1) Explore Buda Castle and Castle Hill
Constructed in 1265, Buda Castle is the most historic castle and palace in Budapest. It is located in the ‘Buda’ part of the city within the Castle Hill district- a UNESCO World Heritage site and the area where all the castles are located. To access Buda Castle, you can either take the Funicular Railway up the hill, or simply do the walk yourself. After you see Buda Castle, you must take a walk along Castle Hill. Give yourself at least a few hours to walk around this area because you will see the most breathtaking views of the the city on top of some amazing Medieval castles. The views overlook the Danube River, Hungarian Parliament, Chain Bridge and the Gresham Palace that are located on the ‘Pest’ side of the city. Click here for additional information on Buda Castle, and click here to learn more about Castle Hill.
2) Swim in a Hungarian Bath
A visit to Budapest is not complete until you experience a Hungarian Bath. Most bath ‘areas’ around Budapest are available in different sizes and water temperatures. Some are indoor and some are outdoors- it just depends on which bath complex you are at. Basically, you go there to relax, relieve some stress, get a massage, or even to heal your body (it’s great for your joints). A bath is the perfect place to relax during lazy mornings, to get off your feet in the afternoon, or even after partying all night long. I recommend you do what I did- go with a group of friends, grab yourself a cold beer and some snacks and chill in the pool all day long. The biggest and most popular bath in Budapest is the Széchenyi Bath (shown in photo), and you can buy online tickets here. I went to this bath and it was such a cool experience. There are also Bath Parties during summer nights if you want to stay there and get drunk all night long!
3) Check out the Hungarian Parliament Building
Located on the Danube riverside, this is one of the oldest legislative buildings in Europe and the 3rd largest Parliament building in the world. The architecture is absolutely amazing and worth a stop by. It is very difficult to get a ticket to tour inside this building because so many people want to do it. They have strict polices, and you must buy your ticket online before you go. You also must tour the building in groups with a tour guide. Check this website for ticket information, hours of operation and guided tour information of the building. If you can snag a ticket, then you are lucky! It was all sold out when I tried to buy one. Click here to learn more about the history of the Hungarian Parliament.
4) Walk across the Chain Bridge
Completed in 1849, this was the very first permanent bridge that connected the ‘Buda’ side and the ‘Pest’ side together. It is by far the most symbolic, popular, touristy, and well-known bridge in Budapest. You MUST talk a walk across this long bridge for amazing views over the Danube River. If you are planning to check out Castle Hill on the ‘Buda’ side, then you should definitely walk over this bridge on your way over. It’s even better if you stumble across this bridge in the evening to see all of the lights of Budapest. Learn more about this bridge here.
5) See the view from Fisherman’s Bastion
Fisherman’s Bastion is located in the historic district of Castle Hill. It is a neo-Gothic design and honestly is one of the coolest looking castles I’ve ever seen. You feel like you’re in Disneyland when you are looking at this thing. The name comes from a group of medieval fisherman who protected Budapest from invasion centuries ago. The best part about this castle are the spectacular views of the city. It is also pretty cool to explore the castle, because there is a beautiful lookout terrace at the top. It costs about $3USD to explore the upper level but the lower part of the castle is free. It is open 24/7 all year round. Learn more information on their website.
6) Visit Hero’s Square
This is one of the most historic and famous squares in Budapest. It is also home to a very famous statue called the Hungarian Millennium Monument, which is dedicated to Hungarian kings and Heroes who tried to make Hungary a better place and fought for their independence. Words don’t do justice on how incredible the detail is in the statues. It’s simply amazing. The location of Hero’s Square is perfect because you can do many tourist activities around the area, such as walking through City Park (where the Szechenyi Bath is), walking along Andrassy Avenue, going to the Budapest Zoo, and see the famous House of Terror museum. On the weekends, there is a nearby flea market around this square as well. Click here for more info on Hero’s Square.
7) Go inside the Great Synagogue
Also known as the Dohány Synagogue, this is the second largest Synagogue in the world. It opened up in 1859 and has the most beautiful architectural designs (Moorish style) spread out on 3 different floors. There is a historical significance to this Synagogue, specifically with it’s relation to the Holocaust. It was bombed by the Nazi’s in 1939 and became the gates to a Jewish ghetto that was formed in that area. Now, there is a beautiful museum where you can learn all about the history of the Jews in Hungary, and you can show your respect at the incredible Holocaust Memorial in the courtyard. The cost is about $7USD for admission into the Synagogue and it cost about $10 to go inside the museum. Buy your ticket online and check the hours of operation at this website. Learn more about the history of this Great Synagogue here.
8) Bargain at the Central Market Hall
Also known as the Great Hall of Budapest, this 3-story market is the best place to eat local foods and buy all of your souvenirs. The market was build in 1897 and is located almost directly in the center of the city (hence the name Central Market). If you love fresh goods, sightseeing, shopping and people watching, then you will fall in love with this place. At this market, you can get some famous Hungarian paprika, fruits, vegetables, snacks, gifts, souveneirs, and more! The best part is that everything is very cheap and you can bargain if you have the skills. The market is not open on Sundays- click here for all hours of operation. Click here for more general information about the Great Hall.
9) Go to the famous Ruin Pubs
The ruin pubs make Budapest stand out as having the best nightlife in Eastern Europe. Basically, ruin bars were built in the old district VII (the old Jewish quarter) in the ruins of abandoned buildings or lots. After WWII, this neighborhood was torn into shreds, so it became a great place to build an underground bar scene. Every ruin bar is different- they look like normal bars from the outside but the inside is hip, lively, artsy, and funky with loud music, lots of bars, crazy cool decorations and loud music. The interior is HUGE with many different rooms. One room will be a hookah bar/theme with reggae playing, another room will have swanky neon lights, and another room will have chairs hanging from the ceilings, etc. There is usually a main room with a huge dance floor in the middle. Ruin pubs are great places to meet awesome locals as well as foreigners. To learn which ones are the best, see my Ultimate Guide to the Nightlife in Budapest.
10) Take a boat ride on the Danube River
River cruises are one of the best ways to see the city, and in the late afternoon/evening is my personal favorite time relax on a boat. Many of the cruises have bars in them, so they will turn into a ‘booze cruise’ which is so much fun! The atmosphere is awesome and the views of Budapest are fantastic. What more could you ask for? This website has all the information you need to know about river cruises.
*Thanks for reading! What’s your favorite thing to do in Budapest?