Top 17 Things To Do In Budapest 

Budapest is a city with youthful vibes, alternative nightlife, awe-inspiring architecture, delicious street food, thermal baths and much more. It offers everything you might expect from a city break. Much of the city has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it is one of the most beautiful cities to visit in Europe yet for many Budapest still remains a hidden gem. Budapest is a city of two worlds: Buda and Pest, which are separated by the Danube River and were initially linked in the late 1800s by the spectacular Chain Bridge.

From its riverfront Parliament Building to its magnificent basilicas, fashionable ruin bars, thermal baths, restaurants, and never-ending nightlife which ranges from buzzing ruin bars to crazy hot bath parties after hours. Whether you’re going for a cultural experience or to gorge on goulash and some chimney cakes – there is something for everyone in Budapest. We have explored the city and bring you some of the top things to do in Budapest along with Budapest’s must-see attraction. Here are the best things to do in Budapest and some of the top places to visit in Budapest. 



1Visit the Magnificent Hungarian Parliament Building

what to do in budapest at night

The Hungarian Parliament Building, also known as the Országház, is a magnificent neo-Gothic style building located on the banks of the Danube River in Budapest, Hungary. The building is one of the most iconic landmarks of the city, and is one of the top things to do in Budapest. Visible from various vantage points across the city, The Parliament Building was designed by Hungarian architect Imre Steindl and is one of the largest buildings in Hungary.

The inside and the outside of the parliament are equally impressive and worth a visit. The façade of the building is adorned with intricate carvings, sculptures, and stained glass windows, depicting important figures and events from Hungarian history. The interior of the building is equally impressive, with grand halls, ornate staircases, and richly decorated chambers. One of the most impressive features of the Parliament Building is the central dome, which rises to a height of 96 meters and is topped by a golden crown.

It is worth noting that you can only visit the insides as part of a guided tour it is adviced to book in advance. Once inside, see the grand halls and chambers, including the impressive Hungarian Crown Jewels, which are housed in a secure vault within the building. Get your tickets here.

The Hungarian Parliament Building is truly a sight to behold at night, as it is beautifully illuminated and offers stunning views of the Danube River and the surrounding area. The building is bathed in a warm golden light, which highlights its intricate details and makes it look even more grand and impressive. Stroll along the riverbank and enjoy the spectacular view of the Parliament Building from a distance, or take a nighttime cruise on the Danube River for a closer look. For a more private experience, opt for an exclusive private boat with Private Cruise Budapest.


2Drink up in the Famous Ruin Bars of Budapest  

Szimpla Kert, things to do in Budapest

Budapest is known for its ruin bars. Even if you are not a drinker you have to step into at least one ruin bar and experience it while you are in Budapest. These bars are located in abandoned buildings throughout the city, and have been repurposed into trendy, underground hangouts. From the outside, it is hard to spot these but step inside and you will you will find yourself in the middle of an artsy, hipster-like laid back bar. Most of these bars are built in Budapest’s old district, also known as the Old Jewish Quarter.

The first ruin bar, Szimpla Kert , opened in 2002 in the city’s 7th district, and quickly became a popular spot. The bar’s founders transformed an old factory building into a funky, eclectic space, with a mishmash of furniture, artwork, and decor. Today, there are dozens of ruin bars scattered throughout Budapest, each with its own distinct personality and vibe. Many of these bars have outdoor courtyards, which are particularly popular during the summer months. Inside, you’ll find everything from live music and DJs to quirky art installations and vintage furniture. Durer Kert – this is the party hotspot, Ellato Kert – relaxed and colourful with a courtyard it is perfect for the summer months.



3Get an amazing view of Budapest from the Fisherman’s Bastion

things to do in budapest Fisherman's Bastion

things to do in budapest Fisherman's Bastion

Fisherman’s Bastion is one of the most visited attractions in Budapest. The Bastion was built between 1895 and 1902, designed by Hungarian architect Frigyes Schulek, it features seven towers, each of which represents one of the Magyar tribes that founded Hungary in the 9th century. The beautiful structure looks like something out of a fairytale tower.

In the middle ages there were many sieges, and the castle building, including its walls, were often destroyed and rebuilt. Today serve as a lookout tower for the best panoramic views in Budapest. There are many balconies in the tower which offer a great panoramic view of the city and the Danube River. Climb up the towers to take in the breathtaking views of the city’s skyline, including the Hungarian Parliament Building, Buda Castle, and the Chain Bridge.

There is also a restaurant at the Fisherman’s Bastion, Halaszbastya Restaurant which overlooks the Pest side and offers views of the parliament and the Danube river. The highest viewing terrace of the Fisherman’s Bastion is situated above this restaurant. It is the perfect place to enjoy some drinks and soak in the magical view. Although you cannot go inside the Fisherman’s bastion in the evening it is a site worth visiting once it gets dark and floods of lights are turned on. It makes the tower appear even more dramatic.

Another highlight of the Bastion is the Matthias Church, a beautiful 14th-century Gothic church that sits adjacent to the structure. The church has a rich history and has been the site of many coronations and royal weddings throughout the centuries. 



4Soak up in Thermal Baths 

thermal baths in budapest

Széchenyi Baths budapest

Budapest is known as the city of spas. For centuries bathing in the thermal baths has been part of the Hungarian culture. These baths are also known as ‘healing baths’ this is down to the medicinal features of these hot springs offer. The city sits on a network of thermal springs, and there are dozens of bathhouses throughout the city that offer a chance to relax, unwind, and soak in the healing waters. Each bath has its own unique pools, features, architecture and history. 

One of the most popular and biggest thermal baths in Budapest and also in Europe are the Széchenyi Baths in the city park. It features 18 indoor and outdoor pools, as well as saunas and steam rooms. The water is rich in minerals, including calcium, magnesium, and fluoride, which are believed to have therapeutic properties. Some of the other baths that are worth visiting are St. Gellért Thermal Baths, these Art Nouveau-style baths offer a chance to soak in ornate pools surrounded by beautiful mosaics and stained glass windows. Rudas Thermal Baths is a historic bathhouse which dates back to the Ottoman era and features a stunning octagonal pool that sits beneath a dome. The bathhouse also has a rooftop pool with panoramic views of the city. It is recommended to book your tickets in advance to avoid the long lines to get into the thermal baths. 



5Hang out at the Erzsébet Square and get on the Budapest Eye

budapest Erzsébet Square pool in the city (1)

Photo: Djneri

Erzsébet Square is where you will find all the locals hanging out during the summer evenings. This square has a very contagious energy, with locals gathering, street food vendors and souvenir stands. The Ferris wheel in the square will immediately catch your eye, it is a great way of viewing the buzzing city from the top. We highly recommend this Ferris wheel at night, seeing the city and the monuments lit up from high up is honestly awe-inspiring. If you are visiting the square in the day, the most common hang out is by the pool. Although this may appear as a pool it is actually a rooftop of the Akvarium Klub and it is completely see through.



6Indulge at the World’s Most Beautiful Cafe in Budapest 

The new york cafe budapest

things to do in budapest worlds most beautiful cafe

Coined as ‘The World’s Most Beautiful Cafe’ is located in Budapest. A visit to the New York Cafe in the Boscolo Budapest hotel is one of the top things to do in Budapest, even if it is just for a coffee will not leave you disappointed. It was originally opened in 1894 and has undergone several renovations throughout the years, but has maintained its opulent and ornate interior design.

From the moment you enter it will be a feast for your eyes from large glittering chandeliers, art deco splendour mixed with contemporary furnishing and live music in the background. This coffee house (now also a restaurant) is an infusion of art, culture and literature.


7Watch the Sunset from the Gellert Hill

Gellert Hill

One of the top things to do in Budapest is to visit the Gellért Hill. A prominent landmark that is located on the Buda side of the city, overlooking the Danube River and Pest. This top attraction in Budapest is named after Saint Gerard, who was a bishop in the 11th century and is considered the patron saint of Budapest. One of the main attractions of Gellért Hill is the Citadel, which was built by the Habsburgs in the 19th century as a fortress to control the city after the failed Hungarian Revolution of 1848. The fortress is now open to the public and offers panoramic views of the city.

A visit to the Gellért Hill right before sunset is highly recommended. Watch the city lit up as the sun goes down. The view of Budapest from this spot, especially, in the dark with the city all lit up will leave you speechless. Around the Gellert Hill, you will also find a Palinka Stand. Take the already special surroundings to another height by taking a Palinka shot (which is a Hungarian fruit brandy).

Another notable attraction on the hill is the Gellert Thermal Baths, which are a popular thermal bath complex built in Art Nouveau style in the early 20th century. The baths are famous for their hot springs and are known to have healing properties. It gives the perfect opportunity to make a day out on the Gellert Hill.



8 Buda Castle 

buda castle budapest

One of the most prominent landmarks in Budapest is the Buda Castle also known as the Royal Palace. It was built in the 13th century and today, it is recognised as one of the World Heritage Sites. There is plenty to do in the Buda Castle to keep you exploring all day long. One of the best ways to explore the Buda Castle is to walk along the cobblestone streets and explore this iconic landmark at your own pace.

It is home to a number of cultural institutions such as the National Gallery and the Budapest History Museum. Not only that is it home to various food and craft markets ( depending on the time of the year ) and just like many other landmarks, Buda Castle offers views over the city and the Danube river. Buda Castle is honestly a sight to see when it is lit up at night and if you are feeling a little adventurous the courtyard of the Buda Castle is open 24 hours a day. Recently the labyrinth cave system has been opened to the public. It is a deep man-made cellar which was used during the WWI as a battle station.


9Buda Castle Hill Funicular

One of the fastest and the easiest way to get to the castle is to take the Funicular from the Chain Bridge. From the Buda side of the bridge. The exciting thing about this Funicular is that it is the second oldest funicular of its kind in the world, which started operating in 1870, employs a mechanism of weights and counterweights to ascend and descend the hill.

Not only does it offer the most convenient way to reach the magnificest Buda castle, it also offers the opportunity to appreciate the breathtaking panoramic views of the Danube and the city. To allow passengers to relish the experience, the speed of the funicular ascent was intentionally slowed down from 1988. Furthermore, enjoy stunning vistas of Pest at night as the track operates daily until 10 pm.



10St. Stephen’s Basilica

St. Stephen’s Basilica things to do in budapest

St. Stephen’s Basilica is the largest church in Budapest with the dome measuring 96 meters in height. It is, in fact, the same height as the Parliament Building and the current Hungarian regulation suggests that no other structure can be taller than 96 meters. The ornate neo-renaissance style interior makes the church worth visiting. Also on the inside, you will find the mummified hand of Hungary’s first King which has been kept in a glass by the altar.

Climb the panorama tower to be treated with panoramic views of Budapest. The entry into the church is free but there is a small charge to visit the panorama tower. You can take the stairs up but be aware there are 364 steps or simply take the lift up to the observation deck.


11TwentySix : Greenest Restaurant in Hungary 

TwentySix Budapest

The all-year Mediterranean garden in the city, is the last thing you would expect in Budapest. Twentysix Budapest is a new unique gastronomical hub in the heart of the city. Enter the impressive urban jungle that is bursting with banana trees, plam trees, rubber plants and all other types of vegetaion you would not expect to see in the city.

 It’s all about the right temperature at this unique eatery. 26° is said to be the best, hence the name. Twentysix Budapest is the first of its kind, a cozy urban jungle and feel-good hub for all the nature and gastro friends located in the real heart of Budapest with 4 elements – a shop, studio, house, and garden. GARDEN° is a nutritious, soulful Mediterranean restaurant. HOUSE° brings a unique concept of kitchen workshops and space for tailored events. KAA° is a high end cocktail bar. All in one bright, sunlit scene of the vivid Budapest.




12 Shop at the Central Market Hall

Central Market Hall things to do in budapest

Central Market Hall is the largest and oldest market in Budapest. It was built in the 19th century although it was destroyed during the WWII, it has now been perfectly restored. The market spans three floors and offers a wide variety of goods, including fresh produce, meats, cheeses, spices, baked goods, and traditional Hungarian foods such as goulash and lángos. The ground floor is primarily dedicated to food vendors, while the upper floors feature souvenir shops, clothing stores, and other goods. It is a great place if you are looking to pick up some exotic Hungarian paprika, browse the stalls, soak up the atmosphere and admire the perfectly arranged produce. 

In addition to the vendors, the Central Market Hall also offers cooking classes and food tours for those who want to learn more about Hungarian cuisine and the history of the market. The building itself is a beautiful example of Art Nouveau architecture.



13Try The Hungarian Chimney Cake 

Hungarian Chimney Cake 

Hungarian chimney cake, also known as “kürtőskalács” in Hungarian, is a traditional pastry that is very popular in Budapest, Hungary. The pastry is made by wrapping a thin strip of sweet, yeast dough around a cylindrical spit, which is then roasted over an open flame until it turns golden brown. The result is a delicious, crispy and caramelized outer layer with a soft, fluffy and slightly sweet inside. The pastry is then rolled in a variety of toppings, such as cinnamon sugar, chopped nuts, cocoa powder, or coconut flakes, to add flavor and texture.

The chimney cake can be found in many pastry shops and street vendors throughout Budapest, and it is often served hot and fresh from the oven. It is a perfect snack to enjoy while exploring the city or to enjoy as a dessert after a meal. A staple of Hungarian food and culture, chimney cakes have a long history in Hungary dating back to the late 18th century. In fact, the pastry is so adored that it has become a well-liked dessert around the world and in other regions of Europe and and is often served at festivals and fairs.


14Try Traditional Hunagrian Pálinka

Palinka Budapest

Pálinka is a traditional Hungarian fruit brandy that is very popular in Budapest. Made by fermenting and distilling a variety of fruits, such as plums, apricots, and cherries, to produce a spirit that is typically served as a digestif after a meal. Often consumed as a shot, sipped slowly to savor the complex flavors and aromas of the fruit. Each variety of Pálinka has its own unique taste and character, depending on the type of fruit used, the fermentation process, and the distillation method.

 Many locals also make their own Pálinka at home, using family recipes that have been passed down for generations. While Pálinka can be quite strong, with an alcohol content of up to 86%, it is considered a cultural treasure in Hungary, and many people take great pride in producing and sharing their own homemade Pálinka with friends and family. Budapest is also home to a Pálinka Museum, The House of Palinka is also a great place if you want to dive deeper into the history of this traditional drink.

15Pay Respect at The Shoes on the Danube Bank

The Shoes on the Danube Bank

The Shoes on the Danube Bank is a memorial located on the banks of the Danube River in Budapest. Created in 2005 to honor the victims of the Holocaust in Hungary, particularly those who were murdered by fascist Arrow Cross militiamen during World War II. Designed by Hungarian sculptor Gyula Pauer and filmmaker Can Togay, this touching memorial consists of 60 pairs of bronze shoes in a row along the riverbank, facing the Danube. The shoes represent the shoes left behind by the victims who were ordered to take off their shoes before they were shot and thrown into the river. Take a moment to reflect on the history and the significance of the site, and pay their respects to the victims of the Holocaust.



16Relax on the Margaret Island

Margaret Island fountain

Margaret Island is Budapest’s biggest green oasis. Located in the middle of the Danube River in Budapest, it is named after Saint Margaret, a medieval princess who spent her life in a convent on the island. This beautiful and tranquil island is home to several flower gardens, including a Japanese garden, traditional Japanese tea house, koi piond, romantic ruins such as the 13th-century Dominican convent, walking paths and century-old trees as well as a zoo and the Alfréd Hajós Swimming Pool.

 Along with it being a great space for recreational activities, one of the main attractions on the island is the large musical fountain, which is a popular attraction during the summer months. It is also home to the Palatinus Bath. Margaret Island can be accessed from Margaret Bridge.


17Explore The City Park (Városliget)

Explore The City Park (Városliget)

The City Park (Városliget) is a large public park located in the heart of Budapest. One of the main attractions in the park is Vajdahunyad Castle, which was built in 1896 as part of the Millennial Exhibition to celebrate the 1,000th anniversary of Hungary. The castle is an eclectic mix of architectural styles, including Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque, and houses the Hungarian Agricultural Museum.

Another notable attraction is the Széchenyi Thermal Bath, which is one of the largest and oldest thermal baths in Europe. In the summer months, take a relaxing stroll across the park, you can enjoy rowing and pedal boating on the park’s lake, or visit the Budapest ZooAdditionally, there are several other museums, galleries, restauarnts and cultural institutions located within the park, including the Museum of Fine Arts and the Hungarian State Opera House.