Updated: May 24
I fell in LOVE with the city of Budapest! It's filled with unique culture, beautiful architecture and a stunning river running through the city. The city is very easy to navigate and most all of the must-see attractions are in walking distance of each other!
A little history on Budapest...
Buda and Pest were originally two distinct cities split by the river Danube. Buda was the home of royalty, castles, and fortresses. Pest was a commercial hub with hotels, hip bars, and more.The two cities merged together in 1873 (along with the old town of Obuda) to create the Budapest we know know.
Know Before You Go to Budapest, Hungary:
The currency in Hungary is "Forint" (HUF). Check the exchange rate here. Some places will accept Euro but it is typically a poor conversion that will cost you more.
Tipping 10% is expected in Hungary.
Budapest is a fairly safe city to explore day and night.
Getting to Budapest, Hungary:
You can access Budapest by plane, train, bus or car!
Flying into Budapest:
Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport (BUD) is the main airport in Hungary and is located 16 km to the southeast of Budapest. It will take about 30 minutes to get into the heart of the city and cost about 26 euros in a taxi!
Driving into Budapest:
Budapest is in the center of Hungary. There are many great countries surrounding Hungary with great options to explore. The driving distance from other nearby cities are listed below:
Bratislava, Slovakia: 2 Hours and 15 Minutes (214km)
Vienna, Austria: 2 Hours and 30 Minutes (243km)
Prague, Czechia: 5 Hours and 45 Minutes (543km)
Riding a Train into Budapest:
There are 3 main international railway stations in Budapest: Eastern (Keleti), Western (Nyugati) and Southern (Déli). More than 50 trains a day provide direct links between Budapest and 25 other European capital cities.
Where to Stay in Budapest, Hungary:
Budapest Marriott Hotel: This hotel is located on the Danube River and has a rooftop Concierge Lounge with stunning views of the Buda Castle. It's in walking distance of almost all the iconic Budapest Sights. The hotel was recently renovated and the rooms are stunning! Make sure to ask for a room with a view of the River!
Aria Hotel Budapest: This luxury boutique hotel has everything you could want and more - complimentary breakfast each morning, complimentary wine and cheese at night, and a spa with a jacuzzi! The rooms are incredibly stylish and just as comfortable as they look!
What to Do in Budapest, Hungary:
1. Visit the Hungarian Parliament Building
Talk about an architectural masterpiece! This building will stand out to you the moment you are in Budapest. Located right on the Danube River, this stunning building is home to the current Hungarian Parliament. You can buy tickets here to see inside and take a 45 minute tour of the Grand Staircase, Lobby, Coronation Jewels and more! Be aware that when parliament is in session, they do close tours to the public. I advise buying your ticket in advance to avoid the lines and guarantee your spot!
2. Shoes on the Danube River
Just outside of the Parliament, you will find a memorial for the innocent Jewish victims who were lined up along the river and shot dead during WWII. This somber memorial gives you a glimpse of the tragedies that happened years ago. It's estimated that 3,500 people died here on the river. It's heartbreaking to see kids shoes.
3. Walk across the iconic Chain Bridge
Many bridges cross over the Danube river connecting Buda and Pest, but the Chain Bridge is by far the most iconic. This bridge sparkles at night with lights and illumination over the river. Built in 1849, it symbolizes connecting West & East together. You can walk over the bridge from the Parliament (Pest) to get to Buda Castle (Buda).
4. Visit the Buda Castle (Royal Palace)
Located on Castle Hill on the Buda side of the river is a stunning palace spanning acres. It was destroyed in WWII and rebuilt in 1950s. You'll be in awe of the gorgeous Royal Palace of Budapest. You can walk the castle grounds on your own and admire the architecture and history. For an inside look, the museum and national gallery are open Tuesday-Sunday.
Wanderlust With Lisa Tip: To get to the top of the Buda Castle, ride the Buda Castle Hill Funicular. It's the second oldest Funicular in the world!
5. Faust Wine Cellars
Explore the underground 13th century wine cellar located beneath the Buda Castle! Here you'll learn the great history of Hungarian Wine and sample a few too! Be sure to book your spot early in advance because the cellar is small (keep in mind it is closed on Tues/Wed).
6. Fisherman's Bastion
This landmark was built in the early 20th century for the purpose of having a panoramic view of the Danube River and Pest. It is named after "Guild of Fisherman" which was responsible for depending the city walls during the Middle Ages. It is truly stunning explore and gives you the best views of the river.
Wanderlust With Lisa Tip: People love to experience sunset here; but for a less crowded experience, wake up early and come for sunrise!
7. Relax in a Thermal Bath
There is no better way to relax in Budapest than to enjoy a day at a thermal bath. There are plenty of differe
nt options within the city to do this! The two mot popular are listed below:
Gellert Baths - One of the grandest spas in the city is the Gellert Bath and Spa centre, which includes an open-air pool (which turns into a wave pool), an effervescent swimming pool, a Finnish sauna, and a range of other saunas and plunge pools
Szechenyi Spa - This huge spa is the largest in all of Europe. It includes 15 indoor pools, 3 outdoor pools, and over 10 saunas! It is open every day from 9AM to 10PM and your ticket gives you access for as long as you'd like throughout the day.
8. Saint Stephen's Basicila
This basicila is truly amazing on the outside and inside. It is one of the most important religious buildings in Budapest.
You can travel to the base of the dome and look out over the city which offers an amazing aerial view of Budapest!
For a unique experience, book a classical music concert or an organ concert.
Note: If you plan to go inside, you must have your knees and shoulders covered.
9. Margaret Island
Margaret Island is in the middle of the Danube River and is only 2.5km long! It is covered in recreational facilities that include a running track, parks, a musical fountain, and a small zoo!
If you're visiting in the summer, this is a must do activity with tons of pop up bars, restaurants, and live music!
10. Dine in the Central Market Hall
This Market has tons of Hungarian food vendors and knickknacks. It's a great rainy day activity as its indoors and has so many things to explore. The first floor is filled with butchers and fresh produce. The second floor has souvenirs and food! This Market is open Monday-Saturday (closed Sunday).
11. Cruise the Danube River
This is a must while in Budapest! Try to schedule your boat tour during sunset or dusk - it's magical! I recommend the Portum Lines Boat Tour - it's only $10 and comes with welcome drink. It's about an hour long cruise down the river. This particular boat has indoor and outdoor seating. Be sure to pack your camera for this one!
Where to Eat in Budapest, Hungary:
Bestia - This beer garden is in the heart of Budapest with views of St. Stephen's Basilica.
Marvelosa - located near Buda Castle, this restaurant is perfect for traditional Hungarian lunch or dinner
ICON Restaurant - located on Buda side of the river, with stunning views of Parliament. Make sure you make reservations for this one!
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