What to see in Budapest? As the keeper of several major attractions in Europe – the largest thermal water system in the world, the first Underground Railroad on the continent, the third largest Parliament building in the world and the largest synagogue in Europe – Budapest has no shortage of things to see.
The Chain Bridge was the first bridge to permanently connect Buda and Pest. At the time of its completion, Chain Bridge was considered to be one of the wonders of the world. Chief engineer Adam Clark completed the span in 1849. Crossing the bridge is just a short walk and no matter which direction you go, the view is beautiful.
The Parliament building, a magnificent example of Neo-Gothic architecture, is just over 100 years old. It’s the third largest Parliament building in the world, and is also home to the Hungarian Crown Jewels. Tours are available when the National Assembly is not in session.
This World Heritage Site is easily visible from everywhere in Budapest. Exploring Castle Hill’s beautiful buildings and cobblestone streets can occupy an entire day. The central Trinity Square fills daily with tourists visiting the famous Matthias Church. The Fishermen’s Bastion and the Royal Palace, together with the Hungarian National Gallery, are also popular sights.
Experience the incredible acoustics inside the Budapest Opera House, considered to be among the best in the world. Built in the 1880s, the Budapest Opera House stands as one of the most prestigious musical institutions in Europe. The auditorium was decorated with more than 7 kgs of gold. Catch a staged opera performance by Verdi, Puccini, Mozart, or Wagner – just don’t delay for too long, performances sell out quickly!
Aching for a game of water chess? Challenge your travel buddies or some locals to a round in Budapest’s largest medicinal bath, also one of Europe’s largest public baths. Located in City Park, the Széchenyi Baths boasts 18 pools, 15 of which are spring-fed thermal pools.
The 700-year-old Matthias Church was the scene of several coronations, including that of Charles IV in 1916, the last Habsburg king. It was also the site for the great Hungarian King Matthias’ two weddings, hence its name. The eastern gate of the church was built in the 13th century. Today, Matthias Church remains one of the city’s most prominent buildings.
The once famous Medieval palace, built from the 13th to the 16th century, has a varied history. The original castle was destroyed during the liberation of Buda from the Turks and then it was replaced with a smaller Baroque palace in the 18th century. Today, the Royal Palace is home to the Hungarian National Gallery, the Budapest History Museum and the National Library.
Fishermen’s Bastion is one of the most fascinating sights on Castle Hill. Although fishermen from Watertown (Víziváros) reputedly defended this part of the city during the Middle Ages, Fishermen’s Bastion was built in the 1890s and it’s purely decorative. Today, it’s a favorite lookout.
Heroes’ Square is the largest and most impressive square of the city. The Millennium Monument standing in the middle of the square was erected in 1896 to commemorate the 1000-year-old history of Magyars. The Museum of Fine Arts is located at the north side of the square. The Kunsthalle (Hall of Art), an exhibition hall for the contemporary arts, is at the south side.
The spectacular Central Market Hall is a good source of Hungarian products. You can also make it a pit-stop for a quick bite of traditional Hungarian food when touring the city. Shop with the locals for sausages, meats, cheeses, fruits, vegetables and pastries. Fancy bottles of Tokaji, a variety of paprika and handicrafts are also available.
Gellért Hill offers some of the best panoramic views of Budapest. Named after bishop Gellért (Gerald), who was thrown to death from the hill by pagans in the fight against Christianity in 1046. At the top of the hill is the Citadel (Citadella) and Budapest’s Statue of Liberty is also located here; you can see her from all parts of the city – a statue of a woman holding a palm leaf.
The Great Synagogue in Dohány Street is the largest Synagogue in Europe and the second largest in the world. It can accommodate close to 3,000 worshipers. It was built between 1854 and 1859 in Neo-Moorish style. During World War II, the Great Synagogue was used as a stable and as a radio communication center by the Germans. Today, it’s the main center for the Jewish community.
It took more than 50 years to build the Basilica, the largest church in Budapest. Building commenced in 1851 and the inauguration ceremony took place in 1906. The patron saint of the church is St. Stephen, the first king of Hungary. Visit the dome’s observation deck for a beautiful panoramic view of Budapest.
‘Váci utca’ is perhaps the most famous street in Budapest. It runs from Vörösmarty Square to the Central Market Hall and features a large number of restaurants, shops and cafés.
Vörösmarty Square, located in the heart of Budapest, is always busy. This is where the famous Gerbeaud Café can be found, as well as the first station of the Millennium Underground. Váci Street also starts here.
The Danube Promenade, a fifteen-minute stroll between Elizabeth Bridge and Chain Bridge, offers a magnificent view of the Royal Palace. The Vigadó Concert Hall, three luxury hotels, along with some restaurants are located here.
Long a religious center, Margaret Island now serves as a recreational park in the center of the Danube River. It’s a great place to walk, swim a few laps, or go for a run. During summer months, bicycles are available for rent. Since vehicles are prohibited, the island is a fantastic escape from the city’s traffic.
The theatre district in Nagymező street of Pest is nicknamed as Budapest’s Broadway. There are four theatres, two galleries, a nightclub and some very good restaurants here, just off Andrássy Avenue. As theatre is highly valued in Hungary, this area is always busy at night.
Located in Pest, between Roosevelt tér and Kossuth tér, the Shoes of the Danube memorial commemorates the victims of the Holocaust. 60 pairs of iron shoes form a row along the river in memory of the people shot into the Danube during World War II.