Budapest is quickly earning the title as one of the trendiest capitals in central Europe. I spent fourteen days in this majestic city, yet still found myself cramming in highlights towards the end of my trip. Here are suggestions for the very best of Budapest!
Sometimes, (quite frequently actually) I plan trips to places, and there happens to be a major event going on. I was in London for the pride parade, France for the 2018 World Cup, and now Hungary for Sziget and St. Stephens Day.
Tip: Visit Budapest for St. Stephens Day. It’s undoubtedly the most magical day of the year to visit Budapest.
1. Tour the Budapest Parliament building.
This is actually something I did not get to do and it was such a bummer. I waited until the last minute and the tours completely sold out. Rookie mistake! I did, however, get many pictures of the building that is the emblem of Budapest.
Tip: Book your parliament tour plenty of days in advance, possibly even weeks. More info on booking Parliament tours here.
2. Visit Fishermans Bastion
One of the most famous tourist attractions in Budapest! Located in the Buda castle, this whimsical bastion offers a stunning panoramic view of the city.
3. The Shoes on the Danube Bank
Budapest is beautiful, but this city had to go through a lot of dark periods of history to shine like it does today. This memorial was constructed by film director Can Togay to honor the Jews murdered by the fascist Arrow Cross in Budapest during WWII. The Jews were ordered to take off their shoes and were shot at the edge of the water. This memorial is terribly sad, but a beautiful tribute to remember those who had their life taken from them.
4. Go to a Thermal Bath
This is the “thing” you have to do in Budapest! This was nearly another experience, like the parliament, that I was so close to missing out on because I didn’t want to go alone. Fortunately, my friend ended up going with me, however I urge you to go even if you’re alone! All you need to bring is a towel, a swimsuit, and some cash.
There are several popular Thermal bath’s in Budapest, but here are the top 3:
– Széchenyi Thermal Bath – The most popular and most well known. This is definitely more of a pool party experience and would be a fun night with friends.
– Gellért Thermal Bath – The most art deco. As your swimming in the stunning baths, you may recognize influence from the Wes Anderson movie, The Grand Budapest Hotel.
– Rudas – Where the locals go. This is the most low key, cheapest, and relaxing thermal bath that you’ll find in the city. We opted to go here as many the locals recommended it. It was so nice and had a rooftop!
5. Go to a Budapest Ruin Bar
I would describe Budapest as “trendy grunge” and ruin bars are the perfect example of that! Ruin Bars are a relatively new-ish concept that came to trend around 2001. So, what are Ruin Bars? The description is in its name! Ruin Bars are old buildings that have been converted into bars/clubs.
Some of the most popular Ruin Bars in Budapest are:
6. Dine at the famous New York Café.
The most beautiful café in the world! This place is so grand, the decor will take your breath away. Although the menu is expensive, it is certainly worth just walking in the building to view the decor if it’s out of your budget.
7. Visit a Museum or Gallery
Budapest is home to many incredible museums and art galleries. The Hungarian National Gallery is always a good choice, and often times they have some incredible traveling exhibitions. When I was there they had a Frida Kahlo Exhibition and it was awesome.
If you are interested in Budapest’s dark 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.
Top Galleries & Museums in Budapest:
Budapest has several landmarks that you just take a quick stroll by to view. As I listed some above such as Shoes on the Danube & Fisherman’s Bastion, here are a few extra sights if you have some spare time on your trip.
-St. Stephens Basillica
–Széchenyi Chain Bridge
That concludes the Best of Budapest! Although this city can often times get overlooked by other capitals in Europe, it is surely not to be missed. Whenever you plan your trip, be sure to dedicate as much time to this gorgeous city as there are a million things to do and see!