Country Guide

Best Things to do in Budapest – The Ultimate Bucket List

Budapest, the capital of Hungary, is a city soaked in history, architectural marvels, and a vibrant cultural scene. Often referred to as the “Paris of the East,” Budapest offers something for everyone, from history buffs and art enthusiasts to relaxation seekers and partygoers.

Whether you’re fascinated by the grandeur of Buda Castle District or attracted by the unique experience of ruin bars, Budapest promises an unforgettable experience. The following destinations has some of the best things to do in Budapest:

Heroes Square

It is at the end of Andrássy Avenue, Budapest’s Champs-Élysées. The avenue lies Heroes’ Square, a grand plaza that commemorates Hungary’s millennium.

  • Activities: Admire the Millenium Monument and surrounding statues, and explore the Museum of Fine Arts and Kunsthalle Budapest for an artistic experience.
  • Highlights: Millenium Monument (Hungarian historical figures), Museum of Fine Arts (Hungarian and international art), Kunsthalle Budapest (contemporary art).
  • Tips: Combine a visit to Heroes’ Square with a stroll down Andrássy Avenue, stopping at cafes or shops along the way. Check the museum opening hours before your visit.

House of Terror

The House of Terror was the old HQ of the fascist Arrow Cross Party. It was also used by the communist Hungarian State Police. It sheds light on a dark time in Hungary’s 20th-century history.

  • Activities: Take a guided tour to learn about Hungary’s totalitarian regimes and explore exhibits showcasing artifacts and personal stories.
  • Highlights: Exhibits on fascist and communist regimes, historical artifacts, and stories of victims.
  • Tips: The House of Terror can be a sobering experience. Prepare for potentially disturbing content, especially if traveling with young children.

Buda Castle District

Atop Castle Hill lies the Buda Castle District. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site full of history, was once the seat of Hungarian kings, and offers stunning views of the city.

  • Activities: Explore Buda Castle, visit the Hungarian National Gallery, take a walk through the Castle Hill Labyrinth, and admire the Matthias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion.
  • Highlights: Buda Castle (former royal residence), Hungarian National Gallery (art collection), Matthias Church (Gothic architecture), Fisherman’s Bastion (panoramic views).
  • Tips: Wear comfortable shoes to explore the hilly area. Purchase a Budapest Card for free entry to many attractions and discounted public transportation.

Szechenyi Baths

Budapest has the largest thermal bath complex in Europe, the Szechenyi Baths. The baths are built in a neo-Renaissance style. They offer a haven of relaxation with 18 pools, each one having a different temperature and healing properties.

  • Activities: Soak in indoor and outdoor thermal pools, get a massage treatment, try a traditional Hungarian mud wrap, and relax in saunas and steam rooms.
  • Highlights: Large variety of pools, neo-Renaissance architecture, massage and spa treatments.
  • Tips: Arrive early to avoid crowds, especially on weekends. Purchase a locker and bathing suit if needed. Bring a towel and flip-flops.

Gellért Baths

Nestled at the foot of Gellért Hill, the Gellért Baths offer a luxurious thermal bath experience. The Art Nouveau architecture is adorned with mosaics and sculptures. It creates a stunning backdrop for relaxation.

  • Activities: Enjoy the thermal pools, saunas, steam rooms, and plunge pool, and admire the Art Nouveau architecture.
  • Highlights: Art Nouveau architecture, thermal pools, saunas, steam rooms.
  • Tips: Consider purchasing a combined ticket for access to both the baths and the Gellért Hill lookout for panoramic views.

Ruin Bars

Budapest is renowned for its unique ruin bars, which are a must-visit for any nightlife enthusiast. These bars are set up in abandoned buildings, often featuring eclectic decor, quirky themes, and a vibrant atmosphere.

  • Activities: Explore the different ruin bars, each with its own unique character. Sip on Hungarian craft beers and cocktails, enjoy live music or DJ sets, and socialize with locals and fellow travelers.
  • Highlights: Eclectic decor, quirky themes, vibrant atmosphere, Hungarian craft beers and cocktails, live music.
  • Tips: The ruined bar scene can get crowded, especially on weekends. Arrive early or be prepared to wait in line. Dress comfortably for a casual night out.

Central Market Hall

The Central Market Hall is a foodie paradise. It’s a three-story building. It’s filled with Hungarian specialties that will make your taste buds taste heaven.

  • Activities: Sample local delicacies like langos, goulash, chimney cakes, and Hungarian paprika. Go through stalls selling souvenirs, handcrafted items, and fresh produce. Don’t forget to enjoy a traditional Hungarian lunch at one of the market’s eateries.
  • Highlights: Hungarian food and delicacies, souvenirs and handicrafts, fresh produce, and traditional restaurants.
  • Tips: Arrive early for the freshest selection of produce. Be prepared to bargain at some stalls. Consider taking a guided food tour to dive deeper into Hungarian cuisine.

Rudas Baths

For a more traditional Turkish bath experience, head to the Rudas Baths. The baths were built in the 16th century. They feature an octagonal pool with a large dome, smaller pools with varying temperatures, and a rooftop terrace with city views.

  • Activities: Experience the traditional Turkish bath rituals, soak in the thermal pools, relax in saunas, and enjoy the rooftop terrace views.
  • Highlights: Octagonal pool with dome, traditional Turkish bath experience, rooftop terrace views.
  • Tips: Rudas Baths are known for their separate days for men and women. Check the schedule before your visit.

Hungarian Parliament Building

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Hungarian Parliament Building is a marvel of neo-Gothic architecture. It houses the Hungarian National Assembly.

  • Activities: Take a guided tour to explore the grand halls, staircases, and Hungarian Crown Jewels. Enjoy an evening cruise on the Danube for a captivating view of the Parliament Building illuminated against the night sky.
  • Highlights: Neo-Gothic architecture, Hungarian Crown Jewels, guided tours, Danube River cruises.
  • Tips: Book your guided tour in advance, especially during peak season.

Stephen’s Basilica

The largest church in Budapest, St. Stephen’s Basilica, is a neo-Classical masterpiece. It is named after Stephen, the first king of Hungary.

  • Activities: Climb the dome for breathtaking panoramic views of the city. Explore the ornate interior with its beautiful frescoes, sculptures, and the mummified hand of St. Stephen. Attend a classical music concert held occasionally in the basilica.
  • Highlights: Neo-Classical architecture, dome with panoramic views, ornate interior, mummified hand of St. Stephen.
  • Tips: Be aware of the dress code for entering the basilica (no shorts or sleeveless shirts). Consider attending a concert for a unique experience.

Ending Note

This guide is a glance into Budapest’s treasures and merely scratches the surface of what this city has to offer. From exploring the Buda Hills for panoramic vistas to indulging in a traditional Hungarian meal at the Central Market Hall, Budapest is a city that begs to be explored.

So, pack your bags, lace up your shoes, and get ready to discover the magic that awaits you in Budapest!

Kristina Clark

A self-proclaimed "citizen of the world," Kristina Clark has a deep passion for immersing themselves in different cultures. With a focus on in-depth country guides.

Kristina Clark

A self-proclaimed "citizen of the world," Kristina Clark has a deep passion for immersing themselves in different cultures. With a focus on in-depth country guides.
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