Activities in Budapest are the way to explore every nook and cranny in this great monumental city on the banks of the Danube. Lively streets, elegant avenues, spectacular historical buildings and museums full of interesting things make a cultural offer that is difficult to turn down. There are a thousand and one things to do in Budapest, but some of them are not to be missed if you are to get to the essence of this beautiful city.
What to do and what to see in Budapest
- Buda Castle: If there is one icon of Budapest, it is the silhouette of this incredible palace on the bank of the Danube. Perched on Castle Hill, it affords amazing views of the city. Seat of the Hungarian kings in Budapest in the past, it now houses the Budapest History Museum, the National Széchényi Library and the Hungarian National Gallery (Magyar Nemzeti Galéria).
- Chain Bridge: The Széchenyi Chain Bridge is the most famous bridge spanning the river Danube between Buda and Pest. It was the first bridge that made it possible to walk across the river; before, it could only be crossed by boat or walking on its icy surface in winter. Designed by the English engineer William Tierney Clark, it was opened in 1849. In World War II, the bridge was severely damaged during Siege of Budapest, and was rebuilt and reopened 1949.
- Andrássy Avenue: Andrassy út (avenue) is an iconic boulevard in Budapest dating back to 1872 and one of the world’s most beautiful thoroughfares. A Unesco World Heritage Site, it links Erzsébet Square with Városliget (City Park), whose main entrance is Heroes’ Square. This avenue is lined with spectacular Neo-Renaissance mansions featuring fine façades and interiors, as well as luxury restaurants and top-brand boutiques.
- Heroes’ Square: Hősök tere (Heroes’ Square in Hungarian) is one of the major squares in Budapest, rich with historical and political connotations. It is a tribute to the founders of the Hungarian nation. Featuring a series of fine sculptures, it is the main entrance to the Városliget or City Park. The square always boasts a lively and friendly atmosphere, being as it is a meeting point for locals.
- Museum of Fine Arts: One of the finest museums in Budapest, the Museum of Fine Arts opened in 1906, a gem adding to the Neoclassical crown shining in the city. The portico, with its impressive columns, welcomes visitors to a magnificent arts centre, whose vast collection ranges from pieces from Ancient Greece and Rome to the great masters of different periods: Rafael, El Greco, Picasso…
- Hungarian Parliament: The Hungarian Parliament is the landmark of Budapest, and one of the world’s most amazing institutional buildings. Construction started in 1884, and the building was completed in 1904. With a privileged location in Lajos Kossuth Square, on the bank of the Danube, it is the third largest parliament building in the world (250m long). The Hungarian Parliament is one of Budapest’s most popular tourist attractions (tickets are sold online).
- Dohány Street Synagogue: A temple built in the Moorish Revival style, Budapest’s Great Synagogue combines features of Byzantine, Gothic, Romantic and Oriental (especially Arab) styles. The largest synagogue in Europe, it seats 3,000 people. The synagogue complex includes the Jewish Cemetery and the Memorial of the Hungarian Jewish Martyrs, a weeping willow whose leaves bear inscriptions with the names of Holocaust victims.
- St Stephen’s Basilica: Named after Stephen I, the first King of Hungary (whose right hand is housed in the reliquary), the Basilica is the second tallest building in Budapest, coming behind the Parliament. A full tour of the building involves climbing one of the bell towers and enjoying the panoramic views of the city from above.