Budapest is one of the most glorious and architecturally rich cities in the world. Still undergoing physical and emotional reconstruction from the turmoil of the two World Wars, Hungary’s capital is full of cultural and historical significance that is visible in many of their buildings, city squares and museums.
There is so much to see and do in Budapest and if you don’t plan your day right, you can lose prime sightseeing hours..which you definitely don’t want to do here. Based off their location, we have set up five self-guided walking tours that can help you cover an entire district and all of its historical and architectural counterparts in one day.
DAY 1 : DOWNTOWN AND THE WATERFRONT
Budapest’s UNESCO World Heritage listed waterfront is recognized for its history and beauty. Seeing the buildings along the Danube lit up at night is unforgettable. Tired of walking for the day? Try Budapest’s Danube River Cruises to enjoy a special view of Budapest from the water. Discover the promenades, parks and avenues of Budapest on this guided tour of downtown and the famous Budapest waterfront.
Hungarian Parliament Building
The Hungarian Parliament Building is a magnificent building that can be seen from multiple viewpoints of the city. It sits on the banks of the Danube and is currently the largest building in Hungary. Inside you can view the Holy Crown of Hungary with the sword and scepter.
St Stephen's Basilica
The beautiful Roman Catholic St. Stephen’s Basilica is named in honor of Stephen, the first King of Hungary and is the largest church building in present-day Hungary. It is an iconic landmark that’s a must-see for any visitor to Budapest. Magnificent architecture and stunning décor stands up to most any European cathedral.
Széchenyi Chain Bridge
This suspension bridge spans the River Danube between Buda and pest, the western and eastern sides of Budapest. It’s more commonly known as the “Chain Bridge”, and has a walking path running both sides of the bridge for pedestrians. It is worth walking the bridge during sunset or in the evening when it is all lit up. We’ve done it ourselves a few times!
This public square in Budapest contains a statue of the poet, Mihaly Vorosmarty. Behind the monument is a fenced park and a fountain flanked by stone lions.
Budapest Inner City Mother Church of the Blessed Virgin
Budapest’s Inner City parish Church is from the Romanesque period and was actually used as a mosque during Turkish times. They have a brilliant exhibition of Roman ruins in the basement and is one of the most ancient churches in the city.
Petofi Museum of Literature
This center for important Hungarian literature works is filled with exhibits of art, relics and audiovisual archives.
This small garden in the city center is nice and quiet and a perfect place to rest. You can spend hours sitting there and reading in the wonderful garden.
Hungarian National Museum
The Hungarian National Museum was founded in 1802 and is the national museum for its history, art and archaeology of Hungary.
Liberty Bridge is the third southernmost public road bridge in Budapest located at the southern end of the City Centre. The bridge was originally built as part of the Millennium World Exhibition at the end of the 19th century. The bridge was the first in the city to be rebuilt after suffering heavy damage of World War II.
DAY II: BUDA CASTLE DISTRICT
Buda’s Castle District is situated high on the hills of Budapest that give you views of the whole city!
The Castle district is famous for medieval, Baroque and Neoclassical houses, churches and public buildings.
The hill is linked to Clark Ádam Square and the Széchenyi Chain Bridge by the Castle Hill Funicular.
The hill is worth re-visiting in the evening for the best views of the city during sunset.
Tip: There will be many people trying to sell you tickets and tours around the castle district with golf cart shuttles up the hill as well as $5 tickets to ride the funicular up. The walk up itself, however, is incredibly easy and took us a total of five minutes.
Buda Castle is the historical castle and palace complex of the Hungarian Kings in Budapest. The castle now houses the Hungarian National Gallery and The Budapest History Museum. Buda Castle sits on the south tip of the Castle Hill and is part of the Budapest World Heritage Site. It is a massive palace with beautifully landscaped gardens and an iconic statue. Various viewpoints provide lots of photo opportunities of this amazing city, the Danube and the Chain Bridge.
Budapest History Museum
The Budapest History Museum offers exhibitions on life in Budapest from Roman times to the present day. The museum features the remains of the castle which once stood there but was destroyed in the war along with many other historical relics and paintings.
Hungarian National Gallery
The Hungarian National Gallery is the national art museum of Hungary and covers art from all genres, including the works from many nineteenth and twentieth century Hungarian artists. The museum is excellently curated with exhibits both in Hungarian and English.
This Roman Catholic church is right in front of the Fisherman’s Bastion at the heart of Buda’s Castle District. It is the second largest church of medieval Buda and the seventh largest church of the medieval Hungarian Kingdom. The view from the courtyard is breathtaking and overlooks the city and Danube river. The inside of the church is beautiful and has a rich history from its extensive renovation which adds to its splendor.
Fisherman’s Bastion is a terrace in neo-Gothic and neo-Roman style situated on the Buda bank of the Danube. This place can get a bit crowded but for good reason-the view is incredible which compliments its beautiful architecture.
Medieval Jewish Prayer House
This small museum in a restored 14th century synagogue displays traces of local Jewish history.
Military History Institute and Museum
This museum displayed on national military history from the Magyar conquest to the 20th century. If you’re lucky, you can see the them changing the guard at the castle and perform a ceremonial march outside.
DAY III: CITY PARK AND GRAND BOULEVARD
This is one of the most central and busiest parts of Budapest. Grand Boulevard forms a semicircle connecting two bridges of the Danube and is full of amazing restaurants and shops.
Built in 1896 as part of the Millennial Exhibition, the castle was designed to feature copies of several landmark buildings from different parts the Kingdom of Hungary. The statue of the chronicler Anonymus is also displayed in the castle court along with the statue of Bela Lugosi who was a Hungarian-American actor famous for portraying Count Dracula. This castle is so beautiful and sits right on the water.
Museum of Fine Arts
The museum in Heroes’ Square has a collection of international art, including all periods of European art compromising of more than 100,000 pieces.
One of the main squares in Budapest noted for its iconic statue complex featuring the Seven chieftains of the Magyars and other important Hungarian national leaders, as well as the Memorial Stone of Heroes lies at the end of Andrássy avenue next to City Park. Into the park you can also find the Széchenyi bath house and some amazing restaurants!
House of Terror
This is one of the coolest and most terrifying of museums. Containing exhibits related to the fascist and communist regimes, the House of Terror is also a memorial to the victims of these regimes including those detained, interrogated, tortured or killed in the building. When walking through the rooms, you can feel the burden of history on this country.
Liszt Ferenc Tér
This quaint square was named after the world famous Hungarian composer. It features a park in the middle perfect for a quick break in between sites.
Mai Mano House
This is the Hungarian House of Photography. It is a beautiful building with fascinating experimental photography.
New Theatre is a historic performing-arts venue in an ornate setting with art deco accents.
Hungarian State Opera
This neo-Renaissance opera house located in central Budapest is a major figure of the 19th century Hungarian architecture. Today, it is the second largest opera house in Hungary.
DAY IV: JEWISH BUDAPEST
The Jewish community has undergone a lot of tragedy in this beautiful city. The Jewish minority was prominent in areas of trade, science, art and business and as Hungary suffered great territorial losses in after World War I, anti-jewish policies were fast-tracked and fascist groups like the Arrow Cross party started to grow. (You’ll find out more about them in the House of Terror). During WWII, one in every three people liberated from concentration camps were Hungarian Jews.
The Jewish Quarter in Budapest is located in the City Center, and much of this compact neighborhood is rapidly changing, but there are still some wonderful sites to see that hint to their once prosperous life.
Holocaust Memorial Center
The Holocaust Memorial Center is a renovated synagogue that dates back to the 1920s and serves as a memorial and museum for Hungarian Jews that were murdered in the Holocaust. It is the first Holocaust Memorial Center in Central Europe founded by the state. It also shares the history of the Jewish religion containing old relics found during the time of the foundation of the religion.
Dohány Street Synagogue
This beautiful grand synagogue is the largest synagogue in Europe. The synagogue has décor taken from Islamic models found in North Africa and medieval Spain which you can gather once taking in the grand gold architecture. Dohány street itself, carries strong Holocaust connotations as it constituted the border of the Budapest ghetto.
Rumbach Street Synagogue
This synagogue is located in the inner city of the historical town of Budapest. It was built back in 1872 and served the more conservative members of the Neológ community.
Sasz-Chevra Orthadox Grand Synagogue
Orthodox Jewish synagogue built in Renaissance Revival style in 1912 with elegant stained glass. This synagogue is adorned with vibrant color and as not as touristy as Dohány Synagogue.
This large square in the former Jewish quarter is full of nice shops and fresh produce
House of Terror
DAY V: ART NOUVEAU IN BUDAPEST
There is a shared set of elements that is easy to recognize and fall in love with from the art nouveau style in Budapest. Hungarian Art Nouveau architecture is of undeniable significance. There are many marvelous buildings where you can notice Art Nouveau making a significant marking in the city.
Hungarian Institute of Geology and Geophysics
This stately museum showcases Hungary’s geology including minerals and prehistoric footprints. Head to the roof for a great view of the city.
House of Hungarian Art Nouveau
This 1903 art nouveay home has turned into a museum displaying furniture & objects in the style. Their café is a great place for a nice coffee and cake.
Gellért Thermal Bath
Part of the famous Hotel Gellért in Buda, the Gellért Thermal Baths and Swimming Pool is a bath complex in Budapest. The building itself is beautiful and features multiple hot pools at different temperatures, various steam rooms, different saunas and an outdoor wave pool.
There are many other significant sites around Budapest worth visiting on your own time. If you have the time, be sure to see these awesome places for a true Hungarian experience.
Széchenyi Thermal Baths
Central Market Hall
Shoes on the Danube Bank