Budapest travel blog: Best places to visit and top things to do
- Budapest tips — +17 Budapest things to know & top tips for Budapest
- Where to go in Budapest — 9 top, must see & best places to visit in Budapest
- What to do in Budapest — 7 fun, must & best things to do in Budapest
- What to buy in Hungary? — 15+ best gifts from Hungary & souvenirs from Hungary
- Tasting Hungarian Goulash soup — The delicious traditional soup of Hungary
Budapest has many places to visit and many things to experience, time for a trip to this city to be able to visit all the main tourist attractions in about 2-3 days (should be 3 days or more). My first feeling of the city was the bleakness of the old-fashioned Eastern European style, make me reminiscent of the stories, films about Russia and Eastern European countries from childhood with pointed domes, buildings in snow and the cold sounds of church bells.
If you have a short time you can buy city tour – “Hop on Hop off” – a form of sightseeing on a bus that runs around the city with ticket price from 4.500 HUF ($15.63)/tour, see details here. Admission tickets at tourist attractions:
- Thermal Baths: 2.900-4.600 HUF ($11- $17)
- Hungarian National Gallery: 1.200 HUF ($4.50)
- Museum of Fine Arts: 1.800 HUF ($7)
- House of Terror Museum: 2.000 HUF ($ 7.50)
- Budapest Pinball Museum: 2.500 HUF ($9.50) includes you can play on all pinball machines
Danube river and boat tour
Traveling in Budapest, the first thing to do and of course, you have to getting around to feel the vibrant life of the city on the Danube river, watching the twinkling lights at night, can not miss the beautiful views from the bridges cross the Danube such as Margaret Bridge, Chain Bridge, Elisabeth Bridge, and Liberty Bridge. Each of these bridges is iconic of Budapest and leads you to a sightseeing spot, the bridge of stone lions without the tongues of the iconic Chain Bridge near Buda Castle, the Elizabeth Bridge always glowing at night leading to Gellert Hill and Liberty Bridge leading to Central Market Hall.
For a relaxing time and to see the entire length of the Danube you can catch Tram No. 2, which will take you along the river and you will not miss any sights. This is also a simple way for you to get a better overview of Budapest and the Danube.
In the evening, remember to buy cruise tickets on the Danube river, watching the two banks of the river glow as it seems the surroundings areas of the river all turn on the lights to increase the fancifulness of the city. There are many cruises that running at different time frames for you to choose from, including the boat departing late in night at 11 pm and having a party on boat. On some special occasions like St. Stephen’s Day (August 20 every year), Christmas holidays will have very beautiful fireworks display. The boat ticket price start at 10 euros/person with free drinks, you can see at this website. If you have good financial condition, you should reserve dinner on the boat, it will be very romantic.
If you want a cheaper price, you can refer to a tip from a backpacker on TripAdvisor, go to the ticket counter at Pier 5 (dock) on the river bank of Pest, buy round trip ticket to Margaret island for just 900 HUF ($3.12) instead of buying cruise ticket on the Danube River for 1 hour for 3000 HUF ($10.42). You can choose the departure time of the boat, every 2 hours there is 1 boat trip and there are 2 wharf for you to get off the boat and getting up the island.
Buda Castle and Fisherman’s Bastion
Buda Castle is one of the city’s most prominent buildings and you can see it from the river bank of Pest through the Danube river. This is the home of Hungarian kings from the 13th century, built and renovated in the 19th century. The annual Buda Castle Wine Festival is also held in this castle.
This complex includes the Royal Palace – the world cultural heritage – the Hungary National Library (National Széchényi Library) and the Budapest History Museum. From a distance, the castle like a giant fortress with jade color pointed domes towering between the city. A special thing is to getting from the Chain Bridge to the Castle or Castle Hill you can climb the stairs or use a funicular railway (a cable pulling a car up), very interesting and full of nostalgia.
At the foot of the castle is a secret tunnel system built in medieval times by the ancient kings, sometimes used as a wine cellar, then torture room and then used to shelter in world war.
From here you can walk to Fishermen’s Bastion fortress, admire the whole beautiful city from above. The second floor of Fishermen’s Bastion Fortress is known for the Matthias church but you will have to buy an entrance ticket. You can enjoy lunch with delicious cakes and sip coffee at the famous Ruszwurm Cafe.
Not far from Castle Hill is Gellért Hill – Budapest’s highest peak, the hill named after St. Gerard, who spread Christianity into Hungary. Getting here you will admire the Liberty statue – the symbol of the freedom of the Hungarian people and see the whole Danube river.
If you have time you can visit some caves on Gellert hill, Monument to Saint Gellért, which marks the location of St. Gellert’s death and from here you can see the beautiful Elizabeth bridge.
St. Stephen’s Basilica and Hungarian Parliament Building
These two locations are located in District V along with many other places to visit. The Parliament Building is too famous for its magnificence, supremacy and spectacular, especially when the building lights up in the evening, just like a grand palace but also as an impregnable fortress, admission is 5.200 HUF ($18.01).
Address: Budapest, Kossuth Lajos tér 1-3, 1055 Hungary
Height: 96 m
Architect: Imre Steindl
Architectural styles: Gothic Revival architecture, Renaissance Revival architecture
Admission: 5.200 HUF
A short distance away is St. Stephen’s Basilica, Budapest’s largest church and famous for keeping the hand of Saint Stephen. You will spend a small fee if you want to go to the church’s dome balcony to see the city from above.
Address: Budapest, Szent István tér 1, 1051 Hungary
Height: 96 m
Architectural style: Neoclassical architecture
Andrássy Avenue and Opera House
Budapest has a lot of large squares and Andrassy is one of them, this UNESCO heritage recognized avenue is home to quite a number of luxury shops, embassies, and splendid villas. The main avenue of Andrassy is worth it for you to spend your time here, walking and feeling the history and culture of the once–emblem of the Austria – Hungary Empire. Right at your feet is the very old tunnel built – the Metro M1 line, which leads to the end of the avenue is Hero Square.
Not to be missed the Hungarian National Opera, a masterpiece of Renaissance Revival architecture, which is still chosen to hold concerts, the city’s major annual festivals.
Address: Budapest, Andrássy út 22, 1061 Hungary
Architect: Miklós Ybl
Architectural styles: Baroque architecture, Renaissance Revival architecture
The Hero Square is located at the end of Andrássy Avenue, built in 1896 during the 1.000th anniversary of Hungary. There are huge statues of Hungarian leaders and seven chieftains from Middle Ages.
Behind the Hero Square is a city park where you can walk through the fields, take a break for a while by taking a nap at the lakeside lawn, and enjoy lunch at the Gundel restaurant or Robinson restaurant near there.
Margaret is like an oasis with lots of green trees that serves as a lung for the entire city of Budapest. You can take a boat on the Danube or walk through the Árpád Bridge to get to the island. The people of Budapest often take their families here to relax on the weekends because the island is full of the services you need, a peaceful space and away from the dusty, noisy city.
Budapest residents are always proud that they have hot springs everywhere in the city, and hot spring baths are an activity that can’t help but try when you come to Budapest. There are more than 100 such thermal baths in the city with water temperatures from 21-78 degrees Celsius. Hot spring baths not only help you relax but also very good for health, especially the accompanying services such as massage, physical therapy,..
Some of the famous hot spring baths you can choose from are Széchenyi Bath which is surrounded by a beautiful palace, Gellért Bath on Gellért hill and Király Bath where you feel like living in the palace of the Turkish royal. In the above 3 bath locations, Széchenyi is home to outdoor baths with a more airy feeling. Prices of bath services, massage range 15-20EUR, you see everything at Bathsbudapest.com.
Some information about hot spring baths in Budapest:
- Remember to bring clothes after bathing and towels, many places they will not have towels for you, should also remove jewelry to avoid corrosion by sulfur in the water.
- Usually they will give you a bracelet when buying a ticket, use this to scan when entering the bathroom door.
- Hot springs often have quite a number of different rooms and sometimes very crowded, wanting to have your private room will cost you more.
Budapest blog: Where to play?
Budapest is also famous for its ancient bars and pubs built from seemingly dilapidated buildings from the World War II. These bars are quite unique because they can be underground tunnels, the outside like a huge blockhouse and very charming. The most famous bars like these in Budapest can be listed such as Szimpla Kert, Instant and Fogas Ház, you can see more information at RuinPubs.com. In addition to the old-style bars, there are many Budapest nightclubs such as Club Studio and Club Dokk, however the price is quite high.
Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in, from and to Budapest you can refer to
- Budapest Day Tour from Vienna
- Private Budapest Liszt Ferenc International Airport (BUD) Transfers for Budapest
- Budapest City Card
- Budapest Hop-On Hop-Off City Sightseeing Bus Tour
- Széchenyi Spa Fast Track Ticket
- Dinner and Cruise with Live Music on Danube River in Budapest
- Budapest Walking Tour and Danube River Night Cruise
- Lunch and Cruise on Danube River in Budapest
- Danube River Cruise with Drinks in Budapest
- Morning or Afternoon Sightseeing Cruise on Danube River in Budapest
- Budapest Day Tour from Vienna