10 things to do and see in Budapest

A complete and detailed guide about 10 things to do and see in Budapest in 1, 2 or 3 days

10 things to do and see in Budapest
10 things to do and see in Budapest

Budapest is called the “Paris of the East” because  it has many features in common with the French capital and some glimpses remind some views of Paris: there is a river, castles and beautiful palaces, and there is a hill, similar to Montmartre, to climb and enjoying the landscape of Budapest.

However Budapest has its own identity , maybe even more than one:  it’s the result of three cities: Buda, Pest and Obuda, united by the Chain Bridge and other seven bridges, some of the most photographed corners of Budapest. Three days are enough to discover the Hungarian capital:  from Roman buildings, to the Middle Ages ones with the Castle, the Danube and a beautiful journey through time in the underground stations, made  130 years ago. To know the things to see and do in Budapest, read our 10 tips on this page.

If you are looking for a hotel in Budapest, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 400 hotels with prices, pictures  and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

The District of Buda in Budapest

1

The district of Buda was the first center of the city of Budapest. On this hill, and within the walls of the castle, the inhabitants of Pest came here  to avoid the  Mongol attacks

The District of Buda in Budapest
The District of Buda in Budapest

It was a beautiful city, to compete to the nearby Prague and Vienna. But then arrived  Turks who conquered Buda in 1541, staying there for about 150 years. Buda came out transformed: the churches became mosques and minarets and steam bath were built. In 1686, after 75 days of bombing, the Austrians made Buda free, but the beginning splendour was destroyed: it was rebuilt keeping the old look. It was destroyed again in 1945 and once again rebuilt, today it hosts the Royal Palace, the Matthias Church and some beautiful views. Definitely one of the 10 spots of Budapest not to be missed.

Where: In the upper part of Buda.
How to get there: by funicular railway from the Chain Bridge. By buses 16A and 116 from Moszkva Square.
When – Hours: Every day from 10 am to 6 pm . Closed December 25.
Tickets: HUF florins. 700 with the Budapest Card

The District Pest in Budapest

2

If Buda is the ancient and noble part of Budapest, Pest ,on the other hand , is the modern and innovative heart. Restless and messy, it’s the perfect contrary of Buda, all gathered around the castle.

The District Pest in Budapest
The District Pest in Budapest

Pest has no great museums to see: here stands out the creative Budapest, with shops of designers and young artists. However there are some things to see: the Parliament Building and St. Stephen’s Cathedral, the Great Synagogue and the Ethnographic Museum. It is also the ideal part of Budapest  for shopping: along the Andrássy Avenue you can buy a lot things. There is also a House of Terror, used both by the Nazis both by the communists, as a place of torture.

The Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest

3

People don’t expect to admire such a large art collection in an Eastern country. Yet, the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest has nothing to envy to the great museums of the world, such as the Prado in Madrid and the Louvre in Paris.

The Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest
The Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest

The museum is divided into six major sections: greek-Roman antiquities, Egyptian collection, sculptures, drawings and molds, the gallery of the Old Masters and the one of the contemporary artists. These last two sections has works of exceptional richness: Giotto, Tiepolo, Raphael, Titian, Velázquez, Ribera, El Greek, Murillo, Goya, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Rubens, Van Dyck, Rembrandt, Albrecht Dürer, Lucas Cranach the Elder. In the XIX and XX century collection there are works by all major French Impressionists, Renoir, Monet, Manet, Delacroix, Gauguin, Cezanne, Picasso and others.

Where: Heros square (Hősök tere)
How to get there: underground M1 stop:  Hosok tere
When -Hours: Tuesday – Sunday from 10 am to 5.30 pm
Tickets: HUF 1200

Statue Park in Budapest

4

People of Budapest have been clever: while all European eastern countries at the end of Communism threw down the marble statues, symbols of no freedom, here have done better.

Statue Park in Budapest
Statue Park in Budapest

They have turned those giants into an excellent tool for memory utilization. They have  put together all the statues representing the great figures of communism (Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Bela Kun) along with anonymous soldiers  and have created a Memento Park Communism. If it’s not enough for you  to face the “comrades” but you want to bring home a piece of them, you can also buy souvenirs of the years of the Cold War (brooches, pins, T-shirts, vintage cigarettes). If you are interested, there is a fine show about how being trained as a communist spy.

Where: Outside the centre of Budapest.
How to get there: With a direct bus from the city center. Daily departures at 11 from Deák tér (you can get there by subway No.1, No.2 and No.3). You will find a bus with the sign: Memento Park.
When – Hours: every day from 10 am
Tickets: 1500 HUF 20% of discount with  Budapest Card

The thermal baths of Budapest

5

We know that the Romans had a special predilection for the spa: they not only used to have a hot bath in Budapest sources, but they did more.

The thermal baths of Budapest
The thermal baths of Budapest

They founded “Aqiuncum” with the magnificent baths, of which you can still see the remains in different places of Óbuda. Since then, Budapest has always been a spa town and has not lost this characteristic even when it became a metropolis: today it is the only European capital with the thermal baths and in 1934 it obtained the title of “spa town.” You can enjoy this long tradition and, above all, 70 million liters per day with temperatures from 21 to 78 ° C, in large and small thermal baths.

The Great Synagogue in Budapest

6

Budapest has always had a large Jewish community. Even today there are 22 active synagogues, many of which are in schools, hospitals or private homes. In the heart of the Jewish ghetto there is the largest synagogue in Europe.

The Great Synagogue in Budapest
The Great Synagogue in Budapest

Built in 1859 in neo-Moorish style, it can host up to 3000 people. In the lower part of the synagogue there are places for 1497 people, while upstairs there are places for 1472 women. In the garden, right above an ex  mass grave, there is a monument  reminding the Jews killed by the Nazis in 1944-45: it’s a willow tree, called “Tree of Life”, with metal leaves. On each leaf is engraved the name of a martyr.

Where: Dohány Utca, city center
How to get there: By underground, stop  Astoria
When – Hours: Variable hours depending by the time of year and religious functions.
Closed: 1 and 18 January, 15 March 9, 10, 15, 16 April. 29 and 30 May. 18, 19, 20, 27, September 28, 3, 4, 10, 11, Oct. 23. November 1st. December 24 and 25.
Tickets: 1600 HUF

The Margaret Island in Budapest

7

Gardens, spas, swimming pools, parks for walking and do sports. Hastily visitors, usually  lose a round on the  Margaret island, which is right in the middle of the Danube, and is easily accessible through the bridge.

The Margaret Island in Budapest
The Margaret Island in Budapest

We suggest you to rent a bike and go along the corners of this small island in the far and wide, they are only 2.5 km! Before Margaret Island, there were three distinct islands: the island Seaside resort, the island of Painters and the island of Hares. Linked by the cement at the end of 1800, now there is  a single island which takes is name by the daughter of King Béla IV, Margaret, that after the Tatar invasion retired to a monastery on the island itself. Today it’s a popular place among people who are looking for few hours without smog or for a bath in the thermal waters of the large outdoor swimming pool Palatinus.

The Parliament Palace in Budapest

8

The Parliament is one of the symbols of the city, perhaps the best known and photographed. It was built between 1885 and 1904 by the architect Imre Steindl, who was inspired by the London Parliament and the Cologne Cathedral.

The Parliament Palace in Budapest
The Parliament Palace in Budapest

The Gothic façade with spires, turrets, arches and windows, is a contrast with the inside characterized by baroque and Renaissance styles. The building is about 18,000 square meters, 27 entrances and 691 rooms. We have to say it, the President of the Republic, Prime Minister and parliamentarians have a pretty good home in which to carry out their duties!

Where: Kossuth square, city center
How to get there: by feet
When – Hours:
May – September: 8 am -6 pm  Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. 8 am – 4 pm Saturday and 8 am -2 pm Sunday. October-April: 8 am-4 pm  Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. 8 am 2 pm Sunday.
Guided tours in Italian begin at 11:30 am  and 4:00 on weekdays and on Sundays at 11.30 am  Between May 1 and September 30 at 11:30 am , 4:15 pm on weekdays, Saturdays at 11:30 am , 4:00 pm and Sunday at 12:15 pm . For tourists from EU countries the visit is free with a valid document recognized (passport, identity card, etc.)
Tickets: free entrance

Things eat in Budapest

9

It’s not a light cuisine. Meat, potatoes, onion, spices and paprika are the basis of many dishes of Budapest and Hungary.

Things eat in Budapest
Things eat in Budapest

Fat foods which are justified especially by the cold weather, which in winter can also lead to -50 degrees below zero. With a cold like that, the body requires calories. It all starts with the fried bacon to which you add the paprika: it’s the basis of everything, even the famous goulash, the typical dish par excellence. There is no goulash equal to another, because everyone use to cook it with a variant: meat, potatoes, pepper and paprika cannot miss. In addition to the Goulash there are other soups, while the most famous meat dish is the pork with (as usual) paprika and potatoes. There is so much to try, just prepare yourself for long digestions.

Where to sleep in Budapest

10

Budapest is one of the European destinations with a remarkable growing. The development of low cost flights, still acceptable prices and a good tourist hospitality, explain the success of the Hungarian capital.

Where to sleep in Budapest
Where to sleep in Budapest

Since many years, Budapest is one of the top ten of European capitals. There are many  hotels, B&Bs and guest houses: there are about 600 facilities distributed in all parts of the city. We recommend you to go in the central part that allows you to move in an easy way, especially in the evening, even if it means to pay a little bit more

If you are looking for a hotel in Budapest, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 400 hotels with prices, pictures  and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com