Source: Alex Kramer at Pexels

Budapest is a city that is full of wonders and sights to see. Rich in history and rife with culture, you will never be at a loss for what to do in Budapest. This city is a must for every history buff and art aficionado. Sightseeing in Budapest is one of a kind, as UNESCO heritage sites abound, coupled with cheap and amazingly stocked museums, and living, thriving culture that flows through the streets of the inner city. Art deco and Austro-Hungarian monarchy era houses and glorious facades clash with Bauhaus socialist realism and modern design, all juxtaposed with the Castle Hill that so aptly shows Hungary’s medieval legacy, resulting in endless attractions in Budapest.

With so many things to see, it can be difficult to find the time for all of them. This is why we have compiled a helpful list of the absolute must see attractions in Budapest, and will give you some basic information about them, to help you choose. Get ready to scale the monuments, see the sights, and taste the flavors of Budapest, one of the most interesting cities in Europe.  

Source: Pixabay

Parliament

The Hungarian House of State is located in Kossuth Square, near the Danube River. It is a beautiful neo-gothic fortress, whose spires, turrets and buttresses can be seen from all over the city. This building should be seen while in Budapest, at least from the outside.

  • The Parliament is completely symmetrical, and was built by Imre Steindl, and had two chambers initially, of which only one is used for political purposes. The other is open for the public on guided tours.
  • The Holy Crown of Hungary is located in the building, and can be seen on regular tours.

Did you know?    

All of the Parliament is made of Hungarian materials, except the eight enormous stone pillars which were imported from Sweden.

Source: tandeester at Pixabay

Basilica

St. Stephen’s Basilica is the most important church for Hungarian Catholicism. It houses the mummified right hand of St. Stephen, the founder of the Hungarian state. It is located in the heart of the tourist district, in one of the most beautiful neighborhoods of Budapest.

  • The Basilica has daily tours, but can be visited without a guide.
  • You can go up the tower for the best view of Budapest.

Did you know?

The Basilica and the House of Parliament are the same height, to signify the authority of both the state and divine providence. They are the tallest buildings in Budapest.

Source: Pixabay

The Chain Bridge

The Chain Bridge was the first permanent stone bridge to connect Buda and Pest, and is an iconic Budapest monument. Beautiful and intricate, it is a marvel of engineering and construction. A walk form the Pest side will land you at the foot of Castle Hill.

  • Pleasant walk with plenty of iconic selfie opportunities and awesome squares on both sides of the bridge.
  • Great view of the Danube and the Old Town.

Did you know?

There is an urban legend that the designer of the lions at the foot of the bridge commited suicide after realizing that he forgot to design their tongues. This legend is completely false, as the lions do in fact have tongues and the artist has died of old age instead of a suicide.

Source: Pixabay

Buda Castle

The Buda Castle is located high up in the Buda hills and comprises what once was the Royal Palace of Buda. Today several Budapest attractions are located here. We recommend taking a day, or at least half of one to get to see all of the iconic sites of the Castle Hill.

  • The National Gallery, with the biggest collection of Hungarian art is located here.
  • The Labyrinth, with its wine fountain is also in Buda castle.
  • The Castle Hill can be reached via the Funicular railway, a one of a kind experience.

Did you know?

Katy Perry filmed the video of Firework in the Buda Castle.

Source: budapestgyogyfurdoi.com

Thermal Baths

Budapest is located on many thermal springs. The healing waters of these baths has been used by many civilizations, including the Romans and Ottomans, and recent scientific analysis has also proved the rich mineral content and beneficial nature of these naturally occurring hot springs.  

  •  There are thermal baths in both Buda and Pest.
  •  The oldest existing baths have been built during the Ottoman occupation of the 16th century.
  •   The most famous baths are Széchenyi, Gellért, Király, Lukács and Rudas.

Did you know?

Homosexuality was incredibly taboo in Hungarian culture, and the only place openly gay people could mingle was the gender segregated thermal bath houses.

Source: mtu.gov.hu

The Great Synagogue and the Jewish District

The Dohány Street Synagogue is the largest one in Hungary, and one of the biggest and most significant ones in the world. Comprising of the Heroes’ Temple, a Jewish graveyard and a Holocaust memorial, this active synagogue is a must for anyone interested in Judaica or the history of the Shoah.

  • The largest active Mikveh in the city is located here.
  • The famous Emmanuel tree statue is also on the property.
  • The Great Synagogue is one of the centres of Neolog Judaism.

Did you know?

The Synagogue is located on the site of the Tivadar Hertzl’s old home, and was instrumental in the development of zionism.

Source: Pixabay.com

The Fisherman’s Bastion and Matthias Church

The Fisherman’s Bastion  is an old wall in the Castle that overlooks Budapest. A wonderful place to relax and view the city, and take some pictures! Matthias Church has a rooftop that can be seen from all over Budapest. The interior is absolutely dazzling, make sure to go and take the tour if you visit the Buda Castle.

  • The Fisherman’s Bastion is free and open day and night, but the Matthias Church can only be viewed for a small fee.
  • Matthias Church has been active in one form or another since 1015, making it one of the oldest churches in Hungary.
  • We definitely recommend taking the tour of Matthias Church, as it has a very sordid past that aptly represents Hungarian history.

Did you know?

The Fisherman’s Bastion has seven turrets, to represent the seven tribes that formed the Hungarian nation.

Source: Pixabay

Andrássy Boulevard and the Opera

Andrássy is the fanciest and most elegant boulevard in Budapest. A stroll from Heroes’ Square to the Opera will bring you face to face with our history, many lovely cafés, designer shops, luxury brands and tons of interesting museums and attractions in Budapest, like the House of Terror, the Franz Liszt Museum, or the National Museum.

  • The Opera has guided tours, so you can see this important part of history even if you do not like Operas.
  • The first metro line runs along the length of Andrássy Boulevard.
  • The Opera, Andrássy, and everything on was built at once in the 1870s as a massive urban engineering project.

Did you know?

The Opera is not just a means of entertainment, it used to serve state functions, as noblemen could mingle and speak freely there. Today, seeing a opera requires you to book a ticket a month in advance.

Source: Wikipedia

Ruin Bars

Ruin bars are a quintessential Budapest experience. They are bars that are located in the rundown old villas of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. These decaying but beautiful houses are part of the inner city atmosphere, and ruin bars preserve this ethos. With an emphasis on authenticity, art and partying hard, they are a true representation of Budapest’s legendary nightlife.

  • Szimpla kert was the first one, but Instant is certainly the biggest.
  • Frequented by expats and tourists just as much as by locals.
  • These are one of the best places to drink in the city.

Did you know?

Szimpla kert is not just a bar, they have a cultural mission as well, and they turn their premises into an outdoor open-air market in the mornings.

Source: Krisztian Tabori at unsplash.com

The Central Market Hall

Farmers markets are not singular places in Budapest, you have several in each district, and most people get their fresh produce and meat from the “piac” or markets. The most famous one is located at the end of Váci street, and is called the Central Market, but the Hold Street Market is also an outstanding place offering a wide range of gastro-pleasures.      

  • Local produce and great authentic products are available at a reasonable price.
  • Best place to try fresh, local flavors.
  • Restaurants in the upper level.

Did you know?

The market hall is three levels, with the bottom one having an oriental market, serving game meat and freshly picked mushrooms. You can also have mushrooms you picked inspected.

Source: mtu.gov.hu

Heroes’ Square

If there are only three places you visit in Budapest, Heroes’ Square should be one of them. Located between two amazing museums and at the end of the largest park of Budapest, the Városliget. The Zoo and the Andrássy Boulevard is located here too.

  • Amazing statue park with chieftains and kings of Hungary.
  • Millenium monument and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in the centre of the square.
  • Flanked by the Modern Art Museum and the National Museum.

 

Did you know?

The square was built in 1896, as a celebration of the one thousandth year of Hungary’s statehood.

Source: WikiCommons

The City Park

The largest park of Budapest, a breath of fresh air in the big city. The park has an artificial lake that turns into an ice skating rink in the winter, and you can take a boat ride on it in the summer. The park also has an enormous music hall and the Vajdahunyad castle, not to mention many statues and green areas where you can rest and hike.

  • The Széchenyi spa is located in the park as well.
  • Great place for families, as many restaurants, playgrounds as well as the zoo and city Circus are located here.
  • Home to many expos and festivals throughout the year.

Did you know?

The artificial lake used to be a real lake, but needed to be drained and a concrete bed needed to be built. This was because of a proliferation of very stinky algae.

Photo by: Balázs Lukácsi

Margaret Island

A beautiful, tiny island in the  middle of the Danube, right off the Margaret bridge. On Margaret Island, you can explore the ruins of medieval cloisters, a Japanese garden, big open spaces, the Palatinus outdoor pool, a small zoo and an outdoor theater. Ideal for a day trip.

  • Peaceful but lively, with bars and clubs as well as quite trails.
  • Sport hotel and olympic swimming pool.
  • Especially recommended for joggers and those travelling with dogs.

Did you know?

The island was home to St. Margaret of Hungary who lived a hermetic existence here, not washing above the ankles for fear of displeasing God. The island was called the island of rabbits before that.

Source: mtu.gov.hu

Gellért Hill

The best place for a hike in Budapest. A short hike that goes past the Cavern Church, the Citadella fortress and the Statue of Liberty, and can be done in roughly two hours. Many monuments and historical locations along the way, and a pleasant journey that is not too rigorous.

  • Perfect for day or night, as the pavement is lit, and the view of Budapest at night is simply stunning.
  • Many places to get refreshments along the way.
  • Several places of historic significance are located here.

Did you know?

There is a strange statue garden on the northern face of the hill called the Philosophers’ Garden that depicts some of the greatest philosophers standing around an orb.

Source: Budapest Történeti Múzeum

Museums of Budapest

There are a lot of museums in Budapest, because of the turbulent past that this city has endured. There is the National Museum and the National Gallery for all things Hungarian, the Geological Museum and the Museum of Natural Sciences, the Ludwig Museum and the House of Terror, not to mention the myriads of tiny museums and galleries.

  • Every month there is a day when some of the museums in Budapest are free for families with small children!
  • Most museums in Budapest are closed on Mondays

Did you know?

Museums in Budapest are open late on the Night of Museums, and can be viewed at night, often for free.

Source: Wikipedia

Váci Street and Vörösmarty Square

Váci Street is synonymous with shopping in Budapest. It has the most upscale shops and unique little places to get high end souvenirs. Vörösmarty Square is a beautiful square that is located at the very beginning of Váci Street.

  • Vörösmarty Square has a beautiful statue of Hungarian folk heroes in it, as well as Sumerian lions.
  • Váci Street connects the Central Market Hall with Vörösmarty Square.
  • Many iconic shops and cafés of Budapest are located on Váci Street.

Did you know?

The Anna Café and several other cafés of historic importance are located on Váci Street.

We hope this guide has been helpful and will provide you with a road map of what to do in Budapest. As you can see attractions in Budapest are nearly endless, as are the possibilities for things to do, whether it be hiking, shopping, museums, urban exploration, dining or the nightlife.

Interested in a private tour of the city's best attractions with an award-winning tour guide? Add the date range of your Budapest holiday, tell us your preferences and we'll get in touch with you!

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