Budapest is the capital of Hungary and is separated by the Danube into two parts: Buda and Pest. Buda is quiet, hilly and has many rustic streets. In Pest, on the other hand, there are many large busy roads, high buildings and it is a lot more crowded. Both districts have their highlights and the many sights in Budapest ensure that you will not get bored quickly. The central area along the Danube River is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has several interesting monuments.
Budapest is also called the city of photography, because light is often very suitable for taking pictures. It may therefore happen that you see photoshoots on the street.
Top 15 Sights in Budapest
There are many nice, beautiful and / or special sights to visit in Budapest. I will list the sights in Budapest that I have visited.
1. Parliament of Budapest
Parliament is perhaps one of the most famous sights in Budapest. It is an incredibly large building. Entrance to the Parliament is 2200 HUF for adults and 1200 HUF for students. With metro 2 it is easy to reach (stop: Kossuth Lajos Ter).
2. Buda Castle
Buda Castle is a historic castle complex. This imposing structure is clearly visible from Pest and is beautifully lit at night. It can be reached via a cable car, but walking up the hill is also fine. Several museums can be found in the castle (National Gallery, Ludwig Museum, Historical Museum). The gardens and squares are free to visit, but you do pay an entrance fee for the museums.
3. Matthias Church
Matthias Church is located near the castle. This beautiful building with colored roof tiles is perhaps one of the most famous sights in Budapest. The entrance to the Matthias Church is 1500 HUF for adults and 1000 HUF for students. The Fisherman’s Bastion is located next to the church. The fishing bastion is free to enter. From here you have an even better view over Pest and over the parliament.
4. Ethnographic museum
The Ethnographic Museum is on the opposite side of the Parliament. The building alone is worth a visit. This museum offers a varied collection where the permanent exhibition on Hungarian culture is always present. Entrance is 1400 HUF and 700 HUF for people between 6 and 26 years old.
5. St. Stephen’s Basilica
Not so far away is St Stephen’s Basilica, Budapest’s largest church. Organ concerts are also occasionally given here, which is a special experience. Admission fee is 1100 HUF for adults and 900 HUF for seniors and students.
One metro stop further north-east is the Opera. Daily (15:00 or 16:00) English (and other) language tours are offered here for 2990 HUF for adults and 1990 HUF for students. For 690 HUF you get a mini concert, which is highly recommended!
7. Market hall
When the weather is not so good and you want to stock up on some souvenirs, visit the Market Hall near the bus station and the metro stop Fővám tér. This is certainly one of the busiest sights in Budapest. It’s quite a large market hall where you can walk around both up and down. The stalls mainly consist of fruit / vegetable, meat and souvenir stalls. Upstairs you have the opportunity to taste local dishes and drink delicious homemade lemonade.
8. Heroes’ Square (Hősök tere)
More to the north-east of Budapest is Heroes’ Square (Hősök tere). On both sides of this large square with two large columns and the Millennium Monument are two museums: the Art hall (Műcsarnok) and the Museum of Fine Arts (Szépművészeti Múzeum).
9. Vajdahunyad castle
The Heroes Square is adjacent to the city park where the fairytale Vajdahunyad castle is located. It is certainly worth visiting and walking around the castle gardens.
10. Margaret Island (Margitsziget)
Do you want to relax even more and do you love nature? Then Margaretha Island (Margitsziget) is the ideal place for this activity. The island is located in the Danube and can be easily reached by tram 4 and 6 or by bus. A bus also runs on the island. The Music Fountain is located at the beginning. Wonderful to watch the spectacle sitting on a bench.
11. Cat cafe
Cat and tea lover? Then the Cat Cafe is a must-visit. One of the nicest sights in Budapest for me as a cat lover! The small-scale café is run by a friendly woman. Admission is 1750 HUF for adults en 1350 HUF for students with unlimited drinks and one slice of cake. There are 4 cats walking around in the cafe, who are enthusiastic about the different cat toys present.
12. Spas and baths
Such a city trip is of course quite tiring! The many baths in Budapest are the perfect solution against the tired feet. Most relaxed sights in Budapest are the spas. We visited the Szechenyi Thermal Bath. This is one of the largest thermal baths in all of Europe. Large pool parties are regularly held here. The bath has over 15 indoor and outdoor pools ranging from 18 to 40 degrees, some saunas and Turkish steam baths. This is a decent temperature change, which is relaxing, but you can sometimes get some light in your head! The heat makes you hear the hissing in your head.
The outdoor pools are open both summer and winter. You are required to wear a swimming cap in the outdoor pool. Don’t forget to bring your own slippers and towels. Renting a towel is also possible. On arrival you have the option to choose a cabin or a locker. Choose a locker, because you can use the cabins anyway and in this way you pay a little less.
13. Pinball Museum
Do you like arcade halls and pinball machines? Then visit the Pinball Museum (Flippermuzeum). Entrance is 2500 HUF for adults and 1250 HUF for students and seniors. After this you can play unlimited on any machine (with a choice of over 130 different ones !!). And they not only have pinball machines, no, they also have other games, such as Pacman, Space invaders, table football and more … Above each machine is information about the game. We enjoyed ourselves here for 4 hours without realizing it.
14. Gozsdu Udvar
Ready for nightlife? Then visit Gozsdu Udvar, an indoor street full of cafes, restaurants and even an arcade hall. Great fun for both children and adults.
15. Fogas Hás
Do you want something more alternative? Then visit Fogas Hás, a pub with several halls (both inside and outside). Each hall has a special interior. In good weather you can drink a nice cocktail in the courtyard. Check the program in advance.
Public transport Budapest
Public transport in Budapest is well organized, which ensures that you can easily visit all sights in Budapest. The subways in particular run very frequently, about every 3 minutes, so you never have to wait long. View the Budapest metro map.
We also took the tram a few times for usually only a few stops and that was also easy to do. Some subways and trams are quite outdated, but they run! Some buses run on electricity in the city center. With a kind of metal arm they touch the electrical wires so that they can drive. Great idea!
Tip: Do not buy separate tickets for public transport if you plan to travel a lot. With a day ticket you are often cheaper. For a 24-hour card you pay 1,650 HUF (€ 5.25), for a 72-hour card 4.150 HUF (€ 13.20) and for a 7-day card 4,950 HUF (€ 15.75). With these tickets you can travel unlimited by bus, metro and tram within the specified time. For more information about public transport, you can visit the BKK Budapest website. It is also possible to plan your trip via this website.
At the airport you can get a free map of all sights in Budapest. You can also buy tickets here at the BKK counter in Terminal 2B. The city center is very easy to reach from the airport by public transport. Bus 200E takes you to the Kőbánya-Kispest terminus, then transfer to metro 3 which will take you to the center.
Currency and prices in Budapest
The currency in Hungary is the Forint. Euros are accepted in some places, but keep in mind that this will be an unfavorable rate. The price level in Hungary is about 50% lower than in the Netherlands (2016). € 1 is approximately 313 HUF. Preferably pay in Hungary only in forint and not in euros. At many shops and sights in Budapest you pay a lot more in euros. For a hot meal in a restaurant you pay on average between € 2 and € 10, depending on where you eat. Prices in Budapest will be considerably higher than in the rest of the country.