Top 10 Places to Visit in Budapest!
One of Europe’s most beautiful, scenic, and vibrant cities, Budapest has deservedly gained a reputation as one of the continent’s truly unmissable tourist destinations. We will show you in this article the top ten places to visit in Budapest.
When exploring this sprawling metropolis, however, it can sometimes be easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer number of breathtaking places to see, do, and experience. If you’re visiting for a short period of time, what are those things that you truly have to visit in order to have a truly full experience of Budapest?
Naturally, there are hundreds of incredible spots, big and small, throughout the Hungarian capital that are all worth exploring. That being said, here, in no particular order, is a brief, subjective sampling of ten of the most interesting, exciting, and unique must-see places in Budapest.
1. The Parliament Building
Unquestionably one of Central Europe’s most iconic structures, this neo-gothic wonder was completed in 1902, back when Budapest served as the co-capital of the mighty Austro-Hungarian Empire. To this day, the building itself is a true gem situated on the banks of the Danube River.
If you are interested in viewing the interior of this grand edifice, tours are held daily in English, Hungarian, French, Hebrew, German, Russian, Italian, and Spanish.
2. The Castle District and the Matthias Church
Located across the river from the Parliament, on the Buda side, the Castle District is a beautiful, ancient stretch of the city that towers over the Danube. Located atop Castle Hill, the District is home to some of Budapest’s oldest buildings, as well as iconic landmarks such as the Royal Palace, the Fisherman’s Bastion, and the Matthias Church.
3. Ruin Pubs
A phenomenon unique to Budapest, ruin pubs are, as the name suggests, bars that were founded in the years after the fall of Communism, chiefly in the city’s old Jewish quarter (the 7th district), inside abandoned blockhouses. These buildings were repurposed into some of the world’s most eclectic, exciting bars, where 19th century architecture is combined with cars hanging from ceilings and bizarre paintings hanging upside down on walls.
While there are dozens of these establishments, some of the most famous (and interesting) are Szimpla Kert, Ellátó Kert, and Instant-Fogasház, all of which are happy to welcome visitors until late at night (or early in the morning). Ruin pubs are truly spectacular places to visit in Budapest.
4. Deák Square
Situated side-by-side in the very heart of the Pest side of the city, Deák and Elizabeth squares (known by many Budapest residents as simply “Deák”) are one of the city’s most popular spots for young people to meet up, relax, and simply sit and spend time together amid grass, trees, and fountains; its central location means that it’s also an ideal place to meet up before heading out for a night on the town.
5. The Széchenyi and Gellért Baths
This one’s actually a two-for-one deal, as both of these incredible baths are amazing in their own ways, meaning that you can’t go wrong with either.
Believed to have been introduced by the Turks following their conquest of Hungary in the 1500s, thermal baths have become a deeply ingrained part of Hungarian culture over the past half millennia. While many swear by the medicinal powers of the spring water found at the country’s many such spas, others simply go to soak, socialize, and enjoy swimming, saunas, and hot baths in a relaxing, fun setting: alongside massages and steam baths for adults, these locations offer wave pools, water slides, and other water activities for children as well.
6. The Dohány Street Synagogue
The Dohány Street Synagogue, also known as the Great Synagogue, is the largest in Europe. Completed in 1859, up to 3,000 people can be seated within this Neolog Synagogue built in a Moorish Revival style.
In addition to being the largest in Europe, the Great Synagogue, whose layout and style very interestingly mirrors that of Catholic churches, is the second largest in the entire world.
7. The Danube Bridges
It is essentially impossible to walk across one of Budapest’s bridges without falling in love with the city. From the grand Chain Bridge to the stylish, ornate Liberty Bridge, these crossings are the arteries of the Hungarian capital, ferrying cars, buses, trams, and pedestrians between the hills of Buda and the sights of Pest.
Walking across one of the city’s bridges, you can see the Danube flowing gently below you, as the architectural wonders of both sides of Budapest sprawl out all around you. If there’s anywhere in the world that truly fits the definition of ‘scenic,’ this is it.
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8. Margaret Island
If you hop on the 4 or 6 trams, which are located just a few blocks from Fraser Residence, you will quickly find yourself on Margaret Island, a slice of green in the middle of the Danube that is arguably Budapest’s most scenic and relaxing park. With huge stretches of park, woods, flower gardens, fountains, running paths, ruined medieval churches, and even Japanese gardens, Margaret Island truly has something for everyone.
9. Gellért Hill
While the Castle District may lay claim to more monuments, churches, and palaces, there’s no place in Budapest that can beat the view from atop Gellért Hill.
Located on the Buda side, next to the Liberty Bridge, the 10-15 minute hike up to the top of the hill is well worth it: in addition to the city’s very own Statue of Liberty, Gellért Hill is also home to the formidable Citadel fortress.
And as far as the view goes, well...you truly do have to see it to believe it. Be sure to come up here as the sun goes down, and watch as the city’s bridges and public monuments light up all at once.
10. Hold Street Market
While it is located in a pretty enough building, the Hold Street Market is not of interest for architectural or visual reasons. Rather, it is a true gastro-market in the very best sense of the word, and is home to some of the most delicious food you will find anywhere in Budapest.
In particular, the Market is home to Stand 25, a restaurant owned and operated by Tamás Széll, a young Hungarian chef who recently won the European Bocuse d’Or, the Olympics of the culinary world.
These are a few of the most popular sights in the city but it is always up to you the find your favourite places to visit in Budapest.