10 things to do in Budapest

Before you read this article take a look at the previous post about a weekend in Budapest: you will find some information there about things to see, local specialties to try and a list of souvenirs to bring back home. This time I would like to tell you about the best 10 things to do in Budapest. You went on a spontaneous trip and you are looking for some ideas how to spend your time in Budapest? Or maybe you want to plan your city break? How about…

1. Travel back in time with a cup of coffee.

The city has many nice cafes, including historical coffee houses where you can soak up the atmosphere of ‘the old Budapest’. The most famous one is New York Café which was a home for writers and poets of the 20th century. Legend says that writer Ferenc Molnár wanted the café to stay open day and night so he threw its key into the Danube.

coffee-in-komedias-kavehaz-budapest

Ruszwurm, the oldest cafe in Budapest, was the most favorite one of Elizabeth ‘Sisi’, Austrian Empress and Queen of Hungary, who even sent couriers there to take cakes for her breakfast. Another great coffee house is Café Gerbeaud famous for its delicious cakes and ice creams.

Komedias-Kafehaz-Budapest
budapest-castle-district

Centrál Café, Auguszt, Astoria and Művész are also worth visiting but I encourage you to walk around the streets of Budapest and find your own hidden gems. We have discovered Komédiás Kávéház just like that, really nice cafe located next to the Operetta Theater. If you like the atmosphere of Kleines Café in Vienna, you will love this place too! Don’t forget to try delicious Dobos torta and other Hungarian specialties: Krémes, Gesztenye püré, strudels, Eszterházy and Oroszkrém torta.

2. Take a walk along the Danube.

Whether it’s day or night you will enjoy the view of the Hungarian Parliament Building and the Chain Bridge from the Buda site, it’s totally amazing! The Danube Promenade on the Pest site is a perfect place to watch the sunsets although, don’t forget to take a look at the Shoes on the Danube Bank memorial while walking there. Long walks are not for you? Catch the yellow tram number 2 or take a romantic cruise on the Danube.

3. Explore the Buda Castle Hill.

Take the Funicular railway from Chain Bridge up to the Castle Hill. Walk along the cobblestone streets of Várnegyed district, visit Buda Castle, Trinity Square, Matthias Church and enjoy the panorama of the city from Fishermen’s Bastion. If you have more time you can also visit  Hungarian National Gallery, Széchenyi National Library and  Budapest History Museum.

Buda-Castle-District

4. Relax at one of the famous thermal baths.

Budapest is the only capital in the world with healing water flowing beneath its grounds. There are eleven thermal-heated baths in the city, six of which with a history dating back to hundreds of years. The largest one is the Széchenyi Bath with an outdoor pool where you can play chess in the water with the locals. The Gellért Baths with its Art Nouveau architecture and an outdoor wave-pool during the summer months is also a must-see. If you have more time, I suggest you to visit also another thermal baths: Rudas, Lukács, Király and the lesser-known Veli Bej.

5. Walk down the Andrássy Avenue.

Andrássy Avenue is a boulevard full of stunning Art Nouveau style architecture and one of Budapest’s main shopping spots, with fine cafes, restaurants, theatres, Embassies and luxury boutiques. You can start you walk at St. Stephen’s Basilica, then go to the Elizabeth Square, pass the Hungarian State Opera House and walk down the boulevard reaching the famous Heroes’ Square and the green area of the City Park where you can relax at the Széchenyi Bath, visit the Budapest Zoo or sightsee the extraordinary Vajdahunyad Castle.

Budapest-Flowers-on-the-Streets
Budapest-Operetta-theater

After long walk you can take the yellow M1 underground right back to Elizabeth Square. This historical line is the oldest subway in the continental Europe and it’s definitely another must-see attraction in Budapest.

6. Sightsee the Hungarian Parliament Building.

Explore the Hungarian Parliament Building: the symbol of Budapest and the largest building in Hungary. Tip: The one hour guided tours are free for EU citizens and 3 500 Ft (10 €) for the others, don’t forget to take your ID. Booking ahead by e-mail is strongly recommended.

7. Buy some souvenirs at the Central Market Hall.

Buy some souvenirs and try local food at the great 19th century Central Market Hall. The list of Hungarian specialties to try and things to bring back home you will find here.

Budapest-City-Hall-Paprika-Cans-Souvenirs

8. Visit Váci Utca, the most famous shopping street in Budapest.

Take a walk along and window shop on Váci Street, one of the world’s most attractive shopping streets lined with beautiful buildings, cafes and fashion stores. This great pedestrian zone stretches between the Central Market Hall and Vörösmarty Square. There is lot of things to do and to see, but remember that the neighborhood is geared towards tourists, so the shops, and cafes are a bit overpriced.

9. Watch the Musical Fountain on the Margaret Island.

The Margaret Island provides a peaceful hideaway from hectic downtown Budapest with large green areas, flowery gardens, old trees, and lots of entertainment. One of the most well known attractions of the island is the Musical Fountain. Tip: Watch the show at night when the plumes of water and water vapor are illuminated by alternating coloreds lights.

horse-chestnut-margeret-island
margaret-island-fountain-show-budapest

10. Climb up the Gellért Hill.

Gellért Hill rises steeply right from the Danube and is considered one of the most beautiful parts of the city. On the very top of the hill is the citadel from the 19th century which is used nowadays as a lookout terrace where you can enjoy the most stunning panoramic view of Budapest.

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  • Jennifer Morrow

    Gorgeous photos! I would have to start my day with the lovely coffee, it would be a shame not to. And so excited to see #3 has a funicular, they are so cool!!

    • Coffee houses in Budapest are just magical! It’s a pity I haven’t got picture of Cafe New York, it looks absolutely stunning and sitting there with a cup of good coffee is an amazing experience.

  • Piękne zdjęcia, jak zawsze 🙂

    • Dziękuję :). Mi bardzo podobał się Twój wpis o Budapeszcie.

      • Dzięki 😀 Jeden z moich popularniejszych na blogu- zawsze dostaję e-maile odnośnie miejsc 😀

  • Coffee and thermal baths are among my favourite things in the world: once you add history and the beautiful architecture, I think you just described my ideal city 🙂

    • Budapest is perfect idea for a city break, you can explore the city whole day but after relaxing in thermal baths you don’t feel tired anymore.

  • Aditi Chauhan

    Oh how I love Budapest & this post shows all my favourite things from there. The beautiful architecture, Danube, Bath-> oh brings back all my lovely memories of the place.

    • Danube with its beautiful bridges is a real treasure of Budapest, I enjoyed walking there especially after sunset.

  • I had a trip to Budapest booked a couple of years back but then the airline went bankrupt and the trip got canceled. I was furious. The city is still on my list and your beautiful photos really make me want to try my luck again and travel to Hungary!

    • What a pity! I would be furious too…

  • Sheri

    This is a city that I love so much because it does not get as much recognition as other cities in Europe. It is so beautiful and I have always enjoyed myself there.

    • Oh yes, you are right. It’s not so crowded and walking the streets of Budapest is just a pleasure.

  • Rashmi&Chalukya

    Wow Budapest looks so beautiful with all those quaint buildings and cobblestone streets. Thermal baths, strolling along the Danube and the musical fountain sounds like a great idea. Thanks for sharing.

    • There are many quaint cobblestone streets on Buda Castle Hill. Exploring this part of the city is an amazing experience.

  • Okya, so this city seems just amaz-ball. Meaning, there is so much to do and I had no idea. I really want to see the Musical Fountain on Margaret Island and also wander around this historic town! I mean, your photos gave me the envy to visit badly! x

    http://tomboychronicle.com

    • Talking about Margaret Island, there is even more to do than just watching the fountain. You can rent a bike, explore ancient ruins and relax on the swimming pool. It’s beautiful green area in the heart of the city.

  • Budapest looks really lovely, I’ve always wanted to go. Especially for the thermal baths!

    • Oh yes, thermal baths are amazing! It’s nice to have some rest and relax after sightseeing the city.

  • Looks amazing! I have never thought to visit Budapest till now. Thanks

    • Nice place and not as crowded as other European capital cities.

  • Ohhh I LOVE your photos! Budapest looks lovely, I really should go there for a long weekend one day.

    • This city is definitely worth visiting!

  • Tamshuk Saha

    This is such a well compiled list. You have provided a real good and convincing description of all the 10 things to do in this city. The pics too are really cool

  • Thank you 🙂

  • As much as you’ve inspired me to visit Budapest, you’ve also inspired my photography, your pictures are beautiful thank you so much for sharing these.

    • Thank you. Taking pictures is my passion and it makes me happy so I’m really glad that you like it!

  • Vyjay Rao

    Have been planning for Budapest and Eastern Europe for some time to experience the charm of this region, your post has given us some excellent pointers that we shall definitely refer to, when planning our trip.

    • Are you planning to visit Poland too?

  • Budapest looks like a magical city! I would love to visit Margaret Island and see the cafes. I’ve never been but I will definitely go in the next few years.

  • Music fountain!? That reminds me of a cool little indoor fountain in a shopping center that had a fountain with lights that went along with the music.

    I want to try a thermal bath! I hear they are magical!

    • There’s nothing better than relaxing in thermal bath after a long walk and admiring its beautiful architecture!

  • Divya

    Budapest packs so much is news to me! Very well complied.
    Thank you writing this.

  • Christine M Leger

    I am heading there next winter! Thank you for the great tips, I haven’t seen a similar list yet

    • You are welcome. I’m sure you will spend a wonderful time there.

  • Steven Kreimendahl

    I just visited Budapest a few months ago! I wish I had known about the Musical Fountain on the Margaret Island as it look like a fantastic!

    • Maybe it’s a reason (and a perfect excuse) to some back there one day? I didn’t see everything I wanted too, hadn’t got so much time 🙁

  • Ohh Budapest is on my list of places to go before we move back to the US but I think we are running out of time. Looks beautiful!

    • Oh it’s a pity you haven’t got enough time :(. This place is magical!

  • JONA | BACKPACKING WITH A BOOK

    I really admire the details included here. I love quaint cafes myself and it seems like Budapest has plenty of them! And your photos! Soooo lovely!

  • Jessica Friend

    Your post brings back so many memories. Tom and I visited here as our first holiday together 🙂

  • ja byłam na węgrach cudne, wspaniałe miasto:) do budapesztu na pewno też zajrzę:)

  • z Alicją przez Wiedeń

    Piekny post! Ciekawa jestem czy kawa w Budapeszcie smakuje tak samo dobrze jak w Wiedniu? A moze nawet lepiej? 🙂

    • Mi smakowała chyba bardziej, może to zasługa tortu Dobosza, którego sobie zamówiłam do kawy… Pychota!

      • z Alicją przez Wiedeń

        Tort Dobosza? O rany, brzmi fantastycznie! 🙂 No to narobilas mi ochoty na wizyte w Budapeszcie… 🙂

        • Po ostatniej wizycie w Budapeszcie stwierdziłam, że to mój ulubiony tort. Niby prosty przekładaniec z biszkoptu i czekolady z karmelową skorupką, ale mogłabym go jeść i jeść… Muszę spróbować kiedyś sama takie ciacho upiec.

  • Mariana Fourie van Aswegen

    A great follow-up on the previous post.