The Ultimate Budapest Travel Guide

The Ultimate Budapest Travel Guide

Budapest, the grand jewel of the Danube, is one of the most beautiful and budget-friendly cities in Europe. You can easily explore the city on foot. With beautiful Baroque and Art Nouveau buildings around every corner, you are sure to never run out of things to see in the city. 

Budapest is divided by the Danube river with on one side the hilly Buda side and the Pest side.

In this post, you will find our favorite things to do and plenty of tips for your trip to Budapest. We stayed for 4 days in Budapest which is enough to see all the highlights. 

How to get there 

You can fly to Budapest from most European cities. We took a cheap Ryanair flight from Belgium to Budapest. Other ways to get there are by car, train, or bus from other European cities.  The airport is about 30 minutes from Budapest’s city center. You can take the bus for a couple of HUF. 

Where to stay 

We stayed in Up Hotel Budapest which we recommend. It is a nice, modern, and clean hotel. The location is great and it is within walking distance from most of the main attractions. 


Hungary and Budapest’s official currency is the Hungarian Forint. The Forint is made up of the following banknotes: 500,1000,2000,5000,10 000, and 20 000. It also includes the following coins: 5,10,20,50, and 100.

Larger shops and restaurants in Budapest accept Euro but usually at a higher exchange rate, so you end up paying more than you would in the local currency. So it’s better to have cash in Hungarian Forint with you. 

You can exchange money in one of the many exchange bureaus in Budapest’s city center.

How to get around 

Walking is the best way to discover a new city, and most attractions, restaurants, bars, and thermal baths in Budapest are easily within walking distance of the city center. 

If you don’t like to walk you can use public transport: buses and trams. The cost of a single ticket is 350 HUF. One-day, three-day, and weekly tickets are also available. 

Buda Castle 

The original complex was constructed in the 13th century, however, the huge Baroque palace that exists today was built between 1749 and 1769. Originally intended for the nobility, the palace was looted by the Nazis during World War II. 

Buda Castle houses the National Széchényi Library, the Budapest History Museum, and the Hungarian National Gallery. 

Beneath the castle, Count Dracula was imprisoned for 14 years. 

It is free to enter the ground of the Buda Castle, so even if you do not wish to visit the museums, it is worth taking a stroll through the courtyards and enjoying the beautiful views. 

You can get up to the castle by bus or funicular, but you often have to wait. We walked up the hill. 

The Hospital in the rock 

Over the years, this museum has served as a hospital, bomb shelter, prison, and nuclear bunker. Here you can learn about the impacts that World War II, the 1956 revolution, and the Cold War had on the city and its people. 

The hospital in the rock is open from 10 am – 7 pm daily and the entrance fee is 100 HUF.

Fisherman’s Bastion

Fisherman’s Bastion is a fairytale-like terrace straight out of a fantasy novel like Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings. Built between 1895 and 1902, this terrace is comprised of seven towers that look out over the river. Each one is meant to represent one of the seven Hungarian tribes that founded the city. 

The terrace offers the best views of Budapest and the Danube River. 

Fisherman’s Bastion is open from 9 am – 11 pm daily and the entrance is free. We recommend you go as early as possible to avoid big crowds. 

Matthias Church

Just a few steps from Fisherman’s Bastion is the Matthias Church. The Matthias Church is a Roman Catholic Church in the late Gothic style. Saint Stephen, King of Hungary founded the church in 1015. This building was destroyed in 1241 by the Mongols, and the current building was constructed in the 13th century. 

During the Turkish invasion of the 16th century, it was converted to a mosque, which is why it has vibrant colors and designs that aren’t as common in European churches. The church has a colorful roof that almost makes it look like it was built from Lego. Inside you will see huge vaulted ceilings and ornate decor. 

The Matthias Church is open from 9 am – 5 pm from Monday – Friday, Saturday from 9 am – 1 pm, and Sunday from 1 pm – 5 pm. The entrance fee is 2000 HUF.

Hike Gellert Hill 

This is a short hike taking you to the Liberty Statue of Hungary and the Citadel. The highlight is the panoramic view over the city from the top. It is the best place to watch the sunset. We loved hanging out here! 

Gellert Thermal Bath 

Budapest is known for its thermal baths. There are more than 100 mineral hot springs here, many dating back to the Roman Empire. 

The Gellert Baths are worth a visit for their impressive Art Nouveau architecture and to enjoy a moment of relaxation in the beautiful thermal pools. 

You will see stained windows, grand columns, bathrooms with mosaic tiles, sculptures, and ceramics everywhere. It’s a feast for the eyes! Don’t forget your bathing suit and flip-flops, you can rent towels and lockers. 

Gellert Baths are open from 9 am – 7 pm daily and the entrance fee is 5900 HUF per person. 

The Cave Church 

In the 1920s, Catholic monks built this church in a large cave system that had been previously used by a hermit monk. Known as Saint Ivan’s Cave, the cave was used as a hospital during World War II. When the communists came to power after the war, they covered the entrance in concrete and executed the head monk. The church was reopened in 1989 and is now a popular place for tourists as well as a place of worship for locals. 

The Cave Church is open from Monday – Saturday from 9.30 am – 7.30 pm. The entrance fee is 750 HUF and includes an audio guide. 

Great Market Hall 

This is the oldest and largest indoor market in the country. Here you can buy souvenirs, fruit, vegetables, and meats. The second floor is home to restaurants. All the restaurants serve traditional Hungarian dishes.

Even if you don’t plan on buying anything, it’s still worth a quick visit.  

The Great Market Hall is open from Monday – Friday from 6 am – 6 pm and 6 am – 3 pm on Saturday. 

Parliament Building 

The Hungarian Parliament Building is impressive!! Built-in 1902 along the Danube River, the Hungarian Parliament is the third-largest parliament building in the world. The Hungarian House of Representatives is located in this impressive piece of architecture.

Don’t admire this building only from the outside and book a guided tour to see the stunning inside as we did. 

The Parliament Building is open from 8 am – 4 pm daily. The entrance fee is 8400 HUF. You can book tickets in advance here

 The shoes on the Danube Bank

On the banks of the Danube, just in front of the Hungarian Parliament Building, stand 60 pairs of iron shoes, pointed toward the river. 

This is the place where fascist Arrow Cross militiamen shot Jews and threw their bodies into the river in 1944 and 1945. 

It is a touching and emotional installation to see. 

Chain Bridge 

The Chain Bridge connects Buda with Pest. The bridge originally opened in 1849 but was damaged during World War II and had to be rebuilt. Spend some time strolling across the bridge and taking in the view. 

The Chain Bridge was under restoration when we were in Budapest. 

Instead, we explored Liberty Bridge, which might be our favorite bridge in Budapest. With views over Gellert Hill, Gellert Baths, and Corvinus University, it’s the perfect location to get some amazing photos of the city. 

Jewish Quarter 

Also known as District 7, you can’t leave Budapest without visiting the Jewish Quarter!! 

Filled with ruin bars, street art, historic landmarks, and great places to eat. This was by far our favorite area in Budapest! 

Dohany Street Synagogue 

The Dohany Street Synagogue is the largest synagogue outside of Israel. The synagogue was built in the 1850s and restored in the 1990s. Its architecture and design have been the inspiration for many synagogues around the world. It is one of the few synagogues in the world that houses an organ, which was once played by Franz Liszt. 

Outside the building is a memorial garden, where a tree has names of the victims lost during the holocaust. 

The synagogue is open from Sunday – Thursday from 10 am – 6 pm and on Friday from 10 am – 4 pm. The entrance fee is 8000 HUF.

Ruin Bars 

The best way to spend a night out in Budapest is in a ruin bar. A ruin bar is a neglected building that’s transformed into chic and absurdly cool bars. 

Szimpla Kert is Budapest’s most famous ruin bar by night and an artistic center by day. We recommend visiting Szimpla Kert during the day and returning in the evening for a fun night out. 

Walking around Szimpla Kert feels like getting lost in a twisted wonderland. 

Mazel Tov 

Mazel Tov is a lovely ruin bar and hip restaurant in the Old Jewish District offering a warm, buzzing atmosphere. Hands down, the best dinner we had in Budapest!

St. Stephen’s Basilica 

It’s hard to miss St. Stephen’s Basilica as it is 96 meters high. This Roman Catholic Basilica is the third largest church in Hungary and was named after Stephen, the first King of Hungary. 

Inside the church, you will find several Neo-classical paintings and statues, and an ornately decorated altar.

One of the highlights of the church is the viewpoint from the dome, which can be accessed by elevators or by climbing 364 stairs. At the top, you have an amazing view of Budapest. 

The Basilica is open from 9 am – 7 pm daily and the entrance fee is 1200 HUF and an extra 2200 HUF for the viewpoint. 

Gelarto Rosa 

Right around the corner from the famous St. Stephen’s Basilica is this lovely little ice cream shop that sells ice cream on a cone in the shape of a rose. Don’t miss it when you are in Budapest!! 

Try Langos 

Langos is famous Hungarian street food, which is fried bread dough. The basic dough is made of water, yeast, flour, and salt. Langos is fried in oil and usually served with toppings. 

For Hungarians, the most popular topping is cheese and sour cream. And an extra garlic sauce on the dough before adding the topping. The other popular toppings are sausage, ham, onion, and goat cheese, … Some vendors even invented sweet langos, which are served with Nutella or jam. 

We had a delicious Langos close to St. Stephens Basilica at Langosh. 

Zrinyi 14, Budapest 

Andrassy Street 

Andrassy street is a large boulevard dating back to 1872. We loved walking on Andrassy street and we did it almost every day. The Hungarian Opera House, Terror House, and Heroes Square are some notable points of interest along the avenue. 

Try Chimney Cake 

When you are wandering the streets of Budapest, a sweet scent will be catching your nose and guide you to the origin of the aroma. Which is a chimney cake kiosk with delicious sweets! 

Chimney cake is a sweet delight. Its main ingredients are flour, sugar, eggs, milk, butter, yeast, and salt. The sweet dough is wrapped around a cylindrical baking spit. Before placing the dough above hot charcoal, they roll it in sugar, so it will be golden brown from the outside. 

 You can find a chimney kiosk on every corner of the street. 


New York Cafe 

Built in Italian Renaissance style, with sparkling chandeliers dangling from high ceilings adorned by spectacular frescoes, it’s one of the oldest cafes in Budapest, dating back 125 years. 

The New York Cafe is the center of literary and artistic life and the favorite place for rendezvous of artists, writers, and poets. 

The mix of styles is breathtaking!! We recommend the 24k Latte Macchiato. 

Heroe’s Square 

Heroe’s Square is the largest in Hungary. Here you will see statues of Hungarian kings and other historical figures, including the seven chiefs who led the modern-day Hungarians in the 9th century. The monument was built in 1896 to celebrate Hungary’s 1000th anniversary and originally included Hapsburg monuments. 

The square is also home to the Millennium Monument, a large stone cenotaph dedicated to those who gave their life for Hungary’s independence. 

Vajdahunyad Castle and City Park

Vajdahunyad Castle is located in the city park of Budapest. Just like most of the architecture in Budapest, Vajdanhunyad Castle looks like a scene straight out of a fairytale. 

The mix of Gothic-Renaissance and Baroque architecture creates an almost eerie scene. Legend has it that the castle once imprisoned Count Dracula. 

It is free to enter the grounds of Vajdahunyad Castle, so even if you do not wish to go inside, it is worth taking a stroll through the courtyards. Inside, there is a museum. 

The castle is open from Monday – Sunday from 9 am – 7 pm. 

Szechenyi Baths 

The most popular thermal bath in Budapest is the Szechenyi Baths in the city park. With 18 pools, it’s the largest and most famous in Europe. The historic buildings that house the spa were built in 1913, and it’s a popular spot for locals and tourists. Don’t forget your bathing suit and flip-flops, you can rent towels and lockers. 

The Szechenyi Baths are open from 7 am – 7 pm on weekdays and from 9 am – 8 pm during the weekend. A ticket starts at 7000 HUF.


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