The very cool city of Budapest in Hungary has become one of my all time favourites! It is full of beautiful architecture, markets, independent design stores, great food and unique bars. Budapest is also famous for being named the ‘Spa Capital’ of Europe! How can you dislike a city that incorporates the activity of relaxing in spas into their culture? The stunning Danube river flows through the city which divides the Buda and the Pest side, but the sides are connected by many photographic bridges of all styles.
So, if you are wanting to make your way to Hungary, below is the ultimate bucket list of Things to do in Budapest…
20 Budapest Bucket List Things To Do
1. See Fisherman’s Bastion At Sunrise
One of the most Magical sights of architecture in Budapest is the Fisherman’s Bastion on the Buda side of the Danube river. The other-worldly limestone cone towers and stairway will have you thinking you are somewhere in India. In the middle you’ll see St Mathia’s Church, which is an usual white sandstone Gothic structure with amazing colourful mosaic-tiled roof peaks.
However, most magical thing you’ll see there is the sunrise over Budapest while watching through the archways. Be sure to check the times of sunrise on your google weather app!
2. Visit A Relaxing Bath House For The Day
As the city has gained the famous reputation for being the spa capital of Europe, it a must-do to visit a bath house in Budapest! These bath houses are often made up of several indoor thermal baths and some outdoor baths. Depending on the bath house, there might be male and female days allocated or separate times for locals and tourists, so always check the website before going. If have the time, its nice to spend half a day at the bath house, maximizing relaxation time and enjoying a massage.
3. Climb To See The View Up At Buda Castle
Seeing the beautiful view over the Danube river from the terrace of the Buda Castle is a breath-taking site. There are two ways to travel up the Buda hill, you can take the authentic funicular ride or the stairs. Depending on your situation, if you can take the stairs it allows for more active minutes into your day, it’s free and you don’t have to wait in line.
Along the pathway up, there are other viewpoints and photos through the park where you can stop for photos. The walk up is approximately 15minutes and is all paved stairs and paths.
4. Walk Across The Chain Bridge At Night
Leave a little sparkle wherever you go!..Well I’m a big fan of that, but all seeing a little sparkle wherever you go! The Chain bridge is Budapest’s most famous and photographic bridge. It is worth walking across the bridge at least once during your time in the city, but it especially beautiful at night.
To photographic the opening of the bridge from the centre point, there is a small traffic island on the Buda side, where you can stand. In the summer, there are great pop-up bars with live music, set-up just under the Chain bridge on the Pest side. Here, you can enjoy a wine (or sparkling) and some tunes while admiring the sparkling site!
5. Have A Drink At One Of The Artsy Ruin Bars
Even if you are not into clubbing, the ruin bars in the old Jewish quarter are worth seeing for the decked-out buildings! These once abandoned buildings have been transformed by artists, using junk and recycled items to create amazing installations and quirky features inside the bars. You can visit the ruin bars during the day or night and there is plenty to do in the surrounding area of the old Jewish quarter.
6. Walk Around Margaret Island
Margaret Island is a small green park located between Margaret bridge and Arpad bridge. It can be located by walking across the beautiful yellow arched Margaret bridge. If you have the time, there is an easy 5.5km walk (about 1hour) around the island and in the middle there are oriental gardens, playgrounds and a small zoo. The garden and riverside scenery is beautiful all year round.
7. Shop At The Local Artist Studios
Budapest is a buzzing hot spot for artists and creatives! Many have set-up small studios for ceramics, folk craft, screen-printing and painting, mostly around the inner city, District V and the old Jewish Quarter. Some stores of note include the Szimpla Design Shop, Printa Design (Screen printing studio and store), Prezent Gift Shop (Sustainable Hungarian Design) and Rododendron (Gallery and Store).
8. Eat at Mazel Tov Resturant
Hands down the best hummus in Budapest! You might not think that hummus sounds like a very Hungarian dish (because it’s not), but they love it and there are so many great restaurants serving it up in delicious creations. The best however is at Mazel Tov, a middle eastern restaurant that is practically an institution among the locals and visitors alike. The pretty setting and festoon lights will draw you in but the food will have writing a five star google review at the table.
9. Have Coffee In A Bookstore Cafe
If you thought reading paper copy books was dead, think again. There is an in-grained culture of paper goods and paper reading material in Eastern Europe that is still going strong for all generations! You’ll see many bookstores, book markets, pop-up book stalls and mini libraries all around town, including bookstore cafes! Massolit is a cute one to check out, tucked away in the Jewish quarter, selling new and used books. Why not sit a while with a good coffee, a book and rest those tired walking feet.
10. Climb to the top of St. Stephen’s Basilica
Do you love beautiful city views and churches? Well, St. Stephen’s should definatley be on your list of activities for Budapest! The gorgeous St. Stephen’s Basilica is not only a sight to see from the outside and the inside, but also has great views of the city from the cupola balcony. The cost is 600HUF to take the lift or the stairs.
11. Play Detective in an Escape Room
Does being locked in a room for 45minutes and racing against the clock, solving puzzles and locks to be released appeal to you? Because if it does, you’ve come to the right city to play the ultimate escape room games. Hungarians were great at inventing puzzles (they invented the Rubix cube) and were also the first ones to invent the idea of the ‘Escape Room’ challenge. Some of the best places to take the challenge are Exit Point, Escape House and Pirate Cave.
12. Eat Fresh Langos!
Langos is a delicious traditional Hungarian food made from fried flattened dough. It sort of tastes like a flat rolled donut would, but is more often served with savory toppings like cheese and sour cream, capsicums or meat. At the Christmas markets you can also eat sweet versions with sugar, jam or chocolate.
13. Hike up to the Citadel at Sunset
For the absolute best views over the city, a hike up to the Citadel fort is a must-do! The best time to go is an hour before sunset for the perfect photos over looking the whole of Pest and the Buda Castle. The hike is around 20minutes and it is best to wear proper shoes as there can be many steps to climb.
14. Wander with the locals at Escari Flea market
This is the biggest flea market in Budapest! It is a little bit away from the central city, but can be accessed by train or catch an uber there in 20minutes. The market is open everyday and is full of old antiques, vintage wares and second hand treasures. To avoid the crowds, visit during a weekday.
15. Admire the Parliament Building
One of the most beautiful buildings in Budapest, is the Hungarian Parliament building. You can admire the Neo-Gothic building from both the inside and out, with opulent interiors, a cascading staircase and gold gilded arches. The cost to go inside is 6000HUF for Non-EU citizens and you must go with a tour. It is also a glittering sight to see at night along the Danube river.
16. Find Treasure in the Vintage Boutique stores
Love shopping vintage clothes?, then Budapest is your city! There are many styled vintage boutiques around that source the most quirky, unique and bespoke pieces from Europe. The most respected stores you’ll find are called Szputnik, LoveBug Vintage, Retrock Designer Vintage.
17. Explore the Street Art in the Jewish Quarter
The winding laneways of the Jewish Quarter are full of public street art around every corner, usually taking up the entire wall. Some of the larger murals focus around Budapest culture (the relationship between the Buds and Pest sides), Hungarian folk lore and general politics.
18. Visit the Great Market Hall
The Great Market Hall is hosted in a restored 19th Century building and is the largest, oldest running market in Budapest. Fresh food and produce is on the first floor, and souvenirs on the upper floor. The market is open everyday except Sundays.
19. See the Liberty Bridge
Another quirky instagram-worthy bridge in Budapest is the Liberty bridge. It was originally built for the Millennium World Exhibition in 1896 and is constructed in an art Nouveau style. There are public squares at each end of the bridge, one is near the Great Market Hall and at the other side has the Gellert spa baths.
20. Visit Heroe’s Square
The biggest square in Budapest is Heroe’s square and is made iconic by the complex statue in the centre featuring Seven chieftains of the Magyars. If you continue walking through the square you will come to City Park, where you can enter the Szechenyi Baths or see the Vajdahunyad castle.
So, are you ready to book those flights to Budapest yet? I hope this inspired your Hungarian wanderlust and thank you for reading!
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