Updated on January 7, 2023 by Mike
This is a list of the best things to do in Budapest. Due to the fact that Budapest was heavily bombed in World War 2, many of its buildings and streets had to be restored. Today Budapest has a lot to offer with its glorious boulevard-style streets and world-class museums. Some of the best things to do in Budapest are unique tourist attractions such as its Turkish Baths and visiting a Ruin Bar.
20 Best Things to do in Budapest
1. The Chain Bridge
The Széchenyi Chain Bridge which connects Buda and Pest is a suspension bridge. It was Budapest's first permanent bridge across the Danube, which opened in 1849. It was considered one of the world's greatest engineering wonders at the time of its completion and is today one of Budapest's most well-known sights.
2. Buda Castle
Buda Castle is the historic Hungarian kings' castle and palace complex in Budapest. Although it was completed in 1265, the huge Baroque palace that now occupies the most of the site was constructed between 1749 and 1769. Previously, the complex was known as either the Royal Palace or the Royal Castle. The Hungarian National Gallery and the Budapest History Museum are also located within the castle.
The funicular is the quickest way to get to the Castle. It is the world's second-oldest funicular, having opened in 1870, and has grown in popularity as a result of its panoramic views over the Danube and the city skyline.
- Address: Kapistrán tér 1
- Opening Hours: Open daily from 10 am to 8 pm
- Admission Fees: 1400 HUF (approx €4)
3. Hungarian Parliament Building
The Hungarian Parliament Building is the seat of the National Assembly of Hungary, a famous landmark of Budapest. It is located on the Danube's banks. The Parliament Building, which is also Hungary's tallest building, is the country's largest and tallest structure. It was designed and erected in the Gothic Revival style, with a totally symmetrical front facade.
- Address: Kossuth Lajos tér 1-3
- Opening Hours: Mon to Fri 8 am to 6 pm, Sat & Sun 8 am to 4 pm
- Admission Fees: 2520HUF (€7.25)
4. Gellért Baths
The Gellért Thermal Baths and Swimming Pool is one of Budapest's most opulent bath complexes. The bath complex was erected in the Art Nouveau style between 1912 and 1918, but it was damaged during World War II and had to be repaired. Saunas and plunge pools, an open-air swimming pool (with artificial waves), an effervescent swimming pool, a Finnish sauna, and a variety of other Spa treatments are all part of the complex. In 2008, the spa complex was completely refurbished.
- Address: Kelenhegyi út 4
- Opening Hours: Open daily from 9 am to 7 pm
- Admission Fees: 5,900 HUF (€17.00) on weekdays and HUF 6,100 (€17.50) on weekends
5. Heroes Square
Heroes' Square (Hosök tere) is one of Budapest's most important squares. A statue complex with the Seven Chieftains of the Magyars, various prominent Hungarian national leaders, and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier can be found in the square. It is one of Budapest's most popular tourist attractions, located at the end of Andrassy Avenue. The area has played a significant role in Hungarian history and has hosted numerous political events, including the reburial of Imre Nagy (a former Prime Minister of Hungary who was executed in 1958 while Hungary was under communist rule) in 1989.
6. Margaret Island
Margaret Island is a 500-meter-wide island in the middle of the Danube that is 2.5 kilometres long and 500 meters wide at its widest point. It is primarily covered by landscape parks and is a popular recreational destination. The "music fountain," where the water of the fountain occasionally dances in sync with classical music, is its most famous sight. The 1973 Centennial Memorial, a tiny zoo with a vast variety of exotic "waterfowl," and a Water Tower are among the island's other attractions. The Margaret Bridge connects Margaret Island to both Buda and Pest.
7. Danube Promenade
The Danube Promenade runs along the Danube's western bank from the Széchenyi Chain Bridge to the Elizabeth Bridge on Budapest's Pest side. In the late 1800s, a series of hotels were built here. The Hungaria, Bristol, Carlton, and Ritz were among them, but most of them were destroyed by World War II bombs. In 1969, the last of these historic hotels were demolished.
It's an excellent opportunity to explore some of Budapest's most iconic landmarks by strolling down the Promenade. Buda Castle, the Liberty Statue on Gellert Hill, and the Fisherman's Bastion may all be seen from the Buda side of the Danube. There are many restaurants and cafes on the Danube Promenade side of the river nowadays, as well as Szechenyi Istvan Square and other tourist attractions such as the "Shoes on the Danube Promenade."
8. Széchenyi Thermal Baths
The Széchenyi Baths complex is Europe's largest medical bath complex. It gets its water from two thermal springs. The bath, which is located in City Park, was constructed in the Neo-Baroque style and first opened its doors in 1913. The complex was expanded to its current size in 1927, with three outdoor pools and fifteen inside pools. The Széchenyi bath was entirely renovated between 1999 and 2009.
- Address: Állatkerti krt. 9-11
- Opening Hours: Monday - Sunday 9 am to 7 pm.
- Admission Fees: €24 (All Day Pass)
9. St. Stephens Basilica
The largest church in Budapest, St. Stephen’s Basilica, is named after Hungary's first king, St. Stephen. The Basilica has some unique features, such as St. Stephen's mummified right hand and magnificent interior architecture. While the church hosts a huge number of Catholic mass services, it also serves as a concert venue.
- Address: Szent István tér 1
- Opening Hours: Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5 pm, Saturdays 9 am to 1 pm, Sundays 1 pm to 5 pm
- Admission Fees: Free but it’s customary to give a 200 HUF (€1) donation.
10. Fishermans Bastion
Fisherman's Bastion (Halászbástya) is a neo-Gothic and neo-Romanesque terrace on the Buda Castle Hill on the Danube's Buda bank. The Bastion's seven towers represent the seven Magyar tribes that assisted in the settlement of the Magyar people in the Carpathian Basin (current day Budapest). The Danube river, Margaret Island, and the Pest side of the city can all be seen from Fisherman's Bastion.
11. Memento Park
Memento Park is a park with sculptures and engraved plaques from Hungary's Communist era (1949–1989). Several Hungarian Communist leaders, as well as Lenin, Marx, and Engels are commemorated with sculptures. After Hungary's communist system fell in 1989, most of the country's communist-era statues and monuments were demolished almost immediately. The current collection of statues you'll see throughout the park is based on them. The entrance fee to the park costs 1,500 HUF (€7.50).
12. Ruin Pubs
Ruin Bars first to spring up in dilapidated buildings in District VII of Budapest. District VII had been the Jewish Quarter and during World War 2 it was the Jewish Getto. After the Jews were deported out of the Getto, their buildings were left to rot and most of them were not restored during the communist era. The first ruin bar opened in the city was Szimpla in 2002 and it's still going strong to this day. Other notable ruin bars are Instant (which takes an entire building), Fogasház, Mazel Tov, Doboz and Grandio (ruin bar and hostel in one). For more information on check out my post on the best ruin bars in Budapest.
13. Central Market Hall
Central Market Hall often known as the Great Market Hall, is Budapest's largest and oldest indoor market. It is located near Fvám plaza, at the end of the famous pedestrian shopping boulevard Váci Utca. Tourists flock to the market since it is located in the heart of Budapest. The opening hours are 6 am to 5 pm Monday, from 6 am to 6 pm Tuesday to Friday, from 6 am to 3 pm on Saturday and it's closed on Sundays.
- Address: Vámház krt. 1-3
- Opening Hours: Mon 6 am to 5 pm, Tues - Fri 6 am to 6 pm, Sat 6 am to 3 pm
The stronghold at the top of Gellért Hill is known as the Citadella. Following the failure of the Hungarian War of Independence, the Hapsburgs built it. Citadella is a key military position since it looks down on both Buda and Pest, making it simpler to handle future confrontations. Until 1897, Hapsburg troops were stationed there. During the 1956 Hungarian Uprising, when Nationalists attempted to overthrow the Communist government, Soviet troops took the Citadella and fired rockets into Budapest.
15. River cruise on the Danube
See the sights of Budapest from the River Danube on a sightseeing cruise, and even enjoy a cocktail or soft drink along the way. Glide past landmark monuments such as Buda Castle, National Parliament, Buda Castle, the Várkert Bazár and the Vigado Concert Hall.
16. Dohány Street Synagogue
The Dohány Street Synagogue (Dohány utcai zsinagóga) is a historical building in Erzsébetváros, Budapest's 7th district, commonly known as the Great Synagogue or Tabakgasse Synagogue. It is Europe's largest and the world's second-largest synagogue. It has a capacity of 3,000 people and is a Neolog Judaism centre.
The synagogue was built in the Moorish Revival style between 1854 and 1859, with décor based mostly on Islamic models from North Africa and medieval Spain (the Alhambra Palace). Ludwig Förster, a Viennese architect, created the synagogue.
The Great Synagogue, the Heroes' Temple, the graveyard, the Memorial, and the Jewish Museum are all part of the Dohány Street Synagogue complex.
- Address: Dohány u. 2
- Opening Hours: Sun to Thurs 10 am to 6 pm, Fri 10 am to 4 pm, closed Sat
- Admission Fees: 5000 HUF (€14.40), this price includes admission to the Synagogue & the Jewish Museum & Archives
17. Take a day trip to Szentendre
Szentendre is a picturesque riverside town in Pest County, Hungary, located 30 Km from Budapest. Due to its historic architecture and easy rail and river access, it has become a very popular day-trip destination for tourists staying in Budapest. There are many souvenir shops and restaurants that cater to tourists.
18. Museum of Fine Arts
The Museum of Fine Arts (Szépművészeti Múzeum) is a museum in Budapest's city center, located on Heroes' Square and facing the Palace of Art. Between 1900 and 1906, it was constructed.
The museum's collection contains about 100,000 items of world art, including works from all periods of European art. The Egyptian, Antique, Old Sculpture Gallery, Old Master Paintings Gallery, Modern collection, and Graphics collection are the six divisions that make up the Museum's collection.
- Address: Dózsa György út 41
- Opening Hours: Fri to Sun 10 am to 6 pm
- Admission Fees: 1600 HUF (€4.60)
19. Budapest Ferris Wheel
The new Ferris Wheel opened on Erzsébet Square in mid-march 2017 and it is opened all year round including holiday periods. It is open for business from 10 am to 11 pm every day. At 65 metres at its highest point, it is the largest Ferris wheel in Europe.
- Address: Erzsébet tér 1051
- Opening Hours: Mon to Sun 12 noon to 11 pm
- Admission Fees: €10 for adults and €5 for kids (2 to 12 years)
20. Viennese style Coffee Houses
By far the most spectacular of these Coffee Houses is New York Café. This café is cited as a ‘must-see’ coffee house. The café is part of a 4 story building that was built by the New York Life Insurance Company in Italian renaissance style (hence the name). The café is on the ground floor. It was also a favourite among Hungarian writers. World War II and Communism left the building in ruins until Italian hotel chain Boscolo Hotels bought the building and restored it to its former glory. They transformed it a 5-star hotel that opened in 2007.
I hope that you enjoyed our list of the best things to do in Budapest. These are in no particular order, as they are all good in their own unique way.
Book Your Trip to Budapest
Book Your Accommodation
To book a hostel in Budapest, always use HostelWorld to get the best possible price. Below is a selection of my favourite hostels in Budapest.
- Hostel One Budapest - Best overall hostel in Budapest.
- Hostel One Basilica - Best hostel for solo travellers.
- Fifth Hostel - Best cheap hostel in Budapest.
- Grandio Party Hostel - Best party hostel in Budapest.
Recommended Tours in Budapest
I recommend GetYourGuide for Tours. They offer highly unique tours with Local Guides. Below is a selection of some of the most interesting tours in Budapest.
- Small Group Ruin Bar Tour - Wander through Budapest's historic Jewish Quarter, stopping in some of the city's most well-known ruin pubs.
- Széchenyi Spa Full-Day Entrance Pass - Skip the queue at Budapest's world-famous thermal spring spa, Széchenyi Bath. It is Europe's largest thermal spring bath complex, with three outdoor and 15 indoor pools.
- 1-Hour Sightseeing Cruise with Welcome Drink - On a 1-hour sightseeing cruise along the Danube, take in the sights of Budapest while sipping a seasonal cocktail or soft drink.
- St Stephen's Basilica Tour with Tower Access - Skip the queue and experience panoramic views of Budapest on a guided tour of Saint Stephen's Basilica, which includes an exclusive visit to the dome.
- Original Budapest Pub Crawl and VIP Club Entrance - Discover Budapest's best ruin bars on this 4-hour pub crawl through the city centre, followed by VIP access to one of the city's top clubs!
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, cancellations and much more. I recommend World Nomads Travel Insurance.
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above may be affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, HG earns a commission if you make a purchase. Your support is much appreciated and helps to keep the site going.
THANKS FOR READING
Hi, I'm Michael McGuinness and the guy behind the scenes of HG. I'm a professional web developer, blogger, digital nomad and parent. I've been travelling the world with my wife and young son since 2012.