15 Budapest Adventures You Need To Do

Fisherman’s Bastion

things to do in budapest fishermans bastion
Built from 1895 to 1902, the Budapest’s Fisherman’s Bastion is a place where tourists and locals alike go to enjoy some of the most amazing views in the city.

The Bastion was created to provide fantastic views and to celebrate the 1000th birthday of the Hungarian State.  It was designed by architect Frigyes Schulek in traditional Medieval times style.

The Bastion, also referred to as “Halaszbastya”, consists of 7 towers that look like something out of a Disney fairy tale.

Today, many people visit the Bastion to get amazing views of the river Danube, a popular UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Matthias Church

things to do in budapest matthias church
The Matthias Church is over 700 years old but is not typical of many other churches dating back to the middle ages.

The interior beauty of the church is unlike anything seen during the time, displaying beautiful stain glass windows, old wooden pews, and a welcoming combination of warm lights.

Throughout history, the church had been used as a coronation church for Hungarian kings and as a Turkish Mosque, but now, it’s a Catholic Church.

The Matthias Church invites tourists in from around the world to admire the beautiful history and architecture that it has to offer.

Buda Castle Hill Funicular

things to do in budapest buda castle hill funicular
If you have an extra three minutes to add to your itinerary, you should use it to take a short ride up to Castle Hill on the Funicular (or as the Hungarians call it, the Siklo).

First opened in 1870, the funicular was designed to provide a cheap and quick commute for those working on castle hill.

Today, the cable car gives tourists a unique jump from the bottom to the top of the hill without having to hike all the way up.  The cable car runs daily from 7:30am to 10:00pm on a 5-10 minute rotation.

Once at the top, you can explore the World Heritage Site of Castle Hill and see some of the many attractions that it has to offer.  Some favorites include Trinity Square, Matthias Church, and the Fisherman’s Bastion.

Buda Castle

things to do in budapest buda castle
The most prominent building on Castle Hill is Buda Castle, also referred to as the Royal Palace.  Buda Castle dominates Castle Hill and provides stunning overlooks of the Danube River.

The castle was originally built in the 13th century to provide protection from Tartars and Mongols but, unfortunately, much of the castle was damaged during WWII.

Reconstruction quickly commenced in 1950 and, today, the building is home to many great festivals.  The castle is open for public tours and some areas of the castle, such as the courts and courtyards, are open for exploration 24 hours a day.

Gellért Hill

things to do in budapest gellért hill
Buda Castle Hill and Fisherman’s Bastion aren’t the only places you can go in Budapest for a great view.  Rising over 235 meters above the Danube stands a dolomite rock known as Gellért Hill.

While the hill doesn’t have it’s own funicular, it is the perfect place for a do-it-yourself hiking tour to the top.  The hill was named after St. Gellért, a missionary who was thrown off the hill by pagans during the rebellion.

Since prehistoric times, the hill has been inhabited, mainly by cave-dwellers who used the hot springs below.

Today. the springs are still used and are part of one of the most famous spas in Budapest - the Gellért Spa.  The hills important part in history has led it to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


things to do in budapest citadella
Also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Citadel sits atop Gellert Hill and is yet another amazing lookout point.

Originally built by the Habsburgs in 1848-1849, the Citadel stands over 220 meters long, 60 meters wide, and holds over 60 cannon complements.

The Citadel was originally built as a sign of power, and to defend the city from further insurrection after the War of Independence.

Unfortunately, many people saw the Citadel as a means of intimidating the population, and started demolishing the walls.  Attempts to do so were relatively unsuccessful, and the majority of the structure still stands as it originally did.

Today, the Citadel is a popular tourist destination where you can go to learn about history and take in some amazing views at the same time.

Central Market Hall

things to do in budapest central market hall
Great Market Hall, sometimes referred to as Central Market Hall, was built in 1897 and is one of those places you can go to shop, sightsee, or just to people watch.

The Hall is Budapest’s largest indoor market, comprising of three stories filled with food, souvenirs, antiques, glassware, and pretty much anything else you would expect to find in a market.

While food no longer arrives via canal as it once did, the market is a popular stop for locals looking to buy the freshest fruits, vegetables, meats, and baked goods in the area.

While here, don’t forget to sample some traditional Hungarian dishes including stuffed cabbage (toltott kaposzta) and meat filled pancakes (Hortobagyi palacsinta).

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Danube River Cruise

things to do in budapest danube river cruise
The Danube River is Europe’s second longest river, flowing through 10 different countries including Germany, Austria, Hungary, and eventually flowing out into the Dead Sea.

While a typical river cruise wouldn’t take you nearly this far, you can cruise the Danube through Budapest to see some of it’s most famous sights from a completely different vantage point.

River cruises run daily from a variety of different tour operators and offer a variety of different options to make it even more special.

Fireworks cruises, dinner cruises, wine tasting cruises, cocktail cruises, and sunset cruises are all spectacular options that can turn your cruise into an evening you will never forget.
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Chain Bridge

things to do in budapest chain bridge
A world famous landmark in Budapest, the Chain Bridge was actually the first permanent bridge between Buda and Pest.

The construction of the bridge was originally proposed by Count Istvan Szechenyi, and carried out between 1840 and 1849. Though today the construction of the bridge would be considered a routine task, back in 1840 it really was a huge deal.

Today, the bridge stands over 1230 ft long and is 16 meters wide.  At the time it was built, it was the longest suspension bridge in Europe and really something to marvel at.

In 1848, the Austrians attempted to destroy the bridge in the War of Independence, but the strength of the bridge exceeded them and lived on.

Sadly, the bridge didn’t manage the same fate during WWII, when it was blown up by the Germans to halt the progress of the Red Army.  Once the war was over, the bridge was one of the first structures to be rebuilt, and again reopened in 1949.

Hungarian Parliament Building

things to do in budapest hungarian parliament
Located on the banks of the Danube River, the Hungarian Parliament Building has a rich history and has been witness to some of the most important events in the country.

Just over 100 years old, the construction of the Parliament building began in 1884, but didn’t actually complete until 1902.  This was despite the goal of having the building competed for 1896, which marked the 1000th anniversary of the Hungary Foundation.

The design of the building was actually thrown out to a contest, which was won by Hungarian architect Imre Steindl.  He said he drew his inspiration from the London Houses of Parliament.

Today, you can take guided tours of the Parliament building, as long as no National Assembly is in session.  Tours cover the main entrance stairs and hall, a lobby, and the old House of Lords.

St. Stephens Basilica

things to do in budapest st stephens basilica
Also known as the Budapest Cathedral, the St. Stephens Basilica is the largest church in all of Budapest.  Holding up to 8500 people, the church is not only known for it’s size and beauty, but also for the many organ concerts that are held there.

Built in Neo-Classicist style, the building of the church took over 54 years to complete.  Much of the interruption was due to a large storm that caused the original dome to collapse in 1868.  From that, the entire structure had to be demolished and then rebuilt.

Today, the church is open to the public but church services may limit how much of the church you actually get to see.  Most people say you cannot miss the opportunity to head to the dome of the Basilica which offers beautiful panoramic views.

Dohany Street Synagogue

things to do in budapest dohany street synagogue
The Dohany Street Synagogue is the largest Synagogue in Europe and the second largest Synagogue in the entire world seating over 3000 people.

The Dohany Street Synagogue has long been the hub of Jewish culture.  It was built in 1859 in Moorish Revival Style and is a popular house for Jewish worship.

On the north side of the Synagogue, you will find the Holocaust Tree of Life Memorial presiding over the mass graves of so many lives lost in World War II Holocaust.

Also within the Synagogue is the Hungarian Jewish Museum, containing a variety of objects related to Jewish religion and everyday life.

Tours of the Synagogue offer a look into the Synagogue itself, as well as into the Heroes Temple, the Memorial Park, and the graveyard.

Hungarian State Opera House

things to do in budapest hungarian state opera house
Construction of the Hungarian State Opera House began in 1875 and completed 9 years later.

The opening night was held on September 27, 1884 and was hosted by Ferenc Erkel and his son Sandor.  The opening of the Opera House was so huge at the time that Emperor and King Franz Joseph attended.

Built in neo-renaissance style, the auditorium seats over 1300 people and has some of the best acoustics in all of Europe.

You can tour the opera house by day and catch a world class performance by night.

Heroes’ Square

things to do in budapest heroes square
Built to commemorate the first 1000 years of the Hungarian State, Heroes’ Square is one of the most famous landmarks in all of Budapest.

The massive square contains a Millenary Monument that stands over 36 meters tall and is topped by the golden Archangel Garbiel.

Also within the monument are some of the many chieftains and leaders of Hungary.  On both sides of the square you will also find the Museum of Fine Arts, as well as the Art Hall.

As a general recommendation, you should visit the square at least twice - once during the day and once at night - to experience both different atmospheres.

Széchenyi Thermal Baths

things to do in budapest széchenyi thermal baths
Looking to spend a day of relaxation and pampering?  There’s no better place to head than the Széchenyi Thermal Baths.

One of the largest bath complexes in all of Europe, Széchenyi has over 21 different pools including indoor geothermal pools, whirlpools, aqua massagers, and an activity pool.

The thermal baths were originally built in 1913 and then further expanded for public bathing in 1927.

Today, people visit the baths not only for the experience, but also for the health benefits.  The thermal pools are high in calcium, magnesium, and hydrogen carbonate, and are said to improve blood flow and aid in reducing aches and pains including arthritis.

While here, don’t forget to indulge in some of the other luxuries offered including the spa and massage.

Day trips from Budapest

amazing day trips from budapest
Don't forget to save some time to explore outside of Budapest.  There's several day trip adventures waiting for you outside the big city.

Among those adventures are cruising on Lake Balaton, taking in the architecture of Györ and exploring the small town of Eger.

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Free walking tours

Budapest, along with almost every major city in the world, has companies that offer free walking tours.  These tours are usually run by young students who are passionate about telling the story of their city and country.

The tours are probably the best way to explore and learn about the city as the guides will take you to unique places in the city while telling you all sorts of interesting stories.

As a note, while these are "free" walking tours, tips are encouraged at the end of the tour and a €5 tip is the standard.
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