Sights & Attractions in Budapest
Saint Stephen’s Basilica
One of the main attractions of Budapest is Saint Stephen’s Basilica. This Roman Catholic Church was finished in 1905. Free entry but recommended 1 euro donation. I only did the entry and felt that was enough, but if you’d like there are tours and panorama lookout in the dome available for purchase.
Large walled castle with shops, museums, and archaeological sites. Popular sites include the Fisherman’s Bastion and Matthias Church. The entrance to the castle is free, but there is a steep walk up to the grounds. A cable car ride to the top is available for 1800 round trip (1200 one way) for adults and 1100 round trip (700 one way) for children 3 – 14 years old. If you’re up there near the top of the hour, wait around for the changing of the guards ceremony.
This one of a kind church is a must see both inside and out. There are many different styles that contribute to the church because of how many times it has been worked on. The interior is full of frescos and stained glass. Tickets can be purchased at the ticket office nearby for 1800 HUF for adults and 1200 for students.
The Fisherman’s Bastion is a decorative bastion within the walls of Buda Castle. This area was created for viewing the city. There are some free parts on the lower balconies but the paid entrance has the best views. These tickets can be purchased along with the church ticket at the ticket office nearby. Tickets will cost 1000 HUF (3.5 euro) for adults, and 500 HUF for students and children under 14. These tickets are highly recommended unless you plan on going to the bar on the main bastion where drinks will run for around 7 euro each.
Szechenyi Thermal Spa
One of the first things that people ask about when you talk about Budapest is the thermal baths. Szechenyi baths are the most popular and best looking, both outside and inside. They are somewhat expensive, (6,000 HUF weekdays, 6,200 HUF weekends around 20 euro), although you can stay for as long as you’d like. After you buy your tickets, you’ll be given a wristlet for your locker which is easy to figure out. The hard part is the changing rooms. These rooms have doors on BOTH sides, and most rooms do not have locks. My best tip is bring in your significant other, try to block both doors and change at the same time. Once inside, you can walk around to find a variety of baths, both indoor and outdoor, at different temperatures, as well as various steam rooms.
City Park & Heroes Square (Near Szechnyi Thermal Spa)
The area around the thermal spas also offers castle grounds to walk around (City Park) and a monumental square surrounded by a rotary (Heroes Square). There is also a zoo nearby, but I didn’t go in. City Park is nice to walk around since there is usually a street performer or someone doing spray paint art. The castle contains a museum and wonderful architecture. If you cross the bridge you will find Heroes Square, which is a large public square dedicated to the one-thousandth anniversary of the Hungarian State. Near this monument is the Museum of Fine Arts and Palace of Art, known for their collections of Hungarian art.
Another walk up a hill, but there is a trail leading up to it near the entrance to the Gellert Cave Church. Along the way there is a park and plenty of places to stop and check out the view. At the top is the Liberty Statue and some food/drink vendors. Make sure to get up here with a couple cups and a bottle of wine for a sunset during your stay.
3 Day Itinerary for Budapest
Day 1: Buda Castle & Citadella
If you’re staying in central Budapest, then you will want to do most of the stuff across the river in one day. Take a tram across the river to the Buda Castle during the day to explore the grounds. Make sure to check out Matthias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion. Although, it was hard to find many places to eat around here so try to go down closer to the river for a bite to eat, then check out the view of the Parliament building. Afterwards, you can walk or take a tram down towards the Citadella entrance. Get up here in time for sunset for a beautiful view.
Day 2: Dohany Street Synagogue & Szechnyi Baths
In the morning, get up and see the Dohany Street Synagogue. Hopefully it’s within walking distance of your place, but if not it’s easily accessible by tram. The Synagogue has lots to offer with its own museum and unique architecture. Then take the train over to the Szechnyi baths, which are about a 25 minute ride away. Take a walk around the castle and check out the museums in the area too.
Day 3: Saint Stephens Basilica & River Cruise
Take a river cruise at night after a final relaxing day. Try to book a time at night so you can see the parliament building lit up with the best view from the river. There are many programs that offer these cruises. I recommend the one through Budapest River Cruises, they offer decent prices which include a choice of 2 cocktails or beers.
Where to Eat in Budapest
A cafe with pets! What more could you want? You will get to hold a snake, and have a chameleon walk across the back of your neck while drinking your coffee. I prefer the reptiles because they don’t poop on the tables, but you can ask the waiters/waitresses for whatever you’d like. You traditionally stay for about 3 or 4 animals then leave. The only downside is slightly high prices and the place smells like its full of animals, but what can you expect?
Trofea Grill is a perfect place for anyone to try as much Hungarian cuisine as they want. It’s buffet style and not that expensive for all you can eat. If you’re trying Hungarian cuisine or even Eastern European Cuisine for the first time, I strongly recommend you try everything you can, or at least the traditional foods I listed below.
Where to Stay in Budapest
This map to the left are the neighborhoods of Budapest. The areas I highlighted are the best areas to stay in for convenience. Budapest is so easy to walk around and take public transportation so a good location is well worth the money.
Transportation, How to Get Around Budapest
This is a picture of the public transportation map in Budapest. Like any other city, tickets are available for purchase in any metro stop. I recommend buying the 10 trip package for a 3 day weekend for two people. It costs 3,000 HUF for a 10 journey ticket, which saves money in the long run since a single trip ticket is 350 HUF.
Currency used in Budapest
These are Hungarian Fonts, the money used in Budapest. To us Americans, they’re strange because they have high numerical values but low currency value. The best place to take out money in Budapest is at any Budapest Bank.