What to see and do in Budapest

The capital of Hungary is often cited as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, and it’s no wonder that so many tourists flock there year after year. Magnificent Renaissance architecture, a fascinating history and lively and refined culture are just some of the reasons Budapest is such a popular destination.

It’s an enormous city – the seventh-largest in Europe – and there’s so much to see and do that it can be difficult to know where to start. This guide lists a few of the most popular sights to see, but you’re sure to find many more once you’re over there!


backpacking in budapest
Hot Spas in Budapest

Buda Castle Quarter

Named for the dizzyingly huge castle and palace complex where generations of Hungarian monarchs have ruled, the Castle Quarter is the first stop for many visitors who want to take in the sights of Budapest. The view of the castle across the Danube is spectacular, and a must for anyone who fancies themselves as a photographer.

Much of Buda Castle’s grounds, which span an incredible 1.8 square miles, are open to the public, and it’s worth taking an entire day to fully explore them. A number of museums and art galleries can be found in the palace itself, although sadly the amazing labyrinth beneath the castle has now been closed to the public.


Parks and plazas

Budapest has a wealth of green spaces that are a joy to spend a day in at any time of the year. The City Park, with its Zoological and Botanical Garden, is one of the most popular places to visit, but there are many more to discover. Erzs?bet Square, a huge city centre park, has a beautiful fountain as its centrepiece and offers stunning views of local architecture old and new, like the grand hotel Kempinski Corvinus Budapest.

Heroe’s Square, at the entrance to the City Park, is worth special mention as one of the city’s many UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Its many statues commemorate historical Hungarian figures, while the large stone cenotaph before the Millennium Monument is dedicated to those who have died fighting for the country’s independence.


St Stephen’s Basilica

This Roman Catholic basilica is one of Budapest’s most famous buildings. Constructed in a Neo-Classical style, it is actually less ancient than it appears: it was completed in 1905, and parts of the building had to be reconstructed after the ravages of the 20th century. Visitors can go up to the dome for amazing panoramic views over the capital (364 steps to the top, or you can take the lift if you’re not feeling energetic!)

The basilica also plays host to regular concerts of classical and choral music, with performances every Thursday evening – these are well worth booking a ticket for to fully appreciate the venue’s unique acoustics.

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