Looking for the top things to do when you visit Budapest in 2021 and beyond? Step right up! We’re immensely excited about the Hungarian capital at the moment, and we have a whole host of reasons why you should include this Central European destination on your wish list for future travels. Here are just a few of the most important reasons why Budapest is on the must-visit list of some of the world’s most intrepid travellers and deserves a spot of honour on yours as well:
Budapest sightseeing is top-notch
Budapest tourist attractions are renowned the world over. The top 10 things to do in Budapest include the following:
St Stephen’s Basilica. St. Stephen’s Basilica is a Roman Catholic basilica named in honour of Stephen, the first King of Hungary, whose right hand is housed in the reliquary.
Danube River. Budapest is bisected by the Danube River. Its 19th-century Chain Bridge connects the hilly Buda district with flat Pest. You can simply walk along it to enjoy the scenery, or you can book a cruise to get closer to the action.
Castle Hill. Castle Hill is a kilometre-long limestone plateau towering 170m above the Danube. It contains some of Budapest’s most important medieval monuments and museums and is a Unesco World Heritage Site.
Buda Castle. Buda Castle is the historical castle and palace complex of the Hungarian kings in Budapest.
Hungarian Parliament Building. The Hungarian Parliament Building numbers among the city’s foremost attractions, drawing nearly 700,000 visitors each year. It is known as one of the best examples of Gothic Revival and Renaissance Revival architecture in the world.
Hungarian State Opera House. The Hungarian State Opera House is renowned as one of the finest examples of Neo-Renaissance architecture in existence today. It is being refurbished, but tours of the building are still on offer.
Kőbánya Caves. During the Second World War, tunnels were created beneath the city’s 10th district to assemble aircraft engines and for use as a civilian bomb shelter. It is now very popular with cave divers.
Gellért Baths. If you visit Budapest, you need to include at least one thermal spa on your itinerary. The Gellért Baths are within the world-famous Gellért Hotel where guests can enjoy the purported healing properties of the thermal waters in a steam room, sauna, and thermal baths. Not to mention the massage rooms and sun terrace!
Budapest Pinball Museum. This quirky museum offers a fascinating journey back in time with its collection of 130+ pinball machines.
Budapest Chocolate Museum. The Chocolate Museum on the outskirts of Budapest provides guests with a rich history of Hungarian chocolate.
The city is magnificently beautiful
First things first, Budapest is one of those cities that manages to take your breath away every time you visit it. Aside from the natural beauty that seeps through the city in the form of the majestic Danube River and gorgeous green spaces, it’s also the buildings themselves that add to the air of sumptuousness. Architecturally, the city is a treasure trove, with enough baroque, neoclassical, eclectic and art nouveau buildings to satisfy everyone.
Fun things to do in Budapest abound year-round
Budapest has a great annual event lineup that includes everything from music festivals to fairs, concerts, markets and other festive shindigs. The events are spread out across the year, so there is pretty much always something cool coming up. Here are a few of the most famous events you can enjoy on a trip to Budapest:
Sziget Festival. The Sziget Festival is one of the largest music and cultural festivals in Europe. It is held every August in northern Budapest, Hungary, on Óbudai-sziget, a leafy 108-hectare island on the Danube.
Budapest Wine Festival. Budapest Wine Festival is a unique event that hosts hundreds of exhibitors and attracts tens of thousands of visitors every year to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Buda Castle.
Danube Carnival. The annual Danube Carnival offers visitors a wide range of phenomenal and vivid folk and world music, traditional and contemporary dance shows and concerts in several venues around the capital city.
Budapest Spring Festival. The Budapest Spring Festival is the major arts festival sponsored by the city government. The festival is focused on traditional arts.
Nutcracker Ballet at Budapest Opera House. This spectacular ballet show by the National Ballet Institute is one of the highlights of classy Christmas holidays in Budapest and one of the best things to do in Budapest in December.
You can visit Budapest for the food alone
Hungary has been emerging as a foodie destination for a while now, and there will be plenty of opportunities to eat, drink and be merry once you touch down in Hungary. Here are a few of the must-eat Hungarian foods you should try on your visit:
Chicken Paprikash. One of the most popular dishes in Budapest, chicken paprikash is essentially chicken coated in a sour cream sauce spiced with lashings of paprika.
Halászlé (Fisherman’s soup). This delicious spicy soup is usually made from carp caught in the river Danube.
Gulyás. Also known as goulash, the national dish of Hungary is a meat stew with noodles and vegetables, seasoned with paprika and other sorts of delicious spices for hearty flavours.
Lángos. Flatbread made with flour, yeast, water and salt and topped with mashed potatoes, sour cream yoghurt, grated cheese, ham or sausages.
Szilvásgombóc (Plum dumplings). These dumplings are made from potato, filled with plums and dipped in cinnamon sugar. They are then boiled, rolled in fried breadcrumbs and sprinkled with powdered sugar.
Travel Tip: The Great Market Hall is the biggest market in Budapest, and it’s more than a century old. This is the ideal place to go if you want to hit all the culinary high notes in one go!
Some of the best things to do in Budapest are free!
Best of all? You don’t necessarily have to pay an arm and a leg to experience the best places to see in Budapest. Here are a few free and cheap experiences you can enjoy while you visit the city:
Take a free walking tour of the city. Follow in the footsteps of a passionate local guide who will show you around their city free of charge.
Visit Heroes Square. Heroes Square is one of the city’s most recognisable attractions and completely free to visit.
Enjoy a picnic in City Park. Grab some picnic essentials from a market and have a low-key picnic in City Park. This green space is a great place to observe the locals going about their day. Alternatively, you could also just enjoy a stroll or read a book on a bench in the peaceful surroundings.
Travel Tip: Invest in a Budapest City Pass if you want to save big on public transport, entry at some of the biggest tourist attractions, etc.
There are great places to go in Budapest in any weather
Scared of heading to Europe in the winter or over shoulder season? Don’t be! There are plenty of fun things you can get up to if the weather turns nippy. The five best rainy-day outings in Budapest include:
Visiting art galleries and museums. Art galleries like Hungarian National Gallery and museums like the Museum of Fine Arts are great options on a rainy day.
Go to a spa! There is nothing like a nice long soak in a warm, thermal spa on a chilly day to warm you right up. Here are some of the most popular spas in Budapest.
Go for a cooking or baking class. If you like to get your hands dirty, a cooking class or baking class can be a great way to spend a rainy day.
Go wine tasting! Hungary is renowned for its excellent wines, so make your way to a wine shop, or head out of the city for a tour of a nearby estate if you’re interested in the local vintages.
Take a ride on tram line number 2. This tramline was voted the nicest in all of Europe. Locals advise getting a seat on the left-hand side so you can see the river Danube and the Castle district area better as you pass by.
Hungary’s capital has an undeniable vibe
There are certain places that just have an undeniable vibe about them. Budapest is definitely one of those spots! The locals are a happy bunch that like to engage with visitors. The Hungarians are also known to be very hospitable, and this shows wherever you go. If you head into this marvellous city with an open mind, a little Hungarian under your belt (or a good translation app on your phone), a big smile and a willingness to learn more about a new culture, you will be welcomed into the fold with open arms.
There you have it – seven great reasons to include Hungary on your travel lineup in 2021 and beyond. Keep an eye on the website and blog for more insider travel inspiration in the weeks and months to come. Why not enjoy a new twist on travel and see Budapest from a new point of view? Embark on our Amsterdam to Budapest rail tour. It’s sure to be a trip you won’t forget!