River Danube, the Europe’s second-longest river flows through the heart of the Budapest city dividing the city into two prominent parts of Buda and Pest. Buda is the hilly region dominated by the prominent Budapest attractions the Buda castle and the Mathias church and offers amazing views over Pest and its significant historical landmarks the Hungarian Parliament and the St. Stephen’s Basilica on the shores of the Danube. The shores of Danube in Budapest are a part of Unesco World Heritage sites.
The city also has the largest thermal cave system with around 80 geothermal springs, the Budapest synagogue is second largest in the world and the Parliament building, the third largest in the world.
Most the city can easily on foot and the city has a very well connected public transport with metros, trams, and buses which makes exploring the city very convenient and easy.
Budapest Sightseeing – Day 1
We started from the Great Market Hall or Central Market Hall which is the largest and oldest indoor market in Budapest. We started from the prominent Deak Ferenc square exploring the restaurants and souvenir shops along the popular pedestrian shopping street Vaci Utca. The Market Hall is at the end of the Vaci Utca street near the stunning the Liberty bridge. The market is bustling with shops selling fresh vegetables, fruits, and spices. On the first floor are garments, souvenir shops, and eateries while the floor underground has a fish market and pickled vegetable shops. The Neo-Gothic styled building is adorned with colorful Zsolnay tiling on the roof. During the World Wars, it was completely damaged and then closed for some years.
The market is closed on Sunday and is open from 6 am to 6 pm except for Monday when it closes at 5 pm and 3 pm on Saturday.
Gellert Hill Cave
We crossed the liberty bridge to the Buda side, our stop was the Gellert Hill Cave or the Saint Ivan’s Cave. The walls of the church are made of natural rock caves. There is a small entrance fee to the church. The terrace at the church entrance offers wonderful views of the Danube and the Liberty bridge.
Opposite to the Gellert Hill Cave is the magnificent Gellert hotel and the Gellert baths. The bath complex built in Art Nouveau style has thermal Baths and swimming pool.
From the Gellert Cave Church, we ascended through lush forests of Gellert hill painted in bright hues of fall to the Citadella. The Citadella is 15 min walk uphill. The fortification atop the Gellert Hill is dominated by the14 m tall Liberty Statue or Freedom Statue. The monument was erected to commemorate those who sacrificed their lives for the independence and freedom of the country of Hungary. The bronze statue is seen holding a palm leaf and overlooks the city.
From here we descended onto the other side of Citadella where the tourist buses and hop on hop off buses had lined up. We were deciding on if we should walk all the way to Buda castle which is said to be around another 45 minutes walk mostly uphill when we saw a bus waiting, we boarded the bus and enquired with driver for bus to Buda castle he gave details of the bus no 16 which dropped us opposite the Matthias church which actually saved us lot of time and energy.
The 700-year-old church built in gothic style is adorned with the bright colored ceramic roof made of Zsolnay tiles similar to the Market Hall. The interior of the church embellished with paintings and is very impressive and definitely something not to miss.
The Neo-Gothic style basion with turrets looks like a fairytale structure. The bastion surrounding the Mathias church offers some of the best views of the pest along the Danube. The bastion was named after the guild of fishermen responsible for defending this stretch of the wall in the Middle Ages. In the square opposite the bastion is an ornate equestrian statue of St Stephen, who was Hungary’s first Christian King in 1000AD. Fisherman’s Bastion was built in the late 1800s to celebrate the 1000-year anniversary of the founding of Hungary.
From Matthias Church, the castle is a 10-minute walk. The historical Buda Castle is a palace complex of the Hungarian Kings in Budapest dating back to 13th century. The Buda castle houses theNational Gallery and the Budapest history museum. If you are not a museum person you can stroll through the castle garden which is free to enter and is dotted has some of the gorgeous statues like Matthias Fountain and the equestrian statue of Prince Eugene of Savoy. The garden terrace offers incredible views over the pest side especially the magnificent Hungarian parliament.
While you are here explore the Castle District which has some of the gorgeous medieval baroque buildings from 19th-century.
The Buda castle can be reached through the Castle Hill Funicular located in the Clark Adam Square opposite the Széchenyi Chain Bridge, the same square also has a stop for the bus no 16 which will drop you right at the castle.
We waited until the sunset to watch the city washed in golden lights after dusk and the view was worth the wait. The parliament and the other buildings along the Danube looked stunning.
We descended down to the Chain bridge and took a bus to the apartment.
Budapest Sightseeing – Day 2
Danube River Promenade
We started the day at the Vigado Square which was close to our apartment. The Square has two famous Budapest statues ‘Little Princess’ is a statue of a little girl sitting on the railings of the Danube promenade and another a girl playing with her dog.
From here we boarded a tram to the Hungarian parliament. There is a statue of the famous Hungarian poet Attila József in the square next to the parliament. After spending some time marveling the architecture we made way towards the Danube promenade to the most important and significant landmark ‘Shoes on the Danube’.
Shoes on the Danube
The Shoes on the Danube Bank is a memorial to honor the people who were killed by fascist Arrow Cross during World War II. The people were ordered to take off their shoes and were shot on the promenade so that their bodies fell into the river and were carried away. It was such a touching moment walking along the promenade watching those shoes laying there speaking the heartwrenching history of the city of Budapest.
We next boarded took the metro from the parliament stop to the Metro at Heroes Square. The square is dominated by a 36m-tall pillar topped with Gabriel the angel holding the Hungarian crown and cross. The two colonnades behind the pillar have 14 statues of rulers and statesmen who were Hungarian heroes. On one side of the square is the Museum of Fine Arts and on the other is the Contemporary Art Museum in a beautiful historical building.
Behind the Heroes Square is the wide expanse of lush green City Park. If you are visiting with kids the park is a great place to spend some time in the botanical garden. There is also a small zoo with animal petting area in the park.
We had delicious lunch at Haveli Indian Restaurant which serves Indian delicacies. The hotel is 2 minutes walk from the Kodaly Korond metro stop which was on the way for us from the Heroes Square on Metro Line 1.
St. Stephen’s Basilica
Our next stop was the most stunning St. Stephen’s Basilica. The Roman Catholic basilica is one of the largest church buildings in Hungary. The interior of the church is richly decorated with paintings and murals.
From the church, we walked towards the Dohány Street which is well known for the Ruin Bars. The Ruin Bars are the abandoned buildings turned into bars and pubs by the locals. The pubs are decorated with antique and quirky furniture and paintings.
On the way, we could also make a stop at the Dohány Street Synagogue which is the largest synagogue in Europe, and the second largest one in the world.
A great way to end a day in Budapest is to hop onto a River cruise and explored the gold lit city of Budapest along the Danube.
Places to stay in Budapest
During our stay in Budapest, we stayed in two apartments both of which are close to the center and are well connected by public transport.
Corvin Apartment Budapest
Spacious apartment with attached bathroom, kitchenette, and wifi. Lot of options for eating around the hotel and close to the Corvin Plaza shopping mall.
Nearest Metro: Corvin Negyed
Spacious apartment with attached bathroom and wifi. Lot of options for eating around the hotel.
Nearest Metro: Deak Ferenc Ter
Have you visited Budapest? Do you think we missed something? Do share with us in comments.