Budapest is a striking city. Sat along Europe’s second longest river, it’s home to beautiful architecture, thermal baths and delicious dishes like goulash – all in all, the perfect place to head for a short break.
The Hungarian capital is rich in history, but it’s also cemented itself as an incredibly cool destination with its mix of eclectic restaurants, glam shopping districts and buzzing nightlife.
1. Fisherman’s Bastion
Fisherman’s Bastion is one of the most popular tourist attractions, famed for its incredible views across the city. The Neo-Gothic terrace is named after the medieval guild of fishermen who protected Budapest from invasion. It’s situated on the Buda side of the Danube, on Castle Hill, and Haldeman describes it as “the most beautiful part of Budapest – especially to watch the sunset”.
The bastion is open 24/7 and is free to visit, so you can watch the sunrise, sunset or simply admire the twinkling lights of the bustling city below at night.
Address: Budapest, Szentháromság tér, 1014 Hungary.
2. Széchenyi Thermal Bath
There are plenty of thermal spas to choose from in Budapest however Széchenyi is one of the most popular. “It also boasts beautiful, grandiose architecture to enjoy whilst soaking.
Address: Budapest, Állatkerti krt. 9-11, 1146 Hungary
We recommend to book this as part of your package. You can book here
3. Széchenyi Chain Bridge
Guarded by lions, Széchenyi Lánchíd (translated as ‘the Chain Bridge’) is the city’s first bridge that offered a connection from the Buda and Pest sides of the city.
The bridge looks particularly beautiful at night when it’s lit up and another major perk is that it’s free to visit (and travel across).
Address: Budapest, Széchenyi Lánchíd, 1051 Hungary
4. Hungarian Parliament
Arguably the most iconic building in Budapest and located directly on the Danube (on the Pest side of the city), this is the third largest Parliament building in the world and definitely a sight you can’t miss.
Address: Budapest, Kossuth Lajos tér 1-3, 1055 Hungary
If you want to see the inside, you can book a tour here.
5. Szimpla Kert Ruin Bar
Dive deep in Budapest’s unique nightlife, go to Kazinczy Street! It is not an accident that it’s also called the Street of Culture, Kazinczy street offers the most excellent variety of touristic highlights, the most famous ruin bar, fine dining, and the highest quality Kosher restaurants, the most colorful street food in Budapest. Under 14. Kazinczy street you can find the pioneer of all; the first ruin bar: Szimpla Kert. Here you will find an incomparable atmosphere, excellent food and drinks, cultural events like movie projections, live music concerts every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, a free jam session on Sundays, farmers’ market on Sunday mornings and many more. Szimpla Kert welcomes you all day with breakfast, lunch and dinner offers, beautiful garden, interesting objects, and people. It’s always full of life, especially in the evening, it turns into an international meeting point.
6. Jewish Quarter & Mazel Tov
Set in the Jewish Quarter, you’ll find Mazel Tov, a light, airy café with a garden, serving bar snacks, sandwiches, beers and hot drinks. This lush, garden-like atmosphere is the perfect setting to enjoy a meal – the hummus plate with shwarma and falafels is not to be missed
7. Café Kör
Step inside Café Kör, and the atmosphere will immediately transport you back to a pre-war, middle-class dining room in Budapest. The inside of this homey downtown restaurant features bentwood Thonet chairs, a carpeted floor, and densely packed tables. In a city that increasingly prizes international cuisine above its own, Café Kör is a Budapest essential, serving classic Hungarian dishes without twists or updates.
8. Danube River Cruise
If you only have a short period of time to see the sights of Budapest, a river cruise might just provide the perfect way to check out the city and its architecture, while finding out about its history. After taking in the sights during the day, hop on a sunset or evening cruise along the Danube (with a cocktail served on board!) for a fresh perspective as the lights begin to twinkle on and the city takes on a completely different form.
9. New York Café
This opulent café occupies the ground floor of the New York Palace, a grand building from 1894 and once the local HQ of the New York Life Insurance Company (and today home to five-star Boscolo Budapest Hotel). The café's fame harkens back to the pre-war days, when renowned journalists, artists, and entertainers spent raucous nights here fueled by cigarettes and alcohol. Countless stories of their debauchery have become part of Budapest’s collective memory.
10. Buda Castle and Matthias Church
For Hungarians, life on the Castle Hill began in the 13th century, after the Tatars and Mongols decimated the flat Pest side, and the survivors recognized the strategic benefits of the hilltop on the other side of the Danube River. The Castle Hill today bears marks of countless battles that took place here over the centuries. The most recent was a month-long, bloody siege between the Soviet/Romanian and German/Hungarian armies during WWII, which left the area badly destoryed—that's why there are so many modern buildings interspersed between the medieval and Baroque houses.