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
Where to stay
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
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 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
The hospital in the rock is open from 10 am – 7 pm daily and the entrance fee is 100 HUF.
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.
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.
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.
Hike Gellert Hill
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.
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
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 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
St. Stephen’s Basilica
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.
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.
Zrinyi 14, Budapest
Try Chimney Cake
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.
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 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.
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.