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Travel to Budapest

The ultimate travel guide

A few words about the capital

Budapest, the “Pearl of the Danube” or the “Paris of the East.” It is divided by the Danube into Buda and Pest. The Buda side is more historical and aristocratic, while Pest is more modern and contemporary; combining these contrasts will fascinate you. Enjoy its spas, cruise the Danube, and try mulled wine, the famous goulash, and Chimney Cake.

Below you will find detailed information on what to see and do in this beautiful capital.

Szechenyi lanchid

Sightseeing in Pest

1) Hungarian Parliament Building

The Hungarian Parliament building is a landmark of Budapest; its unique architecture will leave you stunned. It is 96 meters high, and only when you visit it up close will you realize its grandeur. It took 19 years to build, and there are 365 towers in Gothic style. You won’t be able to take your eyes off it, especially at night when the lighting of the building is mesmerizing.

Hungarian Parliament Building Crown Jewels

The interior is equally impressive, with 691 rooms, 27 gates, and ten courtyards. Book your ticket online several days before your trip and take advantage of the multilingual tour.

Hours of Operation: Daily 8:00-16:00

 

Ticket price: For European Union citizens the ticket costs €13, for EU students €6.50. Non-EU citizens will pay €26 and non-EU students €13

Official Website: https://www.parlament.hu/

 

Here you will find the best spot to see the Hungarian Parliament building from the opposite side.

 Budapest, Budai alsó rkp. 16, 1011 

2) Shoes of the Danube

On the banks of the Danube, you will see a fantastic work of art, none other than the “Shoes of the Danube.” The creepy yet touching monument was created by Can Togay and Gyula Pauer in honor of the 550,000 Hungarian Jews who died at the hands of the Nazis during World War II.

The bronze shoes of women, men, and children have been placed along the river. Before they were executed, they were forced to remove their shoes and then thrown into the river.

The Danube Promenade

3) St. Stephen's Basilica

In the heart of the city is Budapest’s third largest church building, St. Stephen’s Basilica, dedicated to Hungary’s first king, who brought Christianity to the country. Did you know that it took 54 years to build it, as the dome collapsed, and they made it from scratch?

You will be impressed by its new-Renaissance architecture and its famous dome. Don’t miss the opportunity to take the lift up to the crown and enjoy its panoramic view.

St. Stephens Basilica

Opening hours: Monday: 9:00-16:30, Tuesday-Saturday: 9:00-17:45, Sunday: 13:00 – 17:45

 Price: Free to enter the church, €5 for the dome.

Official Website: https://www.bazilika.biz/

 

Notice your outfit. Do not wear sleeveless, short skirts or short shorts..

4) Hungarian State Opera House

Visit one of the most beautiful operas in Europe. It is designed in Renaissance style, and inside, you will see three levels, which are horseshoe-shaped and decorated with 24-carat gold leaf.

Expect silk tapestries, marble staircases, remarkable frescoes, and contrasting red and gold. It is so large that there is seating in the hall that can accommodate 1200 people.

Hours of Operation: 60-minute guided tours in English run three times a day (1:30 p.m., 3:00 p.m., 4:30 p.m.)

 Price: €18 for a one-hour guided tour

Official Website: https://www.opera.hu/

5) House of Terror

At the House of Terror, memories of Hungary’s dark past will be evoked, as it was created to honor the victims of the Nazi and Communist dictatorships. Once you enter, you will see a massive wall with the photos and names of the victims. 

The most chilling part is when you descend into the basements and see the places where the prisoners were tortured and murdered. Another shocker is the room in which you will see walls made of soap.

Hours of Operation: Monday: CLOSED, From Tuesday to Sunday 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

 Ticket Price: Adults 10€, For citizens aged between 6-25 and 62-70 years 5€

Official Website: https://www.terrorhaza.hu/hu

 

6) Central Market Hall

Central Market Hall

Next to the Liberty Bridge, you will find Budapest’s oldest and largest market. It is housed in a railway station and is divided into two floors. On the ground floor, you will find various products, such as salami, spices, and pasta, while on the first floor, there are souvenir shops and restaurants.

Hours of Operation: Monday: 6:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. Tuesday- Friday 6:00am–6:00pm Saturday 6:00-15:00 Sunday: Closed 

Price: Free entry

 

Official Website: https://piaconline.hu/

 

Here you will find the cheapest souvenirs in town.

7) Heroes' Square and the Millennium Monument

Cross Andrassy Avenue, where you’ll find many restaurants, shops, cafés, and hotels, and you’ll find yourself in one of Budapest’s most famous squares. 

In the center, you will see the Millennium Column, named after the celebration of the millennial anniversary of the conquest of the Magyars. The column is 36 meters high, and as your gaze ascends to the top, you will see the statue of Archangel Gabriel.

Heroes Square and the Millennium Monument

In the center of the monument are seven statues of the warlords of the Magyars. Around the square, other statues represent significant Hungarian historical figures. Also, this square is the main gateway to the city park Városliget.

Heroes Square and the Millennium Monument Kostas

8. Széchenyi Thermal Bath

Budapest is also known as the “city of spa,” as it has more thermal springs than any other capital city. In particular, it has 123 thermal springs with water temperatures ranging from 21-78 degrees Celsius, with the water having therapeutic properties.

Szechenyi Thermal Bath

Treat yourself to the Szechenyi Thermal Baths to experience the ultimate in relaxation. This new-Baroque complex has three outdoor pools and fifteen indoor pools. In addition to the pools, you can enjoy the whirlpool, sauna, massage, and even the steam room. The best time to visit them is at sunset.

Szechenyi Thermal Bath Spa

Hours of Operation: Weekdays: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Tickets are open until 6pm) Weekends: 9am. to 8 p.m. (Tickets are open until 7pm) 

Price: 24€ on weekdays and 28€ on weekends

Official Website: https://www.szechenyifurdo.hu/

 

9. Vajdahunyad Castle

Vajdahunyad Castle will catch your attention with its imposing beauty. The elements that set it apart from the rest are the four alternative architectural styles: baroque, gothic, romantic and renaissance. Did you know that it was initially constructed of cardboard and wood, considered a temporary exhibit, and then of stone and brick due to its popularity?

If you visit Budapest in winter, the lake next to the castle is turned into an ice rink, and if you go in spring, don’t miss a boat ride. Inside the court, you will see the Hungarian Agricultural Museum, which uniquely presents the history of European agriculture, the Gate Tower, and the Apostle Tower.

City Park Varosliget

Hours of Operation: The Hungarian Rural Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Gate Tower Monday–Sunday: 09:00–17:00.

 Price: For the Museum Visit (exhibitions) + Tower of the Apostles + Tower of the Gate Adults €7.50 Students and pensioners €4.50.

Official Website: https://www.mezogazdasagimuzeum.hu/

Guided tours of the Tower of the Apostles start every hour during museum opening hours. The last route starts one hour before closing.

10. Dohány Street Synagogue

Don’t miss the chance to see the world’s second-largest synagogue, 53 meters long, inspired by the Moorish style. It can hold 3,000 people inside and is based on Neological Judaism. Its exterior will impress you just as much as it is decorated with hundreds of colored bricks. Next to the Great Synagogue, you will find the Jewish Museum and the Holocaust Memorial.

Hours of Operation: Sunday-Thursday: 10:00-16:00, Friday 10:00-14:00

 Price: 23€ Adults, 18€ Students, 8.5€ Children

Official Website: http://www.dohanyzsinagoga.hu/

 

It is forbidden to enter the synagogue without covering the shoulders. It is forbidden to bring food and drink into the synagogue! Upon entry, security screening is mandatory for everyone.

11. Margaret Island

Margaret Island

Do you want to escape from the noise of the city?

 Visit Margarita Island to enjoy the tranquility. A lush green oasis surrounded by the Danube River. The park area is 2.5 km, so it takes 1 hour to walk. The best option is to rent a bike. Enjoy the impressive gardens and parks, and don’t miss the opportunity to swim in the spas and pools.

12. Cruise on the River Danube

Through the cruise, you will have the opportunity to enjoy the top sights of Budapest. You have many options, including a simple sightseeing cruise, a cruise with dinner on the ship, or even drinks. The best option is at sunset time; the colors forming in the sky will be recorded in your memory.

Danube River

Another way to explore Budapest is to take tram line #2, and you will enjoy the best views along the Danube River.

13. New York Cafe

Experience a unique coffee experience in a unique, luxurious, and impressive place. The meeting place and inspiration of great poets and writers have been transformed into an excellent café. The glittering chandeliers, gilded columns, sparkling mirrors, and thoughtful details throughout the decor will enchant you.

New York Cafe

Opening hours: From Monday to Sunday: from 08:00 to 24:00.

 Price: The whole menu is quite expensive. A coffee costs €8. You have an extra 15% service charge.

Official Website: https://newyorkcafe.hu/

 

Make a reservation well in advance of your visit. You can walk in without a reservation, but the wait is long.

 

14. Vaci Utca

The most central pedestrian street of the city with shops, cafes, and souvenirs dominating. Thousands of people cross it daily, but prices are pretty high.

Christmas in Budapest

15. Christmas Markets

We visited Budapest at Christmas, and the decorations in Vorosmarty Square and St. Stephen’s Basilica will leave you amazed. Vorosmarty Square is the oldest Christmas market, with wooden houses, the smells of food, mulled wine, lavish decorations, and musical events to get you in the Christmas mood. The market at St. Stephen’s Basilica is in the same spirit, with the smell of Budapest’s most famous sweet and Christmas decorations creating a cozy atmosphere.

Ferris Wheel of Budapest

Sightseeing in Buda

1) Buda Castle

Your visit to the baroque castle of Buda will offer you an incredible panoramic view of the Danube River and Pest. It is inscribed on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites, and you can go any time you like, as the castle’s quarter remains open at all hours. Buda Castle houses the National Gallery, which features Hungarian sculptures, artworks from the 9th to 20th centuries, and collections of top masterpieces.

The Historical Museum presents you with artifacts and various exhibits on the history of Hungary, and the Széchenyi National Library contains a wealth of documents and maps. Inside the castle, there are cafes and restaurants to enjoy your dinner.

Buda Castle Castle Hill

Opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday 10:00 – 18:00 

Price: National Gallery: €3, Historical Museum: €6

Official Website: https://budavar.hu/budai-var/

 

To go up to Buda Castle you can take the Buda Castle Hill Cable Car from Clark Adam Square and it will take you up Castle Hill.

 The queues, however, are long and you can wait up to half an hour. Opening hours: Daily from 19:30-22:00 and the routes start every 10 minutes. Cost: €3.40

2) Fisherman's Bastion

Around the area of the castle, do not miss to visit the Fisherman’s Bastion. Frigyes Schulek designed it, and the purpose of its construction is related to the usefulness of the towers as an observatory.

Fishermans Bastion

The picture you will see looks like something out of a fairy tale. The white color of the towers, with their arches and statues, will leave you amazed. Also, you will have a panoramic view of the entire city. The seven buildings reflect the seven tribes of the Magyars.

Fishermans Bastion couple

Hours of Operation: There are no opening hours for the lower observation deck, while the upper one is open daily from 9:00 am. until 19:00. 

Price: Free on the lower deck, while on the upper it costs €2.50

Official Website: https://budavar.hu/halaszbastya/

 

3) Matthias Church

Matthias Church is one of the oldest Gothic churches in Budapest. The first thing that will attract your interest is the colorful ceramics on its roof.

Matthias Church

During the Turkish occupation, it was used as a mosque, many mosaics were covered, and many church treasures were sent to other countries, such as Bratislava in Slovakia. This church was named after King Matthew, the patron of enlightenment and arts.

Matthias Church Church of Our Lady

Hours of Operation: Monday-Friday from 9:00-17:00, Saturday 9:00-12:00 and Sunday 13:00-17:00

 Price: The ticket for the temple costs 6.5€, while for the tower 7.5€. If you want a ticket with Audio Guide you can book your ticket from here.

Official Website: https://www.matyas-templom.hu/

4) Gellért Hill - Citadella

Don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy the most impressive panoramic view of the entire city. The name of the hill comes from Bishop Gellert, whose concern was to spread Christianity. The pagan Magyars tied him up, put him in a barrel, and threw him off the hillside. At the same time, you will see the castle with the Statue of Liberty standing out in the distance.

The ascent is tiring, equip yourself with water and comfortable shoes

Bridges

The two cities are connected by eight impressive bridges, each with its history and beauty. Below you will find information about Budapest’s two most famous bridges.

Széchenyi Chain Bridge

Széchenyi Chain Bridge was the first to connect Buda with Pest and is one of the most photographed bridges in Budapest. The lions at the beginning of the bridge will impress you. Cross the oldest bridge in Budapest, the first bridge connecting these two cities. Walking across it will lead you to the Buddha on the side of the castle. 

The best view of Hungarian Parliament

Liberty Bridge

The Liberty Bridge, with its unique decoration, was built to celebrate the 1000th anniversary of the arrival of the Hungarians in the Pannonian Basin. Crossing the bridge will take you to Gellert Hill.

Freedom Bridge

It was named after the people who gathered on the bridge and demonstrated their freedom and independence in 1889.

Liberty Bridge

Budapest Card

Getting the Budapest Card, you will save a lot of money, as it offers unlimited journeys on public transport, free entry to major city attractions, discounts from 10%-50% on restaurants, attractions, gift shops, and guided tours in Buda and Pest. You can also collect it from your hotel. By Clicking on Tips button, you will find a list of the places, that you can enter for free with the Budapest Card

Below you will find the places you can enter for free with the Budapest Card:

  1. BKK Public Transportation
  2. Buda Castle Funicular,
  3. Budapest History Musem – Kiscell Museum,
  4. Budapest History Museum – Aquincum Museum
  5. Budapest History Museum – Budapest Gallery
  6. Budapest History Museum – Castle Museum
  7. Budapest History Museum – Medieval Jewish Prayer House
  8. BUDATOWER – The Mary Magdalene Tower,
  9. Church of Our Lady (Matthias Church) at Buda Castle
  10. CITYRAMA – Walking Tour Buda
  11. CITYRAMA – Walking Tour Pest,
  12. CSOPA Science Centre,
  13. Duna Bella Sightseeing Cruises by Legenda Cruises,
  14. Ferenc Hopp Museum of Asiatic Arts,
  15. Free Door-to-Door Airport Transfer – miniBUD,
  16. Goldberger Textile Industry Collection
  17. House of the Hungarian Photographers – Mai Manó House
  18. Hungarian Museum of Trade and Tourism,
  19. Hungarian National Gallery,
  20. Hungarian National Museum,
  21. Kunsthalle Budapest (Műcsarnok),
  22. Liget Budapest Visitor Center,
  23. Ludwig Museum – Museum of Contemporary Art,
  24. Memento Park – Statue Park Museum,
  25. Molnár’s Kürtőskalács,
  26. Museum of Fine Arts,
  27. Museum of Óbuda,
  28. Official Budapest Castle Bus,
  29. Pál-völgyi Cave,
  30. Pálinka Experience Interactive Museum,
  31. Robert Capa Contemporary Photography Center,
  32. St. Lukács Thermal Bath and Swimming Pool,
  33. Urban Betyár Restaurant & Visitor Center,
  34. Vasarely Museum Budapest,
  35. Zugliget Chairlift (Libegő)

Price:
1 day €29
2 days €43
3 days €56
4 days €69
5 days €82

Official Website: https://www.budapestinfo.hu/budapest-card

Where to eat

Enjoy Hungarian cuisine by trying Goulash, Chimney Cake, and Langos

Goulash soup, which you will find everywhere, contains boiled meat with carrots, onions, and paprika. For Sale Pub is famous both for its excellent Goulash and for the unique decoration of the place, and the Menza restaurant is at the same level. You will find traditional Hungarian cuisine at Paprika Vendeglo. Don’t forget to try their traditional drink Palinka with fruits reminiscent of our raki.

Langos is famous for Greek fried bread; it is dough fried in oil; it is the size of a large pizza and contains cheese, sour cream, garlic butter, and pork. You will find it everywhere in street shops. You can’t visit Hungary and not eat the famous sweet Chimney Cake or Kürtőskalács, i.e., a cake baked in a cylindrical dish on coals and sprinkled with sugar.

If you want to try Lebanese cuisine, visit Byblos, a unique restaurant that combines Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine. If you happen to be in Budapest during Christmas, you will find the Christmas Market in the Basilica of Saint Stephen and Vorosmarty Square. There you will find a variety of food, with the sausages stealing the show. Don’t forget to try their gluhwein mulled wine. If you want to try Italian and Mediterranean cuisine, visit the Colosseum restaurant and Trattoria Toscana. For coffee, you can go to New York Café and Gerbeaud.

Where to stay

Budapest is a destination in high demand at all times of the year. We recommend that your hotel is located on the Pest side, as it has more life and the most attractions. On the corresponding side of Pest, the most central and lively area is the Lipótváros -Belváros district, where you will find the city’s most commercial streets.

We recommend staying at Hotel Memories Budapest, which is 350m away. From the center and is 4* If you wish to stay further from the center, more quietly and economically, we recommend the B&B Hotel Budapest City.

Transportation in Budapest

Budapest is an easy walkable city if you stay in a central hotel. However, the public transport system is fantastic. Pay special attention to ticket validation, as strict checks are constantly carried out. 

Public Transportation 

If the means of transport is the dominant way for your movement, it is in your best interest to buy the Budapest Card. The BKK Center for Budapest Public Transportation is responsible for public transportation. The extensive transport network provides 285 bus lines, 35 tram lines, 15 trolley bus lines, and four metro lines. The routes start from 4:30 in the morning until 11:30 p.m. However, buses operate at night, where they pass every 10 minutes, and their number always starts from 9, as well as tram no6.

Tickets can be purchased both from the BBK machines and from the BudapestGo application that you can download to your mobile phone. The ticket prices you will see below are valid for all media, and citizens of the European Union who are over 65 can use the means of transport for free by showing their ID.

Price:
30-minute ticket €1.40
90-minute ticket €1.90
10 tickets €7.70
24-hour ticket €6.50
72-hour ticket €14

Official Website: https://bkk.hu/

Bicycle and skate

When you visit Budapest, you can rent a bicycle or roller skate if the weather is good. There are bike lanes everywhere. 

Car

We rented a car. It is essential to know that most parking is paid, and there are constant checks to see if you have paid. The parking spaces are accessible at the weekend and on weekdays from 8:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m.; it is free. You can search for car deals here.

Budapest is divided into several parking zones, the fee and the duration you can park is different depending on the location. Below you will find the official site where you will see all zones with parking fees and hours.

Official Website: https://nmzrt.hu/szolgaltatasok/parkolas/parkolasi-zonak.html

 

Driving under the influence of alcohol is prohibited, the legal blood alcohol limit is 0.0 g/l.

How to get from the airport to the city

The name of Budapest Airport is Liszt Ferenc, only 16 kilometers from the city center. Below you will find many ways to get there.

BUS 100E

By taking bus 100E, you will reach the city within 45 minutes. Go to Terminal 2 from where it departs and get your ticket from the kiosks at the stops or download the BudapestGo app and get your access online.

This route makes three stops at Kalvin Square, Astoria, and Deak Ferenc. The bus operates 24 hours a day and; departs every 10 minutes, and during the night, it is every 40 minutes. The cost of the ticket is €3.80.

  https://bkk.hu/en/travel-information/public-transport/airport-shuttle/ 

MiniBUD 

If you don’t want to bother with public transport or bear the high cost of taxis, there is the MiniBud bus, which takes you directly to your hotel. You can book online in advance. The price is approximately €11 per person. Their offices are located at BUD International Airport Terminal 2A and 2B arrivals level. The downside is that you have to wait for all the passengers to gather before it starts.https://www.minibud.hu/ 

TAXI

Taxis are located outside the terminal and are yellow. The average cost is €25; however, this price can increase significantly if there is traffic on the roads. The official taxi company is called Főtaxi.

Currency and Transactions

The official currency of Hungary is the forint. The exchange rate at the moment is 1€=388 HUF. Avoid doing currency exchange at ATMs, as the commission is very high. The same applies to currency exchange offices at the airport, and I prefer those in the center.

We chose Money Exchange located on Budapest Street, Király u. 6, which keeps you a tiny commission. We converted a small percentage of money and used revolut, which holds a little commission.