Budapest is the Pearl of the Danube. Two cities in one, that merges modernity and tradition, a beautiful, elegant, and commercial city. The spa resort city of Europe, but also with a vibrant and eclectic nightlife.
If the river acted as a border, separating Buda and Pest, the two cities remain united by magnificent bridges across the Danube.
There are so many things to do and see in this city, but let me show you the 10 best experiences in Budapest you can’t miss:
1- Fisherman’s Bastion
The Fisherman’s Bastion is located at the top of Buda hill. Finished in 1902, its seven towers represent the seven founding tribes of Hungary.
From the top of the Fisherman’s Bastion, you will have one of the best panoramic views of the city, with the Parliament standing as the crown jewel of Pest. And if you go at night, the views are simply outstanding.
There are two ways to reach the Fisherman’s Bastion from Pest: you can take the bus up to the hill, but I recommend you take a walk around the cobbled streets of Buda and climb the stairs to reach the top.
2- Matthias Church
Matthias Church is located right next to the Fisherman’s Bastion, on top of the Castle District.
The first thing you will notice is its colored roof, crowned by its slim neogothic tower. On the inside, the bright colors and the light create a stunning effect on visitors.
Built during the 11th century, it has been damaged and restored many times to become the most beautiful church in Budapest.
3- Buda Castle
Buda Castle is one of the most well-known buildings in Budapest. It is also known as the Royal Palace because it used to be the old residence of the Hungarian Royal Family. Today it houses the Hungarian National Gallery, the Széchenyi Library, and the Budapest History Museum.
From the Buda Castle, the views are similar to those on the Fisherman’s Bastion. And from Pest at night, you will be able to admire the spectacle that offers the Buda Castle and the Chain Bridge both illuminated.
4- Hungarian Parliament
On Pest, the Budapest Parliament stands steady along 268m on the Danube riverside. It is one of the symbols of Budapest and one of the most visited places in the city.
Its majestuous architecture outside introduces us to the magnificence of the inside. A guided tour allows you to visit the most important rooms: the Grand Stairway, the Dome Hall, and the Holy Crown. It is important to book the tickets on the Internet 3 weeks before our visit to make sure we can visit this architectural jewel.
5- Heroes’ Square
At the end of Andrassy Avenue, you will find the Heroe’s Square, both declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The monument at the center of the square commemorates the 1000th anniversary of the foundation of Hungary by the Magyars. The seven statues represent the kings of the tribes that settled down in this place. They surround a column with the Archangel Gabriel on top, holding St Stephens crown.
Flanking the square, there are two emblematic buildings: the Hall of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts. The City Park is right behind the square.
6- The Great Synagogue
The Great Synagogue of Budapest is the second biggest synagogue in the world, only behind the Jerusalem Synagogue. It is also called Tabakgasse Synagogue or Dohány Street Synagogue.
During World War II the Nazis established a Jewish Ghetto around The Great Synagogue. The neighborhood was then turned into a concentration camp, where over 2000 Jews died. Many others were sent to extermination camps.
Designed by Ludwig Forster, the Synagogue was mainly built in a Moorish style. Its magnificence becomes evident inside, where 2964 people can seat. You can also visit the cemetery and the Tree of Life sculpture on the courtyard. You can buy tickets at the entrance.
7- Chain Bridge
The Chain Bridge unites Buda and Pest, and it is the most famous bridge of Budapest and the whole Danube river. Its official name is Széchenyi bridge, in honor of Ivan Széchenyi, who designed it.
During World War II all bridges in Budapest were destroyed, so the bridge we can cross today is a reconstruction of the original. It was officially opened in 1949.
If you can, take a walk along the Chain Bridge in Budapest while the sunset, so you can admire the illumination of the bridge and the Buda Castle at night. It’s splendorous!
8- The House of Terror
The Terror Haza or House of Terror of Budapest is located on Andrassy Avenue.
Before becoming a museum, this building was used as the headquarters of the Nazis and the Communists in Budapest. Nowadays, it is a memorial to the victims of both regimes.
Opened in 2002, it shows how people of Budapest lived during these dark periods. Original objects and belongings are displayed on the 4 floors. The tour has many videos with real witnesses explaining their personal stories.
You can also visit the dungeons where many people were tortured and killed. The fact of being the real place where Terror took place in Budapest makes the House of Terror one of the most important historical sites of Budapest.
9- Váci Utca and Andrassy Avenue
Váci Utca and Andrassy Avenue are the two most important shopping streets in Budapest. While Váci Utca is more accessible in terms of money, Andrassy Avenue represents the most refined zone of the city center.
Váci Utca is the most crowded shopping street in Budapest. The elegant buildings from the 19th and 20th centuries house the most popular shopping centers. The perfect place to go shopping and relax.
Andrassy Avenue was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2002. The Metro of Budapest is the second oldest in the world, and it runs below the Avenue. The most exclusive boutiques of Budapest are established in Andrassy Avenue, turning it into a luxury spot.
If you like shopping, you are in the right place.
10- Vajdahunyad Castle
A fairytale in the middle of the city. Vajdahunyad is a castle located in the City Park of Budapest.
Vajdahunyad was built in wood and carton in 1896, for the World Fair. The exposition was so successful that the castle was rebuilt in stone.
Stepping in the castle gives you the sensation to leave the city to enter a magical place inside of the woods, where fairies and other magical creatures live. A truly enchanting place right in the middle of Budapest.
11- Hospital on the Rock
Hospital on the Rock was built in a 10km long natural cave system underneath Buda Hill as a military hospital. Not very touristy, it is an off-the-beaten-path attraction of Budapest.
During the Siege of Budapest, it worked in its full capacity. In 1958 it was upgraded to a nuclear bunker, as a defense to nuclear and chemical attacks and classified as a Top Secret facility.
The only option to visit this unique hospital is with a guided tour. If you like military history and secrecy Hospital on the Rock will be one of your favorites.
12- Go to a spa
One of the highlights of Budapest is its bathing culture, which dates from centuries ago. Although the city has a huge variety of spas, the most famous resorts are the Szécheny Baths and the Gellért Baths.
Szécheny Baths, with 13 indoor and 3 outdoor pools, it is one of the largest spas in Central Europe. The yellow walls and neoclassical columns make it one of the most iconic buildings in Budapest. But it offers much more than relaxation and quietness. Its famous sparties are held during some summer nights, in which bars and music invade the quiet baths to turn them into a vibrant pool party.
The Géllert Baths are part of the historical Gellért Hotel complex, and it offers 12 pools and a bunch of saunas to relax. The modernist architecture is imposing. Bathing on its most famous pool, surrounded with columns, will transport you to Budapest’s golden age.
So don’t hesitate. Put on your swimsuit and treat yourself like a queen.
Budapest is an incredible city with many things to do and see. Fortunately, with this list of things to do and see in Budapest, you will be able to plan your trip and don’t miss anything!