1. Cruise down the Danube
A Danube river cruise is the perfect way to take in the city’s most stunning sights, all while experiencing the gentle sway of this graceful river. The cruise offers a unique perspective to Budapest’s most famous landmarks such as the Parliament building, the Royal Palace of Buda and the famous Chain Bridge. The breathtaking views are equally impressive at night where the buildings’ lights illuminate the dark sky creating a magical atmosphere.
While on the cruise, it is easy to imagine the days when Budapest was a maritime city with ships sailing up and down the river. Locals still use the waterway for transportation, and the river banks are a popular spot for leisurely walks and picnics.
The boat tour also provides an opportunity to learn about Budapest’s rich history, including the local legends and myths of the river. The knowledgeable guides share fascinating stories about the city, its landmarks and its people, providing a comprehensive understanding of Budapest’s culture and heritage. Additionally, the boat tour typically includes commentary in multiple languages, providing insight into the city’s rich history and architecture.
The Danube river may separate Buda from Pest, but a cruise down it unites them. The river provides a stunning backdrop of Budapest’s historic buildings, creates a romantic atmosphere and serves as a major transportation route for locals and tourists alike.
2. Visit St. Stephen’s Basilica
St. Stephen’s Basilica in Budapest is a true marvel of architecture and a must-visit attraction for anyone visiting the city. This grand Roman Catholic church stands tall in the heart of the city and offers a stunning example of neo-classical design. Visitors can take in the grandeur of the exterior, with its towering columns and intricate sculptures, before stepping inside to marvel at the ornate stained glass windows and decorative details.
One of the highlights of a visit to St. Stephen’s Basilica is the opportunity to climb to the top for a bird’s-eye view of the city. Climbing to the top to enjoy the panoramic views of the city is undoubtedly an unmatched experience. The journey up the stairs or elevator is well worth it, as visitors are rewarded with an unparalleled panoramic vista of Budapest’s iconic landmarks. From the impressive Chain Bridge to the sprawling Danube River, there is so much to see from this unique vantage point.
But it’s not just the architecture and views that make St. Stephen’s Basilica a must-visit attraction. The church also has a rich history and cultural significance that is worth exploring. Visitors can learn about the life of Saint Stephen, Hungary’s first Christian king, and the importance of the Basilica in modern-day Hungarian society.
All in all, a visit to St. Stephen’s Basilica offers a well-rounded experience of architecture, history, and culture. With so much to see and learn about, it’s no wonder this iconic church is such a popular attraction for visitors from around the world.
3. Take a guided street art tour
Budapest is a city that boasts a rich cultural heritage and a vibrant arts scene. For those looking to explore the latter, a guided street art tour is a must-do. With its colorful and expressive murals, striking imagery, and powerful messages, Budapest’s street art is an interesting representation of the city’s history and culture.
The tour will take you through various neighborhoods in Budapest, including the Jewish Quarter, where you’ll be immersed in the city’s street art scene. Your guide will help you navigate the winding streets, pointing out the best examples of street art and sharing information on their background and significance.
The street art in Budapest is a reflection of the city’s complex history. During the communist era, government propaganda dominated public spaces. After the fall of the Iron Curtain, however, the city’s walls became canvases for artistic expression. Today, Budapest’s street art is a reflection of the city’s vibrant creative scene, as well as a testament to its diversity and eclectic cultural heritage.
Taking a guided street art tour in Budapest sounds like a unique and exciting way to explore the city while learning about its art and culture. The vibrant street art scene in Budapest is one of its kind and provides a deep insight into its history and culture. The tour itself could be a great opportunity to see some of the best street art pieces in the city, discover hidden gems, and learn about the artists behind them.
4. Walk across the Chain Bridge
Walking across the Chain Bridge is a must-do activity if you are visiting Budapest. As one of the most iconic landmarks of the city, this bridge is an architectural masterpiece that has connected the two sides of the city, Buda and Pest, for over a century. As you walk across the bridge, you’ll be greeted with breathtaking views of the Danube River and the surrounding hills, creating a spectacular backdrop that is picture-perfect.
At night, the Chain Bridge is especially beautiful as it lights up, and the city skyline glows with a warm, welcoming glow. The walk along the bridge is easy, and there are plenty of opportunities to stop, take photos or sit on the benches and admire the view. Furthermore, as you approach the Buda side of the bridge, you’ll see the majestic Buda Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is breathtakingly beautiful.
Beyond the stunning views and photo opportunities, the walk across the Chain Bridge provides a real sense of history and culture. The bridge plays a significant role in the city’s history, and it’s essential to know its story. You’ll learn how it was built, and how it played a significant role in connecting Buda and Pest, bringing together the significant cultural and economic centres of this fascinating city. In addition, you can also learn about the iconic statues of the lions that guard the bridge’s entrances, which are a testament to the city’s rich heritage.
Overall, whether you are a history buff, an architecture enthusiast, or someone who wants to appreciate the beauty of Budapest, a walk across the Chain Bridge is a must-do activity. It’s the perfect introduction to the city’s unique culture, and as you cross the bridge, you’ll feel a connection to the people, history, and landmarks that make Budapest one of Europe’s most charming destinations.
5. Explore the Majesty of Buda Palace
If you’re looking to explore Budapest, one activity you simply cannot miss is visiting the majestic Buda Palace. Located in the Buda Castle district, the palace offers visitors a stunning view of the Danube River and the Pest side of the city.
Once you’ve made your way up the hill to the palace, you’ll find yourself surrounded by breathtaking architecture and beautiful gardens. The palace has been home to kings, emperors, and presidents throughout its history, and a walk through its halls is like taking a journey through time. From the Renaissance-style Matthias Fountain to the Baroque-style Lion’s Court, every corner of the palace is rich with history and culture.
One of the most popular attractions in the palace is the Budapest History Museum, which is housed in the beautiful Gothic-style building of the former Royal Palace. Here, you can learn about the history of Budapest and Hungary from the earliest times to the present day. The museum also features stunning collections of art and artifacts from various periods of Hungarian history.
Whether you’re a history buff, an architecture enthusiast, or simply looking to soak up the beauty and culture of Budapest, exploring the majesty of Buda Palace is an absolute must. The palace’s stunning views, rich history, and beautiful architecture are sure to leave a lasting impression on visitors of all ages.
6. Soak in the Széchenyi Baths
Looking to immerse yourself in the ultimate relaxation experience in Budapest? Look no further than the Széchenyi Baths! These stunning thermal baths are one of the city’s most iconic attractions, offering visitors the chance to unwind and rejuvenate in the midst of beautiful Neo-Baroque architecture.
Situated in the beautiful City Park, the Széchenyi Baths feature over 18 pools, including outdoor and indoor ones. The outdoor pools are particularly inviting, with their warm and therapeutic waters inviting visitors to soak and relax amidst a serene and picturesque setting.
Apart from the pools, the Széchenyi Baths also offer Hungarian saunas, steam rooms, and hot tubs. These facilities are perfect for anyone who wants to revitalize their bodies and minds, and the heat therapy can help relieve joint pain, muscle tension, and other common ailments.
What makes the Széchenyi Baths truly unique, however, is the beautiful architecture that surrounds them. With intricate mosaics and statues, the baths are a stunning example of Neo-Baroque style, and visitors can feel transported back in time to the height of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Visiting Széchenyi Baths should be on every traveler’s list when they visit Budapest. Soak in the warm waters, delight in the Hungarian saunas, and take in the grand architecture while surrounded by a beautiful landscape. It is an ideal place to relax and unwind while experiencing one of Budapest’s most iconic attractions.
7. Visit the Hungarian Parliament Building
The Hungarian Parliament Building is a stunning landmark that should be at the top of your travel list when you visit Budapest. It is an architectural marvel that is sure to amaze tourists and locals alike. This grand masterpiece is the largest building in Hungary, and it offers an unforgettable experience through its guided tours.
Upon your arrival and entry into this grandiose building, you’ll find jaw-dropping sights to see around every corner. From grand staircases to elaborate stained glass, the Hungarian Parliament Building boasts over 691 rooms, and each of them is elaborately decorated to offer a glimpse into Hungary’s rich history. The grand staircase leading to the parliamentary chamber is adorned with statues and intricate patterns that add color to your pictures and memories as you ascend.
The building’s exterior is as breathtaking as the interiors. The neo-gothic architecture is complemented by modern technology that enhances the mystical vibe that the building exudes in the evenings. This stunning edifice is equally beautiful during the day, and the blue sky serves as the perfect backdrop to your pictures.
Do not miss an opportunity to explore the Hungarian Parliament Building’s grandiose and elaborate halls, admire the architectural details of the building, and learn the history of Hungary’s political system through the guided tour. It is undoubtedly one of Budapest’s most iconic landmarks and a fantastic representation of the country’s culture and heritage. An experience that would stay with you forever.
8. Sample Hungarian street food
Hungarian street food is a reflection of the country’s rich cultural heritage and offers a unique blend of flavors and textures that are sure to tantalize your taste buds.
From the famous chimney cakes (kürtőskalács) to the savory lángos, a deep-fried dough topped with cheese and sour cream, there are plenty of delicious options to choose from. You’ll find street food vendors all over Budapest, from busy squares and markets to quiet neighborhoods and hidden alleyways.
One of the best places to sample Hungarian street food is the Great Market Hall (Nagyvásárcsarnok) in central Budapest. Here, you’ll find a huge variety of local produce, spices, and meats, as well as a range of food stalls selling delicious street food specialties. From goulash soup and sausages to pickles and pastries, the market has something to satisfy every taste.
Built in the late 19th century, this indoor market offers a window into the traditional Hungarian culinary scene. This bustling market is a vibrant hub for locals and tourists alike, showcasing all sorts of local produce, meats, and spices that will tantalize your taste buds.
As you step inside, you will be greeted by an array of smells and colors. Stroll through the stalls and marvel at the fresh produce on display - juicy ripe tomatoes, bright peppers, and an assortment of fruits and vegetables. You will also find typical Hungarian meats, such as kolbász (sausage) and pálinka (fruit brandy), making the air heavy as these delicacies fill the market’s corridors.
Sampling Hungarian street food is not only a chance to indulge in delicious flavors but also to connect with the local culture and way of life. Whether you’re a solo traveler or visiting with friends and family, trying out the street food scene in Budapest is an exciting and memorable experience that’s sure to leave a lasting impression on your taste buds and your heart.
9. Explore the Fisherman’s Bastion
Nestled in the heart of Budapest, Fisherman’s Bastion is a stunning architectural masterpiece that has become one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions. From the moment you set foot on the terraces of this iconic lookout, you’ll be swept away by the breathtaking panoramic views of the Danube River and the city skyline. Stroll through this classic piece of Hungarian architecture, designed in neo-Gothic style, which has been pleasing travelers since it was built in the late 19th century.
The intricate stonework and ornate spires of the seven towers, each representing one of the seven tribes that founded the country, add to the mesmerizing atmosphere, making it feel like you are in a fairy tale. The Fisherman’s Bastion takes its name from the fisherman’s guild that used to protect Budapest’s castle walls, and each of the seven towers combine to create a truly exceptional experience for visitors. Offering a sublime view of the changing colors of the sky over the sprawling landscape, this lookout point is one of the most popular places to catch the sunrise or sunset in Budapest.
Fisherman’s Bastion is a great place to snap a photo for the gram but it is an even better place to soak up the Hungarian spirit. While wandering the terraces, don’t forget to look for the bronze statue of King Stephen I, Hungary’s first Christian monarch, located here as well. Adding to the magic of the breathtaking views, the statue enhances the cultural significance of Fisherman’s Bastion, and it is a must-visit site for those looking to connect to Budapest’s rich history. So why settle for mediocre views when you can stand in one of the most magical lookout points in Budapest? For a unique experience, visit Fisherman’s Bastion, and trust me- you won’t be disappointed.
10. Hike up Gellért Hill
Gellért Hill is a true gem of Budapest, and hiking up this natural wonder offers one of the most memorable experiences in the city. As you begin your ascent, you will be surrounded by lush, green vegetation and a calming sense of nature. As you climb higher, the path can get steeper, but the effort is more than worth it once you reach the top.
From the summit of Gellért Hill, you will be rewarded with an unbeatable view of Budapest. The city is spread out before you in all its splendor, and the panorama will take your breath away. You’ll see the iconic Danube River meandering through the heart of the city and be able to pick out all of Budapest’s landmarks—from the Parliament building and the Basilica to the Fisherman’s Bastion and Buda Castle. The view is especially magnificent at dusk when the city begins to light up and you can see it in all its glory.
Once you’ve taken in the views, you may want to climb down and walk across the Danube Bridge to explore the rest of the city. But, take your time and enjoy the feeling of being on top of the world. The Hill also offers a cave and a statue of St. Gellért, who the hill is named after, providing plenty of opportunities to learn more about the history and culture of the region.
But what really makes the hike up Gellért Hill special is the sense of adventure and discovery that comes with it. You never know what you’ll find around the next corner or who you’ll meet along the way. Whether you’re traveling solo or with friends, the hike is a great opportunity to connect with the local culture and way of life.
Budapest is a must-visit destination for everyone, especially those who are interested in European history and architecture. As you explore the city, you’ll be amazed at the stunningly beautiful buildings that line the streets. The Hungarian Parliament Building and St. Stephen’s Basilica are two of the most breathtaking structures in Europe, and they’re both situated in Budapest.
The city also boasts a rich cultural scene, with numerous museums, galleries, and concert halls. The Hungarian National Museum, Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art, and Franz Liszt Academy of Music are just a few of the many attractions that await you.
If you want to take a break from sightseeing and soak in the local culture, head to one of Budapest’s many thermal baths, such as the Gellért Baths or Széchenyi Baths. You’ll feel rejuvenated after a relaxing soak in the warm, mineral-rich waters.
Budapest is undoubtedly a city that should be on your travel bucket list. Its stunning architecture, rich history, and vibrant cultural scene make it a truly unforgettable destination. Plan your trip, pack your bags, and get ready to discover one of Europe’s most charming cities.