I finally arrived to Budapest, Hungary at the Népliget Bus Station after traveling via Flix Bus from Vienna, Austria through Bratislava, Slovakia. After settling into Wombat’s Hostel around 6:00 PM, which is centrally located on Király Street, my friend and I left our hostel to check out a few sites. By staying at the Wombat Hostel, we were able to travel by foot or by Lime Scooter to the majority of the sites. The hostel was only 0.3 miles from St. Stephen’s Basilica, 0.7 miles from the Chain Bridge, 0.8 miles from the Budapest Parliament Building, and 1 mile to the Buda Castle and Citadella. It also was close to local “ruin” bars, pubs, and clubs, which we explored on our first night. Keep reading for the ten best things to do while in Budapest, Hungary.
#1 Check out the View from Liberty Bridge
If you are on your way to the Citadella, stop by the Liberty Bridge to look at the view across the Danube river. Built for the Millennium World Exhibition in 1896, Liberty is bridge is the shortest bridge in Budapest. Although I’m not going to recommend climbing on the bridge, you can decide that fate for yourself.
#2: Take a Hungarian Bath at Széchenyi
To get from Wombat Hostel to the Széchenyi Thermal Bath, we hopped on the Metro 1 line from Bajcsy-Zsilinszky Street. Thankfully, the metro was only 2 blocks away from our hostel. After a short 15-minute ride, we exited in the middle of the Széchenyi Fürdó Elótti Park. Széchenyi Thermal Bath is a must-do while in Budapest. It’s the largest thermal bath in the world and the ambiance is so relaxing. After several arduous days of walking with heavy backpacks and sleepless nights, it felt amazing to close my eyes and relax.
#3: Check out the View from Fisherman’s Bastion
Originally, Castle Hill was used to fortify the city’s surrounding settlements, but was repeatedly damaged throughout the Middle Ages. After gradual deterioration through several wars and fierce weather, Frigyes Schulek decided to restore Fisherman’s Bastion between 1895 and 1902 to celebrate the 1000th birthday of the Hungarian state. Today, Fisherman’s Bastion has remained a prominent landmark in Budapest.
#4: Take a Hike to the Citadella
Constructed in 1854, the Citadella was constructed to “supervise” Budapest. During this time, the Citadella was occupied by the Austrians and served as a surveillance site to monitor potential uprisings in the region. Today, the Citadella provides an amazing panoramic view from the top of Gellert Hill. If you don’t want to walk up the hill, the citadella is accessible by Bus 27 from Móricz Zsigmond Körtér.
#5: Visit the Hungarian National Gallery
The Hungarian National Gallery has a stunning view of the city over the river Danube. When you go inside, you will see exhibitions filled with Hungarian fine arts. The most popular exhibitions are the paintings from the 18th and 19th centuries that display Hungary’s history of Turkish and Austrian occupation. The gallery also has exhibitions of Cézanne, Pissarro, and Monet.
#6: Visit Saint Stephen’s Basilica
Built between 1851 and 1905, Saint Stephen’s Basilica has a beautiful 300-foot dome. Today, it is the third-largest church built in Hungary. If you decide to walk to Saint Stephen’s Basilica, consider walking to the Széchenyi Chain Bridge–only a half a mile away.
#7: Walk by the Waterfront of the Hungarian Parliament Building
The Parliament Building opened in 1902 and has been the largest building in Hungary since its completion. While you are in the area, check out the Shoes by the Danube River site and admire Budapest’s beautiful Danube river. When I visited, it was calming to walk along the river at sunset before heading back to the Wombat Hostel.
#8: Check out Budapest’s “Ruin” Bar Scene
In the photo below, I stopped by Red Ruin Bar, a unique bar that claims to have the “best beers from the eastern part of Europe.” Honestly, the bar is more known for its kitsch communist artwork. Beside Red Ruin Bar, Szimpla Kert is a fun “ruin” bar I visited on my first night. I also checked out Gozsdu Passage, which is a passageway of bars and restaurants in the center of Budapest’s 7th District. Gozdsu Court was only a two minute walk from Wombat’s Hostel and Szimpla Kert was an eight-minute walk away. While I tried to get into Liebling Club, the line was way too long so I decided to head home. On the way back, my friend and I stopped at Ellato Kert for a beer or two.
#9: Grab a Sugary Treat at a Hungarian Pastry Shop
Budapest is known for its excellent pastries and cakes. In the picture below, I’m sitting at one of Budapest’s trendy shops: Cake Shop. A few other delicious pastry shops are Ruszwurm, Daubner Cukrászda, and Városliget Café & Bar.
#10: Visit heroes’ square
Heroes’ Square is a UNESCO World Heritage site with statues of the leaders of 7 tribes who founded Hungary. It’s located right by the Széchenyi Bath, the Museum of Fine Arts, and Palace of Art in City Park. After I visited Széchenyi Bath, it began to pour rain so I was unable to capture a photo of the square. My only memory of the square is running past it at full speed to get to the subway before I became drenched head-to-toe. Nevertheless, Heroes’ Square is culturally significant to Budapest because it bears 14 statues of men who had a major impact on Hungary’s history.
What’s your favorite site in Budapest? Do you have any suggestions on what to add to my Budapest Travel Guide? Let me know in the comments section below!