The heart of the city, the home of the Hungarian Parliament, several must-see attractions of Budapest and the main traffic hub is District V. The city-center in the definitive sense of the word. It is Budapest’s most important museum district, and the one with the most government buildings, the House of Parliament, and basically all of the headquarters of financial institutions in Budapest. It’s one of the more expensive places in Budapest, full of tourist attractions, but it is also a favored area of the locals as well culturally and business-vise as well. Join us as we go sightseeing in Budapest’s 5th district, the beating heart of the Hungarian capital!
What’s so special about the 5th District?
Pretty much everything. It is one of the richest and fanciest districts in Budapest, with the most Monarchy era buildings and heritage. Several of the city’s most notable monuments and museums can be found here and it is definitely the cleanest and nicest district on the Pest side. Historic cafés and great places to eat, fancy restaurants, down to earth eateries, and bars galore line the streets, with the most famous Budapest shopping street, Váci Street also located in this neighborhood. It is one of the oldest districts of Pest with an abundance of 19th century buildings and pre-Soviet era tourist attractions. This part of the city is always busy, and always ready to welcome visitors. It is the perfect mix of modern inner city and Old Town, of traditional heritage and metropolitan swing, the most international district for sure. This is the place where your visit to Budapest should begin!
How To Get Around the 5th District
The 5th district is Budapest’s main public transportation hub. There is no way you won’t cross it on your way around the city, as most every main line goes through this district. Every metro line has stops in the 5th, such as Deák tér, the transportation centre of Budapest, the point from which you can get to any part of the city. Most bus lines also have stops here. We recommend traveling with those as buses offer a better view of the city naturally, however they can be troublesome during rush hour. This way you can see some of the most important sights of Budapest while getting around the city.
Váci utca: The premier shopping street, and the best place for shopping in Budapest. This is the road with some of the classiest stores and some of the cringyest gift shops of Budapest. Whether it’s a designer watch, a trendy scarf, or a mug with a fridge magnet, this is the street to get it. Herendi, Zsolnay and Körmendi porcelain, run of the mill shirts, expensive tuxedos, and a dash of style, all the big brands as well as homemade, hand crafted gifts await shoppers here with no shortage of cafés and bars. There is an abundance of restaurants in this street as well, however, if you are looking for high quality meals and real, authentic Hungarian gastro experiences this is probably not the place for it.
House of Parliament: One of the most extravagant, imposing government buildings in Europe is the Hungarian Parliament in Budapest. It is an enormous Neo-Gothic fortress, with flying buttresses, towers and turrets, grandiose arches and gargoyles. The square around it, Kossuth Square has recently been rebuilt, refurbished and is now a stately affair indeed. From the entryway to the stained glass windows to the amazing tile work and roofing, this building has a thousand secrets, including that ultimate symbol of Hungarian statehood, the Holy Crown. Worth seeing from the outside, but they do have a tour of the interior as well. Our audio-guided mobile app, Have Fun Travel offers an in-depth Hungarian Parliament Tour and one of the most spectacular areas of the city.
The St. Stephen’s Basilica: The two tallest buildings in Budapest are the Basilica and the House of Parliament. The fact that the most important spiritual center and the house of governance are the same height is symbolic of course, as is pretty much everything else about this century old building. It houses the right hand of St. Stephen, founder of the Hungarian state and the man who brought Christianity to Hungary. It also has a tower and a main chamber that are unique and spectacular, and houses some of the best concerts owing to its great acoustic properties. The six church bells of the St. Stephen’s Basilica are also noteworthy, with the biggest one weighing 9 tons and only being used twice a year. For anyone looking for more insight into the Basilica, Have Fun Travel’s audio-guided Basilica and the Parliament Tour gives an in-depth insight into the St. Stephen’s with amazing stories, fun trivia games and some of the most amazing sights in the area.
Danube Promenade and the Shoes on the Danube Memorial: If you are one for urban hikes, a walk along the Danube in the 5th district is the perfect sightseeing activity in Budapest for you. Beautiful statues, charming restaurants, a stunning promenade that can be walked or biked, a few churches and a beautiful view of the entire city from the Danube, with chances to take iconic pictures. The famous Shoes on the Danube Holocaust memorial is also located along this route, as a memorial to the people who were shot into the Danube, and to all the victims of the Shoah. The beauty of the Hungarian Parliament, the lions of the Chain Bridge, the great promenade and the solemn memorial can all be seen in a roughly 15 minute walk. Tram #2 travels the length of the promenade providing a great option to travel between sights if you would rather rest.
Vörösmarty Square: Vörösmarty Square is beautiful in any of itself to get a place among the top tourist attractions in Budapest. It has a beautiful, complex statue group in the middle of it depicting heroes from famous Hungarian novelist Vörösmarty’s books,Sumerian inspired lions adorning an elaborate fountain, and one of the oldest confectioner and café shop in Budapest, Café Gerberaud. The Square is also home to the largest Christmas Market of Budapest with mulled wine, delicious treats and amazing gifts for the holiday. This market also opens during spring for the time of the Budapest Spring Festival through April. This square is truly a must-see attraction of Budapest.
This part of Budapest is known for elegance and extravagance, with some of the best hotels in Budapest located here. Some of the classiest hotels of the district are the Kempinski, the Budapest Ritz Carlton, the InterContinental the SofiTel, and the prestigious Four Seasons Hotel overlooking the Chain Bridge just to name a few. Most of the AirBnbs are also luxury rentals, but compared to most European cities, they are a bargain.
Off the beaten track
Home of a thousand parks: The 5th district is essentially a series of small, hidden parks. There is one in almost every street, with very few exceptions. Some are dedicated to a famous poet, artisan or obscure local legend, while others are there for reasons that time has already forgotten. All of them however serve as a great place for a picnic or just a refreshment if the weather permits.
Underground Railway Museum: Although a museum about the subway doesn’t sound like too much fun, you would be surprised. Kids love this museum, so families with children and adults who enjoy history, urban planning and engineering should definitely consider putting this one on their lists of Budapest must-sees. Surprisingly entertaining and criminally underrated.
National Library of Foreign Literature: A home for Hungarian Literature in English, as well as books in every language on Earth…almost. The building is beautiful and brings to mind a simpler time, and has the dusty feel of academia. If you are a bookworm, like to peruse libraries, like to listen to ancient records or just want to grab a bite to eat and a cup of coffee with a good book, this is the place for you.
A bite to eat, and something to drink
This district is definitely the best place to eat in the entire city. Countless options are at your disposal, be it a full meal, a quick bite, just a snack or even straight to dessert. Some world famous eateries can be found here, with cafés and bars that serve amazing food as well. No shortage of take away places great traditional Hungarian restaurants and an international gastronomy scene also dwell in this area. We definitely recommend eating Hungarian food while in Hungary, as it is a culinary wonder that is underrepresented in the world. For divine eateries you should look up Október 6. Street neighboring the Basilica, the area around Deák Square, and the Danube Promenade between the Chain Bridge and Vigadó Square.
The Budapest nightlife is also a bit fancier here than in the rest of the city. Which is truly saying something, as Budapest already knows how to have a good time. Great clubs and pubs that are open till the morning, as well as cocktail bars, and several ruin bars. There is no shortage of Budapest nightlife experiences in the heart of the city. Some of the recommended clubs of the area are the popular Ötkert near the Basilica, the hip Akvárium Klub by Deák Square or the underground music venue and cinema, Toldi Klub.