Budapest is located in Central Europe and is the capital city of Hungary. It consists of two parts, Buda and Pest, which are positioned on opposite sides of the famous river Danube, connected by a series of remarkable bridges.
Budapest is a very accessible city, with many low-cost flights departing from airports all around the UK. The flight time is only around 2-2.5 hours, which makes it the perfect city for a long weekend break.
It may also help to know that Budapest is one of the cheapest cities to visit in Europe.
What to do in Budapest
Budapest is easily one of my favourite cities I’ve ever visited. This is mainly due to the fact there is just so much to do and see all around the city. You can never run out of things to do here!
As there is so much to see, it can be overwhelming trying to fit everything into a short period of time. Before I went, I spent ages trawling through websites listing 40+ sights to visit. Although I was there for 5 days, I worried that I wouldn’t have time to see them all.
During the 5 days I was there I did manage to see all the sights I was desperate to see. However, some travellers only venture to this wonderful city for a few days. Therefore, I have noted down the highlights of my trip in a list detailing the top 10 things you MUST see or do while you are in Budapest. Whether you are there for 2 days or 2 weeks, make sure you find time to experience all these wonderful sights.
#10 Heroes Square
You may immediately recognize this Square as it is one of the most photographed spots in Budapest. Budapest’s Heroes’ Square stands in honour and memory of the great leaders in Hungary’s history.
It is located at the end of Andrassy Avenue, a famous and elegant boulevard. As you head towards Heroes’ Square along the Avenue, you will witness an array of Neo-Renaissance palaces and houses, as well as the famous Opera House.
Aside from the monuments and statues, there are a range of interesting attractions in the vicinity, including:
- Two fine art museums (the old and the new)
- The large City Park
- Vajdahunyad Castle – A beautiful fairy tale like castle
- A Boating Lake – You can hire a pedalo or canoe for as little as £4
- Széchenyi baths – The most famous thermal baths in Budapest
With all these interesting and beautiful attractions located so close together, Heroes Square is a must visit on your next trip to Budapest. There are also many different photographic opportunities, so you have a high chance of capturing your next Instagram post!
#9 Ruin Bars
You simply cannot go all the way to Budapest and not visit one of the many famous Ruin bars! These ‘underground’ bars are located in the old Jewish quarter, built in the ruins of abandoned buildings, which were left to decay after World War II.
From the outside you wouldn’t be able to tell you are about to enter a bar, the streets look residential and there isn’t a large amount of noise. However, as you enter, you will witness a large artsy style space covered in colourful lights, typically located in a courtyard. There is a chilled atmosphere with plenty of space for socialising and dancing. Szimpla Kert is the most famous bar and the first ruin bar to open in 2004. So head down and enjoy this truly unique experience with a nice cold beer in hand!
#8 Margaret Island
#7 Visit the Parliament building
The Parliament is one of the most recognizable buildings of Budapest. It is a vast and magnificent structure, visible from almost all viewpoints situated around Budapest. Denoted as the largest building in Hungary, it is also the 3rd largest parliament building in the world!
In order to comprehend just how huge the Parliament is, you must visit its grounds. Here you can witness the wonderful architecture up close and you may even have the opportunity to witness the changing of the guards. There is also the option to tour inside the building, but you must pre-book as it is very popular!
Just a 5-minute walk up the Danube from Parliament, are the famous Shoes on the Danube, a memorial site dedicated to the victims of the holocaust. It is a simple yet chilling sight, depicting the terrible atrocities of war.
If its breath-taking panoramic views you’re after, the Citadel is the place to go! With sunset being the most picturesque time to visit.
The Citaldel is a UNESCO World Heritage Sight, located at the top of Gellert Hill. Previously, the Citadel was a fortress despised by Hungarians – due to the fact it was built by the Habsburg emperors after overcoming the Hungarian army in the 19th Century.
However, stimulated by the construction of the Liberty Statue, the Citadel it is now defined as a symbol of freedom and liberation.
Budapest is home to a huge variety of museums – enough for you to find at least one which may interest you.
Budapest has an intense and interesting history. The Budapest History Museum, Hungarian National Museum and the Hungarian Natural History Museum are all great if you are intrigued by this wonderful regions past.
My top recommendation is The House of Terror. This Museum contains exhibits related to the 20th-century Communist and Nazi regimes. It also serves as a memorial commemorating the victims of these regimes. The building itself previously served as the headquarters of the ultra-right Nazi party in 1940, with the basement being used a prison. Tickets are around £8 or £4 for people aged 6-25/ 62-70 who are citizens of EEA – just remember to bring ID.
If history isn’t of great interest to you there are also Museums dedicated to the Arts and Science. If you are after a more unique experience, you can visit the fun and interactive Pinball Museum or indulge yourself in the Szamos Chocolate Museum.
#4 Fisherman’s Bastian
Fisherman’s Bastian is one of the most visited sites in Budapest, once you visit, you’ll understand why! It offers spectacular panoramic views of the city and the Danube river.
Fisherman’s Bastian is a fortress with 7 turreted lookout towers, built in 1905, serving as a viewing platform. It is the perfect spot to take wonderful pictures.
Many of it’s balconies and towers are free to enter, while some of the upper towers charge a small entrance fee – as they offer the greatest views. There are also an array of stalls dotted along the viewpoint, offering small gifts, traditional Hungarian food and even beer or wine. Panoramic views with a drink in hand – the dream, right?!
Matthias Church is located next to the fortress. It is one of Budapest’s oldest and most important churches. There is an entrance fee to enter the castle, but if you’re saving them pennies – the outside is just as impressive, with great architecture and some interesting roof tiles.
#3 Cruise along the Danube
The Danube is the second longest river in Europe, running through 10 countries in total.
Budapest is the perfect location to experience cruising along this river. Many of the top sights including Buda Castle, Citadel and the Hungarian Parliament are situated along the river bank. There is also the opportunity to witness many of the spectacular bridges up close.
There are a vast range of different boats you can choose from, such as open-top or glass covered. If you have enough time and money I recommended experiencing the river cruise during day and night, as there is just so much to see! If you only have the option for one, a sunset or night cruise is definitely the greater choice.
There are SO many different types of cruise you can take, ranging from cocktail cruises, dinner cruises, lunch cruises, beer cruises, wine cruises and even party cruises. The perfect additions to further your enjoyment of the panoramic night-lit sights.
#2 Buda Castle
Buda Castle is a historical castle and palace complex where the previous Hungarian kings resided. Located in the castle district, it is a spectacular and huge complex that overlooks the city, offering fantastic panoramic views.
There is a 10 minute walk up to the castle. However, if that doesn’t excite you, why not head up there on the famous castle funicular. Opened in 1870, it is the second oldest funicular of its kind in the world. It is best to avoid peak times, as the queue can get quite long, but the views you experience on the way up are worth it!
The castle is also home to two museums, the National Gallery and the Budapest History Museum.
#1 Thermal Baths
Thermal bathing- the most popular thing to do in Budapest! Simply a must do.
Hungary has one of the largest thermal-water reserves in the world. There are an abundance of thermal-heating baths all around Budapest, six of them even have history dating back hundreds of years. Many locals claim these waters have medicinal and healing qualities.
With so many baths to bathe in it can be hard to pick which one to visit. You should always research the bath before you visit, as some baths have specific days where only one gender is allowed to bathe.
Széchenyi baths is the most famous one in Budapest – the one you see all over your Instagram feed! There are 18 pools in total, inside and outside as well as saunas, steam cabins and massage therapies, even a Beer spa! Tickets on average cost around £14 for the day. As these are the most popular baths, they can get quite busy at peak times. Other famous recommended baths include Gellért Spa (art nouveau complex), Rudas Baths (Turkish-style), Lukács Baths (known for it’s ‘Sparties’) and Király Baths (more affordable).Top 10 things to do and see in Budapest Click To Tweet