Budapest is the capital of Hungary, a combination of Buda built on a hill with many beautiful, magnificent castles, the rest is Pest built on a plain of ancient buildings from the Middle Ages. The two parts of Buda and Pest are connected by nine bridges spanning the Danube. Budapest is bestowed with many beautiful titles such as the “Paris of the East”, “Queen of the Danube”, the “Heart of Europe”, or the “Pearl of the Danube”. So, what to do in Budapest, Hungary? Let’s check out our suggested 7 top things to do in Budapest, best things to do in Budapest, cool, fun things to do in Budapest and must dos in Budapest to find out the answer! Of course, the very large of Budapest has also many other interesting activities to try. But with limited time, I find the following activities, things to do are very “value for money”.
- Where to go in Budapest — 9 top, must see & best places to visit in Budapest
- Budapest travel blog — The fullest Budapest travel guide for a great trip to Budapest for the first-timers
- What to buy in Hungary? — 15+ best gifts from Hungary & souvenirs from Hungary
- Tasting Hungarian Goulash soup — The delicious traditional soup of Hungary
- Discover 7 top places to visit in Budapest — The “gem” of Danube region
Best things to do in Budapest: Take a relaxing hot bath at the Széchenyi Thermal Bath (Széchenyi Baths and Pool)
Address: Budapest, Állatkerti krt. 9-11, 1146 Hungary
Budapest has been known as the city of thermal baths since Roman times. So, you can imagine that there are many hot baths through out Hungary. However, Széchenyi Thermal Bath is one of the most famous ones due to its large scale, with many pools (the two largest pools, one hot and one swimming pool are extremely large), reasonable price and good service. Today, bathing and relaxing in this Baroque Revival architecture bath is more frequented by tourists than by locals. But it can be said that this is one of the most famous attractions and top things to do in Budapest, best things to do in Budapest, must dos in Budapest.
Some useful tips before you go to Széchenyi:
- Actually, if I had to choose, I’d rather to go to Tatra for a hot bath. Why? In the mountains, the air is fresh, in the cold season with snow, in the summer with green trees. Indulging, relaxing in a moderately crowded and few tourists is still more pleasant than crammed at Szechenyi. So, to have the best experience in this pool, I recommend going in January or February. Do not go in the peak season of winter because visitors flocking here very crowded. And taking a hot bath in summer is not very wise, right?!
- You should book tickets in advance to avoid having to wait in line. Ticket booking page here. Tickets include lockers. In general, it is no different from going to the swimming pool. A full day ticket is about 24 euros, including all services and a private clothes changing cabin. Weekdays tickets are usually cheaper.
- The pool is open from 9 am to 10 pm. Enjoy leisurely. There is also a restaurant and bar inside. Very convenient.
- Every weekend at the pool, there will be a party. At that time, there will be colorful lights and live music, and young people come to playing, eating and dancing. Party tickets usually include a welcome drink. Please check the party schedule and book tickets here.
- If you want to experience more services such as spa or massage…, you should also book in advance to avoid queues.
Must dos in Budapest: Visit Budapest Zoo
Address: Budapest, Állatkerti krt. 6-12, 1146 Hungary
Hours: 9AM–5PM/Saturday, Sunday: 9AM–5:30PM
Budapest Zoo is one of the biggest and most interesting zoos I have ever visited, which was opened in 1866 with number of animals: 10,354 and number of species: 1,072. This zoo is located right… outside the Széchenyi Baths and Pool, very convenient to go. Tickets are also very affordable. The zoo is extremely large that it takes most of the day to explore, consisting of various zones with all kinds of animals, species and all kinds of themes.
If I have time, I think a worthwhile day in Budapest will be like this: Go to the zoo to play and visit in the morning (remember to bring food for a picnic, there is a very peaceful and pleasant Japanese garden). After tired of playing, then in the afternoon near sunset time, go to the Széchenyi swimming pool right opposite to soak up to relief fatigue. But it’s a bit more crowded in the evening, but much bustling and vibrant.
Tip: Right opposite the exit gate of the Széchenyi bath, there is a no name grilled meat shop but so delicious, tasty! It sells bread, sandwich, grilled meat, sausage in Hungarian style. Price is very reasonable, true to standard of street food. After taking a bath or playing in the park, there is nothing better than going there for a delectable meal. Don’t forget to try the pickled vegetables as well. Spicy but mouth-watering!
What to do in Budapest: Want to taste Hungarian street food? Heading to Vorosmarty ter square!
Address: Budapest, Vörösmarty tér 3, 1051 Hungary
Standing market in the square during the day
This is the reason why I recommended in the first post that you should not to eat at The Great Market Hall (Central Market Hall), instead come to this square. Just visit the Great Market Hall as a tourist place only. Coming here to eat for cheaper but “more delicious”, much better. This is a beautiful little square, inside is full of food stalls and souvenir stalls, very interesting. The market here is open from morning to night. Comfortable to wander around to eating and drinking.
Best things to do in budapest: Admiring the shimmering Hungarian Parliament Building from the Danube – Boat cruise with dinner
Dinner and boat cruise on the Danube and admiring the magnificent Parliament Building are extremely popular things to do in Budapest. However, you must choose the right tour agent. Most famous travel companies or many flyers and so on are… pretty bad. Don’t follow it! Some companies even arrange dozens of strangers to sit at the same table. Please, do not!
Therefore, I highly recommend you a company that I am extremely satisfied with, Budapest River Cruises – Silverline (Address: Budapest, Jane Haining Rakpart, Dokk 11, 1052 Hungary/Hours: 10AM–10PM/Phone: +36 20 332 5364). This is a fairly new company, so it’s not very well known. In return, the quality of service is very good. The boat is small but new, modern and delicate interior. It offers many different tour packages. During my visit, my friend and I booked a 3-hour boat tour, with a 4-course dinner and a “piano battle”. A bit expensive but very “satisfied”.
In the previous post, I mentioned that the hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus tour, that is not worth going (expensive and meaningless). But there is a small experience that if you buy tickets from Big Bus company, you will get a discount when booking Silverline packages. I remember it reduced quite a lot (more than 20 euros). But Big Bus tickets are also not cheap at all. So, please consider carefully.
Cool things to do in Budapest: Street art hunting
What to do in Budapest for “art”? The great thing about Eastern European countries is that monuments and murals are everywhere. Especially in Budapest. I just keep to hunt for statues, murals, love it!
Fun and unique things to do in Budapest: Panoptikum Labyrinth
What to do in Budapest for “strange”? Visit the Panoptikum Labyrinth (A maze of caves)! This is an interesting activity we found by accident when we wanted to have a “different” experience from normal other tourist activities. It’s basically a basement right next to Buda castle. Those who come down here will be given a small oil lamp, and explore this labyrinthine tunnel for themselves. Below that is an exhibition of wax figures. They create a very good atmosphere: From the combination of music, sound, wax exhibition combined with lighting, all together creating a quite unique interesting experience.
Please visit the homepage of the labyrinth here.
Best things to do in Budapest: Strolling on the bridges crossing the Danube
Budapest has many bridges, the most famous one also the symbol of the capital is Chain Bridge. Walking on the bridges in the evening and watching the lights on the castle or the lights from the parliament building, watching boats and cruises back and forth on the Danube is a very pleasant relaxing activity. You also should strolling and sit on the banks of the Danube to enjoy the cool breezes of this city of thousand years of glorious history!
So, after the two articles about attractions and interesting activities and detailed guide, I believe you have enough referral resources to plan your upcoming trip to Budapest.
Note: I was in Budapest for a week but I only had time to do such many activities. You should arrange the time to have a trip that is not too rushed and tiring. Budapest also has countless of unmissable things to do like that. Happy traveling!
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