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11 Best Things To Do in Budapest

city of budapest

Budapest, the enchanting capital of Hungary, is a city that effortlessly blends its rich history with modern charm. From rejuvenating thermal baths to historic landmarks and cultural gems, the cosmopolitan city offers an array of activities that cater to diverse interests.

Let’s delve into the 11 best things to do in Budapest, an ideal destination for those seeking an immersive travel experience. 

1. Explore Castle Hill

Dominating the skyline over Budapest, Castle Hill offers a treasure trove of historical and cultural wonders. Begin your exploration by ascending the historic funicular railway or by taking a leisurely stroll up the winding cobblestone streets, soaking in the charming atmosphere of this medieval quarter.

At the heart of Castle Hill stands Buda Castle, a majestic fortress that served as the royal residence and seat of power for Hungarian kings and queens for centuries. Explore the castle’s impressive courtyards, gardens, and museums, including the Hungarian National Gallery and the Budapest History Museum, full of Hungary’s art, history, and culture.

Admire the striking Gothic architecture of Matthias Church, also known as the Church of Our Lady, with its colorful tiled roof and intricate interior. Wander through the fairy-tale-like Fisherman’s Bastion, offering panoramic views of the city.

2. Relax In The Thermal Baths

Indulge in relaxation and rejuvenation at Budapest’s famed thermal baths, an integral part of the city’s cultural heritage. With a history dating back to Roman times, these thermal baths offer visitors the opportunity to soak in naturally heated mineral waters while surrounded by stunning architectural beauty.

The most iconic bath houses include Széchenyi Thermal Bath, Gellért Thermal Bath, and Rudas Thermal Bath, each offering a unique atmosphere and range of amenities.

Tip: To enhance your visit, consider booking a spa treatment or massage, and don’t forget to bring swimwear, a towel, and flip-flops. Arrive early or later in the day to avoid crowds, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the tranquil ambiance.

—> Read More: Guide to the Baths of Budapest

3. Cruise The Danube At Night

Experience the enchanting beauty of Budapest illuminated against the night sky with a leisurely cruise along the Danube River. Admire the illuminated Chain Bridge, Parliament Building, Buda Castle, and Matthias Church as you glide along the river, capturing unforgettable memories and stunning photo opportunities.

To make the most of your evening cruise, choose a reputable cruise operator offering onboard amenities, live music, fine dining, and knowledgeable guides who provide insights into Budapest’s history and architecture.

Tip: Consider booking a cruise that includes a stop at Margaret Island or a visit to one of the riverside bars for a truly memorable experience. Don’t forget to dress warmly, especially during cooler months, and bring a camera to capture the magical sights.

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4. Visit The Hungarian Parliament Building

As one of Europe’s most stunning architectural marvels, the Parliament building stands proudly along the banks of the Danube River, showcasing its Neo-Gothic splendor.

To make the most of your visit, consider booking a guided tour in advance to explore the interior, including the magnificent central dome and the Hungarian Crown Jewels. Be sure to arrive early to avoid long queues, especially during peak tourist seasons.

Don’t miss the opportunity to admire the Parliament’s exterior from across the river, particularly at night when it is beautifully illuminated.

5. Shop At The Great Market Hall

Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of Budapest’s Great Market Hall, also known as the Central Market. This bustling marketplace offers a sensory feast of sights, sounds, and flavors.

Wander through the stalls piled high with fresh produce, meats, cheeses, and spices, and sample local delicacies such as lángos (fried dough) and kürtőskalács (chimney cake). Remember to bring cash for your purchases, and be prepared to haggle for the best deals.

The market can get crowded, so visiting early in the day or during weekdays is advisable to avoid the largest crowds.

6. Wander Through Heroes’ Square

Heroes’ Square, or Hősök tere, is a monumental public square located at the end of Andrássy Avenue in Budapest. It is adorned with statues and memorials commemorating Hungary’s most prominent leaders and historic figures.

Take a leisurely stroll around the square to admire the impressive Millennium Monument and the statues of the Seven Chieftains of the Magyars.

For a deeper understanding of the square’s significance, consider joining a guided tour that delves into Hungary’s rich history and cultural heritage. Visit during off-peak hours to enjoy the square’s grandeur without the crowds.

7. Trek Up Gellért Hill

Offering panoramic views of Budapest, Gellért Hill is a popular destination for both locals and tourists alike. To reach the summit, you can take a leisurely walk or opt for the convenient option of a taxi or public transportation.

Once there, take in the breathtaking vistas of the Danube River, the Chain Bridge, and the city skyline. Don’t miss the opportunity to explore the historic Gellért Hill Cave and the Liberty Statue, which commemorates Hungary’s liberation from Nazi occupation.

Remember to wear comfortable shoes and bring plenty of water, especially during hot weather.

8. Visit St. Stephen’s Basilica

St. Stephen’s Basilica is one of Budapest’s most iconic landmarks, renowned for its stunning architecture and exquisite interior. When visiting the basilica, take the time to admire its intricate details, including the ornate frescoes, marble columns, and stunning dome.

For a memorable experience, consider climbing to the top of the basilica’s dome for panoramic views of the city. Keep in mind that there may be long queues to enter the basilica, especially during peak tourist seasons, so plan your visit accordingly.

Additionally, be respectful of the basilica’s religious significance and adhere to any dress codes or guidelines.

9. Enjoy An Evening At The Hungarian State Opera House

Immerse yourself in Budapest’s cultural scene with a visit to the Hungarian State Opera House, which promises an unforgettable cultural experience.

Designed by renowned architect Miklós Ybl and inaugurated in 1884, the opera house is a masterpiece of Neo-Renaissance style, characterized by its ornate façade, grand staircase, and lavish interiors.

As a visitor, you can experience the opulence of the opera house through guided tours that offer insight into its history, architecture, and cultural significance. You can also marvel at the opulent architecture while enjoying a live performance showcasing Hungary’s artistic heritage.

10. Explore the Hungarian National Museum

Dive into Hungary’s rich history and culture with a visit to the Hungarian National Museum in Budapest. This esteemed institution houses a vast collection of artifacts, artworks, and historical documents spanning from prehistoric times to the present day.

Explore the museum’s diverse exhibits, which cover topics such as archaeology, fine arts, and ethnography, providing insight into Hungary’s past and its people. Consider joining a guided tour to gain a deeper understanding of the museum’s collections and significance.

To avoid crowds, plan your visit for weekday mornings and allocate sufficient time to explore the museum at your own pace.

11. Discover The Dohány Street Synagogue

As one of the largest synagogues in Europe, the Dohány Street Synagogue holds great cultural and historical significance in Budapest. When visiting the synagogue, dress modestly and respectfully, and be mindful of its religious significance to the local Jewish community.

Take a guided tour to learn about the synagogue’s architecture, which combines Moorish, Romantic, and Gothic elements, and to explore its museum, which houses exhibits on Jewish history and heritage.

Don’t miss the poignant Holocaust Memorial in the synagogue’s courtyard, which honors the memory of the victims of the Holocaust.  Consider visiting during quieter times to fully appreciate the solemn atmosphere and architectural beauty of this historic landmark.

And That’s A Wrap!

In conclusion, Budapest is a city which offers an array of enriching experiences that resonate with travelers of all tastes and interests.

From the grandeur of Castle Hill to the relaxation of the thermal baths and the magical evening cruises along the Danube, Budapest is not just a travel destination but a profound adventure not to be missed.

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Jack Baumann

President of Guidester

Jack Baumann has lived and traveled throughout Europe for over 15 years, creating Guidester in 2014. Over the years Guidester has developed into a unique travel concierge and tour company helping travelers make the most of their trip to Europe.

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