Budapest, the capital city of Hungary, consists of 3 cities. Buda and Obuda lie on the west bank of the Danube, and Pest on the east bank. Budapest is considered as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe by its tourists. Many places in Budapest have been granted the status of World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Budapest is a city where you can witness a fascinating history with an excellent and laid-back modern artistic style. If you are planning to visit Budapest, you are in for a ride. The visitors can see a range of different things from thermal spas to museums. Every visitor will be able to find things that suits their fantasy. Below mentioned are the best things to explore in Budapest.
Built in the Gothic Revival style, this Hungarian Parliament Building is one of the largest building in Hungary. This designer building has hundreds of parliamentary offices. The Parliament Building looks impressive and fantastic from every angle. One can witness the best view of the building from the other side of the Danube where you can see the whole building in its full glory.
Certain areas of the building are restricted for visitors while tours of some areas are available every day. You will be required to show your identity proof to enter the building and your bags will also be searched before you enter. Tour guides are available in different languages. A guided tour can also be booked online.
The Gellert Baths was originally constructed between 1912 and 1918. It is styled as an Art Nouveau. During the World War II, the building was seriously damaged. In 2008, the whole spa was renovated extensively to make it as glorious as it used to be. Gellert Bath and Spa center is one of the grandest spas in the city. It has an open-air pool which converts into a wave pool, a sparkling swimming pool, a Finnish sauna, and plunge pools and a range of different saunas to relax.
In Gellert Baths you can enjoy the amazing massages and other spa treatments with an extra charge. The baths are opened all week for its guests for mixed bathing.
Home to an iconic monument, Heroes’ Square marks the end of Andrassy Avenue. The feature of this building depicts the Seven Chieftains of the Magyars. They are believed to have led the Hungarian people to the Carpathian basin from central Asia.
The Hungarian crown is held by the Archangel Gabriel at the top of the central pillar. Heroes’ Square is a historical monument with two matching colonnades at either side of the central column. These colonnades represent a variety of other historical Hungarian figures. These impressive buildings have art galleries which are at either side of the square. Be careful while crossing the statue as there is a lot of traffic around the monument.
Situated in the middle of the Danube, Margaret Island is a 2.5-kilometer island. It is covered in parkland and has various recreational facilities. Margaret Island is famous for its music fountain. Water from this fountain regularly dances to coordinate with the classical music. Another spectacular feature of this island is the medieval ruins and small aviary. It primarily caters for water birds and wildfowl who get injured.
To make it easy for you to explore the island, various companies rent pedal carts, golf carts, and other self-driven vehicles. The Margaret Island is encircled by a rubber-coated 5.5-kilometer running track. It is a popular jogging spot for localities who want to get away from the busy life of the city.
Danube walkway stretches from Elizabeth Bridge to the Chain Bridge. This walkway is interesting for those people who want a short yet interesting walk. While promenading along the Danube you can see many famous sights in the capital city. Looking towards the Buda side of the river, you can see the Buda castle, the Liberty Statue on Gellert Hill, and the Fisherman’s Bastion.
The Danube Promenade has many restaurants and cafes for you to enjoy. You can also see the Szechenyi Istvan Square and range of different sculptures which also includes the Little Princess. The Danube has a perfect river cruise where you can enjoy a fun dinner and folk show with gypsy music. The cruise can also be booked online.
During the 20th century, Hungary was ruled by Fascist and Communist regimes. The House of Terror holds exhibitions about these successive regimes. Earlier this building was a headquarters of the Fascist Arrow Cross party. Later the building was used as a prison and torture venture by the State Security services of Hungary.
The exhibition at this building gives information about both regimes and also has the testimonials from some of the victims. Apart from these exhibitions about the fascist and communist security services, other temporary exhibitions are also hosted at this building. Some of the prison area in the basement is open for tourists to visit.
St. Stephen’s Basilica is considered as the most important religious building in Hungary. Since it is a holy building, the visitors who enter the church are requested to cover their knees and shoulders before entering. Those who visit the shrine can see the right hand of Stephen, the first king of Hungary.
Those visitors who are not afraid of heights, can travel up to the base of the dome and have a mesmerizing view of the city. On a clear day, the base of the dome is the best vantage point from which you can see the Budapest from the air. Classical music concerts and organ concerts are a part of daily routine inside the Basilica. Sometimes their concerts take place in the square outside. Organ concert in the Basilica can be booked online.
The Hungarian State Opera House is a Neo-Renaissance building which was initially opened in 1884 followed by a commission from Emperor Franz Joseph. Outside the building, statues of Ferenc Erkel, composer of the Hungarian National Anthem, and Ferenc Liszt, Hungarian composer, can be seen. The State Opera House’s auditorium has 1200 seats and is considered to be one of the best operatic houses with outstanding performances. You would not regret buying a ticket to its show.
The starting price of the tickets to the opera house is 500 ft. if you are unable to book a show, you can always go for a guided tour in the Opera House which is available during the day. These guided tours also need to be booked in advance.
Fisherman’s Bastion was built in early 20th century, but it gives a look of a medieval monument. This neo-Gothic styled building gives a panoramic view of the Danube, Margaret Island, and the Pest. The seven towers present at the Bastion represent the seven Magyar tribes. These seven tribes helped the Magyar people to settle in the Carpathian Basin.
Fisherman’s Bastion got its name after the Guild of Fishermen who were protected and defend that stretch of the city walls during the Middle Ages. The best time during the day to visit this place is at sunset. You can see a scenic view of the city at that time.
The Invisible Exhibition aims to give an extraordinary experience to its visitors. They give a chance to make people understand the life of a blind person. You will be taken on tour by a registered blind guide. He will take you through various different and artificially created environments like garden, supermarket, bar et cetera. The extraordinary thing about this place is that all these artificially created environment are in completely dark rooms.
When you arrive at the Invisible Exhibition, you will have to turn off all the potential light sources like mobile phones, digital watches, et cetera, so that no light enters in any of the rooms. After this wonderful experience, you can enjoy your dinner in the dark which is served by blind waiters. They will also help and guide you to find your way around the dinner table.
Faust Wine Cellar is a historic wine cellar located underneath the Buda Castle. It is perfect place to try out wines from 22 different Hungarian wine regions. You can also try some traditional Hungarian fruit palinka. You will also be given full information about the wine and tasting notes by a sommelier. This helps you to get the most out of each sip of wine you taste.
There are many wine tastings programs available with different time slots and the amount you want to spend. You are advised to book your visit beforehand to not miss this great opportunity.
Home to many Communist monuments and statues, Momento Park is a wonderful sculpture park. The monuments and the statues dotted the city during the Communist Era. Later these statues were removed either by the government because of decommunization process or were forcibly removed by the Hungarian people during the protest at the previous regime.
In 1993, the park was opened and became a place to display some of these monuments. The history of the city is showcased through these sculptures. There is also a small museum in the park which has temporary exhibitions about how people lived during the communist regime. It also shares information about the Hungarian Secret Police.
Dohany Street Synagogue is one of the largest synagogues in the world outside of Israel though Hungary’s Jewish population was depleted during the World War II. The interiors of the building and the garden was restored in 1990s. It was largely funded from the Hungarian Jewish diaspora population worldwide.
There is a weeping willow memorial in the garden where the metal leaves bear the names of some of the people who were killed during the war. A memorial for Swedish diplomat Roual Wallenberg is also constructed. He helped in saving hundreds of Hungarian Jews from concentration camps and ghettos.
Ecseri Flea Market is the best market to shop on the outskirts of the city. You will find a range of treasures to shop from, but you will have to search for them through stalls which are piled up with things which you might consider as trash. These stalls have a variety of things ranging from retro clothing to memorabilia from the Communist era. You can bargain but be ready to pay more if you are not a local.
Even if you do not plan to shop, you can wander in the market for hours admiring the past owners of this bric-a-brac.
Budapest is known for its ruin pubs. These pubs are elegantly shabby. You will find the best ruin pubs in sprawling and deserted buildings. These pubs have worn out furniture which are very comfortable. Each pub has its own specialty which suits to different tourists.
Many people will recommend different pubs where they enjoy the most. Most popular ruins pubs among these are Instant, the one with the crazy animal picture, Fogas Haz, the one with the teeth, Kuplung, the one with the whale, and Szimpla.
The Great Market Hall is the most famous marketplace in Budapest. It is located in central Budapest. The central Market Hall is incredibly famous among the tourists. Local people go there to buy their groceries.
Fruits and vegetables which are grown locally are found here. On the lower floors you will find locally sourced meat. Souvenirs like lace, chess sets, and leather goods are available on the upper floors. Tourists can pick up some homemade local delicacies like goulash and langos which are all available on the food stall upstairs.
Buda Castle Hill Funicular was opened in 1870. It is the second oldest funicular in the world of this type. Carriage is raised up and down the hill through a system of weights and counterweights. The funicular is the fastest mode through which you can reach the top of the Castle Hill and enjoy the panoramic view of the Danube.
To let passengers, enjoy their ride and the mesmerizing view, the speed of the ascent was slowed down in 1988. Buda Castle Hill track is opened till 10 pm. You can enjoy the beautiful view of the Pest at night.
The Buda Hills is a popular place among the citizens who want to take a break from their busy city life. It is one of the greenest areas in the city. Tourists who want to spend their time leisurely can visit the Children’s Railway. Children aged between 10 to 14 work there with some adult staff who take care of the safety.
You can enjoy the hiking trails and mountain bike path which comes in all levels of difficulty from easy to medium. There is also a picnic spot for you to enjoy a lovely lunch.
Andrassy Avenue has an interesting cultural heritage attached to it and was declared as a World Heritage Site in 2002. This amazing avenue takes its visitors from Erzsebet Square in the central Pest to the City Park. You can see a number of Budapest’s different architectural styles while taking a walk down Andrassy. The sites which you can enjoy includes the Hungarian National Opera House, neo-renaissance townhouses and mansions, and many different national embassies.
If you do not wish to walk down the boulevard, you can use the metro line underneath the Avenue which is the third oldest underground railway in the world.
After the transition to democracy, very few prominent Communist statues remained in situ. The Liberty Statue on Gellert Hill is one of them. It has an iconic location which overlooks the city. The statue was constructed in 1947 to honor the Soviet troops who lost their lives fighting for the country. The engraving was later changed to “all who sacrificed their lives for the independence, freedom, and prosperity of Hungary”.
What makes the walk to the top of the hill worthy is the panoramic view from underneath statue. It is truly mesmerizing.
Citadel is situated atop Gellert Hills and was constructed by the Hapsburgs after the failed Hungarian War of Independence. It was strategically constructed in such a way to make it a prime position that would make it easy to control both Bud and Pest if any uprising occurred in the future. Till 1897 troops were stationed there. During the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, the fortress was used to control the city. Tanks present at the Citadel was used to fire down on the city. The Citadel has now been converted into a restaurant, a hotel, and a museum.
This medicinal bath center is the largest bath complex in Europe. Sulphates, calcium, magnesium, bicarbonate, and fluoride are found abundantly in the water. Patients who have degenerative joint illness and other medical issues are believed to have gained relief here.
Tourists who want to enjoy the relaxing powers of the thermal pools can simply relax in any of the different thermal pools present on site. They can also relax in saunas and steam rooms. By giving an additional fee, massages and body treatments can also be enjoyed.
There are two outdoor pools. During a cold, dark night, the steam rising from the hot water makes the whole place mesmerizing and is a perfect place to relax.
The citizens of Budapest spend their leisure time in this wonderful City Park. Here you can enjoy sports facility, swimming baths, and a boating lake. During winters, the boasting lake transforms into an ice rink making it one of the largest ice rinks in Europe. In the City Park, you can also find Budapest Municipal Zoo and Botanical Gardens, the Budapest Circle, and the Vajdahunyad Castle.
The Time Wheel is just outside of the park. It is one of the largest sand timers in the world. The special feature about this sand timer is that all of the grains of the glass take exactly 1 year to fall from the top section to the bottom. The timer gets rotated every New Year.
Hungarian National Museum is a marvelous Neoclassical museum building. In this museum you can find thousands of exhibits which shows in detail the history, art, religion, and archaeology of the country. There is art from those areas also which are now considered to be outside Hungary’s borders. If you do not want to see the exhibition, you can enjoy looking at this spectacular building from outside.
The building also has a peaceful garden outside. It is popular meeting spot in Budapest and people enjoy going there during summer months.
Where Budapest stands today was earlier a Roman city called Aquincum. It was an important military base during the ancient Roman empire. If you visit this museum, you will get a chance to experience and explore Hungary’s ancient history.
You can walk around some of the ruins like the ancient gladiatorial amphitheater and the city bathhouse. There are various Roman relics present in the museum. In 1931, a working replica of famous water organ was discovered here.