13 Things to do in Budapest

Budapest is the capital city of Hungary and a popular tourist destination. It is also one of Europe’s most romantic cities, thanks to its beautiful architecture, rich culture and historical landmarks. In fact, with so much to see and do here, it can be hard to decide where to go first.

Shoot from Budapest capital of Hungary - Europe

So, to help you plan your trip, we have put together this guide to Budapest’s top attractions. Whether you are into history or culture, there is something for everyone here. Here are our best places to visit in Budapest.

Plan your trip?

Avoid hidden fees in the exchange rate while withdrawing from millions of ATMs abroad, paying in restaurants and shops, and buying your accommodation and flights using the Wise Card. You can hold up to 40+ currencies at once to spend in in over 150 countries, and convert them in real time with the free Wise app.

Need help planning your trip from start to finish? Check out these helpful links:

This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy. You can also read our content/editorial policy here.

1.   Visit The Old Jewish Quarter

The 7th District of Erzsébetváros, also known as the Jewish Quarter, is located in the heart of Budapest and is an ideal location to stay during your visit.

Firstly, the Old Jewish Quarter is a historic part of Budapest and one of the most important Jewish heritage sites in Europe.

This quarter was originally home to the largest Jewish community in Europe prior to World War II. However, following the war, it is now known as “the seventh district” named after its area code, people still widely refer to this district by its former name.

Secondly, this lively area is home to several historic landmarks. In this district, you will find the second-largest synagogue in the world, the Dohány Street Synagogue, as well as many of Budapest’s famous ruin bars, eclectic boutiques and avant-garde galleries.

Your night out will both start and end here as there is so much to do! Also, did we mention that it has excellent places to eat?

Before you begin your journey in the Old Jewish Quarter, it is worth noting that this area is a popular destination for tourists. So if you plan to visit during peak season, be prepared for crowds and long lines.

However, if you visit during off-peak hours, then it is likely that you will have the opportunity to take advantage of some great photo opportunities without any interference!

Budapest, Hungary - Street in historical city centre of Budapest in Jewish Quarter

2.   Dohány Street Synagogue

As mentioned above, the Dohány Street Synagogue is the second-largest synagogue in the world, making it an important part of Jewish history. The building is beautiful and ornate, a testament to the culture it represents.

You can tour the synagogue or simply walk around outside its doors and admire it. The many art pieces surrounding the building are also worth a look at.

Built in 1859, this beautiful building stands 75 metres long and 27 metres wide with a rose stained-glass window sitting over the main entrance. It has a vaulted ceiling that is supported by eight columns and the building consists of three spacious richly decorated aisles with two overlooking balconies.

On either side of this ornate building are black and gold towers topped with domes. Today, the Great Synagogue of Budapest is a true symbol of continuing the Jewish-Hungarian presence.

In addition, if you are visiting Budapest for its vast history then take a look at the sculpture of a weeping willow that stands behind the museum. This sculpture lists the names and tattoo numbers of all Jewish people who died or disappeared as a result of Nazi persecution.

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - The Dohany Street Synagogue, also known as the Great Synagogue or Tabakgasse Synagogue, in Budapest, Hungary. It is the largest synagogue in Europe

3.   Central Market Hall

The Central Market Hall is a great place to visit if you are looking for a bit of culture, but also want to be able to eat something delicious.

This neo-Gothic tunnel market hall is one of the largest markets in Europe and has over one hundred vendors selling everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to meats, spices, cheeses and more. This spot in Budapest is a great place to purchase high-quality local produce and souvenirs.

Additionally, the Central Great Market Hall has been named one of the most visited markets in Europe and awarded several times for its architecture. US based media company, CNN, even put it at number one on their list of the world’s most beautiful markets.

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - Great Market Hall or Central Market Hall in Budapest, Hungary

4. Széchenyi Chain Bridge

Completed in 1849, the Széchenyi Chain Bridge is a suspension bridge that is considered one of Budapest’s most famous landmarks.

The historic stone bridge spans the Danube River between Széchenyi Square on the Pest side and Clark Ádám Square in Buda.

A 15 minute walk across the bridge from Buda to Pest is a wonderful way of absorbing Budapest’s beautiful, protected sights and taking striking photographs.

Interestingly, its official name was originally “Lipót Bridge”, but soon it came to be known as simply “Chain Bridge” or “Széchenyi Chain Bridge” after its designer and proponent István Széchenyi.

Budapest, Hungary - The Chain Bridge Szechenyi Lanchid in Budapest. Budapest Hungary

5. Fisherman’s Bastion

5.The bastion was named after the Fishermen’s Town, who built it and defended it when needed. The Fisherman’s Bastion is located near Buda Castle in the 1st district of Budapest, Hungary.

Additionally, this constitutes one of Budapest’s most visited attractions. Today, if you visit this popular lookout point, you will be greeted with majestic panoramic views over all of Pest.

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - Fisherman's Bastion is one of the best known monuments in Budapest, capital of Hungary

6.  Hungarian Parliament Building

On the eastern bank of the Danube River, the Pest side of the city, you will find Kossuth Square. The Hungarian Parliament Building is situated on this square.

Designed by Hungarian architect Imre Steindl, this incredible building spans 193,800 sq ft. With this in mind, we now understand why the Hungarian Parliament Building is one of the most interesting attractions in Budapest.

The structure is characterised by its Italian Renaissance style, which can be seen in both its interior and exterior design.

It all started in 1873. The city of Buda, Óbuda and Pest were united to form Budapest. Seven years later, the Diet voted to build a new parliament building as an expression of national sovereignty.

The building was planned to face the Danube River, and Imre Steindl was chosen after an international competition.

Hungarian parliament building and Danube river, Budapest, Hungary.

7.  Hungarian State Opera

The Hungarian State Opera, known to locals as the Magyar Állami Operaház, is a prominent opera house in Budapest, Hungary.

The theatre was designed by Miklós Ybl and built between 1875-1881 to serve as an opera house for the National Theatre Company of Hungary. It has a capacity of 1,300.

The Hungarian State Opera is one of the few European opera houses that has preserved its original 19th-century interior design.

The theatre was also the first building in Budapest to be lit by electricity. It was also the first building in Europe with a revolving stage.

BUDAPEST HUNGARY - Hungarian state opera house in Budapest

8.  Budapest Castle

This 13th-century Budapest Castle is a former Royal Palace and is currently the official residence of the President of Hungary. It was originally built on the ruins of a Roman fortification.

It is located on the Buda side of Budapest and has been surrounded by a series of walls that were built to protect the castle from invaders.

These walls have served as the foundations for many important buildings in Budapest including the city’s famous Chain Bridge, which connects both sides of the Danube River.

In addition, Buda Castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you are in need of a culture fix then this magnificent building contains the Hungarian National Gallery, the Castle Museum and the National Széchenyi Library. This is everything you need for a great day out!

Budapest Buda Castle seen from Pest with the budavar palace in front. The castle is the historical palace complex of the Hungarian kings and a landmark of Budapest, Hungary.

9.  Thermal Baths

There are nine thermal baths in Budapest, including the Rudas, Kiraly and Gellert hot springs. The best way to experience a Hungarian bath is to go during the day and take advantage of the extremely cheap entry offered by most spas.

The baths are an integral part of Hungarian culture and you will notice that many locals frequently visit the hot springs.

The water is typically around 40 degrees Celsius and it is a great place to relax and unwind. You can also visit the Gellert Baths at night when they are lit up by thousands of lights.

Considered the most luxurious spa in Budapest is the Szechenyi Baths. These baths are bustling with people taking advantage of the many spa treatments, saunas and massages.

A true paradise for those wanting to pamper themselves after a busy day or two of sightseeing

The best time to visit the baths is in the morning during off peak hours. You will have more space and can enjoy the natural thermal water without as many people around.

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY- Courtyard of Szechenyi Baths, Hungarian thermal bath complex and spa treatments.

10. St. Stephen’s Basilica

Named the largest church in Budapest, St. Stephen’s Basilica can hold up to 8,500 people and is iconic amongst locals. The cathedral is a neo-Gothic structure that was built in 1905 standing at 314ft. Taking over half a century to build, this building is still one of the largest churches in Hungary today.

The interior is very ornate, with beautiful stained glass windows and gold designs. You’ll also find an organ in the back that was imported from Germany and took over a year to arrive.

The church has been used as a centre for many important events including funerals, weddings and concerts throughout its history. Today it still attracts tourists every day who want to see this historic site.

Oddly, when visiting you will be greeted by a glass case containing the mummified right hand of St Stephen, also known as the patron saint of the church and the first King of Hungary.

St. Stephen's basilica dome at sunset, Budapest, Hungary

11. Szimpla Kert

If you are looking for a place to party or taste a few shots of Unicum, Szimpla Kert is the perfect choice. This museum and bar were made entirely from recycled materials and has both indoor and outdoor stages for live music.

You will find eclectic furniture, graffitied walls, memorabilia and a variety of edgy rooms that you can get lost in…what is not to love about this fun ruin bar?

Adding to this, if you want an even more unique experience, check out their themed parties. They often host events such as open mic nights and there are some more unusual ones like:

  • Cinema nights that show old movies on a big screen under the stars.
  • Sports-themed ones where they screen sports matches.

If you are looking for things to do in Budapest at night, you can dance all night long here! Szimpla Kert really sets the standard of nightlife in Budapest when it opened in 2001.

Once this ruin bar opened, suddenly a mass of copycat bars sprung up across the Jewish Quarter. We like to think the original is the best to try.

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - Interior view of the famous Szimpla Garden ruin pub with people sitting at table enjoying night life.

12. Mazel Tov

During the summer months, diners enjoy their food in airy courtyards or on cosy terraces at Mazel Tov. This fine Mediterranean restaurant is one of many excellent dining options set among breathtaking old buildings in Budapest.

This is truly our pick out of all of them! The food is delicious, and the atmosphere is lively. If you are in Budapest during the summer months, be sure to book ahead of time.  Mazel Tov is one of the most popular dining spots in the city.

Now that you have found this terrace, your people-watching, sunbathing and dining will be done in style. Also head to Gozsdu Passage, a trendy tunnel lined with bars and restaurants spilling onto the pavement in Budapest’s Jewish District.

13. House of Terror

Situated on Andrássy Avenue, this ex-headquarters for the secret police is now inspiring fear into the people of Budapest. The House of Terror contains a commemorative museum for those victims of the fascist movement.

You will find memorials for those detained, interrogated, tortured or killed in the building. Also, upon entering the building, you are given four floors to explore with interactive screens that will enable you to listen to first-hand accounts of the survivors.

If you are looking for crazy things to do in Budapest, then this may be one of them. The museum also has a range of exhibits that you can explore.

There is an audio tour available in English, which will guide you around the building and tell you about the history of the place.

Budapest, Hungary - House of Terror Museum in Budapest. It is a museum located at Andrassy Street. It contains exhibits related to the fascist and communist regimes and the victims

Conclusion

In summary, Budapest is a beautiful city and has something for everyone. We would recommend visiting during the summer months as there is so much to see and do, however, if you’re looking for something more relaxing then winter could be perfect too.

The food here is delicious, especially when paired with the local wines which are some of the best in Europe.

The city has a lot to offer, and it is easy to see why it is one of the most popular destinations in Europe. With so much culture to discover and lots of fun things to do with the family, you will not be disappointed.

Recommended tours in Budapest

Read more on Budapest:

If you’d like to save it for later, please save it to Pinterest.

Author

  • Samantha King

    Sam, a seasoned traveler across four continents and 49 countries, is a leading authority in travel planning. Her website, Travelling King, offers tailored itineraries and expert guides for seamless trips. Sam's expertise in luxury travel, fast travel, and destination guides keeps her at the forefront of the travel community.

    View all posts https://www.tiktok.com/@travellingkng

Similar Posts