Budapest is a charming, historically fascinating and vibrant city with an up-and-coming alternative scene. If you’re looking for a European city break, this is the place for you.
Known for its affordable attractions and easy to navigate layout, Hungary’s capital city provides the perfect long weekend break.
We’ve listed here some of our favourite things to do, places to eat and sights to see while in Budapest.
Things to do in Budapest
Also known as the Parliament of Budapest (pictured, above), this incredible piece of architecture located by the river is the third-largest parliament building in Europe.
Take a guided tour of the inside or simply marvel at the Gothic and Revival style exterior, which may remind you of another prominent parliament building in Europe. Can you pick it?
While you’re there be sure to visit the row of bronze shoes, a moving memorial to represent those killed in Budapest during World War II.
Budapest Parliament: Budapest, Kossuth Lajos tér 1-3, 1055
Shoes on the Danube: 300m south of the Hungarian Parliament
Anyone who has been to Budapest will tell you that a visit to the thermal baths is a must.
There are many different bath houses to choose from within the city but we have highlighted two that stand out.
Széchenyi is the largest medicinal bath in Europe, famous for its relaxing and therapeutic waters.
Gellert Spa (pictured, above) is set inside a beautiful hotel on the Buda side of the river – venture inside the grand entrance hall and around the outside of the baths but do yourself a favour and allow at least a half day to make the most of this authentic Budapest experience.
Széchenyi: Budapest, Állatkerti krt. 9-11, 1146 Hungary
Gellert Spa: Budapest, Kelenhegyi út 4, 1118 Hungary
Free walking tour of Budapest
For a great introduction to Budapest, you must start with a free walking tour of the city.
The engaging tour guides will share with you the history of this fascinating, often invaded, country as you visit cultural sites, see magnificent architecture and walk over the Danube River (Europe’s second-longest river) to Buda Castle. Note: the guides earn their income through tips.
Free Walking Tours, Budapest: No need to book, just meet daily at 10.30am or 2.30pm at Vörösmarty Square (at the lion fountain).
Places to eat and drink in Budapest
Make this your first stop and enjoy a traditional Hungarian meal that will set the flavour for your trip.
The service is superb, and we suggest you ask for menu recommendations from the waiters. They will bring you delicious, typical Hungarian meals with matched wines as Bock Bistro (pictured, above) is owned by a vineyard.
This is the ideal setting for a long lunch, or indulgent dinner.
Bock Bistro: Budapest, Erzsébet krt. 43-49, 1073
This classic bistro offers a delicious fusion of Hungarian and French cuisine in a chic dining hall that will take you back in time.
Try the Chicken Paprikash, a rich and hearty dish that is hugely popular in Budapest. If you have room for dessert, you must also try the delectable chocolate filled pancakes.
Déryné Bistro: Budapest, Krisztina tér 3, 1013
Mazel Tov was the favourite of all the eateries we visited. So much so, we went there twice during our short stay, once for brunch and again for a snack and evening drinks.
Enjoy some of the delicious meze plates and sample some of their intriguing cocktails.
As a restaurant and a ruin bar, you’ll be enchanted by the beautiful interior with rough brick walls, fairy lights overhead and a tree in the courtyard.
Mazel Tov: Budapest, Akácfa u. 47, 1072
Getting to Budapest
Fly to Budapest Airport from many cities across Europe and the world.
We recommend arranging a taxi or car service through the accommodation you book with as the system is a little different to some other European cities.
Where to stay in Budapest
We recommend staying at an Airbnb in Budapest.
The Jewish quarter on the Pest side of the river offers great access to some of our top recommendations for restaurants.
If you’re looking to stay on the Buda side, choose a place close to Buda Castle, close to many of the tourist attractions.
All images by Emma Lovell.
Disclaimer: The writer travelled at their own expense.