Budapest is like Paris and Vienna with a pinch of Berlin and yet quite different. Budapest attracts opposites and connects chaos. A mixture of old and new, cultivated and alternative. It is precisely these facets that attract numerous tourists to the capital of Hungary every year. But what should one really have to see? In Buda? In Pest? On the Danube bank? Discover the most popular sights in Budapest.
1. Hungarian Parliament
The Parliament building is probably one of the most famous Hungarian sights and is an architectural jewel. The 268-meter-long building adorns the Danube bank and, together with the St. Stephen's Basilica, is one of the largest buildings in the city. It has 691 rooms, 365 small towers, 10 patios, 27 entrances and 29 staircases. The most beautiful view of the imposing parliament opens up from the opposite bank.
2. Fishermen's Bastion
The Fishermen's Bastion is located in the Burggarten Bazaar in the castle quarter on the Buda side of the city. It replaced the old Buda castle wall at the end of the 19th century and its pointed stone towers symbolise the seven tribal leaders of the Hungarians. Also here you can get a fascinating view of the city and the parliament of Budapest.
3. St. Stephen's Basilica
With its 96 meters the St. Stephen's Basilica belongs to the largest buildings and oldest churches of Budapest. It is dedicated to Saint Stephen, whose embalmed right hand is inside the basilica. In 1905 the Basilica of St. Stephen was opened and is still open to tourists today. The viewing platform of the hilltop offers a breathtaking panoramic view over Buda and Pest.
4. Shoes on the Danube bank
A collection of pairs of shoes distributed along the Danube bank, very close to the Parliament building. A harrowing memorial in honour of the victims of the Arrow Crosses Party in Hungary during the Second World War. The Holocaust Memorial was created in 2005 by Gyula Pauer and Can Togay and commemorates the atrocities of 1944 and 1945.
5. Castle Palace and Castle Quarter
The Castle Quarter is located on the Castle Hill, right in Buda, and is characterized by small cobblestone streets and alleys. The Budapest Castle District has many interesting places of interest and includes numerous sights such as the Castle Palace and the Matthias Church. Although it has been partly destroyed twice, it still exists today and offers tourists a great viewing platform.
The Gellért Hill is the highest point of the city with a height of 235 meters. The climb is done on foot, but as a reward you can go to a viewing platform that offers a breathtaking panoramic view of Budapest. It was named after the bishop Gellért, who fell to his death from this mountain of Budapest. The Statue of Liberty is enthroned on the hill, which is a monument to all Hungarian soldiers who fought in the Second World War.
7. Chain bridge
In Budapest there are many bridges connecting the districts of Buda and Pest, but none is as well known as the Chain bridge. It is the first and oldest bridge between the two parts of the city and is one of the top sights of Budapest. Its official name is Széchenyi lánchíd, in reference to the Hungarian reformer Count István-Széchenyi. The Danube Promenade stretches between the Chain Bridge and the Elisabeth Bridge, offering a unique view of the Buda side of the city. Especially in the evening, when the city lights begin to sparkle, its true beauty is observable.
8. Szechenyi Spa
The Széchenyi Spa is the first thermal bath on the Pest side and is one of the highlights of every visit to Budapest. It was opened as a spa in 1913 and has only been used as a public bath since 1927. Meanwhile, the Széchenyi Spa also offers underwater massages, carbonic baths, mud treatments, sauna areas and numerous other attractions, including a day hospital. With the Budapest Card there are discounts on many sights, including the Széchenyi Spa. A visit to a thermal bath is one of the most popular activities in Budapest and in Hungary in general.
9. Andrássy út
The Adrássy út is one of the most famous boulevard streets of Budapest and connects two of the most interesting places of the city, the Heroes' Square with the city centre. The 2.5-kilometer-long road was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2002 and is Budapest's most popular shopping paradise, not only among tourists but also for Budapest's residents.
10. Heroes' Square
The Heroes' Square is connected to the city centre via Adrássy út and is located on the Pest side of the city. In the middle of the huge square is the Millennium Monument, in the middle of which the archangel Gabriel is enthroned on a column, guarded by seven horsemen. The square is embedded by the art hall and the Museum of Fine Arts near the city park.
Travel tips for Budapest
The most beautiful thermal bath in Budapest
Every day 30,000 cubic metres of mineral-rich water gush out of around 120 hot springs and fill Budapest's 21 thermal and medicinal baths. The thermal baths with their breathtaking architecture are part of the most important sights in Budapest. For Hungarian citizens regular visits are as much a part of their cultural life as going to the coffee house. The Gellért Bath and the Széchényi Bathzu are one of the largest bathing complexes in Budapest and real tourist magnets. The Rudas thermal bath is the oldest thermal bath and is located directly on the Danube at the foot of the Gellért mountain and is comparatively less crowded.
The best time for Budapest
The temperatures in the Hungarian capital are comparable to those in Germany, but the mild temperatures stay a little longer than in Germany. Thus, it gets warmer in spring and after hot summers, the warmth is carried over into early autumn and continues to provide lukewarm temperatures. The winter in Budapest is very cold. The best time to visit Budapest is from April to June or from September to October. Then you can explore the city on tours in pleasant weather and enjoy the last warm sunrays of the day to the full on the outdoor terraces of the bars and restaurants in the evening.
Right next to the Freedom Bridge on the Pest side of the city is the large market hall. Locals and tourists of all kinds draw their round about the gourmet market here. From Hungarian delicacies, selected spirits and spices to fresh fruit and vegetables, you can find almost everything here. And at one or the other corner, there is always a nice souvenir for your home. A real insider tip!
Hungarian coffee house culture
The enjoyment of coffee is not only a priority in Vienna. If you ask the people from Budapest for the best café in the city, they will look at you astonished. With such diversity, how can you choose ONE café? Each café has its own flair and its own specialities. The Café New York is probably one of the most famous in Budapest. If you like it a bit more dignified, you might like The Sweet, which not only makes the hearts of coffee lovers beat faster. Here foodies will find a culinary delight aswell.
Best means of transport in Budapest: the metro
The metro line M1 or Millennium metro is not only one of the most important sights in Budapest, but also one of the most important means of transport in the capital. It is the second oldest underground railway in the world after London and was declared a world cultural heritage site in 2002. A ticket is already available from 1,20€ per trip. If you would like it a little bit more rustic, you can visit the funicular railway at the Buda Castle. On the trip up the castle hill you will enjoy an excellent view of the Széchenyi Bridge, the Danube bank and the city of Pest. With the Budapest Card the metro is free of charge and in addition you enjoy free admission to numerous sights without queuing.
Popular activity: Karavan Street Food Market
The Karavan Street Food Market is located in the Jewish quarter, very close to the most famous ruin bar in Budapest, the Szimpla Kert. Here you can find everything your heart desires from Hungarian specialties to international delicacies, from juicy burgers to spicy Thai soup. Visiting the market is one of the most popular activities, especially for young people.