Everybody loves Budapest, the city is simply an absolute miracle, so you are never surprised if it is a “best of” travel list. Known for its beauty, there are many fun things to do in Budapest; enjoy the architecture, go eat in the local kitchen or just explore the streets. You will soon find that Budapest is a city with a rich history that offers tourists many things to see and do, no matter how much time they have.
If your time is limited in Budapest, it is a must to go to Castle Hill, because there are the main tourist attractions. The cable car may look attractive, but it is a little over priced, so I advise you not to do it for more than 10 minutes. Once you reach the top, you are standing in front of the Buda Castle (Royal Palace) where the Hungarian kingship once ruled. You can find the “Trevi Fountain of Budapest”. Just around the corner you will find the Lions courtyard where four gigantic stone lions are great visitors.
In the courtyard you can visit the royal palace. Technically, the museum has three different locations, but the castle museum is most popular because of its history and location. The museum is dedicated to the history of Budapest, so you will find archaeological objects and art dating back more than 40,000 years ago.
If you head north when leaving the museum, it will not be long before you come across Fisherman’s Bastion, where you have a beautiful view of the Danube and Pest side. Do not be shaken by the entrance fee, this neo-gothic masterpiece is completely free; the paid part is just “private”. “We advise you to pay for the neighboring Matthias Church that was built and rebuilt in different periods, so it is a mix of styles, including neo-gothic, French and baroque.
East of the Danube
Castle Hill isn’t the only place to check out, there are plenty of fun things to do in Budapest on the Pest side.
Ruin Bars– Take an abandoned building, renovate it, add furniture, art, and a bar and you essentially have a ruin pub. Szimpla Kert is arguably the most popular ruin pub (at least with tourists) with every room decorated by different artists. Mazel Tov is clearly going for the modern ruin pub look, while Gradio is best described as an urban jungle.
House of Terror– The name is a bit deceiving since the house of terror has nothing to do with scares. Once the headquarters of communist Hungary’s secret police, it now serves as a museum to remind locals of what Hungary used to be. It really wasn’t that long ago that Hungary was a communist country, a fact that elderly Hungarians will never forget.
Escape games– Escape games have now become famous worldwide, but it’s believed they originated in Budapest. Volunteering to be locked into a room while solving a series of puzzles and tasks can be surprisingly addictive. Claustrophobia, Para Park and Pirate Cave are some of the more well known escape games.
Budapest sits on more than 100 thermal springs so tourists and locals alike have been “taking the waters” for hundreds of years. The idea of getting into a public bath may intimidate some travellers, but understand that you’re immersing yourself in Hungarian culture when you decide to take the plunge. Which bath you choose is a personal preference, but the three most popular are as follows.
Szechenyi Baths– If you’ve ever searched for images of Budapest baths, then the odds are that Szechenyi Baths is the first image you came across. Often referred to as the wedding cake, this neo-baroque thermal bath is located in the City Park and has three outdoor pools. Older Hungarians are known to play chess here in the water during the day, while the younger kids look forward to the pool parties.
Gellert Baths-Although all thermal baths are usually packed with visitors, you’ll find a more peaceful experience at Gellert Baths. This Art Nouveau building is famous for its stunning interior pools, stained glass, and tile work. If you don’t have time for a swim, stopping by the Hotel Gellért lobby – where the baths is located – is still worth a quick visit to admire its beauty.
Lukacs Baths– Many visitors from around the world come to Budapest just for the Luckas Baths since it’s believed the waters will cure any aliment. Similar to Szechenyi Baths, Lukacs Baths also plays host to Bath parties.
Ask the locals where the best café in Budapest are and you may be met with silence. They’re not being rude, but with so many great cafés in the city, pointing you to just one is doing you a disservice. Here are my 3 favorite cafés in the city.
Book Café– Make no mistake, Book Café, also known as Alexandra Café is a tourist attraction in it’s own right. The luxurious interiors would not be out of place in Buda Castle. Enjoy the soothing piano music as you enjoy your cake or look up and admire the stunning frescoes and chandeliers.
Ruszwurm– Open since 1827,
is still family-owned and always busy since it’s located at Castle Hill. The 1800’s decor may throw some people off, but it’s perfect for Ruszwurm which survived sieges in 1849 and 1944. The cake and pastry recipes are still a tightly guarded secret.
Cake Shop– It may not have centuries of history, but Cake shop more than makes up for it with their delicious selection of pastries. Located near Deák Ferenc square and Chain Bridge, it’s the perfect place to pick up a treat to start your day, or to save for the afternoon.
Fun things to do in Budapest can be found regardless of which side of the Daube. Once you arrive you’ll ask yourself what took you so long and you definitely won’t leave disappointed.
Hope to see you soon!