As a fine gem of Hungary, Budapest will win you over right when you enter the city. The enchanting fairytale-like turns Budapest into a dreamy getaway for many travelers. We love Budapest as much as you do and that’s why we decided to share the 10 best things to do in Budapest so you can make your own bucket list!
A Quick Rundown to Budapest
Being a dynamic and livable city doesn’t erase all that elegance and vintage vibe of the old Budapest. Welcome to the capital city of Hungary! Budapest is snapped into two areas by the banks of the Danube. Whereas the historical, striking buildings scattered all around town up on the hill to the bustling streets, Budapest is also home to the budding food and wine scene.
Just like other parts of Europe, Budapest was ruled by the Communist, survived the Arrow Cross, but also nourished in the Roman times. From scenic hikes to the vibrant shopping scene, from a relaxing day at a thermal bath to a rose at the Danube iron shoes, Budapest is truly a must-see city in Europe for all kinds of travelers.
Budapest is an affordable city to visit. You only need from 5 to 7 days at best to fully explore the capital to your heart’s content.
10 Best Things to Do in Budapest, Hungary for Your Bucket List
Climb the Hill to the Castle of Buda
Live up the royal era of the Hungarian kings with a decent stroll around the Royal Palace of Buda Castle. Peaking the Castle hill, Buda Palace is the crown jewel sitting amid the royal district of Buda which is enclosed by the gigantic fortified walls.
More than just a must-see tourist attraction in Budapest, the castle is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site that dates back to the 13th century. This was when the first royal residence was constructed on the site.
Nowadays, the castle becomes a live witness that reflects the gorgeous Baroque and modernist architecture with a touch of Gothic and Renaissance. Long gone the royal life, the castle today serves as a complex of museums, government institutions, and a library. One of the most photogenic corners of the complex is the equestrian statue of Prince Eugene of Savoy.
The statue stands vividly against the dramatic backdrop of the modernist dorm of the palace, giving you a whole new idea to feed your Instagram.
Feed Your Instagram at Halászbástya
Commonly known as Fisherman’s Bastion, Halászbástya is jotted down on your bucket list as one of the most visited monuments of Budapest. The landmark is only a stone’s throw away from the Buda Castle.
Visitors flock to this vantage point to embrace the gorgeous view of the city as the site is tucked away on Castle Hill. Halászbástya was once a part of the castle walls and now you can still soak in the vintage design and treat it as a backdrop for your picture.
Going beyond the purpose of a lookout tower is the historical structures of the ornate turrets. Today, the turrets represent the Magyar tribal tents dating back to the 9th century. Little do you know that Halászbástya is open all year round regardless of day or night, rain or shine. Therefore, if you’re looking for a picturesque place to visit in Budapest with your kids, Halászbástya will be your merry way. Don’t forget to check out the scenic café encompassing the terrace of the Fisherman’s Bastion to rest your tired bones!
Explore the Gigantic Matthias Church
Coming next in our curated list of the best things to do in Budapest is Matthias Church. This is another historical monument beholding a respectable value of architecture. Matthias looms from afar as a Roman Catholic Church that takes over the heart of the Holy Trinity Square. Taking root from the 11th century, Matthias Church is considered one of the most enchanting and breathtaking holy shrines in Europe.
Nestled on the side of the Buda Castle Hill, the church beholds the burials of the King of Hungary and Croatia during the 12th century. Paying a short visit into the main hall and you will be instantly transported back in time to recall the royal weddings and coronations.
Even though the royal era is long gone, Matthias Church nowadays still plays host to many organ and classical music concerts every now and then. Don’t rush to leave just yet, stay for a while and enjoy the sunlight shining off the white stone and reflecting the shimmering glow through the roof. The colors, the light, and the architecture all resonate to provide you that energy and holiness you cannot find elsewhere.
Hike the Gellert Hill
Opening out to the mild waves of the Danube river, Gellert Hill is a large boulder reaching 140 meters in height. Thanks to such a scenic landscape, Gellert Hill becomes one of the most sought-after places in Budapest to soak in the view while working your cores on a hike.
Abounding in protected natural values, Gellert Hill is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you’re looking for a cooler way to train your muscles, it’s time to hike up the Gellert Hill from the Elisabeth Bridge. The hiking trail veins through the woods where you conquer different sets of stairs and paths before ending up at the scenic panoramic view on the top of the hill. This is where you will engulf the entire surrounding of Buda and Pest sides.
Rewinding a little to the 19th century, Gellert Hill housed a fortress built by the Habsburgs. Traveling with kids? Now is the time to put a bright smile on their faces as you surprise them with the Hungarian market. Traditional dolls, wooden toys, and handmade clothes are some of the most popular items to be offered.
Enjoy a Jaw-Dropping Scene from Széchenyi Lánchíd
The Széchenyi Lánchíd Bridge was the first permanent bridge ever built that connects the banks of Danube. Splendidly illuminated when the sun beams down, Széchenyi Lánchíd is an awe-inspiring attraction of Budapest.
Straddling the mighty Danube, the bridge becomes a romantic path where you can take a long walk under the starry nights from the Széchenyi Square to the other side of Clark Ádám Square. The bridge suffered a severe bombing attack carried out by the Germans but it soon underwent a major renovation to gain back the candid beauty as you see today.
Reaching a total length of 375 meters, a long stroll on the bridge allows you to take a step back in time and reconnect to the dramatic scene around you. More than just a bridge, Széchenyi Lánchíd is a work of art that showcases the beauty of intricate ironworks on the railing. As you work your way towards the end of the bridge, don’t forget to snap some shots of the lion guards!
Admire the Országház Building after Dusk
Budapest is no short of historical buildings that infuse striking artistic designs, and Országház is no exception. Officially known as the Hungarian Parliament Building, Országház is one of the largest existing monuments in Budapest. Today, the building plays host to the legislature and the sanctuary of the Holy Crown, which was announced as a World Heritage Site in 2011.
Running along the Danube, the Parliament house of Országház has its torch on the intricate façade where 90 stone sculptures are embellished along the wings. They represent the most iconic figures in Hungarian history. Inspired by the neo-Gothic structure of the British House of Parliament, Országház functions as a government center as well as a proud symbol of the Hungarian.
We agree that the building is worth a contemplation from the outside but you should never miss an entrance to the inside. The interior is unbridled in its majesty and glory. If you’re wondering when to drop by the building, we highly consider nighttime when the overall unique complex hits you intensely as it’s illuminated under the lights.
Cross the Liberty Bridge
Nestled at the southernmost of Budapest, Liberty Bridge is the shorted bridge in the city center that gaps the two areas of Buda and Pest over the Danube River. Being the shortened bridge on the Danube, Liberty only takes you roughly 5 minutes to walk from one end to the other.
However, it doesn’t mean you should rush yourself at all! Simply indulge in a 15-minute stroll with a camera in your hand and laze around in the gust of winds caressing your skin – this is how you enjoy the authentic vibe of Budapest with all your heart. The construction plan started in 1894 that rests the bridge on two gigantic pillars. Thanks to this marvelous design, the bridge appears in a graceful shape and is adorned with exquisite embellishments.
We won’t forget to mention the Parisian-style lamp posts lining up on one side of the bridge. In the modern days, Liberty Bridge houses numerous events and concerts during spring and summer.
Pay Tribute to the Shoes on the Danube Bank
Paying tribute to 3500 lost lives that were shot into the Danube River when the Arrow Cross terror swept through Budapest, this composition is one of the best places to visit in the city. There are a total of 60 pairs of iron shoes lining up along the bank of Danube and right in front of the Hungarian Parliament Building.
All of the shoes face towards the water and are poignant with a strong sense of history and emotion. Within only five months, the Arrow Cross militiamen were wreaking havoc all over thousands of people with a majority of Jewish. Many of them were killed, shot down into the river of Danube, and transported to the concentration camps.
Hiding a tragic history behind, the iron shoes receive numerous visits from people around the world who wish to share a slice in the darkest days of Budapest history. Coming over to the bank, you can easily see flowers, ties, and cookies nestled by each of the shoes from other visitors alike. Get your mental state ready and remember to come along with a local guide for the untold stories!
Plan a Retail Therapy at Nagycsarnok Market
Standing by the historical monuments, Nagycsarnok becomes a spotlight on the list of things to do in Budapest as a lively, bustling trading hub. Commonly known as the Central Market Hall, Nagycsarnok offers an extensive assortment of local produce, fresh gourmet, and souvenirs.
Nagycsarnok is considered as the biggest and oldest indoor market in the city with an excellent restoration of its neo-Gothic hall. The site was built at the end of the 19th century and located right in the heart of the city center.
There are a plethora of leisure activities taking place at the market. We are talking about fresh goods, people watching, retail therapy, and plenty of picture-perfect chances to capture on your camera. Encompassing over three floors, Nagycsarnok is a perfect destination to immerse into a wine tasting tour, browse some clothes, munch on traditional Hungarian snacks, and laze back in the local eateries.
The market is closed on Sunday, which means you can come over anytime from Monday to Saturday. However, the best time to hit the market is on Saturday when you can enjoy the buzz, energetic programs, and tours.
Get A Stress-Reliever at Széchenyi Gyógyfürdő Hot Springs
To wrap it up, nothing can beat the one and only Széchenyi Gyógyfürdő. Do you know that Széchenyi Gyógyfürdő is the largest medicinal bath in Europe? Yes, you’ve heard it right! Budapest is no short of the coolest things to do that’s catered to all types of travelers.
If you’re looking for a decent way to rest your tired cores after a long travel day, Széchenyi will be your haven! Supplied by two thermal springs that reach up to 77 Celsius degrees all year round, the hot springs offer a range of healthcare and wellness retreat services.
There’s a total of 21 pools and 3 massive outdoor pools operated at Széchenyi. It makes a perfect family getaway to relax and unplug from all the buzzes of notifications. What you want to do is spend a whole day there, both indoor and outdoor, before rewarding yourself with a beer therapy at the end of the day. Remember to bring your own flip-flops along if you come by during winter if you don’t jack frost bites your feet!
You can totally engulf all these 10 places in Budapest within around 5 days of your trip. Don’t forget to share it with your friends and family to inspire their wanderlust!