here, follow a trail for a few minutes to join the Children’s Railway, famously staffed by local children; alight at János Hill and make a peaceful descent above the treeline aboard the chairlift.

Insider's tip: You can of course do this route the other way round, but the views are better from the chairlift if you are descending the hill, with the city unfurling below.

Nearest metro: M2 Széll Kálmán tér

Prices: £-££

8th District

Spend a quiet moment among the gravestones.

A graveyard isn’t usually top of a tourist’s checklist, but Kerepesi Cemetery is as fascinating as it is peaceful. The 56 hectares are laid with paths through chestnut trees, and all around are resting places of the great and good. Here are Batthyány, Deák and Kossuth, leaders who loom large in Hungary’s history books; there are the nation’s best writers, from Endre Ady to the Nobel Prize-winning Imre Kertész. Here too are those who fought on either side of the various uprisings that have taken place over the last 170 years, from the secret police to the revolutionaries themselves. Some of the mausoleums are works of art in themselves.   

Contact: 00 36 1 896 3889; fiumeiutisirkert.nori.gov.hu

Opening times: Nov-Feb 7.30am-5pm; Mar 7am-5.30pm; Apr/Aug 7am-7pm; May-Jul 7am-8pm; Sep 7am-6pm; Oct 7am-5pm

Nearest metro: M2 Keleti Pályaudvar

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Thermal baths - one of the best things to do in Budapest

The top 14 free things to do in Budapest

Jennifer Walker

Jan 23, 2023 • 7 min read

things to visit in budapest

Beautiful Budapest has plenty of things to do that are completely free © AzmanJaka / Getty Images

Known as the Pearl of the Danube, Budapest  is a city where you can tour grand monuments in the morning, slip into a thermal bath in the afternoon and party in a world-famous ruin bar after sunset – and plenty of your best experiences won't cost a single forint.

Visiting Hungary 's capital city on a budget? Here are 14 fantastic free things to do. 

1. Hike Gellért Hill for gorgeous city views

The Citadella , the mighty fortress atop Gellért Hill, marks one of the best viewpoints in Budapest, and undertaking the 30-minute hike to the top via a meandering forested path is a great way to spend a morning. Once at the top, enjoy the amazing panorama of the city in the shadow of the Liberty Monument , proclaiming freedom throughout the city.

Although the fortress itself is currently under renovation and closed temporarily, other stunning lookouts are open, such as the steps leading up to the Citadella from the southern side of the hill and the northern lookout by the parking lot overlooking Buda Castle. 

Visitors inside the Great Market Hall (Nagycsarnok) in Budapest

2. Pick up traditional goods and specialty food at Great Market Hall

Nagycsarnok (Great Market Hall) is Budapest’s largest food market. Head upstairs to browse traditional Hungarian folk costumes, dolls, painted eggs, embroidered tablecloths and carved hunting knives. On the ground floor, you'll find specialty food items, from huge bags of paprika to kolbász (sausages) and local wines.

Ervin Szabó Central Library, a grand library in Budapest housed in a former palace

3. Read and relax at Ervin Szabó Central Library

Housed in a former 19th-century palace, the Ervin Szabó Central Library invites visitors to take a break from the dizzying pace of the Hungarian capital and unwind in regal surroundings. Spaces that once functioned as grand dining rooms and living quarters have been converted into a number of truly dazzling public reading rooms. Giant chandeliers dangle above plush armchairs, enticing visitors to spend an afternoon flicking through one of the 2 million–plus texts that line the library’s shelves. 

You need to register for a library card to see the building's most beautiful parts, but it only costs 300 HUF (less than US$1) and lasts a year. Bring a form of ID and head to the information desk to get registered. 

Exterior of Vajdahunyad Castle (Vajdahunyad vara) in City Park in Budapest, Hungary

4. Stroll along the shady paths of City Park

Pest’s green lung, City Park , is an open space east of the city, measuring almost 1 sq km. Stroll along the park’s shady paths past monuments like the hooded Anonymous, the unknown chronicler of the 12th-century court who wrote a history of the early Magyars. The unofficial entrance to the park is Heroes’ Square , with its landmark Millenary Monument marking the 1000th anniversary of the Magyar conquest of the Carpathian Basin.

5. Take a break on Margaret Island

Margaret Island, a green oasis in the middle of the Danube, boasts a couple of large swimming complexes, a thermal spa, gardens and shaded walkways, and is a delightful place to head on a hot afternoon. Even better, its key sights – the ruins of a Franciscan church and monastery , the grave of St Margaret (a miracle-performing princess-turned-nun whom the island is named after) and the remains of the Dominican convent where she took the veil – are all open to the public free of charge.

Gül Baba’s Tomb, a small, octagonal building topped by a dome

6. See the ornate Gül Baba’s Tomb

The northernmost place of pilgrimage for Muslims (especially from Turkey), the  ornate Gül Baba’s Tomb , is free to visitors of all faiths. The tomb contains the mortal remains of Gül Baba, an Ottoman dervish who took part in the capture of Buda in 1541. Make sure you remove your shoes before entering. A small museum inside charts the history of Gül Baba and Ottoman history in Hungary, and there's also a cafe.

7. Catch a concert in a great setting

Budapest boasts a great live music scene. Jazz is on offer in the cozy Jedermann Cafe  and authentic folk music at Giero Pub , while a mixture of genres is showcased in an unbeatable courtyard setting at Ellátó , and super-cool ruin bar Mazel Tov has a soundtrack to match. 

The ruins of the Aquincum Roman baths, a collection of small walls and pillars standing in a green field in Budapest, Hungary

8. See impressive Roman ruins in Pest and Óbuda

The Romans established the province of Pannonia on the site of present-day Budapest at the beginning of the 1st century. Reminders of their presence are scattered throughout the city, including the remains of the fortress Contra Aquincum in Március 15 tér in Pest, and both the Roman Military Amphitheater  and the smaller Roman Civilian Amphitheater  in Óbuda.

Aquincum is the most complete Roman civilian town in Hungary and contains both a world-class museum and an open-air archeological park. There’s an entrance fee, but if you just want a glimpse of the settlement, most of it is visible from the street outside.

The ruin pub Szimpla Kert turns into a farmers market on Sundays in Budapest

9. Hit Szimpla Farmers' Market to experience a ruin bar without buying a drink

Visiting  Szimpla Farmers’ Market is an excellent way to visit a ruin pub without spending big at the bar. The market is held every Sunday morning in Szimpla Kert , the city's oldest and most popular ruin pub. Peruse the local produce on the shelves, from cakes to seasonal fruits, while ogling the eclectic, graffiti-spattered interiors – you’re likely to remember more of it than the evening revelers!

10. Enjoy Castle Hill's grounds, gardens and views

You can’t say you’ve visited Budapest until you make your way up Castle Hill . The Sikló funicular and elevator from Dózsa György tér both charge a fee; instead, walk up the Royal Steps (Király lépcső) or the wide staircase that goes to the southern end of the Royal Palace from Szarvas tér. You'll need a ticket for the museums housed inside the Royal Palace , but it's free to stroll around the grounds and gardens, enjoying wonderful monuments and incredible views.

11. Pay your respects at an over-the-top cemetery

The over-the-top necropolis of Rijeka Road Cemetery (formerly known as  Kerepesi Road Cemetery ) was established in 1847 and has 3000 gravestones and mausoleums. Some tombs are quite moving, including those of actor Lujza Blaha and poet Endre Ady. You’ll also find the graves of many who died in the 1956 Hungarian Uprising and – uncomfortably close by – the final resting place of communist leader János Kádár, the man who ordered the execution of many participants in the uprising.

The ornate interior of the Basilica of St. Stephen, with red walls, a large dome and gold altar

12. See the stunning Basilica of St Stephen

The  Basilica of St Stephen is the most important Catholic church in all of Hungary. You have to pay to visit the treasury of ecclesiastical objects on the second floor and to reach the 96m (315ft) dome, but the church itself is free to enter. Your destination should be the Holy Right Chapel behind the main altar. It contains the Holy Right (also known as the Holy Dexter), the mummified right hand of St Stephen and an object of great devotion.

13. Take a free walking tour of Budapest

If you want to get to know Budapest's best spots and get a dose of history, sign up for one of the many free walking tours around town. The Original Free Budapest Tour goes from outside St Stephen’s Basilica daily at 11am and lasts 3.5 hours, taking you around many of the city’s most popular sites. You can also find more niche and free walking tours of Budapest on GuruWalk , covering topics from street art to Communist history. Although these tours are advertised as free, you should tip your guide, especially if you enjoyed the tour.  

14. Play outside in the Buda Hills

The Buda Hills are the city’s playground and a welcome respite from hot, dusty Pest in the warmer months. The Béla Bartók Memorial House  is the only real sight here, but with "peaks" exceeding 500m (1640ft), a comprehensive system of trails that are ideal for walking and mountain biking and no lack of unusual modes of transport (a narrow-gauge railway staffed by schoolchildren, for one) to get there, the Buda Hills beckon.

This article was first published June 2019 and updated January 2023

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