The Best Things To Do In Budapest
As the capital city of Hungary, Budapest is a treat for all of your senses – from the gorgeous views along the banks of the Danube to the amazing foods and sounds that permeate many of the streets, this is truly a beautiful place to explore as you meander through Central Europe.
There’s a little something for all visitors to Budapest – whether you love soaking in the architecture of old cities throughout Europe or you want to experience culture and energy from something a little different, this Hungarian capital is an exceptional place to add to any travel list. Much of what you see throughout the city dates back to the 19th century, when a good portion of the city was built – grandeur and elegance is evident in many of the breathtaking baroque and neoclassical buildings. Art and design enthusiasts are especially enamored by Budapest and how could they not be? The art nouveau building styles throughout the city are simply unmatched in beauty and craftsmanship.
Of course, there’s always more to a city than its past history and Budapest is no different. As you walk the streets, you’ll find it’s past etched into buildings – bullet holes and evidence of World War II are still seen in the most random of places. But there is a newness to the city that keeps visitors coming back time and time again! Amazing dishes and ingredients are found nearly everywhere you look in the city – even if you prefer the common goulash and other street favorites, you’ll also find an equal amount of luxury and fine dining in many of the thriving neighborhoods. Foodies especially flock to Budapest as it’s growing reputation as being a food scene is not an exaggeration – wines are also becoming even more respected and recommended for all palates.
After a day of exploring the various museums and points of interest, head over to one of the many hot springs throughout the city. Hungary is known for its plentiful bathhouses, which also come beautifully decked out in art nouveau architecture or are ultra-modern for those who want a unique experience!
HERE ARE OUR TOP PICKS FOR THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN BUDAPEST…
Szechenyi Thermal Baths
Take a break in Budapest and relax at the Szechenyi Thermal Baths, located in Pest. An integral part of the city’s leisure since the late 1800’s, the baths were fully renovated in the 1990’s, and are a favourite destination to relax and soak away any stress! Take your bathing suit and swim, or just sit in the shallow waters, retreat to the sauna, or make it special and get one of the famous massages on offer. The pools are deep and hot, and are a great way to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city!
The iconic Danube River at Budapest will automatically become one of the fondest memories of your visit, as it meanders through the city, touching so many of its famous sites. Take in its beauty from one of the many historical bridges that cross the river, or stroll along its banks taking in its historical significance and enduring beauty.
Castle Hill (Varhegy)
To appreciate the magnificence of Budapest, and ensure your visit is truly memorable, make sure you visit Castle Hill (Varhegy). As you stroll along the cobblestone streets, you will come across an array of spectacular venues and sights! Explore Buda Castle, which houses the Hungarian National Gallery and Budapest History Museum, or take in the magnificent views of the Danube from the turrets of Fisherman’s Bastion. There is so much to see, make sure you don’t rush!
Vaci Street (Vaci Utca)
Budapest is a city of contrasts, and a visit to Vaci Street (Vaci Utca) will quickly jolt you from the historic old town, into an up-market modern “place to be!” Stroll at your leisure, and take in the high-end fashion shops and restaurants that have replaced the old bookstores from times past. It’s a great place to people-watch and window-shop, but don’t expect any cheap bargains in Vaci Street!
Budapest Jewish Quarter
Stroll the cobblestone streets of the Budapest Jewish Quarter, and you will see a testament to the strength of this country. Today, the area is alive with cafes, restaurants, pubs and live music – stay and enjoy the ambience and its zest for live! To appreciate the achievements of today, take time to also “experience” the harrowing past when the area was a Jewish Ghetto in times of Nazi occupation, with a visit to the Hungarian Jewish Museum and Budapest Holocaust Memorial Centre.
Central Market Hall
Come, join the locals and visit the Central Market Hall – the largest indoor market in Budapest. The market has been serving the city for over 100 years and is spread over three floors, sells food from around the world, and also offers a wide range of accessories – it’s the place to pick up a memento of your visit! Stay a while and have a meal and drink at a restaurant, and for real foodies, the market holds functions to highlight and display a selected country’s foods!
Matthias Church (Matyas-Templom)
At the peak of Castle Hill stands the Matthias Church (Matyas-Templom); an outstanding example of Hungarian architecture. Take time to visit this working catholic church and admire the unique coloured roof made of diamond shaped tiles. As you wander inside, the warm lights create a calm ambience – explore the rich frescoes that reach from floor to ceiling, study the beautiful stained-glass windows, and stand in awe of the famous Madonna statue. The church has a rich history and has been the venue for many coronations in the past, but is now home to mass, concerts, and weddings.
Gellert Hill (Gellert-Hegy)
If you have a spare couple of hours, a trip to the top of Gellert Hill is great way to get your bearings in Budapest; enjoy a magnificent view of the city, with the Danube to be seen in both directions. Grab a bottle of wine and have a picnic as you relax after your trek to the top. While you are there, explore the Citadel and the enormous statue that commemorates Hungary’s liberation after WWII.
Gellert Thermal Bath & Spa
Supplied, and constantly replenished by a complex of 130 local hot springs, the Gellert Hill Thermal Bath and Spa is a truly elegant way to de-stress and enjoy your stay in Budapest. Established in 1918, this Art Nouveau Bath provides an opulent setting for saunas, steam rooms, and both indoor and outdoor pools, to use at your leisure. Head to the roof to enjoy the wave pool, and in summer, sunbath or take in lunch as you enjoy the views.
Chain Bridge (Szechenyi Lanchid)
Take a stroll over the Chain Bridge (Szechenyi Lanchid) – the first and most famous of the bridges crossing the Danube – linking Buda and Pest. Spanning 375 metres, in 1849 this bridge was constructed using two gigantic iron chains and massive stone slabs. As you cross the bridge to tour the city, take in the stone lions that guard the bridge.
Heroes’ Square (Hosok Tere)
As you approach Budapest City Park, standing tall is Heroes’ Square (Hosok Tere) – one the most important squares in the city, honouring those who fell in the uprising of 1956. Sit for a while and adsorb the complexity of the semi-circular sweep of columns, integrated with statues and a cenotaph. Make your next stop the Museum of Fine Art and the Exhibition Hall, which are just nearby.
Budapest Parliament House (Orszaghaz)
Sitting on the bank of the Danube, the Budapest Parliament House (Orszaghaz) is surely one of the most impressive parliamentary structures in the world. Stand on the bank of the river and take in the opulence of this building, which was conceived in the 1800’s and completed in 1902. Its blend of Gothic, Medieval and Baroque styles will enchant you, and will be a must for photos! Tour the inside and you will discover that the interior is a perfect match for the building – exquisite.
Buda Royal Palace (Kiralyi Palota)
Lovers of history, architecture and gripping stories, will enjoy a visit to the Buda Royal Palace (Kiralyi Palotta). With the original structure dating back to the 13th century, the palace was destroyed in the 18th century, and then rebuilt, then destroyed and rebuilt once again after WWII. Today, a visit will take you to three magnificent museums housed within the palace that display the rich history, art and literature of the country. Experience the trials and tribulations of the turbulent past as you admire the architecture, stroll through the gardens, and soak up the magnificent views.
Cities & Towns