Budapest Tourism and Travel Guide

Budapest (Hungarian: [ˈbudɒpɛʃt]; names in other languages) is the capital and the largest city of Hungary, and one of the largest cities in the European Union. It is the country's principal political, cultural, commercial, industrial, and transportation centre, sometimes described as the primate city of Hungary. According to the census, in 2011 Budapest had 1.74 million inhabitants, down from its 1989 peak of 2.1 million due to suburbanisation. The Budapest Metropolitan Area is home to 3.3 million people. The city covers an area of 525 square kilometres (202.7 sq mi). Budapest became a single city occupying both banks of the river Danube with the unification of Buda and Óbuda on the west bank, with Pest on the east bank on 17 November 1873. The history of Budapest began with Aquincum, originally a Celtic settlement that became the Roman capital of Lower Pannonia. Hungarians arrived in the territory in the 9th century. Their first settlement was pillaged by the Mongols in 1241–42. The re-established town became one of the centres of Renaissance humanist culture by the 15th century. Following the Battle of Mohács and nearly 150 years of Ottoman rule, the region entered a new age of prosperity in the 18th and 19th centuries, and Budapest became a global city after its unification in 1873. It also became the second capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, a great power that dissolved in 1918, following World War I. Budapest was the focal point of the Hungarian Revolution of 1848, the Hungarian Republic of Councils in 1919, the Battle of Budapest in 1945, and the Revolution of 1956. Cited as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, Budapest's extensive World Heritage Site includes the banks of the Danube, the Buda Castle Quarter, Andrássy Avenue, Heroes' Square and the Millennium Underground Railway, the second-oldest metro line in the world. It has around 80 geothermal springs, the world's largest thermal water cave system, second largest synagogue, and third largest Parliament building. The city attracts about 4.4 million tourists a year, making it the 25th most popular city in the world, and the 6th in Europe, according to Euromonitor. Considered a financial hub in Central Europe, the city ranked third on Mastercard's Emerging Markets Index, and ranked as the most liveable Central or Eastern European city on EIU's quality of life index. It is also ranked as 'the world's second best city' by Condé Nast Traveler, and 'Europe's 7th most idyllic place to live' by Forbes. It is the highest ranked Central/Eastern European city on Innovation Cities' Top 100 index. Budapest is home to the headquarters of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), the European Police College (CEPOL) and the first foreign office of the China Investment Promotion Agency (CIPA). Eighteen universities are situated in Budapest, including the Central European University, Eötvös Loránd University and the Budapest University of Technology and Economics.
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Best Time to Visit Budapest

Owing to a fairly moderate climate, Budapest is considered to be a year-round destination. The weather of Budapest tourism is divided into four broad categories – summer, winter, spring and autumn. Each of these seasons attracts a significant amount of travellers, offering their own distinct vibe.

If you are someone who doesn’t mind crowded places, summer (June to August) is the ideal time to explore Budapest tourism. Summer temperatures in Budapest tourism hover between 25 and 30-degree celsius. However, this is also the time when hotel rooms are the most expensive – so ensure you book your stay in advance. Similarly, the winter months (December to February) are also popular amongst travellers to visit Budapest tourism. The weather around this time gets quite chilly and snowfall is common. Witnessing Christmas and New Year celebrations is one of the top touristy things to do in Budapest.


If you’re looking for a backpacker’s guide to Budapest, skip summer and winter and plan a trip in the off-season. Spring (March to May) is the time when the weather gets pleasant, flights are cheap and hotel owners are open to bargaining. Similarly, a lot of travellers also prefer heading to Budapest tourism in autumn (September to November). In addition to limited crowds, travellers are also treated to a range of cultural events and festivals.

Top Attractions In Budapest

Parliament Building

A classic example of the Gothic Revival style of architecture, the Hungarian Parliament Building is the most iconic landmark in Budapest tourism. Constructed in the year 1902, the building happens to be the third-largest parliamentary building in the world. The massive structure is a photographer’s delight in its truest sense and is best viewed at night, from the Pest side of the city. There are several tours of the Parliament listed online, that travellers can pre-book while planning a trip to Budapest tourism. Try to plan your visit to the Parliament in a way that you witness the changing of guards ceremony – it happens every day and is unlike anything you would have ever seen before!


Buda Castle

A stunning 13th-century castle that sits atop Castle Hill, Buda Castle is the best place to understand Hungarian history & culture. The former Royal Palace now also houses the Budapest History Museum and the Hungarian National Gallery. The Buda Castle was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987 and since then has become one of the most visited places in Budapest tourism. Interestingly, Buda Castle also has an underground wine cellar where tourists can sample wines from more than 20 regions across the country. While it is not necessary to book a tour beforehand to visit Buda Castle, we advise you to plan ahead and opt for the safer way out – the expanse of the castle might leave you feeling completely lost!


St. Stephen’s Basilica

A fine example of the neoclassical style of architecture, St. Stephen’s Basilica is one of the best places to visit in Budapest. The Roman Catholic church is named after Stephen, the first King of Hungary who ruled between 975-1038. Interestingly, the church also houses King Stephen’s mummified right hand, an attraction for travellers from all over the world. Ever since it was first opened in 1905, St. Stephen’s Basilica remains one of the most important structures in the Budapest tourism skyline. Travellers can also head to the dome of the church for a stunning bird’s eye view of the city. Alternatively, you can also choose to sign up for one of the classical music or organ concerts that happen frequently in the church premises. 


Great Market Hall

 Often referred to as the most popular marketplace in Budapest tourism, the Great Market Hall is every local’s go-to spot for groceries, fruits and vegetables. Despite the fact that Great Market Hall is essentially a local market, the complex attracts travellers of all ages. The sprawling market spreads across three floors and has more than 100 stalls selling all kinds of consumer goods. Built-in 1897, the Neo-Gothic style market makes for a must-visit in Budapest, especially for foodies. Sign up for a half-day tour of the Great Market Hall and spend your day sampling authentic Hungarian street food, local wines and picking some wood-smoked Gyulai kolbasz sausages. 


Széchenyi Chain Bridge

One of the first structures that you are likely to associate with Budapest tourism, the Széchenyi Chain Bridge is quite simply, an unmissable tourist attraction in Budapest. The cast-iron bridge literally holds the city together, connecting Buda to Pest. Designed by English engineer William Tierney Clark, the Széchenyi Chain Bridge also happens to be the first permanent bridge constructed across the Danube River. Ever since it was first opened in 1849, the bridge has been considered a symbol of bringing people together, promoting love and unity. Take a walking tour of Széchenyi Chain Bridge, get clicking and make memories that will last a lifetime.


Shoes on the Danube Bank

An important spot in the history of Budapest tourism, Shoes on the Danube Bank is a gut-wrenching memorial that has been established in remembrance of the 3,500 people killed by fascists during World War II. The popular sculpture comprises of 60 pairs of cast iron shoes placed by the bank of River Danube, symbolizing the cowardly act when thousands of civilians were killed by Arrow Cross militiamen. The victims were told to stand by the river and take their shoes off before they were shot to death, with their bodies being swept away by the river. 

Activities And Things To Do In Budapest

Pamper yourself at Széchenyi baths

Budapest tourism is almost synonymous with its iconic thermal baths. Nestled right in the middle of a sprawling 20th-century Turkish building, Széchenyi bath happens to be the largest medicinal bath in all of Europe, making it a popular tourist attraction in Budapest tourism. The waters of Széchenyi are said to be rich in sulphates, calcium and magnesium. Széchenyi attracts travellers from all parts of the world, who flock here to take a dip in the therapeutic waters – hoping to find relief from prolonged illnesses and orthopaedic problems. Széchenyi also attracts leisure seekers who unwind in the hot waters after exploring the many attractions that Budapest tourism offers. In addition to the thermal pools, the Széchenyi complex also offers a sauna and steam rooms. And if you’re someone who’s looking to go all out, sign up for one Széchenyi’s night ‘sparty’ (spa party) and experience the Budapest tourism nightlife at its craziest best. 


Attend a Hungarian folk show

Hungary is a land of vibrant cultures and folk dancing is an art that comes naturally to almost every Hungarian. The country has a rich history of folk dancing and Budapest tourism makes for just the right place to witness the same. If you’re heading to the capital city and want to go off the beaten path, head to the Danube Palace and get yourself a ticket to a cultural show. Danube Folk Ensemble, Hungarian State Folk Ensemble and Rajkó Folk Ensemble are some of the popular groups that frequent the venue. The beautiful amalgamation of music, dance, colours and costumes is bound to leave you speechless!


Go on a bar crawl & party the night away!

Nightlife happens to be one of the key elements that attract travellers to Budapest tourism. The city is best known for its signature ‘ruin pubs’ which are quite simply, unlike anything you would have seen before. These hole-in-the-wall establishments actually happen to be buildings that were abandoned post World War II and were then turned into inexpensive drinking holes. Budapest tourism’s District 7, that is, the old Jewish Quarter neighbourhood is lined with these ruin pubs that come alive at night. These bars offer pulsating music, cheap drinks, eclectic setup and an unmissable old-world charm. Szimpla Kert is the most famous ruin pub in town, and makes for a must-visit spot while in Budapest tourism. Many operators offer ruin pub tours but we’d suggest you explore the neighbourhood on your own – go bar-hopping and find your own favourite! 


Spend a day in Margaret Island

If you’re someone who’s planning a long holiday to Budapest tourism and would want to get away from the city for a day, make sure you put Margaret Island in your itinerary. The beautiful island sits majestically on the Danube River and spreads across an area of 2.5km. Owing to an array of recreational activities and natural wonders, Margaret Island is a popular attraction in Budapest tourism. Travellers can rent bicycles, golf carts or pedal carts to explore the island. Alternatively, one can also choose to go on foot and marvel at the natural beauty while taking a tour of Margaret Island. Medieval ruins, musical fountains and public parks are some of the best places to visit on Margaret Island. 


Go on a river cruise

No trip to Budapest tourism can ever be complete without riding the heart and soul of the city, the Danube River. There are several operators lined along the coast of the river offering varied kinds of cruise options. If you’re visiting the city with your loved one, sign up for a lunch or dinner cruise – the calm waters of Danube make for the perfect setting for a romantic date. For travellers looking to explore the city or putting their photography skills to test, there are half-day cruises through Budapest tourism as well. Not just that, some operators also organize to and fro trips all the way to Germany! 

Where To Stay In Budapest

Budapest tourism is a hot destination amongst travellers from all parts of the world. The Hungarian city attracts couples, backpackers, leisure travellers and business travellers alike. Owing to this diversity in the tourist footfall, Budapest tourism has plenty of stay options for travellers on all kinds of budgets. Interestingly, the entire city of Budapest tourism is divided into ‘districts’ – all of which have their own pros and cons, making it easier for travellers to have their pick from the Budapest travel guide.


Luxury Stays in Budapest

If you’re someone who thinks that a holiday to Budapest tourism won’t be complete without checking into a fancy property, drop everything and head to the 5th district (Downtown). This upscale neighbourhood boasts some of Budapest tourism’s most popular attractions, making it the best area to stay in Budapest for luxury seekers. The Downtown area has several 5-star properties in close vicinity, giving tourists coming to Budapest tourism plenty of options to choose from. In addition to the plush 5-star hotels, Downtown also houses some great boutique hotels where you are bound to experience world-class hospitality. Here are some of the best luxury accommodations in Budapest tourism:

Kempinski Hotel Corvinus Budapest
Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace Budapest
Budapest Marriott Hotel
Bohem Art Hotel
Hotel President


Mid-range Stays in Budapest

Over the past few years, Budapest tourism has also started attracting family travellers from all over the world – a trend that has given rise to many mid-range hotels in the city. District 1 (Castle District), District 8 (Palace District) and District 13 (Angyalfold) are some of the best areas to stay in Budapest for medium budget travellers. These neighbourhoods boast of many mid-range hotels, apartments and guest houses. Despite being affordable, these mid-range hotels in Budapest tourism offer comfortable stays and come laden with all basic amenities. To add to that, all of these districts are in close proximity to all the best places to visit in Budapest. Below are some of the best mid-range accommodation options in Budapest tourism:

Corvin Plaza Apartments & Suites
Triple M Hotel
Hotel Charles
Evergreen Budapest Guest House


Budget Stays in Budapest

In addition to luxury hotels and mid-range accommodations, Budapest tourism also has a range of stay options for travellers exploring the city on a budget. District 6 (Terézvaros) and District 7 (Erzsébetváros) are the best areas to stay in Budapest for backpackers. These neighbourhoods boast of many budget hotels, independent apartments and backpacker hostels that travellers can choose from. In addition, these areas also offer cheap shopping, pocket-friendly bars and street food joints. Here are some of the best budget accommodation options in Budapest tourism:

Avenue Hostel
GNG Home
Nova Aparthotel
Casa Nora

Cuisine And Best Places To Eat In Budapest

People travelling to Budapest tourism often end up associating the Hungarian capital with just the famous thermal baths and ruin pubs. However, not many know that Hungary is a foodie’s paradise and Hungarian cuisine is known for its rusticity, flavours and generous amounts of spices. Meat, dairy, peppers and vegetables are some of the key elements that are common to the iconic dishes of Hungary. 

Being the capital city, Budapest tourism is quite simply, at the heart of all the gastronomic action, making it one of the best places to try traditional Hungarian delicacies. A meat and spice stew, served as is or in a soupy preparation, goulash is the most popular dish you can try on your trip to Budapest tourism. Hungarians take their paprika very seriously and chicken paprika is a must-try delicacy on a trip to Budapest tourism. Additionally, Budapest tourism also makes for a great place to try Hungarian sausages, best known around the world for their rich taste & grainy texture. 

If you are a vegetarian who’s visiting Budapest tourism, you will definitely be taken aback by the array of options available. A deep-fried flatbread, topped with generous amounts of cheese, Langos is every Hungarian’s favourite street food. Főzelék is another popular vegetarian delicacy you can try in Budapest tourism. A soup made with lentils and vegetables, Főzelék is Hungarian food at its healthiest best. Not just that, Hungary also happens to be a great place for travellers with a sweet tooth. The streets of Budapest tourism are lined with age-old confectioners dishing out the country’s most popular desserts like Somlói Galuska (sponge cake with cream and nuts), Dobos Torte (layered chocolate cake with caramel) and Kürtös Kalács (cylindrical bread coated with sugar).  

Considering the fact that Budapest tourism attracts travellers on all kinds of budget, the city has plenty of options to suit varied palates. Vegan Garden, Óbuda and Kőbányai út are some of the best areas in Budapest tourism if you’re on the lookout for cheap yet flavourful eats. On the other hand, the city also has some great places where travellers can indulge in fine dining and sample exotic Hungarian eats. Mazel Tov, Menza, Rosenstein, Dobrumba and Bock Bisztró are some of the most popular restaurants you must eat at on your trip to Budapest tourism. 

Typical Costs In Budapest

At first, Budapest tourism can come across as this big, overwhelming and confusing city. However, the Hungarian capital is actually very organized and has one of the best transport networks in all of Europe. The Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport happens to be about 40 minutes from the city centre. There are state-run taxi services, a shuttle service and minivans that will have you cover this distance in no time. 

Getting around in Budapest tourism is equally convenient and extremely affordable. Locals claim that walking is the best way to explore Budapest tourism. Interestingly, all major tourist attractions, shopping hubs and famous restaurants are accessible on foot from the city centre. Budapest tourism also has several app-based bicycle rental services, which actually makes for one of the most interesting touristy things to do in Budapest. BuBi and Lime are the most popular rental services in Budapest tourism for bicycle and electric scooters respectively.

Budapest tourism also has a wide network of buses, trams and trolleys that operate in all parts of the city. These modes of public transport are easily available through the day, are super affordable and completely safe, especially for solo female travellers. Not just that, the routes of many buses and trams have been planned in such a way that one such ride ends up becoming your personal Budapest guide.  

In addition to the on-ground transport services, Budapest tourism also has an expansive subway system that connects major parts of the cities. The best part about using public transport in Budapest tourism is that travellers can get one-day, two-day and one-week passes – a facility that not only makes commuting convenient but also much cheaper. 

If you’re someone who’s not a fan of public transport, there is also a state-run taxi service that operates all throughout Budapest tourism. These signature yellow cabs can be hailed on-the-spot 24/7 and have regulated fares. The government has recently tied up with mainstream providers like Bolt, City Taxi and Tele 5 to enable on-demand booking for these cabs. 

  1. How many days do I need to explore Budapest?

 According to most Budapest travel guides, one needs at least 3-5 days to experience the best of Budapest tourism. However, a lot also depends on your budget and the kind of experiences you are seeking. 


  1. What are the things I should pack for a trip to Budapest?

 Owing to tricky weather conditions, packing the right clothes is extremely important for a trip to Budapest tourism. Make sure you keep adequate woollen clothes as well as scarves, pullovers and gloves that can come handy. Ensure that you are well-prepared to visit the thermal baths – carry proper swimwear, flip-flops and extra towels. Since walking is common in the city, Budapest travel guides always suggest travellers carry comfortable shoes and sunscreens. Additionally, it is also advised to carry a refillable water bottle, lip balm, sun glasses and a pen and notebook amongst other essentials. 


  1. Suggest three tips for planning a trip to Budapest

Though Budapest tourism is a completely safe destination, there are still some tricks and tips that you must keep in mind. Here are some insider hacks from an extensive Budapest travel guide that every traveler should follow:

a. Taxi scams are pretty common in Budapest and taxi drivers often end up cheating tourists. Budapest tourism has an impeccable public transport network and travellers are advised to avoid using taxis. However, if you’re someone who prefers taxis, make sure you only opt for licensed taxis that operate on flat fares. These taxis are yellow in colour, have a taxi sign on the roof and have prices indicated clearly on the side of the car.

b. Pickpockets are also active in some parts of Budapest tourism. Be cautious whenever you’re travelling in public transport or visiting crowded shops, marketplaces or popular tourist attractions. Segregate your cash and carry only a limited amount when you step out to explore Budapest tourism.

c. A lot of people will also approach you on the streets for currency exchange – don’t fall for it! The streets of Budapest tourism are full of tricksters who will try to exchange currency illegally and leave you with counterfeited money. Make sure you get your currency only from banks or from authorised exchange centres.

d. Which are the lesser-known places to visit in Budapest?

Budapest tourism boasts of many places and attractions that travellers can head to for an offbeat experience. Invisible Exhibition, Pinball Museum, Michael Jackson Tree, Budapest Makery and Szabo Ervin Library are some of the lesser known places that you can visit in Budapest tourism. 


         4. How do I reach Budapest from India?

India is well-connected to Budapest by daily flights. It takes about 12-15 hours to cover this journey and a round trip will cost you anywhere between Rs. 40,000 to Rs. 1,00,000 – depending on your flight preference. 


Written by Siddharth Sujan, a writer at Tripoto. When not creating travel content, I fool around with Snapchat filters, conduct experiments in the kitchen or binge on serial killer documentaries on Netflix.