European Discoveries: Top Things To Do in Budapest!

This summer I finally had the chance to visit Budapest, the magnificent Hungarian Capital! Honestly, I didn’t expect this city would be so spectacular! Don’t get me wrong, I was aware of its historical background but I got anyway very astonished by its architecture, the cleanliness of the streets, and the infinite amount of things to discover. Moreover, Budapest is such a romantic city! Walking alongside the Danube River at night is magical and literally breathtaking!

Back in the day, there were 2 cities: BUDA, on the left side on the Danube River, and PEST, on the right side. They became “Budapest” in 1873.

Nowadays, it is just crucial to know Buda and Pest as ‘neighborhoods’ in order to know if you are on the left or the right side of the river. I personally stayed in PEST and did most of the things listed below there 🙂

USEFUL INFORMATION ABOUT HUNGARY

ENTRY RULES: NO visa required for EU citizens. Visa required for NON-EU citizens

CURRENCY: Hungarian Forint (HUF) – they accept Euros too, not everywhere though

LANGUAGE: Hungarian – English is well spoken in Budapest

POPULATION: 9,7 million people – Budapest population: 1,7 million people

COUNTRY CODE: +36

EMERGENCY NUMBERS: for every need call 112 – you can call also: 104 for ambulance and 107 for police

LUXURY HOTELS IN BUDAPEST

During my amazing trip to Budapest, I had the chance to review two splendid 5 star hotels, that I would highly recommend, both located in Pest (right side of the Danube):

  • Kempinski Hotel Corvinus Budapest: click here to read my full review
  • Buddha-Bar Hotel Klotild Palace: click here to read my full review

TOP THINGS TO DO IN BUDAPEST

I had such a blast in Budapest, and I definitely would love to go back soon! Beautiful places to visit, welcoming people, safe and clean, elegant, great food… what a city! And not many people are aware of the beauty of this city – time to show you my highlights!

#1. THE HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT (Pest)

Absolutely a must while in Budapest! I suggest you to go in front of it during the day as well as at night because it is indescribably beautiful! Important TIP: there is ONLY one way to visit it. You must book a guided tour (online better so you skip the queue). There is NO WAY you can access inside the parliament without a guide. The tour lats 45 minutes and it is worth to see! I did it, despite I don’t like guided tours 🙂

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The Hungarian Parliament in Budapest – photo taken from the boat

#2. Buda Castle + St. Matthias Church + Fisherman’s Bastions (Buda)

Surely the top attractions in Budapest! You can visit the Buda Castle, St. Matthias Church and the Fischerman’s Bastion all in once as they are all located on the same hill. Beautiful architecture and a breathtaking view of Pest from above!

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Myself in front of the “Fisherman’s Bastion” in Budapest (Buda side)

#3.  THE NEW YORK CAFE (Pest)

Considered one of the most beautiful cafes in the world, The New York Cafe in Budapest is surely a must while you are in town! You might have to queue to get a table, but be patient because it is worth the waiting! Great cakes and coffee are served while a small orchestra plays classical music: sublime!

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Myself @ The New York Cafe in Budapest, Hungary

#4. BOAT RIDE ON THE DANUBE WITH “DUNARAMA” (Pest)

If you are looking for an unforgettable, private and luxurious boat ride on the Danube River, you should book a tour with Dunarama! You will get a small private boat for you and your friends, drinking wine and champagne, while enjoying the breathtaking views of the city! I loved it so much and I will definitely do it again when I will go to Budapest next time! Such a great and unique experience!

Click here to book your ride: BOOK NOW !

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Myself on Dunarama luxury boat tour in Budapest, Hungary

#5. SZÉCHENYI THERMAL BATH (Pest)

Budapest is very well known for its phenomenal thermal baths! I personally went to Széchenyi Thermal Bath in Pest: it is probably the most famous one, very big and beautiful. TIP: if you wanna enjoy it without a huge amount of people and with great lighting, I would suggest to go there around 6/6:30 AM! I did it and trust me it is worth. I do not like crowd in general, and a place like this gets really full during the day. So, earlier the better! 🙂 I felt so good after a few hours in the extra warm waters!

To check times and for online bookings: click here

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Széchenyi Thermal Bath at 6:30 AM – Budapest, Hungary

#6. DINNER AT “BESTIA RESTAURANT” IN FRONT OF THE ST. STEPHEN BASILICA (Pest)

What a great discovery in Budapest!“Bestia Restaurant” is located right in front of the majestic St. Stephen Basilica in Budapest. My friend and I didn’t even realize how amazing the location was, until we got there! That’s why in my picture I highlighted it in front of the Basilica at night, to let you better understand why this restaurant is unmissable!  🙂

I had the big pleasure to have dinner there and I had to admit I got pretty astonished by the location, as well as the great food! This restaurant is all about hedonism. The Beast (as we sometimes call it) loves meats, steaks, home-made sausages, craft beers, having night outs with friends, rock’n’roll music and of course the beautiful city of Budapest.

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I loved everything about this place: the atmosphere, the vibes, the music, the location, the delicious food, the great cocktails, the perfect service… Highly recommended!!! 🙂

#7. FUNKY FOOD-STOP AT “MR. FUNK”! (Pest)

Such a fun and cool place in Budapest! Mr. Funk is a colorful and fun place where you can try the funkiest donuts and bagels! Not only: you can get some of the most incredible smoothies and extra colorful shakes! I had such a great time, the staff is so kind and always with a smile for you. This is a great place for breakfast or lunch, as well as for a funky stop during your tours around the city! You really cannot miss it! It is located 1 minute walk from the St. Stephen Basilica in Pest.

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Myself @ Mr. Funk in Budapest, Hungary

#8. ERVIN SZABÓ LIBRARY (Pest)

The sociologist Ervin Szabó established the public library network in Budapest at the beginning of the 20th century. The Central Library started operating in 1931 in its present building, in the historical Wenckheim Palace. This neo-baroque palace was built between 1887 and 1889.

The library is now 13,000 m² and houses Budapest’s largest public collection of books with a capacity of 1,100,000 volumes! A must visit while in town! It is located in Pest.

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Ervin Szabó Library in Budapest, Hungary

#9. HUNGARIAN FOOD EXPERIENCE AT “ÉS BISZTRÓ” (Pest)

As mentioned in my full article about the splendid Kempinski Hotel Corvinus in Budapest, one of my favorite dining experience has been at the “ÉS BISZTRÓ”! Great and casual Hungarian meal, with high quality products and a 5 star service! The best way to try local food 🙂

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Paprika Beef with Potato Dumplings @ ÉS BISZTRÓ, Budapest

#10. WALKING ALONGSIDE THE DANUBE AT NIGHT (Buda or Pest)

One of the most magical moments ever: walking alongside the Danube River in Budapest at night! It is sublime seeing the Buda Castle, the Parliament, the illuminated bridges and all the other buildings illuminated at night, and their reflections on the river water. The atmosphere is unique, hard to describe!

#11. DINING ALONGSIDE THE DANUBE RIVER AT NIGHT (Pest)

You can’t avoid to have a pleasant dinner alongside the Danube River, with the great and magical views you get at night! My personal experience was at “Dunacorso Restaurant”, suggested by a local friend of mine. Delicious Hungarian food, with a great view and local musicians that play violins! How romantic!

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Dining alongside the Danube river in Budapest, Hungary

#12. THE ‘SHOES MONUMENT’ (Pest)

The Shoes on the Danube Bank is a memorial in Budapest, conceived by film director Can Togay. He created it on the east bank of the Danube River with sculptor Gyula Pauer to honour the people who were killed by fascist Arrow Cross militiamen in Budapest during World War II. They were ordered to take off their shoes, and were shot at the edge of the water so that their bodies fell into the river and were carried away. It represents their shoes left behind on the bank.

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“Shoes on the Danube Bank” – monument in Budapest, Hungary

#13. GELLÉRT HILL (Buda)

It is a 235m hill overlooking the Danube River in Budapest, where you can get a breathtaking view of the city! There is the famous Hotel Gellért and the Gellért Thermal Baths.

#14. HUNGARIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM (Pest)

The Hungarian National Museum was founded in 1802 and is the national museum for the history, art and archaeology of Hungary, including areas not within Hungary’s modern borders. It is not to be confused with the collection of international art of the Hungarian National Gallery, another interesting museum to visit in the city.

#15. MARGARET ISLAND

Situated in the middle of the Danube River in central Budapest, the island is mostly covered by landscape parks, and is a popular recreational area. Its medieval ruins are reminders of its importance in the Middle Ages as a religious center. A nice half-day trip, to see something different in the city 🙂

#16. THE GREAT SYNAGOGUE (DOHÁNY STREET- Pest)

The incredibly beautiful Great Synagogue in Dohány Steet, in Budapest, is the largest one in Europe and the second largest in the entire world! It seats 3,000 people and it is a center of Neolog Judaism. A must visit, no matter what religion you follow, as it is really splendid! 🙂

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Photo: Courtesy of Bradley W. Dick Photography

#17. HUNGARIAN STATE OPERA (Pest)

Unfortunately, I personally didn’t go. But I firmly believe that The Hungarian State Opera is another must while visiting Budapest. Indeed, I need to go back as soon as possible,after they will complete the current renovations! 🙂

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Photo: Courtesy of Ken Kaminesky Photography

#18. QUICK COMPARISON WITH VIENNA, AUSTRIA

In Vienna, for example, you do not have the same feeling alongside the Danube. The Austrian capital is majestic as well and it has phenomenal Art Collections and Museums (better than Budapest) – the Hungarian capital is way more romantic though, and the Danube River at night, with the illuminated palaces like the castle and the parliament, is truly dreamy! The Danube in Vienna is not comparable to Budapest in terms of beauty, in my opinion – not even close. I noticed that if you google “Danube River/cruise on the Danube” most of the time you get images of Budapest indeed, and if you have never been to both cities you might get confused! So, if you would like to experience a dreamy cruise, Budapest is the place to visit! I will write soon a specific article about beautiful Vienna as well! But hey, Vienna is spectacular beyond words! 🙂

I hope this Budapest City Guide will be helpful for your trip!

And you… Are you lusting for the sublime?

Always,

Carlotta

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