Budapest is generally considered a “hidden gem” of Europe for many travelers. While it isn’t as prominent for tourism as France or London, this city is an amazing place to visit for those traveling to Europe. There are several free things to do in Budapest, Hungary if you are travelling on a budget. Known as Hungary’s thriving capital city, Budapest is considered one of the most beautiful cities in Europe due to its UNESCO World Heritage sites and stunning architectures. We’ve compiled the top 10 things to both see and do in Budapest below.
1. Visit the historic Hungarian Parliament Building
The Hungarian Parliament Building, also known as the Parliament of Budapest for being located in that city, is the seat of the National Assembly of Hungary, a notable landmark of Hungary and a popular tourist destination of Budapest. It lies in Lajos Kossuth Square, on the bank of the Danube. It is currently the largest building in Hungary and still the tallest building in Budapest.
2. Eat some traditional Hungarian food
There isn’t a cuisine on the planet that’s more hearty, comforting, or fierce than Hungarian. And while it might not be the healthiest of foods, it is one of the most delicious. Goulash, chicken paprikash, hortobagyi palacsinta (savory crepes),töltött káposzta (stuffed cabbage), and apple strudel will be among the most tantalizing options.
3. Walk the Chain Bridge
The Chain Bridge has connected Buda and Pest since 1849, and after WWII bombs damaged it in 1949, it was rebuilt to its original splendor. Day or night, the Chain Bridge is a sight to behold; the bridge stands as an iconic symbol of Budapest and its history, and from the bridge, beautiful views of the city and the Danube River can be viewed.
4. Take a dip in the Széchenyi Thermal Baths
Budapest is known worldwide as the “City of Baths,” so of course, you must visit a thermal bath during your trip! Budapest’s thermal spring water possesses healing qualities, and some of the Turkish baths even date back to the 16th century! Széchenyi Baths is the world’s largest medicinal bath, and from June to August on Saturday nights, pool parties with music run from 10:30 pm to 3:00 am.
5. Spend a night at the Ruin Bars
Ruin bars are part of the lively nightlife of Budapest. It all started in the old Jewish quarter where dilapidated buildings were left to decay after World War II. The makeshift bars were created with these dilapidated buildings and along with its quirky furnishings, it exudes an inexplicably cool atmosphere.
6. Explore the Vajdahunyad Castle
Vajdahunyad Castle is actually not a castle but it’s a full-scale model built for Hungary’s 1896 millennial celebrations and it has never been an actual royal or noble residence. Today, it houses the Museum of Hungarian Agriculture, the biggest agricultural museum in Europe. The structure has three distinct wings, one Gothic, one Romanesque and one Baroque, making it quite a bizarre sight when seen from a distance.
7. Shop the Great Market Hall
The Great Market Hall or Central Market Hall is the largest and oldest indoor market in Budapest, Hungary. If you love shopping, fresh goods, people watching, or just sightseeing in amazing places, you will like the Great Market Hall. No matter what weather is, the Great Market Hall is a great option, and definitely one of the top Budapest attractions according to many Budapest guides.
8. Visit the Kerepesi Cemetery
Kerepesi Cemetery is Budapest’s best known final resting ground. Kerepesi is the oldest Christian cemetery in Budapest and is the final resting place for many notable Hungarians, politicians, scientists, artists and other dignitaries. Kerepesi is Budapest’s equivalent of London ’s Highgate or Père Lachaise in Paris. It also more like a garden, and an open-air museum, with statues, sculptures, and monuments giving an insight into Hungary’s recent past.
9. Go inside Saint Stephen’s Basilica
Completed in 1905, St Stephen’s Basilica is, firstly. pretty impressive from the outside. The cathedral is named after the first King of Hungary – and inside, you can actually see what’s said to be his preserved right hand, displayed as a relic. Which is pretty interesting, for a start, considering he died almost 1000 years ago).
10. Take pictures at Fisherman’s Bastion
Take a stroll across the much-Instagrammed Chain Bridge, and up the hill past Buda Castle. It’s an easy walk, but if you’re feeling particularly leisurely, you can take the Buda Castle Furnicular. Make your way through the quaint streets, past the brightly tiled roof of Matthias Church and onto Fisherman’s Bastion itself. This panoramic viewing terrace has fairytale turrets and an incredible view out over the Danube and across to the Pest side of the city, where you’ll spy the aforementioned Budapest Houses of Parliament.