12 Quintessential Must-Do’s In Budapest

Take a thermal bath, eat goulash with lots of paprika, have a drink at a ruin bar…

featured must-dos in budapest hungary

Since our team went to Budapest in 2013, thousands of you have been checking it out every week without much marketing effort from our team. What does that mean? Budapest has surpassed the “up-and-coming” status, it’s now a city where you need to be. It’s mysteriously rustic, mindblowingly artistic, undeniably historic but full of unwavering energy while anything goes. If you’ve got a week to spend in this gorgeous city, here are twelve must-dos you absolutely can’t miss. You’re welcome.

1. Take a thermal bath!

PHOTO WENDY HUNG

Budapest isn’t called “City of Baths” for nothing. Due to thermal and medicinal water springs, the bathhouses are healing, relaxing, and total social hubs. Check out the best baths 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!

2. Eat lots and lots of goulash with paprika

GOULASH
PHOTO WENDY HUNG

Meaty, saucy, and goes down easy with a glass of red wine. Goulash is traditionally Hungarian made from a meat stew with noodles and vegetables, seasoned with paprika and other sorts of delish spices for hearty flavors.

3. Morning walk across the Chain Bridge

Budapest, Széchenyi Lánchíd, Hungary (map, website)
chain bridge
PHOTO WENDY HUNG

Designed by English engineer William Tierney Clark, Chain Bridge crosses River Danube between Buda and Pest. Opened in 1849, it was the first permanent bridge across the Danube in Budapest. 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. Visit in the morning before it gets way too crowded later in the day.

4. Grab your drinks at ruined pubs

Instagram 5kud For Sale Pub Budapest

Ruin pubs in Budapest attract both locals and international travelers. Ruin pubs, pop-art galleries are huge parts of Budapest’s post-Communism culture. It’s a must-do during your visit to check out an exhibition, a photography or art show at a ruin pub such as Szimpla Kert. Culture, great drinks and awesomely cool people…you just can’t beat that!

5. Afternoon stroll in Castle Hill

1014 Budapest, Szent György tér 2, Hungary (map, website)

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 too! Strolling down the cobblestone streets in this area is fantastic except during the month of August…far too sizzling hot!

6. While you’re at Castle Hill, wanderlust through Fisherman’s Bastion

1014 Budapest, Szentháromság tér 5, Hungary (map, website)
PHOTO WENDY HUNG

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.

7. Caving inside Palvolgyi Cave

1025 Budapest, Szépvölgyi út 162, Hungary (map,website)

These cave systems—some tens of millions of years old—were only recently discovered by accident at the turn of the early twentieth century. Many of these caves are protected and prohibited from public entry, but you can still explore.

Find more details in our contributor Jerry Leon’s “Do You Dare? A Journey Inside Budapest’s Palvolgyi Cave.

8. Central Market Hall

1093 Budapest, Vámház körút 1-3, Hungary (mapwebsite)
Central Market Hall.
Central Market Hall. Photo: Wendy Hung

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 (to-die-for) local eateries. LángosPörkölt and stuffed paprikas are our favorites!

Read our recommendations: Traditional Grub at Central Market Hall in Budapest.

9. Get in on one of Europe’s best nightlife scenes!

PHOTO A38

Not only is Budapest the kingdom of ruin pubs, the city’s nightlife scene is full of character. Happening pubs constantly feature touring DJs, and parties go on ’til dawn. Check out Instant for butterflies, rabbits, owls, neon lights, disco balls as it hosts an always up-to-date repertoire of current DJs and sets itself as the city’s music trendsetter. There’s also A38, a boat that sits on the gorgeous Danube and it used to be an Ukrainian stone-carrier. A38 is now one of the hottest spots in Budapest with three floors: a roof terrace, a restaurant, a lounge and a club. Check out more nightlife details here: DRINK: Top 5 Ruin Pubs And Coolest Bars in Budapest.

10. Keep it classy with chamber orchestra live performances

BUDAPEST ORCHESTRA
PHOTO WENDY HUNG

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. 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.

11. Hungarian Parliament Building by night

1055 Budapest, Kossuth Lajos tér 1-3, Hungary (map, website)
Parliament Building.
Parliament Building. Photo: Wendy Hung

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!

Insider tip: Check out the fabulous Holy Crown of Hungary in the central hall!

12. Vintage shopping

Budapest hubs a generation of booming young designers and an exciting art scene. But vintage shopping in Budapest is a bit more edgy and much more underground. You can find an assortment of vintage stores on Anker köz street.Or for antiques and art, check Falk Miksa Street. Get more info at: SHOP BUDAPEST: Top 5 Local Boutiques You Can’t Find Anywhere Else.

Wendy Hung

CEO, FOUNDER, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

As the founder of Jetset Times, Wendy is an avid traveler and fluent in five languages. When she's not traveling, Wendy calls Paris and Taipei home. Her favorite countries so far from her travels have been: Bhutan, Iran, and Russia because they were all so different! St. Bart's was pretty amazing too (wink)!

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