Things to do in Budapest
In such an atmospheric and attractive city, there’s no shortage of photo ops in Budapest. The best way to take in the sights and soak up the Hungarian ambience is by walking thorough the twin cities of Buda and Pest.
Strike out on foot to Castle Hill in Buda to see significant sights like Buda Castle, Fisherman’s Bastion and the lookout terrace, the Neo-Gothic Matthias Church, Lion’s Courtyard, and Savoyai Terrace for the best view of the city. Toss a coin into the Mátyás fountain at Hunyadi Garden for a guaranteed return to Budapest. Quaint museums of interest on Castle Hill include the Music Museum, Marzipan Museum and Pharmacy Museum. Also in the Óbuda section of northern Buda, there’s the Acquincum open-air museum of the ancient Roman city, and the Gellért Hill cave network within a rock church where monks still worship.
Cross over one of the 9 scenic bridges over the Danube River into Pest, (the Chain Bridge is particularly iconic). Sights in downtown Pest include the imposing Neo-Gothic Parliament Building, St Stephen’s Basilica – a Neoclassical church and Budapest’s main place of worship, as well as the Great Synagogue and the Jewish Museum. Don’t miss Shoes on the Danube memorial - a poignant collection of cast-iron shoes that line the waterfront in memory of the victims shot into the river by the Nazi-affiliated Arrow Cross in World War II. The old Jewish Quarter of Budapest is another interesting and historic neighbourhood to explore, as is the World Heritage-listed Andrássy ut boulevard that stretches from downtown Pest to the City Park, and boasts several museums, monuments and sights.
For a unique thing to do in Budapest, why not try the centuries-old tradition of bathing? Budapest has a plethora of Turkish-style and modern thermal baths that tap into the city’s myriad underground mineral-rich springs. For our pick of the best things to see and do in Budapest, read on.
With an enviable position along the Danube River, the eclectic and imposing Buda Castle is one of Budapest’s most popular attractions. Home to museums, galleries and a library by day, these palatial buildings are even more impressive lit up at night.
One of Europe’s most iconic bridges, Széchenyi Chain Bridge is one of 9 river crossings in Budapest. The stunning suspension bridge offers amazing views of the Pest and Buda sides of the city and really comes into its own at night – best seen via a cruise down the Danube River.
A dip in a medicinal bath is a Hungarian institution, and Széchenyi Thermal Bath is one of Budapest’s largest and most impressive complexes. Whether you believe the hot mineral springs will cure what ails you, a dip in the natural thermal baths is a must-do experience to soak up the ambience.
A sobering but nonetheless must-see museum is the former Communist secret police building in Budapest – now known as the House of Terror. The interactive and highly informative museum showcases the life of detainees and Hungarians under the country’s ‘double occupation’.
A curious site, Hospital in the Rock is a former World War II surgical hospital and Cold War nuclear bunker located within a cave complex in Budapest’s Castle Hill. Hidden until 2002, the reconstructed site is now open to the public for an insight into wartime medicine and Cold War hysteria.