What are the Best things to do in Budapest?
Budapest, often referred to as the “Paris of the East,” is a captivating European capital that boasts a rich history, stunning architecture, and a vibrant culture. With countless attractions and activities to explore, it can be challenging to decide where to start. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the best things to do in Budapest.
Buda Castle: As you ascend the winding paths to Buda Castle, you’ll feel transported back in time. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is not just a historic fortress; it’s a living museum. Explore the castle grounds, wander through the courtyards, and visit the Budapest History Museum inside to trace the city’s evolution.
Fisherman’s Bastion: The fairytale-like turrets and arches of Fisherman’s Bastion make it a prime spot for photos. Designed to resemble a mediaeval fortress, it offers one of the most spectacular panoramas in Budapest. The seven turrets represent the seven Magyar tribes that settled in Hungary.
Matthias Church: Step inside this Gothic marvel next to Fisherman’s Bastion. The intricate interior, vibrant stained glass windows, and stunning altarpiece are a testament to Hungary’s rich religious history. Don’t forget to check out the crypt and admire the intricacies of the church’s architecture.
Chain Bridge: This suspension bridge is not only an architectural gem but also a symbol of unity. When Budapest was still divided into Buda and Pest, this bridge brought the two sides together. Walking across it at sunset or when it’s illuminated at night is a romantic must-do.
Hungarian Parliament Building: The Parliament’s Neo-Gothic design is awe-inspiring, especially when viewed from the Danube River during a nighttime cruise. You can take guided tours inside to explore the grand chambers and learn about Hungary’s political history.
St. Stephen’s Basilica: Climb to the dome for panoramic city views, but don’t forget to appreciate the basilica’s intricate interior, including the hand of St. Stephen, Hungary’s first king, on display in the reliquary.
Gellért Hill: This steep hill offers not only sweeping views but also the Gellért Thermal Baths at its base. Take a leisurely walk to the top, and you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking vistas. The Liberty Statue on the hilltop commemorates Hungary’s liberation from Nazi rule.
Szechenyi Thermal Bath: Budapest is known as the “City of Spas,” and Szechenyi is a spa-lover’s paradise. Soak in its thermal waters, play chess with locals in the pool, and indulge in a truly relaxing experience.
Heroes’ Square: This grand square is a tribute to Hungary’s historical figures and an impressive example of neoclassical architecture. Visit the Millennium Monument, which stands tall in the centre, representing the seven chieftains who founded the Hungarian nation.
Vajdahunyad Castle: Located in City Park, this castle is like a storybook come to life. Its architectural style varies from Romanesque to Gothic, and it houses the Museum of Hungarian Agriculture, offering a fascinating look into the country’s rural heritage.
Széchenyi Chain Bridge: While beautiful during the day, the bridge truly comes alive at night when it’s illuminated. Stroll across it for a picturesque view of the city lights reflecting on the Danube.
Hungarian State Opera House: Even if you don’t attend an opera or ballet performance, a guided tour of this magnificent building is well worth it. The ornate interiors and opulent décor are a testament to Hungary’s love for the arts.
Great Market Hall: Dive into the heart of Hungarian cuisine at this bustling market. Taste traditional dishes like goulash and lángos, shop for local products, and soak up the vibrant atmosphere.
Ruin Bars: Budapest’s nightlife scene is legendary, and ruin bars are a big part of it. These unique bars are set in abandoned buildings and courtyards, offering an eclectic mix of art, music, and drinks.
Danube River Cruise: The Danube gracefully splits Budapest into Buda and Pest, and taking a cruise along its waters is a romantic way to see the city. Many cruises offer dinner, live music, and unforgettable views of the illuminated riverside landmarks.
Margaret Island: This peaceful island in the middle of the Danube is a local favourite for picnics, jogging, and relaxation. It’s home to lovely gardens, a musical fountain, and even a small zoo.
Central Market Hall: Budapest’s food scene is diverse, and the market is the best place to explore it. Try traditional Hungarian sausages, paprika, and, of course, the world-famous Hungarian salami.
Hungarian National Museum: Dive deep into Hungary’s history and culture at this museum. Its vast collection includes artefacts from prehistoric times to the modern era.
House of Terror: This museum explores Hungary’s dark past during the Nazi and Soviet occupations. It’s a chilling reminder of the country’s resilience and determination.
Gellért Baths: Apart from the famous outdoor pool with its art nouveau architecture, Gellért Baths offer various indoor pools, saunas, and spa treatments. It’s a serene oasis in the heart of the city.
Budapest Zoo: Founded in 1866, Budapest Zoo is not only a place to see animals but also an architectural gem. It’s home to hundreds of species, and its historic buildings add to its charm.
Memento Park: For a unique glimpse into Hungary’s Communist past, visit Memento Park. Here, you’ll find a collection of statues and monuments that were removed from the city after the fall of Communism.
Vörösmarty Square: This lively square is at the heart of Budapest’s café culture. Enjoy a coffee on one of the outdoor terraces and watch the world go by.
Danube Promenade: A leisurely stroll along the Danube Promenade provides an up-close look at some of Budapest’s most famous landmarks, including the Parliament Building and the Shoes on the Danube Bank memorial.
Hungarian Railway Museum: Train enthusiasts will love exploring the history of locomotives and railways in Hungary. The museum houses a remarkable collection of vintage trains and equipment.
Holocaust Memorial Center: Pay your respects at this important memorial, which also educates visitors about the Holocaust’s impact on Hungary and the world.
Bálna Budapest: Shaped like a whale, this contemporary cultural and shopping centre is a modern addition to Budapest’s waterfront. Explore its unique architecture and enjoy dining with a view of the Danube.
Hungarian Natural History Museum: Discover Hungary’s natural wonders, from fossils to geological formations, in this fascinating museum.
Budapest History Museum: Located within Buda Castle, this museum offers an in-depth look at the history of Budapest, from its Roman origins to the modern era.
Elizabeth Square: Named after Empress Elisabeth of Austria, this square is a peaceful spot in the city center. Admire the statue of the empress and relax in the shade of trees.
Mátyás Pince Restaurant: For an authentic Hungarian dining experience, head to Mátyás Pince. This restaurant, situated in a historic wine cellar, serves up classic dishes like chicken paprikash and beef goulash.
Hungarian Wine Tasting: Hungary has a rich wine history, and wine enthusiasts will delight in exploring its vineyards and cellars. Two regions, in particular, stand out:
Eger: Known for its red wine, Egri Bikavér (Bull’s Blood), Eger offers wine enthusiasts the chance to sample rich, full-bodied blends. The cellars of Eger are famous for their labyrinthine tunnels and historical charm. Don’t miss the chance to tour these cellars, learn about the winemaking process, and indulge in tastings.
Tokaj: Tokaj is renowned for its sweet, golden wines, famously referred to as the “Wine of Kings, King of Wines.” The Tokaj wine region is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a visit here is a journey through centuries of winemaking tradition. Tour the picturesque vineyards and visit the underground cellars where the famous Tokaji Asz wine ages.
Cave Church: Tucked away in Gellért Hill, the Cave Church is a hidden gem. Carved into the natural rock, this church provides a tranquil and contemplative atmosphere. It’s a place of reflection and spirituality, and its underground setting adds to its mystique.
Gozsdu Udvar: Budapest’s nightlife scene is vibrant and ever-evolving, and Gozsdu Udvar is at the heart of it. This bustling complex is a hub for dining, drinking, and entertainment. With a variety of restaurants, bars, and clubs, it’s the perfect place to experience Budapest’s diverse nightlife.
Budapest Eye: Wrap up your Budapest adventure with a ride on the Budapest Eye. This towering Ferris wheel offers a bird’s-eye view of the city, allowing you to reflect on the incredible experiences you’ve had in this captivating capital.
Budapest, with its rich history, stunning architecture, and vibrant culture, offers a wealth of experiences for travelers. Whether you’re interested in history, relaxation, or nightlife, this city has something for everyone.
Budapest is a city of wonders, offering a multitude of experiences for every traveler. Whether you’re captivated by its rich history, architectural beauty, thermal baths, or culinary delights, Budapest will leave you with unforgettable memories. These must-do activities are just the tip of the iceberg in this extraordinary city, and they are sure to make your visit to Budapest a truly remarkable journey.
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