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Things to Do in Budapest
This is a list of the best things to do in Budapest.
Budapest is the capital city of Hungary comprising of over 30 per cent of the entire population. Budapest has been a popular backpacker destination for nearly 30 years and over the last 10 years, tourists numbers have risen dramatically. In 2017 the number of tourists arriving in Budapest was 11.6 million. Below we have compiled a list of the things to do in Budapest and most of them are free.
Due to the fact, Budapest was heavily bombed in World War 2, many of its buildings and streets had to be restored. Today Budapest has a lot to offer with its glorious boulevard style street and world-class museums. It has also some unique tourist attractions such as its Turkish Baths and Ruin Bars.
The 14 Best Things to to in Budapest
1. Things to do in Budapest - Stroll across the Chain Bridge
The Széchenyi Chain Bridge is a suspension bridge that connects Buda and Pest. It was the first permanent bridge across the Danube in Budapest and was opened in 1849. At the time of its construction, it was regarded as one of the world's greatest engineering wonders and is one of the best-known landmarks of Budapest.
2. Things to do in Budapest - Visit Buda Castle
Buda Castle is the historical castle and palace complex of the Hungarian kings in Budapest. It was first completed in 1265, but the massive Baroque palace that you see today occupying most of the site was built between 1749 and 1769. The complex in the past was referred to as either the Royal Palace or the Royal Castle. The castle also houses the Hungarian National Gallery and The Budapest History Museum.
The fastest way to get to the Castle is on the funicular. Opened in 1870, it is the second oldest funicular of its kind in the world. It has become increasingly popular because of its panoramic views of the Danube and the city's skyline.
3. Things to do in Budapest - Hungarian Parliament Building
The Hungarian Parliament Building is the seat of the National Assembly of Hungary, a notable landmark of Budapest. It lies on the banks of the Danube. It is currently the largest building in Hungary and also happens to be the tallest building in Hungary. It was designed and built in the Gothic Revival style and the front facade is symmetrical.
4. Things to do in Budapest - Gellért Baths
The Gellért Thermal Baths and Swimming Pool is one of the grandest bath complexes in Budapest. The bath complex was originally built between 1912 and 1918 in the Art Nouveau style but it was damaged during World War II and had to be rebuilt. The complex includes saunas and plunge pools, an open-air swimming pool (with artificial waves), an effervescent swimming pool, a Finnish sauna and various other Spa treatments. The spa complex was extensively renovated in 2008.
5. Things to do in Budapest - Heroes Square
Heroes' Square (Hosök tere) is one of the major squares in Budapest. The square has a statue complex featuring the Seven Chieftains of the Magyars, other important Hungarian national leaders and a Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It is located at the end of Andrassy Avenue and is one of the most visited sights in Budapest. The square has played an important part in Hungarian history and has been a host to many political events, such as the reburial of Imre Nagy (former Prime Minister of Hungary, who was executed in 1958 while Hungary was under Communism rule) in 1989.
6. Things to do in Budapest - Visit Margaret Island
Margaret Island is an island, 500 metres wide in the middle of the Danube 2.5 km long and 500 metres at its widest point. The island is mostly covered by landscape parks and is a popular recreational area. It most famous sight is the "music fountain" where the water of the fountain sometimes dances in tune to classical music. Other Sights on the island include the Centennial Memorial of 1973, a small zoo featuring a wide range of exotic "waterfowl" and a Water Tower. Margaret Island is connected to both Buda and Pest via the Margaret Bridge.
7. Things to do in Budapest - Danube Promenade
The Danube Promenade is located on the Pest side of Budapest along the bank of the Danube. The promenade extends from the Széchenyi Chain Bridge to the Elizabeth Bridge. A row of hotels was built here in the late 1800s. These were the Hungaria, Bristol, Carlton, and Ritz but most of these were destroyed during the World War 2 bombings. The last of these historic hotels were demolished in 1969.
Scrolling down the Promenade is a great way to see some of the most famous sights in Budapest. Looking to the Buda side of the river, you get great views of Buda Castle, the Liberty Statue on Gellert Hill and the Fisherman’s Bastion. Today on the Promenade side of the river there many restaurants and cafes, Szechenyi Istvan Square and other tourist attractions including the "Shoes on the Danube Promenade".
8. Things to do in Budapest - Széchenyi Thermal Baths
The Széchenyi Baths complex is the largest medicinal bath in Europe. Its water is supplied by two thermal springs. The bath which is located in the City Park was built in a Neo-Baroque style and opened in 1913. The complex was expanded in 1927 to its current size, with 3 outdoor and 15 indoor pools. Between 1999 and 2009 the Széchenyi bath was completely refurbished.
9. Things to do in Budapest - St. Stephen’s Basilica
St. Stephen’s Basilica is the largest church in Budapest named after Hungary’s first king, St. Stephen. The Basilica offers some unique attractions such as the mummified right hand of St. Stephen and as well as glorious internal architecture. While the church is active with a large mass schedule for Catholics, it also acts as a Concert Hall. Admission is free but it’s customary to give 200 HUF (€1) donation.
10. Things to do in Budapest - Fisherman’s Bastion
Fisherman's Bastion (Halászbástya) is a terrace in neo-Gothic and neo-Romanesque style located on the Buda bank of the Danube, on the Buda Castle Hill. The seven towers of the Bastion represent the seven Magyar tribes that helped to settle the Magyar people in the Carpathian Basin (current day Budapest). From Fisherman's Bastion, you get panoramic views of the Danube river, Margaret Island and of the Pest side of the city.
11. Things to do in Budapest - Memento Park
Memento Park is an open-air museum of statues and sculpted plaques from Hungary's Communist period (1949–1989). There are statues of Lenin, Marx, and Engels, as well as several Hungarian Communist leaders. After the fall of the Communist regime in Hungary in 1989, most of the Communist era statues and monuments were immediately removed. These formed the basis for the current collection of statues you will see the park. Entrance to the park costs 1,500 HUF (€7.50).
12. Things to do in Budapest - Ruin Pubs
Ruin Bars first to spring up in dilapidated buildings in District VII of Budapest. District VII had been the Jewish Quarter and during World War 2 it was the Jewish Getto. After the Jews were deported out of the Getto, their buildings were left to rot and most of them were not restored during the communist era. The first ruin bar opened in the city was Szimpla in 2002 and it's still going strong to this day. Other notable ruin bars are Instant (which takes an entire building), Fogasház, Mazel Tov, Doboz and Grandio (ruin bar and hostel in one).
13. Things to do in Budapest - Central Market Hall
Central Market Hall or The Great Market Hall is the largest and oldest indoor market in Budapest. It is located at the end of the famous pedestrian shopping street Váci utca at Fővám square. The market has become popular with the tourists as it is right in the centre of Budapest. The opening hours are 6 am to 5 pm Monday, 6 am to 6 pm Tuesday to Friday, 6 am to 3 pm on Saturday and it's closed on Sundays.
14. Things to do in Budapest - Citadella
The Citadella is the fortification located upon the top of Gellért Hill. It was constructed by the Hapsburgs following the failed Hungarian War of Independence. The site of Citadella is of strategic military importance as it looks down on both Buda and Pest, making it easier to bring future conflicts under control. Hapsburg troops were stationed there until 1897. In the Hungarian Uprising of 1956 when the Nationalists tried to oust the Communist government, Soviet troops occupied the Citadella and fired down into the city.
Book Your Trip to Budapest
Book Your Accommodation
To book a hostel in Budapest, always use HostelWorld to get the best possible price. If you wish to stay in a hotel, use Booking.com to find the cheapest rates. Below is a selection my favourite hostels in Budapest.
- Hostel One Budapest - Best overall hostel in Budapest.
- Hostel One Basilica - Best hostel for solo travellers.
- Fifth Hostel - Best cheap hostel in Budapest.
- Grandio Party Hostel - Best party hostel in Budapest.
Recommended Tours in Budapest
I recommend GetYourGuide for Tours. They offer highly unique tours with Local Guides. Below are a selection of some of the most interesting tours in Budapest.
- Small Group Ruin Bar Tour - Wander through Budapest's atmospheric Jewish Quarter stopping in at many of the best known ruin bars in budapest.
- Széchenyi Spa Full-Day Entrance Pass - Skip the queue at Budapest's world-famous thermal spring spa, Széchenyi Bath. It's the largest thermal spring bath complex in Europe, it comprises 3 outdoor and 15 indoor pools.
- 1-Hour Sightseeing Cruise with Welcome Drink - See the sights of Budapest from the River Danube on a 1-hour sightseeing cruise, and enjoy a seasonal cocktail or soft drink along the way.
- St Stephen's Basilica Tour with Tower Access - Skip the queue and take a guided tour of Saint Stephen's Basilica including an exclusive visit to its dome and enjoy panoramic views of Budapest.
- Original Budapest Pub Crawl and VIP Club Entrance - Discover the best ruin bars of Budapest on this 4-hour pub crawl of the city center, and then enjoy VIP entrance to one of the best clubs in town!
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, cancellations and much more. I recommend World Nomads Travel Insurance.
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