Budapest is one of my favourite cities because it is so incredibly beautiful. Budapest is also a great budget destination because the cost of visiting Hungary is cheaper when compared to its European counterparts.
Budapest is an eclectic mix of everything touristy. It has an emerging shopping scene, entertainment parks for kids, thriving nightlife. It is also rich in history and architecture. Budapest is a also a food paradise and one can try cuisines from different parts of the world there.
Top Tip for Budapest – There is lots to see so plan well in advance. It is also an upcoming travel destination so it would be advisable to make all your bookings early.
Below is my list of top 11 things to do in Budapest:
- Szecheyni Bridge – It is a beautiful chain bridge connecting the twin cities of Buda & Pest. It was the first permanent bridge across the city. There are two stone lions carved on either sides of the bridge. Walk across this bridge for beautiful views of the Danube.
- Castle District – It is located in the hilly terrain of Buda across the Danube. It boasts of beautiful medieval architecture and several key tourist attractions such as Buda Castle, St. Mathias Church, Fishermen’s Bastion and breathtaking views of Pest from the Buda Castle. You can get here by taking the 150 year old funicular train or by tram, cab or bus.
- Houses of Parliament – This is the most beautiful attraction in Budapest. If you are with an organised tour like Trafalgar, you may get a chance to tour the interiors of parliament. The parliament’s ceilings are covered with sparkling frescoes and elegantly furnished. It is the grandest structure in Budapest and a sight most marvellous. The best way to photograph this exquisite structure is through a boat cruise of the Danube.
- Ruin Pubs – These are quirky bars located in Jewish Quarter of Budapest’s 7th District. They present a great opportunity for pub hopping. The district is buzzing with youngsters and upbeat music at night. If you want to party in Budapest, this is the place to be. You can find out more about the pubs here. Simpleza kert is the most popular pub in this area.
- Thermal Baths – You can treat yourself to one of Budapest’s many thermal baths. The temperatures in these baths range from hot to ice-cold. You can even get a massage in these baths. It is a great way to relax after sight-seeing. Some of the baths like the Szecheyni bath is an attraction in itself. Other relaxing baths include Rudas and Gellert.
- Fisherman’s Bastion – It is located in the castle district in Buda. It is open from 9 AM – 7PM. It offers a great view of the city. It also has a fine cafe overlooking the magnificent views of Pest. The cafe is a great place to grab a cup of morning coffee. It is best to visit the Bastion early in the morning when there are less crowds and the cafe is just opening for the day.
- St. Stephen’s Basilica – If you like to see beautiful churches and admire great artwork, then you must check out St. Stephen’s Basilica. Its ceiling is painted with spectacular frescoes. It is built in Neo-classical style and the building in itself is quite grand. The street behind the Basilica has a touristy vibe and is a nice spot to grab an ice-cream. We were lucky enough to hear the orchestra perform during our visit. The opening hours are – Mon/Fri – 9AM -5PM. Sat – 9AM -1PM. Sun – 1PM – 5PM.
- Heroes’ Square – It comes highly recommended by many visitors to Budapest. It also possesses great historical significance. It is also known as the Tomb of Unknown Soldiers and was built for celebrating the millennium in 1896. It celebrates the victory of Hungarian ancestors in their conquest of the Carpathian Basin, which led to creation of present day Hungary. It is also a World Heritage Site.
- Mathais Church – It has an unusual but colourful mosaic rooftop. It is situated right next to the Fisherman’s Bastion. The interiors are also quite remarkable. You can pay a visit to the Church if you are particularly interested in exploring churches.
- Vajdahunyad Castle – This hidden gem is often overlooked by tourists while visiting Budapest. It has two towers that offer great views of the castle. It also boasts of a large park where you can spend a relaxed afternoon by the lake. I would recommend visiting this place if you are into picnics and outdoor activities like boating. The castle offers several guided tours suited to fit your time & budget.
- Andrassy Avenue – This is the most beautiful & upscale avenue in Budapest. It houses many designer showrooms such as Louis Vitton, Gucci, Burberry etc. It is also home to several cafes offering cuisines from different parts of the world. You can walk through the avenue for window-shopping, cafe hopping and actual shopping.
- River Cruise – This is the most romantic thing to do in Budapest and by far my favourite. Opt for a boat tour at night to see the glittering lights of this splendid city. It is also the best way to take pictures of the Houses of Parliament at night. The perfect way to end your trip would be by toasting to it on the boat’s deck. There are several options available for these cruises and you can choose one that fits your budget.
Airport to City Centre – It takes 50 minutes to get to the city from Budapest’s airport. You can take the metro M3, buses 100E and 200E or go via taxi (approx 6500 HUF/20 Euros).
Place to Stay – I stayed at this amazing Airbnb called Hunyadi Apartment near adnrassy avenue and Heroes’ Square.