Budapest – a city that effortlessly weaves its rich history, architectural splendor, and vibrant culture along the graceful curves of the Danube River. Nestled at the heart of Europe, Budapest stands as a captivating fusion of two distinct halves, Buda and Pest, each with its own unique charm and allure. As you traverse its cobblestone streets and iconic bridges, you’ll be enamored by the juxtaposition of ancient landmarks and modern wonders. From the regal Buda Castle, perched on a hill, offering panoramic views, to the lively ruin bars that breathe new life into abandoned buildings, every corner of Budapest holds a captivating tale to tell. In this post, we share about places to visit and things to do in Budapest that you may want to add to your Budapest travel itinerary if you are planning to visit anytime soon.
Budapest Travel Tips
Info: Budapest is the capital of Hungary.
Visa: Schengen Visa
Currency: Hungarian Forint but Euros are widely accepted.
Best Time to Visit: The best time to visit Budapest is in the shoulder months of March to May and September to November.
Getting Around: The city is well connected by trams, trains, metro and bus. But do consider spending a good amount of time travelling from one place to another as it is not a small city. A one-way ticket costs 300 HUF.
You can purchase tickets at ticket machines using cash or a card.
Getting to Budapest
Airport: Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport (Code: BUD)
- 100E Airport shuttle bus runs from the city center every 20 minutes
- Combination of the 200E airport shuttle to the nearest metro stop. ( M3)
Budapest by Train:
Budapest is well connected to cities like Munich, Salzburg, Vienna, and Bratislava by train.
Budapest by Bus:
The cheapest way to travel around Europe is by bus. Book tickets on Flixbus.
Must-Have Apps :
- Bolt: To Book a Taxi or online food delivery.
- Google Maps: To navigate around the city.
- MOL Bubi: Bike Sharing App.
Is Budapest City Card Worth It?
Budapest Card( 1 Day / 2 day /3 Day Pass )
- Free public transport
- Free Pest & Buda guided walking tours
- Free admission to St. Lukács Thermal Bath
- Free 30+ tourist attractions.
- Discounts on Restaurants.
- Discounts from 10-50% on Tourist attractions.
Budapest Plus Card includes more
- Includes airport transfers
- Buda Castle Funicular Ride
- Danube River cruise
- Matthias Church
- Complimentary dessert.
Choose the one which works for your itinerary. Read the official website for all more info.
Must – Visit Places to add to your Budapest Itinerary
Hungarian Parliament Building
The Hungarian Parliament Building is one of the most impressive and iconic landmarks in Budapest, Hungary. It is a grand symbol of the country’s political and architectural heritage. It stands as a testament to Hungary’s rich history and cultural identity. The Parliament Building houses the Holy Crown of Hungary, which is one of the country’s most revered national symbols.
Guided Tours: Visitors can explore the Parliament Building through guided tours, which allow them to marvel at its grand interiors and learn about Hungary’s history, politics, and cultural heritage.
You can book a tour via the official website at your preferred time and date.
Or book a guided tour of the parliament here.
The Parliament Building is a sight to behold, especially when it is illuminated at night. The views of the building from the river and the opposite side of the city are incredibly captivating.
- Getting there – Take the Metro to Batthyány tér.
Shoes on The Danube Bank
One particularly poignant site along the Danube Promenade is the “Shoes on the Danube Bank” memorial. This heart-wrenching tribute consists of a row of metal shoes, representing the footwear left behind by Jewish victims who were shot and thrown into the river during World War II. The memorial serves as a somber reminder of the tragic events that took place in Budapest during the Holocaust.
Danube Promenade is a picturesque and scenic walkway that stretches along the banks of the Danube River in Budapest.
The promenade is also a popular starting point for Danube River cruises and boat tours. Various operators offer scenic cruises, dinner cruises, and nighttime sightseeing tours, providing a unique perspective of Budapest’s stunning architecture from the water.
Danube River Cruise
River Cruises are quite popular in Budapest. You can relax and enjoy live music as you glide past some of the city’s most notable landmarks such as Buda Castle, Chain Bridge, and Parliament Building to name a few while sipping on champagne or having your dinner.
Danube River Tours Worth Checking Out
Great Market Hall
The Great Market Hall, also known as the Central Market Hall or Nagyvásárcsarnok in Hungarian, is a vibrant and iconic market located in the heart of Budapest. It is one of the city’s most popular and bustling marketplaces, attracting both locals and tourists alike. The Great Market Hall is a must-visit destination for those seeking to immerse themselves in Hungarian culture, indulge in local flavors, and shop for authentic local goods.
You will find a variety of vendors selling handicrafts, souvenirs, clothing, jewelry, Hungarian embroidery, paprika, and other locally made products.
Tips for Visiting:
- The Great Market Hall is open from Monday to Saturday, but it’s best to visit in the morning for the freshest produce and a less crowded experience.
- Remember to haggle at the stalls selling non-food items, as bargaining is a common practice in Hungarian markets.
- Bring cash with you, as some smaller vendors may not accept credit cards.
Jewish Quarter: Dohany Street Synagogue
It is not only a place of worship but also a symbol of the rich Jewish heritage and resilience in Hungary. The Dohány Street Synagogue stands as a poignant testament to the vibrant Jewish heritage and a solemn reminder of the tragic history of Hungarian Jews during the Holocaust. The Dohány Street Synagogue is an architectural marvel, featuring stunning details, colorful decorations, and intricate motifs inspired by Islamic and Moorish designs.
Entry Fee: 5000 HUF (10% discount with Budapest Card)
In the evening, explore Budapest’s vibrant nightlife. Visit the famous ruin bars in the Jewish Quarter, such as Szimpla Kert or Instant, for a unique and lively experience.
Szimpla Kert is the first and most famous ruin bar in Budapest.
Buda Castle Funicular
The Buda Castle Funicular ride is a short but scenic ride that begins at the foot of Castle Hill, near the Adam Clark Square on the Buda side of the city. The vintage wooden carriages gently ascend along the 95-meter (312 feet) track, and passengers can reach the Buda castle and from there take a bus or walk to Fisherman’s Bastion.
Ticket Price: 3000 HUF (roundtrip)/ 2000 HUF (oneway)
Buda Castle is a historic castle complex located on Castle Hill in the Buda side of Budapest, Hungary. Over the centuries, it served as the residence for Hungarian kings and queens, underwent numerous renovations and expansions, and witnessed significant historical events, including battles and sieges. Budapest also has castle houses of the Hungarian National Gallery, the Budapest History Museum, and the Szechenyi Library.
It provides breathtaking panoramic views of Budapest of the Danube River, the Chain Bridge, and the magnificent Parliament Building on the Pest side of Budapest.
Situated adjacent to Matthias Church in the Buda Castle District, Fisherman’s Bastion is a stunning neo-Gothic terrace offering panoramic views of the Danube River and the Pest side of the city. It is one of the most popular places that needs to be a part of your Budapest travel itinerary.
Note: Try to visit this place during the Sunrise for beautiful pictures sans crowd.
How To Reach:
- Bus No. 16
- Buda Castle Bus
Buda Castle Bus & Public Transportation is free with the Budapest Card.
This stunning Gothic-style church is located in the heart of Buda’s Castle District, and its elegant architecture, rich history, and breathtaking interior.
Entry Fee: 2500 HUF
Entrance is free with the Budapest Plus Card.
Buda Tower is a 600 old year Tower located in the Castle district. It not just offers a panoramic view but also plays a significant part in Hungarian History. The tower was destroyed and seized multiple times. Today it stands as a testament to Hungarian history.
For information about opening hours and tickets click here.
Entry Fee: 1500 HUF
Entrance is free with the Budapest Card.
Saint Stephen’s Basilica
A grand neoclassical church in the heart of Budapest, St. Stephen’s Basilica boasts a remarkable dome that can be climbed to enjoy sweeping views of the city.
- Getting there – Bus line 16/109/990
- Entry Fee: 2000 HUF
Oldest Metro Line in Mainland Europe
The oldest metro line in mainland Europe is the M1 (Millennium Underground Railway) in Budapest, Hungary. It is a historic metro line that began its operation on May 2, 1896, making it one of the first underground railway systems in the world. M1 line is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Situated at the end of Andrássy Avenue, the square serves as a monumental gateway to City Park (Városliget) and is a symbol of Hungary’s rich history, culture, and national identity. The centerpiece of Heroes’ Square is the Millennium Monument, an imposing column topped by the Archangel Gabriel holding the Hungarian Holy Crown and the apostolic double cross.
Museum of Fine Arts
The Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest, Hungary, is a treasure trove of art and culture, showcasing an extensive collection of masterpieces from various eras and civilizations. Visitors can marvel at works from renowned artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Titian, El Greco, Rembrandt, Goya, Monet, Van Gogh, and many others. The Museum of Fine Arts is located in Heroes’ Square situated near other prominent attractions, such as the Hungarian Art Nouveau-style Hall of Art (Műcsarnok) and the Széchenyi Thermal Bath.
Entry Fee: 4800 HUF
Entrance is free with the Budapest Card.
City Park & Vajdahunyad Castle
Situated in the heart of Budapest’s City Park, Vajdahunyad Castle is a stunning example of architectural eclecticism, incorporating elements of Gothic, Romanesque, Renaissance, and Baroque styles, among others.
Hop into a hot air balloon for some of the best views of the City Park as well as Budapest from a height of 150 m.
As one of the largest and oldest thermal bath complexes in Europe, the Szechenyi Baths offers a captivating blend of relaxation, history, and cultural significance, and is one of the must-visit places that should be on your Budapest travel itinerary.
Tips for Visiting:
- The Szechenyi Thermal Baths can get crowded, especially during peak tourist seasons. Consider arriving early in the morning to avoid long queues.
- Towels, swimsuits, flip flops, and swim caps are available to buy at the baths if you don’t have your own.
- If you’re looking for a more tranquil experience, try visiting the baths on weekdays, as weekends can be busier.
Book your ticket here.
Other Thermal Baths & Spas
Szechenyi is not the only spa in Budapest. There are numerous spas in Budapest. Here are some of the thermal spas to check
- Gellert Baths
- Lukacs Baths – Smaller compared to Szechenyi but popular amongst locals. Entry to Lukacs Baths is free with a Budapest Card.
- Irgalmasok Veli Bej Baths
- Rudas Baths
Gellért Hill: Cave Church, Citadella & Gellert Baths
Gellért Hill offers some of the best panoramic views of Budapest. At the top, you can find the Citadella, a fortress-like structure, and the Liberty Statue, which towers over the city. Located at the bottom of Gellert Hill, Liberty Bridge is the shortest bridge in Budapest and it’s possibly the most beautiful bridge
Note: Visit this place during Sunset.
More Places for your Budapest Itinerary
- Margaret Island – It is a tranquil and picturesque island located in the heart of the Danube River. This lush green oasis spans approximately 2.5 kilometers (1.6 miles) in length and is a beloved recreational spot for both locals and visitors, offering a delightful escape from the bustling city.
- The House of Terror – The House of Terror is a museum and memorial. It is dedicated to the victims of the oppressive regimes that ruled Hungary during the 20th century.
- Szentendre – Nestled on the banks of the Danube River, Szentendre offers a delightful escape from the urban hustle and bustle, captivating visitors with its vibrant arts scene, historic architecture, and serene ambiance.
- Lake Balaton – Known as the Hungarian Sea, it is the largest freshwater lake in Central Europe.
Must Try Food
- Chimney Cake – Known as “kürtőskalács” in Hungarian is must must-try dessert.
- Esterhazy cake – Spiced buttercream layered with walnut dough and topped with icing.
- Chicken paprikash
- Flodni is a typical Jewish cake.
- Jokai Soup
Where to Stay in Budapest
The best neighborhoods to stay in Budapest are
- Castle Hill ( District I ) – The best place to stay if you want to be close to all the major tourist attractions.
- Terézváros (District VI)
- Belváros (Inner City / District V)
- Erzsébetváros (Jewish Quarter / District VII )- To experience the nightlife.
Insta Worthy & Popular Restaurants in Budapest
- Langos Papa – If you are looking for an authentic Hungarian restaurant.
- Gelato Rosa – Try their Rose-shaped ice creams.
- Ruszwurm is said to be the birthplace of the Hungarian Linzer cookie.
- New York Cafe – One of the prettiest cafes in the world.
Hope this post helps you in planning your Budapest travel itinerary.
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