7 Iconic Bucket List Things to Do in Budapest

This post is all about the BEST things to do in Budapest.

Budapest is quickly earning the title of one of the trendiest capitals in central Europe. You can spend weeks in this beautiful city and still have SO much to see.

best things to do in budapest

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Planning a trip to a city with so much to offer can be exciting and overwhelming! That’s why I’ve created this FREE Checklist to print off for your trip.

best things to do in budapest

Planning your trip to Budapest? I recommend going for St. Stephens Day. It’s undoubtedly the most magical day of the year to visit.

My Budapest Essentials

Why Visit Budapest

Budapest, often referred to as the “Paris of the East,” is a captivating blend of history, architecture, and vibrant culture that offers an unforgettable experience for travelers.

Travelers mark Budapest as a top bucket list choice so they can experience soothing thermal baths, the intricate history at museums and historic sites, and the delectable Hungarian cuisine at traditional cafes and restaurants.

Whether exploring the charming streets of the Castle District or having a drink at a ruin bar, Budapest is an enchanting journey into the heart of Central Europe.

Where to Stay in Budapest

District V (Inner City): This central district is ideal for first-time visitors as it’s close to many major attractions like the Hungarian Parliament, St. Stephen’s Basilica, and the Danube River. It also offers a range of hotels, restaurants, and shops, making it convenient for exploring both Buda and Pest.

$$$ – Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace Budapest or Prestige Hotel Budapest

$$ – Mamaison Hotel Andrassy Budapest or D8 Hotel

$ – Maverick Hostel or Wombat’s City Hostel

District VII (Jewish Quarter): This area is famous for its vibrant nightlife, unique ruin bars, and street art. It’s a great choice for younger travelers and those interested in experiencing the hip and creative side of Budapest.

The Jewish Quarter is where I based myself for the two weeks I was in Budapest and I loved it!

$$$ – Corinthia Budapest

$$ – Hotel Nemzeti Budapest 

$ – Netizen Hostel & Hotel

Best Things to Do in Budapest – 7 Things You Can’t Miss

While Budapest is filled with countless amazing sites to see and activities to immerse yourself in, here is a rundown of the absolute must-do things you can’t leave the city without doing.

1. Tour the Parliament Building

Taking a tour of the breathtaking Budapest Parliament is a must. As you step inside the neo-Gothic masterpiece, you’re greeted by intricate details, towering spires, and a sense of grandeur that reflects the nation’s proud heritage.

The guided tour takes you through chambers decorated with golden accents and historic artifacts, providing a glimpse into the legislative processes that have shaped the country.

Most Parliament tours are the best value through the official government website here. Be sure to book your tours weeks in advance. If all tours are booked through the official website, you can pay a little extra and secure a ticket with this tour below:

Budapest Parliament building
Budapest Parliament building

2. Visit The Fisherman’s Bastion

Perched atop the Buda Castle Hill with sweeping views of the Danube River and the city’s skyline, Fisherman’s Bastion in Budapest stands as a fairytale-like architectural gem. Its distinctive white towers are a whimsical staple of the city.

From its vantage points, the Bastion offers a picture-perfect panorama of the Hungarian Parliament and the Chain Bridge,

best things to do in budapest
Budapest Fisherman's Bastion

3. The Shoes on the Danube Bank

The Shoes on the Danube Bank in Budapest is a haunting memorial that pays tribute to the countless lives lost during one of the darkest periods of history. As you approach the riverbank, you’ll encounter a solemn row of 60 pairs of iron shoes.

Each pair of shoes, meticulously crafted in period-appropriate styles, represents the footwear left behind by Jewish victims who were forced to strip before being shot and swept into the Danube River during World War II.

This memorial was constructed by film director Can Togay.

Budapest - shoes on the Danube
Shoes on the Danube Bank Memorial

4. Go to a Thermal Bath

Immersing yourself in the thermal baths of Budapest is a must-do! This rejuvenating journey offers an escape into warm, mineral-rich waters that have been soothing locals and visitors for centuries.

All you need to bring for your spa day is a towel, a swimsuit, and some cash.

Here is a breakdown of finding the best spas for you in Budapest:

Szechenyi is the most popular, especially for parties.

Gellert is a beautiful art deco and relaxing experience.

Rudas is where the locals go. This is the most low-key, cheapest, and most relaxing thermal bath that you’ll find in the city. and where I chose to go!

best things to do in Budapest

5. Go to a Ruin Bar

No trip to Budapest is complete without visiting an iconic ruin bar!

These eclectic and vibrant buildings have transformed abandoned buildings into dynamic hubs of art, culture, and nightlife.

With their mismatched furniture and graffiti-covered walls, ruin bars create an atmosphere that’s both laid-back and electric.

Some of the top ruin bars to visit in Budapest are Szimpla, Instant, and Fogashaz.

If you’d like to experience Budapest’s nightlife with fellow travelers, check out this guided pub crawl with a local in a group setting.

best things to do in Budapest

6. See the Most Beautiful Cafe in the World

Deemed “the most beautiful cafe in the world” the New York Cafe will take your breath away. Experience the lavish chandeliers and elaborate decor with a hot cup of coffee and feel like true Hungarian royalty.. just for a bit!

Budapest is home to loads of incredible museums and art galleries. Check out the Hungarian National Gallery and see what traveling exhibitions they are hosting.

If you are interested in Budapest’s history, I recommend visiting the House of Terror, a memorial for victims of the fascist and communist regimes. This museum is quite popular, so be sure to book in advance.

A few of the best museums in Budapest are the Hungarian National Gallery, House of Terror, and the Museum of Fine Arts.

Discover my secrets for scoring cheap flights

More to See in Budapest

Don’t miss these important landmarks in Budapest!

Heroes Square

Buda Castle

St. Stephens Basilica

Széchenyi Chain Bridge

Elisabeth Bridge

The Danube

Elisabeth Bridge in Budapest
Elisabeth Bridge in Budapest
Chimney Cake
Chimney Cake
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  1. I loveee Budapest! I wish I would have seen your post before my trip – I missed out on so many cool things! Will save for next time!

  2. I definitely see why Budapest is seen as one of the trendiest cities in Europe, I love it! I was there a few years ago but can’t wait to go back!

  3. I’m embarrassed to admit i have not yet been to Budapest despite it being on my radar for years. There looks to be such incredible architecture, quirky bars and great food. I’ll have to go for a long weekend when I’m back in the UK!

  4. Buda and Pest both sound so fun to explore. I would love to walk around, try one of those chimney cakes and then finish off the day in a ruin bar. 🙂

  5. This is great! I went to Budapest, but I feel like I did not get to really experience the city so I want to go back. I would love to visit a museum!

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