Budapest is one of the most beautiful European capitals. It is not very far from Bulgaria and is a destination that we strongly recommend you to visit if you have not already done so. Budapest is also incredibly romantic, so in case you have already gone to Paris and are looking for a new place to visit with your partner, you will definitely not be disappointed.
One of the curious facts about Budapest is that it was formed by the merger of two cities – Buda and Pest, in fact three, if I count Obuda – translated as “Old Buddha”. The merger took place in 1872, which became emblematic of the history of the Hungarian capital.
The map, a friend of the tourist
First – a little practical information that can save you money. Before you start your sightseeing tour of Budapest, it is good to keep in mind that there is an electronic card option that will provide you with public transport, as well as free admission to many attractions. Depending on the length of your stay, you can choose a card valid between 24 and 120 hours, respectively at prices between 22 and 63 euros.
The cheapest option gives you free access to 17 museums, a walking tour and a visit to one of Budapest’s famous baths. We will pay special attention to the bathrooms – a little further.
The advantage of this card is that with it you do not need to think about tickets for public transport. However, we advise you to make at least a rough calculation of how much the tickets for the sites you want to visit and the tickets for public transport would cost. Our experience shows that unless you want to enter many sites and the place where you are staying is in the center or near it, it may be more profitable to buy a few separate tickets instead of paying the price of the map.
The palace hill
If you want to visit the most emblematic sights of Budapest, start from the Palace Hill, which rises 170 meters above the Danube. In case you missed the geography lessons, Budapest is one of the cities through which the European river passes.
On the hill you can see some of the most important medieval monuments and museums. The hill itself is included in the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites.
An interesting detail is that under the hill there is a network of caves formed as a result of the action of water from thermal springs. Experts have estimated that the total length of the network reaches 28 km.
One of the impressive buildings you will see on the Palace Hill is the Royal Palace, which was built in the distant 13th century. It was the residence of King Bela IV. The palace, also known as the Buddha Palace, has suffered severe damage and has been rebuilt a significant number of times over the last 7 centuries or so. In principle, his yard is freely accessible 24/7. From time to time, when festivals are organized, it closes and visitors are allowed only with tickets. However, the price is worth it, because in addition to access to the festival, you also get an entrance to the palace itself. Getting to the palace is definitely worth it, even without entering it. There is an incredible view of the city. The evening is enchanting, you can see the lights of part of the city, the bridges, as well as the Parliament bathed in golden light.
Museum for all interests
The palace complex houses a large number of museums, including the Museum of Telephones. There is also the History Museum, the Museum of Music History, Military History, Pharmacy, the National Gallery and the House of Houdini, which tells the story of the life of the world’s most famous Hungarian magician. In fact, in it you can enjoy a great magic show, and from the entrance you will be greeted by a copy of the cage of torture with water, which is recreated in the last film of the illusionist. In memory of Houdini are placed 52 red roses for each of the years in which he lived. In addition, visitors are surprised by a huge safe, which opens only if you give the correct answer to a specific puzzle.
As the palace itself houses the Budapest History Museum, also known as the Hungarian National Library, as well as the National Gallery, the palace’s opening hours are in fact their opening hours. The gallery is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm, with a day off on Monday, for the museum this is valid for the period from March 31 to October 31. During the rest of the year he works from 10 am to 4 pm.
The bastion of fishermen
In the area there is another major attraction for tourists in Budapest – the Fishermen’s Bastion, about 15 minutes walk from the Palace. This is probably the most visited place in the city. The towers and fortifications were built in the 19th century. The fortifications have never been used as such in a real situation, but from there it is one of the most beautiful views of the Hungarian capital. Accordingly, here is a favorite place for photos. Interestingly, the bastion is very reminiscent of the Walt Disney logo.
It’s really great that the access is free around the clock, you can go to the balconies for free.
In the Fishermen’s Bastion, it is not uncommon for couples to take romantic walks in the evening, admiring the lights reflected in the Danube and the panoramic views. There are also enthusiasts who stalk the moment before sunrise to enjoy the city even before it wakes up.
Due to the incredible view it provides, the Bastion is a favorite place on New Year’s Eve, when from here the view of the magnificent fireworks is stunningly beautiful.
Next to the Bastion is the impressive church with its architecture and colorful roof. It dates back to the 11th century, but is in excellent condition. The entrance ticket for an adult is 1800 forints or a little over 11 levs. So is the ticket for the church tower. Admission is free for children under 6 and people with disabilities.
There are nice restaurants nearby, but before you order first, second and third – make sure you are at peace with the prices. As they are close to a tourist site, these establishments operate with a large price range for the tourist with a limited budget.
The Chain Bridge
When you reach the Palace Hill, it is very likely that you have not only seen, but also passed the Chain Bridge – incredibly beautiful day and night. It is the first permanent stone bridge that connected Buda and Pest. It is only the second to cross the Danube across the entire width of the river.
Construction of the bridge began in 1839 thanks to the English engineer Adam Clark. On November 20, a year later, the bridge was put into operation. The chains are attached to 48-meter columns in a classic style, and the two iconic lions have proudly “guarded” the bridge since 1852. They are the work of sculpture János Marschalkó. One of the popular local legends in Budapest is that lions have no languages. The truth is that they have, but they can only be seen from a height. For the curious – the bridge is 380 meters long.
Was it a parliament to describe it?
One of the emblems of the Hungarian capital is the incredibly beautiful Parliament building. It is located along the Danube River and impresses with its architecture. The building is visited annually by almost 700 thousand people.
Visits can be made almost every day of the year, guided by a guide. The guides speak different languages, including English, Russian and German. The tour starts from the new Parliament Visitors’ Center and covers its most beautiful halls in 50 minutes. The experience is definitely worth it, get ready to walk the red carpet and everything around you is gilded. In addition, you can take amateur photos of almost any of the places on the tour, except for one hall where the crown is kept. Monitoring of plenary sessions is also allowed – for an entrance fee. Be sure to pick up headphones as soon as you pass the security check so you can listen to the guide’s story.
It strongly touches the unique art installation of metal shoes along the Danube. They were paid tribute to Holocaust victims who were forced to take off their shoes and then shot. You can see the 60 pairs of already rusty shoes near the majestic Parliament building. Often visitors leave flowers and candles here.
In case you want to relax on a nice and green meat, keep in mind that a good choice is the island of Margaret. Here you will find huge meadows to play badminton or just read, old trees to admire. There is also a lot of fun in the summer. Among them are a small zoo, swimming pool, outdoor cinema, theater and several clubs. If you are in the mood for sports, the island is a great place to play sports, there is a specially built running track. In the cold months, don’t expect to find a variety of places to eat, but there are still two places that will save you from the sound of your scraping stomach.
Locals like to come here to escape the stress and dynamics of the working day. You can often see people running and taking care of their health and tone, because as we have already mentioned – the conditions are perfect for this. The island is reached by one of the bridges over the Danube.
In the bathroom, but with finesse
Another experience that you should definitely give yourself if you are in Budapest is visiting their so famous baths, which we have already mentioned. Some call the capital of Hungary the City of Baths and rightly so. Due to the large number of hot mineral springs, the locals have created a lot of places to enjoy spa moments and absolute relaxation in different sized pools, spas and saunas.
There are bathrooms with beaches, as well as those where great parties are organized. Of course, their architecture is certainly part of the experience.
The largest mineral bath
The largest and one of the most famous and largest of them is Széchenyi. Although it is really large and has quite a number of swimming pools and sauna and steam bath, it is very popular and if you choose it, it is good to keep in mind that it will be overcrowded. Especially on weekends. A great experience that Széchenyi offers is the very warm outdoor pool. It is a real pleasure to dive into it, even if the air temperature is far from the temperatures at which we are used to sunbathing in principle. There is also a large swimming pool, but it is mandatory to have a swimming cap.
The bathroom is also suitable for people with disabilities. The ticket for using the bathroom (base price, without massages, etc.) is about 30 leva. On weekends the entrance is a bit more expensive. You can rent a locker to lock your personal belongings, as well as your own booth. The cabin is more expensive, but you have the option to share it with a friend. Towels are available for a fee and a deposit. For an additional fee, you can also take advantage of a beer spa experience. You and your partner can take a dip in a beer tub in the shape of a beer keg. In addition to mineral water, the bath has added extracts of the main ingredients used in the preparation of beer. And in addition to soaking in beer, you can also drink.
Another thermal offer
Among the most popular baths is Rudas – there are large and small pools, the swimming pool has an area of 278 square meters and a water temperature of 29 degrees. Those who like to be warmer will probably prefer pools with between 36 and 42 degrees, and if you get very hot, you can dramatically cool the feeling in a mini pool with 16 degrees water temperature.
The Rudas thermal bath is quite popular because of the rooftop pool, where it is definitely more than pleasant to relax.
There are days for men only, as well as days for women only, on Saturdays and Sundays it is open for groups and swimsuits are mandatory. You can swim every day from 6 am to 10 pm, night baths are also available from 10 pm to 4 am. Prices vary between 10 and 30 levs, depending on what you want to use and when you go.
The market – a sense of place
A place where you can see the color of local products, buy fruits, vegetables, dairy and local products, fish and wines from Hungarian producers or just look at the colors and beautifully arranged stands is the Great Building on the market. It is located very close to the Danube river. This market in Hungarian is called Nagycsarnok and has three floors, was built in 1897 and is the most beautiful preserved with decades of market. Do not be surprised, there are other old ones in the city.
The big market is also quite central. It is located in the city center and is a favorite place for shopping for a huge number of households. It opens at dawn. The earliest ones can fill their bags with fresh vegetables as early as 6 am. Before heading to it, keep in mind that it is closed on Sundays and open until 3 pm on Saturdays. On other days – until 6 pm, except Monday, when sales end an hour earlier.
The building on the market is the work of Samu Pecz and you will notice it from afar. It is distinguished by its colorful roof and it will be easy for you to recognize it. The tiles used for the roof are the same ones that can be seen at the Matthias Church in the city. They are the work of local master Zsolnay.
St. Stephen’s Basilica
In the heart of the city is the Basilica of St. Stephen, the largest church in Budapest. It is named after the first king of Hungary and can accommodate 8,500 believers. Curiously, visitors have the opportunity to see the mummified right hand of St. Stephen.
From the dome of the temple there is a beautiful view from above. The visit to the church itself is free, but it is obligatory to leave a donation for the church worth 1 euro. A tour of the basilica with an English-speaking guide is available from Monday to Saturday between 10 am and 3 pm.
St. Stephen’s Basilica is located on the square of the same name, where you will find numerous cafes and eateries. A great opportunity to recharge your batteries to continue your walk.
The Statue of Liberty and the Citadel
If you are a connoisseur of panoramic views, we advise you to go to the Statue of Liberty. No, we are not mistaken, apart from the famous Statue of Liberty in the United States, they have one in Budapest. It is located on Gellert Hill.
The reason for the statue’s statue is the liberation from the Nazis after World War II. The bronze statue is 14 meters high, erected on a 26-meter pedestal, and depicts a woman holding a palm leaf over her head.
At the top of Gellert Hill is the Citadel, another interesting landmark of the Hungarian capital – a fortification with a total length of 220 meters, built shortly after the middle of the 19th century. It is 60 meters wide and 4 meters high. There is also a museum exhibition where you can see various exhibits related to Nazi history.
An iconic landmark for Hungary is the Heroes’ Square and more precisely the monuments erected on it on the occasion of celebrating 1000 years of Hungarian history. The tallest figure is the Archangel Gabriel, with a crown and the symbol of Christianity – the cross. At a lower level are the 7 chiefs who led the Hungarian tribe.
This is the largest and most impressive square in the city, located next to a nice park. To the left of the monument is the Museum of Fine Arts, and to the left – the Hall of Arts.
Public transport in Hungary is well organized, several metro lines in combination with buses, trams and bike lanes cover the city.
Keep in mind that the responsibility to buy a ticket and validate it is entirely yours. Most bus stops have ticket machines that work with both cash and debit cards, including contactless ones. You also have the option to get a ticket with a transfer – you can change two vehicles within an hour. To avoid a fine, validate your ticket as soon as you board the land transport vehicles. A white line plays a key role in the metro. Look for it and do not cross it without marking your travel document on the appropriate machines.
A ticket for a single trip is HUF 350 or about BGN 2.20 when you buy it from a car outside the vehicle and HUF 450 inside the vehicle. A ticket with a transfer option is 530 forints. You also have the option to buy 10 tickets for 3000 forints.
For cyclists, in addition to bicycle lanes, there are also special traffic lights to help them navigate the traffic and reduce the risk of accidents.
Time for a bar
An experience you should definitely experience in Budapest is to visit some of the many “bars in the ruins”. They are especially popular in the city and fully live up to their name – basements and old houses have become charming places to have a drink and enjoy your vacation while looking at the interesting “exhibits” that usually accompany many of the bars in the ruins. From old books and toys, through old dishes, furniture, even parts of bathtubs – you can see really curious objects.