Budapest travel guide

Immerse yourself in the city of revitalization

First was Buda, the region that served as Hungary’s first capital, located on the left bank of the Danube River.

It encourages you to take a quick stroll through the outdoors on a lush hill where elaborate monuments from early Hungarian history are strewn around and concealed by a lovely forest.

Discover the city’s past while getting lost in nature.

Then was Pest, the “heart” of the city, located on the right bank of the Danube.

It is a tiny, lovely town with thermal spas, several massage parlours, adorable eateries where you can sample the regional cuisine, and the most genuine nightlife establishments.

Enjoy the Hungarian culture by following the cobblestone walks.

Now is Budapest. The largest spa town with thermal springs was also the last sanctuary for Jews fleeing persecution and the source of many inventions.

The capital of Hungary stands proudly despite the conquests and bombings it suffered, and now, spotless, safe and perfectly organized, it is emerging as an ideal destination for the weekend.

Morning walks to magnificent monuments of modern history and relaxation in the thermal baths, evening cruise on the illuminated Danube. Whatever you’re looking for, Budapest has it.

Table of Contents

Budapest travel guide

Info about Budapest

Language : Hungarian.

Szia = hello Köszönöm =thank you 

Population : 1.778.000

Currency : Forint

Climate : Humid subtropical with frequent snowfall in winter.

National Day : 20 August. State foundation day.

Emergency number : 112 police and medical 

Chargers : European charger type F, same as in Greece or Spain.

Budapest is the capital of Hungary, located in central Hungary, in the centre of the Carpathian Basin and created in 1873 following the unification of three cities, Buda, Pest and Obuda.

The first inhabitants were the Celts, followed by the Romans, who built the first baths.

Then, the city was conquered by the Bulgarians and destroyed during the Mongol invasion.

After that, a prolonged period of Turkish occupation followed, and the Turkish built the thermal baths that operate until today.

In the 17th century, Budapest penetrated the Austrian Empire and, during the 19th century, started to develop significantly, according to the architectural example of Paris.

In the 20th century, Hungary became an independent State following a long period of social revolutions. In 1919 Budapest was conquered by Romania. During World War II, the city got destroyed by British and American bombing, and Germany imposed a fascist Hungarian party that contributed to the execution of Jews.

In February ’45, during the Russian invasion, the city was partially destroyed by the Russian bombardment and the German army. The Germans blew up all bridges while retreating to slow the Russian advance.

The rough years following Russian imposition led to social revolutions, prompting Russian tanks to open fire on protesters in front of the Parliament. This event brought about a national uprising, and the communist regime remained until 1989 when the Soviet occupation of Hungary ended.

Since then, following a social bloom and urban development.

When arriving in Budapest, you may want to convert money into the local currency, the forint, but it is not obligatory, as you can pay by card almost everywhere.

But, in case you want to convert currency, first do some research at the many exchanges in the centre by observing and comparing the prices they recommend.

In addition, many shops accept cash in euros, but the exchange rate will not be to your advantage.

Since, in Budapest, the water is drinkable, then we can fill your bottle freely from the tap.

In contrast, in the cafes, you often have to ask for the key or code of the toilet from the employees and in the (spotless) public ones, you have to have coins, forints or euros, to pay.

In Budapest restaurants, you will have to calculate an extra 10% compared to the listed prices of the list, as it will be charged additionally to your account as a tip for the waiter.

In Hungary, the sale of e-cigarettes is illegal, so there are no vaping products in local tobacco shops.

The legislation on alcohol consumption in public places in Hungary is somewhat complex.

In general terms, the consumption of alcohol in public places is not allowed, except in the area around Buda Castle and Margaret Island, where you can enjoy a bottle of wine undisturbed.

In some cases, the use of alcohol in a public place, especially in the most central parts of the city, or if accompanied by inappropriate behaviour, can result in a simple reprimand up to a fine of up to 135 euros.

Also, regarding alcohol in Budapest, the clinking of a glass of beer is not welcome because it has been associated in the memory of Hungarians as a gesture of celebration of the Austrians after the defeat of Hungary in 1849.

However, feel free to toast with any other drink until the morning since entertainment establishments in Budapest do not have specific opening hours and may be open until the next day.

Finally, Budapest has a very impressively low crime rate, so enjoy your stay in the city without fear, but it is better to be more careful, especially in the evenings in District VIII.

The Invisible Bridge – by Julie Orringer.

‘Budapest’ by Tamas Cseh.

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Best time is late spring and early autumn, when the temperature is better, and you can enjoy sunny walks and nature in its splendour. August 20 is the feast of St. Stephen, with festivities and free entrance to museums. It is also an ideal destination for Christmas if you can withstand the very cold, experience the magic of the decorated city, enjoy Christmas markets and skate on the frozen lake.

By plane to Budapest Airport (Ferenc Liszt) with code BUD AIRPORT. Otherwise, by train or coach from Bratislava (about 2.5 hours distance and 10 euros price).

The modern airport of Budapest offers all kinds of facilities to travellers, including comfy seats and a smoking terrace inside the departures area.

Arriving at Budapest Airport, in front of the exit of the arrivals, is the E100 express bus stop to the city centre. Departure every 15 minutes, for 5 euros and journey time almost half an hour. Next to the starting point of the bus, there is an automatic ticket issuing machine, with language selection and the use of bank cards or cash.

In Pest, near the Freedom Bridge and the Central Market. For an easy morning outing and peaceful sleep in the evenings.

How many days in Budapest?

Most points of interest in Budapest are situated in the city centre, within a very short walking distance from each other, so three days are enough to comfortably visit the city and spend some time in the baths or watch a performance of the opera.


If having more days available and want to see something more, you can take a day trip to the picturesque settlement of Szentendre, just 20 kilometres from the city centre, or to Lake Balaton, which is the largest lake in central Europe and located 150 kilometres from Budapest.


Furthermore, you can go on a day trip to Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, since it is only 200 km away and you can visit it by coach or train.

Special Events in Budapest

The most festive day in the city is August 20, the “Day of St. Stephen”, celebrating the name day of the patron, King Stephen, the first king of Hungary and one of the country’s founders.

As well expected, it is a bank holiday during which shops are closed, but all museums and tourist sites are open, even with free admission.

It is celebrated majestically with events in front of the castle building and other parts of the city.

During this day, the participants eat traditional bread and cakes, watch music and dance and, in the evening, gather on the banks of the Danube to watch a fireworks spectacle that takes the whole city to the next level.

Famous Personalities

 In Budapest were born many famous scientists, as important people in the arts, sports and show business.

Some of them were the famous magician of all time Harry Houdini, the inventor Erno Rubik, who made the well-known cube and Tommy Ramón, drummer and founder of the band The Ramones.

In addition, it is also the birthplace of businessman George Soros, Nobel Prize-winning author Imre Kertes, and award-winning director Michael Curtiz.

Budapest Itinerary

Let’s stroll around the city!

Gellert Hill

Our walk starts early in the morning from the bank of the Danube, crossing the ornate Freedom Bridge that leads us to Buda at the foot of Gellert Hill, and we start following the paths of the hill and enter the heart of the verdant forest.

Our companion is the singing of birds and the smell of trees, the best way to start our day.

Climbing the stone steps allows us to admire the Danube and Pest from above.

Continuing the ascent, we reach the top of the hill, the Citadella, where is the imperious Statue of Liberty.

Dedicated to those who fought for the freedom and prosperity of the country, its view dominates the evenings in illuminated Budapest.

We begin to descend and pass through the waterfall of the hill, then reach a clearing where statues of some of the world’s more important spiritual leaders, like Gandhi, Jesus and Lao Jae, meet.

It is the “Garden of Philosophers” and, according to its inscription, aims at better mutual understanding.


Just before we reach the banks of the Danube, we arrive at the Castle District, where we find the impressive Matthias Church, the Buda Castle and the fairytale Fisherman’s Bastion. Ornated turrets and stone fortress designed to protect the castle were protected against the Middle Ages by the fishermen’s guild. It is one of the most beautiful spots in the city and a World Heritage Site, belonging to the UNESCO list.

We enjoy the fascinating architecture and views with a traditional meal, coffee or dessert from the local outdoor stalls.

Before leaving Buda, we take a short stop for a rest at the modern Szellkapu Park, with a small lake and comfortable sunbeds, everything we need to regain strength to continue to our next destination.

Castle district

Margarite island

Buda and Pest are distinct by the Danube and joined by seven bridges of different architecture, depending on the year they were built. We head to the Margarita Bridge, where, in the middle of the bridge, we find the entrance to the homonymous island of the Danube.

Margarita’s island is 2.5 km long and is a beautiful expanse of greenery, trees and flowers, with sports facilities, specific flooring for jogging, and hot bath facilities.

It is an ideal location for physical stimulation or mental relaxation, in the gorgeous Japanese Garden – retreat and in the relaxing musical fountain where the water jets synchronize their movement with the sounds of classical music.

Plus, here we find some ruins of churches and monasteries of the Middle Ages and a small zoo perfectly harmonized with the natural environment.

Then, we choose a bench to enjoy the calm Danube among families having picnics and groups of local youth having fun playing music and enjoying life in this city.

After a while, we cross the bridge and reach Pest.

On the banks of the river lies before us the dazzling Hungarian Parliament.

It is the city’s landmark building, Hungary’s largest building, Budapest’s tallest and the world’s third-largest parliament building.

Its neo-Gothic architecture causes awe that leaves no one indifferent in its wake, let alone the illuminated night when it stars in the spectacular Danube.

A few steps away, however, the monument “Shoes on the Danube” brings back to mind the unpleasant history of the city.

Budapest, as Europe’s last refuge during the Jewish genocide, houses the largest synagogue and many World War II monuments, such as the almost frightening sculpture “For the Victims of the German Occupation” located in Freedom Square.

It depicts the Archangel Gabriel holding the Spherical Cross, a national symbol of Hungary, which comes to be grabbed with his claws by the Eagle, a symbol of Germany.



Budapest travel guide

We continue the walk towards Andrásy Avenue, part of the UNESCO monuments, with the beautiful neo-Gothic buildings and the boutiques of the most famous fashion houses.

Among them stands out the pompous building of the State Opera, where famous music and ballet performances represent.

Nearby is the city’s largest cathedral, St. Stephen’s Basilica, in honour of Hungary’s first king and where is kept his right hand.

While climbing the dome just before sunset, we admire panoramic views of the city.

The sun goes out, and it’s time for respite.

A few steps from there starts the marvellous pedestrian street Becsi, with many restaurants, cafes, souvenir shops and stalls of local sweets.

We take in hand a “chimney cake” and go out to the Danube, where we board a boat for a short cruise and enjoy a dinner or drink while gazing at dazzlingly illuminated Budapest.

Want more? Head to the Jewish Quarter, where the hipster ‘ruin bars’ are located. The highlight is the endless Gozsdu arcade, overflowing with people and dance music, which invites you to a wild night.

TOP 10 list of Budapest

What to see & what to do in Budapest

Sightseeing, monuments, attractions and activities.

The majestic building in neo-Gothic style is a landmark in Budapest. It is the largest building in Hungary, the highest in Budapest, and the third-largest parliament in the world. About 100,000 people worked on its construction, which lasted until 1904. There are the royal jewels, while only a part of the building is used today for parliamentary assemblies, events, and public tours. Its illumination at night gives a unique magic to the view of the city. The tour price is about 14 euros.

It is on Andrásy Avenue, a neo-Renaissance structure with baroque-style features, listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. There are guided tours of the wonderfully decorated interior of the building, which conclude with a brief performance. Furthermore, for a better experience, we may see an opera or ballet performance and take in the setting in all its splendour for an initial cost of roughly 15 euros. Additionally, if all tickets are sold-out, then two hours before the show, 64 seats for standing audience members are offered at the ticket offices at a discount.

It is on Andrásy Street and housed the Nazi leadership during the German occupation. It is now a museum that features artefacts from the fascist and communist eras. Visitors get a tour of the torture chambers and cells. However, taking pictures inside the structure is prohibited. Stunningly lighted at night in the national colours of Hungary. It costs 12 euros to enter, and it’s closed on Mondays.

 The largest cathedral in the city, which is neoclassical in design, is dedicated to St. Stephen, the first monarch of Hungary, and here, is kept his right hand too. With a height of 96 metres, it shares the title of the tallest structure in the city with the parliament. While ascending the 364 steps of the dome (or using the lift) gives us an expansive view of the city. The entry costs about 10 euros.

Mainly religious location hosting some monasteries for women throughout the Middle Ages. It was named Margaret’s Island after King Béla V promised to send Princess Margaret to the island’s monastery to keep the Mongols from capturing the city. It turned into a royal resort in the 18th century, and now, it is open to visitors 24 hours a day and has hotels, zoos, sports facilities, baths, and a Japanese garden.

Also, it has an outdoor theatre and music venue nearby, where performances and concerts take place every summer. In August, the SZIGET FESTIVAL was one of the largest music festivals in Europe.

Lovely building in the City Park, with famous works of art of all eras. There are paintings and sculptures of well-known artists such as Raphael and El Greco. The entrance is about 10 euros.

 Sculpture and monument, built in 2005 in honour of those executed and their bodies allowed to be carried away by the Danube in December 1944 by the fascist Hungarian party after they had stripped off their shoes, the only valuable item they had on them.

At the end of Andrásy Street is the huge City Park with the dreamy Vaidahuniad castle, a replica of the Transylvanian castle in the Carpathian mountains, and the magnificent lake that turns into a skating rink in the freezing winter. Here are the famous Szécheny Baths, the zoo, and Heroes’ Square, the largest square in Budapest, with the Millennium Monument. The monument is a symbol of Hungarian greatness, with statues that have been replaced many times depending on the political

regime prevailing in the country.


The largest and oldest covered market in Budapest has been operating since 1897. The imposing building where fresh food is for sale is on the ground floor. There are stalls with traditional genuine specialities at a low price and plenty of souvenirs and folk art. It is the best spot to taste the local cuisine and buy souvenirs from the city.

This verdant hill took its name after Monk Gellert, who tried to spread Christianity to the pagan inhabitants of the area. They killed him by putting him in a barrel and throwing him from the top of the hill. Here are also the statue in memory of the monk and the homonymous thermal baths.

Access the hill by walking if you are in the mood for light physical exercise, having sneakers and some water. People with difficulty in movement or families with young children are better off opting for local buses or the picturesque cable car running this service since 1870. A two ways ticket costs about 5 euros.

The hilltop fort was built in 1851 by order of the Austrians during the period of their territory in Hungary. In 1945 it was adorned with the bronze statue of a woman holding a palm leaf, a stylistic choice of the Russians, and brings the inscription “In memory of Soviet liberation heroes from the grateful Hungarian people”. After the transition of the communist regime to democracy in 1989, they replaced the inscription with the words “In memory of all those who sacrificed their lives for the independence, freedom and prosperity of Hungary”.

Museum “Hospital on the Rock – Nuclear Bunker”. Located at the foot of the hill. It is a hospital built inside the rocks of the Hill Gellert. Its construction started during the Second World War and finished in 1944. The first years of its operation were among the most well-equipped of its time and provided care to everyone regardless of religion or nationality. He saved both Hungarian civilians and German and Russian soldiers. After the war, it functioned as a prison and then secretly converted to a nuclear bunker. It consists of an underground system of labyrinths and, nowadays, is a museum where we can tour and see the original medical and military equipment and some wax figures representing doctors and patients. The ticket is about 20 euros, and the tour lasts 1 hour.

The Buda Castle complex was first built in the mid-13th century by King Béla IV but was later reconstructed after being destroyed during the wars and is a World Heritage Site. Today, part of this pompous Baroque building houses the History Museum and the National Gallery. There are guided tours for the interior of the Castle and the underground system of labyrinths and caves existing beneath it and used to be a prison. Night tours with original scary stories and myths about the city’s past are also available.

When visiting Budapest, you should see the castle and the Fisherman’s Bastion, one of the city’s most beautiful landmarks. Seven stone towers serve as an element of the castle fort’s fortification against invaders and stand in for the seven Hungarian chieftains that founded Hungary. Throughout the Middle Ages, this part of the fort used to be protected by the guild of fishermen who lived under the walls.


In the centre of the castle district lies the beautiful neo-Gothic Roman Catholic church known as St. Matthias Church. The “Miracle of Mary” served as the setting for the crowning of the Hungarian kings. It served as a mosque while Ottoman rule was in effect. While Muslims were worshipping, they bombed the church, and as a wall came down, a statue of the Virgin Mary was revealed. The conquerors were so furious that day that they lost control and left the city.

Buda and Pest get connected by seven bridges, which, willingly or not, you will see and cross during your stay. All of them got destroyed during World War II and rebuilt later. The most crafted are the Art Nouveau-style Freedom Bridge and the Chain Bridge, funded mainly by the Greek George Sinas and had an opening length of 202 metres, the largest in the world when created.

For the lovers of magic, there is the House of Houdini, the most famous magician of all time, who was born in Budapest.

Here are displayed his personal belongings, and the audience watches a magic performance by master magicians.

The entrance fee is 9 euros.

Budapest is home to many places with thermal baths. The most famous is the Szechenyi Thermal Baths. They were built in the early 1900s and have outdoor and indoor pools, with an entrance fee of about 27 euros.

Also known are the baths Gellert, Lukacs and Palatinus with a price of 19 euros. There are also the Sparty baths which, as their name suggests, are a combination of club and spa, and are preferred by young people.

Whichever you choose, grab a swimsuit, towel and flip-flops and enjoy the ultimate relaxation.

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The traditional goulash soup, with simmered beef, vegetables, and local mini pasta. The best way to warm up on cold evenings in Budapest.

Palinka is a traditional fruit liqueur created in the Carpathian mountains during the Middle Ages.

The traditional ‘street food’ of Hungary, inspired by Turkish cuisine. A small pie with lots of cheese, garlic, meat, and the so-popular sour cream.

Smoked sausages added to local specialities during the period of Austrian imposition. They are combined with cabbage and potatoes, and delight us with their unique taste.

Chicken cooked with sweet paprika sauce accompanied by Hungarian nokedli pasta and cream. Tasty combination worth tasting during your visit to the city.

The most popular dessert is offered abundantly in stalls everywhere. It originated in Transylvania in 1679 and was originally a dessert for festive meals and special occasions. Fresh sweet dough in a conical shape (in English, it is called “chimney cake”) with caramelised sugar coating. It is made in front of your eyes, with a specific procedure, and sprinkled with vanilla, cocoa, coconut, or another flavour of your choice. On its modern version, you can combine it with hazelnut praline, ice cream, or both. Could you resist?


Hungarikum Bisztro is a traditional restaurant with affordable prices and quality decoration.

It is a relatively small space that is ‘warmed’ by the sounds of the musicians.

They only accept reservations through the store’s website.

It is a very cosy place, charmy decorated with traditional Hungarian elements and balanced with modern trends. Offering authentic cuisine, very affordable prices and friendly staff.

Eating in this restaurant is a  pleasure, accompanied by the music of the pianist.

 It is better to make a reservation, but if you do not find a table, right next to it there is the annexe, the ‘Retek Mini’ with the same menu, style, and also talented musicians who enchant us with atmospheric European tunes.

Beerstro 14 is an exceptional restaurant of modern-minimal decoration, with some recipes of local cuisine, fusion suggestions and, most importantly, the best variety for meat lovers.

Enjoy your fillet, at very good prices, in the chic interior or on the aristocratic patio.

Book through the site, and you will not leave unhappy.

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Budapest Gastronomy

What to eat and where in Budapest?

Budapest, long conquered by other peoples, created a multi-national cuisine combining elements of Oriental and Western gastronomy. The main ingredients are cabbage, meat, paprika and pasta, giving some tasty dishes worth trying.

The city offers a plethora of restaurants to suit all tastes.

The best options to taste the local specialities are in Pest, in the heart of the centre.

Most restaurants charge extra on the bill for the waiter’s tip, usually at a rate of 10% of the total billing.

Travel Pass Budapest

Before your trip or upon arrival in the city, you can obtain the official tourist “Budapest Card” that gives free or discounted entrance to the main attractions, free access to public transport and a free walking tour of the city.

Additionally, you get access to the baths, a cruise on the Danube and many other benefits.

The price ranges from 33 euros with a duration of 24 hours to 92 euros and is valid for 120 hours.

The card might be a good deal, depending on what you plan to visit in the city.

See the options and detailed information on the official page Budapest – Official tourist information – Get a card

Travel Essentials

What to pack for Budapest?

Flat shoes for the hill and swimwear for the baths. 

Shopping in Budapest

What to buy from Budapest? Souvenirs and local products.

Visit the impressive Central Market Building next to the Freedom Bridge, where you will find numerous creations of folk art and souvenirs at their best price.

Paprika is Budapest’s main ingredient and exists in various forms in souvenir shops.

Plenty of cute boxes with this sweet seasoning for adding colour to your recipes or offering as a gift to your loved ones.

This strong fruity liqueur is registered as a local product and offered as a popular souvenir.

The inventor Erno Rubik was born in Budapest, and his famous cube dominates the city.

Additionally, the construction of the relevant museum will begin soon.

Interview with a local

Budapest through the eyes of Blanca

“The best season in Budapest is spring. The weather is warmer, the sun is shining, the terraces are open. Have a “froccs” on a bar terrace.”

From Budapest with love x

We say that sometimes life gives us not what we want but what we need, and I agree.

I wanted to visit another city, but since the flights did not suit me for these dates, I had to settle for another destination. On the contrary, the flights to and from Budapest fit perfectly into my schedule, so I decided to travel there.

The moment I booked the tickets, I thought that deep down I would prefer as a destination a place close to nature, a mountain, instead of another urban city. You can’t imagine the joy I got seeing Gellert Hill and its dense forest. Budapest gave me as much as it could what I was looking for.

We say that while we travel by ourselves, it is easier to meet other people. I realized this years ago, even before I saw it expressed by others reinforcing my conviction.

My trip to Budapest is brilliant proof of this claim as while taking photos, I stumbled upon another solo traveller, and without intending to do so, we ended up chatting and walking all day in the city, covering more than 20 kilometres together.

We say that rain during a trip is bad luck. I don’t think so because while it rained almost throughout my stay in the city, this fact did not stop me from ‘exploring’ it.

On the contrary, it allowed me to see the sights without crowds of people around them and to take beautiful photos with a natural filter of the reflection of water.

A little good mood is needed to turn adversity into an advantage.

Enjoy your trips and take things as they come. All seasons are pretty, and it’s always the right moment to travel!

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