Are you looking for an exciting European city to explore? Look no further than Budapest! From beautiful parks and captivating architecture, to delicious food and exquisite wine, Budapest offers something for everyone – so let’s see what this stunning city has in store! Here are some of the best things to do in Budapest.
Introduction to Budapest
Budapest is the capital of Hungary, one of the most beautiful destinations in all of Europe. Nicknamed the “Pearl of the Danube” for its historical and cultural significance, Budapest offers visitors plenty to explore and experience. Known for its vibrant nightlife and café culture, Budapest has a unique atmosphere that can’t be found anywhere else. Whether you’re looking to explore historic areas or take part in some world-class Hungarian cuisine, Budapest is an ideal destination full of things to do.
The city itself is divided into two halves – Buda and Pest – by the majestic River Danube. Together they form Hungary’s largest city: home to nearly two million people and sprinkled with architectural landmarks from every era in history, from Roman ruins to ornate Gothic spires.
- Fisherman’s Bastion atop Castle Hill.
- Heroes’ Square at City Park.
- Matthias Church with its colorful tiled roof.
- Gellert Hill for panoramic views over both sides of town.
- Charming Dohány Street Synagogue.
Historical Sites in Budapest
Budapest’s many historical and cultural sites provide a great way to explore the city’s past. From its iconic architecture to museums, there’s plenty to discover in Budapest. Here are some of the most popular historical sites in the city:
- Fisherman’s Bastion: This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of Hungary’s most iconic landmarks and offers stunning views of the Danube River and Pest district. Located on Castle Hill, it was built in 1905 as a tribute to the fishermen who defended Hungary from invaders.
- Hungarian National Museum: This museum showcases Hungarian history and culture from pre-historic times through modern day. It houses a large collection of artifacts that include archaeological, numismatic, fine arts, historical and ethnographic exhibits.
- Hungarian Parliament Building: The building is one of Budapest’s most recognizable attractions due to its enormous size. Located on the banks of the Danube, this striking neo-Gothic structure is open for tours and visitors can view its intricate details from inside or admire it from afar while taking a walk along the riverfront promenade.
- Great Market Hall (Nagy Vásárcsarnok): One of Europe’s oldest indoor markets, this century old structure provides an interesting glimpse into traditional Hungarian cuisine and produce. Over three floors you’ll find fresh food stalls, souvenir stands as well as souvenirs shops selling local delicacies like salamis, paprika dips and honey cakes.
- Buda Castle: This grand palace was once home to Hungarian royalty and today serves as a museum complex which houses Buda’s city history museum as well as churches, galleries and other interactive displays. Visitors can explore medieval fortifications on site or take an audio tour for insights into its captivating history before enjoying lunch at one of the nearby cafes or restaurants in Buda Castle District.
Cultural Experiences in Budapest
Budapest is a city filled with cultural attractions and experiences that are not to be missed. From museums and galleries to performing arts, there’s something in Budapest for every traveler. Many of the cultural experiences are free or low cost, making them more accessible no matter what your budget. Here’s a list of some of the most enjoyable experiences you can find in Budapest:
- Museums: Budapest boasts some incredible museums, including Hungary’s National Museum, Museum of Fine Arts and National Gallery. All three offer fantastic art collections from different periods and styles, allowing you to get an overview of Hungarian culture. The momentous Hungarian State Opera House also provides wonderful performances for travelers looking for an entertaining evening activity.
- Performing Arts: Whether you are looking for traditional dancers or modern plays, you can find all kinds in Budapest. There is plenty to explore from spirit-filled folk dancing at the Liszt Ferenc Music Academy to the Modern Art Ensemble performances at the Trafó theatre museum. You may even stumble upon theater groups performing on pedestrian bridges throughout the city!
- Czabajoki Concert Hall: If chamber music is your thing, then look no further than Czabajoki Concert Hall – it’s one of Budapest’s premier concert venues and hosts performances almost every night during the summer months featuring a mix of classical, jazz, world music and more. This hall also offers free concerts if you would like to experience authentic Hungarian music without breaking your budget.
Outdoor Activities in Budapest
Budapest is one of Europe’s most beautiful cities. Its vibrant and diverse culture, stunning architecture, and rich history make it a great destination for travelers of all ages. The city also offers a wide range of outdoor activities that you can explore while visiting:
- Exploring Budapest’s markets: Budapest offers both traditional open-air markets and modern shopping centers with a wide range of products to explore. Wander around one of the markets to try some local delicacies, purchase authentic Hungarian goods or hunt for antiques.
- Cruising down the Danube River: One of the best outdoor activities in Budapest is taking a cruise on the Danube River. There are plenty of companies offering Danube sightseeing cruises which offer picturesque views of landmarks along the riverbanks such as Buda Castle and Margaret Island.
- Biking tours: With its flat terrain, biking around Budapest is an enjoyable way to explore the city. There are plenty of bike rental shops available in various parts of the city as well as guided bike tours that take you through romantic lanes or parks.
- Walking tours: The best way to take in all that Budapest has to offer is by taking a walking tour around the city’s many neighborhoods or Royal Palace district. From Handicraft Street Markets to Jewish quarters, there’s something new waiting to be explored at each turn!
- Caving adventures: Discover some hidden gems off the beaten track with an underground caving adventure at Palvolgy Labyrinth or Aggtelek National Park where you can explore kilometers upon kilometers worth of caves, crannies and cave creatures!
- Hiking in Buda Hills: Pack your camera for an unforgettable hiking experience at Buda Hills that offers stunning views over Fisherman’s Bastion and Gellert Hill from atop János Hill (Jánoshegy). Choose from different trails depending on how strenuous you want your hike to be – from easy family strolls with breathtaking views over the city, to longer hikes up Csobánc Hill with challenging climbs!
Shopping in Budapest
With its stunning architecture and world-famous attractions, Budapest is an exciting destination to explore – and it also offers fantastic shopping opportunities. Whether you’re looking for a unique souvenir or designer fashion, you’ll be sure to find something special. Here we take a look at the most popular areas for shopping in Budapest.
- Central Market Hall: One of the oldest and largest markets in Europe, this imposing neo-Gothic building houses hundreds of stores with fresh food produce from Hungary’s countryside. There are also stalls selling souvenirs such as embroidered clothing and Matyo folk art objects. It’s a great place to shop for souvenirs without breaking the bank!
- Váci Utca: This is one of the most popular streets in Budapest, stretching from Vörösmarty tér to Ferenciek tér. You can pick up everything from designer clothing to craft items here – and there’s often live street music performances as well! Don’t forget to check out the Zara home store too.
- Andrassy Avenue (Andrássy út): This elegant tree-lined boulevard is lined with some of Budapest’s leading boutiques and designer stores – including Gucci and Louis Vuitton. It’s ideal for those wanting some luxury shopping with prices that reflect their stature.
- Great Market Hall (Nagyvásárcsarnok): This beautiful indoor market hall on Fővám Tér features hundreds of vendors selling everything from foodstuffs, such as paprika, sausages and pastries, to gifts such as traditional Hungarian glass beads called matyo or local handiwork like rugs or embroidery artworks. It’s a great spot for browsing unique items while enjoying traditional snacks at one of the restaurants or cafes located inside.
Nightlife in Budapest
As the sun sets, Budapest’s skyline and historic architecture is illuminated and the city’s nightlife takes center stage. Whether it’s pushing the boundaries of fashion at one of the many clubs and bars, savoring a delicious meal at a sophisticated restaurant, or taking in local entertainment, Budapest has something for everyone after dark.
For those looking to explore Budapest’s club scene, there are lots of venues to pick from. Szimpla Kert is likely the most famous place and a regular haunt among locals and tourists alike. It’s located on Kazinczy Street in District VII and offers an eclectic mix of vintage furniture, art installations and music genres while serving up unique craft beers. Other top spots include Otic Europa Club near St Stephen’s Basilica, Corvin Club in District VIII which plays popular chart music, Indie music nightclub Gozsdu Udvar in District VII as well as JunKyard Cocktail Club for its affordable drinks selection.
Budapest also boasts some great live music venues from Jazz alongside local performances from Romani gypsy musicians to indie rock concerts. Local favorites include A38 Ship along the banks of Danube where Slovakian folk-punk bands take turns with Serbian DJs playing all-night gigs; Instant – an inspirational ruin bar on Kerszer Street with
Eating Out in Budapest
Budapest is known for its unique and flavorful cuisine, which combines traditional Hungarian flavors with international influences. From Michelin-starred restaurants to authentic home-cooked meals, there is something to satisfy all palates in Budapest. Whether you’re looking for a cozy café lunch or an upscale four-course meal, here are some of the city’s most famous eateries:
- Araz Restaurant – This popular eatery specializes in classic Hungarian and Mediterranean dishes served up in an inviting atmosphere. Enjoy traditional Hungarian goulash and porkolt stew as well as tender beef with vegetables prepared by chef de cuisine Zalán Surányi Jr.
- 360 Bar & Restaurant – Enjoying a stunning panoramic view of the Danube River, this exclusive restaurant offers innovative culinary creations from award-winning Chef Ádám Barna Mészáros. The flamboyantly decorated interior adds to the dining experience here.
- Borkonyha Wine Kitchen – With the vision of bringing locally sourced, rustic food with modern flavors to the forefront, this popular spot is helmed by renowned chef József Boros and serves creative dishes like Waldorf salad with Ewe’s cheese, smoked duck breast with Parmesan risotto and crispy veal sweetbreads.
- Borbíróság Fine Dining – Offering gourmet Russian and French cuisine directly across from St. Stephen’s Basilica in Budapest’s historic Jewish Quarter is this upscale spot favored by food connoisseurs for its perfectly cooked dishes like grilled veal rib eye in honey mustard sauce or roasted lamb shank flavored with caraway seeds.
Tips for Exploring Budapest
Budapest is a bustling city of culture, art, and adventure. Exploring the Hungarian capital can often be daunting, as it’s full of unique experiences and sites to see every day. To enjoy this beautiful city to its fullest potential, there are certain tips and tricks you should know before arriving. Here are some tips for exploring Budapest:
- Take advantage of public transportation. Budapest has an easy to use and efficient public transportation system that is popular amongst locals and visitors alike. Whether you want to take the bus, tram, or metro around the city, you can make your way through Budapest with ease.
- Stay in a centrally located hostel or hotel. Booking your stay in lodging that is near many attractions and landmarks will make it easier for you to explore without having to travel far from your basecamp every time you want to check out something new.
- Take advantage of the free walking tours offered throughout Budapest. These guided walks provide visitors with detailed information about this richly cultural city while providing an easier way for travelers to explore its attractions on foot rather than having to spend extra money renting a vehicle or taxi cab just to get around town.
- Be flexible with your itinerary when it comes to museums and monuments as some spots may be closed when least expected due to holidays or inclement weather conditions; make sure that there are alternative plans if necessary!
- Sample the local cuisine by seeking out small restaurants in non-touristy neighborhoods where local dishes like stuffed cabbage (töltött káposzta) abound – definitely don’t forget about all the amazing pastries throughout Hungary!
By following these tips for exploring Budapest, you’ll be able to get the most out of your experience so that when it’s time for goodbye, you’ll truly have seen all that this beautiful Hungarian capital has had waiting for travelers just like yourself! Should Budapest not appeal to you, have a look at our other suggestions for where is the cheapest place for a city break?
Some lovely photos: