Top 10 Things to do in Budapest
Szia! Welcome to Hungary. Budapest is Hungary’s intoxicating capital, on the banks of the Danube River. Sliced in two halves- Buda and Pest- by the Danube river, Budapest has something of a split personality. On one side of the river, the flat districts of Pest teem with ruin bars, a buzzing foodie scene, and more shopping options that you could poke a Hungarian chimney cake at; whilst on the other, hilly Buda and its Castle District cut a more refined shadow over the city, all gloriously culminating in the stately grounds of the Royal Palace. Yet a compact city center and fantastic public transport all conspire to resolve these two halves of the Hungarian capital into a city easily explored and thoroughly enjoyed. The capital of Hungary is an open gallery, a perfect example of well preserved and finely restored buildings from different centuries and styles dating back over a thousand years. Budapest survived during several inventions and was badly damaged twice – during the Turkish occupation and in World War II. If you keep all this in mind while walking by narrow streets and broad thoroughfares, the appreciation of its solid marvelous buildings will be doubled. It is easy to fall in love with Budapest because it is full of character. Therefore what to do in Budapest can be really confusing when in the city. The place is dynamic and volatile and hence, here is a short guide on the top 10 things to do in Budapest to tick off the to-do list on a vacation when in the city.
Visit the Széchenyi Baths for a morning soak and ease yourself into an action-packed vacation in the romantic capital of Hungary by resigning yourself into the warm waters of the bath. A Budapest institution, the mineral-rich thermal spring water here will soothe your aches and pains and beat any lingering clouds of jet-lag you have into feeble submission. What to do in Budapest is not a question you ask if you want to sit back, relax, and soak away in the largest medicinal bath in Europe, and clear your mind for the epic vacation ahead. This is the first one of one of the many things to do in Budapest.
Free Walking Tour Around the City
Suitably relaxed and recharged, slip on your best walking shoes and sign up for one of the city’s fun and informative walking tours led by a local for a couple of hours. Apart from learning about the Turkish invasion in the 1500s, the brutal fighting that occurred here towards the end of the World War II, and the 1956 uprising against the government imposed Soviet policies, you will also be able to glean tips on where to go for a drink, where to eat, and where to shop – just before giving a few tips of your own in the form of hard-earned Hungarian forint! Totally worth it though. This definitely is the next best things to experience among the many other things to do in Budapest.
Budapest’s cityscape from the Danube bank is part of UNESCO’s world heritage. A distinguishing feature of this view is Castle Hill and the castle itself, a system of fortifications from medieval times which encloses the Palace of the Buda Castle and the historical residential quarter. The Palace housed at one time a Renaissance hanging garden, an unrivaled library, and an elegant throne room. Today, after weathering many storms of history and many reconstructions, it plays an important cultural role, as it is the site of the Hungarian National Gallery, showcasing works by the greatest Hungarian artists, and the Budapest History Museum. which shows interesting aspects of the city’s history, as well as the National Széchényi Library. The Baroque style is predominant in the residential quarter, but medieval elements can also easily be spotted in certain gateways, frescoes, and statues. Especially characteristic are the so-called Gothic sitting alcoves, the last traces of a part of the city that was supposedly once famous for its grapes: it was here that producers would sell the wine stored in their cellars. Various institutions are found in the quarter: there is the Sándor Palace, known as the official residence of the President of Hungary, the building of the Hungarian National Archives and various embassies. No visit to Budapest would be complete without it.
Memento Park – Statue Park
If you are thinking what other things to do in Budapest then visiting the Memento Park, should be your choice. It is an open-air museum in Budapest, dedicated to monumental statues and sculpted plaques from Hungary’s Communist period. The museum hosts a one-of-a-kind collection of statues of Communist Dictator’s ghosts from the Cold War Empire, Stalin’s boots, Lenin, Marx and Engels, The Red Army’s soldiers, a Trabant and a secret police political training film. Posters, mugs, pins, original soviet postcards, and movement memorabilia are also available at the museum shop.
Watch the Sunset on the Liberty Bridge
What to do in Budapest can be a little confusing when in the city. Stock up on cheese, snacks, and wine, and then hoist yourself up onto the railing of the 333-meter-long Liberty Bridge in the heart of Budapest as the sun slowly trails down the early evening sky. Pour your first glass as the sunset bathes the Danube and buildings on both sides of the river in hues of orange and red, and then your second as the purpling sky makes you sit and stare for a while. A view this good just shouldn’t be free – thank heavens it is! This most definitely is the next best thing in line among the many other things to do in Budapest.
The City on Foot
For anyone who appreciates great architecture, Budapest has one of the world’s finest collections of artworks. The whole city really is a gallery that is open 24 hours, just as splendid during the day or when it’s beautifully illuminated at night. The capital of Hungary is an open gallery, a perfect example of well preserved and finely restored buildings from different centuries and styles dating back over a thousand years, making it as a must visit and also as one of the many things to do in Budapest when in the city. A sharp eye and a little bit of energy to wander around the city on foot is all you need to discover all the interesting details: art deco embellishments, Eastern-style ornaments and sculptures depicting animals and birds. Among all the other decoration elements, you will soon see the remarkable doors. There is a splendid variety of doors: huge and small, broad and narrow, wooden carvings and blacksmiths masterpieces. Some of them will tell you the story of the building, as in, when it was constructed, who lived there and if anything eventful happened at the address! Probably the most memorable impression will be when you approach Parliament building. It is the real pearl of Budapest architecture with its huge ornate wooden doors that are opened to welcome officials and guests.
Chill out or go Kayaking at the Roman Banks
Hidden away on the banks of the Danube in the 3rd district, just a short walk from ‘Romaifurdo’ station (Line 5, HEV), the Roman Banks lures locals from both sides of the river looking for a slice of Lake Balaton life in central Budapest. Sink your toes in the sand and sit down for a bite to eat at everybody’s favorite chill-out zone right on the beach, Fellini Bistro, which serves fine food and drinks, including mint lemonade, paninis, homemade pastries and Belgian cherry beer on tap. When you tire of lounging around, rent a kayak and paddle out on the Danube away from the crowds. This makes up for one of the many things to do in Budapest.
The Matthias Church
In the center of the historical residential quarter of the Buda Castle, is one of the city’s most famous landmarks, the Matthias Church founded in the 13th century and most definitely dominates the chart for things to do in Budapest. A visit to the church is rounded off with an exhibit of historical artifacts, including the church’s former weathervane. As part of recent renovations, Budapest’s famous Zsolnay ceramics manufacturer was commissioned to supply nearly 150,000 roof tiles. It is visited by nearly one million visitors every year, and no wonder! No visit to Budapest would be complete without it.
Check out Some Live Music at a Ruin Bar
Dilapidated old buildings and abandoned spaces in Budapest’s district VII (the old Jewish quarter) have been injected with life once again, thanks to their newly designated status as ruin bars. And therefore most of the time it is the first place to come to mind if you ask what to do in Budapest. Apart from being a cool place to sample the Hungarian capital’s extensive list of evening tipples – including a burgeoning craft beer and microbrewery scene (ale lovers, make a beeline for Eleszto Craft Beer Bar for the best brews in town) – ruin bars scattered throughout town are also worth visiting for a bit of musical entertainment. Head to Durer Kert for your rock or hardcore fix, or Szatyor for a little acoustic or jazz. Then there is always Szimpla Kert, a favorite among travelers and locals alike, which also dishes out live music most nights of the week during summer. Such places are an absolute must see and tops the list of things to do In Budapest for many tourists. If music just is not your thing, don’t sweat it as many ruin bars alternate their evening entertainment with film nights and art exhibitions.
Ruin Bar Top List:
- Instant: Budapest, Akácfa u. 49-51, 1072
- Kuplung: Budapest, Király u. 46, 1061
- Szimpla Kert: Budapest, Kazinczy u. 14, 1075
- The Box (Box) Ruin Pubs: Budapest, Klauzál u. 10, 1072
Brekkie, Coffee, And Vibes At The Szimpla Kert Farmers’ Market
At this point what to do in Budapest should not be a problem anymore. So here is another we recommend. Step inside Szimpla Kert any night of the week, and odds are you will find yourself in a chaotic mélange of booze, backpackers, and intoxicated babbling until the wee hours of the morning. But visit on a Sunday between the hours of 9 am and 2 pm, and in place of boozy revelers, you will find a Farmers’ Market full of charming vendors pedaling chemical-free fruits and veggies, locally produced cheese, bread and jam, and delicious snacks and coffee. All this with the backing of live musical accompaniment – everything from folk and world music to jazz. It is a great start to a Sunday. Szimpla Kert Farmers’ Market: Budapest, Kazinczy u. 14, 1075