Hungarian capital, Budapest consist of 3 cities getting together, with Buda and Óbuda on the west side of the Danube and Pest on the east side. Most of the city has been granted UNESCO World Heritage Site status, and is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.
The city successfully brings together its fascinating history with a brilliant, modern artistic style. The thermal baths are the local jewels yet there are plenty of other ways to spend the day. World-class museums, parks, shopping and cafes are available around the corner. Walk around Castle Hill for a taste of medieval Budapest or spend an afternoon enjoying a cold brew in a cafe with young Hungarians. Just be sure to save some energy for the everlasting nights.
Well, the city has lot to offer for all tastes. Let’s have a look at the best things to do in Budapest:
Fisherman’s Bastion (Halászbástya)
Located in the historic district of Castle Hill, Fisherman’s Bastion is a neo-Gothic terrace that looks like a fairytale structure. Designed and built in 1905 by Frigyes Schulek – the same architect who built the adjacent Matthias Church – Fisherman’s Bastion is named after the medieval guild of fishermen who protected Budapest from invasion.
The seven towers of the Bastion represent the seven Magyar tribes that helped to settle the Magyar people in the Carpathian Basin. Come at sunset to see a particularly beautiful view of the city.
Thanks to this amazing city view, the Bastion makes at the top of the best things to do in Budapest list!
Danube River & The Shoes Memorial
Dividing the city’s Buda and Pest sides is the impressive Danube River. Flowing roughly 1,770 miles thru 10 countries this sprawling river is the second longest in Europe.
This stretch of the Danube walkway goes from the Elizabeth Bridge to the Chain Bridge, and is perfect for those who want a short, but interesting walk. Promenading along the Danube is a great way to see many of the most famous sights in the capital.
Looking over towards to Buda side of the river, you will see the Buda Castle, the Liberty Statue on Gellert Hill and the Fisherman’s Bastion. On the Promenade side of the river you can enjoy restaurants, cafes, Szechenyi Istvan Square and a range of different sculptures, including the Little Princess.
The shoes at the bank of the river is a heartbreaking memorial to 3,500 people killed by fascists in Budapest during the Second World War. This poignant sculpture, made up of 60 pairs of cast iron shoes designed by Can Togay and Gyula Pauer on the banks of the Danube, commemorates the slaying of 3,500 civilians – including 800 Jews – killed by Arrow Cross militiamen in Budapest. The victims were ordered to remove their shoes by the fascist group, before being shot, their bodies falling into the river.
Castle Hill (Várhegy)
Located on the west side of the Danube River, Castle Hill is a must-see district for any Budapest visitor. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987, the area’s iconic Buda Castle was constructed in the 13th century. Walk the cobblestone streets, take in the medieval atmosphere and dive deep into Budapest’s history.
From the castle to Matthias Church to the underground Castle Labyrinth to Fisherman’s Bastion, you’ll find there’s almost no end to what you can learn about Budapest’s past. The lack of vehicle traffic also lends an old-world charm to the area.
Parliament House (Országház)
The Hungarian Parliament is really a gem. Even if a lot of crap is tapped inside, it just looks great from the outside. The Hungarian Reichstag is located directly on the banks of the Danube and is a feast for the eyes. During the day and especially at night. Then the innumerable gables and towers of the building are brightly lit and a mystical aura surrounds the parliament. In the evening, the best way to enjoy the view is from the other side of the Danube bank. During the day it is worth walking around the parliament and admiring the architecture.
Completed in 1902, the Hungarian Parliament is one of Budapest’s most famous landmarks. The Hungarian National Assembly still meets here, but visitors come mainly to take in the building’s architecture and beautiful statues and paintings.
The 691-room building is famed for its Gothic Revival architecture, ornate statues and gorgeous paintings. It not only features incredible architectural details but also stunning Danube River views and significant artifacts.
Heroes’ Square (Hosök tere)
Heroes’ Square is one of Budapest’s grandest landmarks. In fact, it’s the largest public square in the city. Swing by this area to take a picture of the Millenary Monument, which was erected in 1896 to celebrate Hungary’s 1000th anniversary.
The square and the monument are dedicated to those who lost their lives while fighting for the country’s independence. At the base of the famous column are statues representing seven Magyar chieftains. These chieftains are considered to be the founders of the Hungarian nation. Behind the column are matching colonnades with 14 statues of royalty and other important figures in Hungarian history.
The Square was once the setting for Michael Jackson’s video for his song History, and the square is still very worth seeing today.
Behind the square there is a beautiful park with a lake that invites you to paddle in summer and ice skate in winter.
Thermal Baths & Szechenyi Spa Baths
A soak in a thermal bath is a quintessential Budapest experience. (It hasn’t cultivated a reputation as the “City of Spas” for nothing.) So to say, one of the best things to do in Budapest. These baths are heated by natural thermal springs and usually include on-site massage services, as well as steam rooms.
With more than 100 thermal springs, the various baths serve different tastes: from relaxation to cures for illness. Well some transform into pulsating dance clubs at night. So if you’re bathing with your family, you might want to do so during the daylight hours.
Many of the baths impress with their impressive architecture, especially the Gellért Bath with its Art Nouveau architecture.
According to visitors, one of Budapest’s best thermal baths (and the largest of its kind in Europe) is Széchenyi Baths in City Park. Built in 1913, the facility features 18 pools to choose from. Another favorite is Gellért Spa, which is known for its grand Art Nouveau architecture and art deco details.
BONUS – Flippermúzeum
Although not much people know about it, Pinball museum is definately one of the best things to do in Budapest. The museum, featuring a collection of 115 pinball machines and 30 other old-school arcade games.
Set in a windowless basement and illuminated only by the bright light of the machines, this is unlike any other museum you’ll ever visit. It’s also Europe’s largest interactive pinball exhibition.