Budapest (© Photo by Bence Balla-Schottner on Unsplash)
Grandeur, 19th century elegant architecture, sticky apricot jam, historical Turkish baths and romance – Budapest just has it all. The capital has preserved its historic atmosphere which is combined with a youthful and vibrant life. You can immerse in exciting cultural programmes and choose from the best places to go out, while you are being surrounded by centuries of heritage.
One of Europe’s most photogenic capitals has become such a top tourist destination that in 2019 it won the prestigious title of "European Best Destination". This is no coincidence, because this city offers its visitors a multitude of marvelous sites: it is enough to go out into the street and a magnificent view is offered to us, on the side of Pest or Buda, no matter where we are.
Visiting Budapest requires good preparation so to help you, here is our selection of the must-see tourist sites that will absolutely steal your heart.
The UNESCO world heritage Castle District of Budapest is full of important sites. The Fishermen's Bastion (Halászbástya), the Church of Matthias (Mátyás-templom) and the Buda Castle are the most obvious examples, but even if you get lost in this neighbourhood rich in story, you will make interesting personal discoveries in every corner. Hidden treasures, secret stories and legends of past times awaits while strolling on the cobbled courtyards.
A walk through the castle is an instant history lesson and anyone who wants to feel like they are in a Disney tale should head to the Fisherman’s Bastion.
There are no lists of spectacular Parliament buildings that do not feature the Hungarian one. With 691 rooms, 19km of corridors and stairs, a 97m high dome and stunning gargoyles, the Danube-side icon dominates the Pest side of the river. Whether you take a guided tour or see it from a boat, the Parliament is always worth a visit.
St. Stephen's Basilica
Budapest's highest and most photographed attraction awaits visitors not only with fantastic frescoes, but also with the mummified right hand of King St. Stephen, the founder of the Hungarian state. The panorama from the dome is not to be missed and it is also worth listening to an organ concert.
Due to Hungary's exceptional thermal water resources, spa culture here dates back two thousand years to Roman times, and was later enriched by the Turks in the 1500s and 1600s. With over 100 natural springs in the city, no other capital in the world has this many thermal baths. It's worth to explore, as some of them have the atmosphere of a museum, such as the Széchenyi, which gives the impression of a Monarchy-style palace, or the Turkish-era Rudas.
Budapest gastronomy is not just about goulash! Beside discovering the traditional flavours, it's worth visiting one of Budapest's elegant historic cafés, the great market hall, a new wave bistro or even try a Michelin-starred fine dining restaurant. For a special night out, visit the city's famous ruin pubs, which opened their doors in abandoned buildings to attract a large number of young people who enjoy drinking either in a split Trabant or in grandma's old chair. If the panorama counts, don’t miss a rooftop bar with a glass of top-quality Hungarian wine and enjoy the stunning sunset.
Heroes' Square and City Park
At the end of Andrássy út is the largest square in Budapest, where all of Hungarian history can be found. Statues of kings, heroes and legends stand proudly in the square, which exudes a special atmosphere day and night. From here, hikers can go on a picnic in the City Park, one of the largest green areas in the city, while art lovers can visit several fantastic museums nearby, such as the Museum of Fine Arts, the Kunsthalle, the Museum of Ethnography or the House of Hungarian Music.
The green heart of the city lies in the middle of the Danube between the Margaret Bridge and the Árpád Bridge. Everything on the island is all about relaxation, from the popular Palatinus Beach and the Alfred Hajós Swimming Pool, to the Japanese Garden and the musical fountain. Featuring a rubberised jogging track nearly 5km long, pedalo rental and cycle paths, not to mention any number of picnic places and outdoor bars, Margaret Island has something for everyone.
Gellért Hill and Citadel
The Gellért Hill locates 235 metres above sea level on the right bank of the Danube. It is one of the most popular spots in the city because of its exceptional panorama. On the top of the hill locates the former fortress, the Citadel and the 14-metre-high statue of Liberty standing on its south-eastern bastion. The statue is visible from almost every corner of the city, so it is not surprising that it has become one of Budapest's main symbols over the years.
Explore Budapest in 72 hours
Budapest is always a good idea! But what to do in the magical capital of Hungary when you only have 72 hours? We got you covered with the perfect 3-day itinerary when you visit Budapest for the World Athletics Championships 23!
Day 1: First things first, begin your trip by getting to know the city. Take a long walk in the breathtaking historical center of Budapest. Must-see attractions are the iconic Parliament building, the Castle district, and the Hungarian National Gallery aka the Buda Castle. After a long, rewarding day of sightseeing, visit the brand-new National Athletics Centre and cheer for the superheroes at the World Athletics Championships.
Day 2: This is the day for chilling and relaxing. Start your day at one of the iconic baths of the city. After resting and enjoying the famous Hungarian thermal water, finish the day at one of the famous Hungarian ruin pubs.
Day 3: After a long night of partying, finish your last day by tasting the delicacies of Hungary. Some of the more filling dishes - like the goulash soup - can also be a cure for hangover.