Things to do in Budapest

Things to do in  Budapest

A city built on indulgence

Elegant, lively Budapest is like three cities in one. The Hungarian capital boasts three historic districts, each with its own unique ambiance. Pest, east of the Danube River, is home to big-ticket museums like the Hungarian National Gallery and the Jewish Museum. Quieter, hillier Buda and Obuda on the western riverbanks are where you’ll find Castle Hill, with Matthias Church and the Fisherman’s Bastion. Reward all that walking with one of the most popular things to do in Budapest: a hot soak in a thermal bath.

Top 15 attractions in Budapest

Budapest Danube River

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Flowing through the heart of Budapest, the Danube River is the lifeline of the Hungarian capital, as well as its geographic center, separating the hilly Buda district on the west bank from the bustling Pest on the east bank. The striking waterfront is also part of Budapest’s UNESCO World Heritage–listed treasures, home to landmarks such as the Szechenyi Chain Bridge, the Liberty Bridge, Buda Castle Hill, Matthias Church, the Hungarian Parliament Building, and Margaret Island.More

House of Parliament (Országház)

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The Hungarian House of Parliament (Országház) is one of the world’s most photogenic government buildings. Perched on the UNESCO World Heritage–listed banks of the Danube River, the mainly neo-Gothic structure features 691 rooms, a handful of which are open to the public—including the Domed Hall, where the Crown of St. Stephen is on display.More

Buda Castle (Budai Vár)

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Perched on a hilltop overlooking the Danube riverfront, the Buda Castle (Budai Vár), or Buda Royal Palace, is one of Budapest’s most photographed landmarks. The magnificent palace dates back to the 13th century, but has been destroyed and rebuilt multiple times throughout history, most recently in a neo-baroque style.More

Széchenyi Thermal Baths (Széchenyi Gyógyfürdo)

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One of the largest and most famous thermal baths in Europe, Budapest’s Széchenyi Thermal Baths (Széchenyi Gyógyfürdo) are one of Hungary's most visited attractions. Soaking in the mineral-rich waters, with startling blue pools set against the backdrop of a grand neo-baroque palace, is a quintessential Budapest experience. It’s also a luxurious one, especially when coupled with a visit to the spa, which offers everything from saunas and mudpacks to rejuvenating massages and balneal therapies.More

Matthias Church (Mátyás Templom)

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Matthias Church (Matays-templom), is a top sight in Budapest's must-see Castle Hill district. This Roman Catholic church boasts neo-Gothic architecture and intricate detailing, from ornately tiled roof and carved gargoyles, to frescoes and stained-glass windows. Visit Matthias Church as part of a Buda Castle complex tour.More

St. Stephen’s Basilica (Szent István Bazilika)

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With everything from holy relics to frescoes, the neoclassical St. Stephen’s Basilica (Szent István Bazilika) is a must for first-time visitors to Budapest. Marvel at the architecture, the clock towers, the stained glass windows—and the preserved hand of St. Stephen, the first king of Hungary.More

Chain Bridge (Széchenyi Lanchid)

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It's no surprise that the Széchenyi Chain Bridge (Széchenyi Lanchid is a top Budapest attraction since this 19th-century landmark offers fantastic views of Castle Hill. You can walk across for waterfront views, pose for a snapshot with the Buda Castle in the background, and marvel at the bridge's stone towers while crossing the Danube.More

Margaret Island (Margit-Sziget)

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Nestled in the Danube River, Margaret Island (Margit-sziget) is an oasis in Hungary’s capital of Budapest. This verdant park is packed with attractions, including a pool, a spa, playgrounds, and a Japanese garden. When the sun is shining, locals and tourists picnic on the island’s green lawns and, in summer, listen to free concerts.More

Heroes' Square (Hosök Tere)

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Heroes' Square (H?sök Tere) is a grand public space at the entrance to Budapest's City Park. Visitors find sweeping columns, statues, and monuments to Hungary's celebrated statesmen. A worthy place to visit, Heroes' Square is an ideal stop for visitors wandering the park, or before stepping into Budapest's well-curated Museum of Fine Arts.More

Fisherman’s Bastion (Halaszbastya)

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Fisherman’s Bastion, or Halaszbastya, is one of Budapest’s most picturesque lookouts. Nestled high on Castle Hill, the neo-Romanesque terrace was built between 1895 and 1902, in celebration of millennial Hungary. Though today’s structure is decorative, it sits on fortified walls that were used to defend the city throughout its early history.More

Citadella

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Situated atop Buda's Gellért Hill—just west of the Danube—the Citadella is a 19th-century fortress that's a prime destination for urban hikers seeking some of the best views in Budapest. You can ascend the hillside to reach the fortification, stop by the small museum on World War II history, and marvel at the unbeatable panorama from the viewpoint.More

Gellért Hill (Gellert-Hegy)

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Gellert Hill (Gellert-hegy) is best known for its panoramic city views, 19th century Citadel, and historic monuments. While the hike up Gellert Hill’s stone steps can be challenging, the sweeping vistas of Budapest and the Danube River from the top are worth the climb.More

Andrássy Avenue (Andrássy Út)

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Andrássy Avenue (Andrássy Út is an elegant Budapest thoroughfare not unlike Paris' Champs-Élysées or Madrid's Gran Vía. The avenue is known as an upscale area full of art nouveau buildings, ritzy shops, and chic eateries. Among them all, the State Opera House (Magyar Állami Operaház stands as a grand testament to times past.More

Hungarian State Opera House (Magyar Állami Operaház)

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This neo-Renaissance opera house (Magyar Állami Operaház) has an illustrious history as one of Budapest’s greatest cultural venues, with legendary composer Gustav Mahler having once served as director here. Behind the Miklós Ybl–designed facade, which features statues of Puccini, Mozart, Liszt, and Verdi, is a plush interior with gilding, marble, and chandeliers.More

Central Market Hall (Nagycsarnok)

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Budapest’s largest indoor market is a hub of activity, with hundreds of stalls spread over three floors. Housed in a striking 19th-century building, it’s a place where local chefs shop for fresh produce, tourists haggle over traditional handicrafts, and the upstairs food court serves delicious Hungarian cuisine.More

Trip ideas

Top activities in Budapest

Budapest Private Luxury Sightseeing Tour

Budapest Private Luxury Sightseeing Tour

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Budapest Tuk Tuk City Tour

Budapest Tuk Tuk City Tour

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Budapest Danube River Candlelit Dinner Cruise with Live Music
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Budapest Highlights Sightseeing Cruise
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Operators have paid Viator more to have their experiences featured here

All about Budapest

When to visit

Budapest is best during the shoulder seasons. During spring and fall, you’ll encounter fewer crowds than in the sticky summer months and enjoy pleasant daytime temperatures—ideal for exploring both sides of the Danube River on foot. Although, if you can brave the cold, the Hungarian capital comes alive in December during the lead-up to Christmas, with holiday markets, fairy lights, and ice-skating rinks giving the city an extra festive vibe.

Getting around

Not only is Budapest super walkable, but it has a public transit system well worth boasting about. There are four subway lines connecting the downtown areas and Budapest Keleti station. (You won’t see turnstiles, but tickets are frequently checked, so don’t try to score a ride for free.) You’ll also find tram lines and a well-connected bus network that serves the Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport. What’s more, the city has bike shares and water taxis along the Danube, not to mention ride-hailing apps.

Traveler tips

You can’t go to Budapest without making time for a nice long soak in one of the city’s thermal baths. The most popular are the art nouveau-inspired Gellért Thermal Bath, the neo-baroque-style Széchenyi Baths, and the Ottoman-era Rudas Baths. Just make sure to bring a towel, a swim cap, and shower sandals, or you might have to rent or purchase those amenities for a hefty fee. And avoid peak hours when the over-crowded heated pools are likened to “people soup.”

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People Also Ask

What is Budapest famous for?

Originally three distinct cities— Buda and Óbuda, and Pest on the other side of the Danube River—Budapest is the elegant and historic capital of Hungary, famous for its steaming thermal baths, savory goulash stews, and iconic sights like the lion-guarded Chain Bridge, the Hungarian Parliament building, and panoramic Castle Hill.

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What are the do's and don'ts in Budapest?

Don't see any turnstyles in the metro station? Don't assume you can ride for free; tickets are frequently checked by hand at the exit. And when hitting the baths, do remember to bring your own towel and sandals. Those that arrive empty handed are often made to purchase an exorbitant entry package that includes a paper-thin cloth.

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Can you do Budapest in 3 days?

Yes, you may only be scratching the surface, but three days in Budapest is enough to tackle the major sights. Plan a walk up Castle Hill to see the Fisherman’s Bastion and Buda Castle, take a dip in one of the city’s historic bathhouses such as Széchenyi Baths, and visit the ornate Dohany Street Synagogue.

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What is there to do in Budapest at night?

Lukas and Rudas bathhouses offer late-night opening hours on weekends, letting you squeeze in a soak before bedtime. And don’t be sure to miss the city’s romkocsma, or ruin bars—originally makeshift pubs and dance clubs created in derelict buildings and disused factories, they are now quirky and vibrant tourist hotspots.

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What should I not miss in Budapest?

Hungary was under Ottoman occupation for 150 years, and hilly Buda formed its cultural and administrative center. Don’t miss traces of Ottoman heritage, including the city’s oldest bathhouse—16th-century Kiraly Bath—and a serene hilltop shrine and fascinating museum both dedicated to a Turkish-born Sufi dervish, Gul Baba.

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What language is spoken in Budapest?

Hungarian is spoken in Budapest—not a Slavic language, as is often thought, but one actually related to Finnish. While English is undersood within popular tourist areas, you’ll do well to memorize a few basic words and greetings, like szia (hello or goodbye), köszönöm (thank you), and bocsánat (I’m sorry).

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Frequently Asked Questions