Recently Budapest has become one of the more popular tourist destinations in Europe. It might not be as crowded as Rome or Paris, but it’s getting there. It is no wonder that Budapest is growing popular among the tourists; the city has lots to offer, it is quite easy to travel here, and it is still not as expensive as Paris, Barcelona, or other popular tourist cities. To help you better navigate this beautiful capital of Hungary, I wrote the complete guide to Budapest with a list of things to do and many other tips.
Hungary is the home country of the very popular European low cost airline Wizz Air. Therefore, there are always tons of flights that go to Budapest from pretty much every country in Europe.
If you choose Wizz Air remember, that because it’s a low cost airline, you will have to pay separately for your check in bag. If you are traveling with just a carry on, Wizz Air will probably be the cheapest option for you.
Hungary, like a lot of countries in Europe, has a rough winter season. So, unless you are coming to Hungary during magical Christmas time, you probably should choose a warmer period (April – October) for visiting this part of Europe.
The city of Budapest is divided by the river into two parts: Buda and Pest. And although Buda has a few important historical sites that you will want to visit like Buda castle or Fisherman’s Bastion, you will want to stay on the opposite side of the river – Pest.
Pest is where everything happens. The most popular bars and restaurants, and most of the more enjoyable spots are located in Pest. If you are staying in the center of Pest, you don’t need to use public transport, you can get everywhere within a 30 minute walk (maximum).
We stayed at the Leonardo Boutique Hotel in Budapest, click here to read the full review.
Hungary is very famous for its paprika. Therefore, besides all the standard souvenirs that you can bring from a new country, Hungary is the place that offers a wide selection of paprika spice, different spicy and non spicy sauces, oils and other things that are based on paprika.
For those who have a sweet tooth, Budapest has good chocolate as well. All of these things you can find at the Great Market in Pest.
Buda castle is a 13th century structure that is located atop of the Castle hill. It is one of the must visit places in Budapest. In the castle you will find an art gallery, a castle museum, and a library. It’s a great place to get cultured.
However, for me the best thing about Buda castle was the amazing view from the walls of the castle. It is a great spot to take beautiful photos of Budapest, and especially of the Parliament building across the street.
To get to Buda castle you can go by walking up the Castle hill, or by funicular. I would recommend you to take the funicular, since it is also a thing to do in Budapest and then just walk down the hill after visiting the castle and Fisherman’s Bastion.
To get on the castle grounds you don’t need to pay any fee. You can walk along the castle wall and explore the courtyard absolutely for free. However, to visit the art gallery or the castle museum, you will have to pay. Same goes for the funicular. To get up or down by the funicular you will have to pay 2800 HUF (around $8) one way.
Price: free to visit the premises
Fisherman’s Bastion is a 19th century fortress built to celebrate the Hungarian state birthday. It is located just a few minutes walk from the Buda castle.
People mostly visit this place to take pictures. The fortress looks like a Disney or Harry Potter castle and has 7 lookout towers where you can enjoy a great view.
Usually Fisherman’s Bastion is quite crowded during the day, so if you want to enjoy this sight without big crowds, it is better to visit it in the morning.
At the Fisherman’s Bastion you also will find a cute cafe where you can get a cup of coffee, or try delicious chimney cake.
Note: If you are visiting this site during winter or early spring be prepared that it is going to be very windy and quite cold up there.
Price: free to visit the premises
The Chain Bridge is a 19th century suspension bridge that is considered to be one of the prides of Budapest.
This is one of the places that my friends told me not to skip and have a walk there during the day, and at night. However, I couldn’t do that. During my visit to Budapest, the Chain bridge was under reconstruction, and therefore was closed to the public. I didn’t have another choice but to have a look at the bridge from afar, which was very disappointing. I hope it will be open for you, my readers, and you can let me know your thoughts about this bridge.
Parliament House is the most famous landmark in Budapest and probably the most recognizable Hungarian icon in the world. It is a 691-room Gothic building located across the river from the Buda castle and the Fisherman’s Bastion.
Parliament House is surrounded by a nice walking area full of benches, and greenery, where you can just sit and admire its greatness. Next to Parliament House you often can see different protests and gatherings.
Price: free to visit the premises
The Shoes on the Danube Bank is one of those heartbreaking memorials that is hard to look at. On the Danube bank, not far from the Parliament House, you’ll find 60 pairs of metal shoes as a reminder of tragedy during the Second World War in which 3500 people died. Before those people were shot, they were told to take their shoes off.
It is one of the saddest memorials I have ever seen. I don’t know what it is about those shoes, but you half expect someone coming and putting them back on.
Budapest’s Great Synagogue is the second largest synagogue in the world. This synagogue was built in the second half of the 19th century in the Moorish style.
The Great Synagogue contains the Synagogue itself, the graveyard, the museum , and the Holocaust memorial.
To enter the synagogue you will have to pay quite a big fee (in my opinion) – 7000 HUF (around $20).
The interior of the synagogue is stunning, such attention to small details takes your breath away. Inside the synagogue you will see areas for different languages. For example I went to the English section where there were a lot of people already, and when the tour guide came and started speaking in English.
Location: Budapest, Dohány u. 2, 1074 Hungary
Price: 7000 HUF (around $20)
The Jewish quarter in Budapest is located on the Pest side, basically around the Great Synagogue. It is one of the greatest areas for nightlife.
The Jewish quarter is full of great and epic bars, and amazing original restaurants. This is a place to get lost, find a fun spot, meet other travelers or locals, and make great memories of Budapest.
Location: Budapest, Wesselényi u. 21, 1077 Hungary
St. Stephen’s Basilica is the largest church in Budapest and named after the first king of Hungary. I know visiting churches can get tiresome, especially if you have been traveling around Europe for a while, but I do think this one is worth the visit.
The entry to the cathedral is just a 200 forint ‘donation’ but what you really want to do is take the elevator (yes, it was so nice to have an elevator to the top, unlike most churches) to the lookout point. From there you have a 360 degree view of all Budapest, with especially amazing views of Buda Castle and Fisherman’s Bastion.
The ticket to the lookout is 1500 forint, but I definitely recommend doing it.
Price: ticket to the lookout is 1500 forint
One of the main activities in Budapest is to visit a thermal bath. There are 7 thermal baths in Budapest. All of them are quite interesting and carry similar vibes: rest, and relaxation. However, each bath has its own highlights. Two of the most popular that people visit are Szechenyi Bath and Gellért Bath.
Szechenyi Bath is the most visited by tourists. All due to huge hot outside pools that you can visit all year around. The water in those pools is around 36°C – 38°C, which makes you feel especially fantastic in cold weather.
Outside you will see one big swimming pool where you need to wear a swim cap (you can buy it at the bath) and two smaller pools where you don’t need to wear a swim cap.
On the Szechenyi grounds you will find a cafe with some snacks and drinks. There are also saunas that you can use, and many other things to try.
Price: cabin – 6200 HUF (around $18); locker – 5300 HUF (around $15.5)
Gellért Bath is another great bath you should visit. The bath is actually a part of the Gellért hotel. Inside the building there are a few huge stunning rooms with different types of baths from the cool ones at 32° and 34°C to the warm ones with 40°C water.
The main Gellért Bath’s hall contains one large and one small pool with 36°C water. Note that to use the large pool you need to wear a swim cap (you can buy it at the site). To use all the other pools you don’t need to have a swim cap.
On the second floor of the Gellért bath you will find a small cafe with a few tables, and many sunbeds. There you can order soft and alcoholic drinks, plus some food if you get hungry.
One of the minuses of the Gellért bath is that their outside pool was closed for renovations a long time ago, and has yet to be reopened.
Location: Budapest, Kelenhegyi út 4, 1118 Hungary
Price: cabin – 6400 HUF (around $19); locker – 5500 HUF (around $16)
Rules and Advices For Visiting Thermal Baths:
You always need to wear a bathing suit and slippers. You also will need a towel. All of these things you can usually buy at the bath gift shops, including a swim cap and a bathrobe.
There are two types of tickets you can choose between: one has a locker included, and the second has a cabin. If you come in a group, I advise you to take one ticket with a cabin and others with lockers. In this case you will have a private place to change (a cabin can fit just one person at the time).
Ruin Bar, also known as “Szimpla Kert” is one of the epic places in the Jewish quarter in Budapest that you must visit. It is a labyrinth of rooms and courtyards covered in art and full of different junk that actually looks in place.
Szimpla Kert is one of the most atmospheric bars in the city that collects under its roof lots of young interesting people. The Ruin Bar is mostly a beer hall, but you can also find cocktails and wine.
Location: Budapest, Kazinczy u., 1075 Hungary
The Great Market Hall is a place I highly recommend for those who want to get great souvenirs from Budapest, and for the food lovers.
First of all, the Great Market hall is actually an incredibly big… well…hall. There are two floors that you can check out. The first one mostly contains stalls full of various meats, spices, vegetables, sweets, and many other things.
The second floor can be split into two sections: one is a souvenir section, and the other one is a street food section. There you will find many stalls that offer traditional Hungarian food, there are also some tables where you can enjoy your food. For example I tried traditional Hungarian Fish soup, stuffed cabbage, and langos. I know, you probably think: “what a pig”,… but everything was so good, I just wanted to try as much as I could. Traditional food is very important in exploring those new cultures!
By the way, as a souvenir I got an absolutely delicious spicy sauce that I’ve tried with the stuffed cabbage.
Location: Budapest, Vámház krt. 1-3, 1093 Hungary
House of Terror is a place that once made everyone worried, or scared. The thing is that this building was the headquarters of the secret police. No wonder nowadays it’s called the House of Terror.
In 2002 this building was turned into a museum dedicated to victims of the fascist regime. As the memorial “The Shoes on the Danube Bank”, House of Terror carries more sorrow to its visitors than entertainment, nevertheless it is one of the places you must visit.
Note: Although I don’t understand why, you are not supposed to take pictures inside the House of Terror. The staff can be really strict about it.
Location: Budapest, Andrássy út 60, 1062 Hungary
Price: 3000 HUF (around $9)
Budapest, as every great city, has their own street food specialties. One of them is quite popular in many European cities – chimney cake. And the other I have seen just in Budapest so far – langos.
Chimney cake is the oldest traditional pastry in Hungary (although chimney cake originated from Transylvania). The pastry is cooked on a wooden spool that slowly spins over an open fire. It is often covered in cinnamon sugar or chocolate with nutella paste or ice cream inside. This is truly one of my favorite desserts – the hot pastry that is crispy outside and soft inside with cold ice cream gives you so much pleasure… And what is life without pleasure?
The second street food in Hungary that you should try is langos. Langos is deep fried flatbread that is traditionally served with sour cream and some cheese on top of it. Nowadays there are of course different varieties of toppings that you can try with langos. One of the best places to try this street food is the Great market in Budapest. On the second floor you will find many stalls that offer sweet and savory langos.
Budapest is a place with lots of things to do and maybe the Budapest Ferris Wheel is not at the top of the list, but I still strongly recommend not to skip this place.
First of all, the ferris wheel offers a great view of the city. This is already a good reason to ride the ferris wheel. But I have an even better reason to have a ferris wheel on your “Must Do” list.
After sunset, when the city lights up, it lights up the ferris wheel as well. The park where it is located becomes a magical and very romantic spot – a great place for dates.
Price: 3000 HUF (around $9)
Besides the Ruin Bar, where people drink mostly beer, Budapest has many great cocktail bars. Many of those bars offer their special cocktails that you can try just here.
I was surprised to see that Budapest didn’t have any bars on the world’s Top 50 list, because one of the cocktail bars I went to is probably in the top 5 cocktail bars I’ve been to in my life.
If you are an aficionado, then Budapest’s cocktail bars are sure to impress you with their high quality and creativity, and very reasonable price.
Budapest is a city full of interesting things to do, but also one with great…April 11, 2022