Budapest, the capital of Hungary has sat on the shores of the Danube River for over 150 years. Even before that, there were settlements dating all the way back to the Stone Age at this location. One of the benefits of having such a long history of human habitation is the evidence left behind by the ages. Architecture dating to Ancient Rome sits alongside more modern offerings, making a varied tapestry that takes you through the different time periods and cultures that have ruled the area.
Twenty-three districts make up the city and all can be accessed using the city’s meticulous transit system. This system makes it easy to plot out the sites you want to check out and gives you plenty of time and options to fit it all in. Visitors can expect cold winters and warm summers with sudden rainfall that helps set the stage for this beautiful, historic location. In addition to all of the cultural offerings that Budapest has to offer, you can also take advantage of one of the 125 hot springs the dot the area.
With galleries, sports, art, cuisine, and parks, Budapest is a feast for the senses and is one of the most sought after destinations for travelers from all over the world. Here are 10 of the highest-rated attractions within the city for you to experience.
From atop this hill, you can see a perfect view of the river and how the city is cut into Buda and Pest districts. Visit the Gellert Thermal Baths to experience the medicinal minerals of these springs that can reach up to 58 degrees Celsius (136F). The hill is also home to the Gellert Cave, which has a storied history as a secret religious meeting place during Communist occupation. Today, the cave is used as a monastery and has a lovely terrace complete with a statue of Saint Stephen. At the top of the hill sits the Citadel, a fortress built in 1851. There, you can view weaponry from World War II.
This Neo-Gothic building is over 100 years old, which means it has seen two world wars. The building has undergone many restorations but has maintained the classic features. It is the third-largest parliament building in the world with 691 rooms. Currently, you can view the Hungarian Crown Jewels in the parliament building. This crown was used by the kings of the empire from the 12th century until 1916. The jewels have been stole many times over the last century and were even given into American protection to keep them safe from Soviet Russia. They were returned in 1978.
There are seven islands in the Danube that fall under Hungary’s territory. Margaret Island is widely used for fitness activities and is very popular at night for its various night clubs. There are bike trails around the island and plenty of relaxing park spaces to just relax and take in the day. The island is also home to a water park, an open-air theater, and medieval ruins.
Hajogyari is a man-made island that is quickly becoming a posh destination. It hosts the Sziget Music Festival each year and is being developed with a casino, hotels, and a thriving nightlife.
Built in 1896, this castle is now home to festivals and concerts that whole trips can be built around. Treat yourself to the winter wonderland Wine & Cheese Festival in November or take in the Music Festival over the summer. If you just want to see the palace during a day visit, you’ll be treated to Gothic, Baroque and Roman architecture. On the castle grounds, you’ll find the Museum of Agriculture. Explore the winemaking history of the area.
Zoo and Botanical Gardens
Located in Varosliget Park in the City Center, the zoo is a natural reserve and has several art nouveau buildings. The zoo is active in helping breed endangered animals. It features several climate zones to simulate tropical regions and desert climates.
The botanical garden is managed by Eotvos Lorand University and features over 200 endangered plants. The gardens host a cherry blossom festival in the Spring.
Originally a hunting castle for Count Wagner, this property has gone through many changes over the years, serving as everything from a police station to a cinema. In 2008, it began life as the Chocolate Museum. You can see tools that have been used to fashion chocolate treats over the last two centuries.
There are several tours that can be taken and sweets to be tasted. You can even make some chocolate treats yourself. Pour your own chocolate, add flavors, and decorate your custom chocolate bar.
This historic site is flanked by the Museum of Fine Arts and the Palace of Art. At the center of the square is the Millennium Memorial, which honors those who have fought and died for Hungarian freedom. Colonnades, statues of past kings and angels as well as reliefs can be viewed up close. Like most of the country, parts of the square were damaged by war, but refurbishment efforts have restored the square to its original intent of highlighting the glory of the empire.
The Museum of Fine Arts is currently closed for renovations. The Palace of Arts houses a concert hall, a theater, and the Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art.
Hospital in the Rock Nuclear Bunker Museum
In the caves below the Buda Castle, the government of Budapest built a hospital in preparation for the Second World War. The cave system had been used for various purposes in earlier years, then was reinforced and turned into a bomb shelter, where wounded soldiers could be treated safely.
Restoration began in 2007 and now this museum is one of the most popular destinations in Hungary as it authentically depicts the role of this cave system during the war, communist occupation, and revolution.
Saint Stephen’s Basilica
Named after the first king of Hungary, this church is the largest church in Budapest and the third largest in the country. It can hold 8,500 people. The two bell towers house six large bells, the largest of which is the Great St. Stephen bell, which is the largest in Hungary. Housed in the church is the mummified hand of St. Stephen. It is on display in the chapel.
The basilica is a center for music; the choir performs across Europe. Public concerts are held at the church, where you can see world famous organists and singers.
Hungarian National Museum
One of the museum’s seven permanent displays includes a history of the country starting with archeological finds dating to 804AD. Visitors can see the social structures and leaders that rose and fell through the ages all the way up to the 20th century.
Art and science hold equal importance in Hungary. There is a permanent exhibit showcasing the scientific achievements of Hungarian scholars. The museum hosts a festival every May that celebrates museums.
Budapest is a cultural must-see destination for any traveler. Nature, science, art, and history come together harmoniously in this city that has seen a lot of strife but has always risen out of the ashes.