Budapest travel guide

Budapest Tourism | Budapest Guide

You're Going to Love Budapest

Hungary's capital city is one of Eastern Europe's most attractive destinations. It has a beautiful setting on the Danube River, stately palaces, castles and museums to visit, and a youthful population who love to hit the town's bars and clubs.

Budapest's golden age came under the Habsburgs in the 18th and 19th centuries, and when you visit, you'll be astonished by the beauty that remains. You can see ballet in the Drechsler Palace, climb to the citadel on Gellért Hill, or see how the Imperial royal family lived at Buda Castle.

After the sightseeing's all done, relax in thermal baths like Széchenyi, wind through the city's nightlife districts, or spend the evening sampling the gourmet cuisine at restaurants like Borbiróság. At the end of it all, you'll have fallen in love with this friendly, gorgeous European capital.

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Budapest

1. The Beautiful Architecture

Above all else, you'll fall in love with the architecture of Budapest. Buda Castle is the gem, but Matthias Church and the Hungarian State Opera House come a close second. You can tour all of their interiors, so don't miss out.

2. Bustling Markets and Upscale Shopping Opportunities

Hungarians love to shop, particularly at indoor and outdoor markets. You can do the same at Nagycsarnok (the central market), which has an impressive iron structure and is crammed with stalls selling sweets, fresh food, cheese, and meats. But there are also boutiques, antique stores, vintage outlets - everything you could want.

3. Learn about Life in the Eastern Bloc

For 50 years, Budapest was behind the Iron Curtain, and you can explore what life was like in the city at historical museums like the House of Terror (which deals with the secret police). Memento Park is home to a fascinating collection of Soviet-era statues and vehicles.

4. Lively Ruin Bars and All-Night Clubs

Another legacy of the Warsaw Pact era are the many "ruin bars" that occupy old buildings. Budapest has a freewheeling nightlife scene, and these bars are the place to go to drink cocktails, meet the locals, and dance all night long.

5. Hilltop Views and Relaxing River Tours

The elegant architecture and the Danube River combine to offer gorgeous views across Budapest. The best way to see it all is either to take a river boat tour (which costs as little as Ft3,000), or to climb to the castle, which overlooks the entire city.

What to do in Budapest

1. Várnegyed: Royal Highness

Pedestrians classically reach the Buda bank crossing the famed chain bridge over the Danube, before grabbing the century old funicular railway up the hill. Amidst lush gardens, Buda Castle perches regally over the river, its vast halls presenting art and history exhibits. As you walk out, witness the Changing of the Guards at the adjacent presidential Sándor Palace, and wander the hill until you reach Matthias Church and the amazing Fisherman's Bastion.

2. Orszaghaz: Budapest's Westminster

A masterpiece of neogothic architecture, the "House of the Nation" invites tourists to ascend the lavish staircase and admire local artwork, while a guided tour fills in political details. Just outside, along the serene river, the moving "Shoes on the Danube" memorial awaits, commemorating the brutal murders perpetrated against Jews during World War II.

3. Szechenyi Gyogyfurdo: Take the Waters

These century old medicinal baths exemplify Budapest's expansive thermal culture, their elegant buildings host to the ultimate spa experience. From the adventure pool to the sauna, from the steam room to the whirlpool, these halls do not get old. Massages are on offer for the complete pampering package, but wiling away the hours conversing with locals and tourists in the revitalizing waters might prove just as satisfying.

4. District VII - Erzsébetváros: Ruins Reclaimed

This popular neighborhood is frequented by young crowds for mind-blowing food and hip fashion outlets. Erzsébetváros is home to the largest Synagogue in Europe, once the ornamented centerpiece of Budapest's Jewish Quarter turned Ghetto during World War II. Since then, dilapidated buildings here have been transformed into so-called ruin bars, the most famous being Szimpla, a must-see dig for tourists.

5. Hosok Tere: Heart of the Nation

From the city center, grab Budapest's Metro 1, one of the oldest underground railways in the world, up to Heroes' Square. The great statues of the Seven Chieftains of the Magyars greet you emerging from the underground, and serve as the entry to the vast City Park. The square is also host to art museums, and the culminating point of Andrassy Avenue, the Hungarian Champs-Elysées. No matter which direction you take from Heroes' Square, the city entertains.

VárnegyedVárnegyed
OrszaghazOrszaghaz
Szechenyi GyogyfurdoSzechenyi Gyogyfurdo
District VII - ErzsébetvárosDistrict VII - Erzsébetváros

1. Várnegyed: Royal Highness

Pedestrians classically reach the Buda bank crossing the famed chain bridge over the Danube, before grabbing the century old funicular railway up the hill. Amidst lush gardens, Buda Castle perches regally over the river, its vast halls presenting art and history exhibits. As you walk out, witness the Changing of the Guards at the adjacent presidential Sándor Palace, and wander the hill until you reach Matthias Church and the amazing Fisherman's Bastion.

2. Orszaghaz: Budapest's Westminster

A masterpiece of neogothic architecture, the "House of the Nation" invites tourists to ascend the lavish staircase and admire local artwork, while a guided tour fills in political details. Just outside, along the serene river, the moving "Shoes on the Danube" memorial awaits, commemorating the brutal murders perpetrated against Jews during World War II.

3. Szechenyi Gyogyfurdo: Take the Waters

These century old medicinal baths exemplify Budapest's expansive thermal culture, their elegant buildings host to the ultimate spa experience. From the adventure pool to the sauna, from the steam room to the whirlpool, these halls do not get old. Massages are on offer for the complete pampering package, but wiling away the hours conversing with locals and tourists in the revitalizing waters might prove just as satisfying.

4. District VII - Erzsébetváros: Ruins Reclaimed

This popular neighborhood is frequented by young crowds for mind-blowing food and hip fashion outlets. Erzsébetváros is home to the largest Synagogue in Europe, once the ornamented centerpiece of Budapest's Jewish Quarter turned Ghetto during World War II. Since then, dilapidated buildings here have been transformed into so-called ruin bars, the most famous being Szimpla, a must-see dig for tourists.

5. Hosok Tere: Heart of the Nation

From the city center, grab Budapest's Metro 1, one of the oldest underground railways in the world, up to Heroes' Square. The great statues of the Seven Chieftains of the Magyars greet you emerging from the underground, and serve as the entry to the vast City Park. The square is also host to art museums, and the culminating point of Andrassy Avenue, the Hungarian Champs-Elysées. No matter which direction you take from Heroes' Square, the city entertains.

VárnegyedVárnegyed
OrszaghazOrszaghaz
Szechenyi GyogyfurdoSzechenyi Gyogyfurdo
District VII - ErzsébetvárosDistrict VII - Erzsébetváros

Top activities & attractions in Budapest

Where to Eat in Budapest

Budapest is becoming one of Eastern Europe's premier gourmet destinations. At Borkonyha, you can savor Michelin-starred main courses for around Ft2,800 and Borbiróság near the Great Market is almost as good, and just as affordable. Menza is another local favorite, serving up hearty specialties like cheesy gnocchi at bargain prices. Even the best restaurants won't charge more than Ft5,000 for a three-course meal, so Budapest represents fantastic value for gastronomes.

Most popular restaurants in Budapest

Lebanese
Excellent (28 reviews)

When to visit Budapest

Budapest in February
Estimated package price
$292
2 travelers
Flight to Budapest
3 nights at hotel
Budapest in February
Estimated package price
$292
2 travelers
Flight to Budapest
3 nights at hotel

The best time to visit Budapest is late spring and early summer. If you arrive from March to late May, you'll enjoy warm weather and hardly any crowds. Summer offers the chance to bathe in the many thermal baths, but the crowds can become restrictive. Fall and winter are colder, but when the snow falls, Budapest offers stunning photo opportunities.

Data provided by weatherbase
Temperatures
Temperatures
Average
Fahrenheit (°F)
Data provided by weatherbase

How to Get to Budapest

Plane

Budapest's Ferenc Liszt International Airport (BUD) is 10 miles southeast of the center of town and has direct flights to Canadian destinations, so you can reach Budapest from the USA by plane with a connecting flight. Most people take the 200E bus to Kőbánya-Kispest Metro station, then use the subway to get into town. However, it's much more convenient to take a taxi. Expect to pay around Ft5,000 to 10,000 depending on the time of day and where you need to travel.

Train

Arriving by train is a real pleasure, as Budapest Keleti is a stunning station, and the city has good rail connections with Germany, the Czech Republic, and Italy. Keleti is on the subway network, so finding your way into town is simple.

Car

If you are driving into Budapest, the most common route is from Vienna. In that case, you'll need to take the Austrian A4 to the border, then the M15 and the M1. From Prague, take the E50, then the E65 to Bratislava, and the E60 to Budapest. The E75 runs all the way from Belgrade to Budapest, another popular road route.

Bus

Bus companies serving Budapest include Orangeways, Eurolines, and Eurobusways and the vast majority of buses arrive at Népliget bus station. From there, take Metro Line 3 into the city center.

Airports near Budapest

Airlines serving Budapest

United Airlines
Good (2,616 reviews)
Lufthansa
Good (1,723 reviews)
American Airlines
Good (4,059 reviews)
KLM
Good (315 reviews)
Air France
Good (354 reviews)
Turkish Airlines
Good (1,160 reviews)
Delta
Excellent (2,812 reviews)
British Airways
Good (1,116 reviews)
Qatar Airways
Good (1,020 reviews)
SWISS
Good (402 reviews)
Iberia
Good (761 reviews)
Air Canada
Good (943 reviews)
Emirates
Excellent (740 reviews)
Austrian Airlines
Good (241 reviews)
TAP AIR PORTUGAL
Good (446 reviews)
Etihad Airways
Good (235 reviews)
Brussels Airlines
Good (83 reviews)
Ryanair
Good (1,362 reviews)
Scandinavian Airlines
Good (377 reviews)
Singapore Airlines
Excellent (221 reviews)
Show more

Where to stay in Budapest

Buda - Buda is really one half of the city and you'll find it on the west bank of the Danube. It's dominated by Castle Hill, and is also home to some of the city's richest neighborhoods. Other attractions include the Fisherman's Bastion (which offers superb views across the river) and the fascinating "Hospital in the Rock" Museum, featuring a preserved WWII-era bunker.

Popular Neighborhoods in Budapest

Pest - unsurprisingly, the other half of the city, this time on the eastern banks of the Danube. Pest is the political center of modern Hungary, hosting the nation's Parliament. It's long been the artistic center, thanks to cafes like Gerbeaud, and attractions like the Opera House are a must for all visitors.

Városliget - literally Budapest's "city park", Városliget is an enchanting place. It's where you can relax in the thermal baths at Széchenyi, visit Budapest Zoo, tour the Museum of Fine Arts, or just relax in the surroundings of one of Europe's greatest inner-city green spaces.

Most popular hotel in Budapest by neighborhood

Where to stay in popular areas of Budapest

Most booked hotels in Budapest

Anantara New York Palace Budapest
Excellent (9.1, 2499 reviews)
$199+
Hotel Castle Garden
Excellent (9, 1310 reviews)
$62+
Adler Hotel
Excellent (8.9, 185 reviews)
$78+
Holiday Inn Budapest-Budaörs, An IHG Hotel
Excellent (8.8, 855 reviews)
$79+
Intercontinental Budapest, An IHG Hotel
Excellent (8.7, 2871 reviews)
$153+
Corinthia Hotel Budapest
Excellent (8.7, 2612 reviews)
$185+
See all hotels

How to Get Around Budapest

Public Transportation

Budapest's public transportation network includes buses, boats, trams, and the excellent Metro subway system, and it's generally all tourists need to get around. Single tickets can be bought from vending machines for Ft350 (Ft750 on boats), a day pass costs Ft1,650, and a weekly ticket is Ft4,950.

Taxi

In the center of Budapest, taxis have a fixed rate, so make sure you aren't overcharged. The cost should be Ft450 for the meter drop, then Ft400 or so for every additional mile or Ft70 per minute. Trips to the airport are more expensive, as are night journeys.

Car

Having your own car is not essential for seeing the sights in central Budapest. In fact, with so much traffic on main roads, driving in the city can be inconvenient. However, it can be handy to see day-trip destinations like Pécs. Rental outlets in the city include Sixt and Europcar, and rates can be as low as Ft3,700 per day.

The Cost of Living in Budapest

Shopping Streets

Budapest is a fantastic place to shop. The major shopping street is Váci utca in Pest, where you'll find international chains like H&M, Calzedonia, and Desigual. For designer labels like Prada, make a trip to Andrássy Út, but for the most fun of all, dive into Nagyvásárcsarnok (the Great Market Hall), where you will have no trouble finding souvenirs for those back home.

Groceries and Other

The Great Market is also an excellent place to buy food and drink, and it can be very cheap as well, so self-catering vacationers should definitely swing by. Other than that, try supermarkets like Aldi and Spar, which are all over town. Groceries are cheap by North American standards: expect to pay Ft800 for a gallon of milk and around Ft180 for a pound of bananas.

Cheap meal
$5.44
A pair of jeans
$68.44
Single public transport ticket
$1.27
Cappuccino
$1.37