A Budapest City Guide
Budapest, the “Paris of Eastern Europe”, is the capital of Hungary and one of Europe’s oldest cities!
The iconic 19th century Chain Bridge connects the Buda and Pest sides of the city. Buda is the hilly side of the city, and Pest is the flat area on the other side of the Danube River.
We were enamored by the magnificent architecture ranging from Renaissance to Art Nouveau, the city’s rich history, friendly people, and the traditional Hungarian food.
Here’s our shortlist of what to do, where to stay and dine while in Budapest– our Global Adventuress Budapest city guide!
The Hungarian Parliament Building
This is the largest building in Hungary and one of the most beautiful in Europe. Don’t Miss! Book a reservation for a guided tour of the interior of the Parliament Building.
St. Stephen’s Basilica
This is named after Hungary’s patron Saint Stephen. This is city’s largest and most important church that dominates the downtown square.
Shopping: Vaci Street
This is a must in our Budapest city guide. The is a long pedestrian shopping street where you can shop for souvenirs, and try out some local street foods.
Go to Andrássy Street where you find high-end stores like Il Bacio di Stile.
Central Market: Late 1800s market at the end of the Liberty (Szabadsag) bridge. Called Central Market Hall (Nagy Vasarcsarnok), and known to be the largest indoor market in Hungary.
These baths are considered to be one of Budapest’s most famous thermal bath houses with 3 outdoor swimming pools and 12 thermal baths with water temperatures range from 20°C (68°F) to 38°C (100°F). Located in City Woodland Park, is where you find this lavish yellow building that houses the baths, with mosaic interiors. Don’t Miss! Get a floating chessboard and challenge your swim mates to a game.
The square is located near the City Park at the end of Andrassy Street and has statues of Hungarian Kings and Heroes.
This castle is in City Park, and was built in 1896 to celebrate 1,000 years since the 895 AD Hungarian Conquest of the Carpathian Basin.
Since the fall of the Iron Curtain, the city’s culture scene is booming. Don’t Miss! Visiting the Budapest Opera House and hearing a world class performance.
House of Terror Museum
This museum is located where the headquarters of the fascist Arrow Cross Party during WW II and the Hungarian Communist Secret Police where citizens were brought in for interrogation, never to be seen again.
The personal stories and accounts shared through photos, videos are moving and give visitors insight to Hungary’s darkest days.
National Gallery houses Hungary’s artistic masterpieces from the 10th century to the present.
Dohany Street Synagogue is one of the largest synagogue’s in Europe. Be sure to visit the Jewish Quarter and hire a guide from Context Travel to learn about the history of the Jewish community in Budapest.
Communist Statue Park where you can find sculptures and plaques at Memento Park from Hungary’s Communist Period.
This is the 15th century Royal Palace on Castle Hill. Good to note: A funicular runs up Castle Hill to the Old Town of Buda.
Where you find panoramic views from Fishermen’s Bastion of the Danube River and the Pest side of the city! The Trinity Square is also where you can find the 7 white fishermen’s towers, and the 13th-century Matthias Church.
One of the Best Views in Budapest is from Gellert Mountain (especially at night)
This is another popular bath house located on the Buda side of the city.
This monument stands almost 40 feet high in front of the Hapsburg Fortress of the Citadella on Gellert Hill. Lady Liberty stands high above Castle Hill, and you can see this monument from almost everywhere in the city.
Extra Special: If you have a couple hours, rent a Venetian-inspired water taxi from Dunarama and go up and down the Danube, while listening to classical music.
Day trips and More Sites to See
Szentendre (super charming cobble stone village right on the Danube north of Budapest)
Esztergom (huge Basilica, crown jewels)
Szekesfehervar (Hungary’s capital hundreds of years ago)
Awesome Sites a bit far away (3+hrs)…
Hortobagy (famous horse shows)
is a unique Art Nouveau landmark, and offers some of the best views of the Danube and hills of the Buda side of the city. We stayed here for a couple nights before leaving on our Viking River Cruise, Grand European Tour from Budapest to Amsterdam.
Photos c/o Fours Seasons Budapest
Our rooms were elegant and comfortable, and the service impeccable. The hotel is centrally located at the end of the famous Chain Bridge. Four Seasons has authentically restored this building to its original splendor, with the vision of designer Miklós Szentkirályi.
Highlights…the mosaic tile floor, the grand, sweeping staircase, stained-glass, and wrought iron elevator!
For one of the best city guides in Budapest, click here to see recommendations from the Four Seasons Hotel.
The KOLLÁZS Brasserie & Bar is a contemporary European brasserie that looks out to the Chain Bridge and the Danube River. The Hungarian word for “collage,” KOLLÁZS highlights creative dishes that are modern and affordable.
Photo c/o Four Seasons Budapest
Nagyi Palacsintazoja – Classic hungarian crepes (sweet + savory), go for breakfast or dessert. Near the river with great views
One of the best dining experiences not only in Hungary, but in Eastern Europe. Book a reservation at this formal restaurant near Heroes Square (gourmet Hungarian dishes, live orchestra & folk dancing).
Trofea Grill – Fixed-price buffet with local & global dishes. They have several locations, including Buda.
Café Gerbeaud is a must visit since this is one of Hungary’s most popular and oldest coffeehouses.
Café Pierrot for al fresco dining
Spinoza Café & Restaurant – heard they make the best goulash in Budapest. Be sure to add some of the Hungarian hot chilli paste, Eros Pista! Located in the Jewish quarter.
Pest-Buda is known for its traditional Hungarian cuisine and is one of the oldest restaurants in Hungary. Located on the Buda side.
Első Pesti Rétesház Kávéház is famous for its strudel and some say this is where strudel was invented!
Be sure to taste some local specialties!
Gulyás (authentic stew)
Pörkölt (a thicker stew – my favorite)
Chicken paprikas (paprika based tender chicken – amazing)
Toltolt kaposzta (stuffed cabbage)
Dobos Torta (layered cake – very famous)
Kortos Kalacs (chimney cake – spiral dough over an open fire. Oldest hungarian pastry)
Langos (fried dough – often served with cheese, garlic, and sour cream)
Context Travel: We booked a private tour with Context Travel and our guide Kata was very knowledgeable about the local sites. After our 2 hour walk, we felt oriented to the city and had a better understanding of its history and people.
Limousine Budapest: We were very pleased with Limousine Budapest to help us with our airport transfers and getting around town.
Limousine Budapest offers a variety of vehicles to accommodate client needs, and our professional driver was punctual, and knowledgeable about the local area.
We highly recommend Limousine Budapest for transfers and chauffeured services in Budapest. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Blacklane: We decided to hire a chauffeur to drive us from Prague to Budapest since it was about a 4-5 hours drive, rather than fly from Prague to Budapest. Blacklane offers chauffeur services throughout Europe.
It was a comfortable way to get from one destination to another while we were traveling through Eastern Europe. Also, we got to see the local countryside and scenic landscapes, in a relaxed way, while our professional driver got us safely to Budapest.
Global Adventuress would like to thank the Four Seasons Gresham Palace Budapest for partially hosting our stay, Blacklane and Limousine Budapest for hosting our transfers. Also, we want to thank KOLLÁZS and Gundel hosting excellent dinners. Big thanks Context Travel for the fantastic private guided tour of Budapest with our local guide who introduced us to Budapest, and shared the history and helpful insights to this city.
Finally, we want to thank Viking River Cruises for hosting our Grand European Tour that started in Budapest. We brought our parents with us and they absolutely loved this cruise. What an incredible city to embark on a river cruise!