Budapest is such a surprising city. This hidden gem in Europe will blow you away with its culture and beauty. Check out all the incredible things to do in Budapest, Hungary!
Unforgettable Things to do in Budapest
Budapest is a hidden gem in central Europe that often gets overlooked by first time visitors to Europe who tend to visit more popular cities such as Paris, Rome or London, but Budapest is one of the largest cities in the European Union, at five times the size of Paris and with a population of nearly 2 million. With its breathtaking ancient and modern architecture, mindblowing food, and staggeringly low costs, a visit to Budapest is a no-brainer!
I loved my time in Budapest. To. be totally honest, it was never a city high on my list, but I now recommend it to anyone looking for a less crowded and more affordable Europe trip idea. It has beautiful sites, incredible history, and delicious food! It’s such an underrated city, but I think it will become more popular in the coming years.
Budapest Interactive Map
I’ve created this interactive Google Map for you to use on your trip to Budapest. You can find information about and directions to all the main things to do in Budapest.
Check out this video for a quick overview of things to do in Budapest in one day.
This video was sponsored by Mediavine, a leading ad network for food, travel, and lifestyle sites around the globe.
Getting to Budapest
I’ve seen some killer deals to Budapest lately for as little as $400 round trip from the US, and the great thing is that, even though there are plenty of things to do in Budapest to keep you busy for years, it is also situated within driving distance of a slew of other amazing cities you’ll want to add to your bucket list! For great advice on how to find the cheapest flight to Budapest, check out How to Fly for Cheap or Nearly Free.
Where to Stay in Budapest
There are some great hotels and home rentals in Budapest. Here are a few of our favorites.
What to Pack for Budapest
I knew I had to pack light for this trip. I would be road-tripping around Europe with 6 other women! Giant suitcases were NOT an option! The average annual temperature in Budapest is about 50 degrees Fahrenheit. It can snow and be quite cold in the winter and summers average around the 80s.
So depending on when you visit, be sure to dress for the season appropriately. If you’re visiting in the winter be sure to bring a thick winter coat, hat, scarf, gloves, and extra warm underclothing. I visited at the beginning of December and it was COLD!
Budapest is full of cobblestone streets and our apartment was a walk-up, so I opted to pack my Osprey Farpoint 70 so I wouldn’t have the stress of rolling and hauling a suitcase. The best thing about this pack is that I didn’t have to worry about bringing luggage AND a daypack because the Osprey Farpoint 70 has a daypack that zips right onto the front and detaches anytime you just need a small backpack for the day. This made flying and traveling around Europe so much easier! We even use our Osprey packs to backpack around Europe for several months.
Things to do in Budapest in One Day
Moving on to Budapest…We only had one full day in Budapest and while there are so many things to do in Budapest that it could easily take years to explore it all, I’m going to tell you how to see the best of the city in a day! If you have a few more days in Budapest, check out what to do in 3 days in Budapest.
Book a Photoshoot
We always love to book a photoshoot when we’re traveling. As a mom, it’s tough to get in the photos since I’m always behind the camera. We love using Flytographer to capture our memories. You can get $25 off your shoot by booking with this link or using code WANDERLUST.
One City, Two Halves
Budapest is divided into two parts. Buda on the west of the Danube River and Pest to the east.
Things to do in Pest
Széchenyi Thermal Baths
Known as the largest baths in Europe, the Szechenyi Thermal Baths are believed to help visitors with joint pain. You’ll see a lot of the older crowd there treating their ailments. You can find a variety of different pools, including a beer pool.
I recommend renting a cabin, shoes, a robe, and a towel, especially if you are going in the winter! If you’re there when it’s cold, flip flops or slippers will be essential . I didn’t bring these and my feet were NUMB from the cold ground. Try to arrive in the morning when it first opens or in the evening as these times tend to be less busy. The baths were incredibly beautiful. The blue waters against the yellow building are just gorgeous.
Hungarian Parliament Building
Home to hundreds of parliamentary offices, the Hungarian Parliament Building is one of the largest buildings in Hungary and a true sight to behold. Be sure to see it during the day and at night!
Shoes on the Danube
One of the most moving sights in Budapest, the Shoes on the Danube Bank is a memorial for the 20,000+ Jews who were forced to remove their shoes and then shot into the Danube by Fascists during World War II. I wasn’t expecting to get so emotional here, but this was such a moving and REAL monument to real people. It was beautiful but heartbreaking.
St. Stephen’s Basilica
One of the most important religious buildings in Budapest, St. Stephen’s is home to the right hand of Stephen, the first king of Hungary. You can see services and concerts performed here and at Christmas time there is a market and light show that projects onto the basilica.
Home to the huge iconic monuments that feature the Seven Chieftains of the Magyars who led the Hungarian people from central Asia to modern-day Hungary. Many political and symbolic ceremonies are held here, such as the laying of the wreath on the anonymous soldier’s grave in December.
It’s also within walking distance of some of the city’s most iconic landmarks, including Vajdahunyad Castle and City Park.
*Cross the Széchenyi Chain Bridge into the Buda side of Budapest*
Things to do in Buda
Széchenyi Chain Bridge
Designed and built by English and Scottish engineers in 1849, the Széchenyi Chain Bridge, more commonly referred to as the “Chain Bridge” was the first bridge in Budapest to span the Danube River. You can walk across the bridge on the pedestrian sidewalks and it is a beautiful sight at night!
Climb the hill to this interesting monument that looks as if it was an ancient castle, but was actually erected in the 20th century and got its name from the guild of fishermen who defended the city during the middle ages. You can climb up the towers of the Bastion and catch a fantastic view of the Pest side of the city.
First completed in 1265, most of the historic castle which was home to the kings and queens of Hungary was finished in the 1700s and is now a World Heritage Site. Aside from that, the Buda Castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that includes Hungarian National Gallery and Budapest History Museum. The Buda Castle is a rich part of the Hungarian history.
To get to Buda Castle, ride up Buda Castle Hill on the oldest funicular of its kind and enjoy panoramic views of the entire city.
Cruise along the Danube
Take a river cruise along the Danube and see both sides of the city from the water. The Danube is beautiful and has some incredible historic scenery along the way like Fishermans Bastion and the Hungarian Parliament building. Take a cruise around sunset so you can see the river in daytime and night.
If you’re looking for a bit of green space during your city stay, hop over to Margaret Island, a small stretch of land in the middle of the Danube River where you can see a musical fountain, rent golf carts and see medieval ruins.
Budapest with Kids
If you’re traveling to Budapest as a family, it’s such a great city to travel to with kids. I have several friends who live in Budapest with their kids and they absolutely love it! And the cost of living there is far less than in other areas of Europe. Learn more about what to do in Budapest with Kids.
For now, here are some things to do in Budapest with kids
Near the city center of Budapest Hungary, Budapest Zoo is one of the oldest zoos in Europe. It has 1,072 animal species which is a great place for the kids to explore and learn about the animals. Plus, the architecture and design are just beautiful and definitely worth admiring while you’re there.
St. Stephen’s Basilica Classical Music Concerts
A well-known concert hall in Budapest is the St. Stephen’s Basilica, and it offers classical music concerts year-round. It’s a great way to introduce your kids to the beauty of classical music. Plus, the acoustics in the hall are absolutely breathtaking and it’s definitely an experience not to be missed.
What to Eat in Budapest
Don’t leave Budapest without trying some delicious and unique Hungarian food. I was surprised to find so many trendy cafes and eateries all around the city offering modern and traditional Hungarian fare. It’s truly a foodie destination. Don’t miss these classics:
Paprikás Csirke (Chicken Paprikash)
Creamy chicken spiced with paprika
Kürtőskalács (Kalacs or Chimney Cakes)
This delicious yeasty dough is wrapped around a wooden cone, rolled in sugar and smoked over hot coals to delicious perfection. My mouth is watering just thinking about these!
Budapest isn’t all meat and cheese! You can also find surprisingly good vegetarian restaurants. Check out this great map of Vegetarian Restaurants in Budapest.
These and more! If you want to get a nice look around at some of the local restaurants in the area, the Great Market Hall is great place to start.
Whatever you choose to do in Budapest, you’re guaranteed to have an amazing time, because what really makes this city special is its incredible history and beautiful and friendly people.
Best Tours in Budapest
Budapest: Candlelit Dinner River Cruise with Live Music
If you’re within Danube River, this dinner river cruise with live music may just be the most romantic experience you’ll ever have in Budapest. It includes a festive welcome drink that would surely end your day with a bang.
Here are some things you can look forward to while on the cruise:
- Cruise along the Danube River as you enjoy a lovely candle-lit dinner
- Enjoy a complimentary welcome drink and a catered 4-course dinner
- Get fantastic views of the Hungarian Parliament building at night
- Glide under illuminated bridges and sail past the Buda Castle and Margaret Island
- Travel in style on one of the most elegant and modern cruises in Budapest
Budapest: Adventure Caving Tour with Guide
A unique experience awaits you on the Budapest: Adventure Caving Tour with Guide. You’ll visit some of Hungary’s most impressive and wild cave systems, as well as explore its spectacular underground lakes and rivers in Danube-Ipoly National Park.
Here are the highlights of this tour:
- Explore the longest cave of Hungary, the Pál-völgyi-Mátyás-hegyi cave system
- Scramble over rocks and crawl through passages in a nature-made playground
- Take on an adventurous tour for those who are ready to go off the beaten track
- Travel alongside guides who are members of the Hungarian Caving Association
- Learn about the geology of Budapest’s thermal springs and hydrothermal caves
Budapest: 1.5-Hour Fun Segway Sightseeing
A must-do tour with your kids, the Budapest: 1.5-Hour Fun Segway Sightseeing is an exciting and educational way to explore the city. You’ll have a relaxed ride while you see Budapest attractions such as the ungarian Parliament, St. Stephen Basilica, Liberty Square, the Hungarian State Opera, the Shoes on the Danube Memorial, the ‘Central Park’ of Budapest’s Downtown – Erzsébet square, and Chain Bridge.
Here are some of the highlights of this tour:
- See the highlights of Budapest’s Downtown in just 90 minutes
- Choose from multiple start times throughout the day
- Enjoy your Segway tour accompanied by your private tour guide
- Glide past monuments like the Hungarian Parliament and St. Stephen Basilica
Budapest: Guided Downtown Electric Bike Tour
Take on an exciting tour around the city with the Budapest: Guided Downtown Electric Bike Tour. You’ll get to tour around Budapest, also known as the “Paris of the East”, driving an e-bike and go on a ride from Andrássy Avenue passing the Hungarian State Opera House, the House of Terror, and arriving at Heroes’ Square.
For reference, here are some of the highlights of this tour:
- Start a 3.5-hour e-bike tour from the world-famous Andrássy Avenue
- Cruise through Budapest using special bicycle lanes and small streets
- Enjoy amazing views of the city and the Danube River
- Climb effortlessly up Castle Hill on your e-bike
- Pass all the iconic landmarks including the Hungarian National Museum
Budapest: 2-Hour Private TukTuk Tour
If you want to really experience the true beauty and vibrancy of Budapest, the 2-Hour Private TukTuk Tour is a must-do. You’ll get to explore Budapest’s best-loved places.
Budapest: Walking Tour of Buda Castle with a Historian
Do you want to get a deeper understanding of the history and culture of Budapest? Then join the Budapest: Walking Tour of Buda Castle with a Historian. Experience more than 1100 years of Hungarian history coming alive in front of you through your history buff tour guide’s presentations.
Here’s a quick overview of this tour:
- Explore the Royal Palace Gardens and the Savoy Terrace
- Enjoy the panoramic views of the Parliament & the Pest side from the Fisherman’s Bastion, the most romantic place in town
- Discover Matthias Church inside, arguably the most beautiful church in Budapest
- Enjoy delicious coffee during a coffee break
Budapest: Wine, Cheese, and Charcuterie Tasting
Take your taste buds on a journey of the Hungarian countryside with the Budapest: Wine, Cheese, and Charcuterie Tasting. Sample five top-notch Hungarian wines, paired with a selection of Hungary’s best artisan cheese and charcuterie.
Within the tour, you’ll get to:
- Try 5 fine Hungarian wines, including the legendary Tokaji aszú
- Enjoy a cheese and charcuterie board
- Taste bread and artisan oils
- Be led by a sommelier
Budapest is known for its stunning architecture, vibrant cultures, delicious cuisine, and being the world’s spa capital.
Yes! With three days in Budapest, you can explore all of the city’s must-see sights and attractions. From castles on the Buda side to the iconic Chain Bridge, you can see and experience a lot in three days.
When visiting Budapest, some must-see sights include the Buda Castle, Fisherman’s Bastion, and Matthias Church in the Castle District, and the Parliament Building in the city centre.
If you have four days in Budapest, you can experience even more of the city. Spend your first day sightseeing in the Castle District and the city centre, and then spend the second day visiting Margaret Island. On the third day, explore some of Budapest’s museums and galleries, such as the Hungarian National Museum or the House of Terror. On your final day, take a trip to Gellert Hill and soak in some of Budapest’s thermal baths. There’s no shortage of things to do in the city!