13 of the best things to do in Budapest: experience thermal spas, coffeehouses, and amazing nightlife (2023)

From soaking in muscle-melting waters at centuries-old thermal baths to romantic meeting points above the city or traveling back in time at a 19th-century coffeehouse, there are plenty of fantastic experiences to be had in Budapest.

Here are some of the best things to do on a trip to Hungary’s vibrant capital.

Forge new connections on your next adventure with the latest advice from our weekly newsletter.

Visit Budapest's neo-Gothic Parliament building

Budapest’s neo-Gothic Parliament building dominates the curve of the Danube and is a true postcard superstar. It houses the Holy Crown (used to crown the country’s monarchs since the 12th century), as well as other royal jewels. English guided tours are available, but it’s best to book ahead.

Not too far from Parliament, you’ll find one of the city’s most moving memorials – the Shoes on the Danube. The poignant monument honors the victims of the Holocaust who were marched to the riverbank on a dark winter’s day and ordered to remove their shoes before being shot and falling into the fast-flowing river beneath.

13 of the best things to do in Budapest: experience thermal spas, coffeehouses, and amazing nightlife (1)

(Video) TOP 10 Things to do in BUDAPEST | Hungary Travel Guide in 4K

Soak at one of the city's incredible thermal spas

Budapest sits on a patchwork of thermal springs – mineral-rich water spouts from the ground – hence the abundance of thermal spas, many dating back to Turkish times. These waters are said to be capable of curing just about anything, and soaking in a thermal pool is an unmissable Budapest experience.

The world-famous Széchenyi Baths is the biggest spa complex in Europe, and while the location is certainly a “tourist trap”, its majestic architectural elements and outside pools still make it an unmissable place to visit.

But if you prefer more peaceful plunging and stunningly colorful ceramic tiles,Szechenyi BathsandGellért Baths (temporarily closed for renovations beginning September 1, 2022) arefabulous choices. Other spas dotted throughout Budapest also hold special amenities, such as a rooftop hot tub at Rudas Baths or a private bath at Király.

13 of the best things to do in Budapest: experience thermal spas, coffeehouses, and amazing nightlife (2)

Explore the Castle District

The Budaside's rolling hills are crowned by the former Royal Palace, one of the city’s most emblematic landmarks. Razed and rebuilt several times through the ages, today it houses the Hungarian Natural Gallery and major temporary exhibitions.

Other iconic landmarks, such as Fishermen’s Bastion with an unparalleled panorama to Pest'sskyline over the Danube. The gothic Matthias Church is steps away on twisting cobble-stoned streets.

(Video) What to Eat, Drink, See & Do in BUDAPEST! | Top 10 Things Budapest Travel Guide

For coffee and cake, be sure to stop by Ruszwurm, the longest-running confectionery inHungary. For a quirky experience, visit the Hospital in the Rock Museum, which was once afunctioning hospital beneath the Royal Palace. The vintage funicular– one of the oldest funicular railways in the world – whisks you up to the palacein minutes. Alternatively, hop on Bus 16, which has many stops throughout the city or just hike up (it’s not as far as it seems, we promise).

Take a ride through downtown on Tram 2

Frequently cited as the most panoramic tram journey in the world, Tram 2 travels all along the Danube shore between the Margaret Bridge (Jászai Mari tér) and south Pest. It chugs alongside everything you need to see in downtown, all for the price of a regular public transport ticket.

A boat trip serves as a lovely alternative. If you don’t want to spend money on a sightseeing cruise, you can use the public boats with a regular transport ticket.

13 of the best things to do in Budapest: experience thermal spas, coffeehouses, and amazing nightlife (3)

See the religious relics of the Basilica

The ornate St Stephen’s Basilica is the city’s biggest church, found steps away from Deák Square. The Basilica hides inside the country’s most revered (and eerie) religious relics – the embalmed right hand of St Stephen, the founding king of Hungary. Climb the 193 steps (or take the lift) to the basilica’s dome for some of the best views of Budapest.

Stroll along Andrássy Avenue and City Park

Full of fancy shops, cafes and gorgeous buildings, tree-lined Andrássy Avenue is Budapest’s version of the Champs Élysées. It begins behind the basilica and stretches all the way to Heroes’ Square, one of the city’s most famous monuments. Along the way, you’ll see the Hungarian State Opera and the harrowing House of Terror Museum, the former headquarters of the secret police, where victims of cruel regimes were once tortured.

(Video) MUST SEE! First Time Tips For Budapest on a Budget | Travel Info | Prices | Ruin Bar |Thermal Bath

The Millennium Underground, the oldest metro in continental Europe, runs the whole length of Andrássy should you find the walk too long. Where the avenue ends, City Park begins. The Pest side'sbiggest park is home to a rowboat-filled lake, which is an ice rink in winter, fairy-tale Vajdahunyad Castle and Széchenyi Baths.

13 of the best things to do in Budapest: experience thermal spas, coffeehouses, and amazing nightlife (4)

Have a coffee at a historical coffeehouse

Budapest’s coffee-drinking culture dates back centuries, and its classic coffeehouses are a sight to behold. Many were cradles of culture and haunts for Hungary’s literary greats. The most prominent is New York Café, once chosen as the most beautiful coffeehouse in the world, where gilded and marble surfaces, crimson colors, crystals, frescoes, chandeliers and often live Hungarian music bring back that fin-de-siècle finesse. Gerbeaud Café, Hadik or Centrál are equally great choices for a trip back in time.

See the city from a viewpoint or rooftop bar

With the curving Danube, beautiful bridges, stunning landmarks and a fin-de-siécle façade, Budapest is especially beautiful – and photogenic – from up above. If you fancy a bit of a walk, climb up to the Citadella and Budapest’s Statue of Liberty on Gellért Hill for a rewarding view. If you’d rather sit back with a drink and enjoy a front-row seat to all of Budapest, try anyof the city’s many rooftop bars.Note: Several areas of the Citadella are currently under renovation until late 2022 or 2023 and are closed to guests at this time.

Spend a day on Margaret Island

Margaret Island is Budapest’s biggest green oasis – accessible by foot from the middle of yellow Margaret Bridge. The whole island is a huge park, home to the ruin of a medieval church, a lovely Japanese garden, century-old towering trees and endless picnics.

(Video) Top 10 Best Things to Do in Budapest: Travel Tips

The centerpiece is a large fountain that lights up and “dances” to music every hour from spring to winter – the 9pm show is enhanced with a multimedia screening that displays images of Hungary’s greats projected onto a water curtain.

See the distinctive architecture of the Great Synagogue

The largest Jewish place of worship outside New York City, the Moorish-style Great Synagogue is one of Budapest’s most eye-catching buildings. Built in 1859, the distinctive structure, with its crenellated red-and-yellow glazed-brick facade and two enormous towers, stands next to the Hungarian Jewish Museum. In the courtyard is the poignant Holocaust Tree of Life Memorial, designed by sculptor Imre Varga.

13 of the best things to do in Budapest: experience thermal spas, coffeehouses, and amazing nightlife (5)

Experience the best nightlife at ruin pubs and garden clubs

Budapest's nightlife is world famous and avisitduring the long, hot summer is not complete without an evening in one of the city's many so-called kertek, literally "gardens" but in Budapest any outdoor spot that has been converted into an entertainment zone. These often rough-and-ready venues, including courtyards, rooftops and romkocsmák (ruin pubs) that rise phoenix-like from abandoned buildings, can change from year to year and are seasonal, but some of the more successful ones, like Szimpla Kert, are now permanent and open year-round.

Explore history in Memento Park

Containing statues and other memorials from the communist past,Memento Park can only be described as a cemetery of socialist mistakes, or a well-manicured trash heap of history. In southern Buda, it’s home to about four-dozen statues, busts and plaques of Lenin, Marx and home-grown henchmen like Béla Kun. Ogle the socialist-realist "art" and try to imagine that some of the monstrosities were still being erected in the late 1980s and in place until the early 1990s.

Ride the rails in the Buda Hills

They may be short on sights – though Béla Bartók’s house, where he spent his final year in Hungary, is open to visitors here – but the Buda Hillsare a very welcome respite from the hot, dusty city in the warmer months. Perhaps their biggest draws are their unusual forms of transport: a narrow-gauge cog railway dating from the late 19th century will get you up into the hills, a train run by children takes you across them and a chairlift will glide you back down to terra firma.

(Video) Top 13 Things to Do in the Budapest City Park | Hungary 🇭🇺


What should I not miss in Budapest? ›

Best attractions in Budapest
  • Buda Castle. Things to do. ...
  • Széchenyi Baths. Take a plunge in Budapest's most famous thermal bath. ...
  • Children's Railway. ...
  • Memento Park. ...
  • Dohány Street Synagogue. ...
  • St Stephen's Basilica. ...
  • Hungarian Parliament. ...
  • Heroes' Square.
Jan 24, 2023

What is Budapest best known for? ›

The star of the Danube (Budapest) is outrightly known for so many famous things. For instance, the rich culture, underground caves, Danube River, the drop-dead beautiful Parliament Building, local delicacies, and being the world's Spa capital.

Do they speak English in Budapest? ›

Budapest is very English-friendly

Almost everyone we encountered spoke English well or even fluently. Signs on the streets and in shops are generally in both Hungarian and English and every restaurant were visited had a menu in English.

Is Budapest Hungary worth visiting? ›

If you're wondering if Budapest is worth visiting, the answer is 100% yes. As one of the most underrated capital cities in Europe, every corner of Budapest oozes with history, charm, and beauty. The city's architecture is unrivaled. The museums are fascinating.

What should I be careful of in Budapest? ›

Be particularly careful on busy public transport, in train stations, at markets and at other places frequented by tourists. Theft of and from vehicles is common. Don't carry large amounts of cash. Always ask to see the menu and price list before ordering drinks or food and check your bill carefully before settling up.

What is a typical breakfast in Budapest? ›

Breakfast in Hungary is typically large and filling, with both sweet and savoury options on the table. Sandwiches, breads, cheese spreads, cold meats, jams, pastries and more can all be enjoyed first thing in the morning.

How much spending money do you need for a day in Budapest? ›

For budget-minded travelers, it costs around $25-$50/day to visit Budapest. These prices are based on what you'll need to visit the city comfortably as a budget traveler. If you want to stay in a nicer hotel or rental apartment you should add an extra $40-$80/night to your budget.

Do you need to wear masks to go to Budapest? ›

Travel in Hungary

Wearing a face mask remains mandatory in hospitals and social institutions. Social distancing rules are currently not in force. The full details are set out on the Hungarian government website.

What is the best month to go to Budapest? ›

In spring and fall — May, June, September, and early October — travelers enjoy fewer tourist crowds and milder weather. This is one of the best times to visit Budapest. However, it's also prime convention time (especially September), when hotels tend to fill up and charge their top rates.

Is it OK to drink tap water in Budapest? ›

Tap water is safe to drink in Hungary so be sure to bring a reusable bottle to fill up before you start your day. If you decide to buy bottled water pay attention to the coloured lids, you will notice different coloured caps.

Do I need cash in Budapest? ›

Only a few banks are willing to cash traveller's cheques, so it is recommended to bring your debit or credit card when you visit Hungary. Smaller shops or country guesthouses may only accept cash.

What do I need to know before going to Budapest? ›

Pass for a local when visiting Budapest with these insider tips
  • Learn a few words in Hungarian before arriving. ...
  • Pack for the pool. ...
  • Wear a swimming cap in swimming pools. ...
  • Wear comfortable walking shoes (but not sneakers) ...
  • Bring an umbrella. ...
  • Book tickets in advance for popular museums. ...
  • Bring forints, not euros.
Feb 14, 2022

Which is better Budapest or Vienna? ›

Budapest and Vienna are both beautiful cities that attract millions of tourists every year. Budapest is known for its pre-war architecture, thermal springs and vibrant nightlife. Vienna, on the other hand, is known for its cultural institutes, coffee houses and diverse food scene.

Is Budapest cheap for tourists? ›

One of the biggest reasons that travelers love Budapest is its reputation as a budget-friendly place to visit. Although it has become more expensive over the years, many visitors still find it's still cheaper than other European capitals.

Can you drink alcohol in Budapest? ›

The drinking age in Hungary is 18 and there are no special regulations for lower or higher alcohol content drinks. The stores and bars will ID you - not at every purchase, but anytime they have any doubt, so keep your ID with you. Buying alcohol might be restricted not just by age but by time of day and location.

What should I know before going to Budapest? ›

Pass for a local when visiting Budapest with these insider tips
  • Learn a few words in Hungarian before arriving. ...
  • Pack for the pool. ...
  • Wear a swimming cap in swimming pools. ...
  • Wear comfortable walking shoes (but not sneakers) ...
  • Bring an umbrella. ...
  • Book tickets in advance for popular museums. ...
  • Bring forints, not euros.
Feb 14, 2022

How many days in Budapest is enough? ›

If you are wondering how many days in Budapest you need, two days is adequate to see the whole city, as long as you're efficient. Three days will allow you to get to more of the top attractions at a slower pace and maybe give you a chance to relax and soak in one of the thermal baths.

Is Budapest or Prague better to visit? ›

Prague is generally considered more picturesque than Budapest, thanks to the many medieval buildings that are still standing today. Particularly around the historic city center surrounding the Old Town Square. Prague is smaller and has an intimate charm that Budapest doesn't have.

Is it better to stay in Buda or Pest in Budapest? ›

Buda – Definitely the classier and more residential side of the city, Buda is known for being a bit quieter and the place to go for a leisurely sightseeing experience. Pest – Known for being where all of the action happens – the place to be touristy, hang out and have fun.


1. Why Budapest is becoming the Hottest Nightlife Destination in Europe
(Radical Living)
2. Unwind in the Spa Capital of the World: Budapest // Hungary Travel 2022
(Nomadic Wes)
3. What to See and Do in Budapest (3 Day Itinerary Vlog)
(Daniela Azzip Trips)
4. How To Travel Budapest On A Budget // What To Do In Budapest // Guide to Budapest
(Jack Lawson)
5. Winter in Hungary: How to spend 48 hours in Budapest | Sophies Suitcase
(Sophie's Suitcase)
6. 👑 ULTIMATE BUDAPEST TRAVEL GUIDE 2020 🍷🥘 10 Amazing Things to do in Budapest Hungary Vlog
(Millennial Travel Confessions)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Horacio Brakus JD

Last Updated: 03/18/2023

Views: 5624

Rating: 4 / 5 (51 voted)

Reviews: 90% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Horacio Brakus JD

Birthday: 1999-08-21

Address: Apt. 524 43384 Minnie Prairie, South Edda, MA 62804

Phone: +5931039998219

Job: Sales Strategist

Hobby: Sculling, Kitesurfing, Orienteering, Painting, Computer programming, Creative writing, Scuba diving

Introduction: My name is Horacio Brakus JD, I am a lively, splendid, jolly, vivacious, vast, cheerful, agreeable person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.