Budapest, the Hungarian capital, is a stunning city full of history and culture. It is known for its iconic architectural wonders, such as the Chain Bridge, the Parliament Building and the Buda Castle. It also boasts a vibrant nightlife with its popping ruin bars and wild thermal bath parties. There is something for everyone here, no matter which activity you choose to partake in the city. If you’re planning a trip to this magical city and wondering what to do, here are the eleven top things to do in Budapest.
Things To Do In Budapest – Top 11
Glide along the Danube River
Among the best things to do in Budapest is cruising along the Danube River. This famous European waterway divides the city into two parts namely Buda and Pest. Along the way, you get to enjoy stunning views of castles, cathedrals, and monasteries in Buda and Pest. Look out for the Buda Castle and Fisherman’s Bastion on the Buda side and beautiful urban buildings and historical landmarks on the Pest side, such as St. Stephen’s Basilica.
You can take a leisurely cruise during the day or enjoy a romantic evening cruise with dinner for mesmeric sunset views.
Location: Mahart – International Passenger Port, Belgrad Rakpart, Pest, Hungary
Protip: You can choose from the numerous tour deals – Dinner, Sightseeing and Entertainment Cruises.
Visit the Hungarian Parliament Building
The impressive parliament building is one of the many iconic landmarks in the city. Take a guided tour, explore the grand halls, and learn about the history of Hungary, one of the top things to do in Budapest. Enjoy breathtaking views of the city from the terrace of the Parliament Building. Catch the sights of the Danube River, the Chain Bridge, the Neo-Gothic architecture, and the surrounding hills. It’s an excellent way to experience Budapest’s culture and history all in one place.
Location: Budapest, Kossuth Lajos tér 1-3, 1055 Hungary
Protip: A guided tour of 1 to 1.5 hours is the perfect way to see the parliament.
History at the Buda Castle
Buda Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a spectacular 13th-century palace atop Castle Hill. The Baroque and Gothic architecture of the castle is notably from the Middle Ages. You can explore the Hungarian National Gallery, the Budapest History Museum, and the Matthias Church within the castle walls. Book a guided tour of the castle and immerse yourself in Budapest’s history.
Buda Castle hosts several festivals all year, including an international wine festival, a beer festival, and a folk art festival.
Location: Budapest, Szent György tér 2, 1014 Hungary
Protip: You can time your trip according to the festivals to make the castle tour fulfilling.
Take a dip in Széchenyi Baths
Budapest’s Széchenyi offers tranquil relaxation and wellness services during the day. Indulge in the spa treatments, saunas, and massages inside the sprawling 20th-century building. Unwinding with the healing powers of the thermal waters is among the top things to do in Budapest.
But on a weekend night, the baths transform and become something more indulgent: Sparty. These night-time raves offer unlimited alcohol, live electronic music, and a fun-filled atmosphere.
Location: Budapest, Állatkerti krt. 9-11, 1146 Hungary
Protip: Visitors above the age of 18 years are allowed entry.
Enjoy a delicious Hungarian dish
Budapest city is popular for its flavorful dishes, including goulash (a beef and vegetable stew) and chimney cake (a pastry covered in cinnamon and sugar). Local wines are also worth trying, as Hungary is quite popular for its high-quality wines. Or you can source a Lángos, a traditional Hungarian snack from a street-side restaurant. Traditional Langos is a deep-fried, leavened bread topped with sour cream, cheese and garlic sauce. There are several popular restaurants in Budapest serving this local delicacy each offering its own unique variant of Langos.
Location: Central Market Hall, Budapest, Vámház krt. 1-3, 1093 Hungary
Protip: Street Food Karavan is an outdoor food market with a lineup of mobile food vans.
Wander the vibrant Jewish Quarter
Jewish Quarter is a historic district known for its ornate buildings, kosher restaurants, quirky bars and Jewish bookstores. There are also many landmarks associated with the Jewish community in this area. Visit the Great Synagogue, the Jewish Museum, and the Holocaust Memorial Center for a memorable day. Stroll through the historic Jewish quarter for its vibrant culture.
Also, check out the bars in abandoned buildings and courtyards, offering an excellent atmosphere for the perfect night of partying in Budapest.
Location: The inner part of Budapest’s District 7 — the area enclosed by Király Street, Erzsébet körút, Dohány Street, and Károly körút.
Protip: Experience the Szimpla Kert, a famous ruin bar and the Street Food Karavan.
You may also like: 15+ Top & Offbeat Things to do in Hungary
Buy a souvenir at the Great Market Hall
The Great Market Hall is a restored Neo-Gothic tunnel opened in 1897. It is full of fresh produce, traditional Hungarian ready-to-eat delicacies and souvenirs. The Market Hall offers an exceptional shopping experience, as the market lies in an elegant, historic building with a vibrant atmosphere. It is a great place to sample traditional Hungarian food, such as lángos, goulash, and strudel.
Additionally, you can shop for traditional Hungarian crafts and handmade items. The craftsmanship of these items is also a testament to the local culture and artistry of the community. On many Saturdays throughout the year in the market, one country (from Indonesia to Sweden) will showcase their products and travel destinations. Enjoy live music events and food tastings while connecting with the locals.
Location: Budapest, Vámház krt. 1-3, 1093 Hungary
Protip: The opening hours vary on Saturdays (6.00 am to 3 pm). The market is closed on Sundays.
Pay respect at the Heroes’ Square
Heroes Square is a large public square dedicated to the national heroes of Budapest. The square is home to a statue of Archangel Gabriel, standing 118 feet (36 metres) high. It is one of the most impressive monuments in the city and stands as a symbol of Hungary’s struggle for freedom and independence. The square comprises of two parts – a bronze statue of Archangel Gabriel and a granite pedestal that features the coats of arms of Hungary’s different regions.
It commemorates the thousandth anniversary of the establishment of the Hungarian state. It is also a site of national pride, celebrating the nation’s heroes and accomplishments.
Location: Budapest, Hősök tere, 1146 Hungary
Protip: The square is a 3-minute walk from the Museum of Fine Arts.
Take a tour of Castle Hill
Castle Hill is a historic district in Budapest and is home to many of the city’s most popular landmarks, including Buda Castle, Fisherman’s Bastion, and Matthias Church. You can spend a day exploring this area, taking in the stunning views of the city and soaking up the history. Through its famous landmarks, one may learn about some significant historical events and eras that have shaped the city via a guided tour. The walk up to Castle Hill is the most scenic, with the views of Pest and the Danube River below.
Location: Castle Hill, Castle District, Budapest, Hungary
Protip: The easiest way to reach Castle Hill is to take a funicular ride from Bud’s end of the Chain Bridge.
Absorb the beauty of the Hungarian State Opera House
The opera house is a stunning example of Neo-Renaissance architecture and is a must-see for anyone interested in the region’s art scene. The building has a grand marble staircase, ornate balconies and a breathtaking ceiling fresco. The interior is home to sculptures, frescoes and other works of art that truly capture the spirit of the opera house.
You may opt for a guided tour of the building or attend one of the many performances. These and some other are among the top things to do in Budapest.
Location: Budapest, Andrássy út 22, 1061 Hungary
Protip: You can purchase tickets at the ticket office in the Opera House.
Walk along the Danube Promenade
The Danube Promenade is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Budapest, Hungary. It comprises a series of paths and bridges connecting the two banks of the Danube River. Alongside you will find stunning buildings, monuments, and sculptures. You can enjoy the views of Buda Castle, the Citadel, Gellért Hill, and some of the city’s bridges as you walk its length. Unmissable is a trail of iron footwear on the promenade in memory of the thousands executed by the same river bank during World War II.
Restaurants, cafes, bars, casinos, and five-star hotels also line the walkway. Take in the scenery from the benches alongside for a relaxing experience. This picturesque walkway, along the Danube River, also offers stunning views of Budapest’s skyline.
Location: Budapest, 1052 Hungary
Protip: Skip the queue by booking your tour in advance.