Last Updated on September 21, 2022 by gregor
Budapest is an amazing & comfortable city. Amazing in the sense of a large, spacious, and yet manageable old town with beautiful magnificent buildings from different centuries. Comfortable in the sense of being able to stroll around all day. Amazing in the sense of the incredibly beautiful thermal baths that invite you to relax. Amazing in terms of proximity to Austria and easy accessibility from all over Europe. Comfortable in the sense of a quick drive from Vienna – 2,5 hours and you are in Budapest.
But Budapest is not just beautiful. Budapest has character. Budapest is so much more than just the Fisherman’s Bastion (although it’s a must-see for everyone!). Budapest is more than the amalgamation of the former cities of Buda, Óbuda, and Pest.
Best Time to Visit Budapest for Vacation
Every season has its advantages and disadvantages. Budapest has warm and sunny summers and cold winters.
Spring is a great time to visit Budapest, from March to May the city isn’t packed with tourists yet. Therefore it’s quieter in the city and the prices are cheaper.
The temperatures are rising but the amount of rainfall as well. During the warmer months, there’s a higher chance of rain in Budapest.
May often is a rainy month and June is the wettest month of the year. If you have 2 days in Budapest, you probably don’t want to spend it under an umbrella the whole time.
July and August are the busiest months in the city though. Expect warm temperatures and possible rainfall.
Besides the Spring months, September, October and November are great months to visit Budapest. Tourists leave the city again and the temperatures are dropping down, as it gets colder.
Winter starts in December and ends in February. Conclusion: We highly recommend visiting Budapest during Spring and Fall.
Top Things to do and See in Budapest Video Guide
Highlights in Buda
The western part of the Hungarian capital is hilly Buda, which makes up a good third of the city area. Buda means oven – although in german it is Ofen, which means oven, however there is no proven relation between Buda and oven in reality. While Buda was developing into a royal city in the Middle Ages, Pest was booming into a prosperous trading center. For a short time, Buda was even a university town – although Pest won this title a little later. Over the years, Buda and later Budapest has developed into the intellectual and political center of the country.
Buda Castle & Fisherman’s Bastion
One of the most beautiful places in all of Budapest is the Castle District, which can be found on Castle Hill. The neighborhood is home to some of the most beautiful buildings in the city and is on everyone’s to-do list. Sure, the castle district is no longer an insider tip. For beautiful photos, even without people, it is enough to be here before 8 a.m.
Highlights in the castle district
MUST SEE – Fisherman’s Bastion
The Fisherman’s Bastion is a must-see in Budapest. We highly recommend visiting the bastion as early as possible in the morning, as it gets crowded during the day.
For the most magical experience and most beautiful pictures, you should visit during sunrise! We experienced sunrise at the Fisherman’s Bastion a few times already, and we can’t recommend it enough.
The Fisherman’s Bastion is located on the castle hill in Buda and offers beautiful views of the Danube river and Pest.
It’s called the Fisherman’s Bastion because the guild of the fisherman used to be responsible for defending this part of Buda.
Most parts of the Fisherman’s Bastion are free to visit, though for the upper towers there’s a fee. Make sure to also visit the Matthias Church. If you don’t want to go inside, be amazed by the outside (like we usually do)!
How to get there? To get to the Fisherman’s Bastion you can either walk (it is 10 minutes from the river, from the foot of the hill it might be less, around 5 minutes), take public transport or a cab, one of the touristic official Budapest Castle bus or take Budapest’s funicular.
MUST-SEE: Buda Castle
In the castle district the Buda castle is one of the largest and highest buildings in the city. Luckily you can take the funicular up here and save a bit of time and energy.
The former royal palace now houses the Hungarian National Gallery, the Ludwig Museum, the Historical Museum and the National Library. Actually, there is already enough here to see for one day in Budapest.
The magnificent Buda Castle originally dates from the 13th century, but has been destroyed, rebuilt and expanded over the centuries. Most of the castle today is built in baroque, the gothic and renaissance elements were unfortunately destroyed.
During World War II, parts of the palace were destroyed and then reconstructed to this day.
Be sure to visit the interior of the Buda Castle with the Gothic hall, the medieval royal cellar and the immense ballroom. If you still have time, then also discover one of the museums. Here I can recommend the Hungarian National Gallery!
Highlights in Pest
While the Castle Hill dominates the Buda district, there are several interesting places and sights on the other side of the Danube. You can find my highlights and recommendations in this section:
MUST SEE – Great market hall in Budapest
Big, a bit hectic, a jumble of different smells – that’s the Great Market Hall in Pest. Whether you come here with the intention of buying or not, at least a short stroll through the hustle and bustle is a must. Fresh goods such as meat, fish, fruit, vegetables and spices are mainly offered on the ground floor of the market hall. On the 1st floor, on the other hand, there are souvenir shops at one end and snack bars at the other.
Info Great Market Hall
Opening times: Monday 06:00 – 17:00; Tuesday to Friday 6:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.; Saturday 06:00 – 15:00; Sunday closed
MUST SEE – House of Parliament in Budapest
The Hungarian Parliament stands directly on the Danube and is best admired from the opposite bank or from Castle Hill. It is also one of the symbols of Budapest, the third-largest parliament building in the world and, by the way, one of the most beautiful buildings in the city. The Hungarian architect Imre Steindl found inspiration in the Palace of Westminster.
A look inside should be on your Budapest bucket list. A visit to the magnificent halls is only possible with a guided tour. This lasts around 45 minutes and is offered in various languages throughout the day. The highlights include the imposing staircase as well as the Hungarian crown jewels and the Holy Crown of Hungary (= royal crown).
Website Parliament | Opening times daily April – October 08:00 – 18:00 and November – March 08:00 – 16:00 with restrictions during parliamentary sessions |
Shoes on the banks of the Danube in Budapest
Never forget. There are 60 pairs of iron shoes right on the banks of the Danube. Together they are a memorial and commemorate the Jews who were murdered here during the Second World War.
Heroes’ Square and City Park
Heroes’ Square with the adjacent City Park and the Vajdahunyad Castle with the Agricultural Museum offer a wonderful walk. If you take the avenue Andrassy but come from the city center, you already have a nice view of Heroes’ Square from afar.
In the city park there is also a manageable lake that can be navigated with small rental boats from spring to autumn, but in the winter it is one of the biggest icerink of Europe. In the northern part of the park there is also the Széchenyi Medicinal Bath with 21 different pools. Every Saturday (with the exception of January) the pool area turns into a big party. If you’re looking for a long night out in Budapest, don’t miss the Sparty Bath Party.
Jewish District and the Synagogue
The big synagogue. When I say big, I mean it because this is the largest synagogue in Europe. You shouldn’t miss this during your stay in Budapest.
The synagogue was completed in 1859 and quickly became a central place of pilgrimage for Judaism. It was badly damaged during the Second World War, but since 1996 it has been restored to its full glory.
The exterior of the synagogue impresses with the two bulbous towers with their gilded domes and the facade of light-colored bricks on a red stone foundation. The main entrance is in the Moorish style and I also discover various oriental motifs on the facade in addition to Jewish symbols.
Inside the synagogue I find more Moorish elements, heavy candlesticks and the lectern of the Torah. There is also a second level in the form of a gallery as women pray above and men below. The synagogue’s organ is also famous because it was the first of its kind.
A walk through the inner courtyard and garden is also exciting. Here you find the steel sculpture “Tree of Life” commemorating the victims of the Holocaust and also the Jewish cemetery.
Tips for your city trip to Budapest
How long should you plan for a city trip in Budapest?
That depends on what you enjoy. The highlights on the castle hill and around the parliament can be done in one day. Plan at least half a day for a visit to the thermal baths. My recommendation for the ideal length of stay in Budapest is 3 to 4 days.
Vignette. A vignette is required for the Hungarian motorways. This can either be bought at the last motorway service station before the border or directly at the border. 10 Day Vignette Minimum which is about Euro 10-11.- (March 2022)
Park. Parking spaces are often scarce in Budapest. It is best to book a hotel with a (included) parking garage.
Budapest Tuk Tuk City Tours
Budapest Tuk Tuk is unique because it offers a totally private experience, only two people can ride the Tuk Tuk, they can choose where to go or they can change the planned route according to their taste. During the ride, the driver tells about the city and the sights.
Is a City trip to Budapest worth it?
Yes! Definitely! Anyone who knows and likes Vienna and Prague will also feel at home in Budapest. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a day trip, a weekend trip, or a longer city trip – Budapest has a lot to offer and is very varied. If you are looking for good food, beautiful buildings, and warm thermal water, you will find it in Budapest.