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The 10 Top Things to Do in Budapest

  • Post last modified:October 25, 2023
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Are you looking for the 10 top things to Budapest? How about the best ways to get around, or some epic nightlife? Well, you've come to the right spot.


The capital of Hungary is one of my favorite cities in all of Europe. From relaxing spas to partying all night long, and fancy brunch spots to sinful street food, this place has something for everyone.


In this guide we're not just going to cover the 10 top things to do in Budapest, but we're going to share everything you need to know for your visit to make it an unforgettable one. So without further ado, let's get right into the fun stuff.

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Where is Budapest?

Budapest is the capital and biggest city in the country Hungary, situated in the northern central region of the country.


The city was once two cities, Buda and Pest. Now merged as one, Budapest brings both sides together with the Danube river running down the center.


Hungary is situated in Eastern Europe south of Slovakia, and north of the Balkan countries such as Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Romania. Austria borders Hungary to the west, and Ukraine to its north east, making it truly the connecter or western and Eastern Europe.

where is Budapest, Hungary

Budapest is the biggest city in Hungary, and is located in the north-central area of the country.


How to Get to Budapest, Hungary

Being in such a central location in Europe, and such a popular city, Budapest has become a huge hub. There are quite a few ways to reach Budapest, so we will share several of the different options.


Flying Into Budapest

Being a huge European hub, there are plenty of flights to Budapest from all over Europe, as well as countries outside of Europe. The headquarters of the budget airline of Wizz Air are located here, so of course making it a city that is well connected to the rest of the continent with plenty of cheap tickets.


Cities from Europe that fly direct to Budapest include Alghero, Amsterdam, Athens, BarcelonaBari, Basel, Berlin, Billund, Birmingham, Bologna, Bordeaux, Brussels, Bucharest, Burgas, Catania, Cluj Napoca, Copenhagen, Dortmund, Dublin, Dusseldorf, Edinburgh, Eindhoven, Frankfurt, Geneva, Helsinki, Istanbul, Kefalonia, Kos, Krakow, Larnaca, Leeds, London, Luxembourg, Madrid, Malaga, Mallorca, Malmo, Malta, Manchester, Milan, Munich, Naples, Nice, Nuremberg, Oslo, Palermo, Paris, Pisa, Prague, Preveza, Reykjavik, Rhodes, Riga, Rimini, Rome, Stockholm, Stuttgart, Târgu Mureș, Tenerife, Vienna, Warsaw, Zakinthos, and Zurich.


Other International cities that fly direct to Budapest include Antalya, Cairo, Dubai, Hurghada, Monastir, New York, Sharm el Sheik, and Tel Aviv.

Flight Tip: Using Skyscanner you can check the calendar to see which are the cheapest dates to fly to Budapest!

Search for a flight to Budapest:

Getting From the Airport to the City of Budapest

There are buses that go directly to and from the airport, and they are just 900 HUF (about 3-4 euros). The buses run every 20 minutes, and the ride is about 35 minutes. If you'd like to purchase a ticket you can simply purchase a ticket online.


Taking the Train to Budapest

Europe is extremely well connected by train, and Budapest has a very large train station. If you're coming from any big city in Europe, chances are that you can eventually make it over to Budapest. We came from Romania, and the train was about 15-16 hours. We opted for the bed option so that we we could rest properly. 


Make sure to bring food as not all trains have cafes onboard. Carry plenty of water so that you can have not only to drink, but for brushing your teeth as well.


Sailing to Budapest

Being conveniently located on the Danube, Budapest is actually a very popular spot for European river cruises to stop. Viking River Cruises, Silver Sea, and Riviera River Cruises are just a few of the examples of boats that sail to Budapest each day, and go to plenty of other European cities like Vienna, Prague, and more.


Buses to Budapest

Buses are one of the cheapest options for traveling to Budapest from surrounding capitals and cities from the bordering countries. Here are a few of the popular routes that you can book:


Vienna to Budapest

Bratislava to Budapest

Belgrade to Budapest

Zagreb to Budapest


Other Options for Getting to Budapest

Another option for traveling to Budapest is by going by car. Depending on where you're coming from, will depend if this is a good option or not.


If you don't feel comfortable driving, or prices for cars are too expensive, you can also use Bla Bla Car, which is a ride sharing app used commonly throughout Europe. Drivers post their routes and you can search your starting point and destination for who matches you.


I love Bla Bla Car because it's often cheaper than any other transportation, it helps contribute to the driver, and it more environmentally friendly. I've also made quite a few great people that I still keep in touch with from some of my trips with this app!

river cruises to Budapest

There are a ton of river cruises that visit Budapest.


Entry Requirements for Hungary

The world keeps changing, so it's important to stay on top of entry requirements for each country. Here is everything you need to know for visiting the country of Hungary.


Visa Requirements for Hungary

When it comes to traveling throughout Europe, it can get super tricky in regards to who is in the EU, who is in the Schengen Zone, or who is in both, and what that means.


For traveling to Hungary, it is important to know that they are part of the EU, as well as the Schengen Zone. This means that there is free travel amongst the other countries in the Schengen Zone, therefore you eon't be going through customs.


But why might this be a bad thing? Countries in the Schengen zone will have to make sure that they abide by the 90/180 rule, which means you can only spend 90 days in the Schengen area within a 180-day period.


The 90/180 Rule

It's important to understand that these 90 days are valid for all countries in the Schengen area. For example, if you spend 20 days in Portugal (also part of the EU), you will then only be able to spend a total of 70 days in Hungary within a 180 day period.


We use the Schengen visa calculator, which is super helpful for those planning on traveling in and out of the EU for a long period of time.


Schengen Visas

For those of you that are planning on staying longer in Hungary or the Schengen Area, or those that are from a country that don't get visa-free access, you will need to then in fact apply for a Schengen Visa. You can click here to check out the list of countries that need to get a Schengen Visa.


Covid Entry Requirements for Hungary

Hungary has dropped all requirements when it comes to Covid. So regardless of vaccination status or testing, Hungary is open for all citizens. Yay!


Local Adjustments

Whenever traveling there are things that you may forget about, which may be different from where you are coming from. Here are a few of the "local adjustments" to keep in mind while traveling to Hungary.


Language

The official language Hungary is Hungarian. While we usually try to pick up a bit of the language before we get there, we can admit that this time was a challenge. After being in 15 other European countries all summer, our willpower to learn was pretty low.


The good thing is that Hungarians have a pretty great level of English, making it quite easy to get by without knowing Hungarian. However, we do encourage you to learn a little bit!


Currency

The currency used in Hungary is the Hungarian forint, written as HUF. Currently both the USD and Euro are a ratio of 406:1 when it comes to the conversion. 


Most places including restaurants, hotels, and shops, all accept credit card. However, for street food and souvenirs we definitely recommend hitting an ATM and having some local currency available.


Outlets

Hungary uses the same plug types as the rest of Europe, which are types C & F. The standard voltage in Hungary is 230 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz.


Water Potability

The water in Hungary is ranked amongst the best quality in all of Europe. We definitely suggest sticking to tap water, and bringing a refillable water bottle with you to stay hydrated.


Tipping Culture

The tipping culture in Hungary is pretty standard, at a rate of about 10%. It is customary for locals and foreigners alike to tip in restaurants, and if you had outstanding service you could leave up to 15%. 

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10 Top Things to Do in Budapest

Now let's get into the fun part! Budapest has so many amazing things to do, so we're going to go over everything from 10 top things to do in Budapest, to some of the hidden gems around the city.


Don't have time to read the whole article and want to save it for later? Just pin it!

10 top things to do in Budapest Pin
10 top things to do in Budapest Pin
10 top things to do in Budapest Pin

1. Take a Free Walking Tour

If you're traveling to a city, a free walking tour is always a must. This is the perfect way to get to know a new place, and find those hidden gems and tips from a local. Tours are free (you just need to tip), and you usually end up meeting some new friends as well.


free walking tour, 10 top things to do in Budapest
free walking tour, 10 top things to do in Budapest
free walking tour, 10 top things to do in Budapest

Free walking tours allow you to see things you normally wouldn't without a local guide.

The free walking tour we took in Budapest was by GuruWalk. We absolutely loved our guide, and would highly recommend using them.

free walking tour, 10 top things to do in Budapest

Free walking tours also allow you to learn about the history behind the impressive buildings.


2. Visit a Spa

Budapest is famous for its spas, and there are quite a few to choose from, so we'll let you know some of the top ones to check out.


Szechenyi

This is the number one bath house to visit if it's your first time in the city, and definitely one of the 10 top things to do in Budapest.

Szchenyi Baths, 10 top things to do in Budapest

Szechenyi Baths are one of the 10 top things to do in Budapest.

Szechenyi is a huge complex with thermal baths, saunas, steam rooms, and so much more. You could seriously spend a full day here. With rooftop sun chairs, indoor and outdoor pools, restaurants, and bars, it's impossible not to enjoy this place.


Szchenyi Baths, 10 top things to do in Budapest
Szchenyi Baths, 10 top things to do in Budapest

Want to prebook a ticket to Szechenyi Spa? You can check out a few of the options below:

Not only is this spa iconic, but it even has a hidden gem inside that we got to experience. There is a beer spa inside! That's right- you can bathe in the ingredients of beer, while having unlimited draft beer. If you love unique activities, then this should definitely be moved to your 10 top things to do in Budapest list.


Szchenyi Baths beer spa, 10 top things to do in Budapest
Szchenyi Baths beer spa, 10 top things to do in Budapest

The beer spa is one of the most unique experiences in Budapest.

Szechenyi Spa opens at 7 am and closes and 8 pm, while the beer spa opens at 10 am and closes at 7 pm.


Want to book your beer spa experience in advance? Just see the options below:

Gellert

The second most popular bath house is Gellert, located on the Buda side of the city. The spa has various indoor and outdoor pools. an ice cold tub, as well as a sauna to enjoy.


Gellert Spa, 10 top things to do in Budapest
Gellert Spa, 10 top things to do in Budapest
Gellert Spa, 10 top things to do in Budapest

There are a variety of indoor and outdoor pools at Gellert.

Our favorite room was the one with the hottest pool featuring beautiful blue designs around it. The water is 40 degrees, and has another one opposite it with slightly cooler waters.

Gellert Spa, 10 top things to do in Budapest

This is our favorite room in Gellert Spa.

Tickets are 7,100 HUF for weekdays, and 8,200 HUF for weekends and holidays. The spa is open from 9 am to 7 pm, and also has other spa services like pedicures, massages, and a small shop inside. If you'd like a list of all of the prices, you can simply click here.


Gellert Spa, 10 top things to do in Budapest
Gellert Spa, 10 top things to do in Budapest
Gellert Spa, 10 top things to do in Budapest

Gellert Spa has plenty of different services to offer.

Rudas

This is more of a local spot. With great baths and better prices than the touristy places, this is perfect for those that simply want to relax and have a more authentic experience.


Palatinus

This was another locally recommended spot. Palatinus is unique because there is a huge stork in the middle of the bath house. There is classical music, and also a wave pool you can check out every half hour.


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3. Check Out the Iconic Bridges

Having the Danube running through it, Budapest has quite a few bridges running across it. The number one you'll want to check out is the gorgeous Chain Bridge, which is an icon of the city. Right now it is under construction (August 2022), but hopefully by the time you are visiting it will be open again!


The two other bridges that you can cross are Elisabeth Bridge (an ascetically pleasing white bridge) and Liberty bridge (a bright green bridge).


Liberty Bridge in Budapest
Liberty Bridge, things to do in Budapest
bridges in Budapest

There are quite a fexw beautiful bridges crossing the Danube in Budapest.

4. Visit the Major Landmarks

When it comes to the 10 top things to do in Budapest, the major landmarks are definitely not to be missed. There are quite a few, which is why we put them into the same category. Here are a few of the use visits.:


Hungarian Parliament

The stunning building is home to the parliament. But let's be honest- most people visit here because the architecture is just drop dead gorgeous. We didn't go inside, and we were told its not really worth it as one of the "10 top things to do in Budapest", but something to check out if you have extra time.


If you do want to go inside, then tours are 3,200 HUF for European citizens, and 6,400 HUF for everyone else. Tours last 45 minutes, and are guided.


Hungarian Parliament, 10 top things to do in Budapest
Hungarian Parliament, 10 top things to do in Budapest
Hungarian Parliament, 10 top things to do in Budapest

The Hungarian Parliament is one of the most stunning buildings in Europe, and definitely one of the 10 top things to do in Budapest.


Fisherman's Bastion 

The number one spot for our list of 10 top things to do in Budapest is Fisherman's Bastion.

Fisherman's Bastion, 10 top things to do in Budapest

Fisherman's Bastion is our favorite place in Budapest.

This area of the city is seriously like a fairytale, and cannot be missed out on! It is free to walk around the castle grounds, and there are plenty of different structures to enjoy. Not only that, but the news of the Hungarian Parliament from here are also beautiful.


Hungarian Parliament, 10 top things to do in Budapest
Hungarian Parliament, 10 top things to do in Budapest
Hungarian Parliament, 10 top things to do in Budapest

Fisherman's Bastion is a full complex of fairytale like buildings.

Shoes On the Danube Bank

Located right along the river before getting the the parliament you'll find a beautiful and haunting tribute to the Holocaust. The shoes represent the lives lost, and people tortured during this horrific time.

shoes on the Danube, 10 top things to do in Budapest

This tribute is a very important site in Budapest.

Our guide even told us an insane story from one of her customers' grandfathers. He was standing on that exact bank when soldiers were shooting the men one by one into the river. The bullet actually missed her Grandfather, but he pretended to be shot and flew into the water. He had to stay there until the coast was clear (literally!). Almost drowning, he made it out and is still alive today.


shoes on the Danube, 10 top things to do in Budapest
shoes on the Danube, 10 top things to do in Budapest

The shoes represent the lives lost from the Holocaust.

St Stephen's Basilica

This is the most famous and beautiful cathedral in the city of Budapest. Centrally located, you can see the cathedral from blocks away. 

St Stephen's Basilica, 10 top things to do in Budapest

You can appreciate St Stephen's Basilica from blocks away.

Head there at 8 pm to be able to witness the organ show, or climb up to the top for some spectacular views of the city. Tickets are 1,200 HUF for the church, and 320 for the treasury and panorama. St Stephen's Basilica opening hours vary on the day and time of year. If you'd like to see the full timetable, you can simply click here.


St Stephen's Basilica, 10 top things to do in Budapest
St Stephen's Basilica, 10 top things to do in Budapest
St Stephen's Basilica, 10 top things to do in Budapest

St Stephan's Basilica is one of the 10 top things to do in Budapest.

Buda Castle

When you look over the Buda side and see all f the stunning architecture, it appears that the castle would in fact be what is Fisherman's Bastion. Buda Castle though actually looks more like a big government building spanning a great deal of the Buda side of the river.


What was one a palace, now holds the Hungarian National Gallery, as well as the Hungarian National Museum. The castle is open from 10 am to 5 pm, and visits are on the hour for up to 15 people. Tickets are 1,400 HUF for adult tickets, and 1,000 for students and retirees.

Buda Castle, 10 top things to do in Budapest

Buda Castle is no longer a palace, but holds the National Gallery and History Museum.

5. Take in Beautiful Views of the City

Seeing a city from above is quite magical, especially when it has a famous river running through it. Here are our favorite viewpoints in Budapest:


Gellert Hill

Located right next to Gellert Spa is Gellert Hill, taking up a large portion of the Buda side of the city. There are several trails with viewing platforms, benches, and even playgrounds located on Gellert Hill. Make it to the top and you'll see one of the most interesting statues in the city.

Gellert Hill, 10 top things to do in Budapest

This statue is iconic, and no longer holds the same meaning it used to.

Originally this statue was built during the communist era, and was a horrible symbol for Hungarians. But instead of taking it down, they repurposed the meaning and kept it there with pride. 


Gellert Hill playground, 10 top things to do in Budapest
Gellert Hill, 10 top things to do in Budapest
Gellert Hill, 10 top things to do in Budapest

Gellert Hill has more than just viewpoints.

The view from the top gives stunning views of the Pest side of the city, and is a great little work out to work off those chimney cakes.

Gellert Hill, 10 top things to do in Budapest

Gellert Hill has gorgeous views of the city.

Elizabeth Lookout

This historical tower is accessible from 8 am to 8 pm, and has spectacular views of the whole city of Budapest. Located on top of Janos Hill, this is the highest point in Budapest. To get to the top you can either hike up, or take the chair lift.


Located 6 km outside the center, you can get here by taking  the 61 tram from Buda to Budagyongye, and then the 291 bus to Zugligeti.

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Viewpoint of the Hungarian Parliament

In our opinion, the Hugarian Parliament definitely makes the 10 top things to do in Budapest. While it is beautiful to see at any angle, our personal favorite is from across the river. Just head to the Batthyani Ter metro station, and the whole area gives you stunning views of the Parliament building.

Hungarian Parliament view, 10 top things to do in Budapest

This is our favorite view point of the Hungarian Parliament.

6. Have an Epic Night Out

One of the 10 top things to do in Budapest is for those that love a good night out. If you're into nightlife, then you're in luck, because Budapest is a great place for it! Here are a few of the best places to hit up for a wild night out.


Szimpla Kert

This is the most famous, and the biggest of the ruins bars in Budapest. With a quirky and grungy feel, the place is really perfect for young travelers to get a taste of nightlife in Budapest.


Insta 

Insta is another super popular venue in Budapest, and is where I actually spent my first night ever in Budapest. There is actually a hustle upstairs, where I had booked a night not even knowing about the party scene.


The place was huge, dark, and had electronic music, making for a super fun introduction to this wild city.


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Vittula

This was a recommendation from a local, and is a bar with an underground hip hop scene.


Roots

Here is another local recommendation, also with an underground hip hop scene if that's more your style.


7. Watch a Stunning Sunrise

If you're planning on having an epic night out, then just wait til the sun comes up. One of our favorite sunrises to date was in Budapest, and it was simply magical.

sunrise at Fisherman's Bastion, 10 top things to do in Budapest

Fisherman's Bastion offers the most magical sunrise.

If you're into photography, then this will definitely make your 10 top things to do in Budapest. Fisherman's Bastion is home to the stunning Buda Castle, and if you want to experience it with very few people around, then sunrise is the time to do it.


sunrise at Fisherman's Bastion, 10 top things to do in Budapest
sunrise at Fisherman's Bastion, 10 top things to do in Budapest
10 top things to do in Budapest

Waking up for sunrise (or staying up for it) is so worth it.

The sun starts to peak out right across the river behind the Hungarian Parliament, and is super dreamy. The lighting at this time is also just spectacular, so it really is any photographer's dream.

sunrise at Fisherman's Bastion, 10 top things to do in Budapest

The sun peaks out right behind the Hungarian Parliament.

Want to sing up for a photoshoot at Fisherman's Bastion? Check out the two options that we found below:

8. Take a Ride Down the Danube

Being located on the water, of course Budapest is home so some great boat excursions along the beautiful Danube.

boat on the Danube, 10 top things to do in Budapest

Taking a boat cruise is a great way to enjoy the city day or night.

We unfortunately didn't have a chance to do one, but got some information about how they work. Check below for some recommendations of tours you can book to enjoy sailing down the Danube.


First, here are some of the daytime options:


Here are some of the nighttime options:


9. Have a Boujie Brunch

We're big brunch fans, and we have to say that Budapest was pretty impressive in this department. From 14K gold cappuccinos to various types of eggs Benedict, the brunch scene is simply something you can't miss out on. 


Want to know some of the best places for brunch in the city? Make sure to stay tuned for our upcoming articles of the best places to eat in Budapest!


gold cappuccino, brunch in Budapest
brunch in Budapest
cute cafes in Budapest

Budapest has some great brunch spots.

10. Explore the Markets

Another thing that we love to to experience local markets. Whether it's local food stalls or handmade crafts, visiting city markets have a serious charm about them, and really let you feel like a local. Here are a couple of the markets you should check out.


Central Market Hall

This is the main market of the city, and is huge! Here you can find everything from local spices and fresh produce to clothing and souvenirs. Head upstairs to the restaurant so that you can also have a taste of all of the tasty local Hungarian food.


Central Market, 10 top things to do in Budapest
Central Market, 10 top things to do in Budapest
Central Market, 10 top things to do in Budapest

The Central market has everything from fresh produce to souvenirs.

Gozsdu Weekend Market

This market happens from Friday to Sunday each week and has a great vibe. Sprawling through an alleyway there is a DJ, food, and plenty of local handicrafts offered. If you're visiting the city  on the weekend, then make sure not to miss out on this as one of the 10 top things to do in Budapest!

Budapest weekend Market, 10 top things to do in Budapest

The Gozsdu Weekend Market is surrounded by restaurants and local vendors.

Szimpla Sunday Farmer's Market

Szimpla is one of (if not the most) famous bar in Budapest. However, Sundays is transforms and becomes a farmers market, where you can find fresh produce, meats, cheeses, and local food. We definitely think you should add this to your list of things to do in Budapest if you're visiting on a Sunday.


10 Top Things to Do in Budapest Bonus #1: Explore the Color

Okay so maybe there are more than just 10 top things to do in Budapest! Another thing that we love in this city is the endless amount of art. Make sure to walk around the city and look out for the splashes of color.

colors in the pavement in Budapest
colorful art in Budapest
street art in budapest

There is color and art scattered all over the city.

10 Top Things to Do in Budapest Bonus #2: Explore the Figurines

Another thing that we found is that there are random statues and structures placed throughout the city. Some are installed officially, and others are placed around by hired artists to hide in corners. We found just a few, but you could spend days looking for all of them!