Things To Do In Budapest, Hungary

Amazing Things to Do in Budapest, Hungary: Your Ultimate Guide

Kerwin McKenzie12 Things To Do

Things To Do In Budapest, Hungary

Budapest, the capital city of Hungary, unfolds as a vibrant tapestry of history and modernity. Sitting on both sides of the Danube River, it offers an array of activities that cater to the adventurer or the history enthusiast.

Budapest promises to enchant visitors with experiences that are as diverse as they are memorable. Whether it’s the grandeur of its historical monuments or the allure of its thermal baths.

Relaxing in the legendary thermal baths, exploring the imposing Buda Castle, or simply leisurely strolling along the cobblestone streets, you’ll find Budapest’s blend of past and future captivating.

The city’s rich cultural scene reveals itself through its iconic opera house, lively music festivals, and a culinary landscape that ranges from traditional Hungarian dishes to contemporary fine dining. Budapest’s nightlife also presents an eclectic mix to suit any taste, be it at a quaint ‘ruin pub’ or a chic riverside lounge.

Key Takeaways

  • Budapest is a city where historic charm meets contemporary vibrancy.
  • Diverse activities include relaxing in thermal baths, exploring castles, and enjoying the local cuisine.
  • The capital’s culture, entertainment, and natural beauty offer something for every traveler.

How To Get To Budapest, Hungary

You can access Budapest a few different ways.

Airlines Serving Budapest Hungary

Aegean Airlines (A3), Aer Lingus (EI), Air Cairo (SM), Air China (CA), Air France (AF), Air Serbia (JU), AirBaltic (BT), Arkia Israeli Airlines (IZ), Austrian Airlines (OS), Blue Bird Airways (BZ), British Airways (BA), Brussels Airlines (SN), EasyJet Airlines (U2), El Al Airlines (LY), Emirates (EK), Eqyptair (MS), Eurowings (EW), Finnair (AY), FlyDubai (FZ), Iberia Airlines (IB), Jet2.com (LS), KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (KL), Korean Airlines (KE), LOT Polish (LO), Lufthansa German Airlines (LH), Luxair (LG), Norwegian Air International (D8), Norwegian Air Shuttle (DY), Pegasus Airlines (PC), Qatar Airways (QR), Ryanair (FR), Ryanair UK (RK), Shanghai Airlines (FM), SunExpress (XQ), Swiss Airlines (LX), Tarom (RO), Turkish Airlines – Star Alliance (TK) and Wizz Air (W6).

Buses

Flixbus has service to Budapest.

Trains

You can access Budapest by train, head over to https://www.raileurope.com/en-us.

Where To Stay In Budapest, Hungary

Use this handy map to find a place to stay.


 

Historical Landmarks

Budapest reveals its rich history through an array of breathtaking landmarks that recount tales of its past. These iconic sites are not just tourist destinations; they are the pillars of Hungarian heritage.

You can always arrange tours with my partner Viator.

 

Buda Castle

Buda Castle, a grand residence of Hungarian kings, now serves as a palatial complex with stunning views of the Danube. Its architecture is a splendid representation of various styles spanning from medieval to baroque. You can explore the National Gallery and the Budapest History Museum within its walls.

Fisherman’s Bastion

The Fisherman’s Bastion, with its fairy-tale turrets, offers you panoramic views of the city. This architectural marvel, resembling a fortress, pays tribute to the fishermen who once defended Budapest. Strolling along its terraces, you will discover unmatched angles to capture the essence of the city.

Parliament Building

Your visit is incomplete without seeing the Hungarian Parliament Building, an exemplary piece of Gothic Revival architecture. It is the largest building in Hungary and the tallest in Budapest. Inside, you are treated to the grandeur of the Holy Crown of Hungary among other national treasures.

Heroes’ Square

Discover Heroes’ Square and its Millennium Monument standing tall as a commemoration of the 1000-year-old history of the Magyars. The statues here celebrate national leaders and the Tribal Chieftains who founded Hungary, proving to be an essential stop for understanding the nation’s origin.

Cultural Experiences

Budapest is not only Hungary’s capital but also a cultural epicenter, where you can immerse yourself in classical music, art, history, and the city’s famous thermal baths. Each venue offers a unique glimpse into the rich fabric of Hungarian tradition and innovation.

Hungarian State Opera House

Experience the grandeur of the Hungarian State Opera House, a masterpiece of neo-Renaissance architecture with an opulent interior that hosts world-class opera and ballet performances. Booking a ticket for a show or a guided tour gives you a chance to admire the lavish decor and excellent acoustics.

Museum of Fine Arts

Home to an extensive array of international art, Budapest’s Museum of Fine Arts showcases works spanning from ancient Egypt to the 20th century. Highlights include paintings by European masters such as El Greco, Raphael, and Velázquez.

Hungarian National Museum

Delve into Hungary’s past at the Hungarian National Museum, where historical artifacts and exhibitions tell the story of the nation from its foundation to contemporary times. It’s an essential visit to understand the cultural heritage and collective memory of the Hungarian people.

Szechenyi Thermal Bath

Relax at the Szechenyi Thermal Bath, Europe’s largest medicinal bath, adorned with Neo-Baroque and Neo-Renaissance architecture. These baths are not only places for leisure but also social hubs where locals and tourists alike gather to unwind.

Outdoor Adventures

Experience the natural beauty of Budapest through an array of outdoor adventures that offer both tranquility and thrills. Discover urban oases, take in breathtaking views, and immerse yourself in the greenery within the city’s bounds.

Margaret Island

Nestled in the middle of the Danube River, Margaret Island is your go-to sanctuary for a peaceful escape. This island is a hub for outdoor fitness enthusiasts, boasting a 5.5 km running track, lush gardens, and medieval ruins. Here, you can rent a bike or a pedal cart, or simply stroll along pathways surrounded by flourishing floral displays and historical monuments.

City Park

City Park (Városliget) is more than just an expanse of green; it’s a cultural playground. It houses the Széchenyi Thermal Bath, the Budapest Zoo, and Vajdahunyad Castle. Engage in activities like rowing on the lake, which turns into a popular ice-skating rink in the winter, adding to the park’s year-round appeal.

Gellért Hill

For a more challenging outdoor adventure, climb Gellért Hill. Your efforts will be rewarded with unparalleled views over Budapest. As you ascend, explore the Citadella and the Freedom Statue, which stand as proud emblems of the city. The hill’s slopes also offer serene spots for picnics and photo opportunities amidst the panorama of Budapest’s skyline.

Culinary Delights

In Budapest, every bite tells a story of heritage and innovation. From historic marketplaces to buzzing ruin pubs and traditional eateries, your taste buds are set to embark on a journey filled with flavorful surprises.

Central Market Hall

At the Central Market Hall, you’ll find yourself surrounded by a hive of activity where locals and travelers alike come to sample and purchase various Hungarian food items. Don’t miss out on trying the famous Lángos, a deep-fried doughy delight, traditionally topped with sour cream and cheese.

  • Must-try:
    • Lángos
    • Fresh produce
    • Variety of paprika

Ruin Pubs

In the unique setting of Ruin Pubs, nestled within the old Jewish quarter, enjoy an eclectic mix of contemporary culinary offerings alongside traditional Hungarian drinks. These vibrant and quirky pubs are perfect for mingling with locals and savoring an array of inventive dishes.

  • What to expect:
    • Craft beers
    • Fusion dishes
    • Lively atmosphere

Traditional Hungarian Restaurants

Your gastronomic adventure wouldn’t be complete without dining at Traditional Hungarian Restaurants. Here you can indulge in hearty classics such as Goulash, Pörkölt, and stuffed cabbage rolls that embody the rich, comforting tastes of Hungary.

  • Hungarian classics:
    • Goulash (beef stew)
    • Pörkölt (meat and onion stew)
    • Stuffed cabbage rolls

Nightlife and Entertainment

Budapest’s nightlife offers you a vibrant and eclectic mix of entertainment options. From historic venues with modern twists to floating parties on the Danube, Budapest at night is full of surprises.

Gozsdu Udvar

Gozsdu Udvar forms the hub of Budapest’s nightlife, a busy passageway lined with bars, restaurants, and outdoor seating. This courtyard is a melting pot of cultures and activities, bustling at almost all hours. During the evenings, you can find a range of options from casual eateries to bars brimming with the energy of local musicians.

A38 Ship

Set on a converted Ukrainian stone-carrying cargo ship, A38 Ship has achieved iconic status as a unique music and party venue. Anchored on the Danube, you’ll experience unforgettable concerts, dance events, and a vibrant atmosphere against a backdrop of Budapest’s panoramic night skyline. Visit A38 Ship for an unrivaled maritime entertainment experience.

Instant-Fogas Complex

The Instant-Fogas Complex is known as a “party complex” for good reason — it’s one of the city’s most dynamic nightlife scenes. This venue melds together several bars and dance floors, each with its own theme and musical style, under one roof. Taking over an entire apartment building, Instant-Fogas encourages you to roam from floor to floor and discover different genres and atmospheres throughout the night.

Shopping and Fashion

Budapest offers a rich tapestry of shopping experiences, from the high-end boutiques that line Andrássy Avenue to the bustling ambiance of Váci Street. Whether you’re in search of luxury brands or local arts and crafts, these two streets provide a shopping haven for fashion enthusiasts.

Váci Street

Renowned as Budapest’s main shopping street, Váci Street brims with a variety of stores for your fashion needs. You’ll discover a blend of international retailers like Zara and H&M alongside traditional Hungarian craft shops, perfect for finding unique souvenirs and fashionable attire. As you explore, treat yourself to authentic Hungarian embroidery or artisanal ceramics to remember your trip.

Andrássy Avenue

For those with a preference for high-end labels, Andrássy Avenue is your destination. Lined with opulent brands such as Louis Vuitton and Gucci, this elegant boulevard is often likened to the Champs-Élysées for its luxury shopping experience. Away from the glitz of designer labels, the avenue also offers exclusive local shops where you can encounter chic fashion pieces from Hungarian designers.

Festivals and Events

When you visit Budapest, immersing yourself in the vibrant festivals and events is a must. Each season offers its distinct celebrations.

Spring

  • Experience the beauty of the Cherry Blossom Festival in March/April, where the Budapest Botanical Gardens mimic a Japanese paradise for two weekends.

Summer

  • Don’t miss the Sziget Festival in August, one of the largest music and cultural festivals in Europe.

Fall

  • Sample exquisite Hungarian wines at the Budapest Wine Festival, with tastings and local culinary delights.

Winter

  • Get into the holiday spirit at the Budapest Advent and Christmas Fair, where you can find handcrafted gifts and seasonal treats.
Season Event Description
Spring Cherry Blossom Festival Relish in the floral splendor and Japanese cultural events at the botanical gardens.
Summer Sziget Festival Enjoy a week of music, art performances, and cultural programs on Óbuda Island.
Fall Budapest Wine Festival Taste a variety of wines and enjoy the backdrop of the Buda Castle.
Winter Budapest Advent and Christmas Fair Stroll through festive markets and watch the light shows on St. Stephen’s Basilica.

Remember, these are just highlights. Budapest is year-round with events and festivals spanning art, music, food, and culture. Plan your trip around these events to fully experience the rich traditions and lively spirit of Budapest.

River Cruise and Danube Promenade

Embark on a memorable journey by taking a river cruise along the Danube River in Budapest. The Danube, Europe’s second-longest river, offers a unique vantage point to witness the grandeur of the city’s architecture and feel the pulse of its vibrant culture.

Choose Your Cruise

  • Evening Cruise: Experience Budapest illuminated, with landmarks like the Parliament and Buda Castle shining brightly against the night sky.
  • Sightseeing Cruise: Opt for a daytime cruise to soak in the panoramic views and enjoy an onboard audio guide, enhancing your understanding of Budapest’s history.

Must-See Attractions Along the Promenade

  • Chain Bridge: Capture the essence of Budapest’s connection, where the monumental Chain Bridge links Buda and Pest.
  • Buda Castle: Gaze upon the historic royal palace as your boat glides beneath the hilltop fortress, a sentinel over the river.

As you stroll the Danube Promenade, or Danube Embankment, take a moment to observe the Shoes on the Danube Bank, a poignant memorial that bears silent testimony to the city’s history. Immerse yourself in the local ambiance as you move from this reflective space to the lively atmosphere of street musicians and outdoor cafes.

Your visit to Budapest is enriched by the time you spend near the Danube, whether afloat on its waters or meandering along its banks.

Jewish Heritage

Budapest’s Jewish heritage offers a profound glimpse into the historical and cultural tapestry that shapes the city. With an active Jewish community and rich historical landmarks, your visit is an opportunity to understand this integral part of Budapest’s identity.

Dohány Street Synagogue

The Dohány Street Synagogue is not only a stunning architectural marvel but also the largest synagogue in Europe. It serves as a symbol of both the endurance and revival of Jewish culture in Budapest. Here, you can explore the Jewish Museum, attend a service, or simply marvel at the intricate interior and its rich history.

  • Location: Dohány Street
  • Notable Features:
    • Architecture: Moorish and Gothic styles
    • Holocaust Memorial: Raoul Wallenberg Holocaust Memorial Park

Jewish Quarter

In Budapest’s Jewish Quarter, you will be walking through streets that pulse with both historical significance and contemporary vibrancy. The area is renowned for its remarkable atmosphere, with historic synagogues, shops, and traditional Jewish eateries. Here are key sites you should visit:

  • Rumbach Street Synagogue
  • Kazinczy Street Synagogue

Culinary Finds:

Name Specialty
Cafés Pastries & Coffee
Restaurants Traditional Dishes

Your journey through the Jewish heritage of Budapest promises to be both enlightening and memorable, offering a mix of solemn history and lively cultural experiences.

Frequently Asked Questions

Budapest, a city rich in heritage and brimming with activities for travelers of all kinds, offers an array of experiences. Below you’ll find answers to common questions about visiting Hungary’s vibrant capital.

What are the top attractions to visit in Budapest?

The Danube River, which runs through the city, offers stunning views and is flanked by iconic structures such as the Hungarian Parliament Building. The Buda Castle and Fisherman’s Bastion are must-visits for their panoramic views and historical significance.

Where can couples find romantic activities in Budapest?

For a romantic escapade, couples can enjoy cruises along the Danube or visit the opulent Széchenyi Thermal Bath for a relaxing soak together.

What are some unique cultural experiences to be had in Budapest?

Engage with Budapest’s culture by watching a performance at the Hungarian State Opera House or exploring the city’s Jewish heritage in the old Jewish Quarter.

Can you recommend any hidden gems in Budapest away from the usual tourist spots?

Gül Baba’s Tomb offers tranquility and a peek into Ottoman-era history, while the lesser-known Károlyi Gardens provide a serene green space ideal for a quiet stroll.

What are the best dining experiences to try while in Budapest?

Indulge in fine Hungarian cuisine at the Central Market Hall, or visit one of the ruins bars in the Jewish Quarter for a unique dining ambiance and local flavors.

Which free activities should visitors take advantage of in Budapest?

Take advantage of the city’s free activities by walking across the Chain Bridge, visiting Heroes’ Square, or hiking up to Gellért Hill for panoramic city views.