The beauty of Budapest lies in the combination of its rich history and a rising cultivation of new arts. Key to enjoying your visit to the max: spend ONE day being a tourist, try ONE thermal bath a day, and leave the rest for off-the-beaten-paths we highly recommend!
1. Spend simply ONE day getting touristy stuff out of the way: Chain Bridge, Castle Hill, Fisherman’s Bastion and Parliament by night. Leave the rest of your time to the real local gems.
Here’s one touristy day:
1. Morning walk across the Chain Bridge: it spans the River Danube between Buda and Pest. Designed by the English engineer William Tierney Clark, it was the first permanent bridge across the Danube in Budapest, and was opened in 1849. Take the time to pose next to the majestic lions. Just as NYC’s Brooklyn Bridge, Chain Bridge was viewed as one of the modern world’s engineering wonders.
2. Afternoon in Castle Hill is the perfect stroll…except in August: AKA: Várhegy, has a touristy but gorgeous cable car that takes you up the hill with a magnificent view of the city. Do not miss Royal Palace, Mary Magdalene Tower, Vienna Gate and changing of the guards is pretty cool!
3. Fisherman’s Bastion is connected to Castle Hill. Named after both the medieval fishmarket and the Guild of Fishermen who defended this part of the wall during wars, Fisherman’s Bastion is the gigantic white tower that is hard to miss. If you’re tired of walking, there are nice cafes with live music where you can enjoy the view from atop.
4. Hungarian Parliament Building by night: Currently the largest building in Hungary and the tallest building in Budapest, Parliament building sits along the bank of the Danube. The night time view of the building is absolutely breathtaking!
2. Indulge in thermal baths.
Budapest isn’t called “City of Baths” for nothing. Due to thermal and medicinal water springs, the bathhouses are healing, relaxing, and can be grounds for social activities as well. We’ve narrowed down the best for you in “5 Thermal Baths For The Best Pampering Days And Breaks In Budapest“, so you can try a different one every day during your visit!
3. Keep it classy with chamber orchestra live performances.
For centuries, classical music in Hungarian culture has played a prominent role, just think: Liszt and Bartók. The disciplined regiment and training to become a classical musician in Hungary is world-renowned. We think you should spend one night sitting in an ornate church, enjoy a few hours of live performances by chamber orchestras. Seeing a performance at the Opera House is a great option too! Click here for more resources.
4. Eat your heart out at Great Market Hall
YUM! Great (or Central) Market Hall is touristic but a must-do! If you’d like to find produce, meats, pastries, candies, spices, and spirits such as paprika, tokaji, túró rudi, and caviar; first floor is your perfect hub. Second floor has tons of souvenir vendors, and delicious (more like to-die-for) local eateries. Lángos, Pörkölt and stuffed paprikas are our favorites! Read a list of our recommendations: Traditional Grub at Central Market Hall in Budapest.
5. Go off the beaten path: art galleries, contemporary designs, vintage boutiques and flea markets.
Post-Communism’s Budapest has been experiencing a boom of young new designers, artists ready to show the world their views on the past and the future. Indeed, there are ruin pubs (see DRINK: Top 5 Places To Grab A Few Cocktails in Budapest) and cool cafes. But check out buzzworthy hubs such as: Telep (see photo below), a meeting place for the artistic crowd. What used to be a gallery now turned into a home for the local art scene. Another one is Brody House (see STAY: Top 5 Hotels to Rest in Relax in Budapest) which houses studios, gallery venues and short or longer-term apartment rentals. You should spend some time browsing through vintage shops, pop-up art galleries and attend local exhibitions that are often hosted inside unassuming nooks. (see SHOP: Top 5 Local Boutiques You Can’t Find Anywhere Else)