From soaking in muscle-melting thermal baths to meeting your friends at one of the city’s coolest bars, Budapest has plenty to keep you busy. Soak up the history and scenery with these things to do in the Hungarian capital.
The ornate St Stephen’s Basilica hides one of Hungary’s most sacred (and eerie) relics – the embalmed right hand of the first King of Hungary. Climb the steps to see it and admire the spectacular views from the top.
Shoes on the Danube
A sobering monument to the city’s Jewish citizens killed during World War II, Shoes on the Danube stands between the Parliament Building and Chain Bridge. 60 pairs of iron shoes, shaped like the feet that wore them, point to the riverbank, where victims were forced to remove their shoes before being shot and thrown into the water.
Explore the modern side of Budapest in Ujlipotvaros, a residential neighborhood that flies under the radar for tourists. Specialty coffee shops, bookstores, and impressive modernist buildings line the main artery of Pozsonyi Road.
Great Market Hall
The Great Market Hall on Fovam ter is known for its souvenirs, but the bottom floor also has delicious food. A must-try is paprika, which is an essential ingredient in Hungarian cuisine and flavors the famous goulash soup.
Budapest endured decades of fascist and communist rule, so it’s important to remember the victims. The House of Terror is an excellent place to do just that.
Hungarian National Gallery
Budapest’s museums showcase a wide range of art, from Renaissance to contemporary. The Hungarian National Gallery is especially dazzling, with works from Old Masters like Cranach and Raphael.
The city’s tumultuous past is memorialized in a somber way at Shoes on the Danube bank and at the House of Terror museum. You can also learn more about Hungary’s involvement in WWII by exploring the castle-top palace grounds.
Budapest is a city of quirky (and cool) sights. From solemn memorials to old alchemist’s labs, to nightlife spots built around out-of-the-ordinary themes, these odd attractions make the city unique.
Located within City Park and across from the Szechenyi thermal baths, this museum is one of the top things to do in Budapest. The exhibits here represent multiple aspects of the city’s history. It is a mesmerizing experience that will give you more knowledge about the ancient background of the city.
Step back in time with a tour of the Hungarian Parliament Building and nearby Liberty Square. Then, hike up to Gul Baba’s impressive octagonal tomb for sweeping views of the city. Finish your day with a brunch at Portobello Coffee and Wine. Try their creamy cilbir eggs and their chilli scrambled greens.
One of the coolest things to do in Budapest is stroll around Heroes’ Square. This massive park features a beautiful cemetery with mausoleums of famous Hungarian figures and elaborate tombstones.
The top of the square has been a site for celebrations and formal ceremonies over the years. It is best to visit it just before sunset when the streets are usually fewer crowded.
You can learn more about the tumultuous history of Hungary at the House of Terror. It is a terrifying, but also important museum that tells the story of fascism and communism.
The Hungarian State Opera House
The Budapest Opera House stands tall on the city’s eastern bank of the Danube and appears in many skyline photos. Stroll along Andrassy Avenue and admire the impressive structure, which is also a concert venue and movie theater.
Budapest once boasted a flourishing coffeehouse culture. The surviving ones, like Szimpla Kert, offer a trip back in time with their unpretentious drinking spots and hodgepodge of flea-market furniture.
The Budapest Market is the place to stock up on essentials for your stay in Hungary. You can find everything from paprika spice packets to Hungarian porcelain.
The Hungarian Jewish Museum
The Budapest Museum of Jewish History explores the city’s diverse and sometimes tragic Jewish history. This popular museum also has a large collection of historical ceremonial objects.
Walk the streets of the Castle Hill a little before sunset. Unlike other times of day, you’ll have the Buda Castle, Matthias Church, and Fisherman’s Bastion all to yourself. Grab a drink at one of the city’s Ruin Bars—these quirky spots have unique themes, such as a Communist-themed bar with a Lenin statue! These bars have been gaining popularity in recent years.
The Gellert Baths
If you’re looking to escape the city and enjoy a peaceful break, head to Margaret Island. This idyllic island has parkland, a zoo and thermal baths.
It’s a great place to relax and unwind with family. You can also tour the terrifying House of Terror here, a chilling museum that tells the dark side of Hungary’s history.
You can also stroll along Budapest’s grand Andrassy Avenue, which connects the downtown area with Heroes’ Square and City Park. It’s a great place to admire the city’s many architectural styles.
The Gellert Hill Flea Market
Sitting on Gellert Hill with a mulled wine while watching the sun go down over Budapest and the 19th-century citadella is an unforgettable experience. Afterward, take a stroll through City Park and treat yourself to a Turkish bath at the Szechenyi.
Explore the Palace Quarter, a once-luxurious neighborhood that has reclaimed its former glory, with pre-war mansions and quaint courtyards. Then grab a drink at Szimpla Kert, the first ruin bar to open in Budapest.
Discover a different side of Budapest on this 4-hour guided tour of Grand Ecseri. Learn bargaining phrases and meet maverick sellers as you explore the massive flea market’s array of old objects.
The Hungarian National Memorial
One of the most authentic things to do in Budapest is visit a local supermarket. It’s a window into the wide array of quintessential foods and drinks that Budapest residents really eat and drink!
Stroll the streets of the old Jewish Quarter. Before Hungary sided with the Nazis during WWII, this area was home to thriving synagogues and Jews. Today, it’s the heart of a revitalized culture.
Learn about the city’s unique Ruin Bars on a guided tour. Sample great beer and soak up the atmosphere in a bar that was once derelict!