Budapest, the capital of Hungary and perhaps the most unique capital of Eastern Europe. With a fascinating history and tons of things to see and do, there’s no reason this city shouldn’t be on your bucket list.
1. View the Hungarian Parliament Building from Fisherman’s Bastion morning and night
Located on the Buda side of Budapest, this fortress dating back to 1902, is the perfect place to enjoy views of the Pest side of Budapest. With that come clear views of the Hungarian Parliament Building. Make sure to go during the day as well as night to see Parliament all lit up. I’ve truly never seen anything like it.
2. Walk the Széchenyi Chain Bridge morning and night
Like the Parliament building, the Chain Bridge also lights up at night. Making it a glowing suspension bridge under the starry sky. It connects the east and west sides of this capital city, spanning the Danube.
3. Step inside Matthias Church
If you’re visiting Fisherman’s Bastion make sure to step inside this Roman Catholic Church located in the heart of Buda’s Castle District, directly behind the Bastion. Entrance will set you back a mere 1,500 HUF (~$5). I advise to visit Fisherman’s Bastion around 8am to enjoy the views alone. Entrance to the church begins at 9am and I was the first person there to enjoy the church in silence.
4. Wine taste underground in Faust Wine Cellar
Step underground to enjoy Hungarian wines in this historical cellar located in Buda. Your tasting expert will guide you through the regions the wines are made and provide a clear picture of Hungarian’s wine country. This is a small and intimate experience, with only five tables in the cellar, so I recommend booking reservations ahead of time.
5. Bathe in the Hungarian thermal baths
Did you even go to Budapest if you didn’t bathe in the infamous thermal baths? Check out Király Thermal Bath, Széchenyi Thermal Bath, or Gellért Thermal Bath to experience the Hungarian bathing culture.
6. See the sun set from Gellért Hill
A mediocre hike that will get you to the top of the city for sweeping views over Budapest. I recommend bringing a bottle of wine and visiting at sunset.
7. Participate in the free walking tour
The best walking tour I have been on in Europe. This tour provides you with crucial information into the back-story of Budapest and how it has gotten where it is today. Plus giving you recommendations on where to eat and drink, try to squeeze this tour in right when you arrive to Budapest to have a clear idea of how to navigate. The original walk is daily at 1030am, but they offer other walks too.
8. Party in the Ruin Bars
While I still don’t understand the concept of the Ruin Bars, I know that it’s a must see while in Budapest. A mash-up of all different types of bars in one industrial space, make sure to check out the most famous – Szimpla Kert.
9. Visit the Hungarian Parliament Building
Located on the Pest side overlooking the Danube, this building is a mix of Gothic Revival and Renaissance Revival architecture. Make sure to buy tickets ahead of time before visiting.
10. Visit the Shoes on the Danube Bank
Close to Parliament, this monument signifies a time when the Jews were persecuted by the Arrow Cross military. A touching memorial created in 2005, that I would urge anyone to see.
While my Budapest bucket list is much longer than these 10 things mentioned, I didn’t have time to see it all. I’ve already put it in my head that I must revisit this capital to ensure I see the entirety of it.