Budapest, the grand jewel of the Danube, is one of the most beautiful and budget-friendly capital city in Europe. The city is the paradise for those who like to explore on foot. With beautiful baroque and art nouveau buildings around every corner, you are sure to never run out of things to see here in this city. From things to do during the day, and places to go at night, here are all the information you need to have a great time in Budapest.
Things to Do Map
When to Go
September to October is the best time to visit Budapest as there will be fewer people compared to June - August, the weather is still great and the best of all, the colors of the city started to shift towards autumn so you will be able to see a more colorful side of Budapest, especially up from Buda Castle.
Where to Stay
Budapest - Urbana Hostel - 13.55 USD/Night (Great location, in between the train stations and the city center. The beds have privacy curtains.)
How to Get Around
Most of the attractions recommended here are all within walking distance and Budapest is best seen on foot so I would recommend you walk as much as you can.
If you are planning to travel away from the city center, metros or buses are a great way to move around the city. You can buy the single trip ticket for 350 HUF (1.3 USD) at any train station. With this ticket, you can go on metros, buses or trams but if your trip requires you to change to a different line or types of transportation, you will have to get a different ticket for 530 HUF (2.10 USD). Don't forget to validate the ticket when you enter the platform.
Download official Metro maps here.
Best Things to Do in Budapest
Breakfast at WARMCUP Cafe
Nothing like starting a day full of adventure with a fine cup of coffee at WARMCUP Cafe, a cool art cafe with delicious coffee, great vibe and wide range of pastries and sandwiches for your morning.
Climb up the St. Stephen's Basilica
One of the most important church in Hungary, St. Stephen's Basilica is a great place to admire the beautiful Neo-Classical style architecture and stunning decoration of the interior, especially the intricate detail of the cupola from the inside.
You can also climb up the tower and see the city from above. Not the best view of the city in my opinion but it is a good place to get a sense of direction and see where things are in the city.
Stare at the Sheer Beauty of the Hungarian Parliament Building
This is possibly one of the most popular attractions in the city. With the gigantic Gothic Revival style facade and a perfectly symmetrical dome at the center, there is no mistaking the building for anything else. The parliament is best viewed from the other side of the Danube river during sunset when the lights are illuminating the symmetrical body of the structure.
You can also make an appointment and go inside the parliament building to see the famous Assembly hall of the House of Magnates but be sure to book it early in the day as booking is only available on the day of your trip.
Keep an eye out for the statue of Imre Nagy, one of the most significant prime ministers, standing on top of a copper-wrought bridge looking at the country he loved.
Pay Respect at the Shoes on the Danube Bank Memorial
The Shoes on the Danube Bank are a memorial dedicated to the 3,500 people who were shot into the Danube during the time of the Arrow Cross terror. They were ordered to take off their shoes before getting shot at the edge of the water so that their bodies would be carried away by the water current. Over sixty pairs of shoes were sculpted out of iron and attached to the stone embankment along the side of the Danube river.
Have Lunch at Hummusbar
Nearby St. Stephen's Basilica, there is a restaurant called Hummusbar where you can get a 700 HUF (2.77 USD) falafel. It is served in both small and big portion with delicious falafel balls, hummus dip and many other varieties of healthy, Mediterranean, and vegetarian-friendly options you can choose. If you want to save cost but still have great food, this is the place.
Walk up the Buda Castle
After lunch, walked along the Danube river and cross the Széchenyi Chain Bridge towards Buda Castle and climb to the top of the hill to the courtyard for a breathtaking view of the city. You can also go inside and check out the National Gallery if you have time to spare.
Admire the City from Fisherman's Bastion
While you are on the Castle Hill, walk further north and visit the Fisherman's Bastion, a fairy-tale-like bastion straight out of some fantasy novels like Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter.
You can either walk along the wall or sit in a cafe along the wall to get the best view of Budapest from above. Personally, I think the view from here is by far the best spot out of all the place I saw in Budapest.
Also, be sure to turn back and appreciate the beauty of Matthias Church located in front of the bastion.
Have a Coffee at the Oldest Cafe in Budapest
Photo by Dpotera
Ruszwurm Confectionery is the oldest cafe in Budapest opened in 1827 and is still operational today. It is located a block away from the Fisherman's Bastion so if you are looking for a break, here is a good place to do so. The cafe is equipped with a 200 years old wooden counter that is still in use today. The price for a coffee and a cake remains quite cheap considering how popular it is among tourist.
Look out to the City from Citadella
Photo by Tamás Mészöly
Citadella is a fortress located at the top of Gellért Hill. The Citadella has seen many occupants since its construction from the Nazi using it as an anti-aircraft position to the Communists using it to bombarded the people in the city. Due to its strategic location, I can see why this place played an important role in the city's history. Citadella is another great lookout point for those who can not have enough of the city's majestic view.
Get Soaked at the Gellért Thermal Bath
Photo by Roberto Ventre
Budpaest is well-known for its thermal bath due to an abundance of hot springs, so much so that the city was named the "Spa City" in 1934. It is located near the Citadella, and from there you can soak yourself in the "healing water" and relax inside the beautiful Art Nouveau style architecture of Gellért thermal bath. If you have spare time, a thermal bath is a must-visit for those who want to experience Budapest to the fullest.
Party at the Famous Ruin Bar
Photo by Jorge Franganilloe
You can not come to Budapest without attempting to see the ruin bar culture that the city is famous for. Szimpla Kert is one of the best ruin bar in the city. If you want to see a unique ruin bar with a fun vibe, lively atmosphere, and beautiful decor, this bar is a must-visit.
The Solo Traveler’s Journal is a series of posts by BucketListly where we will follow our founder, Pete Rojwongsuriya around the world as he singlehandedly travel alone and experience different cultures, people, and historical locations one country at a time.