Budapest is one of my favourite cities in Eastern Europe and I was totally taken aback on my first trip. There really are so many of the best things to do in Budapest that you’re going to be spoilt for choice once you arrive.
Plus, it’s totally gorgeous.
I have to be honest, I wasn’t prepared for how beautiful the city is. I mean, I’d had a good nose around online and knew about the parliament, but that really is the tip of the iceberg.
The whole city is gorgeous and a perfect place for a city break, a long weekend in the city or a stop off on a trip down the Danube. You’ll love the city.
Take a look at some of the best things to do in Budapest. You’re going to love your trip!
1.) See the Parliament Building
Home to the parliament of Hungary, the Parliament Building is one of the iconic neo-gothic buildings in all of Europe.
As soon as I saw it, I saw the similarities to the Houses of Parliament in London. It’s gorgeous.
Take a walk down the Danube River and see the gorgeous front. Just make sure to walk around the back, too (otherwise you’ll be missing lots). If you’re wanting to warm your cockles, take a trip inside the building too. It really is worth seeing.
Also, if you’re looking for a tasty bite to eat (after all that sightseeing) pop over to Costes which make Michelin Star worthy food that you’ll love.
2.) Reflect at the Shoes on the Danube
Sculpted by Gyula Pauera and envisioned by Can Togay, Shoes on the Danube is a sombre installation you have to experience.
The memorial remembers the atrocities of those killed during World War II where people were told to take their shoes off before being killed and horribly thrown into the river.
It really is a touching and emotional installation to see.
3.) Wander through Buda Castle
One of the best things to do in Budapest has to be seeing Buda Castle, especially if you love history.
There are so many photo opportunities, especially across the city. Just make sure to pack some comfy shoes, you’ll be walking around the whole area.
Make sure to visit the Castle Garden area too. It’s much quieter, with not as many visitors around that’s great for a more peaceful experience.
4.) Wander around Fisherman’s Bastion
Perched on Castle Hill, Fisherman’s Bastion (or locally known as, Halászbástya) is a gorgeous spot and viewpoint to look over Budapest.
The older side of Buda (Buda and Pest were once two different places) is great to explore, too. Think, stunning houses, cobbled streets and lovely little cafes. it’s one of the best things to do in Budapest.
Or, should that be Buda?
You can also partner this up with a trip to Matthias Church which is close by to make for a lovely stroll.
5.) Gorge on Goulash
Look, you can’t go to Budapest (or Hungary for that matter) without having a piping hot bowl of goulash. You’ll find goulash almost everywhere in the city but there are a good few places that are nice.
Head over to the ‘For Sale Pub’ which is so cool. It’s even filled with hundreds of thousands of letters and drawings that flutter from every wall and ceiling. Eat & Meet is also a great spot, and pretty inexpensive too. For a more traditional affair, pop into the Hungarikum Bisztro.
You’ll be spoilt for choice.
6.) Explore St. Stephen’s Basilica
Talking of St Stephen’s Basilica, you should definitely see it when in the city. The architecture is honestly stunning but don’t just think that’s confined to the outside of the building, it’s stunning inside, too.
Pop through the glorious doors and take a seat on the pews inside.
You’ll have plenty of time to admire all that gorgeous Hungarian Art and design that adorns the walls.
If you’re feeling extra fly, pay a small fee and head to the top of the tower.
Oh yeah, and keep your eyes peeled for (rather macabre) mummified hand that is said to be from a saint.
7.) Sail the Danube
The Danube River is the most famous in Budapest and one that’s great for a little sail.
Join a river tour or book your own rental (if you’re feeling extra flush). It really is lovely around sunset.
8.) Relax at Gellert Bath Palace
One of the best things about Budapest is its lovely spas. Make sure to pack your swimwear, head to Gellert Bath Palace and enjoy a relaxing day in the heated pools.
Now, the Spa does get very busy and it’s worth noting it can be quite chaotic at times (so, not always the most relaxing). That being said, the building is gorgeous and the pool is great if you catch it on a quieter day.
If you don’t fancy risking the crowds, head over to the Mandala Day Spa or Szechenyi Baths (again, can get quite busy). It’s a great little treat if the weather takes a turn for the worst.
9.) Stroll over the Szechenyi Chain Bridge
Possibly the most famous bridge in Hungary, the Szechenyi Chain Bridge is the principal bridge that connects Budapest.
One of the things I love most about the centre of Budapest is that it’s a totally walkable city, with a stroll over Szechenyi Chain Bridge a must.
10.) See Vajdahunyad Castle
Perched within City Park, Vajdahunyad Castle is a picture-perfect castle that you should definitely visit.
In the winter, there’s a gorgeous icerink right outside the castle, whilst in the summer you’ll have a gorgeous view of the lake, over to the castle. It really is one of the best things to do in Budapest.
Nestled inside is a statue of Béla Lugos who was famed for playing Dracula in the early 20th Century.
Oh yeah, and make sure to see Heroes’ Square which is pretty close by.
It’s beautiful in the day or night.
11.) Ride the Buda Hill Funicular
If you don’t fancy walking up Buda Hill, pop onto the funicular that’ll drop you right at the top. It’s really handy once you’re legs get tired.
The ride is pretty short but honestly, it’s a nice little way to get to the top of the hill (and I’m not just saying that because I felt lazy). Ha!
12.) Take a ride on tram route 2
If you’re stuck with little time, hop on tram number 2 for a quick and cheap tour of the city. You’ll go right past the Parliament Building, trail the river and see all the stunning sites of Budapest.
Best of all, your tour will be free if you’ve already bought a transport pass for the city.
If you’re looking for navigation, download some offline Google Maps or get the Budapest Public Transit app. It’s totally handy if you’re looking to stroll across the city.