Budapest is one of the most vibrant, dynamic and cosmopolitan cities in the World. A steadily growing influx of tourists flocks to this capital all year-round to experience first-hand some of its famous sights. Luckily, Budapest has a lot to offer, and not only to its first-time visitors, but to all of its returning guests as well.
Besides visiting the main sights listed below, do not miss your chance to indulge in the delicious local food scene and the lively nightlife. And if you are wondering about the timeframe: 3-4 days should be enough to cover all of the major sights in Budapest, depending on your individual pace.
1. The Hungarian Parliament
This gorgeous building is currently the largest building in Hungary and is one of the largest parliament buildings in the World. Situated on the banks of the Danube river, it is especially glorious during the night time when it lights up the sky with its majestic glow. You can take a guided tour inside but you have to book your tickets in advance. Visit this site: http://latogatokozpont.parlament.hu/en for more information.
2. Matyas (Matthias) Church and the Fisherman’s Bastion
This gorgeous Gothic beauty, the Matthias Church, is located on a hill overlooking Budapest and therefore you can enjoy a breathtaking panorama of the city from above. Fisherman’s Bastion is a beautiful, historic structure located right across from the Church. You can take a guided tour inside the church, or one to go up the tower, or even another one to take a walk on top of the bastion. The tour to the top of the Matthias’s tower is operating from 9-5pm, happens every hour, takes 197 steps up, and you can complete it in about 30-45 minutes. It is up to you to pay for a tour or just wander around the area, taking in some amazing sights.
3. Szechenyi Baths
This is one of the most famous sights in Budapest and therefore one of the most touristy and (over) crowded. There is a number of ticket options – you can spend a day at the pool, rent a cabana, or just simply take a 20-minute guided tour inside the premises. The Baths are open Monday through Sunday, all year round. Besides offering an array of services from a massage to a pedicure, there’s also… a night party (with a DJ, and alcohol) held every Saturday – you can find more details on the official site.
4. The Royal Palace (Buda Castle) and the Hungarian National Gallery
The National Gallery is located inside the Buda Castle and therefore if you made it to the palace – why not admire the beautiful art paintings conveniently displayed inside. Buda Castle is actually the only royal palace located in Budapest, unlike the numerous palaces of Vienna. Initially built in 1265, the castle has served as a home location to a number of Hungarian (and some foreign) royals. Besides the National Gallery, there are three additional museums that are now hosted inside the Buda Castle – The History, Military, and the Pharmacy museums.
5. Gellert Hill and the Citadella
Citadella is a small fortress located on top of the Gellert Hill, built in 1851. It once served as the strategic place for the Hungarian military, due to its unique location and a high elevation. Gellert Hill offers some of the most beautiful panoramic views over Budapest, and it’s definitely worth to take a slow hike to the top.
6. St. Stephen’s Basilica
This gorgeous Church located in the heart of Budapest, is one of the favorite places for the locals to get married. In addition to being one of the most beautiful (and largest) churches in Hungary, St. Stephen’s Basilica offers some outstanding 360 views right from the heart of Budapest. But it’s quite a hike – 302 steps up just to reach the observation deck (though it’s worth every one!)
7. Chain Bridge
This is the most famous bridge in Budapest among the number of others that cross the banks of the Danube river. Built in 1849, it remains to be one of the most iconic bridges in the World. Many people also compare it to the famous Brooklyn Bridge in New York. It is open for the pedestrians and for cars.
8. Great Market Hall
This amazing and historic structure is a place where you can buy anything from food to clothes to souvenirs nowadays. Filled with locals, as well as numerous tourists, this is a great place to stop by for lunch and to buy some fresh produce. Please note – the market is only open from Mondays through Saturdays (it’s closed on every Sunday).
9. Shoes on the Danube
This sad memorial was set up on the shore of Danube, just slightly off to the side from the Hungarian Parliament. The memorial commemorates the innocent Jewish people that were shot into Danube by the fascist group called “Arrow Cross”. This cruel and sadistic group shot their victims right on the banks of Danube and since shoes were an expensive commodity at that time, they asked their victims to remove them… just before they were killed and thrown into the river. This tragic and historic event should be remembered as it is an important part of the Hungarian (and Budapest’s) history.
Margaret island, or the green heart of Budapest, is a beautiful little island located right on Danube, between the two river banks. It is a perfect location to spend a hot Summer afternoon in, or to even go for a run, since it has some perfect running trails. Grab a book or a picnic basket and enjoy a little time away from the noise and the chaos of this magnificent city.