Top 20 Things to Do in Budapest for an Unforgettable Trip
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This architectural treasure trove is one of the most underrated big cities in Europe. Budapest has something for everyone – deep-rooted history, sprawling thermal baths delicious Hungarian food and crazy nightlife. You would easily need 3-5 days to revel in the Paris of the east. Here are the top 20 things to do in Budapest.
Things to do in Budapest
- Visit the Hungarian Parliament Building:
The Hungarian Parliament Building is one of the most iconic landmarks in Budapest. The building is located on the banks of the Danube River and boasts a stunning Gothic Revival architecture. As you walk through the building, you’ll be in awe of the intricate details on the walls, ceilings, and floors. The guided tours take you through the building’s stunning interiors and give you a glimpse into Hungary’s political history. The tour costs around 6,000 HUF (about $20 USD) for adults and 2,400 HUF (about $8 USD) for students. Don’t miss the opportunity to take photos of the building from the outside as well!
- Take a dip in the thermal baths:
Budapest is famous for its thermal baths, and a visit to one of these is a must-do activity. The Széchenyi Thermal Bath and the Gellért Thermal Bath are the most popular ones in the city. The Széchenyi Thermal Bath is located in City Park and boasts 18 pools with varying temperatures, saunas, steam rooms, and even a beer spa! The Gellért Thermal Bath, located in the Gellért Hotel, features beautiful Art Nouveau architecture and a stunning outdoor pool. Both baths offer a relaxing and rejuvenating experience, with prices ranging from 5,000-8,000 HUF (about $17-$28 USD) depending on the package you choose.
- Walk across the Chain Bridge:
The Chain Bridge is a symbol of Budapest and connects the two sides of the city across the Danube River. The bridge offers stunning views of the river and the cityscape. Walking across the bridge is a great way to take in the beauty of Budapest and enjoy the fresh air. Don’t forget to take photos of the bridge and the views!
- Visit Buda Castle:
Buda Castle is a historic castle complex located on Castle Hill, overlooking the Danube River. The castle has a rich history and offers stunning views of the city. You can explore the castle grounds and visit the Budapest History Museum and the Hungarian National Gallery. The castle is open to visitors from 10 am to 6 pm, and the ticket price ranges from 2,400-3,000 HUF (about $8-$10 USD).
- Explore Fisherman’s Bastion:
Fisherman’s Bastion is a beautiful terrace on Castle Hill that offers panoramic views of the city. The terrace is named after the fisherman’s guild that was responsible for defending the area during the Middle Ages. The terrace features seven towers, each representing one of the Hungarian tribes that settled in the Carpathian Basin. The terrace is free to visit and open 24 hours a day.
- Visit St. Stephen’s Basilica:
St. Stephen’s Basilica is one of the largest churches in Budapest and a must-visit attraction. The church is named after Hungary’s first king, St. Stephen. The interior of the church is breathtaking, with stunning frescoes, marble columns, and intricate details. You can also climb to the top of the church for a panoramic view of the city. The church is open to visitors from 9 am to 5 pm, and admission is free.
- Take a Danube River cruise:
A Danube River cruise is a great way to see the city from a different perspective. You can take a day or evening cruise and enjoy the stunning views of the city’s landmarks from the river. The cruises range in price, but you can expect to pay around 5,000-10,000 HUF (about $17-$35 USD) per person.
- Explore the Jewish Quarter:
The Jewish Quarter is a vibrant neighborhood with a rich history and culture. It is home to several synagogues, including the Great Synagogue, the largest synagogue in Europe. You can also explore the Jewish Museum and learn about the history of Jewish life in Budapest. The neighborhood is also known for its ruin bars, which are bars located in abandoned buildings or courtyards. A visit to the Jewish Quarter is a unique and unforgettable experience.
- Visit the House of Terror:
The House of Terror is a museum dedicated to the victims of the fascist and communist regimes in Hungary. The museum is located in a building that was used by both regimes to torture and imprison people. The museum offers a chilling insight into Hungary’s dark past and is a must-visit attraction for anyone interested in history. The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday, and the ticket price is around 3,000 HUF (about $10 USD).
- Enjoy Hungarian cuisine:
Hungarian cuisine is a must-try when in Budapest. Some of the most popular dishes include goulash, stuffed cabbage, chimney cake, and langos. You can find these dishes in restaurants all over the city, but for an authentic experience, try a traditional Hungarian tavern or market hall. You’ll also find plenty of street food stalls serving delicious snacks like sausage and fried dough.
- Visit the Budapest Zoo:
The Budapest Zoo is one of the oldest zoos in the world and a must-visit attraction for families with kids. The zoo is home to over 1,000 species of animals, including lions, tigers, and bears. The zoo also has a botanical garden and a petting zoo. The zoo is open from 9 am to 5 pm, and the ticket price ranges from 2,400-3,000 HUF (about $8-$10 USD).
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- Explore Margaret Island:
Margaret Island is a beautiful park located in the middle of the Danube River. The island is a popular spot for picnics, jogging, and cycling. It also features several attractions, including a musical fountain, a medieval ruins garden, and a Japanese garden. You can reach the island by taking a ferry or a tram.
- Visit the Shoes on the Danube Bank:
The Shoes on the Danube Bank is a memorial to the victims of the Holocaust in Budapest. The memorial features 60 pairs of shoes made of iron, representing the Jews who were forced to take off their shoes and stand on the bank of the Danube before they were shot and thrown into the river. The memorial is located on the Pest side of the river, near the Parliament building.
- Go to a concert or show:
Budapest has a vibrant cultural scene, and there are plenty of concerts and shows to attend. The Hungarian State Opera House and the Palace of Arts are two of the most popular venues. You can enjoy performances ranging from classical music to contemporary dance.
- Visit the Central Market Hall:
The Central Market Hall is a bustling market hall located in the heart of Budapest. The market offers a variety of products, including fresh produce, meats, spices, and souvenirs. You can also find traditional Hungarian dishes and snacks, such as langos and chimney cake. The market is open from Monday to Saturday, and admission is free.
- Walk along Andrássy Avenue:
Andrássy Avenue is a beautiful tree-lined boulevard that connects the city center with City Park. The avenue features stunning Neo-Renaissance architecture and is home to several cultural institutions, including the Hungarian State Opera House and the Museum of Fine Arts. Walking along Andrássy Avenue is a great way to take in the city’s beauty and elegance.
- Walk along the Danube Promenade:
A leisurely stroll along the Danube Promenade is a must-do activity in Budapest. The promenade stretches for 2.5 km from the Chain Bridge to the Elizabeth Bridge and is a great way to enjoy the beautiful views of the city and the Danube River. The promenade is lined with cafes, restaurants, and bars, making it a perfect spot to relax and enjoy the view.
- Visit the Hungarian State Opera House:
The Hungarian State Opera House is one of the most beautiful buildings in Budapest. Built-in the neo-Renaissance style, it is a masterpiece of architecture and is home to some of the best operas and ballets in the world. Visitors can take a guided tour of the building to see the beautiful interiors, including the grand staircase, the royal box, and the auditorium.
Szentendre is a picturesque town located about 20 km north of Budapest, along the Danube River. The town is known for its colorful Baroque architecture, art galleries, and museums. Visitors can stroll through the charming streets, admire the beautiful churches and museums, and sample traditional Hungarian sweets and pastries. The town is easily accessible by train or bus from Budapest, and makes for a great day trip.
- Lake Balaton:
Lake Balaton is the largest lake in Central Europe and is located about 100 km southwest of Budapest. The lake is a popular summer destination, known for its beaches, water sports, and charming lakeside towns. Visitors can swim in the lake, rent boats or kayaks, or simply relax on the beach. The town of Balatonfüred is a popular destination, with its charming old town and thermal baths. Lake Balaton is accessible by train or bus from Budapest, and makes for a great day trip or weekend getaway.
Apart from these 20 things to do in Budapest you can go for a day trip. Budapest is surrounded by several charming towns and villages that are worth a visit. Some of the popular day trips from Budapest include Szentendre, Visegrád, and Esztergom. Visitors can explore the local markets, enjoy the beautiful views, and learn about the history and culture of these towns.
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