More than a political capital, “The jewel on the Danube” – Budapest never fails to impress visitors. Budapest has something for everyone from iconic landmarks and rich history to legendary nightlife and signature thermal baths. This blog post will showcase my shortlist for Top 10 best things to do in Budapest Hungary.
1. Take a selfie with Orszaghaz
The first thing which every tourist does is definitely taking a selfie with Budapest’s most iconic landmark, The Hungarian Parliament Building (Orszaghaz). This disney look-alike building literally appears on every check-in photo of Budapest.
There are certain spots to take a photo with this iconic building but perhaps the most Instagrammable ones appear from the Fisherman’s Bastion and the surrounding area. Keep in mind that there are many people who want to take and you will have to “compete” for places to take a photo.
2. Visit Buda Castle
Buda Castle, or (Budavári Palota in Hungarian), is a historic castle and palace complex in Budapest which was once the residence of Hungarian monarch. The structure standing today is the result of a bunch of restorations and alterations which was taken place after WWII.
Apart from a heritage site, this complex offers panoramic views over the beautiful Danube and the architecture of the Pest on the other side.
3. Walk across Széchenyi Lánchíd
Among all bridges crossing the majestic Danube, Széchenyi Lánchíd (or Chain Bridge) is the most fascinating one. This suspension bridge connects the two main districts of the city (Buda and Pest) and offers spectacular views of the banks of the Danube.
Not only for timeless beauty, this bridge also comes with an widespread urban legend. It is said that the pairs of the stone lion sculptures sitting at each side of the bridge do not have tongues. The sculptor who was once proud of his flawless “lions”, felt ashamed and threw himself in the Danube after finding out the truth.
Make sure to walk across this iconic bridge and take a glance into the lion’s mouth to see whether they are tongueless or not.
4. Climb up St Stephen Basilica’s dome
While Buda Castle offers breathtaking panoramic views of Pest’s side, so what’s about a view overlooking Buda’s side? Definitely the St Stephen Basilica’s dome.
Believe me the view is “breathtaking”. Before reaching what you want to see, you will have to pass through 364 steps from the spiral staircase. So you may feel dizzy or exhausted along the way.
However, everything will soon disappear until you reach the top. And don’t forget to bring along your student card to get a discount.
5. Eat Goulash
As a capital city of Hungary, Budapest is where you can find the most signature dishes of the country. And the first food that comes to my mind is Goulash.
Goulash is a soup or stew of tender beef and onions slowly cooked in a rich broth. What makes goulash special is the use of Hungarian’s signature spice – paprika (paprika is a spice made from dried and ground red peppers). It gives the broth intense warm and distinctive tasty flavor. You can find the restaurant where I ate Goulash below
6. Ride Tram line 2
There are over 40 tram lines operating throughout the historic centre of Budapest, which connects the main tourist attractions. Taking the vintage yellow tram is like stepping back in time.
Among all tram lines, Tram line 2 offers the most scenic ride along Pest’s riverbank. From Közvágóhíd to Jászai Mari Square, the majestic Danube, Buda Hills and Szechenyi lanchid appear along the way.
7. Shopping at Nagy Vasarcsarnok
Taking a selfie with Orszaghaz, visiting Buda Castle and riding the nostalgic Tram no.2, so what’s next? How about shopping at Nagy Vasarcsarnok (Central Market Hall).
Nagy Vasarcarnok is definitely a must on every tourist itinerary. The three storey building is home to a wide range of stalls from daily grocery, fresh food, souvenir to local restaurants.
If you don’t know what to buy for souvenirs, a mini bottle of paprika or pálinka would be my recommendation.
8. Chase sunset at Gellért Hill
There are no better places than Gellért Hill to watch the sun go down and spread its different hues over Budapest’s skyline.
It is such a popular spot that everyone comes here during the golden hour. And you will expect couple, couple and couple. And in such romantic vibes, you may feel that why you are here and seeing people kissing each other.
Keep in mind that you will need to walk through a hilly road that winds their way up to the peak.
9. Wait until city lights turn on
Budapest becomes even more magnificent when the sun goes down and iconic landmarks are beautifully lit up (Chain Bridge, Buda Castle, Orszaghaz).
There are plenty of things to indulge yourself into this dazzling beauty of Budapest namely taking the river cruise, riding the Budapest Eyes, visiting Heroes’ Square… But nothing is better than a night stroll along the Danube promenade.
10. Drink the night away
The last thing to end your day in Budapest is “drink the night away”. When it comes to drinking, the Hungarian certainly does not disappoint.
My friend kept reminding me that Hungary ranked the second most heavy-drinking nation in the world (I know he was joking at that moment since Hungary actually ranked 8th). And we had such a crazy time and I even got “drunk as a skunk” because of Pálinka.
In every event, Pálinka, the traditional drink which distillates from plums and pears of the Hungarian, is literally a must-have drink at every event. At first, I thought this was not strong enough to make me tipsy. However it turns out to be wrong.
Summary: Top 10 best things to do in Budapest – Hungary
Budapest travel tips
– In case you don’t know what to do, Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tours will be a good option. Find information about tours in this link.
– Trams and subways are more friendly for tourists in getting around Budapest.
– Book hotel and activities in advanced to avoid disappointment. Staying in Pest side (district V, VI, VII) which is just steps away from certain tourist attractions and activities.
These are my recommendations for “Top 10 things to do in Budapest – Hungary”. If you need any further information about traveling in Budapest or Hungary, kindly see other posts:
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