What to do in Budapest? We've visited the Hungarian capital several times, and after our last visit we've put together a list of 23 tips for activities and excursions. Do you have more tips for things to do in Budapest?
Things to see and do in Budapest
Budapest is a lovely city, and every time we go there we fall a little more in love. With the banks of the Danube, the Buda Castle district and Andrássy Avenue, the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it's not hard to see why. Hungary's capital city is full of beautiful buildings, exciting sights and the really good restaurants.
It's easy to walk between many of the city's attractions, or you can get around easily by tram or metro. There's a lot to see and do in Budapest, and we offer our top 23 tips.
1. walk over the Kedjebron bridge
The great river Danube flows right through Budapest, with Buda on one side and Pest on the other. There are a number of bridges to cross the river, the most famous being the Chain Bridge (Lánchíd). Opened in 1849, the bridge is adorned with powerful lions.
2. Take the funicular railway to Slottshöjden.
The Budapest cable car (Budavári Siklós) is an easy way to get to the castle hill from the Danube River. The ride on the cable car is short but pleasant. First opened in 1870, it was destroyed during World War II and reopened in 1986. The track is 95 metres long and rises 51 metres in height. At the top of the castle hill, the Buda Castle, Fiskar Bastion and Mattia Church await you.
3. Experience the Buda Castle
Buda Castle, also known as the Royal Palace, is a national symbol of Hungary and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987. Construction of the impressive castle, located on Castle Hill on the Buda side, began in the 13th century. Today the castle houses a historical museum, the National Gallery, the Széchenyi National Library and the House of Houdini.
4. Visit the Fisherman's Bastion
Rising high on the Buda side, overlooking the Parliament on the other side of the Danube, the Fishermen's Bastion looks like a building from a fairy tale. The building dates from the late 19th century and features seven tent-shaped towers to symbolise the seven Hungarian tribes that settled here in the 8th century.
5. Admire the Mattia Church
Right next to Fiskarbastionen is Mattia Church. Originally built as a church in 1015, the impressive building that stands there today dates back to the 19th century. The church, initially called the Church of Our Lady, was renamed by King Matyás.
6. Take a guided tour of the Parliament
The Parliament in Budapest is not only an important building, but also a beautiful and impressive one. The Hungarian Parliament building is one of the oldest parliamentary buildings in Europe, and is also Hungary's largest building. Construction began in 1885 and was completed in 1904, with 691 rooms and 40 kilograms of 23 carat gold used in its decoration.
If you wish, you can take a guided tour of the interior. You can buy tickets at the tourist entrance on one side of the building, but to be on the safe side, it's a good idea to buy tickets online in advance.
7. Reflect on the "Shoes" monument
Along the quayside in Budapest, not far from Parliament, you will find the 'Shoes' memorial. Here, a whole range of shoes - men's, women's and children's - stand as a reminder of the terrible crimes that took place during the Second World War. This powerful monument, created by artists Gyula Pauer and Can Togay, reminds us of all the Jews who lost their lives here. Before these people were shot and fell into the river, they were forced to take off their shoes.
8. Take a boat trip on the Danube River
One way to experience Budapest is to take a boat trip on the Danube, which offers a beautiful view of the Parliament and other buildings. Cruises are available both during the day and in the evening.
9. Take the metro to Heroes' Square
At the end of Andreas Boulevard is 'Heroes' Square' and the Budapest City Park, and if you want to, you can take the metro here. The line leading to Heroes' Square (the yellow line) was built in 1896, making it the second oldest metro line in Europe (second only to London).
At Heroes' Square you can see the Millennium Monument with the equestrian statues of the chiefs of the seven Hungarian tribes. You can also see the Archangel Gabriel on a tall column.
10. See St Stephen's Basilica
St Stephen's Basilica is the largest church in all of Budapest and has the capacity to accommodate over 8,000 people. Construction began in 1851, in honour of Hungary's first Christian king, King István (Stephen I of Hungary), and was completed in 1905.
The exterior of the church is adorned with several large statues and the interior is beautifully decorated. Here you will also find a small glass box with the mummified hand of King Stephen. The church is located at Szent István tér 1, on the Pest side of the city.
11. Strolling in the Jewish neighbourhoods
Take the opportunity to discover the Jewish quarters in Budapest! These are becoming more and more hip with many popular cafes, and most of the city's ruin bars. You'll also find several large murals and several synagogues, such as the Great Synagogue which seats 3000 people.
12. Bathing in Budapest's ancient bathhouses
Hungary is located in an area filled with hot springs with thermal water considered good for health, and the country has a long history of baths and spas. Budapest is home to a number of historic baths such as the Gellert Baths and the Szécsény Baths, one of Europe's largest spas. Here you can enjoy bathing in beautiful surroundings or perhaps indulge in treatments such as massages.
13. try Hungarian food
When in Budapest, be sure to try Hungarian food! A classic is goulash soup, which never tastes as good as in Hungary. Other specialities include the paprika-spiced cheese 'körözött', soups, various pork and poultry dishes and foie gras. Paprika spices are very popular and are used liberally in cooking.
14. Tasting Hungarian wine
Hungary has a long history as a wine producer, producing both red and white wine. The country boasts no less than 22 classified wine districts, the most famous of which is Tokaj-Hegyalja. This district produces tokaj, sweet white wines made from noble rot affected grapes.
15. Eat at a Michelin restaurant
In Budapest there are currently (2019) six restaurants with one or two stars in the Michelin Guide. The only restaurant with two stars is Onyx, run by chef Ádám Mészáros, which offers very exciting dishes in an exclusive setting.
In addition to the Michelin restaurants, there are several other restaurants that almost reach the same level. Since prices are lower at home, Budapest offers a great opportunity to treat yourself to a more exclusive meal.
16. go to a classic café
If you like classic cafés with beautiful interiors and delicious pastries - Budapest is the city for you! We can especially recommend the New York Café, with its sumptuous interior, and the Gerbeaud Café, where time seems to have stood still.
17. Hang out at a ruin bar
Budapest's so-called 'ruin bars' are housed in old residential buildings that are no longer fit to live in. While waiting for investors to take over, the buildings are rented out to bar owners who turn the places into lively nightclubs. They party amidst raw concrete walls covered in graffiti and mismatched furniture from flea markets. Check out the ruined Szimpla Kert bar, for example!
18. Climb down into Budapest's caves
Did you know that there are caves in Budapest? Over 200 caves are hidden under the city and some of them are open to the public, including Pál Völgy and Szemlö-hegyi. The first of these is a bit more adventurous, and the second is very easy to walk through. In other words, there are caves for all tastes!
19. Shopping for clothes
Prices in Budapest are good, and you can also find some shops that are not available at home. If you want to shop for clothes, you can go to the Westend, Mammut or Árkád malls. There are also several shopping streets, such as Váci utca, Fashion street (Deák Ferenc utca) and Andrassy Avenue.
20. Shopping in the main market hall
If you like food and delicacies, you should definitely head to the Great Market Hall, located on Fővám tér. Here you can browse through fruits, vegetables, spices and cuts, and you can also find gift packs of, for example, paprika powder, tokaj wine, pálinka liquor, Unicum liquor or foie gras.
21. go to a Christmas market
If you're visiting Budapest at Christmas time, take the opportunity to visit the city's Christmas markets. Prices may be a little higher here, but the atmosphere is cosy with lots of food, Hungarian langos, the spinning chimney cake, mulled wine, delicacies, crafts and Christmas decorations.
22. Visit a vineyard
If you want to experience Hungarian wines, head to the Hernyák winery in Etyek, about half an hour from Budapest. It produces both red and white wine, as well as cheese. In addition, you'll be treated to a cosy and friendly atmosphere!
23. Take a trip to Tata.
If you want to take a short trip from Budapest, you can head to Tata, which is about 7 miles northwest of the capital. Tata is a rural idyll, with a 15th-century castle right next to Lake Öreg. Here you'll also find the Plátan restaurant, run by a chef who previously ran a Michelin-starred restaurant.
More to do in Budapest with children
- Budapest's Escape Room, E- Exit Escape Game, Nyár u. 27.
- Mining environment, with 1300 metres of model railway, Andrássy út 12.
- Budapest Zoo, Állatkerti krt. 6-12.
- Pinball Museum, Radnóti Miklós utca 18.
More things to do in Budapest for history lovers
- Hop on/Hop off bus with audio guide.
- National Museum of Hungary, Múzeum krt. 14-16.
- House of Terror, about the communist regime at the Museum of Terror, Andrássy Út 60.
- The Holocaust Museum (Holocaust Memorial Centre), Páva u.
- Hospital in the Rock Nuclear Bunker, former military emergency hospital, Lovas út 4.
- Memento Park, with statues from the communist era, Balatoni út - Szabadkai utca sarok.
More things to do in Budapest for those who like nature and tranquillity
- Mount Gellert, with views and the Freedom Monument.
- Margaret Island (Margisziget), in the centre of the Danube.
- Lake Balaton, just over an hour south-west of Budapest.
- Village of Szentendre, about 30 minutes by car from Budapest.
More things to do in Budapest for culture lovers
- Wine tasting or food walk.
- Hungarian City Opera with opera, Andrássy út.
- A sziget, Central Europe's largest music festival, one week each year in August.
What to see and do in Budapest - on film
More tips for things to do in Budapest?
Do you have more tips for things to do in Budapest? Let us know!
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Facts about Budapest
- Country: Hungary
- Language: Hungarian (many, especially in service professions, also speak English)
- Population: About 1.8 million (2017)
- Neighbourhoods: Buda and Pest
Good to know
- Currency: Hungarian forint (HUF)
- Price mode: Relatively cheap. The Forex metropolitan index for Budapest for autumn 2019 is 61 (compared to Stockholm at 100).
- Time difference: None
- Electricity supply: Same as in Sweden
Accommodation in Budapest
- HotelThere are many hotels to choose from throughout the city. Feel free to read 3 hotels in Budapest - see which one suits you!
- CampingYou can read more about campsites in Budapest at camping.info
Getting around in Budapest
- Walking often works, as many of Budapest's most popular attractions are close together.
- Tramway is a convenient way to get around.
- Underground railway can be useful for getting to certain shopping centres, for example.
- taxi is sometimes good. There have been cases of tourists being cheated on the price, so ask the hotel to book.
Travelling to Budapest
- FlightsDirect flight from Stockholm (Arlanda) with Norwegian or Wizz Air from Skavsta. Flight time about 2 hours. There are also flights from Copenhagen and elsewhere.
- BilDriving time from Rostock in Germany to Budapest is just over 11 hours.