Budapest   Travel Guide

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cool places to visit 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

cool places to visit 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. 

cool places to visit 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 .

cool places to visit 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.

cool places to visit budapest

Popular Tours

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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 .

cool places to visit 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.

cool places to visit 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.

cool places to visit 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.

cool places to visit 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.

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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.

cool places to visit 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.

cool places to visit 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.

cool places to visit 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.

cool places to visit 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.

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cool places to visit budapest

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. 

cool places to visit 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).

cool places to visit budapest

Hospital in the Rock Nuclear Bunker Museum (Sziklakórház Atombunker Múzeum) Hospital in the Rock Nuclear Bunker Museum (Sziklakórház Atombunker Múzeum)

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Budapest Zoo & Botanical Garden Budapest Zoo & Botanical Garden

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Legenda Sightseeing Boats Legenda Sightseeing Boats

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13 of the best things to do in Budapest

Nov 15, 2023 • 7 min read

Five people looking out over Széchenyi Chain Bridge in Budapest, Hungary, at night.

Experience Budapest with our guide to the best things to do © Balazs Kofarago / Getty Images

There are many fantastic experiences to be had in Budapest . From soaking in muscle-melting waters at centuries-old thermal baths , to romantic meeting points above the city and traveling back in time at a 19th-century coffeehouse, this guide to things to do in Hungary ’s vibrant capital will keep you busy.

Here are some of Budapest's best activities.

1. Visit Budapest's neo-Gothic Parliament building

Budapest’s neo-Gothic Parliament building dominates the curve of the Danube and is a true postcard superstar. It houses the Holy Crown (used to crown the country’s monarchs since the 12th century), as well as other royal jewels.

Not too far from Parliament, you’ll find one of the city’s most moving memorials – the Shoes on the Danube . The poignant monument honors the victims of the Holocaust who were marched to the riverbank on a dark winter’s day and ordered to remove their shoes before being shot and falling into the fast-flowing river beneath. 

Planning tip: English-language guided tours of Parliament are available, but it’s best to book ahead.

A huge outdoor spa pool filled with hundreds of people

2. Soak at one of the city's incredible thermal spas

Budapest sits on a patchwork of thermal springs – mineral-rich water spouts from the ground – hence the abundance of thermal spas, many dating back to Turkish times. These waters are said to be capable of curing just about anything, and soaking in a thermal pool is a top Budapest experience. 

The world-famous Széchenyi Baths is the biggest spa complex in Europe, and while the location could certainly be described as a tourist trap, its majestic architectural elements and outdoor pools still make it an unmissable place to visit. Other spas dotted throughout Budapest also have special amenities, such as the rooftop hot tub at Rudas Baths .

Planning tip:  Gellért Baths , with its stained-glass windows and colorful porcelain tiles, is a wonderful place to go if you want more peaceful plunging. 

A panoramic, aerial view of Buda Castle Royal Palace, taken in the early morning, which also shows Széchenyi Chain Bridge, St Stephen's Basilica, the Hungarian Parliament and Matthias Church.

3. Explore the Castle District

The Buda side's rolling hills are crowned by the former Royal Palace , one of the city’s most emblematic buildings. Razed and rebuilt several times through the ages, today it houses the Hungarian Natural Gallery and major temporary exhibitions. 

Other iconic landmarks include  Fishermen’s Bastion , with its unparalleled panorama of Pest's skyline over the Danube. The Gothic Matthias Church is just steps away on twisting cobble-stoned streets. 

For coffee and cake , be sure to stop by Ruszwurm , the longest-running confectionery in Hungary. The Hospital in the Rock Museum , packed with wax figures and original medical equipment, was once a functioning hospital beneath the Royal Palace. The vintage funicular – one of the oldest funicular railways in the world – whisks you up to the palace in minutes. Alternatively, hop on bus 16, which has many stops throughout the city, or just hike up (it’s not as far as it seems, we promise).

4. Take a ride through downtown on Tram 2

Frequently cited as one of the most panoramic tram journeys in the world, Tram 2 travels all along the Danube shore between the Margaret Bridge (Jászai Mari tér) and south Pest. It chugs alongside everything you need to see downtown, all for the price of a regular public transport ticket. 

Planning tip:  A boat trip serves as a lovely alternative to the tram. If you don’t want to spend money on a sightseeing cruise, you can use the public boats with a regular transport ticket. 

Four female tourists taking photos of Budapest with the basilica in the distance

5. See the religious relics of the Basilica

The ornate St Stephen’s Basilica is the city’s biggest church, found steps away from Deák Square. Inside, the basilica hides the country’s most revered (and eerie) religious relic – the embalmed right hand of St Stephen, the founding king of Hungary. Climb the 193 steps (or take the lift) to the basilica’s dome for some of the best views of Budapest. 

6. Stroll along Andrássy Avenue and in City Park 

Full of fancy shops, cafes and gorgeous buildings, tree-lined Andrássy Avenue is Budapest’s version of the Champs-Élysées. It begins behind the basilica and stretches all the way to Heroes’ Square , one of the city’s most famous monuments. Along the way, you’ll see the Hungarian State Opera and the harrowing House of Terror Museum , the former headquarters of the secret police, where victims of cruel regimes were once tortured. 

Where the avenue ends, City Park begins. The Pest side's biggest park is home to a rowboat-filled lake, which is an ice rink in winter, fairy-tale Vajdahunyad Castle and Széchenyi Baths.

Planning tip: Should you find the walk too long, the Millennium Underground, the oldest metro in continental Europe, runs the whole length of Andrássy.

The wildly ornate interior of the New York Café in Budapest. There are marble columns, golden light fixtures and plush crimson chairs

7. Have a coffee at a historical coffeehouse

Budapest’s coffee-drinking culture dates back centuries, and its classic coffeehouses are a sight to behold. Many were cradles of culture and haunts for Hungary’s literary greats. The most prominent is New York Café , once chosen as the most beautiful coffeehouse in the world, where gilded and marble surfaces, crimson colors, crystals, frescoes, chandeliers and often live Hungarian music bring back that fin-de-siècle finesse. Gerbeaud Café , Hadik or Centrál are equally great choices for a trip back in time. 

8. See the city from a viewpoint or rooftop bar

With the curving Danube, beautiful bridges and stunning landmarks, Budapest is especially beautiful – and photogenic – from up above. If you fancy a bit of a walk, climb up to the Citadella and Budapest’s Statue of Liberty on Gellért Hill for a rewarding view. If you’d rather sit back with a drink and enjoy a front-row seat to all of Budapest, try any of the city’s many rooftop bars . 

Planning tip:  Several areas of the Citadella are under renovation and may be closed to visitors.

9. Spend a day on Margaret Island

Margaret Island is Budapest’s biggest green oasis – accessible by foot from the middle of yellow Margaret Bridge. The whole island is a huge park, home to the ruin of a medieval church, a lovely Japanese garden, century-old towering trees and endless picnics.

Planning tip: Head for the centerpiece of the island – a large fountain that lights up and “dances” to music every hour from spring to winter. The 9pm show is enhanced with a multimedia screening that displays images of Hungary’s greats projected onto a water curtain.

10. See the distinctive architecture of the Great Synagogue

The largest Jewish place of worship outside New York City, the Moorish-style Great Synagogue is one of Budapest’s most eye-catching buildings. Built in 1859, the distinctive structure, with its crenelated red-and-yellow glazed-brick facade and two enormous towers, stands next to the Hungarian Jewish Museum. In the courtyard is the poignant Holocaust Tree of Life Memorial , designed by sculptor Imre Varga.

A bar in the evening with people sitting on mismatched furniture

11. Experience the best nightlife at ruin pubs and garden clubs

Budapest's nightlife is world famous, and a visit during the long, hot summer is not complete without an evening in one of the city's many so-called kertek , literally "gardens," but in Budapest, any outdoor spot that has been converted into an entertainment zone. These often rough-and-ready venues, including courtyards, rooftops and romkocsmák (ruin pubs) that rise phoenix-like from abandoned buildings, can change from year to year and are seasonal, but some of the more successful ones, like Szimpla Kert , are now permanent and open year-round.

12. Explore history in Memento Park

Containing statues and other memorials from the communist past,  Memento Park can only be described as a cemetery of socialist mistakes, or a well-manicured trash heap of history. In southern Buda, it’s home to about four dozen statues, busts and plaques of Lenin, Marx and home-grown henchmen like Béla Kun. Ogle the socialist-realist works and try to imagine that some were still being erected in the late 1980s and remained in their original locations until the early 1990s.

13. Ride the rails in the Buda Hills

They may be short on sights – though Béla Bartók’s house , where he spent his final year in Hungary, is open to visitors here – but the Buda Hills  are a very welcome respite from the hot, dusty city in the warmer months. Perhaps the hills' biggest draw is the unusual transportation: a narrow-gauge cog railway dating from the late 19th century will get you up into the hills, a train run by children takes you across them, and a chairlift will glide you back down to terra firma.

This article was first published February 2020 and updated November 2023

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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.

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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.

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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.

cool places to visit 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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cool places to visit budapest

The 55 Best Things To Do In Budapest

Discover the top attractions in Hungary's capital city.

  • 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 (neo-)Gothic Matthias Church, Budapest's most famous, was traditionally Hungary's coronation church. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#1 - Roam the streets of the Castle Hill: Viewed from across the river, Budapest's Castle Hill can seem almost too picturesque and sublime but people actually live up there. Be sure to wander around the medieval Old Town, anchored by the Buda Castle, the Matthias Church, the Fisherman's Bastion, and the winding historic streets. Head to Ruszwurm pastry shop if it's time to break for hot chocolate and custard cake (krémes). This step-by-step guide could help you navigate.

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? Most paintings had belonged to the Esterházy family, one of the wealthiest in Austria-Hungary, before the financially strapped Miklós Esterházy sold them to the state in 1871 ( my favorites ).

cool places to visit 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, you could pay respect to the Budapest victims of the Holocaust at 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 gorgeous buildings.

Budapest's Andrássy Avenue seen from above. Photo:

#4 - Stroll down Andrássy Avenue : Named after Gyula Andrássy, the seminal foreign minister of Austria-Hungary and presumed love of Queen Sisi, 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.

Gellért Baths is known for its ornate interior decorations inspired by the Art Nouveau and produced 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.

Founded in 1802, the National Museum was the first public museum of Hungary. Its spectacular collection provides an overview of the region, from the ancient past all the way to the 1989 end of the Communist period. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#6 - Visit the National Museum: Founded in 1802, the country’s oldest and most famous museum contains a spectacular collection. The ground floor sheds light on the people and the cultures that inhabited the Carpathian Basin – Celtic, Roman, German, Hun, Avar, Slavic, Hungarian, and many others. The upper floor, across 20 halls, traces the history of Hungary from its tribal beginnings through the Habsburg period to the 1989 fall of Communism.

Even if you don't feel like spending a whole day here, the astonishingly rich collection – with short and informative wall texts – is worth at least a glimpse (child-friendly, too). A special exhibition on the ground floor displays the Seuso Treasure, fourteen peerless silver vessels from the late-Roman era that were unearthed in Hungary.

A painting from 1910 by Károly Kernstok at the National Gallery in Budapest. Kernstok was a member of the Nyolcak, a post-impressionist art group in Hungary inspired by Fauvism, Cubism, and Expressionism. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#7 - Go to the National Gallery: The National Gallery, located inside the Buda Castle, is home to artworks by Hungary's leading artists. 15th-century Gothic triptychs; neoclassical sculptures of István Ferenczy, known as the "Hungarian Canova;" strangely adorable Biedermeier paintings; the Hans Makart of Hungary: Gyula Benczúr; the solemn romantic canvases of László Mednyánszky; Károly Ferenczy's post-impressionism; the works by Nyolcak, the art group inspired by Fauvism and 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

#8 - Take in the bird’s-eye view of Budapest from the St. Stephen’s Basilica: Named after Hungary's first king, the canonized Stephen, Budapest's biggest church is a beautiful fusion of early-renaissance and Roman details (Revival style: 1851-1905). Sculptures of Hungary's saints decorate the central plan of the inside – Stephen, Emeric, Gerard, Ladislaus, Elizabeth, and Margaret – and there's a wonderful painting by Gyula Benczúr showing the moment when Stephen offers the Holy Crown of Hungary to the Virgin. Via elevator or stairs, you can visit the dome, which offers completely open vistas of Budapest. (There's a small 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

#9 - Go to a smaller museum: There are smaller, thematic museums in Budapest, for example one about Unicum , the iconic herbal liqueur, which, yes, does include a taste. Or the recently opened exhibition 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

#10 - 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 Andrássy Avenue; on the way back, take the museum-worthy M1 Millennium Underground (see below).

The House of Music (2019-2021) in Budapest's City Park was designed by Japanese star architect, Sou Fujimoto. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#11 - 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 Japanese starchitect, Sou Fujimoto. Be sure to check their concert calendar , too.

cool places to visit budapest

#12 - 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.


#13 - 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

#14 - 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

#15 - 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.

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

#16 - 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 – Dohány, Rumbach, Kazinczy – 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

#17 - 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 was rooted out by the political leadership of Hungary until WW I. Not so in the period that followed: with active support from locals, nearly all Jewish people from the Hungarian countryisde were deported to Auschwitz in 1944 and most of them killed there. Budapest fared better, but members of the Arrow Cross movement murdered thousands. Here , the main memorials.

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

#18 - 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.

cool places to visit budapest

#19 - Eat your way through the city with my Foodapest card : I've logged some essential foods and drinks that Budapest locals rely on to get through their days. Note: this isn’t a list of strictly traditional Hungarian fare; rather, it’s an honest cross-section of what many Budapest residents actually eat and drink. You could read this brief explainer to each of the featured items, or simply print the card and go at it.

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

#20 - Go to a pastry shop: Originating in the days of Austria-Hungary, there's still a vibrant pastry 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 and these are among my favorites for a Dobos or an Esterházy torte. Before you trip, you could familiarize yourself with the most popular cakes in Hungary.

Drop Shop wine bar in Budapest. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

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

Spark Le Monde, located on Andrássy Avenue, is a concept store focused on labels by international rising stars. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#22 - Go shopping: Budapest's shopping options span antiques, contemporary designer clothing, high-end porcelain, vinyl records, handmade shoes, craft chocolate, Tokaj wines, and many more. See if the city's top retail 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

#23 - 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. Up top, the Liberty Statue was erected in 1947 to honor the Soviet troops that liberated Budapest from the Nazis. The torso beside it is what remained of the fortress from which Habsburg troops monitored their perennially recalcitrant Hungarian subjects after the Revolution of 1848-1849. For the best experience, take the quieter path setting off opposite the Gellért Baths and descend on the other side. (I know people who bring along a chilled bottle of Tokaj wine for the hike and I don't blame them.)

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

#24 - Take in the city's architecture: Budapest offers plenty of eye candy for architecture fans. The consistent revival style from the turn of the 20th century still dominates the cityscape, but also interesting are the Neoclassical residential houses from the early 19th century (mainly along Nádor utca) and the buildings of Ödön Lechner , who pioneered Hungary's distinct style of Art Nouveau. Here , my 100 favorite buildings in Budapest. (You could also find out what caught the eye of a Pritzker juror during his recent visit to Budapest.)

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

#25 - 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 200 docking stations. You can pedal away at wallet-friendly rates – a 30-minute ride amounts to the Hungarian forint equivalent of €3. Just keep your wits about you and be respectful of others sharing the road. ( More tips about getting around Budapest.)


#26 - Take the Children's Railway and the Libegő chairlift: Since 1948, Budapest has had an official rail line operated by children with adult supervision. The small train lumbers through beautiful nature with occasional panoramic vistas over Budapest. You could get off at Jánoshegy and take the Libegő chairlift down from the hillside, also with striking views. The Children's Railway departs from Hűvösvölgy, reachable in half an hour from the city center by public transport. Naturally, both of these activities are ideal for families with small children.

Várkert Bazár, right on the Danube's bank, provides predictably wonderful views. The Buda Castle is shown in the background. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#27 - Amble through Várkert Bazár: These neo-Renaissance pavilions lie between the Castle Hill and the Danube's bank. In the past, the area was home to everything from retail stores to artists' studios and open-air concerts; today, you're here for the panoramic views, the expansive lawn, and the temporary exhibitions both inside (YBL6 Művészeti Tér) and out. Note that there's direct access to the Royal Castle, so you can combine this with #1 above.

A concert at the Liszt Academy in Budapest. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#28 - 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. You could start by perusing the musical calendars of Müpa Budapest , the Liszt Academy , and the Hungarian State Opera . Iván Fischer's Budapest Festival Orchestra is another option, as is the Hungarian National Philharmonic and the Bartók Memorial House . 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

#29 - Discover the Palace Quarter: Budapest's Palace Quarter (inner part of District 8) was once the most desirable and the playground of the Hungarian aristocracy. The neighborhood cradles the giant Neoclassical building of the National Museum (1837-1847) and its polished garden filled with an array of fascinating statues. Those residential palazzos behind the museum, for example, belonged to the Festetics, the Esterházy, and the Károlyi families each.

Communism’s gray pallor is still notable, but the area is springing back to life thanks to hip cafes ( Lumen ), student bars ( Fecske ), craft beer bars ( Mixát ), smashed-burger joints ( Smashy ) and pastry shops (Geraldine, in the museum garden). There's also a wonderful second-hand clothing store: Typo Showroom.

Opened in 2004 in Budapest's District 7, Szimpla Kert is considered to be the mother of all ruin bars. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#30 - Grab a drink at a ruin bar: Budapest’s ruin bars appeared in the early aughts 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 has retained some of its native spirit and is worth a visit.

The unbridled neo-Baroque interior of Budapest's New York Cafe. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#31 - Travel back in time at a coffeehouse: Similar to Vienna , Budapest 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

#32 - 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 and new-wave pizza shops are especially vibrant.

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

#33 - Visit Újlipótváros, a lively 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, art galleries, and impressive modernist buildings from the 1930s and 1940s line Pozsonyi út, the artery of the neighborhood.

A view of the Lehel Market, located in Budapest's District 13, on a Saturday morning. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#34 - Visit the Lehel Market: Inside a quirky postmodern building lies one of Budapest's busiest markets. You'll find here everything from Hungarian cold cuts to fresh and pickled vegetables and homemade jams. 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 and combine with a visit to Újlipótváros (see above).

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

#35 - Discover the Bartók Béla Boulevard: In general, the Pest side is where most of the action is, but 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. A dip at Gellért Baths followed by delicious morning pastries at Pékműhely and coffee at Kelet would be my kind of day.

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

#36 - 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 leading contemporary art galleries you can sample anything from early modernism to 1960s conceptual art to works of the younger generations. Most artworks command high prices but the shows are free and open to the public.

The mausoleum (1913-1909) of Lajos Kossuth at the Fiuemi Road Cemetery in Budapest. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#37 - 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 (Lajos Kossuth, Lajos Batthyány, Ferenc Deák), artists (Mihály Munkácsy, Ödön Lechner, Tivadar Csontváry Kosztka) and many others, for example the Gerbeaud family who was behind famous pastry shop in downtown. Also here: heroes from the Communist period.

In the back but accessed from outside is the Salgótarjáni Street Jewish Cemetery, with the funerary monuments of the Jewish upper class, including such well-known industrialist families as the Weiss von Csepel, the Hatvany-Deutsch, and the Buday-Goldberger.

Budapest's Falk Miksa utca is lined with more than 30 antique stores. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#38 - Visit Budapest's antique row: Named after the journalist who tutored Queen Sisi in Hungarian language, downtown’s Falk Miksa Street is known for two things. One, it’s lined with grand apartment buildings from the Austrbo-Hungarian period, many with seriously elaborate entrance portals and vestibules. Two, it’s also lined with antique stores, more than 30 in total. Most of them are relatively upscale establishments, selling paintings, silver and porcelain dishware, and furniture, but those in search of tchotchkes and knick-knacks can also satiate themselves.

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

#39 - 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 Habsburg 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 you can recognize along the "artists' promenade;" or join packs of locals on the running track ringing the island.

Every summer, Budapest's Chinatown (Monori Center) operates an outdoor food market. The regular restaurants, also here and sixteen in total, are open year-round. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#40 - 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. The restaurants with easily approachable Chinese food include Hehe , Dabao (for dumplings), Shandong , and Hong Kong .

A dish at Babel restaurant in Budapest's downtown. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#41 - 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.

Budapest's Fővám tér subway station (2014) features muscular concrete beams. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#42 - 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, was the first permanent connection between Buda and Pest and is a symbol of the city. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#43 - Walk across the Chain Bridge: The first permanent connection between Pest and Buda, the Chain Bridge is a symbol of the city. It dates back to the first half of the 19th century when the ancient world inspired architecture, hence those stone pillars resembling a Roman triumphal arch. During the 1945 siege of Budapest, both the advancing Soviet and the retreating German armies tried to blow 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 to walk across the Chain Bridge!

The Inner City Parish Church (Belvárosi plébániatemplom) contains Roman, Romanesque, Gothic, Ottoman, Renaissance, Baroque, Neoclassical, Revival-style, and modern elements. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#44 - Visit the Inner City Parish Church (Belvárosi plébániatemplom): Even if you aren’t religious, I recommend you visit this wonderful Budapest church, a true palimpsest of history with Roman, Romanesque, Gothic, Ottoman, Renaissance, Baroque, Neoclassical, Revival-style, and modern elements. There’s nothing like it in Budapest. The church’s continued existence is actually a small miracle; given its close proximity to Elisabeth Bridge and the car-forward urban planning of the 20th century, the idea of razing or moving it periodically resurfaced. Details.

The main square of Szentendre (Fő tér). Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#45 - Take a day trip to Szentendre: Szentendre is a small, picturesque town about 45-minutes from Budapest by public transport and best known for its Mediterranean atmosphere, history of Serbian residents, and vibrant museum scene. It can make for a relaxing, culture-filled day trip. My Szentendre guide could 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

#46 - 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

#47 - 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 could help you discover it.

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

#48 - Take a weekend trip to the Tokaj wine region:  "The wine of kings, the king of wines," said famously Louis XIV of France, referring to Tokaj, the world's oldest designated wine region, located two-and-a-half hours from Budapest by car. If you're into wines and curious about a uniquely beautiful and culturally layered (and rather poor) part of the Hungarian countryside, you should consider a Tokaj trip. My beginners guide will get you started, and I also have recommendations for 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

#49 - Prepare for your Budapest trip with my interviews: Find out how others view 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 specializing in Hungarian food. Here , the full list of people.

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

#50 - 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 shelves at a Budapest supermarket. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#51 - Visit a local supermarket: A good way to gauge the "true" 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 like to – and can afford to – 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, a muslim monk, was erected in the 16th century when Buda-Pest was occupied by Ottoman Turkey. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#52 - 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 Buda-Pest. His impressive octagonal tomb (türbe) hides on a peaceful hillside right near the city center with sweeping views. For the best experience, climb up on Mecset utca through the rose garden, and leave the area on the other side down the winding Gül Baba utca.

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

#53 - 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

#54 - Experience the nightlife of the old Jewish Quarter: Budapest's Jewish Quarter in District 7 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

#55 - Prep for your Vienna trip:  Thne two capital cities of Austria-Hungary, Vienna and Budapest, still share many similarities when it comes to food, architecture, and culture in general (notable differences also exist, starting with language). If your next destination is Vienna, where I live part-time, you could try exploring the city through my recommendations .  

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62 Fun & Unusual Things to Do in Budapest, Hungary

fun things to do in Budapest

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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.

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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.

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16 Secret Hidden Gems in Budapest – Off the Beaten Path

  • October 7, 2023

If you want to get off the beaten path and find some hidden gems in Budapest, this article is for you. After spending almost a week in the Hungarian capital and having covered all of the main attractions, we searched for some of the more secret places in Budapest. In this article, I’ll be sharing what we discovered.  

Budapest is a diverse and beautiful city, bursting with life, culture, history, nightlife, and awe-inspiring architecture. 

Naturally, if it’s your first time in the city you’ll want to cover all the significant landmarks. Attractions such as the Fishermans Bastion, Hungarian Parliament Building, Thermal Baths and Ruin Bars are quintessential Budapest experiences. 

However, if you’re spending longer than a couple of days in the city, I suggest checking out some of Budapest’s hidden gems as well. You might not find them on your average Budapest travel guide or blog, but that’s what makes them so appealing. 

To help you plan your off the beaten track adventure, I’ve collated this list of the weirdest and most unusual things to do. Slot these into your  Budapest Itinerary  for a truly unique and authentic experience.

So let’s get to it; it’s time to break the silence on our favourite hidden gems in Budapest.

Secret Places Budapest

Disclosure:  Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you purchase a product through these links, we will earn a small commission  at no extra cost to you.  And we can continue bringing you free tips and advice. If you found the content helpful and are kind enough to use our affiliates –  you are awesome, and we thank you! 

16 Secret Hidden Gems in Budapest – Off the Beaten Path

From underground caving adventures and eerie gothic castles to meandering the cities alternative district, here are 16 quirky and unusual hidden gems in Budapest.

1. Alternative Budapest Tour

Budapest Szimpla Kert Ruin Bar-2

It makes sense to kick off the list with a mention of the best-selling  Alternative Budapest Walking tour .

This tour will take you off the beaten track on a 3-hour walking tour of the cities alternative neighbourhoods.

On this tour, you’ll see beyond the usual tourist spots and through the eyes of a local. Here’s what you can expect from the tour:

  • Discover Budapest’s graffiti and street art scene and learn about the local artists
  • Find hidden cafés, bars, galleries, design shops, studios, music venues and hangouts
  • Learn about Budapest’s minority cultures such as LGBTQ+
  • Visit Budapest’s infamous ruin bars
  • Explore Budapest’s Jewish District
  • Check out a local market

Save Money with a Budapest Card

Are you going to be visiting all of the cities top attractions and taking full advantage of the public transport network? If yes, you should consider purchasing a  Budapest Card in advance. The card allows you to ride public transport for free, access several museums for free, plus discounted entry at most other attractions.

2. Vajdahunyad Castle

Budapest Vajdahunyad Castle

Despite its prime position in City Park,  Vajdahunyad Castle   remains somewhat of a hidden gem in Budapest. This is surprising as it’s one of the most beautiful castles in Budapest.

Just like most of the architecture in Budapest, Vajdanhunyad Castle looks like a scene straight out of a fairy tale. Only, you can imagine this one belonging to the villain of the story.

The amalgamation of Gothic-Renaissance and Baroque architecture creates an almost eerie scene. Ironically, legend has it that the castle once imprisoned Count Dracula.

It is free to enter the grounds of Vajdahunyad Castle, so even if you do not wish to go inside, it is worth taking a romantic stroll through the courtyards.

Inside, there is a museum and other interesting artefacts, but in our opinion probably not worth the entrance fee.

Entrance Fee: Free to enter the grounds/HUF 1600 to go inside/ Allow: 1 hour

3. Explore Budapest’s Underground Caves

Budapest Palvolgyi Cave

Interestingly, some of the best-hidden gems in Budapest are located underground. Budapest is the only European capital where there are natural caves in the heart of the city.

When you’re exploring the likes of Buda Castle, it’s hard to believe that over 170 caves are running beneath you.

There are various caving adventures you can have in the city. For example, The Labyrinth in Buda Castle  allows you to explore the caves where Vlad the Impaler, better known as “Count Dracula”, was held and tortured. It’s a spooky one and not so kid-friendly.

For those keen on an adrenaline-pumping adventure, there’s the  Palvolgyi Cave tour . This 1-hour long escapade leads you through the longest and most beautiful cave in the Buda Hills. Not for the inexperienced or the faint-hearted.

Or, if you’d prefer something a little more family-friendly, you can check out other caving tours such as  Szemlőhegyi Cave.

Tour Price: HUF 2200/Allow: 1-2 hours

Related Read

4 Days in Budapest Itinerary

4. Hospital in the Rock

secret hospital in the rock budpest

I’ll be honest; I only found out about this museum while researching for this blog. But it’s a pity, as it’s one of the few museums in Budapest that I think sounds interesting enough to pay the entrance fee.

Hospital in the Rock is another one of Budapest’s underground attractions, which was once a secret hospital and nuclear bunker.

The hospital, built in a 10km long natural cave system underneath the Buda Castle, opened in 1944. Its purpose was to protect injured soldiers and civilians during further b0mb att@acks on the city.

Today it’s the largest waxwork exhibition in Hungary where wax figures and authentic machinery depict the reality of those tumultuous times.

Entrance: 4000 HUF (Includes a guided tour)/Allow: 1 hour

5. Gyermekvasút (Children’s Railway)

budapest hidden gem Gyermekvasút

Would you have ever imagined riding a train operated solely by children? No, me neither. That is until I discovered this quaint hidden gem in Budapest.

From the outside, the Gyermekvasút railway appears like any other railway line. However, the train that journeys through a quiet patch of Hungarian forest is run solely by children aged 10-14.

Don’t worry; this isn’t some kind of twisted child labour scheme. Instead, it’s a commemoration of a tradition that began in the 1940s.

At the time, it was an honourable position for young men and women and a way to learn important life skills and lessons.

The scheme continues to educate a number of local children to this day while attracting locals and tourists alike.

6. The Cheapest Danube River Cruise

Danube River Cruise Budapest

Possibly the best way to view the sights of this magnificent city is on the water. With many significant landmarks set upon the banks of the Danube River, it’s the perfect way to take it all in without the pressure of crowds.

When it comes to choosing a river cruise, there is no shortage of options. Vendors swarm the banks of the Danube, waiting to sell you the ‘Best Danube River Cruise‘.

But be careful as many tours are overpriced. In our experience, it’s cheapest to book in advance and online .

The cheapest Danube river cruise, however, is the public transport boats. It will be a no-thrills experience, but the incredible views will ultimately be the same and it costs just a fraction of the price.

I know, you’re thanking me for this travel hack right now, and you’re welcome.

7. Zugliget Chairlift

Hidden Gems in Budapest Chair Lift

Another interesting mode of transport in Budapest is the Zugliget chairlift. The chairlift transports passengers between Zugliget and the lookout tower on János Hill – the highest peak in the city.

The journey up takes around 15-mins each way and provides stunning panoramic views over the city. Undoubtedly one of the more exciting ways to navigate Budapest.

8. Gellert Hill Cave Church

Gellert Hill Cave Church Hidden Gem Budapest

As the name suggests, you’ll find this unusual cave church, tucked beneath Gellert Hill on the Buda side of the river.

Historically, the cave is said to of been the home of a hermit monk, who used the nearby thermal springs to heal people of their ailments. Nowadays it belongs to the Pauline Monks and is one of the more hidden places in Budapest.

Thanks to its unique setting inside a natural cave, the Church Cave is one-of-a-kind. The church has no grand decoration like other architecture in Budapest; however, its unique charm makes the structure well worth visiting.

For a 500 HUF (£1.20) donation, you can enter inside the church which includes an audio tour.

9. Szimpla Kert by Day

Budapest Szimpla Kert Ruin Bar

Szimpla Kert is Budapest’s most famous ruin bar by night and a cultural/artistic centre by day.

Famed for its wild party vibe and trippy decor, many visitors add the bar to their list of things to do at night. However, to truly appreciate the creativity and quirkiness of Szimpla Kert, you need to experience it during the day as well.

There is nothing not to love about this bar. From their eco-friendly initiatives, cheap drinks prices, and the whacky themed decor, walking around Szimpla Kert feels like getting lost in a twisted Wonderland.

In my opinion, you should stop by during the day to wander around and take some photos, then return in the evening for a boozy night out.

Alcohol in Budapest is relatively cheap if you stick to the local brands; however, it’s easy to get carried away. Before you know it you’re $50 and a shoe down with a nasty hangover to boot. 

10. Street Art Hunting

alternative budapest art work

In deep contrast to the grand and elegant architecture found elsewhere in the city, alternative Budapest hides an edgier side. A side where street art, quirky food haunts, hipster stores, and a trendy nightlife scene prevail.

You’ll find this scene centred mainly around the Jewish District. A spot that holds a turbulent history, but has risen from the ashes as the trendiest and most cultural spot in all the city.  

Historically, this area was considered the ghetto of Budapest, and Jews were confined to living here during the N@zi occupation of Hungary.

The Jewish influence remains prominent to this day, with various synagogues, kosher restaurants, and memorials. However, the hidden gem amongst it all is street art.  

We felt like we were in an open-air gallery as we marvelled at the murals created by a mix of local and international artists. The subjects range from Hungarian history and local culture to various worldwide events and controversies.

You can follow this  map of Budapest street art  to find the best artwork in the city.

Instagram Spots Budapest

11. Langos at Retro Langos Bufe

Budapest Street Food Retró Lángos Büfé

Langos is a traditional Hungarian dish, consisting of round deep-fried dough, that resembles a pizza, but is thicker and heavier.

Traditionally, langos were brushed with garlic and sprinkled in salt, and it was job done; however, today’s evolving culinary scene sees them topped with all kinds of delicious ingredients.

The most popular duo is sour cream and cheese, which I can confirm is divine, but you can also choose from a variety of vegetables and meats.

While Langos is an iconic street food dish to Hungary, finding a good one in Budapest is harder than you might think.

To ensure you’re getting a Langos of the best quality, we insist you go to  Retró Lángos Büfé .   One of Budapest’s hidden culinary gems where you can guarantee your food will be hot, fresh, and delicious.  

12. Unusual Pubs & Bar

unique places budapest

Unsurprisingly, some of the best secret places in Budapest are bars. With so many eccentric drinking holes around the city, what else do you expect?

Of course, Budapest’s ruin bars are famous for being a little off the wall; however, there are other quirky bars in the city worth checking out as well.

Offbeat bars in Budapest, include the  Blind Mice Exchange Pub . A multi-room establishment, where you buy your spirits according to the stock value on the television screen.

Another is  Red Ruin Bar  – A communist themed bar with a sense of humour about the political past. Check out this guide to  Budapest Nightlife  for more awesome nocturnal things to do in the city. 

13. Flipper Museum

flipper museum is a Secret Hidden Gems in Budapest

If you find yourself rained off from sightseeing, this retro museum of pinball machines and arcade games is the ideal distraction.

As for the machines themselves, the diversity is enormous, spanning different eras and styles. Most of them are very well-maintained, and if you’re an old skool gamer, you’re sure to leave feeling nostalgic.

At 3000 HUF (£8) the entrance fee isn’t all that expensive, and it can be great fun for all the family. Once you’ve paid the entrance fee, gaming is free, and you can stay for as long as you want.

14. Shop at a Local Market

off the beaten path budapest market

If you’re serious about getting off the beaten path in Budapest, a great place to start is to go where the locals go. On this occasion, I’m talking about the local markets.

(And when I say local, I don’t mean the Budapest Central Market, which by all means you should visit, but it’s as touristy as they come.)

No, I’m talking about the lesser-known markets, which are admittedly smaller but only by size. Most have a lot of character, and their unpopularity only adds to the charm.

Interestingly, they hold most of the local markets on a Sunday, which is ideal if you’re spending the weekend in Budapest. But not so much if you’re there in the week.

The first of the Sunday markets I recommend you visit is at Szimpla Kert. A local farmers market, whereby every seller is an authentic local producer, who only bring what they grow and make by hand.

Another is the Flower & Vegan Market at Anker’t – another of Budapest’s infamous ruin bars. And finally the Antique Flea Market at Klauzál Square is well worth a visit if you’re on the hunt for some rare gems.

Prague Hidden Gems

15. Urban Exploring in Budapest

Budapest Szimpla Kert Ruin Bar

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When you think of Urban Exploring, Budapest is the last city that probably comes to mind. Or maybe you don’t even know what Urban Exploring is. In which case it’s basically exploring abandoned buildings or areas within a city.

This kind of off-beat exploring is especially popular in cities such as  London  and  Berlin ; however, we were pleasantly surprised to learn there are some cool adventures to be had in Budapest as well.

If urban exploring sounds like something that might be up your street, I recommend checking out this article relating to some  interesting abandoned buildings in Budapest . Including a former power station and an old bunker, secret Budapest doesn’t get better than this.

16. Karavan Street Food

Hidden Gems Budapest The Jewish District

Located in Budapest’s hip & happening party district, Karavan is an outdoor food court, that gives home to a variety of food trucks and international fayre.

Conveniently set next to Szimpla Kert, the cities most famous ruin bar, you can expect a variety of cuisines including Italian, Mexican, and Indian. Not to mention Las Vegan who cater solely to vegans.

Whether it’s a 3 am feed up after a heavy night of drinking, or a cheap and cheerful dinner one evening, you won’t be disappointed by the food on offer.

Save Time and Book a Tour

For a more local experience, we recommend checking out the guided tours on  Get Your Guide :

Unique Hotels in Budapest

Unsurprisingly, there is no shortage of accommodation options in Budapest. You can click the button below to search for hundreds of hotels, hostels, and guesthouses in the area.

But while we are on the topic of secret spots in Budapest, I thought it would be a good idea to share some of the more unique hotels in the city – the hotels that reflect the cities more alternative side.

If you’ve not booked your accommodation already, you’re definitely going to want to check these out.

$ T62 Hotel –  T62 Hotel. First on our list of cool and quirky places to stay in Budapest is T62 is a budget to mid-range hotel, with chic & stylish decor, including graffiti-style walls, with rooms that are simple yet modern. With a central location close to all the major attractions, an enjoyable stay is guaranteed.

$$ Bohem Art Hotel –  bohemian style hotel This is one of the trendiest spots in the city. Each room features the eclectic artwork of local Hungarian artists while combining all the modern features of a hip hotel. I even read that they serve wine with the American style breakfast buffet, so if that doesn’t persuade you, I don’t know what will.

$$$ Baltazár Budapest – You’ll find this hip boutique hotel on the Buda side of the river. It’s a small yet cosy hotel boasting only 11 bedrooms; however, this adds charm to its already edgy character. The hotel decor reflects Budapest’s artistic and bohemian side, with individually decorated rooms that range from urban modern to shabby chic.

$$$$ Aria Hotel Budapest – Aria Hotel Featuring a panoramic rooftop bar, luxurious rooms & suites, and 5* facilities, is the ideal place to treat yourself during your stay in Budapest. The design is chic and modern, mirroring the hipster vibe of the city. And guests can enjoy ample facilities such as a fully-equipped spa, swimming pool, and state of the art rooms.

Alternatively, you may look at staying nearby, in which case you can compare hotels in Budapest here . Or use the Map below to see all your options​:

Alternative Berlin

Enjoy Secret Budapest!

Well, that concludes our list of non-touristy things to do in Budapest. We hope you enjoy exploring these weird and wonderful Budapest hidden gems.

If you have any questions or feel we have missed anything, please reach out to us. We love hearing from you!

Stay Adventurous & Happy Travels.

cool places to visit budapest

Planning a trip around Budapest? Check out our Hungry series  for more travel tips and advice. 

Charlotte & Natalie


Off the Beaten Path in Budapest – 14 Unusual Budapest Hidden Gems

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4 Days in Budapest Itinerary

9 Responses

Great read, your blog didn’t mention any of the baths, are they worth a visit? I’m not crazy about water as I don’t swim. What are your thoughts?

We’re so glad you enjoyed the guide! We wrote another blog for Budapest including the more touristy highlights like the baths if you’d like to check that out. We did enjoy the baths especially because it’s such a huge part of the culture there. Wishing you a great time!

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We’re Charlotte & Natalie, a British lesbian couple with a passion for travel and adventure.

Here you will find everything from lgbtq+ travel & lifestyle advice, to comprehensive guides and itineraries designed to make your travel planning easier., we want to inspire you to live the life of your dreams..


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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:

cool places to visit 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


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.


1 | Széchenyi  Thermal Bath in Budapest

best things to do in Budapest |

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

cool places to visit 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 .

best things to do in Budapest |

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

best things to do in Budapest |

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

best things to do in Budapest |

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

cool places to visit 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

things to do in Budapest |

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

things to do in Budapest |

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.

things to do in Budapest |

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

cool places to visit 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

cool places to visit 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)

things to do in Budapest |

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

things to do in Budapest |

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

things to do in Budapest |

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

things to do in Budapest |

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

things to do in Budapest |

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.

things to do in Budapest |

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.

things to do in Budapest | Queen of the Danube |

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

cool places to visit 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

Budapest things to do at Queen of the Danube |

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

cool places to visit 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

things to do in Budapest |

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!


20 | Fisherman’s Bastion Buda

things to do in Budapest | Queen of the Danube |

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.

Budapest | Queen of the Danube |

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

budapest things to do |

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

cool places to visit 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

cool places to visit 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

Budapest things to do |

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

cool places to visit 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

Things to do in Budapest | Queen of the Danube |

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

best things to do in Budapest |

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.

Castle Hill Buda Budapest things to do at Queen of the Danube |

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

cool places to visit 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 .

cool places to visit 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

Things to do in Budapest | Queen of the Danube |

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

things to do in Budapest |

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

cool places to visit 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 |

“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

cool places to visit 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.


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.

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Szentendre — 1 Perfect Day Trip from Budapest

Szentendre — 1 Perfect Day Trip from Budapest

Szentendre, the quaint heritage town on the Danube Bend is an expanding happy hug of colours. exuding a Mediterranean atmosphere. The narrow alleys swirl around the main square as petals to a rose with sunlight keeping the town in ever-glow…

Castle Hill Budapest | 17 Best Things to do

Castle Hill Budapest | 17 Best Things to do

Visiting Budapest? Castle Hill Budapest is home to a wealth of historic monuments, medieval ruins and stunning architectural features and this guide has all the sites that should top your list.

You are welcome and Thank you so much for your kind comments. Budapest is such a beautiful city, and I didn’t have to do very much with the photos. The city is easily doable for a 3-4 day itinerary. Hope you shall visit Budapest one day.

As always these provide such insight. A friend from a few years ago came from Budapest and described it but the images and details you bring here make it real and come to life. I always value, perhaps as much as anything how you blogs deal with getting around. Especially for short trips, knowing what can be realistically seen is important to us. Thank you.

Hi there, Thank you so much for writing in and sharing your views. I am super pleased to know that you found the article interesting and useful for your trip to Budapest. Please do take advantage of my sightseeing tips to maximise your experience in this city – also, come back and share your stories, we would love to hear your experiences. 🙂

Very very interesting writeup .Looking forward to visit Budapest at the earliest opportunity.

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The Planet D: Adventure Travel Blog

33 Best Things to Do in Budapest In 2024

Written By: The Planet D

Updated On: January 5, 2024

Considered one of the most beautiful cities in Europe , Budapest does not disappoint. Located in the heart of Central Europe and straddling the shimmering Danube River, Hungary’s enchanting capital city is renowned for its remarkable architecture, healing thermal baths, and a history that weaves a tale as complex as the labyrinths beneath the Buda Castle. These are the best things to do in Budapest, a city that captivates every visitor.

Top Things to Do in Budapest

Top Things to do in Budapest

Budapest, the ‘Pearl of the Danube’, is a harmonious blend of two erstwhile cities – Buda, resting on rolling hills and home to historic castles and palaces, and Pest, the vibrant hub of culture, politics, gastronomy, and nightlife. The two halves, each with their unique flavors, combine to create a city that’s as rich and diverse as the tapestry of its past.

Located in Central Europe, Budapest is an easy city to visit on a River Cruise, Road Trip, or by flying into the Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport located about 16 km from the city center. You can book a transfer directly from the airport to take you to your downtown hotel. If you are looking for car rentals, check out

Planning Your Trip To Budapest Right Now?

Below are some of the top tours in Budapest. Make sure to plan ahead when  visiting Hungary!

Top Activities and Tours in Budapest:

  • Budapest: Evening Sightseeing Cruise and Unlimited Prosecco (Most Popular in Budapest)
  • Budapest: 1.5-Hour Fun Segway Sightseeing (Likely to Sell Out)
  • Budapest: Széchenyi Spa Full Day with Optional Pálinka Tour (Our favorite)
  • Budapest Card: Public Transport, 30+ Top Attractions & Tours (Best Deal)

1. Visit Heroes’ Square

Best Things to do in Budapest Heroes Square

Located at the end of Andrássy Avenue, Heroes Square is something not to be missed. You can’t miss the Millennium Monument at its center which depicts the Archangel Gabriel holding the Hungarian crown. It is surrounded by several other statues that represent the Seven Chieftains of the Magyars and other important Hungarian leaders.

Make sure to visit the two art museums on either side of the square and learn a little about Hungarian history.

2. Hungarian Parliament Building

Best Things to do in Budapest The Parliament Buildings

The Hungarian Parliament Building is one of the largest buildings and most recognizable in Budapest. One of Europe’s oldest legislative buildings, the parliament building, is a marvel of Gothic Revival architecture. Dominating the Pest side of the Danube, the building’s intricate detailing and grandeur are a sight to behold. Its interior is adorned with gold accents and intricate stained glass.

You can tour the 691-room parliament building and watch the changing of the guard. During the tour, you can explore its beautiful statues and paintings as well as learn about the political history of Budapest.

The parliament is a working government building and home to the Hungarian Crown Jewels. A guided tour offers insights into Hungarian politics and the opportunity to appreciate the stunning architecture up close.

Don’t miss the chance to see the building at night when it’s beautifully illuminated, reflecting over the Danube. To really appreciate its Gothic Revival beauty, make sure to view it from the opposite side of the Danube. Or book a city cruise. This cruise includes unlimited Processo as you take in the sights.

3. Walk Across The Chain Bridge

Best things to do in Budapest chain bridge

This is Budapest’s most famous bridge and for good reason. The Széchenyi Chain Bridge, usually referred to as the Chain Bridge, is more than a means to cross the Danube. It’s a symbol of Hungarian resilience and innovation. Opened in 1849, the bridge was the first to permanently connect Buda and Pest.

A walk across the bridge offers delightful views of the city’s landmarks. The sight of the Royal Palace, Matthias Church, and Parliament building from the bridge is truly picture-perfect. At night, the illuminated bridge against the backdrop of Budapest’s skyline creates a magical setting.

Built in 1849, this suspension bridge connects the Buda(west) and Pest(East) sides of the city. It only takes about 10 minutes to walk across and the views are stunning. You are going to want to see this bridge both during the day and at night to really appreciate how impressive this bridge really is. Especially if you want some great photos.

4. Explore Buda Castle

Best Things to do in Budapest Buda Castle

Perched high atop Castle Hill, Buda Castle is an iconic symbol of Budapest. This former home of Hungarian kings was completed in the 13th Century and is now a Unesco World Heritage Site. Surrounded by the Hungarian National Gallery, and the Budapest History Museum, Castle Hill is the perfect place to learn all about the culture of the city.

Whether day or night, the Castle, with its magnificent Baroque architecture, exudes an enchanting beauty. A stroll around the castle grounds at dusk provides an unforgettable sight of Budapest’s glittering skyline. Don’t forget to explore the surrounding Castle District, with its charming, narrow streets and historical buildings.

The best way to explore the Castle Hill area is by a guided tour. This 2-hour Castle tour costs is worth every penny.

Another interesting tour is the Buda Castle Caves Tour which takes you through the underground tunnels of Castle Hill. It is a fascinating trip through the labyrinth-like of cave system which once served as wine cellars, bomb shelters, and even a medieval prison.

5. Szechenyi Spa Baths

Best things to do in Budapest Szechenyi Spa Baths

There is a reason they call it the City of Spas. When in Budapest, indulging in a thermal bath is a must. The city is renowned for its thermal baths, and Széchenyi is the largest and arguably the most popular. Situated in the heart of City Park, Széchenyi boasts 15 indoor pools and three grand outdoor pools as well as 10 saunas and steam rooms. They are the perfect escape after a few hours of sightseeing in the city. They are the largest medicinal baths in Europe and are known for their healing properties.

Thermal water, rich in minerals like calcium and magnesium, is believed to have therapeutic properties. Whether you swim, soak, or partake in a game of chess with the locals, Széchenyi Thermal Bath offers a unique blend of relaxation and recreation. Visit in the winter for an extraordinary experience of bathing in hot waters as snow falls around you.

The art nouveau style baths date back to 1911. They suffered damage during World War II in the Siege of Budapest, but have been restored to their original splendor.

Book a full day at the baths in advance – this includes a full day ticket, and an optional tour to the city center to taste some Hungarian pálinka. Also note, that towels and bathing suits are available for purchase. (no rentals)

6. The Fisherman’s Bastion

best things to do in Budapest The Fisherman's Bastion

If you are looking for the best views over the city then you will want to head to the Fisherman’s Bastion. The panoramic views over Pest, Margaret Island, and The Danube are unmatched, especially at sunset.

Its seven towers represent the seven Magyar tribes that founded Hungary in the 9th century. While the view from the Bastion is impressive at any time of day, it’s especially enchanting at night when the city is illuminated. Adjacent to the Bastion is the Matthias Church, another must-visit landmark with its stunning tiled roof and intricate interior.

7. Margaret Island

best things to do in budapest margaret island

Margaret Island is by far Budapest’s most beautiful green space creating a serene oasis in the heart of Budapest. At 2.5 km long, Margaret Island is located in the middle of the Danube River and is accessed by a bridge at each end, it is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy some beautiful gardens.

From beautiful gardens and historic ruins to a mini-zoo and thermal baths, there’s something for everyone. The Island is a popular spot for jogging, picnics, and leisurely strolls.

Don’t miss the musical fountain near the entrance, which puts on a show synchronized to classical music. There are also medieval ruins and an aviary that rehabilitates injured birds. The island also hosts several music and cultural festivals throughout the year, adding to its lively atmosphere.

9. City Park

Best things to do in Budapest City Park

If you are looking for another green space, City Park is a wonderful spot to escape the hustle and bustle. City Park, or Városliget as it is known in Hungarian spans approximately 302 acres in the heart of the city.

The most iconic site in City Park is the Széchenyi Thermal Baths but it is also home to Vajdahunyad Castle, the Budapest Zoo and Botanical Garden, which is one of the oldest zoos in the world and the park is also the site of the Municipal Circus and the Pet?fi Hall, a popular venue for concerts and performances.

Other amenities include playgrounds, a boating lake, which transforms into an ice skating rink during the winter, and the Gundel Restaurant, famous for its traditional Hungarian cuisine.

9. Stroll along the Danube Promenade

Best things to do in Budapest Danube Promenade

Taking a short walk between the Chain Bridge and the Elizabeth Bridge along the Danube gives some of the best views of the iconic landmarks of the Buda side of Budapest. You will have great views of the castle, the Liberty Statue, and the Fisherman’s Bastion.

Try to visit the Danube Promenade in the evening when these buildings are lit up. Budapest is our favorite city in Europe at night. Its skyline lit up over the Danube takes you back in time. It is breathtaking.

10. Visit the “Shoes on the Danube Bank” memorial

things to do in Budapest Shoes on the Danube Bank Memorial

Located along the Danube Promenade The Shoes on the Danube memorial is dedicated to the 3500 killed by the Arrow Cross militiamen during World War II. There are 60 pairs of cast iron shoes on the bank of the river in memory of the victims that were forced to take off their shoes before they were executed and their bodies swept away by the Danube.

This poignant memorial on the Danube Bank is a tribute to the Jews who were killed by fascist Arrow Cross militiamen during World War II. This memorial is a stark reminder of the atrocities of war. It’s a sobering site that brings home the human cost of the Holocaust in Hungary. A visit here is a moment to reflect and remember.

11. Great Market Hall (Central Market Hall)

Best Things to do in Budapest Great Market Hall

Great Market Hall also known as Central Market Hall is Budapest’s most famous., If you are staying in an apartment rental it is a great place to pick up your groceries and some one-of-a-kind souvenirs. It is located right on the Danube and is worth spending, at least, an hour or two exploring its treasures.

It is the largest and oldest indoor market in Budapest with a neo-Gothic exterior the bustling stalls selling a variety of goods, it’s a place that showcases the vibrant local life. The ground floor is an excellent spot to find traditional Hungarian foods like salami, spices, and Tokaji wine. The upper floor offers handicrafts, souvenirs, and eateries serving local dishes. Whether you’re a food lover, a souvenir hunter, or a culture enthusiast, the Great Market Hall has something to offer.

12. Stroll Along Andrássy Avenue

fun things to do in Budapest Andrassy Avenue

Recognized as a World Heritage Site, Andrássy Avenue is one of Budapest’s most significant streets. It’s lined with neo-renaissance mansions, and luxury boutiques, and connects two of Budapest’s famous landmarks – Heroes’ Square and the Hungarian State Opera House.

Andrássy Avenue isn’t just about grandeur and shopping. It also offers insights into Budapest’s history and culture. At one end is Heroes’ Square, featuring statues of Hungarian leaders and the iconic Millennium Monument. At the other end is the Hungarian State Opera House, a jewel of neo-renaissance architecture, where you can catch a ballet or opera performance.

13. The House of Terror

things to do in Budapest House of Terror

The House of Terror Museum, housed in a building that was a former headquarters of the Nazi and then Soviet secret police, is a chilling look at the darker side of Hungary’s history. The museum is a memorial to the victims of the Fascist and Communist Regimes.  

The House of Terror, which is located on Andrássy Avenue, was the former headquarters of the Nazis and was also used as a prison during World War II by the Fascist Arrow Cross Party in the communist era.

The museum covers 4 floors and a mix of collections and interactive displays where you can learn about that time in the city’s history.

Through a series of exhibits, films, and installations, you’ll learn about the impact of fascist and communist regimes on Hungary. The House of Terror provides an important understanding of Hungary’s past, making it an essential visit for history enthusiasts.

14. Hungarian State Opera House

things to do in Budapest Hungarian State Opera House

If you are looking for something unique to do in Budapest then you should definitely visit the Hungarian National Opera House. It was first opened in 1884 and is a beautiful example of Neo-Renaissance architecture. Seeing an opera here is an incredible experience. The sound in the 1200-seat auditorium is one of the best in the world and the building itself is jaw-dropping.

Budapest’s Hungarian State Opera House is a marvel of neo-Renaissance architecture. It’s not just a place for opera; it’s a grand monument to Hungary’s musical history. The ornate auditorium, with its gold detailing and plush red seating, is among the most beautiful in Europe.

While watching a performance here is a real treat, a guided tour is a way to appreciate the Opera House’s architectural grandeur and learn about its history. The tour often includes a mini-concert, giving you a taste of the magnificent acoustics.

If you are unable to get tickets to an opera then you should definitely take a guided tour. Just make sure to book them in advance.

15. St. Stephen’s Basilica

Best Things to do in Budapest St Stephens Basilica

This is the largest church in Budapest and the tallest. It was named after the first King of Hungary, Stephen I (you can see his right hand if that interests you), and is the most important church in the country. St. Stephen’s Basilica is not only a religious site but also a beacon of Hungarian history and culture.

The basilica is a masterpiece of neo-classical architecture and the third tallest building in Budapest. When you visit St Stephen’s Basilica, make sure to head up to the observation deck for some spectacular views over the city.

Inside, the basilica houses an impressive collection of religious relics, including the mummified right hand of Saint Stephen. The basilica also serves as a concert venue due to its exceptional acoustics and often hosts classical music concerts.

The church is free to enter but it will cost you HUF 400 to access the observation deck using the stairs (365!) or HUF 600 taking the elevator.

16. Buda Castle Funicular

Best Things to do in Budapest Buda Castle Funicular

Take the funicular up for another fun attraction in Budapest. Dating back to 1870, it was the 2nd funicular built in all of Europe. Running between Adam Clark Square and the Széchenyi Chain Bridge the funicular is a great way to get up to the Castle Hill area. It runs continuously each day every 10 minutes so the long queues move quickly.

17. Visit the Ruin Bars

Things to do in Budapest Szimpla Kert Ruin Bar

Ruin bars are all the rage in Budapest. Located in abandoned buildings and decorated with eclectic comfortable furniture, Ruin pubs are all unique in their own way. These bars are mostly located in the Jewish Quarter and are set in abandoned buildings. They are decorated with eclectic, often recycled, furniture and art.

Each ruin bar has a character of its own, with diverse music, art installations, and a lively, inclusive atmosphere. Ruin pubs aren’t just places to grab a drink; they’re social hubs where you can meet locals, fellow travelers, enjoy live music, and even catch a film screening. Exploring these ruined bars is an experience that encapsulates the spirit of Budapest’s vibrant nightlife.

Szimpla Kert is the most famous of all the ruin pubs and is also located in the Jewish Quarter so make sure to pop in while you are bar hopping. Szimpla Kert is a labyrinth of quirky rooms and vintage decor. Don’t forget to order yourself a shot of Unicum, a traditional Hungarian liqueur. It will blow your socks off.

18. Take a Danube River Cruise

Best Things to do in Budapest Danube River Cruise

One of the best ways to take in all the beauty of Budapest is to take a cruise along the Danube River. There are many different cruises that last from a couple of hours to a full day. We took a week-long River Cruise along the Danube. You can learn more about what we saw here.

The Danube River, splitting Buda and Pest, is a defining feature of Budapest. A river cruise offers a different perspective of the city’s landmarks, including the Parliament, Buda Castle, and the Citadel. It’s a particularly popular activity at sunset and in the evening when the city lights create a romantic atmosphere.

Many cruises offer dining and live music, enhancing the experience further. Whether you choose a lunch cruise, a sunset cruise, or a dinner cruise, floating on the Danube is an experience you’ll cherish.

This River Cruise includes a complimentary cocktail as you enjoy a one-hour trip along the Danube to enjoy the iconic sites such as Buda Castle and the Vigado Concert Hall.

19. Liberty Square

Things to do in Budapest Liberty Square

This Russian monument honors the soldiers of the Red Army who died during the liberation of Budapest from the Nazis in World War II. It is ironically located directly across from the US embassy and a statue of Ronald Reagan stands on the other side of it.

20. Take a Trabant Tour

Best Things to do in Budapest Trebant Car Tour

Known as “The Paper Jaguar”, this nostalgic car from the communist era is the perfect way to take a tour of the city. A chauffeur will drive you around town, stopping at the popular places while telling you about what life was like during that era in Budapest.

21. Gellért Hill Liberty Statue

Best Things to do in Budapest Gellert Hill Liberty Statue

Gellért Hill offers great panoramic views of the city and the Danube. The Liberty Statue sits atop the hill and was erected in 1947 to pay tribute to the Soviet soldiers that gave their lives to liberate the city from the Nazis during World War II.

It is a little out of the city but it is worth it to head out there or you can visit if you are on the Trabant tour. There is also a cave church and the citadel that are worth exploring.

Gellért Hill offers some of the best panoramic views of Budapest. At the top, you’ll find the Liberty Statue, a monument dedicated to those who sacrificed their lives for the independence of Hungary. The hill is also home to the Citadella, a historic fortress that now hosts various exhibitions.

A walk up can be a bit challenging, but the scenery along the way and the view from the top make it worth the effort. Whether at sunrise, sunset, or night, the vista of the cityscape, the Danube River, and the bridges connecting Buda and Pest is truly enchanting

22. Gundel Restaurant

Best things to do in budapest Gundel Restaurant

If you are into culinary travel or just love sampling the food of the country then a visit to the Gundel Restaurant is a must. The Gundel Restaurant dates back to 1894 and is considered one of the pioneers of Hungarian gastronomy.

It is the premier spot for traditional Hungarian food in Budapest especially if you want to savor authentic Hungarian cuisine in a historic grand fashion.

23. Dohány Street Synagogue

Things to do in Budapest Dohany Street Synagogue

Budapest is a beautiful city and the Dohány Street Synagogue, also known as the Great Synagogue. is absolutely beautiful. Located in the Jewish Quarter and opened in 1859, it is the second-largest synagogue in the world, and the interior and the garden were restored in the 1990s.

The Dohány Street Synagogue is not only the largest synagogue in Europe, but it’s also an important center of Neolog Judaism and a powerful symbol of Jewish heritage in Hungary. Its Moorish Revival architecture is breathtaking, with its richly decorated interior and two impressive onion-shaped domes.

Besides being a place of worship, the complex also houses the Hungarian Jewish Museum and a Holocaust memorial. A visit to the Dohány Street Synagogue offers insight into Jewish history, culture, and the resilience of the Jewish community in Hungary. Don’t miss the weeping willow memorial which is located in the garden.

24. Take Free Walking Tour

Free things to do in Budapest Walking tour

The best way to take all the best things to do in Budapest is to do a walking tour. We love joining walking tours when we reach a new destination and the tours of Budapest are some of the best. You get all of the history from a knowledgeable guide and you get to spend time at each location.

If you prefer to get around a little faster then a bike tour is for you. It covers about 15km and it takes you past all the cool spots like Vajdahunyad Castle, St Stephen’s Basilica, Szechenyi Baths, and the Parliament building. Budapest is a very bike-friendly city and it is easy to pedal.

25. Explore Vajdahunyad Castle

Best Things to do in Budapest Vajdahunyad Castle

Vajdahunyad Castle, located in City Park, is a unique architectural tribute to a thousand years of Hungarian history. It features replicas of several landmark buildings from different parts of the Kingdom of Hungary, showcasing Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque architectural styles.

The castle houses the Museum of Hungarian Agriculture, the biggest agricultural museum in Europe. Besides, the castle grounds are perfect for leisurely strolls, picnics, and even boating on the lake in the summer. During winter, the lake transforms into a popular ice-skating rink.

26. Visit the Pinball Museum

Fun things to do in Budapest Pinball Museum

If you are looking for something completely different to do in Budapest then you might want to check out the pinball museum. Opened in 2014, it houses 130 machines and is fun for the whole family. I’ve got to say, this is one of the coolest, off-the-wall museums in the city.

27. Hungarian National Museum

Best Things to do in Budapest Hungarian National Museum

The Hungarian National Museum is one of Hungary’s most important historical and cultural institutions. The museum’s grand neoclassical building itself is worth seeing. Designed by architect Mihály Pollack and opened in 1847, the museum’s front steps are a historically significant site as it was here that the Hungarian Revolution of 1848 was declared.

The museum houses a comprehensive collection of artifacts spanning Hungary’s history from its founding to the present day. The archaeological section holds relics from prehistoric times, from the Roman era when it was called the Roman city of Aquincum, to the migration period of the Magyars, the founders of Hungary.

Meanwhile, the historical department covers the period from the foundation of the state to the 1990s, providing visitors with an in-depth look at Hungary’s complex past.

One of the highlights of the museum is the Coronation Mantle, which has been used in the coronation of Hungarian kings since the 11th century. The museum also regularly hosts temporary exhibitions focusing on various historical themes.

28. Hungarian National Gallery

Best things to do in Budapest Hungarian National Gallery

The Hungarian National Gallery, housed within Buda Castle, is the largest public collection documenting and presenting the rise and development of the fine arts in Hungary. It features extensive collections of paintings, sculptures, medieval and Renaissance stonework, and prints from as early as the 10th century.

The exhibitions offer a journey through Hungarian art and history, with works from renowned artists like Mihály Munkácsy and Tivadar Csontváry Kosztka. Don’t miss the opportunity to explore this cultural treasure and the chance to appreciate the panoramic views of Budapest from the top of the museum.

29. Mattias Church

Top things to do in Budapest Mattias Church

One of Budapest’s most iconic landmarks, Matthias Church, stands proudly on Castle Hill. Named after King Matthias Corvinus, the church’s history spans over 700 years. The neo-Gothic architecture, colorful roof tiles, and intricate interior make it a masterpiece of art and history.

The church has witnessed numerous coronations and weddings, including that of King Matthias himself. Today, aside from religious services, the church hosts concerts due to its excellent acoustics. The nearby Fisherman’s Bastion offers incredible views of the city, making the area a must-visit spot in Budapest.

30. Aquincum Museum and Ruin Garden

Things to do in Budapest Aquincum Museum and Ruin Garden

The Aquincum Museum and Ruin Garden is a fascinating archaeological site and museum dedicated to preserving and showcasing the remains of Aquincum, the ancient Roman city that once stood where Budapest is today.

Aquincum was the capital of the Roman province of Pannonia Inferior and one of the most important cities in the Danube region during Roman times, dating back to the 2nd-4th centuries AD. Today, the Aquincum Museum and Ruin Garden allow visitors to step back in time and walk among the ruins.

The museum houses an impressive collection of artifacts unearthed from the site, including Roman stone carvings, statues, ceramics, jewelry, and other everyday objects that offer a glimpse into life during Roman times. One of the museum’s most notable exhibits is the Aquincum Water Organ, an ancient Roman musical instrument that was discovered in the region.

31. Museum of Fine Arts

Best Things to do in Budapest Museum of Fine Arts

The Museum of Fine Arts (Szépmuvészeti Múzeum) in Budapest is one of the most important and prestigious cultural institutions in Hungary. It houses an extensive international collection of art, including works spanning seven centuries from around the globe.

Located in Heroes’ Square, the museum is housed in a magnificent Neo-Classical building, which opened in 1906. The Museum of Fine Arts’ collection is diverse and expansive, with over 100,000 pieces. The Old Masters’ Gallery showcases an impressive collection of European paintings and drawings, featuring works from renowned artists such as Raphael, El Greco, Velázquez, Rembrandt, Tiepolo, and Goya.

The museum’s collection of Egyptian Art is one of the richest in Central Europe, displaying around 4,000 artifacts that provide insights into Ancient Egyptian civilization.

There’s also an extensive collection of Ancient Art, featuring Greek, Roman, and Etruscan works, while the Sculpture Collection boasts pieces from the Middle Ages to the late 18th century. Recently, the museum has undergone extensive renovations to further enhance its exhibition spaces and visitor services, including a new Romanesque Hall, which hosts temporary exhibitions.

32. Experience Budapest’s Café Culture

Budapest’s café culture is a significant part of the city’s identity. With a coffee culture history dating back to the late 19th century, Budapest’s coffee houses were hubs of literary and artistic life. Café Gerbeaud and New York Café are among the most famous and opulent coffee houses in the city.

Each coffee house in Budapest has its unique charm and history. Some serve as venues for live music and poetry readings, while others exhibit local artwork. Enjoy a cup of traditional Hungarian coffee, sample local pastries like Dobos Torte, and soak in the cultural ambiance of these iconic establishments.

33. Escape to the Buda Hills

Things to do in Budapest Buda Hills

The Buda Hills, tower over the western side of Budapest and offer a tranquil respite from the city’s bustling streets. The top attraction here is The Children’s Railway. This unique attraction is a narrow-gauge railway winding through some of the most beautiful parts of the Buda Hills.

Another one of the most popular attractions in the Buda Hills is the Széchenyi Hill Lookout Tower. Climb the tower for a breathtaking 360-degree view of the city and its surroundings. Close to the lookout tower is the Elizabeth Lookout, another vantage point with equally captivating views.

The Buda Hills are crisscrossed with a network of hiking and biking trails that offer stunning views over Budapest and the Danube River.

How to Get Around Budapest

Best Things to do in Budapest Getting Around

Budapest has an extensive and efficient public transportation system, making it easy for tourists to navigate the city. Options include the Metro, trams, buses, and trolleybuses. The Metro, with its four lines, is especially useful for getting around the city quickly. Trams are perfect for short distances and offer scenic routes along the Danube River.

For those who prefer traveling on water, there are public boats operating on the Danube River, offering a unique perspective of the city. Biking is also an increasingly popular way to get around Budapest, with dedicated bike lanes and bike-sharing programs like MOL Bubi.

Budapest Card

To make traveling around Budapest easier and more cost-effective, consider purchasing the Budapest Card. The Budapest Card is the official city pass of Budapest, which provides a range of benefits:

  • Unlimited public transportation: The card offers unlimited travel on the city’s public transportation network, including buses, trams, trolleybuses, the metro, and even boats.
  • Free entry to museums: The card grants free admission to many of the city’s top museums, including the Hungarian National Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Budapest History Museum.
  • Discounts: The card offers discounts at a wide range of attractions, tours, restaurants, thermal baths, and more.
  • Additional services: The Budapest Card also includes free or discounted walking tours, a free guidebook, and other services.

The Budapest Card comes in different versions (24, 48, 72, 96, or 120 hours), allowing you to choose the one that best fits your itinerary. It’s an excellent investment for travelers wanting to explore Budapest at their own pace while saving on transportation and attractions.

What is Budapest best known for?

Budapest is best known for its historical sites like the Buda Castle, thermal baths like Széchenyi, and the Hungarian Parliament Building. It’s also renowned for its unique blend of architectural styles and its vibrant café culture.

What you Cannot miss in Budapest?

In Budapest, you cannot miss a soak in Széchenyi Thermal Bath, a visit to Buda Castle, a stroll along the Danube, and a tour of the Hungarian Parliament Building.

How many days should I spend in Budapest?

A 3-4 day trip is usually sufficient to visit Budapest’s key attractions, try some traditional Hungarian food, and possibly enjoy a thermal bath experience. However, with so much to see and do, you could easily extend your stay to a week or more.

Cool things to do in Budapest

From its UNESCO World Heritage Sites to its bustling markets, from its illustrious opera house to the ruins transformed into trendy bars, Budapest is an explorer’s dream. Whether you’re marveling at the grandeur of the Hungarian Parliament Building, immersing yourself in the bubbling bliss of Széchenyi Thermal Bath, or tracing the contours of history in the Hungarian National Museum, the city is a treasure trove of unforgettable experiences.

And these are the Best Things to do in Budapest. Budapest is one of these places that has something for everyone. The city is full of history, incredible views, and architecture that will blow your mind. If you have three or four days in the city you can really get a great feel for the city and understand why so many people visit this city each year.

Plan Your Next Trip to Europe With These Resources

  • 14 Best European Capital Cities To Visit
  • Best Places To Visit In Europe
  • 35 Most Beautiful Cities In Europe To See This Year
  • Hungarian Food: 21 Traditional Dishes To Try In Hungary Or At Home
  • The Complete Guide To Sziget Festival

Travel Planning Resources

Looking to book your next trip? Why not use these resources that are tried and tested by yours truly.

Flights: Start planning your trip by finding the best flight deals on Skyscanner

Book your Hotel: Find the best prices on hotels with these two providers. If you are located in Europe use and if you are anywhere else use TripAdvisor

Find Apartment Rentals: You will find the cheapest prices on apartment rentals with VRBO . 

Travel Insurance: Don't leave home without it. Here is what we recommend:

  • Allianz - Occasional Travelers.
  • Medjet - Global air medical transport and travel security.

Need more help planning your trip? Make sure to check out our Resources Page where we highlight all the great companies that we trust when we are traveling.

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Budapest Bamako Rally – The Ultimate Overlanding Adventure

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15 thoughts on “33 Best Things to Do in Budapest In 2024”

I have visited before and found Hungary to be beautiful! Sadly, with the current government in place …I will wait before visiting Hungary until there is more European Union alignment.

I am planing to visit Budapest in 2020. This guide will really help me very much. Thanks for help to plan my trip.

We just returned from Budapest. In planning our adventures we used your guide as one of our resources and it was helpful. Thank you.

This is a really detailed guide! I wish I stumbled upon this before I visited Budapest not long ago. By the way, may I ask, do you guys accept guest posts?

I’m a local from Budapest. My aim to show my beloved city to the visitors, that is why i started to work a program organiser company in Budapest. I recommend for visitors many interesting programs/events under this link, you can discover some of them: i agree that Danube cruise and bath visit is the must.

Have a nice planning!

Great guide!

I was in Budapest for the New Year’s Eve, and it was fantastic! Didn’t managed to visit all the things from this list, (it needs more than a day) but Budapest is the city that you must visit more when you come for the first time, definitely!

Budapest is so lovely, I was there a couple of months ago, but only for a day. Must go back to see it properly!

You must go back. Budapest is one of those places that needs time to sink into your bones. It’s sort of like Paris that way, the longer you are there, the more you love it.

My wife and I are moving over to Europe soon and look forward to trying out each of your 16 suggestions. I like that you included the free walking tour – always a great way to see a city.

An additional one I could add for your readers comes from a daily (365 places to see before you die) calendar that sat on my former cubicle desk: Enjoy a coffee at the famous Gerbeaud Cafe. No doubt touristy and overpriced, but I will try it anyways and report back!

Haha, the picture accompanying the “Go to a ruin pub” section is certainly… interesting! I’m still trying to figure out what’s going on there 🙂 Budapest looks quite amazing.

I would add to this:

1. Take the Millenium underground railway (the oldest metro in mainland Europe) from Vörösmarty Tér to Hösök tere (Heroes Square). 2. Take the number 2 tram from Margaret Bridge round the Parkiament and down the river, past the shoes installation to the Central Market. 3. Spend a bit of time at the shoes installation (near the Parliament on the river bank) reflecting on man’s treatment of man and what happened to the Jews here.

My favorite European city would be any city in Italy, but I’d love to explore Budapest too! I’d like to photograph its architecture, sip coffee at its various cafes and just do things on impulse. You guys are really lucky to have visited it twice!

I have to agree with you there, you can never go wrong with Italy. I was actually daydreaming about Italy the other day and how I want to go back and see more.

Great selection for an itinerary there Deb. I particularly love the statues of famous people which I don’t remember seeing before.

I visited Budapest 14 years ago and fell in love with the place. Would love to go back for all those wonderful views and buildings.

I remember spending most nights in a jazz club which I think was called Jazz Garden. It was a restaurant as well and really reflected how funky and cool this city is.

As for my favourite city in Europe? At the moment I think that is still Prague. Which I actually combined with my trip to Budapest 14 years ago.

Great choice for a city. We only spent 2 days in Prague, but we loved what we saw. We have to go back! That Ronald Reagan statue is cool eh. I’ll have to check out the Jazz Garden next time for sure and you are so right, this is one funky and cool 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

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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.

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cool places to visit budapest

30 Unique Things to Do in Budapest

Visiting Hungary’s stunning capital city? Check out my list of 30 unique things to do in Budapest during your visit!

Unique things to do in Budapest

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means I make a small commission at no extra cost to you if you kindly choose to book via my links!

There is no European city that has engulfed my heart the way Budapest has. As someone with an insatiable desire for discovering the unknown, it is seldom that I frequent the same city over and over again.

The fact I’ve returned to Budapest six times (strictly for pleasure) should be enough to demonstrate my infatuation with this city. With each visit, I discovered more and more unique things to do in Budapest. I simply had to compile them all in a list!

From thermal baths to buzzing ruin bars, underground caves to Neolithic castles, and sumptuous food to impressive coffee, the capital of Hungary has a little something for everyone. Happy exploring!

Getting around Budapest

cool places to visit budapest

One of the things I love most about Budapest is how easy it is to get around. The city is extremely walkable and has a fantastic public transport system. You do not need to rent a car unless you are planning to travel outside of the city.

If you want to make the most of your time in Budapest, I’d recommend purchasing a Budapest Card for the duration of your visit. These cards will grant you unlimited public transport around the city. You’ll also get a free walking tour, free entrance to Lukács Thermal Bath and several museums and 50% discounts on many attractions.

How to get from the Budapest Airport to the City Center

The easiest way to get from the Budapest airport is via shared airport shuttle , which costs €10.50 and will drop you off at your accommodation. Once you are in the city, you can use the expansive system of metros, trams and buses by purchasing tickets at any of the stations. Single tickets cost 350 Hungarian forints.

First time in Budapest? Start here:

cool places to visit budapest

If it’s your first time visiting Budapest, you may want to get started with a city sightseeing tour . The tour will last around 4 hours and will take you through the biggest highlights of the city. If you are limited on time, this is great way to tick off some of the best things to do in Budapest!

Where to stay in Budapest

cool places to visit budapest

If you want to browse a curated selection of the very best hotels in Budapest, I’d recommend checking out Safara. Booking through Safara means you get the best hotel rates as well as 10% credit back from every stay. The platform is currently invite-only, and if you use this invite link to sign up you’ll get $50 credit to spend on your first stay!

Alternatively, you can browse my list of places to stay in Budapest to suit various budgets.

cool places to visit budapest

Whilst I wish I could personally take you around and show you all of my favourite spots in this vibrant capital, instead I’ll give you the next best thing… A list of all my top things to do in Budapest! 

1. Take a cruise along the Danube

My number recommendation of things to do in Budapest is taking a boat ride along the Danube River at night time. The city is home to what I believe to be the most beautiful parliament building in the world, and seeing it illuminated from the banks of the river is a particularly magical experience.

For just €19.50, you can book an evening sightseeing cruise that comes with unlimited prosecco. Or, treat yourself to a dinner cruise that includes a multi-course meal and live entertainment including musicians, folklore dancers, and an operetta.

2. Go caving

Unique things to do in Budapest: Caving

Not many people know about the extensive cave system situated under the city of Budapest. Fewer know that you can actually go caving through the system! If you want a truly unique thing to do in Budapest, you can book this epic 3.5-hour caving experience .

On the tour, you’ll get to discover the source of Budapest’s hot springs and check out incredible limestone rock formations left behind by geological activity.

3. Watch the sunset from Gellert Hill

cool places to visit budapest

First on my list of things to do in Budapest is taking a stroll up to the top of Gellert Hill for ultimate panoramic views over the city. This is easily my favourite spot in the whole of the city! 

My recommendation? Bring up picnic supplies and a bottle of wine and settle in for the evening to watch the magic of the sun setting below the horizon before the twinkling lights of the city switch on.

4. Grab a Gelato at Füge Shop and Café

At the top of Gellert Hill, there is a little gem of a shop only really known among Budapest locals. Füge Shop and Café offers a lovely selection of gourmet food products (perfect if you’ve forgotten picnic supplies).

More importantly, it serves up some of the city’s best gelato. If you’ve just hiked up Gellert hill during the summer, a gelato REALLY hits the spot. The white chocolate hazelnut pistachio flavour is the stuff dreams are made of.

5. Spend the afternoon in the most stunning Public Library

cool places to visit budapest

Out of all the unique things to do in Budapest, visiting the Metropolitan Ervin Szabó central library is easily one of my favourites. This public library is housed in the neo-baroque Wenckheim Palace, which was built back in 1887.

Although most of the building functions like a regular library, the fourth floor is where you can see the palace preserved in all of its original splendour. To visit this section, you can purchase a tourist ticket from the library reception for HUF 1500 (€3.67). People even come to this magnificent space with books and laptops and use it as a place to study!

Library Address: 1088 Budapest, Szabó Ervin tér 1

6. Eat Langos from the Central Market Hall

cool places to visit budapest

You can’t leave Budapest without sampling one of the country’s most loved street foods ! Quite simply, langos is a deep-fried dough that is often topped with lashings of garlic, cheese and sour cream.

The top level of the Central Market Hall is one of the most popular you can go to try this Hungarian speciality. You’ll also find street vendors throughout Budapest selling langos.

To sample more of the very best Hungarian specialities around Budapest, you can’t beat booking a private food tour with a local guide!

7. Explore the grounds of Buda Castle

Built in 1749, this impressive Baroque palace really is a sight to behold. Perched high above the city, it’s hard to decide what is more impressive- the Castle, the grounds, or the views. You can catch a funicular or you can walk up to Buda Castle, where the grounds are free to walk around.

If you want a more in-depth glimpse into the castle’s history, I’d recommend visiting with a tour guide.  This 3-hour guided tour includes a visit to the Castle district as well as many of Budapest’s other key sights.

8. Visit the most beautiful cafe in the world

cool places to visit budapest

The New York Cafe in Budapest has quite literally been named the most beautiful cafe in the world. Step through the doors and you’ll feel like you’ve entered a film set.

Opened back in 1894, this traditional coffee house has been a meeting hub for people for many years. Nowadays, it caters mostly to tourists but is still as beautiful as ever. To add to the enchanting atmosphere, every hour between 11am and 5pm, live gypsy music fills the air.

Prepare to pay extortionate prices (think €8.50 for a coffee), but I will say it’s worth it for the experience. I’d recommend pre-booking a table online as the cafe is always very busy and this will save you waiting.

9. Sunset drinks at Duchess Bar

cool places to visit budapest

Hidden away on the top floor of the luxurious Matild hotel you’ll find the most fabulous rooftop bar. The Duchess Bar, offering a range of handcrafted cocktails and spectacular views over Budapest, really is the perfect spot to come for a sundowner.

10. Check out the views from the top of St. Stephens Cathedral

cool places to visit budapest

For a unique view over Budapest, head to the top of St Stephen’s Cathedral for 360-degree views over the city. It costs just a couple of euros to head to the viewing platform (and a few more euros if you want to go inside the cathedral).

You can also pre-book a tour of the St Stephen’s online to skip the line.

11. Eat rose-shaped gelato from Gelato Rosa

Combining two of life’s greatest joys- roses and gelato- can only end well. Gelato Rosa, located right next to the iconic St Stephens Basilica, serves up rose-shaped Gelato that actually tastes as good as it looks. The salted caramel and white chocolate lavender flavours are to die for.

12. Try the macaroons at Chez Dodo

Whilst you are in the area, drop by Chez Dodo to sample some of Budapest’s best macaroons. They are always experimenting with new flavours. When I was last there, they had savoury cheese macaroon on offer (rest assured, they have plenty of classic flavours if you don’t dare to go off-the-cuff).

13. Visit the Cat Café

Whether you are a crazy cat lady or just a kitten enthusiast, Budapest’s Cat Cafe is the puuurfect place for you. Unlike many cat cafes around the world, there is no set fee to enter or time limit, so you can cuddle up to feline friends all day long.

Who doesn’t want to enjoy their cappuccino surrounded by cute creatures that meow? This is certainly one of the more unique things to do in Budapest!

14. Do an escape room

Given Budapest is the place where the humble Escape Room originated from, you’d be right to guess that they have some pretty epic rooms on offer.

If you’ve never done an escape room, it basically involves getting locked in a themed room and using clues to escape in under an hour! It’s both a great and terrible team-bonding experience.

15. Eat at the best vegan restaurant in town

cool places to visit budapest

I can almost guarantee that even if you are a meat-lover, you won’t leave this place disappointed. Unlike your typical superfood tofu-and-kale vegan restaurant, Napfenyes Restaurant serves up generous portions of hearty meals. It will really have you questioning how meat is not present in such dishes.

15. Indulge in a day at the Gellert Spa

If you want a day filled with both history and relaxation, Gellert Spa is the place to go. Founded 100 years ago in 1918, the famous art nouveau thermal baths consist of 10 pool of various sizes and temperatures.

In my opinion, they are the most unique and stunning baths in Budapest, and are definitely worth spending the day at. 

16. Grab a coffee from My Little Melbourne

Caffeine-lovers, Budapest has your coffee needs sorted. My Little Melbourne is a quaint little coffee shop opened up by Australians that serves up some of the best flat whites in town. You can even grab a smashed avo on toast whilst you are at it. 

17. Have brunch at Portobello Coffee and Wine

cool places to visit budapest

Speaking of brunch foods, Portobello Coffee and Wine is definitely the crowd-favourite in this department. The food here is nothing short of phenomenal.

Try the creamy cilbir eggs, served with a thick hunk of sourdough bread, or the flavour explosion of chilli scrambled eggs with greens and raclette. The coffee is equally as impressive.

18. Head to the famous Széchenyi Thermal Bath

The most iconic of Budapest’s Thermal Baths, Szechenyi is Europe’s largest thermal spring bath, comprising of 3 outdoor and 15 indoor pools. If you are planning to go, you are best to pre-book tickets so you can skip the line and get the best price.

19. Attend a “Sparty”

If you want a very unique nightlife experience, on Saturday evenings in Summer, the Szechenyi baths transform into the wildest party venue town . I haven’t personally been to a “Sparty” as they call them, but I hear they are quite the experience!

20. Have a traditional feed at Hungarikum Bistro

cool places to visit budapest

For a taste of true Hungarian cuisine, you can’t go past Hungarikum Bistro. Here, you can dine on top of red-and-white checkered tablecloths, eat goulash and drink Schnapps.

This restaurant is always bursting with tourists, but for good reason. Make sure you make a reservation in advance to make sure you can get a table!

21. Walk through the park at Margaret Island

Located in the Danube River, Margaret Island is a great place to go to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and have a tranquil escape. As well as lots of parkland to stroll through, you’ll also find a musical fountain, a small zoo and even swimming pools and thermal spas situated on the island.

22. Check out the famous Szimpla Ruin Bar

Budapest’s unique and thriving nightlife is mostly attested to the phenomenon of “ruin pubs” that have popped up all over the city. Many of the city’s buildings, which were abandoned post-war, have now been transformed into distinct nightlife spots.

The most renowned ruin pub in Budapest is Szimpla Kert, a once derelict space which is now filled with works of art made from junk.

If you want to check out more of the best ruin bars in the city, I’d highly recommend going on a Budapest pub crawl ! For just € 10.50, you get access VIP access to multiple bars and clubs, 1 hour of open bar and free shots all night. This is also a super fun way to meet people!

22. Go thrifting

Budapest’s creative scene is thriving, and this even reflects in the type of stores you find around the place. It’s more common to find vintage and thrift stores than big department stores in the city.

You’ll have no issues unleashing your inner hipster and scoring some timeless bargains. Retrorock Vintage Store is my personal favourite, and PSTR Store is also worth checking out.

23. Explore the beautiful Fisherman’s Bastion

cool places to visit budapest

Built in 1905, this unique neo-Gothic structure was built as a viewing platform and does, in fact, provides some of the best views over Budapest.

Some find Fisherman’s Bastion reminiscent of medieval times and others say it looks straight out of Harry Potter. Whichever way you view it, it is a stunning place to explore, particularly at sunset.

24. Try Chimney Cake from a street vendor

One thing you simply have to do in Budapest is try is try trdelnik (or chimney cake in English). This delicious rolled dough is wrapped around a stick, grilled then rolled in sugar and topped with other various things.

I’d be very impressed if you catch a waft of the smell when passing by a stand and AREN’T tempted to indulge in the sweet treat!

If you want a truly unique Budapest experience, sign up for a chimney cake workshop ! Here, you’ll learn how to prepare and bake your own chimney cakes, learning the traditions behind the beloved Hungarian dessert as you go.

25. Catch a movie at the rooftop cinema

Come summertime, everyone comes out of hibernation and Budapest becomes a hive of outdoor activities. The Budapest Rooftop Cinema has become a favourite of these activities, and is a dreamy place to watch films under the starry skies.  

All summer long, the venue hosts alfresco screenings of movies, both new and old, amidst panoramic views of the city skyline.

26. Attend Sziget Festival

Did you know that Budapest is host to the world’s 7th largest music festival, drawing in up to 400,000 attendees every year?  Sziget is a week-long music festival that overtakes a 108-hectare island on the Danube every year, drawing in massive headline acts from all over the world.

I’ve been two years in a row and I couldn’t recommend this festival more. If you want to find out more, check out my  Sziget Survival Guide, which outlines everything you need to know about this epic festival!

27. Visit the House of Terror

House of Terror is a museum located at Andrássy út 60 in Budapest, Hungary. It contains exhibits related to the fascist and communist regimes in 20th-century Hungary. It is also a memorial to the victims of these regimes, including those detained, interrogated, tortured or killed in the building.

28. Get a cocktail from Boutiq’ Bar

Ranked among the top 50 bars in the world, Boutiq’ bar knows how to do a gourmet cocktail. Come here to have world-class bartenders shake, stir and serve you up delicious cocktails made only with the finest seasonal ingredients.

The presentation of the cocktails is equally impressive- the cocktail I ordered came in test tubes resting on dry ice!

29. Go for a wine tasting in Budapest

cool places to visit budapest

A little-known fact about Hungary is that it is home to 4 different wine regions. If you want another unique thing to do in Budapest, why not go sign up for a Hungarian wine tasting ?

You’ll taste 7 Hungarian wines from boutique wineries, sample products from regional farms and learn more about the wine industry from a local guide.

30. Take a day trip from Budapest to Bratislava

cool places to visit budapest

If you’ve exhausted this list of unique things to do in Budapest, then why not take a day trip to Bratislava? You can get to the capital city of Slovakia from Budapest by train in just over two hours. The old town of the city is brimming with brightly coloured buildings, narrow alleyways and an epic centrepiece of a castle on a hill.

If you want to opt for the hassle-free option, you can book a full-day tour to Bratislava which includes transfers from Budapest and a local guide.

Top Places to Stay in Budapest

Best budget hostel in budapest.

Avenue Hostel Budapest

For the budget-conscious, Avenue hostel is well-equipped, comfortable and clean, has a very friendly atmosphere and is located centrally. I’ve stayed here numerous times when visiting Budapest and have always had a pleasant stay. 

Check prices and availability for Avenue Hotel here .

Best Mid-range Hotel in Budapest

Danubius Hotel Gellért

One of Budapest’s most iconic landmarks, the Danubius Hotel Gellért was first opened in 1918 and still retains it’s beautiful art nouveau charm. Onsite are also some of the most famous thermal baths in the city.

The prices to stay are pretty reasonable, considering the uniqueness of the hotel and the calibre of guests it’s had through its doors (including American presidents and European royalty)!

Check prices and availability for Danubius Hotel Gellert here .

Best Luxury Hotel in Budapest

If you want to experience the height of luxury, you can’t go past Four Season Hotel Gresham Palace. Located on the Danube River across from Budapest’s magnificent Parliament Building, every detail of this property draws on the city’s heritage and architectural grandeur. 

Check prices and availability for Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Places here .

Travel Insurance for Budapest

I highly recommend getting travel insurance before ANY trip.  World Nomad’s  offer the most flexible worldwide cover that I have come across, and you can purchase a policy online, even if your trip has already commenced. Otherwise, if you just want very affordable medical insurance,   SafetyWings is a great option.

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33 Travel Tips

33 Cool Things Budapest Is Famous For

  • Post author: Naddya and Svet
  • Post category: City Travel
  • Post published: November 10, 2021

What Is Budapest Famous For Pin 1

Budapest is famous for its rich culture, underground caves, staggering architecture, and for being the Spa Capital of the World . The Queen of the Danube is also known for its unique Ruin Bars, gigantic Parliament Building, imposing Great Synagogue, and delectable local cuisine.

In this article, you’ll discover 33 cool things Budapest is famous for .

From heart-stopping river panoramas to peculiar underground adventures, and from mouthwatering dishes to vivid nightlife, we’re sure you’ll find an answer to the question, “ What is Budapest known for? ”

Let’s jump right in!

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🏨 Monastery Boutique Hotel Budapest – our top pick near Buda’s main attractions.

🏨 Bohem Art Hotel – this funky, hip hotel has the vibe of an art gallery.

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🚍 Budapest Card – enjoy discounts, free travel, and entrances to museums.

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Note : This article contains affiliate links . In case you purchase something through one of these links, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost for you. Thank you for helping us keep creating the free content on this website!

The Landmarks Budapest Is Famous For

Budapest Panorama with the Parliament

The Hungarian capital offers plenty of captivating buildings and attractions to the millions who visit it each year. In this section, you’ll find the landmarks Budapest is known for .

  • The Hungarian Parliament Building . The jaw-dropping House of Parliament is the main reason why Budapest is famous among tourists. The building is the world’s third-largest national assembly. It is also the biggest structure in Hungary, covering approximately 194,000 sq. ft. (18,000 sq. m). The Parliament combines three architectural styles – neo-Gothic, Baroque, and Renaissance. The resulting fusion further amplifies its magnificence.
  • Heroes’ Square ( Hosök Tere ). Located at the end of Andrássy Avenue , Heroes’ Square offers a lot to see: from the Millennium Monument depicting the Seven Chieftains of the Magyars to the statue of Archangel Gabriel holding the Hungarian crown. You’ll find the Museum of Fine Arts and the Palace of Art ( Műcsarnok ) situated on two of the square’s sides.
  • Hungarian State Opera House. Commissioned by Emperor Franz Joseph , the Hungarian Opera House opened its doors in 1884. The incredible auditorium has 1,200 seats. Its excellent acoustics create the magic of the State Opera House. If you don’t have the chance to attend an opera performance, the frequent guided tours would give you an idea of how amazing the building is. 

Chain Bridge Budapest at Night

  • The Chain Bridge. The most famous bridge of Budapest is a top tourist attraction. The 1849 suspension structure connects Buda and Pest – the west and east side of the city. It’ll take you about 10 minutes to walk across the intricate bridge, and you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the Danube River.
  • Dohány Street Synagogue. Also known as the Great Synagogue, this is the world’s biggest synagogue outside of Israel. It was finished in 1859 and completely renovated in the 1990s. The majestic building is in the Moorish Revival style and was inspired by the world-famous Alhambra Palace in Spain.
  • Hungarian National Museum. Numerous pieces related to art, archaeology, war, crafts, and religion are part of the dozens of exceptional collections displayed in the museum. The Neoclassical building is a fine example of Budapest’s cultural heritage, while its enchanting garden is a popular meeting spot for locals. 

Buda Castle Funicular

  • The Buda Castle Hill Funicular. The chain railway is the second-oldest in the world and has been operational since 1870. It is the fastest and most attractive way to visit Castle Hill, with glorious panoramic views of the Danube. One of the most curious facts about Budapest is that authorities slowed down the funicular in 1988, so passengers would have more time to enjoy the scenery.
  • Buda Castle. On Castle Hill, you’ll find the magnificent Buda Castle, the former palace of the Hungarian kings. The former Royal residence is one of the most distinguishable buildings in Budapest. Originally built in 1265, the Baroque structures were added to the complex much later, in the 18 th century. Nowadays, the castle houses the Hungarian National Gallery and the Budapest History Museum .

Fisherman's Bastion Budapest

  • The Fisherman’s Bastion. One of the best ways to enjoy the sheer beauty of Budapest is to climb to the Fisherman’s Bastion. The seven turreted towers of the 19th-century fortress represent the Seven Tribes of the Magyars. The views of Pest, Margaret Island, and the Danube River will take your breath away.
  • House of Terror. One of the darkest museums in the world is among Budapest’s main tourist attractions. The House of Terror is a horrifying display of the history of the country. It was the site where the Soviet and Nazi regimes tortured and killed many people. The word “terror” in massive letters hangs above the entrance, preparing you for what’s inside.

Unique Locations That Make Budapest World-Famous

Szimpla Kert Ruin Bar Budapest

Budapest bursts with life on every corner. This section will dive into the city’s unique atmosphere and walk you around the unique locations that make Budapest world-famous .

  • The Ruin Bars. The so-called “ruin bars” located in the Jewish Quarter are Budapest’s main attraction when it comes to culture and lifestyle. They’re the reason the neighborhood is one of the best areas to stay in Budapest for nightlife. Most of these upbeat spots are formerly neglected buildings furnished and equipped to function as bars. But here’s the coolest part – no two pubs are alike. Once you’re in the area, don’t miss to check out the world-famous Szimpla Kert .
  • Gellért Baths . Budapest is the SPA Capital of the World , and Gellért Baths is one of the places that justify this title. The grand wellness center has an incredible open-air pool and a Finnish sauna, among dozens of other recreational facilities. The Art-Nouveau style of the 1918 structure went back to its former glory after extensive renovations took place in 2008.
  • Széchenyi Thermal Baths . Talking about Budapest’s SPA traditions, we need to mention Széchenyi Baths , too. The complex is the biggest bath center with medicinal facilities in continental Europe. The pools at Széchenyi Baths are rich in magnesium, bicarbonate, calcium, and fluoride, which are essential for your well-being. At this historic SPA center, you can spoil yourself with several thermal basins, saunas, and outdoor hot water baths.

The Cave Chapel Budapest

  • The cave chapel. Sziklatemplom (“rock church” in Hungarian), also known as Gellért Hill Cave for its location, is one of the most peculiar spots in Budapest. Pauline monks consecrated it in the 1920s. The cave chapel served as a monastery and later as a field hospital during WWII.
  • The underground caves. One of the most impressive things Budapest is known for is the labyrinth of massive underground caves beneath many of its streets and structures. In fact, it’s the only capital in the world that boasts an underground cave system. It comprises more than 200 caves. The most famous ones include the Buda Castle Labyrinth , Szemlő Mountain Cave, and Pálvölgyi Cave .
  • The Shoes on the Danube Bank memorial. This is one of the most curious and touching memorials in Hungary. Located alongside the picturesque Danube Promenade, the Shoes honor the memory of those who lost their lives during WWII. 60 pairs of cast iron shoes serve as a reminder of the grim event. The victims took off their shoes before the Fascist Hungarian militia massacred them.

Central Market Hall Budapest

  • Central Market Hall ( Nagy Vásárcsarnok ). Budapest’s Central Market Hall is among the city’s main attractions and its most famous marketplace. Both locals and tourists love the market for the plenty of food, spices, and souvenirs you can find there. The scale of the Market Hall is just as impressive as its neo-Gothic architecture is important for the city’s unmistakable image.
  • Ecseri Flea Market. Located on Budapest’s outskirts, the Ecseri Flea Market is a real treasure trove, hiding hundreds of opportunities for a good deal. It’s one of the busiest places in all of Budapest. The flea market has it all: memorabilia, decorative pieces, souvenirs, and a whole host of eye-catching items.
  • The islands on the Danube River. Seven islands in the Danube River are within Budapest’s borders: Csepel Island, Palotai-sziget, Népsziget, Háros-sziget, Molnár-sziget, Shipyard Island , and Margaret Island, the biggest one among them. Margaret Island was created by connecting three smaller islands in the 1890s. The original idea was to control the Danube River’s flow. Eventually, Margaret Island became an attraction for locals and tourists with its park alleys, sports facilities, recreational areas, and Palatinus Water Park – the biggest open-air swimming complex in the city.
  • The Budapest Eye Ferris wheel. Towering at 213 ft. (65 m), the views from the top of this Ferris wheel will steal your breath away. The Budapest Eye is also an amazing sight to see from a distance, making it one of the coolest attractions of the city.

Budapest’s Popular Gastronomical Temptations

Hungarian Goulash

Hungarians love their national dishes, some of which are world-famous. Make sure to treat yourself to all the mouth-watering foods Budapest is famous for while exploring the city.

  • Paprikás. The average Hungarian consumes more than half a kilo (approximately 1.1 lbs.) of paprika per year. So, it’s no surprise the journey to Hungarian cuisine starts with Chicken paprikás . The spicy meal is one of the foods Budapest is known for, and a must-try on your visit to the Hungarian capital .
  • Beef goulash. This is by far the most popular meal in the Hungarian gastronomical world. The tasty delicacy is a meat and vegetable stew with a generous pinch of paprika. Dating back to medieval Hungary, the dish has several variations. While in Budapest, make sure to treat yourself to the traditional goulash – your taste buds will thank you for that.

Cherry Strudel

  • Strudel. The filo pastry originated in the Austrian Empire and quickly became popular in the neighboring regions. In Budapest, you can stuff your face with countless Strudel variations. Hungarians eat their pastry both sweet and savory. The sweet versions are filled with cherries, plums, apricots, poppy seeds, cheese, custard crème, as well as the traditional apples. The savory variations feature cabbage.
  • The legendary Budapest confectionery. Did you know that the Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary – Sisi – loved spearmint candies? In Budapest, you can still enjoy her favorite treats. You’ll find the candies, among a large variety of other sugary delights, at the oldest confectionery in Budapest – Ruszwurm . Prepare to dive into a delicious world worthy of royalty.
  • The exceptional Hungarian wines. While in Budapest, you shouldn’t miss the chance to visit a local wine bar. Hungarian wines are world-famous, and an annual Budapest wine festival celebrates their quality. The long history of wine-making in Budapest is easy to explain. The city is near the best wine regions in the country – Eger, Tokaj, and Somló.

Curious Facts Budapest Is Known For

Budapest Travel Tips

The Hungarian capital has plenty to share in terms of history, culture, and curious facts. Its legacy blends seamlessly with the modern world and makes for an experience of a lifetime. Discover the most interesting facts Budapest is popular for in the section below.

  • The nicknames of Budapest. The most famous of them is The Queen of the Danube . As a historical scene with rich traditions and a host of UNESCO World Heritage sites , this title is well-deserved. Budapest offers the most diverse range of experiences you could have in any city along the majestic river. Other nicknames include Heart of Europe , Capital of Freedom , and The Capital of Spas .
  • The history behind Budapest’s name. One of the facts Budapest is best known for across the globe is the story of how its name originated. It comes from the names of two of the cities that merged to create the Hungarian capital. Buda, Pest , and Óbuda officially became one city in 1873. Today, eight bridges connect the three former cities.
  • The second-oldest European subway system. Except for being the second-oldest on the Old Continent, Budapest Metro is the third-oldest in the world, too. Opened in 1896, only the London and Chicago undergrounds were operating before it. One of the subway lines in Budapest, the M1, is currently on the UNESCO World Heritage List .
  • The height restriction for buildings in the city. The Parliament and St. Stephen’s Basilica are both 96-m (314-ft.) tall, setting the limit for other structures erected afterward. The height of exactly 96 meters is not a random number. It’s a reference to 896 – the year of Hungary’s establishment.

The Anonymous Notary of King Bela Budapest

  • The monument of the Anonymous Notary of King Bela. Now, this is as curious as a landmark could get. The statue depicts the 13 th -century chronicler of the reigning king. The notary might be anonymous, but a curious legend surrounds his monument. The fable says that anyone who touches the chronicler’s pen would immediately get superb writing powers. We might owe our writing skills to that. 😉
  • The famous people of the Hungarian capital. The marvelous Budapest is known for more than its beauty and culture. Several celebrities lived there. Among them was the inventor of the ballpoint pen – László Bíró. He was born in Budapest in 1899. Erno Rubik , the inventor of the Rubik’s Cube, was also born in the city, in 1944. The master of deception and illusion Harry Houdini (born Erik Weisz ) is also one of Budapest’s most famous people.
  • The bullet holes in buildings’ façades . Roaming the streets of Budapest, you’ll make an unexpected discovery: bullet holes in many walls. The 1956 revolution aimed to eradicate the communist regime, resulting in extensive and violent clashes. The bullet holes still visible are a grim reminder of this episode of Hungarian history.
  • Islam’s north-most sacred place. The Turkish dervish Gül Baba lived in the Hungarian capital in the 16 th century. He stayed in Hungary after the Turkish invasion ended. After his death, he received a holy status. His tomb is located in the Buda part of the city and is an Islamic sacred location.

Which of the Things Budapest Is Famous For Surprised You the Most?

Where to Stay in Budapest Header

This concludes our list with 33 cool things Budapest is known for .

The Hungarian capital will seduce you with its stunning landmarks, peculiar underground caves, mouthwatering delicacies, and heart-pumping vistas of the Danube River.

To make the most of your trip, don’t forget to check our best Budapest travel tips .

Now, we’re curious:

What comes to your mind when you think about Budapest?

Share with us in the comments below.

What Is Budapest Known For Pin 4

Naddya and Svet

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This post has 2 comments.

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We continuously look for out of the way restaurants that the locals go to, and watering holes as well, we find that the energy and atmosphere, as well as the food and drink is what makes our trips memorable, we have found ourselves following men in working cloths ( at the lunch hour time) to the strangest and most fascinating establishments.

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that’s an awesome tip!

We find the culinary scene an important part of the travel experience as well 🙂

In Budapest, the ruin bars are a must. As for food, Naddya found Klauzál Café & Restaurant by swerving into narrow streets and looking for a local crowd. She even returned the next day for a second visit. Highly recommend it!

Cheers and happy travels!

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The Frugal Expat

16 Fun and Cool Things to Do in Budapest on a Holiday

Steve Cummings

January 6, 2024

Budapest, Hungary

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Budapest is a city that surprises many visitors with its beauty. It's a top choice for a city break or a stop on a Danube trip. Even if you know about the famous Parliament building, there's much more to see. 

This city mixes old beauty with new excitement. In this article, we'll show you some of the best things to do in Budapest. 

1. Hungarian Parliament Building

Hungarian Parliament Building

The Hungarian Parliament Building is the most popular attraction and should be at the top of your list of things to do in Budapest. It's not just a government center but also a symbol of the city's pride.

The impressive interior features a sixteen-sided central hall that houses the Crown of Hungary, and there are numerous statues representing different professions, serving as a reminder to the Parliamentarians of their duty to the people. 

At night, the building is beautifully lit up, making it a spectacular sight from the Danube, especially for those on cruise boats.

Guided tours are available, which last about 30 minutes, but these can be pretty busy and touristy. The tour usually has about 30 people, starts with a climb up around 120 stairs, and includes earphones.  The tour also includes visiting the Parliament Hall and offering some lovely views from the windows.

2. Fisherman's Bastion

Fisherman's Bastion

The Fishermans Bastion is on the Buda side, and from here, you get great views over the river of the Pest side. It is also here where you will find the beautiful Matthias Church and a statue of St. Stephen in the square.

The site itself is spectacular, complete with impressive statues throughout. You might even see the changing of the guard or guards on horseback, adding to the experience. 

Apart from the views and historical significance, you will find lovely artisans selling their goods in a market on the grounds, making it a perfect spot to pick up unique souvenirs. 

3. The Shoes on the Danube Bank

The Shoes on the Danube Bank

The Shoes on the Danube Bank in Budapest is a profoundly moving and important memorial with significant historical value. 

It should be on your list of things to see in Budapest, especially those interested in understanding its past. 

Be warned, though, that this place can get jam-packed, which is excellent for the city, but with it being such a moving tribute, it takes a lot of work to take it all in with all the crowds. So our tip would be to visit early morning or evening as with fewer crowds, the flickering candles and the lights over the river add to the emotional impact. It's a place for solemn reflection rather than casual photography, but you will get the usual Instagram photographers here.

4. St. Stephen's Basilica

St. Stephen's Basilica

St. Stephen's Basilica is a must-visit for its stunning architecture and historical significance.

The basilica, named after St. Stephen, the first king of Hungary, is renowned for its beautiful 300-foot neo-Renaissance dome. Interestingly, this dome had to be rebuilt after collapsing during construction. Although completed in 1905, which is relatively new by European standards, the church took 54 years to build. One of the key features inside the church is the mummified right hand of St. Stephen, displayed in an ornate case, which we think is freaky but interesting.

The basilica looks mesmerizing both at night and during the day, and if you are lucky enough, you might be able to time your visit with a church service.

One of the best parts is the entrance to the main floor is free, which we like at The Frugal Expat, but we recommend buying a ticket which gives you access to the treasury and the lookout. At the top, you will be rewarded with panoramic views of Budapest.

5. Széchenyi Baths and Pool

Széchenyi Baths and Pool

This Neo-Baroque spa complex has been around for over 100 years. 

It's got 15 indoor pools, saunas, places for massages and facials, and three big outdoor pools with whirlpools and water jets. The water in these pools comes from mineral-rich hot springs, which many believe can help with different health problems.

We recommend you try out the beer spa or go to the ‘Sparty,' a big party they hold in the summer, one of the more unique things to do in Budapest.

Remember to bring your towel and flip-flops. If you don't want to wait in line to get in, you should book a tour, some of which even include a massage!

6. Matthias Church

Matthias Church

Matthias Church in Budapest is one of those buildings that you just have to see as its architecture is so incredible that walking around it feels like you're stepping into a scene from a Harry Potter movie. 

The first church on this site was built in 1015, but the main parts of the current Gothic structure were added in the 12th and 13th centuries. 

There are a few main features of the church worth checking out, such as the church's bell tower, which stands 78 meters tall, and the fantastic stained glass windows. We think the best feature is the organ, known as “Kings Organ,” which has 7771 pipes!

7. The Chain Bridge

The Chain Bridge

The Chain Bridge should be on your list of best things to see in Budapest.

This fantastic bridge spans the mighty River Danube and connects the Buda and Pest sides of the city. It's a piece of history and engineering, designed by English engineer William Tierney Clark and built by the Scottish engineer Adam Clark. 

Opened in 1849, it was the first permanent bridge across the Danube. However, during writing (December 2023), the bridge is closed to pedestrian traffic and only to buses and taxis due to ongoing renovations. It's unclear when it will fully reopen.

Even with the restrictions, crossing the bridge by tour, bus, or taxi is worth it to see this iconic structure up close. 

8. Buda Castle

Buda Castle

Who doesn’t love visiting a castle? This is one of the cool things to do in Budapest.

Buda Castle's main buildings were built in the mid-1700s, but numerous additions and reconstructions have occurred over the years, including repairs after World War II. 

The castle houses several important public institutions. These include the Budapest History Museum, which tells the story of Budapest from its earliest days to the modern era; the Hungarian National Gallery, which displays Hungary's most precious artifacts and works of art; and the Hungarian National Library, home to rare and antique books from Hungary and abroad. 

There's a lot of change in the castle area, with some buildings being turned into high-rent offices and flats, which has stirred up controversy.

To get to Buda Castle, you can take bus number 16 or catch the funicular. 

9. For Sale Pub 

The For Sale Pub in Budapest is located across the road from the Grand Central Market, and it's fantastic. We would say it's one of the more unique things to do in Budapest, as you won’t find a pub like this anywhere else.

It has no street terrace or anything outside to grab your attention. Instead, there’s just an arched door with “For Sale” written above it, resembling an entrance to a Wild West saloon.

Despite its name, “For Sale” isn't actually for sale. The name comes from the unique concept that you can sell anything here. Visitors are encouraged to add their advertisements to the walls. If you want to be a part of this iconic pub's story, just bring a piece of paper, something to stick it to the wall, and find a spot on the wall or ceiling to put it on.

10. Heroes' Square

Heroes' Square

Heroes Square in Budapest is similar to many old squares across Europe as it is full of lovely old buildings and is usually a city's historical center. The square is dedicated to Hungary's heroes (hence the name).

To fully appreciate its beauty, it's best to visit early in the morning before it gets crowded with tour groups. Around 7:30 am is a good time, but by 8 am, it typically starts to get busy.

If you are after things to do in Winter in Budapest, this is the place, as the ice rink gives it a magical Christmas feel.

A visit to Heroes' Square is worth about half an hour to an hour, especially if you take a break to enjoy a coffee and soak in the surroundings.

11. Margaret Island

Margaret Island

Margaret Island in Budapest is one of the best things for families in Budapest to spend a day as it offers a mix of nature, history, and fun activities.

We recommend renting an electric buggy, which seats four people, costs about $30 per hour, and will allow you to explore the whole island comfortably.

You could watch the musical fountain show, explore the ruins of an old convent, visit a small petting zoo that kids will love, and even visit an outdoor swimming pool. 

There are also decent cafes where you can grab a drink or something to eat.

12. Rock Nuclear Bunker Museum

The fascinating museum offers history with emotional displays and a sad backstory. You'll find many real items used, including machines, wax figurines of high quality, a medical helicopter, and a jeep.

The entry cost is around $20 per person, and it's a good idea to pop in for a tour if you're in the area, as you don't necessarily need to book tickets in advance. Just show up and join the next available tour. 

It's good value for money, and the tour, lasting about an hour, is packed with lots to see. 

13. Varhegy

Castle Hill

Varhegy, or Castle Hill as it's called, is popular and includes the Buda Hills and the Castle, where you can get amazing views from the hills. 

A good time to visit is in the morning, like on a Sunday around 10:00 am when there are fewer crowds.  You can get there by bus 105 and the funicular railway, or if you're taking the sightseeing bus, it's stop number 9.

There are a few cool bars and restaurants in the area worth checking out as well.

It's a place to start your Budapest trip as you get a feel for the city's atmosphere while enjoying some of its best sights.

14. Gellert Hill

Gellert Hill

This is another place in Budapest where you can get great city views.

To reach the top of Gellert Hill, you have two main options. One way is to walk uphill from the Liberty Bridge. This route involves climbing many steps and passing a children's play area. Alternatively, you can reach the other side of the hill by car or public transport, which takes you near the top. It's about a 10-15 minute walk to the summit. This route involves a mix of steep and flat paths and steps.

Even though the monument at the top is closed for renovations, you can still get close enough for some great photos. 

Going to the top is worth the effort, as you will get better views than other places. Put this on your list of free things to do in Budapest.

15. Budapest Pinball Museum

Budapest Pinball Museum

We like things that are slightly different at The Frugal Expat, and the Pinball Museum is one of those. This is one of the best things to do with kids in Budapest.

It costs about $14, and there is no need to buy tickets in advance, which is good as sometimes you don’t always want to plan.

It's not the sort of place where you can spend the whole day, as after about 2 hours you would have had enough, but it's a great way to spend the morning.

The place is packed with pinball machines, both old and new styles. What's great is that you pay one fee to get in, and then you can play on any machine for free. 

Just remember, the museum is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays!

16. Central Market Hall

Central Market Hall

The Central Market Hall is a large indoor market split over several floors. It is massive and resembles a train station with hundreds of shops and stalls.

On the ground floor, stalls sell fresh produce, fish, meat, spices, cured meats, and dairy products, which are popular with locals. 

Most tourists will head to the upper floors, one of the best places to eat in Budapest, and there, you'll have the chance to taste authentic Hungarian dishes like goulash with dumplings at various stalls and eateries.

As well as food, you can also find souvenirs, alcoholic drinks, and paprika. Be aware that the prices in the market might be a bit high, especially for tourists.

Final Thoughts

We'd love to hear about your experiences or any additional tips you might have for travels heading to Budapest. 

Your ideas could help make someone else's trip even more memorable. So, don't hesitate to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

Related: 16 Unforgettable Things to Do in Vienna on Your Visit

cool places to visit budapest

I’m Steve. I’m an English Teacher, traveler, and an avid outdoorsman. If you’d like to comment, ask a question, or simply say hi, leave me a message here, on Twitter (@thefrugalexpat1). Many of my posts have been written to help those in their journey to financial independence. I am on my journey, and as I learn more I hope to share more.  And as always, thanks for reading The Frugal Expat.

2 thoughts on “16 Fun and Cool Things to Do in Budapest on a Holiday”

There seems to be a rich history and a wide range of experiences in Budapest. I was struck by the view of the Fisherman’s Bastion and the unique architecture of the Matthias Church. It is a must see destination, in combination with ancient elegance and new enthusiasm. Thank you for the excellent recommendations!

My wife and I visited there in August of 2022, and we loved it! The cool thing about visiting in August is that August 20th is their national day, so lots of celebrations and great food.

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TOP Budapest Places to Visit + Cool Things to Do (+ FREE Attractions!)

Budapest Houses of Parliament - Budapest places to visit and things to do

Firstly, however many days you’ve booked in Budapest you’ll probably end up not doing everything you want to. Budapest is awesome , there are so many things to see and do. If you’d like a detailed itinerary, then check out my 3 days in Budapest guide . Or if you like more flexibility to pick and choose what cool things to do and which awesome Budapest places to visit keep reading.

I will give you suggestions so you can tailor your Budapest trip to what you like to do (and at a price that suits you). P ick and choose what cool things to do and which awesome Budapest places to visit

Most of these places to visit and cool things to do are on the Pest side of the Danube. So worth bearing in mind when you are planning where to stay in Budapest . My accommodation was close to the Jewish District and pretty central to most places.

Check it out here – Friends Hostel & Apartments.

Of course, I’m starting with the free things to do and free attractions because there’s so much you can do without spending lots of money in Budapest!

Free Things to Do in Budapest

Winter views of the Danube and Houses of Parliament from Buda side - Budapest places to visit and things to do

Go on a FREE walking tour

Cost – Free (tip optional)

There are numerous companies that offer different free walking tours in Budapest. During my time I tried two tours with different companies. I’m going to recommend the tour company I had the most enjoyable tour with which was Trip to Budapest . (Oh and don’t read different leaflets and go to the wrong start points… yes I did that oops!!)

  • Original Budapest walk – 10.30 & 14.30 (2.5-3 hours)
  • Street Art & Urban Budapest tour 10.00 & 15.30 (2-2.5 hours)

They also do a couple of additional tours which I didn’t get a chance to try

  • Jewish District tour 10.00 & 15.30 (2-2.5 hours)
  • Communism walk tour 10.00 & 15.30 (2-2.5 hours)
  • Evening walk 18.30 (1-1.5 hours)

Please check the times here , depending on the time of year you are travelling some tours are not available all year.

Plan when to visit Budapest here – Select the month you want to visit for top tips what to do in that month!

Walk along the Danube River

Cost – Free

You can walk on either side of the river. The Pest side is a nice walk as you can walk directly next to the river. There is also a Holocaust memorial a short walk from the Houses of Parliament. Here 60 pairs of bronze shoes are lined up against the edge of the river , representing those who lost their lives in WWII. I’ve never been moved so much by a memorial, but standing here on a cold winter’s day, looking into the murky Danube it’s a shuddering thought of the last thing many people saw before the river washed their bodies away.

On the Buda side, there’s a main road between the pavement and the river. Once you’ve walked along the river by day, it’s also great to return at night. The whole area looks completely different, with the Budapest bridges and buildings lit up .

You can also do a day and night sightseeing  boat cruise on the River Danube. Check prices and availability here.

Spot the awesome Street Art

  A post shared by Becky the Traveller ? (@beckythetraveller) on Jan 29, 2018 at 9:27am PST

As above, you can go on a Free Street Art walking tour . But you can explore for yourself, there are lots to find in the Jewish District, although the bonus of the Street Art tour is you learn a little bit about the background too . The very first piece was created in 2012 on the Fire Station.

Interestingly, street art in Budapest, Hungary is controlled by the government so there’s less freedom in what is on display.

Looking for cool things to do in Budapest?

Are you looking for cool things to do in Budapest? Go visit my favourite street art close to St Stephen’s Basilica, on the corner of Arany Janos Street and San Street (pictured above) which has a secret.

Becky’s Tip

  • Download an App called the Lara App. And when you see the street art above point your phone at the art and watch it come to life! It’s really cool I stood there for at least 5 minutes!

Cross the Chain Bridge

Walk across and admire the beautiful Chain Bridge. By day you can see the detailed structure of the bridge that links Buda and Pest. And by night it looks pretty all lit up . If you don’t want to walk (or it’s too cold you can jump on the number 16 bus – advance single 350 HUF)

St Matthias Church & Fisherman’s Bastion

Night view of St Matthias Church - Budapest places to visit and things to do

Cost – Free (280 HUF to go to the highest tower in Fisherman’s Bastion)

St Matthias Church is another stunning building in Budapest, Hungary seriously there are so many of them you can’t get bored. During the daytime, you can see the beautiful tiled roof of the church and by night the church is lit up and looks gorgeous.

Please note if you go in winter (like I did) then you might not see the tiles due to snow! European cities are great to visit any time but you’ll experience different weather and things to do depending on the season.

Go to Budapest City Park

Before you arrive there, stop off at Heroes Square, the largest square in Budapest created in 1896 (to celebrate Hungary’s 1000 anniversary ). Then you can walk around the pretty gardens around the Castle , and maybe in summer have a picnic (not an option for winter in the snow!) Depending on what time of year you go the pond might be frozen and if it is then you have the option to go ice skating.

Read next:  3 days in Budapest

Visit the Houses of Parliament

Get up close to Budapest’s Houses of Parliament, the second-largest in the world . Take a walk around the entire building and be mesmerised by its beauty. You can see why this is one of the popular places to visit in Budapest.

And you’ll be amazed by the beauty of this building.

For the ultimate view, of the Houses of Parliament, you’ll need to view from the Buda side at night. Either walk or take a bus (350 per single trip) across the other side of the Danube. And you’ll be amazed by the beauty of this building. (Or take a Budapest boat cruise – see details further down)

Tours are available to go inside at 10.00. 12.00, 13.00, 14.00. 15.00. These are popular so it’s best to book in advance.

You can find  more details, prices and book your Budapest Houses of Parliament tour here .  

Budapest Places to visit (Up to 3100 HUF/ 10 EUR)

Eat cakes at one of the many bakeries.

Cost from 200 HUF/ 0.75 EUR

There are so many bakeries and cafes in Budapest . Every corner I turned there was a new one that I hadn’t seen before. You can pick your favourite cakes or try a new one each day (that’s what I did!) And with all the walking around the city you soon burn it off.

Go to the Chocolate Museum

Cost 500 HUF/ 1.90 EUR

Visit the Cat Café

Cost – Free entry but drinks are a bit more expensive (Coffees from 900/1000 HUF/ 3 EUR)

There are about 15+ cats living in the cat café. Including two giant and very fluffy ones. So for me, it was worth a visit.

I have to admit the coffee I had wasn’t that nice. But since I was there for the cats it didn’t matter too much.

St Stephen’s Basilica

Cost – Inside 200 HUF/ 0.75 EUR or Panorama viewpoint 600 HUF/ 2 EUR

This gorgeous building, of course, is totally free to look at from the outside. But for a little bit of money, you can see inside this stunning building. And for a bit more again you can enjoy stunning views of the city

Budapest Places to visit (Up to 30 EUR)

Relax at one of the thermal baths.

Cost from 3500 HUF/ 11 EUR*

Budapest has over 123 hot springs and as such there are many thermal baths around the city. It’s a difficult decision which one to choose, from the very popular Szechenyi baths in the Pest area to the well-known Gellert baths, in Buda across the other side of the Danube. Be sure to add on to your cool things to do whilst in Budapest.

Book your thermal baths in advance here

  • Szechenyi Baths – Full-day pass
  • Gellert Spa – Full-day ticket
  • Gellért Spa Entrance and Aromatherapy Massage

I opted for the Rudas thermal baths, a mix of both modern and traditional baths. I began the experience in the old traditional side, in an octagon-shaped room with five different thermal baths varying in temperatures.

Can’t decide which  baths to go to? Check out the top 4 best baths recommended by travellers!

Visit a Ruin Bar on a Budapest Pub crawl

Cost 15 EUR

There are few companies that organise bar crawls around Budapest. Or of course, you can go it alone (depending on how much you normally drink, this might be the cheaper option). Small beers cost between 200-800 HUF and small wine costs 160-490 HUF.

Click here for details on the tour and how to book .

  • Szimpla Kert is amazing at night but a very popular place to go. But you can also go during the daytime and grab some food or drink. Plus it’s quieter to explore all the different rooms… you will see what I mean when you visit!
  • Open from 12 noon.

For more Budapest nightlife – check out the top 5 places to have cocktails in Budapest

Try one of the hop-on/hop-off buses

Cost from 6000 HUF/ 20 EUR (1-day option)

Travel in style around Budapest on the hop-on/hop-off bus and make sure you don’t miss any of those top tourist attractions!

  • Check out prices and options here (24,48 or 72-hour tickets) for your Budapest Bus Tour .

If you enjoy walking then all of these tourist spots can be reached on foot and as well you might spot one or two other places on the way.

Cook your own Hungarian feast

Cost from 3,000 HUF

Looking for a new Budapest attraction? This is a concept I’ve not heard of before. There’s a small restaurant-type venue in the centre of Budapest but instead of going and having your meals brought to you, you cook it yourself!

There’s a wide selection of meals on the menu from traditional Hungarian food to other options (although I’m not sure why you wouldn’t want to opt for the Hungarian ones since you’re in Hungary!

Once you’ve decided on your menu you’re given all the ingredients with step-by-step instructions to cook your dinner. Help is provided if needed.

  • Read more about here Budapest Makery

Explore the Caves of Budapest

Places to visit in Budapest - Budapest caving in Hungary

Cost 7000 HUF/ 23 EUR*

Two short bus rides out of the city you can spend two hours underground. And in winter this was far warmer than any outside activity!

40 minutes from the city centre (via bus no. 9 and 65) you can venture deep below ground in Budapest’s caves system. In winter, this is a great activity because it’s actually warmer in the caves than outside.

More details here on the different caving tours , including how to book (these are very popular attractions so you will need to book in advance):

  • Budapest caving tour (involves crawling!)
  • Budapest 3-hour cave walk

The caving adventure you’re underground for nearly 2 hours and it is the most amazing adventure. Taking you through narrow passways and tiny gaps in the rocks that you think are impossible to get through. But if you love a challenge then be sure to check this out.

Read about my full Budapest caving experience here

Ride The Floating Bus on the Danube

Cost 8500 HUF/ 28 EUR

Or if you’re feeling brave you could try The Floating Bus. Views of Budapest by land and water. If I am honest the idea of this does not appeal to me, I’d rather be in a boat or a bus not a combination of the two. But hey, I’m just giving you the options!

The tour lasts 1 hour 35 minutes. And there are between 3-4 department times each day (depending on the time of year).

More Budapest tours on the River Danube here (click for prices and availability):

  • Sunshine booze cruise
  • 1-hour private boat cruise
  • Daytime sightseeing cruise
  • Candlelit dinner cruise

More Cool day Tours in Budapest here

Are you planning a trip to Budapest? Looking for cool things to do or places to visit on your trip to Budapest? Ask me any questions in the comments or message me on Facebook

Read all my Budapest posts here:

Save to your Budapest Travel Pinterest boards

St Stephen's Basilica - Budapest cool things to do and places to visit, plus free attractions

*All prices for the Budapest things to do and places to visit are based on adult prices. Some discounts are available for children, students and older people (ages vary). The exchange rate for prices is 310 HUF = 1 EUR

*Becky the Traveller participates in the Amazon Services Associates Programme, as well as other affiliate programmes. If you make a purchase through these, I earn from the qualifying links. This is at no extra cost to you. Read more here .

Becky the Traveller

8 thoughts on “ top budapest places to visit + cool things to do (+ free attractions) ”.

The walking tour is something I have heard is really good in Budapest (compared to many other walking tours in eastern Europe) ..Did you have a good time at the Thermal Bath?.. The cave tour sounds interesting too. Thanks good info – pinning it for reference.

Thanks Aarti, yes I really enjoyed the tour. To be honest the first company I used for a tour wasn’t that good which is why I recommended this specific company! I loved the thermal bath, very relaxing after 4 days walking around!

My boyfriend is really keen to visit Budapest, and he’d definitely love the sound of those walking tours – keeping hold of this guide to show him! I’m not sure I’m brave enough to do the caves, but it must’ve been an amazing experience!

Thanks Nicky, well hopefully you can persuade him, it’s a beautiful city. The caves were so much fun, I’m writing a more detailed post about if you check back in a week or so it should be on the website 🙂

Hey! What a great read, I’ve not thought much about visiting this area before but will definitely consider now! Great pics <3

Ah thanks Mary, yes Budapest is lovely I would recommend a visit 🙂

YOU HAD ME AT FREE! The walking tours look really cool! I’ll have to remember to pack good walking shoes!

Haha that’s great, well I hope you have a wonderful trip 🙂

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17 Truly Unusual Things to Do in Budapest (2024)

Budapest is known for its stunning architecture, historic sites, and vibrant nightlife. While you may already be planning to visit iconic locations like Buda Castle and the Széchenyi Thermal Baths, there’s also a host of unusual things to do in Budapest waiting to be discovered.

I’ve been to Budapest multiple times and on my last visit, I stayed for 2 weeks in Hungary’s capital, so I had plenty of time to discover alternative things to do in Budapest.

Table of Contents

Most Unusual things to do in Budapest

1. see the hand of hungry’s first king.

A relic inside a intricate box inside of Budapest cathedral

Yes, you heard right, in Budapest, you can actually see the hand of the country’s first king. The hand of King Stephen is a relic inside the St. Stephen’s Basilica . 

I went inside the church because it’s one of the main attractions of the Hungarian capital and I had no idea that I would find a mummified hand inside!

To see the hand of a king is definitely one of the most quirky things to do in Budapest. 

Not that unusual, but very worth visiting: When you’re already at the basilica, I recommend going up the tower. The view from the top is amazing and it’s even worth it if you only visit Budapest on a day tour .

🤩 One of the crazy things to do in Budapest is to explore the city from a jeep!

2. Find forgotten statues at the Memento Park

Three communist statues in a park in Budapest

Have you ever wondered what happens to old statues from political systems no longer in place? In Budapest, they go to the Memento Park. 

In the Memento Park , there are numerous statues from the communist rule in Hungary. 

The park is reachable by public transport. However, the statues have no explanations written next to them. So, if you want to not just see the statues but also learn about the history behind them, I recommend doing a tour. 

If you want to learn more about the communist regime of Budapest I recommend the museum, House of Terror, in Budapest. It shows that in Budapest the terror didn’t end after the occupation by Nazi German ended.

3. Relax in a lesser known thermal bath

Woman in a hot tub on a roof top, in the. back is the skyline of Budapest with the Danube River

Budapest is known for its hot springs and thermal baths. Most people, especially most tourists go to the biggest thermal bath, Széchenyi Thermal Baths.

Even though the architecture is amazing and the water temperature very inviting, I would not recommend going there, it’s just too crowded. 

Budapest has so many other thermal baths, just as beautiful and with fewer people. I tested out the 4 most popular thermal baths in Budapest and found my favourite.

Exploring the different indoor pools and soaking in a hot tub are some of my favorite things to do in Budapest .

And speaking of thermal water, Budapest even has some special drinkable thermal water which is supposed to be very healthy.

4. Read a book on the Liberty Bridge

The pedestrian walkway on a busy bridge, with people sitting on the railing, this is one of the unusual things to do in Budapest

There are a total of seven bridges connecting the Buda and the Pest side of Budapest in the city itself. The two most famous bridges are the Chain Bridge and the Liberty Bridge. 

Looking at and crossing over the bridges is quite a popular and usual thing to do which shouldn’t be missing from any Budapest itinerary.

However, one of the cool and unusual things to do in Budapest is to sit down on the Liberty Bridge and relax or even read a book. In summer, you probably won’t be the only person doing so either. 

Climbing the bridge is officially not allowed and it can be dangerous, so you might just want to stick to crossing the bridge to be safe. 

5. Relax in the park next to the Ferris Wheel

A Ferris Wheel in the back and a tree surrounded by. a fence with many padlocks on it in the front

The little park next to the Ferris Wheel is a popular spot amongst locals. People meet there to relax in the grass, have a picnic or practice their skateboarding skills. 

So, it’s a great place to experience the lively atmosphere of this amazing European city. This lively atmosphere is one of the reasons why I love Budapest . 

One more thing, don’t forget to check out the tree which is surrounded by a fence covered in padlocks.

6. Have a drink in a ruin pub

Outdoor bar in Budapest

Budapest is known for its unique Ruin Bars, which are old buildings transformed into trendy bars. If you spend 3 days in Budapest you should visit one of the ruin pubs at least once.

As you explore these bars, you’ll discover a mix of eclectic décor, art installations, and laid-back atmosphere. The most famous ruin bar is Szimpla Kert . The beer prices at the Budapest ruin bars are a bit higher than at other places because it’s so touristy.

The only downside to some ruin bars with outside sitting areas is that people are allowed to smoke there. And when we visited Szimpla Kert it smelled bad even though we technically sat outside in the courtyard.

🤩 A pub crawl is one of the fun things to do in Budapest!

7. Visit Gelert Hill Cave Church

Statue of a horse and man, in front of the Liberty Bridge in Budapest

As the name suggests this church is inside a cave on Gellert Hill near the famous Gellért baths. For a small entrance fee, you can visit this cave church with an audio guide. 

It’s not as imposing as the stunning Matthias Church but a church completely carved out of stone has a certain charm to it. And it’s definitely one of the amazing unusual things to do in Budapest. 

This unique place of worship offers a quiet retreat where you can take a moment to breathe and admire the fascinating architecture.

8. Ride the oldest metro in mainland Europe 

It’s widely known that the oldest metro in the world was built in London. It’s not so much known that the first metro in continental Europe was built in Budapest. 

Line 1 of Budapest’s metro system maintained its art nouveau-style stations. So, you can experience the original charm of the metro while travelling through the city in a convenient way.

I really liked the ticket offices inside the station, they are so much more entertaining than the modern machines on other metro lines.

9. Go for a walk on top of the Ethnography Museum 

A pedestrian walk next to a green area on top of a museum in Budapest

For a different perspective of Budapest, enjoy a walk on top of the Ethnography Museum, which is kind of shaped like a half pipe.

On our way to the City Park we by chance stumbled upon this museum and it looks so cool. It’s completely overgrown with grass and other plants on the roof and you can go for a walk on top of the roof without having to enter the museum.

From the top of the museum, you have a nice view of the park and the surrounding area. When we went up to the rooftop we saw multiple hot air balloons set off in the park.

10. Admire Vajdahunyad Castle

Castle half overgrown with plants and a bridge leading to the castle gate in Budapest City Park

My favourite structure in Budapest City Park is the Vajdahunyad Castle. In my opinion, it’s so much prettier than the Budapest Castle.

This fairytale-like castle showcases a diverse range of architectural styles and offers a beautiful backdrop for photos.

Going for a walk in the City Park and having a look at Vajdahunyad Castle is one of the best things you can do in Budapest for free .

11. Visit the Hospital in the Rock

Another hidden gem in Budapest is the Hospital in the Rock , a former secret emergency hospital and nuclear bunker built during World War II.

This fascinating attraction offers guided tours, where you can learn about Hungary’s war history and the role this underground facility played.

12. Explore the underground caves

For a bit of adventure, dive into Budapest’s vast underground cave system. With over 200 caves beneath the city, you can join tours that take you through tight spaces and beautiful natural formations.

The Budapest Castle Cave is one of the most fun things to do in Budapest. It was once the prison of Vlad Tepes, the real-life inspiration for Count Dracula.

13. Go for a stroll on Margaret Island

Bridge leading to Margaret Island in Budapest

Margaret Island is one of the best places to spend a sunny day in Budapest in. It’s an island on the River Danube which is connected to the mainland by a bridge, so it’s very easy to get to Margaret Island .

I was surprised by how big Margaret Island is, I walked the whole length of the island and had to take the bus back because I was so exhausted. So, I think the best way to explore Margaret Island is by renting a bike.

There are many bars, restaurants, a thermal pool, a cinema, a Japanese garden and many more things on Margaret Island. Just take enough time to explore the island on a sunny day in Budapest.

14. Visit Dohány Street Synagogue

Great Synagogue in Budapest

With so many incredible sights in Budapest, the Dohány Street Synagogue gets sometimes overlooked.

But this great synagogue is worth a visit. It’s the largest synagogue in Europe and the second-largest in the world.

The architecture is stunning and very unique. It’s inspired by the Moorish style of Andalusia in Spain.

I really enjoyed the free guided tour inside, it was held by a member of the Jewish community and it was very informative. They have guided tours in many different languages.

Adjacent to the synagogue, you’ll find the Jewish Quarter. This historic district has undergone a renaissance in recent years, with vibrant street art, innovative gastronomy, and buzzing ruin bars.

Right next to the synagogue is a Budapest vegan restaurant , it’s a great place for a small snack in between sightseeing.

🤩 Learn about the synagogue and find hidden things to do in Budapest!

15. Discover street art

A small statue of a mouse next to a graffiti cat in Budapest

Budapest’s vibrant street art scene is an off-the-beaten-path gem that you shouldn’t miss. Explore neighbourhoods such as the Jewish Quarter, where colourful murals and creative graffiti decorate the walls.

You can either wander around on your own or join a street art tour to learn more about the city’s urban art culture and the stories behind some of the most impressive pieces.

Discovering this side of Budapest is sure to add an exciting, artistic flair to your itinerary. And who knows you might find the perfect photo spot in Budapest .

🤩 I love this street art tour since it’s one of the cool things to do in Budapest!

16. Take a bus tour in a river

A great way to see Budapest from a different perspective is from a boat. But since a normal boat isn’t unusual enough, you can take a bus tour on the river !

Yes, you read right, there’s a special bus that takes you along the streets of Budapest as well as along the Danube River. And how often do you get the chance to take a coach bus on the water? It’s a truly unique thing to do in Budapest.

🤩 I love this floating bus tour for being so unique!

17. Segway Tours

Looking for a more laid-back yet unconventional way to explore the city? Try Segway tours in Budapest. These self-balancing vehicles allow you to smoothly glide through the city’s charming streets, parks, and squares.

Segway tours are a fun and eco-friendly alternative to traditional sightseeing, and they make for a great conversation starter with fellow tourists and locals alike.

🤩 Explore the top sights and hidden gems Budapest has to offer on a Segway!

Off the Beaten Path Excursions

Szentendre is a charming artistic town located just outside Budapest. It’s the perfect day trip to escape the city’s hustle and bustle.

With its cobbled streets, colorful buildings, and numerous galleries, this riverside town offers a unique experience for visitors.

Take a stroll along the quaint streets, and make sure to visit some of the art galleries and museums, such as the Marzipan Museum.

The picturesque town is also home to a number of delightful cafes and restaurants where you can experience Hungarian cuisine.

For those interested in history and stunning panoramas, Visegrád is an ideal destination. The town, situated on the majestic Danube Bend, boasts a medieval fortress and a 14th-century royal palace.

The Visegrád Castle offers a fascinating insight into medieval life, and from its hilltop location, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the Danube River and surrounding countryside. Don’t forget to also explore the Royal Palace and its beautiful gardens during your visit.

Unusual places to stay in Budapest

While in Budapest, there are some unique and quirky accommodations that will surely enhance your travel experience. Here are a few places where you can reside in style and enjoy a distinctive stay.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Hotel Clark Budapest

Hotel Clark Budapest is an adult-only hotel with a stunning rooftop bar and a fitness studio. Most rooms have a great view either of the Danube River or the Budapest Castle Hill. The most impressive feature is the bathtub with a city view some rooms have.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Hotel Moments Budapest

Hotel Monuments is a chic and classy boutique hotel located on the iconic Andrassy Avenue. From the outside, you’d never guess how chic and modern the hotel is on the inside!

⭐️⭐️⭐️ T62 Hotel

T62 Hotel is the perfect place to stay if you love art. The public areas are decorated with really cool street art on the walls. Inside the rooms beautiful black-and-white pictures of Budapest give the rooms a unique look.

woman sitting on a stone wall with the Danube River and the Hungarian Parliament House in the back

Final thoughts: Unique things to do in Budapest

There’s so much more to discover in this beautiful city besides the stunning Hungarian Parliament Building and the Fisherman’s Bastion. Don’t be afraid to experience some weird things to do in Budapest, it’s going to be fun and memorable!

My favourite things are walking up to the top of the Ethnography Museum and discovering the lost statues at the Memento Park.

But I also really enjoyed just strolling through this beautiful city and keeping my eyes open in Budapest hidden gems hide around many corners. Maybe you’ll manage to find even more than I did.

🤩 Explore Budapest off the beaten path on a jeep tour!

Read more about Budapest:

  • 20 Absolute Best Things to Do in Budapest Hungary
  • 17 Unbelievable Free Things to Do in Budapest
  • 17 Truly Unusual Things to Do in Budapest
  • 3 Days in Budapest Itinerary: What to See & Do
  • I tried the 4 Best Thermal Baths Budapest
  • 10 Best Fully Vegan Restaurants in Budapest
  • 3 Best Budapest Tours from Vienna
  • Is Budapest Worth Visiting? 10 Reasons Why I Love It

Best Souvenirs from Budapest to Remember Your Trip

  • 15 Best Budapest Instagram Spots to Capture Your Trip
  • How to Get to Margaret Island Budapest: Easy Ways

Ultimate Thai Massage Budapest Guide

New york café in budapest: is it really worth it, can you drink tap water in budapest absolutely.

  • Is Budapest Cheap? Yes, But Not as Much as It Once Was

Belgrade to Budapest by Bus: The WORST Journey

Pin it for later:.

A rooftop of a museum in Budapest with grass on it and a statue of the communist past of Hungary

Tina Riegelnegg is the founder of Veganderlust. She started this blog in 2022 to share her experiences in order to help other travellers have the best experience and find the best vegan food while travelling. So far Tina has been to 31 countries on 5 continents.

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cool places to visit budapest

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.  


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. .


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.


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. 


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.


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.


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.


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.


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;

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

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Is Budapest Worth Visiting? (The Pros & Cons)

Budapest is a beautiful European destination with so many things to do and see. With it being Hungary’s capital, it is not short of cultural activities and eateries. Home to rich history, beautiful architecture, vibrant nightlife, and thermal baths. But with so many other European cities to choose from, you may wonder if Budapest is worth visiting?

In this article, we will discuss the pros and cons of travelling to Budapest to help you make the best choice for you!

A Picture of the Stunning Hungarian Parliament in Budapest Reflecting into the Danube

Pros of Visiting Budapest

Let’s dive into some of the favourite reasons why Budapest is often a favourite destination for many tourists. From its stunning sights to its warm and inviting culture. I have listed below some note-worthy reasons why you should add Budapest to your European Bucket List.

1. Budapest’s History and Culture

Budapest is a great representation of when old meets new. Walking around the Buda side of the city is quite literally like going back in time. Everywhere you look, you can see signs of the past, from Roman ruins to medieval castles. Whereas, the pest side of the city has a more modern twist, an exciting nightlife scene, modern eats from around the world and groovy street art.

2. The Food in Budapest is delicious

If you are a foodie then you will love Budapest. It offers a vibrant food scene, with something for everyone. From traditional Hungarian Dishes like goulash, a meaty stew seasoned with paprika, and lángos, a deep-fried flatbread topped with cheese and sour cream.

To delicious international cuisine, such as Italian, Asian and more. There is one thing I can guarantee, you will not be disappointed with Budapest’s food options. Oh! And I almost forgot to mention, if you are keeping things budget-friendly then keep an eye out for some street food vendors. They offer some delicious and affordable options to keep you going while exploring the city. Karavan Street Food Market is one of my personal favourite places to grab a bite while in Budapest.

Where to eat in Budapest

Szimpla Kert : If you are looking for a unique food experience head to Szimpla Kert on a Sunday. Here you can enjoy an authentic Hungarian Dish while sitting in the oldest ruin bar in the city.

Central Market Hall: Looking to experience some local cuisines? Then the Central Market is the place for you. From fruits to sweets to traditional Hungarian sausages, you can find it all here.

New York Café: If you’re on the hunt for something a little more fancy then why not check out the New York Café? A rather popular spot, servicing a range of food options including their Dobos cake, a Hungarian sponge cake layered with chocolate buttercream and topped with caramel.

Girl Standing Looking Out at the view from the fisherman's bastion in Budapest

3. It’s Fairytale Like Appearance & Greenery

Another pro of visiting Budapest is the magical feeling as you walk around. The Buda side of the city quite literally feels like something out of a childhood storybook. From the stunning beauty of Fisherman’s Bastion to the vast grounds of Buda Castle . It is honestly one of my favourite fairytale places in Europe .

The city also has a lot of green spaces from Margaret Island, with its lush green parks, quaint gardens, and medieval ruins. It’s a great way to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.

To Gellért Hill which boasts incredible views of the city. The true Budapest gems is a lovely place to spend half a day gazing out at famous landmarks such as the Hungarian Parliament and Chain Bridge. It really allows the skyline to come to life.

4. It has Unique Attractions

Budapest is not short of unique attractions which makes it the perfect addition to your Europe Itinerary .

The Thermal Baths : The city is known for its famous thermal spas such as the Széchenyi, which is one of the largest spa complexes in Europe, to the lesser-known spas like Veli Bej Thermal Bath. Budapest is truly a city that allows you to relax and unwind. Or, boogie if you choose to do so. (Here’s a link to the bath parties).

Ruin Bars : Another famous thing to do in Budapest is visit one of the many ruined bars. Party the night away in what was once an abandoned building. These bars truly have a lot of character offering a very unique nightlife experience. Nothing like I have seen anywhere else in Europe. Szimpla Kert is the biggest and most popular ruin bar so arrive early if you are looking to experience it.

Oh! And don’t be surprised if the sun is rising when you leave 🤣

Caving Beneath the City: Did you know that underneath Budapest lies a cave system that you can explore? This is one of my favourite lesser known things to do in the city . Take an adrenaline-filled tour through the Budapest cave system , it is the perfect experience for those adrenaline junkies out there.. Crawl through narrow passages, wearing an overalls and and a head torch. It’s an experience not to be missed.

Chair Lift with Incredible Views: Budapest is not somewhere I expected to find a Chair Lift, granted it is not located directly in the city centre but Zugliget Chairlift offers an incredible view of Budapest and beyond. I definitely recommend adding it to your Definitely for when you’re in the city.

You can reach the Zugliget Chairlift by taking Bus 291 from the Széll Kálmán tér metro station and getting off at the János-hegy stop.

The journey will take about 20 minutes. Once there, the ticket to the chairlift costs 1400 HUF (approximately €5) for adults for a one-way trip.

The hours of operation are from 10 AM to 3 PM daily, except on Mondays.

Chain Bridge in Budapest reflecting into the Danube River

5. It is Budget-Friendly

Not only is Budapest a fun and beautiful city to explore it also is rather budget-friendly for its visitors. The city offers a range of low-cost, yet quality accommodations, from cosy hostels to comfortable budget hotels.

Dining in Budapest can be a surprisingly affordable experience, with tasty street food and inexpensive local eateries offering traditional Hungarian dishes.

Public transport is easy to come by and quite affordable costing as little as €1 for a single ticket.

There are many FREE attractions in the city from walking tours, and city parks to famous landmarks. And while, some things may be a little bit on the expensive side, for example, the Thermal Baths you can make it a little more affordable by going to the lesser-known spas.

6. Vibrant Nightlife

We already touched on this briefly but Budapest has quite a vibrant nightlife scene. From quirky abandoned buildings aka ruin bars. To a range of rooftop bars, such as 360 Bar (delish cocktails) and Corvin Club which boasts a rooftop cinema; there’s no shortage of places to enjoy the city’s lively atmosphere.

For those looking for something a little more sophisticated, don’t worry there’s something for you too. Wine Bars featuring local and international wines, Jazz Clubs with live performances and Opera Houses to name a few.

Whether you’re looking to party all night or simply enjoy a cocktail with good conversation, Budapest has something for everyone. And the best part? It won’t break your wallet!

Inside Tip: Don’t forget to check out the Budapest Boat Tours, especially at night. The Hungarian Capital really knows how to present a nighttime display with all its major landmarks lit up beautifully. It’s one of my favourite things about the city.

Cons of Visiting Budapest

Now, while Budapest is known for its budget-friendly activities, exciting nightlife and picturesque streets. It does, like all other cities have its downside. And these cons can impact a visitor’s experience so I thought I would highlight some.

1. Language Barrier

I have been to Budapest a handful of times, and honestly have never had any problems getting around despite the fact that I don’t speak Hungarian . The people are generally very nice and happy to help regardless of there being a language barrier.

However, this is something to consider when visiting the city for the first time. Sometimes there can be communication difficulties may come into play. To avoid this I recommend learning some key phrases before you visit.

Not only will this help you navigate and get around it is also important to be polite and considerate towards the locals. It shows them that you care about their culture and traditions. I’ve highlighted some key terms down below.

Köszönöm (Thank You)

In English, this translates to “Thank you” and it’s pronounced as “ko-so-noem”. It’s always good manners to thank people, and in Hungary, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to say Köszönöm.

Szervusz (Hello/Goodbye)

This is a common way to say either “hello” or “goodbye”. It’s pronounced “ser-vus”. Although it can be used at any time of day, it’s more commonly used in informal settings.

Szia (Hi/Bye)

This is another versatile word that can be used to say either “hi” or “bye”. It’s pronounced “see-ya” and is less formal than “Szervusz”.

Hol van a WC? (Where is the bathroom?)

This phrase might be very useful in many situations. It translates to “Where is the bathroom?” and it’s pronounced “hole van a vay-tsay?”.

Egészségedre! (Cheers/To your health)

This phrase is perfect for when you’re enjoying Hungary’s famous wines or beers. It means “Cheers” or more directly “To your health”, and it’s pronounced, “Eg-esh-sheg-ed-re!”.

Hogy hívnak? (What is your name?)

This phrase would come in handy while introducing yourself or getting to know new people. It translates to “What is your name?” and is pronounced as “hodge hee-vanak?”.

3. It’s Busy

Budapest has seen a spike in popularity in recent years and with this comes over tourism. Some of the city’s main tourist attractions tend to be packed with people as early as 10 am. So, if there is somewhere you really want to see without the crowds I suggest waking up super early.

In the summer I got to Fisherman’s Batsion at 7.30 am, there were very few people for the first half hour but that quickly changed making it harder to get that iconic picture of the parliament in the background without fighting the crowds.

Planning your visit during the off-peak season or choosing to explore lesser-known attractions can be a solution to avoid crowds and still enjoy the beauty of Budapest.

Vajdahunyad Castle in Budapest, Hungary

2. The Currency

The currency in Hungary is the Hungarian Forint (HUF). And if you are planning to visit just Budapest, you will not have any issues with this as you can withdraw a small amount of cash before visiting.

Besides, most places accept card transactions.

However, if you are backpacking or travelling through Europe it can be a con to have to constantly convert money in between all the currencies. Especially, with the rates changing day by day.

And yes, you will get by with a card, there are some circumstances where you will need cash. For example, some of the ruin bars are cash only and public toilets tend to charge a fee in cash too.

I also tried to get into the 360 bar in the summer months and was turned away because I did not have cash for the ‘entry fee’. This, however, did not seem to be an issue when I was there the Autumn previous so perhaps this depends on the night.

Tips for Visiting Budapest

Budget-Friendly Tips: Take advantage of the free walking tours available in Budapest to learn about the history and culture of the city.

Also, try to eat at local markets and food stalls for authentic Hungarian cuisine at a reasonable price.

The city is extremely walkable, so try to limit the number of public transport you get to keep costs down.

Solo Female Travel Tips: Budapest, much like other major cities in Europe such as Lisbon or Rome , is considered to be a relatively safe destination for solo female travellers. However, it is always important to use common sense and be aware of your surroundings.

I recommend staying in well-lit and central areas at night and avoiding walking alone in quiet or isolated areas.

If you do want to venture out at night I recommend making friends in hostels or group tours. That way you can feel safer as part of a group.

I have been solo in Budapest twice now and never really felt threatened or unsafe. The place that I felt slightly uneasy was outside the train station but that is common in a lot of major European Cities.

Taxi Tips: When taking a taxi in Budapest, make sure to only use licensed and metered taxis.

Avoid getting into unmarked or private cars offering rides as they may overcharge you. And unfortunately, even cars that appear to be ‘taxis’ may not be legit.

This is a common scam in Budapest, one I unfortunately fell for on my first visit to the city. Try not to get caught out by using taxi apps and check for licenses before getting in.

Instead, try to use Taxi apps such as Bolt. Unfortunately, much like other major European cities such as Rome or Dublin , Uber is only used by regulated taxi drivers which makes it more expensive than in cities like Lisbon that use it as a ride sharing app.

Attraction Tips: Don’t be afraid to explore some of Budapest’s lesser-known attractions like cave tours and the Zugliget Chair Lift. They are a lot of fun and a way to escape the crowds.

Visit in the Off-Season: Budapest is a lot of fun in the summer months but it is busy. I visited in October one year and had a completely different experience. I love it!

Budapest Parliament Building lit up at night shinning into the Danube

Top 10 things to do in Budapest

Next, I wanted to show you the top things to do while in Budapest. This will be the ultimate deciding factor in seeing if you think Budapest is worth visiting. If there are attractions that you really want to experience then why not give them a try?

Fishermans Bastion:

If you only had time to visit one attraction in Budapest I would recommend that be the Fishermans Bastion. It is just like a fairytale movie backdrop, which offers outstanding views of the city’s skyline.

This neo-Gothic and neo-Romanesque style terrace is located on the Buda side of the Danube on Castle Hill. And you can quite literally see all the famous landmarks from it. From Margaret Island, Pest to the east, and Gellért Hill.

And the best thing about it is, that entry is FREE. Meaning you can enjoy all its beauty without having to dive into your budget for the trip.

Buda Castle:

Buda Castle, once the home of the Hungarian Kings is a site to be seen. Perched on top of Castle Hill, the grounds are the ultimate playground for those interested in history and culture. I’m not gonna lie, some elements of the building do not seem like a castle but more ‘museum’ ‘like. However, walking around the less busy parts transports you into elements of a Disney storybook.

Much like the other attractions on Castle Hill, there is a phenomenal view of the Budapest Skyline, admire the beauty of the Parliament, Chain Bridge and Gellért Hill from afar.

After exploring the castle grounds, take a leisurely stroll along the cobbled streets of the Castle District, dotted with quaint houses, charming cafes, and fascinating museums. This is a part of Budapest that doesn’t get nearly enough attention.

Hungarian Parliament Building:

Correct me if I am wrong but Budapest is home to one of the most beautiful parliament buildings in the world. It’s also the 3rd largest in the world too.

It is definitely somewhere you want to check out while exploring the Hungarian Capital. You can get up close and personal with it and really get to see its size with your own eyes.

It is also possible to take a guided tour of the building allowing you to fully appreciate its historical and architectural significance.

Széchenyi Baths, Budapest, Hungary

Thermal Baths

Budapest is world-renowned for its thermal baths, and a visit to the city would not be complete without experiencing one.

The Széchenyi Thermal Bath , located in the city park, is the most popular and largest of its kind in Europe.

For a less crowded experience, try the lesser-known Király Thermal Bath provides a peaceful retreat that dates back to the Ottoman era.

Whichever you choose, thermal baths in Budapest provide relaxation and rejuvenation, a perfect antidote to a day of sightseeing.

Shoes on the Danube

When visiting a new place it is important to pay your respect to the destination’s past. The Shoes on the Danube is a sad memorial tribute to the Hungarian Jews who were forced to take off their shoes before being shot into the Danube during World War II.

The memorial features 60 pairs of iron shoes scattered along the river’s edge, symbolising the shoes left behind by the victims.

The site is a sombre reflection of Budapest’s tragic history during the war, leaving a deep impact on visitors.

A walk along the Danube to this historical site is a humbling experience that will make your visit to Budapest more meaningful.

Central Market Hall

A foodie’s heaven, brimming with stalls selling a variety of goods – from fresh produce, meats, and cheeses, to traditional Hungarian pastries and spices.

The second floor offers an array of souvenirs that make perfect mementoes or gifts.

This vibrant marketplace provides an authentic window into Hungarian culture and cuisine, making it a must-stop on your Budapest itinerary .

Don’t miss the opportunity to taste local specialities like goulash or lángos while you’re there.

The Ruin Bars

The Ruin Bars in Budapest are a unique and unforgettable feature of the city’s nightlife. These bars are set in the ruins of abandoned buildings, stores, or lots and are known for their eclectic and bohemian vibe.

Each one offers a different experience, so you can choose based on your preference. I know we already discussed them but here are a reminder of some of my favourites.

Szimpla Kert, the original ruin bar, is filled with quirky décor and a lively atmosphere.

Instant and Fogasház have been merged into a massive party complex with multiple dance floors playing different music genres.

Mazel Tov offers a more laid-back setting with its Middle-Eastern cuisine and live music.

Boat Tours on the Danube

Seeing Budapest from the waterfront is an experience you will not regret, especially at night.

Boat Tours on the Danube offer breathtaking views of the city’s iconic landmarks, including the grand Parliament building, the scenic Buda Castle, and the historic Chain Bridge, all beautifully lit up in the evening.

Some tours also provide dining options, allowing you to savour delicious Hungarian cuisine while navigating the serene waters.

Or, party the night away with your favourite beverage in hand.

Caving Tours

Caving Tours in Budapest offers an exciting adventure for those seeking something out of the ordinary.

Beneath the city lies a vast network of caves, formed by the thermal waters that Budapest is famous for. Palvolgyi-Matyashegyi cave system is the most extensive in the city, providing a thrilling exploration opportunity for both beginners and seasoned spelunkers.

On these tours, you can crawl, climb, and scramble through narrow passages and vast caverns, all under the guidance of expert cavers.

It’s a unique way to discover a different side of Budapest and a must-do for adventure seekers.

Walk the Chain Bridge

Walking across the Chain Bridge is another unmissable experience in Budapest. As the first bridge to connect Buda and Pest, the two parts of the city, it holds significant historical importance.

A stroll across the bridge offers an awe-inspiring view of the Danube, especially at sunset, and provides a perfect vantage point for photographing the city skyline.

Where to stay in Budapest

When it comes to accommodation options in Budapest, there’s something for every budget:

  • Budget Option – Wombat’s CITY Hostels : For budget travellers, Wombat’s CITY Hostels is an excellent choice. Known for its clean rooms and social atmosphere, it’s a popular choice amongst backpackers. It’s also conveniently located, making it easy to explore the city. It’s one of my favourite hostel stays in Europe .
  • Mid-Range Option – Casati Budapest Hotel : For a mid-range budget, consider Casati Budapest Hotel. This boutique hotel is situated in the city centre, close to major attractions. The rooms are comfortable and the hotel offers services like a gym and sauna.
  • High-End Option – Aria Hotel Budapest : If you’re looking for luxury, Aria Hotel Budapest is a top choice. This 5-star hotel offers plush rooms, a rooftop bar with city views, an indoor pool and an on-site restaurant. The hotel’s location in the heart of the city means you’re just a short walk away from the city’s main attractions.

Is Budapest a good place to visit?

All in all, Budapest is 110% worth the visit. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a foodie, a nightlife lover, or a budget backpacker, the city has something for everyone. Its rich heritage combined with its modern, vibrant culture makes it an irresistible destination for any traveller.

So, pack your bags, book your tickets, and get ready to immerse yourself in the magic of Budapest.

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Boat on the Dabune river in Budapest, Hungary

The 9 best day trips from Budapest

Take a trip out of Budapest and discover castle towns, hiking trails, historic villages and one of Europe’s biggest lakes

Adrienn Bardossy

Most travellers make a beeline for Budapest when they visit Hungary , and we can’t blame them: from ruin bars to blissful spas , the Hungarian capital boasts everything you could want from a European city break . But if you find yourself with a bit of extra time, consider taking a day trip from Budapest and exploring the villages, lakes and hiking trails that lie just outside the capital.

Whether it’s the country’s rich historical treasures, its spectacular cuisine or its beautiful nature, you can get a taste of the thousand colours of Hungary at these cool places not far from the city. All reachable within a couple of hours by public transport, here are some of the very best day trips to take from Budapest, according to Budapest-born writer Adrienn Bardossy.


📍  The best things to do in Budapest 😋 The best restaurants in Budapest 🍻 The best Budapest nightlife spots 🛏️ The best Airbnbs in Budapest

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9 excellent day trips from Budapest

Lake Balaton

1.  Lake Balaton

The largest lake in Central Europe, Lake Balaton stretches nearly 50 miles across the western part of Hungary. Owing to its size and dazzling shade, it’s known as the Hungarian Sea – and it really is the closest thing to an ocean this landlocked nation has. There are nearly 180 towns to explore along its shores, as well as several national parks and protected areas. Weather-dependent, the water is lovely for a dip, with the high season lasting from mid-June to the end of August. Summer, of course, is the best (albeit busiest) time to relax on the lake’s natural beaches, or to hop on board a boat and enjoy the sunset. It’s also well worth visiting the surrounding Balaton wine region and tasting some Hungarian wines, such as the local specialty,  Olaszrizling.

How far? 60 miles

Get there… One hour 45 minutes by train from Budapest Déli station to Balatonkenese, the first town by the lake. Once you reach this stop, the train continues to many of the other small villages.


2.  Tata

Just under an hour’s drive from Budapest, Tata makes for a great day trip, particularly if you’re a fan of small towns and nature. It’s known as the ‘city of living waters’ for its many lakes and mills, with the vast Old Lake taking centre stage. Graced at its northern tip by the fourteenth-century Tata Castle, the Old Lake is also the most valuable bird habitat in the region. Visit during the migration season – usually the last week of November – to see as many as 50,000 waterfowl resting here every day.

How far? 37 miles

Get there...  56 minutes by bus from Budapest Keleti station to Tatabánya.


3.  Rám-szakadék

This popular valley for hiking is just outside the historic village of Dömös, and can be reached by train or bus from Budapest in under two hours (or under an hour if you’re driving). Made up of volcanic rock walls dotted with magnificent waterfalls, the terrain makes for perfect – albeit challenging – hiking conditions. The three-spring valley, which cuts into the block of the Rám hill, is a particularly wild, scenic part of the valley. 

How far? 26 miles

Get there… Around 40 minutes from Batthyány tér metro station on the H5 suburban train to Szentendre, then the 50-minute 880 bus to Dömös. Or around 45 minutes by car.


4.  Gödöllő

If you want to take a trip back in time and feel like royalty for the day, the picturesque town of Gödöllő is only a metro ride away from Budapest. Thanks to its location on the outskirts of the city,  Gödöllő is a popular spot to live for ex-Budapesters. It ’s mainly famous for the eighteenth-century Royal Palace, a favourite residence of Queen of Hungary Empress Sisi, as well as the Szent István University. While you ’r e in Gödöllő, enjoy a hearty lunch of  Central European delicacies  at Smarni restaurant, followed by ice cream at Sissi ice-cream parlour. And if you’re in town in December, get properly festive at the Royal Palace’s annual Advent celebrations, which involve everything from puppet shows and concerts to Christmas decoration workshops.

How far? 18 miles

Get there… Around 47 minutes from Örs vezér tere metro station. Catch the H8 suburban train until the final stop, Gödöllő.


5.  Visegrád

A castle town on the edge of the Danube river, Visegrád is an ideal day trip destination from Budapest. Though you can get there pretty sharpish via train, if the weather is good and you have time on your hands then we strongly recommend the journey by boat. You’ll take in extraordinary sights as you sail along the Danube, including the beautiful village of Vác and the uninhabited islands along the river. When you reach Visegrád, head to its famous namesake castle to check out medieval performances, traditional weapons and even the odd jousting tournament. The Pálinka Museum is also worth a stop: it’s all about the history and production process of pálinka, the traditional Hungarian fruit spirit.

How far? 27 miles

Get there… Around 40 minutes by train from Budapest Nyugati railway station to Nagymaros-Visegrád.

Prédikálószék lookout

6.  Prédikálószék lookout

Take Instagram-worthy photos of the Danube Bend from Prédikálószék, one of the prominent hills of the Pilis, the Prédikálószék, which translates to  ‘Preaching Chair’ . At 639 metres tall, this is the third highest point of the Visegrád Hills, and is one of the most famous viewpoints in all of Hungary. It’s very popular among hikers – and if you’re feeling up to it, you can go even higher by climbing an extra 12 metres to the lookout tower. From Budapest, catch the train to Dömös, from where popular hiking trails lead to this dizzyingly high destination.

How far? Just over 26 miles

Get there… Around 40 minutes from Batthyány tér metro station on the H5 suburban train to Szentendre, then the 50-minute 880 bus to Dömös. Start the hiking trail marked with the red triangle.

Szentendre Skanzen Village Museum

7.  Szentendre Skanzen Village Museum

The first open-air museum in the Hungarian countryside, Szentendre Skanzen opened its doors in 1967. It’s a large-scale display of folk architecture and the culture of traditional village life in Hungary. You can explore the nine areas of the museum by foot or by the Skanzen train, which leaves from the entrance.  You can also book in for a wine tasting or goulash cookery class, or  mooch around souvenir shops in each of the museum’s spaces. Once you’re done, indulge in some traditional Hungarian cuisine at the Skanzen restaurant or check out the variety of places to eat in the small town of Szentendre. Fancy staying the night? Skanzen even has its own hotel. Take note: the museum is closed throughout the winter and reopens in April.

How far? 13 miles

Get there… Around 40 minutes by train from Batthyány tér metro station. Catch the H5 suburban train to the final stop, Szentendre.


8.  Esztergom

See where two countries meet on the shores of the Danube at Esztergom: a Hungarian city connected to the Slovakian town of Štúrovo by the Maria Valeria Bridge. The Basilica of Esztergom, one of the largest cathedrals in Europe, is well worth a visit. The city is also home to numerous museums: for treasures dating back to the ninth century, visit the Castle Museum; or to learn about all things water – from the history of navigation to the creation of soda water – visit the aptly named Danube Museum. And if you fancy crossing an international border on your day trip, it’s only a five-minute walk over to Slovakia for a beer.

How far? 25 miles

Get there…  One hour 30 minutes by train from Budapest Nyugati station to Esztergom.


9.  Mátrafüred

The picturesque village of Mátrafüred lies at the southern foot of the Mátra Mountains, and it takes less than two hours to get there from Budapest by train or bus. It’s a lovely day trip, but if you have time, stay for longer – there are several great hiking trails through forests in the region, and loads of lovely apartments and wellness hotels waiting to welcome you after a day in the great outdoors. If you want to discover more of the region, take the small railway from Mátrafüred to the town of Gyöngyös. Along the way, you can stop for a wine in the Mátra wine region and taste local whites and rosés.

How far? 52 miles

Get there… Around one hour 20 minutes by the Volán bus from Kacsóh Pongrác út bus stop. Take bus number 1045 and get off directly in Mátrafüred, or get the 1066 to Gyöngyös and change for the 3662 from there to Mátrafüred bus stop.

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