Budapest the majestic Hungarian capital will enchant you with the architectural wonders and amazing history. There plenty of things to do in Budapest – the local food, markets, bridges, ruin bars, and historical buildings.
We recommend you spend at least 2 days in Budapest. The city is even more fascinating at night when the beautiful buildings of Budapest along the winding majestic Danube are illuminated in golden lights.
Take a Tour of the Parliament
One of the major highlights of the city of Budapest is the grandeur Hungarian parliament. The Gothic Revival building was completed in 1904. The symmetric exterior looks imposing with all the statues and Gothic turrets.
The interior of the parliament is equally stunning adorned with sculptures, frescoes, and mosaics along with the gilded ornamentations.
Similar to the exterior the interior also features symmetric design showcasing Baroque and neo-Byzantine elements.
One of the best ways to experience the grand interior would be to take a guided tour of the parliament.
The tour lasts for 45 minutes and walks visitors through the rooms and halls of the parliament. A highlight of the tour is a visit to the Hungarian Crown Jewels. is also part of the tour. You can book the Budapest parliament tours here.
The Hungarian parliament is a popular tourist destination of Budapest something you wouldn’t want to miss.
Note: For the picture-perfect view of the parliament across the Danube to the opposite bank or from the terrace of the Buda Castle.
Hunt for the Statues
Budapest is full of amazing statues and sculptures found all over the city. While you are at the parliament you will find one of the first statues. A larger than life-size statue of Hungarian poet Attila József in the Kossuth Square. Walking further in the direction of the Chain Bridge you will find two more interesting statues in Vigado Square.
One is of the ‘Little Princess’ which is a statue of a little girl sitting on the railings of the Danube promenade. The other statue is of a girl playing with her dog. Here you will also find a statue of William Shakespeare at the entrance of the Starbucks also located in the same square.
Another unique and popular statue in tourists look for is of a fat policeman about 5 minutes walk from the St Stephen’s Church. The fat round belly of the policeman is said to represent Hungarian’s love for food. A statue of hooded anonymous can be found in the City Park of Budapest.
The statue of Ferenc Puskas, the popular Hungarian football player, playing with a ball while 3 kids watch him can be found in Obuda. Other statues that are more of historical importance are Statue of Liberty and Szt Gellert Statue on the Gellert Hill.
Shoes on the Danube
And while you are statue hunting around the parliament do not miss a visit to the monument ‘Shoes on the Danube’. Not exactly a statue but the monument is of great historical importance.
It is a memorial to the people who were killed during World War II. It is said that the people were ordered to take off their shoes and then shot so that their bodies fell into the river.
Walk the Bridges
The beautiful Danube winds through the city of Budapest diving it into two regions Buda and Pest. The hilly region of Buda is home to the Buda castle and Mathias church on the castle hill. The pest has several wonderful attractions like the Hungarian Parliament, Ruin Bars, and the Dohany Street Synagogue. The Buda region offers great views of Pest along the Danube River.
Both the regions of Budapest are connected by numerous beautiful bridges which themselves make for the best Budapest attractions and some of the top things to do in Budapest.
Hike the Castle Hill
A visit to the castle hill has to be amongst the top things to do in Budapest. The castle hill is home to the magnificent Buda Castle, the Matthias Church with incredible architecture and the Fisherman’s Bastion.
The first stop when you get on the hill would be the gothic Matthias Church. You cannot miss it colorful Zsolnay ceramic tiles. The interior of the church accessible with a ticket is exceptionally beautiful. The interior is adorned with frescoes and motifs.
The Neo-Gothic Fisherman’s bastion surrounds the Matthias Church. The bashion with turrets looks straight out of a fairytale and offers some of the best views of the pest and the parliament building. There is a cafe in one of the turrets where you can enjoy the beautiful views over a cup of coffee.
Another 10-minute walk from the Matthias Church is the Buda Castle. The castle is a complex of historic buildings dating back to the 13th-century. The castle complex houses the National Gallery and the Budapest history museum.
The castle grounds which is free to enter has many gorgeous statues and fountains like the equestrian statue of Prince Eugene of Savoy and the Matthias Fountain.
And one of the best reasons why you would not want to miss a visit to Castle Hill at dusk is this iconic view of the illuminated Pest set along the Danube. The vista is sure to leave you spellbound. You can grab a table at the restaurant at the Fisherman’s Bashion or capture some picture-perfect shots from the terrace of the Buda castle.
The Buda Castle can be reached by the buses (no 16 and 16A) starting from the Deak Ferenc Ter or by the Funicular in Adam Clark Square near the Szechenyi Chain Bridge.
Take Home Unique Souvenirs
Budapest offers visitors some unique and interesting souvenirs to take back home. The traditional painted eggs or Zsolnay porcelain found in a myriad of colors and designs look beautiful. Embroidered garments and lacework are also very popular. If you are not for a clothing item then you can also buy something for your homes like tablecloths, curtains or towels.
If you are a foodie you must have noticed the Hungarian Paprika most commonly used in Hungarian cuisine. Hungarian Paprika makes for a great and inexpensive souvenir, especially for food lovers.
You can go shopping in any of the local markets. The Great Market Hall has a great choice of souvenirs on the second floor. Vaci Utca and Andrassy ut are two popular shopping streets.
Explore the Ruin Bars
The Ruin Bars are amongst the top and the unusual attractions in Budapest. The abandoned buildings in the Jewish Quarter of the city were turned into bars and pubs by the locals which grew to be popular for its quirky interiors.
Szimpla Kert is the most popular ruin bar in Budapest. The place is generally quiet during the day attracts the party-goers at dusk and gets very crowded.
If you get to visit on Sundays they host a farmer’s market every Sunday where you can grab brunch.
There are many more ruin bars tucked in one of these crumbling buildings. If possible try to visit as many as possible each of them with a different interior offers a myriad of activities from beer gardens, farmer markets to outdoor bars and live music.
Anker’t and Dürer Kert have beer gardens, Anker’t hosts a vegan market on Sundays. Fogas Haz and Szimpla Kert host screenings and performances. There are many more each offering a unique vibe do visit and explore its quirkiness.
Relax at the Thermal Baths
One of the major draws and the top things to do in Budapest are the thermal baths. The city is rich in thermal baths with around 80 geothermal springs.
Szechenyi Thermal Baths are one of the most popular ones housed in a neo-Baroque palace in Budapest’s City Park. It is Budapest’s largest thermal bath complex housing 15 indoor pools and 3 outdoor pools.
Other than being the popular spa the Gellert Baths draws visitors for its stunning architecture. The Bath is adorned with mosaic work, stained glass windows, and Roman-style columns.
The other popular thermal baths are the Rudas Baths and Kiraly Baths which are the 16th-century Turkish-style bathing complex, the Lukacs Baths, and Dandar Baths.
Try Local Delicacies
Budapest offers food lovers with an array of classic Hungarian dishes including yummy sugary treats and savory snacks.
Langos is a traditional Hungarian snack which is a deep-fried dough topped with cheese and sour cream, it is a popular on-the-go food.
Gulyas or Goulash is one of the national dishes of Hungary and a must-try. It is a stew or soup of meat and vegetables seasoned with spices. It is served with white bread and very filling.
The sweet treats include Chimney Cake, long rolled strips of sugary dough sprinkled with cinnamon, sugar or loaded with chocolate. The Somloi Galuska or the Hungarian Trifle is another delicious treat you should not miss. It is a different-flavored sponge cake layered with chocolate and topped with walnuts, rum, and cream.
Explore the Markets
One of the must-visit places in Budapest is the Great Market Hall or Central Market Hall. The Great Market Hall is the largest and the oldest indoor market in Budapest. You will find the market at the Pest end of the famous Liberty Bridge.
The roof of the Neo-Gothic building stands out for the colorful Zsolnay tiles. The three-story building has shops on all floors. The ground floor has stalls selling fresh vegetables, fruits, and meat. The first floor shops sold garments and handicrafts. And there was the basement which had a fish market.
Great Market Hall is a popular tourist attraction but many other markets in Budapest are worth exploring.
There is the Lehel Market housed in an interesting building. They sell fresh produce, vegetables, fruits, and meat. Visit the Feny Street market to try some local cuisine and buy some fresh cheeses, flowers, fruits, vegetables, and meat.
Klauzal Square Market Hall and Rakoczi Square Market Hall are also traditional markets which date from the late 1800s. The market sells fresh Hungarian produce and more. And the Szimpla Farmers Market every Sunday which we already talked about held inside Budapest’s popular ruin bar is a must on the list.
Go Offbeaten – Visit Budapest Kerepesi Cemetery
Exploring artwork and sculpture in the peace of the cemetery is a unique experience. The Kerepesi Cemetery is one of the famous cemeteries in Budapest and one of the oldest cemeteries in Hungary.
The cemetery has many ornate tombs or mausoleums of numerous famous Hungarians including statesmen, writers, sculptors, architects, artists, composers, and scientists. The cemetery is also the resting place of the poet Attila Jozsef.
The cemetery open to the public is a nice place to walk around and take pictures and explore the history of Budapest.
The Kerepesi Cemetery is located very close to the Keleti Railway connected by metro line 2.
Day Trip to Eger
Eger is a charming historical town with pastel-colored houses, squares, historic buildings and a castle overlooking the town. There are regular buses from Budapest to Eger that take a couple of hours through beautiful countryside.
The first attraction you will come across is the Eger’s Basilica very close to the bus station. The 19th-century neoclassical church is one of the largest churches in Hungary. Walking further you will walk into the Dobo Square which has a statue of Istvan Dobo, the defending commander of the castle. Also in the square is the imposing Minorite Church and Town Hall.
The castle has several permanent and temporary exhibitions and ruins of Cathedral, and monuments. The ramparts offer wonderful views of the rooftops of the town of Eger.
Lastly, just wander around and explore the colorful Baroque Buildings. The town has several baroque buildings bedecked with elegant wrought-iron balconies and window grills with sculptures. Read more about the things to do in Eger.
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