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21 Fun Things To Do In Budapest – 2023

21 Fun Things To Do In Budapest – 2023

Are you traveling to Europe? Don’t overlook Budapest! We’ve spent over four months traveling around Europe, and Budapest is our favorite European city. We also love Barcelona, Prague, and Paris, but Budapest is the whole package!

Budapest is beautiful, has plenty of history, is safe, has tons of things to do, tasty food, good beer, and is budget-friendly! We’ve put together the best things to do in Budapest to put on your Budapest itinerary.


*When looking for the best price and biggest selection of hotels in Budapest, check prices on Booking.com. We’ve found they are the best option and have a great cancelation policy.

Best overall hotel in  Budapest – Kempinski Hotel Corvinus Budapest 
We stayed at the Kempinski Hotel and loved it for so many reasons, but one of the best is there is a Christmas Market right out your door. From our room, we could see down onto it. It’s also one of the best locations to stay in.


Things To Do In Budapest

The most famous brideg and attraction in Budapest - Chain Bridge

1. Walk Across the Chain Bridge

The Chain Bridge is easily Budapest’s most famous bridge that connects Buda and Pest. The Chain Bridge was built in 1849 with its official name István Széchenyi.

If you’re sightseeing in Budapest, start your morning on one side and walk across the Chain Bridge to the other side. We highly suggest seeing the Chain Bridge at night. It makes for some great night photos.

Related Post: The Perfect 3 Days in Budapest Itinerary

Buda Castle in Budapest top sight

2. Explore the Buda Castle

The Buda Castle is at the top of Castle Hill, and the complex is home to the Buda Castle (formerly Royal Palace), the National Gallery, and the Budapest History Museum.  

The Castle was home to the Hungarian kings and was completed back in 1265. The Buda Castle was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987.

The best way to explore the castle is on a guided tour. Several Budapest city tours include visiting the Buda Castle. Click here to see all Budapest tours.

The grounds are open 24 hours a day, but Buda Castle’s hours are the same as the museum: Tuesday- Sunday, 10 am-6 pm. There are several festivals at the Buda Castle throughout the year: beer festival, wine festival, chocolate festival, palinka festival, etc.

Related Article: The Best Places to Stay in Budapest


Fun fact: Budapest is actually two cities, Buda and Pest, which are divided by the Danube River. The two cities are connected by several bridges, the most famous being the Chain Bridge. Each side of Budapest has several tourist attractions, each very different.

We suggest spending at least three days in Budapest. There are a ton of things to do in Budapest, but as an added bonus, Budapest is super affordable.


The changing of the guard at the Budapest Parliament building

3. Watch the Changing of the Guards at the Hungarian Parliament Building

If you time your visit right, you can watch the changing of the guards at the Parliament. You literally can’t miss the Parliament Building. It’s Hungary’s most recognizable building, and it’s huge!

The Hungarian Parliament is the 3rd largest parliament building in the world and the largest building in Hungary. It took 17 years to construct, and it was finished in 1902. There are parliament tours, but since tours are limited, lines can be long, and it often sells out days in advance, it’s best to book a Budapest Parliament tour in advance online here.

Head to the Pest side at night to get a great photo of the Parliament Building lit up at night.

Related: Gorgeous Castles in Hungary to Visit

Top Budapest Attraction Szechenyi baths

4. Relax in the Széchenyi Baths

Relaxing in one of the Budapest baths is a must. Our favorite bath is the famous Széchenyi bath. It’s the perfect place to relax after a long day on your feet, seeing all the things to do in Budapest.
 
The baths are supplied by two thermal springs which heat more than 20 pools in the complex that range from 65°-104°F (18°-40°C). The Budapest baths are said to help medically with degenerative joint illnesses and orthopedic and traumatological post-treatments.
 
The Széchenyi Baths are the largest medicinal bath in Europe and the prettiest if you ask us. If you happen to be in Budapest on a Saturday, consider going to the Széchenyi Baths pool party on Saturday nights from 10:30 p.m.-3 a.m. for an unforgettable night.
 
For the cheapest ticket, Budapest Bath party tickets, click here for fast track (no waiting in line), all-day pool access, and cabin usage.

The Budapest Parliament building at night is the top thing to see on a Danube night river cruise

5. Cruise the Danube River

It wouldn’t be Budapest without the Danube River. There are tons of river cruises in Budapest, from lunch/dinner cruises, half-day cruises, or even a Danube River cruise to/from Germany.

Click here for all river cruises available. We took a Christmas market cruise that started with the Budapest Christmas Markets and ended in Germany with the best German Christmas Markets.

Best views in Budapest - Fisherman's Bastion

6. Fisherman’s Bastion Viewpoint

One of the best views of Budapest is from the lookout at Fisherman’s Bastion. Originally the towers were lookout towers, but now it’s the best lookout in Budapest.

Seven towers are free to enter, and some of the upper towers have a small fee (under $3) during peak season. When you’re visiting Matthias church, walk around the balcony to reach the Fisherman’s Bastion.

A winding staircase to the top of the St. Stephen's Basilica

7. Head To The Top Of  St. Stephen’s Basilica

A visit to St. Stephen’s Basilica is worth the trip alone but head to the observation deck for an epic panoramic view of Budapest. The church is free to enter. However, there is a sign suggesting a 1 Euro or 200 HUF donation.

There is an observation deck that costs HUF 400 to access using the stairs of HUF 600 by taking the elevator.  It’s 365 stairs to the top or an elevator from April 1-October 31st. We visited in December, so we walked up, but the staircase is gorgeous make sure to pop in for at least a photo. It’s worth the trip up while in Budapest. It’s one of our favorite things to do in the city!

Front of Central Market Hall in Budapest - Main shopping Market

8. Go Hungry To The Great Market Hall

Don’t eat before heading to the Central Market Hall, the oldest & largest indoor market in Budapest. The market has more than enough food stalls and restaurants to fill you up.

We highly suggest picking up some Hungarian spices & liquor to bring back home. The prices are the lowest you will find in Budapest. Make sure to read our complete guide on Great Market Hall when planning your visit.

  •  Closed SUNDAY 
  • Address: Vámház krt. 1-3, 1093

Related Article: Best Foods To Try in Budapest That Aren’t Goulash

Ruin Pubs in Budapest - Top Nightlife places

9. Party at Budapest Ruin Bars

It’s hard to describe what a ruin bar is; the Budapest ruin bars are one-of-a-kind bars. Ruin bars have been around since 2001 in Budapest’s District VII  neighborhood, aka the old Jewish Quarter.

The ruin bars are in abandoned buildings that were left after World War II. If you are just walking down the street, you may not even realize it’s a bar, but as soon as you enter, you are transformed into another world. Each ruin bar is different, but they all are full of character, except that every room is different and very strange.

Related Post: Top 9 Budapest Ruin Bars and Nightlife

The oldest ruin bar in Budapest is Szimpla Kert, which is open daily. Ruin bars are super popular and can get crowded. We suggest going before 11 p.m. to avoid the long lines and to grab a table. There are Budapest ruin bar tours that visit several bars, but you can easily create your own ruin bar crawl.

  • Szimpla Kert Address: 14 Kazinczy Street, Budapest District VII (a few minutes walk from the Great Synagogue)

Don’t forget your insurance! You never know when you’ll need it. We suggest getting travel insurance with Safety Wing. Which coverage includes medical, trip interruption, lost luggage, and more. Often rates are as low as $12 a week. 


10. Visit The Great Synagogue

The Dohány Street Synagogue, typically called the Great Synagogue, is the largest Synagogue in Europe and the second-largest synagogue in the world. Built back in 1854, the synagogue can seat 3,000 people. It is are located on the same street as the Jewish Museum, memorial, Heroes’ Temple, and cemetery.

unique things to do in Budapest is to visit the nearly abandoned Jewish Cemetery

11. Go on an Abandoned Jewish Cemetery Tour

One of the most unique tours in Budapest is the Jewish Cemetery Tour with Budapest 101. Visit the Salgótarjáni út cemetery is the oldest Jewish burial ground on the Pest side of the city.

Most of the Jewish population was forced out of Budapest during World War II. Therefore the cemetery turned into ruins. The trees and plants began to take over the graveyard. You’ll have to watch your step as many of the tombs have fallen through the ground or opened and looted for any goods.

Some of the tombstones and burial chambers are massive and really gorgeous, even though that sounds weird to say a headstone is pretty…It’s a strange place to visit but really photogenic.

The cemetery is not open to the public but can be opened for visitors if arranged in advance, which is why you will need to go with a local. We went with Budapest 101 and highly recommend them.

Hero's Square in Budapest - Things to do

12. Heroes Square

At the end of Andrassy Avenue is Heroe’s Square, the largest square in Budapest. The square has iconic statues featuring the Seven Chieftains of the Magyars. Visit Heroes’ Square before or after visiting the Széchenyi baths.

13. Sip Some Sour Cherry Pálinka (liquor)

Don’t leave Budapest without trying a local favorite, Pálinka, which is a fruit liquor made with different fruits similar to brandy. This firewater has a lot of fruit flavor coming through as you throw them back. Pálinka is commonly drunk before or after a meal and is the go-to spot at the Budapest ruin pubs.

Budapest Eye ferris wheel in the early morning after sunrise

14. Ride The Budapest Eye Ferris Wheel

Ride one of the world’s largest traveling Ferris wheels\ standing over 200 feet tall with 42 cars. Every night the Budapest Eye Ferris wheel lights up the square with over 10,000 colored lights.

No matter if you ride day or night, the Ferris wheel has excellent views to offer. Operating daily in Erzsébet Square.

Christmas market infront of the St. Stephan's Cathedral in Budapest - Top sight

15. Stroll The Budapest Christmas Markets

Come the end of November, Budapest turns into Christmas Market heaven. We started our Christmas market cruise with Viking River Cruises in Budapest, and we both agreed Budapest had the best Christmas markets in Europe.

You can just walk around Budapest and stumble across several different Christmas markets set up throughout the city. Here are a few of the best Christmas markets in Budapest:

  • Vorosmarty Square
  • St Stephen’s Square

Bronze shoes sit on the ledge of the Danube as a reminder of the men and women killed here

16. Visit The Shoes On The Danube Bank

The “Shoes on the Danube Bank” is a memorial to honor those who were killed by the Arrow Cross militiamen during World War II.

There are 60 pairs of shoes placed on the ledge in memory of 3,500 people who were forced to take off their shoes and were literally shot at the edge of the water, where their bodies were swept down the river.

17. Buy some paprika

Hungarians love the smoky and savory red spice of Paprika. You can find it in just about every dish while in Budapest. Bring some of the spice home with a tin of Paprika – available at every market in town.

Buda Castle and Funicular at night

18. Ride the Funicular up to Buda Castle

The easiest and most scenic way to the Buda Castle is to ride the Buda Hill funicular to the top. The Buda Castle Funicular has connected the shores of the Danube and the Buda Castle since 1870 and was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987.

There are two stations, the lower station is on the Buda side of the Chain Bride, and the upper station is on the Pest side on Castle Hill. Two trams that run the 300-foot track and will have you to the top in ten minutes.

The funicular runs daily 7:30 am-10 p.m. We highly suggest going early in the morning or just before sunset.

A green copper statue in front of the Matthias Church in Budapest

19. Matthias Church

Matthias Church is over 700 years old and one of the oldest buildings in Buda. This gothic-style cathedral with a colorful tiled roof is one of Budapest’s best sights. Inside, the church is just as beautiful, with high vaulted ceilings and ornate decorations throughout.

20. Budapest Cave Church

Hands down, the most interesting church in Budapest is the Cave church, tucked away in the Gellért Hill Cave. Don’t expect vaulted ceilings like in the other Gothic churches in the city.

This church was built in a natural cave by monks in the 1920s. The name of the church is Sziklatemplom, which in Hungarian means Rock Church. During WWII, the church served as a hospital and took in refugees from the war.

After the war, the new communist government that took power arrested all the monks, and the head monk was executed just for helping people. The cave church is a top sight in Budapest for both its uniqueness and its history of the place.

21. Drink a glass of Unicum (liquor)

After a long day sightseeing in Budapest, take a sip of Budapest’s locally made herbal liquor. Unicum is basically Hungary’s version of Jagermeister, and it’s said to cure many things. This potent concoction has been made here for over a century according to a secret formula of more than forty herbs and aged in oak casks.


Short on time? Check out our 3-day guide to Budapest!

It shows you the best way to see all of the city’s highlights during a short itinerary.


We split our time between two hotels in Budapest. Our first hotel Kempinski Budapest was right in the center of everything and literally right next to one of the Christmas Markets. Our second hotel, the Fraser Residence, are basic serviced apartments. Where we had our one-bedroom apartment complete with a kitchen and washer/dryer, which was great for us. Click here to read our complete where to stay in Budapest guide.


More on Budapest

The Perfect 3 Day Budapest Itinerary

featured image for 3 days in Budapest Itinerary - Chain Bridge at sunset

From the Romans and Turks to the Austro-Hungarians and Soviets, Budapest’s mosaic of influences makes it a fascinating place to visit. Situated along the banks of the Danube, the capital…


We hope you have an epic time in Budapest, and make sure to pin me!

Tram crossing the liberty bridge in Budapest

 

Fishermans Bastian one of the best things to do in Budapest

 

Vivek Jeyakumar

Sunday 21st of July 2019

Hi, Appreciate the article,very informative. I would be in Budapest for 48 hours in August, would it be sufficient time to cover most of the places mentioned in the article?? Thank you

Adam

Monday 22nd of July 2019

I would say it would be tough to cover this list in 48 hours, but you can still cover a lot. I would scale this list down to about half and pick the items that are most interesting to you. We also have a 3-day guide, while still a bit longer than what you have but could help form your Budapest itinerary -->> https://www.gettingstamped.com/3-days-in-budapest-itinerary/

Kimi Soni

Wednesday 28th of November 2018

Hungary is the best place according to me. It has all the elements which makes a holiday A WOW experience.

Hannah Lukaszewicz

Sunday 2nd of December 2018

Hungary is great and we hope on our next trip we get to explore more of it! Budapest is amazing and we'll always spend a few days exploring the city, it's our favorite city in Europe.

Richa Thakur

Thursday 4th of October 2018

Hey! Loved the pictures! they seem to be super helpful. I am going to make a copy of this guide while I'm there!!! We're planning to visit Amsterdam, Budapest & Prague between 25 October to 4th November, and I plan to be at the best of three spots at the right time.. Halloween celebrations is what I want to definitely experience!! Any suggestions on where I could go and when to make the best of the limited time I have?

Hannah Lukaszewicz

Tuesday 9th of October 2018

You are visiting some of the best cities in Europe! Budapest is our personal favorite city in Europe. I am sure the ruin bars in Budapest would be an epic place to spend Halloween. I would for sure plan on Budapest for Halloween. Have a blast!

Cova

Wednesday 30th of May 2018

Hello! Just came across this two weeks before my trip to Budapest and it is definitely very helpful!!

However I have a question about the baths. How do you buy the tickets and should you buy them in advance? Are they for the whole day or just for a period of time? I plan to go on a Sunday. Also is there any place to leave your stuff under lock? I take photography as a hobby and I would like to take some nice pics of the baths and then be able to leave my camera in a safe place.

Thank you!!:D

Adam

Wednesday 15th of August 2018

There are lockers and private rooms available (for a fee) to leave clothes and valuables. You can buy tickets and stay for as long as you want at the baths. Tickets are available in advance if you are traveling on a tight schedule or peak season.

Janine Thomas

Tuesday 8th of May 2018

I loved visiting Budapest. It delivered so much more than I expected. It is such a charming city that you can't help but fall in love with it. The ruin bars were wacky, but what an experience. I highly recommend visiting them. 3 days was perfect, but I could have easily spent more time in the city.