Traveling to Budapest, Hungry for the first time? I provide you with a list of Budapest top things to do and see, so you can truly enjoy your Budapest vacation. My list of Budapest top things to do and see will guide you from the historic Hungarian past to places to experience the best views of Budapest.
The most famous building in Hungary and maybe even the Viking River Cruises ;). Located in north central Pest, on the River Danube, the Parliament Building (seat to the National Assembly) is the largest building in Hungary and the tallest building in Budapest. The architecture of the Hungarian Parliament Building is of Gothic Revival.
Shoes on the Danube
The Shoes on the Danube is a memorial that was built in 2005 to remember the 3,500 people who were murdered. 3,500 people, 800 of them Jewish, were ordered to take off their shoes and stand on the edge of the river and then shot to death.
For sweeping views of Budapest, head up to Fisherman’s Bastion on the Buda side of the River Danube. The best time to visit is early morning around 7:30am, by 9:30am you can expect the area to be filled with tourists. Another good time to go is around sunset or after 5pm, when a majority of tourists head back to Pest for dinner.
Dip into a Budapest Thermal Bath
Budapest offers some of the most beautiful and ancient thermal baths. The Hungarian capital sits on roughly 118 thermal springs; the most within any city limits in the world. Entry fees to the thermal baths range from $8 to $10 USD, and are typically opened from 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM.
Most of Budapest thermal baths offer a full range of treatments and services such as massages ($15/$20USD per 20/30 minutes), pedicures ($15 USD) and even a red-wine bath ($50 USD per couple). Depending on the time and the day of the week, thermal baths may be for men or women only, with weekends typically open to both (bathing suits required).
Most Popular Budapest Thermal Baths:
Széchenyi Thermal Baths
Budapest’s most famous thermal baths are the Széchenyi Baths in City Park (north east of city center, on the Pest side of the Danube). The Széchenyi Baths are known for it’s large ornate outdoor pools, with a beautiful backdrop of an ornate multi level and terraced building. These bathes tend to be the most backed with tourists. known for offering Beer Spas and Sparties that go until 3am on Saturdays.
Rudas Thermal Baths
The Rudas Baths are located next to the Elizabeth Bridge on the Buda side of the river. The most central thermal bath in Budapest is the Rudas Baths. The Rudas thermal baths has a rooftop spa that overlooks the River Danube. These baths have been completely renovated, while still preserving the old doom that houses the main indoor pool. It is also one of the main spas in Budapest where they have men and women only days.
Gellért Thermal Baths
The Gellért Baths are said to be one of the most beautiful thermal baths in the world. Built in an old cathedral, the Gellért Baths is home to some of the most ornate mosaic tiled pools and spas. Featuring everything from mineral rich drinking water to red wine baths.
Visit Matthius Church
Located in front of the Fisherman’s Bastion, Mattius church is a beautiful medieval church built in the Baroque style in the 11th century. If u appreciate architecture and design this is a must.
First completed in 1265, Buda Castle is the historic palace of Hungarian kings. The cheapest way to get up Buda Castle Hill is by climbing the stairs up the steep hill. The easiest way is by the funicular. You can find the funicular at the foot of Buda Castle Hill; across the Chain Bridge on the Buda side of the Danube.
For more amazing views of Budapest, hike Up Gellért Hill to the Citadella, on the Buda side of the Danube. Located in the south central area, along the river, the Citadella is a Hungarian fortress that was built in 1851.
Hungarian State Opera House
The Hungarian State Opera House is neo-Renaissance opera house located on in central Budapest; north central on the Pest side of the River Danube. Although it may not be the largest, the Budapest Opera House is considered to have of the best acoustics of in beauty and the quality of acoustics the Opera House is considered to be amongst the finest opera houses in the world.
Try traditional Hungarian goulash
When in Hungary… you have to try the Hungarian goulash. Neither soup, nor stew, this dish calls for beef, onions, red peppers, paprika and tomatoes. The top 3 places for traditional Hungarian goulash are at the Bestia, Baltazár, and Onyx
St. Stephen’s Basilica
St Stephen’s Basilica is a Roman Catholic church and the 3rd largest church in Hungary. Construction of this neoclassical church was completed in 1905. The name St. Stephen was given to the Basilica to honor the first king of Hungary.
One of the new and more popular things to do in Budapest at night is to go to a Ruin Pub. Budapest’s ruin pups are pubs that are occupied in old, usually dilapidated, buildings that they spruce up; each with their own unique charm. Some of the top ruin pubs in Budapest are Szimpla Kert, Instant, Fogas Ház, Kuplung, and Szimpla.
Visit Budapest’s Jewish Quarter
Located just east of the city center, on the Pest side of the Danube, is Budapest’s Jewish Quarter. Once home to the Jewish qhettos of WWII, it now is the place to go for great food and cheap drinks.
Gozsdu Udvar (or Gozsdu Courtyard) is lined with old passageways packed with ruin pubs and restaurants. Filled with locals and tourist alike, grab a drink and find a seat.
You will find the great burgers and authentic Kosher restaurants in Budapest’s Jewish Quarter. Get some of the best burgers and beer at Spiler, or for a traditional Jewish meal visit Kádár Étkezde.
Dohány Street Synagogue
Known as the Grand Synagogue, the Dohány Street Synagogue is the largest Synagogue in Europe; second largest in the world, only behind one synagogue in New York City. The Dohány Street Synagogue, central to the Jewish Quarter, is located on the Pest side of the Danube river.
Eat Cake & Drink Coffee at the Best Cafes in Budapest
Not only is Hungary known for great goulash, it is also known for delicious cake, suites, and ornate cafes. For traditional Hungarian chocolate cake go to Cafe Ruszwurm. Cafe Ruszwurm is located on the Buda side of the Danube, near Fisherman’s Bastion. One of the most famous cafes in Budapest, is the New York Cafe. Located inside the Boscolo Hotel in the Jewish Quarter, New York Cafe has to be one of the most beautiful cafes in the world. This cafe is famous for the artists, musicians, writers and more who would frequent this cafe.
Go Hungarian Wine Tasting
Faust Wine Cellar is part of the vast labyrinth system winding beneath Buda Castle. Gábor Nagy, owner and wine sommelier at Faust Wine Cellar, travels throughout Hungary’s 22 wine regions regularly in search of only the best to supply their cellar with.
Shop at the Central Market Hall
The central market hall is a multi level building, lined with stands filled with produce, food, souvenirs and more. The Central Market Hall is located to the south of the city center, on the Pest side of the river.