A magnificent Eastern European city to explore – Budapest is really a spectacle by day and night.
Think rich homemade foods, craft beers, lit-up buildings and river tours… there is no end to the sights, smells and tastes of the Hungarian capital.
Location: Budapest, Central Hungary
Population of city: 1.76 Million
Nearest airport: Budapest Ferenc Liszt Airport
Main train/bus station(s): Budapest Keleti Station, Budapest Nyugati Station, Budapest Nepliget (Coach Station)
Best time to visit? All year round
Budget level? £
Best for: Landmarks, History & Museums, Art & Culture, Nightlife.
How long should I go for?
Long train journeys in and out of the city mean that it’s well worth allowing 2 nights as a minimum.
Budapest is well-connected to Western Europe by train and coach, although connections can be slow depending on the direction of travel. Overnight rail services connect you directly to and from Berlin, Warsaw, or Bucharest, and there are regular day trains to Central Europe’s major cities (Vienna, Bratislava, Prague etc).
The largest medicinal baths in Europe, built in a series of stunningly beautiful buildings. The water is supplied by two thermal springs, creating a series of pools, with temperatures ranging from 18 to 37 degrees Celsius. The warm pools and spas are ideal for a relaxing day, and they’re open all year round, so they’re definitely not to be missed.
Perhaps the most famous view of Budapest, you’d be silly to miss this. This incredible 19th century building dominated the eastern bank of the Danube river, boasting some unbelievable architectural designs, making it truly a sight to behold. The best view of it can be seen from Gellert hill, and at night once it’s lit up.
Considered to be the most sacred Catholic church in Hungary, this neoclassical cathedral dominates Budapest’s skyline. It took over 50 years to build, and contains the mummified hand of King St Stephen, the first king of Hungary, from whim the cathedral gets its name from. The inside is decorated with some incredible pieces of classical artwork and the platform around the main dome roof offers a stunning panoramic view of the city.
Crossing over to the Buda side of the river, the first thing you’ll see is this impressive 11th century castle, overlooking the Danube and Pest below. These days, the castle is home to the Hungarian National Gallery as well as the Budapest history museum. However, just visiting it from the outside is impressive enough and well worth the trip up there. From here, you get a stunning view of the Parliament building and the pest side of the river, and it’s also walking distance from some of the other must see sites in Budapest, such as Fisherman’s Bastion and Gellert hill.
This former ghetto is now Budapest’s most popular area with tourists. Now filled all the best Ruin Pubs, bars and clubs, as well as the setting for most of Budapest’s hotels and hostels, Erzsebetvaros has a fun and virbant feel to it and is the place to be come nightfall.
A slightly quieter area than Erzsebetvaros, Budapest’s old Palace District is where you’ll find the city’s old buildings and elegant boutiques. Now more of a residential area, Josefvaros’ leafy boulevards are lined with beaustiful, tall buildings, and cozy cafes.
The heart of Pest, leading up to the Danube waterfront and the famous Elisabeth Bridge. Home to a lot of stylish bars and restaurants and also the main shopping area in Budapest. This is where you’ll find the Central market hall, Budapest’s biggest market.
The chic and sophisticated area of Budapest’s city centre, Liptovaros is where you’ll find many of the important political buildings, such as the Hungarian Parliament building the embassies as well. Streets lines with elegant, high rise buildings weave their way through the areas various parks and museums.
Budapest’s more historical area, filled with a multitude of theatres, shops, and bars. This area is home to some of the more famous cultural hotspots, including the House of terror, Heroes square and Szechenyi Baths. As you get closer to the Jewish quarter, the number if cultural attractions lessen slightly and instead you’ll find ore restaurants and ruin bars.
The istoric district on the Buda side of the river is perched high up on Gellert Hill. This area is home to many tourist attractions, such as Buda Castle, National Museums and Fisherman’s Bastion. Head up here at sunset for an incredible view of the city.
Not the most cheerful place in town but a very interesting visit nonetheless. This museum explores some of the most horrific events to happen to the Hungarian people throughout the 20th Century, during both fascist and communist rule in the country. Exhibitions depict scenes of imprisonment, torture and even executions, so it’s not for the faint hearted but teaches some very important lessons.
Located inside Buda castle, Hungary’s National art museum celebrates some of the greatest artists Hungary has produced throughout history. The majority of art comes from the 19th or 20th Century, displaying a number of artistic styles such as Medieval, Renaissance, Gothic and Baroque art. Although much of the artwork was created overseas, everything found in this gallery was produced by Hungarians, creating a huge sense of pride amongst locals.
If you’re interested in Hungarian history you can also head to the Hungarian National Museum on the east side of the city. From prehistory to the Stalinist years or the medieval period, the collections of the Hungarian National Museum are outstanding. If you want to visit one of the hundreds of museums in Budapest, this one should be top of your list.