Travelling Weasels


50 Cool Things To Do In Budapest

cool things to do in budapest hungary

Budapest, capital of central European country Hungary, should be a must on everyone's bucket-list: it has culture, it has style, it has delicious food and friendly locals - what more could you want! Alright, you want cool things to do in Budapest. I'm happy to oblige. 

Here are 50 things you must do at least once in Budapest including things to see, where to stay and what to do:

1. See the Hungarian Parliament Building 

cool things to do in budapest

The first thing you must do in Budapest is see parliament. Yeah, it's full of fascists, BUT, Hungarian Parliament Building is a gorgeous Neo-Gothic building. It's the third largest parliament in Europe - and by far the prettiest. It's exactly 96m tall - symbolically referring to 896 (the year Hungary was born). 

You can take a tour of Hungarian Parliament Building to see the crown and the other cool stuff inside for a very reasonable price, or if your trip happens to coincide with a national holiday you can go in for free (but it will be a lot more crowded). 

Book a tour of Hungarian Parliament Building  

2. Get Wrecked At A Ruin Bar  

things to do in budapest

Ruin Bars are, believe it or not, bars built in ruined buildings! They are mainly located in the old Jewish Quarter, are extremely cool and hipster-friendly. Slightly more expensive than your average Budapest bar, but still way cheaper than your average Western European bar and well worth it for the cool atmosphere and over-enthusiastic tourists. Even if you just pop your head in you've got to check these bars out! The most famous ruin bar in Budapest is Szimpla. 

You can probably tackle these bars by yourself, but if you're anything like me (get lost easily and can't hold your drink), then I recommend doing a Ruin Bar Crawl - take the stress out of the evening and make new friends!

Book a Pub Crawl in Budapest

Book a Private Pub Crawl in Budapest

3. Say Goodbye to Stress At Széchenyi Baths  

things to see in budapest

Budapest is the only city in the world with healing thermal baths. You must do at least one of them, they're pretty, they're relaxing and they're the best for curing hangovers. And other things probably. 

Széchenyi is the most famous bath in Budapest and is actually the largest medicinal bath in Europe! You can even attend a spa-rty here (nighttime spa meets club type thing - bring your bikini, don't expect people to not pee/have sex in the pool). 

Book Szechenyi Bath Tickets

4. Gorge on Goulash

must do in budapest

Goulash is Hungary's national dish: traditionally served as a stew of vegetables and meat, and of course seasoned with Hungary's national spice: Paprika. It's definitely a must do in Budapest. You can even find a vegan version at Kozmosz.

5. Wine Cruise Along The Danube 

top things to do in budapest

Pair up two of Hungary's gems: the wine and the Danube. The Danube is a beautiful river which splits Budapest in two (literally Buda and Pest).

As for Hungarian wine, it's some of the best in Europe, bring an extra suitcase because you'll want to take bottles home with you. 

Book Wine Cruise On The Danube

And if you're not so into the sea, read about the best Wine Tasting Budapest tours and how to choose between them. 

6. Treat Yourself to a First Class Meal

where to eat in budapest

Hungary may not be renowned for its first class cuisine, but some of the best meals we've ever had have been in Budapest. One that particularly stands out was the incredible five-course meal at the Corinthia. Definitely make sure eating out is a thing you do in Budapest.

7. Stay at A Grand Budapest Hotel

where to stay in Budapest

Okay so you can't stay at the Grand Budapest Hotel, because it doesn't exist, but you sure can stay at a Grand Budapest Hotel - take the Corinthia, for example, one of the most luxurious hotels in the whole of Hungary - and one of the hotels that actually inspired the Grand Budapest Hotel! (and unlike the Grand Budapest Hotel, you can safely take your grandma).

Book a Grand Budapest Hotel 

8. Explore Budapest's Vegan Foodie Scene

vegan food budapest

Surprisingly, (considering that this country is in a longterm non-monogamous relationship with pork and sour cream) Budapest is a haven for vegan foodies - from burgers to goulash to falafel, from restaurants to cafes and everything in-between. Budapest actually has over 20 Vegan restaurants and a vegan market every month. 

Book a Budapest Food Tour 

Read more about Vegan Budapest

9. Take a Bike Tour 

cool things to do in budapest

Budapest is flat, or at least Pest is - which makes it perfect for cycling around. Budapest is a great size for a city - not so big that you could never explore all of it (like say London, New York or Bangkok), but not so small that you can easily see it all in a couple of hours on foot (like Bratislava or Zagreb). It's somewhere in the middle, and thus you can see the best bits in a day by bike. 

We took a bike tour with Budapest Bike Breeze and loved it - we saw the main sights, learnt a lot of history and made some new friends - plus lunch was included. 

Book Budapest Bike Tour

10. Help The Homeless

free things to do in budapest

Like most big cities, Budapest sadly has a lot of homeless people. But instead of being a rubbish tourist and just ignoring them (or being an even more rubbish Hungarian government and imprisoning homeless people...) you can actually make a difference by joining up with Budapest Bike Maffia - these guys make a big difference cycling around the city helping the homeless. They collect donations, make meals, distribute the meals, listen to the homeless people and see how they can help. You can be any part of this operation. We've been along a couple of times - you can read more in this post.

11. Pet a Kitty

Cat Cafe, Budapest
Cat cafes are no longer just a thing you find in Asia - they are taking over Europe too! Head over to the Cat Cafe - it's very central, between Opera and the Cathedral - and pet your heart out. Purrrfect for those that love cats. 

12.  Take A Bath With A View 

Whilst Szechenyi is the bath that's the most popular with tourists, Budapest has many other awesome thermal baths like Rudas. The pros? Fewer tourists, awesome view of Budapest from the rooftop pools, and it was built by the Turks in the 1500s (so you know it's beautiful). Cons? Mixed is only at the weekend - though that might actually be a pro for you, you tell me.

We actually preferred this one to Szechenyi because it's so damn pretty (and there are fewer tourists). 

Book Rudas Bath Budapest 

13. Live Like a Local in a Quirky Airbnb

Airbnb Budapest
Budapest is covered with gorgeous buildings, and you can stay in one for a very reasonable price with Airbnb - first-timers get an Airbnb discount on us!

Book an Airbnb in Budapest 

14. Take a Unique Walking Tour 

Walking Tour Budapest
Unique Tours Factory offer unique walking tours all over Europe, including in Budapest! We went along one day and loved it - it was a private tour of Pest that ended with our favourite thing ever (Hungarian wine). 

15. See a 1000-Year-Old Mummified Hand at St Stephen's Basilica 

Stephen's Cathedral, Hungary
Many visit Stephen's Cathedral because it's beautiful, but did you know you can actually see a 1000-year-old mummified hand inside :O it's actually the hand of St Stephen himself! 

16. Head to the top of St Stephen's

The views from the top are incredible! This is one of our favourite things to do in Budapest. 

17. Day Trip to Balaton

balaton lake, hungary
Did you know that landlocked-Hungary has a sea? Okay, it's a lake, but it's absolutely gigantic, it's beautiful and it's less than an hour and a half away from Budapest!! If you have a bit of extra time, this is definitely something you must do. 

And if you go in the summer, you have to check out Balaton Sound one of Europe's largest open-air electric music festivals. 

Want to hear some Hungarian music?

18. Pig Out On a Food Tour

Budapest Cookie
So you've treated yourself to a fancy dinner, checked out the vegan foodie scene and had some goulash. Now, how about a food tour? Taste Hungary offer the best food tours in Budapest without a doubt. We highly recommend this as a thing to do in Budapest. 

Book a Budapest Food Tour

19. Admire the Danube

Budapest bridge
Even if you don't go on a cruise on the Danube (wine related or otherwise), you must at least cross one of the bridges to admire it from either side. The Danube is Europe's second longest river and cuts straight through Budapest (literally). 

20. Sit on Liberty Bridge

Whilst lots of people (understandably) love Chain Bridge, we've decided that Liberty Bridge is our favourite. Simply because we love the architecture, but also because on certain days they close it down and only pedestrians can cross (and/or climb the bridge at their own risk). 

21. Take A Cable Car up Castle Hill 

Castle Hill Budapest
Whilst the Pest side of Budapest is extremely flat, the Buda side is extremely hilly - seriously it could give San Francisco a run for its money. 

Obviously, the castle is strategically placed on the best hill, and if you don't fancy walking up that hill there's another option: cable car. 

This one is often recommended to visitors to Budapest by real locals. Including Barbara who wrote a top things to do in Budapet post 

22. Discover bullet holes from WW2

Castle Hill Budapest
Budapest is a city scarred by history - literally in some places. For example at Castle Hill and next to the Parliament you can still see the bullet holes left behind from World War Two. 

23. Make New Friends at the Tasting Table

Tasting Table Budapest
If you're looking for something that locals and tourists alike love, head to the Tasting Table on a Thursday night, where they put on dinner and a wine tasting for a small lucky group (around 20).  

24. Stay at the number one hotel in Budapest

number 1 Hotel Budapest
The Aria Hotel was voted number one on TripAdvisor for hotels in Budapest. Stay here if you like comfy rooms, delicious food and beautiful spas!

Book the number one hotel in Budapest

25. Go dog spotting in Városliget 

Hungarian Vizsla

Budapest is blessed with many beautiful parks. Varosliget or City Park is our favourite, it's massive! And you can be sure to spot many super cool dogs here. The Hungarian Vizsla is (you guessed it) Hungarian and a very popular breed in Hungary. 

26. Pay Your Respects at the Shoes Along the Danube

Shoes, Danube, Hungary
The Shoes Along The Danube is a symbolic memorial - it's there to honour the people killed during World War II. They were ordered to leave their shoes on the banks of the river, where they were then shot at the edge so the water would take their bodies away. 

27. Check Out The Paprika/ Great Market Hall

Paprika, great Hall, Budapest
The Great Market Hall is Budapest's oldest and largest indoor market. Here you can find tonnes of Hungary's favourite spice: paprika. 

Although you will find tourists here (and thus when it comes to souvenirs, tourist prices), you will still find that locals come to shop here - thus everyday items like fruit and veg are reasonable here. Be sure to check out the different types of peppers here - you might find some you've never seen before. 

28. Drink Cherry Beer at Eleszto 

Head over to Eleszto for a non-touristy experience, it's not really close to the main sights or the ruin bars, and thus it's mainly only real locals that drink here. Try the cherry beer - it's incredible. 

29. Take a Picnic to Margaret Island

Margaret Island is a gigantic island in the middle o the Danube. It's named after Saint Margaret - a daughter of one of the Kings of Hungary who lived in a convent on this very island. 

Margaret Island is beautiful and the perfect place to take a picnic, be sure to check out the Japanese garden and music fountain whilst you're there!

30. Ride The Waves At Gellert Bath

Gellert Bath is our favourite thermal bath in Budapest - far less crowded than Széchenyi and even more beautiful than Rudas, this bath has a wave machine too!  

31. Marvel at the Largest Synagogue in Europe

Nagy Zsinagoga or Great Synagogue is the largest synagogue in Europe and the second largest in the whole world (after one in New York). 

It's surely one of the most beautiful too. 

Book Jewish Heritage Tour

32. Pamper yourself at the Four Seasons 

Four Seasons Hotel Budapest
Another hotel that looks like it's straight out of the Grand Budapest Hotel is the Four Seasons. Stay here for first class service and to be pampered beyond your wildest dreams.

Book your stay at the Four Seasons

33. See the view of Pest from Buda 

For a gorgeous view of Pest (and the Parliament House), you should climb up Buda. Castle Hill offers some awesome insta-good lookouts.  

34. Escape From The Escape Rooms

Looking for a thing that's fun to do in Budapest but will also be good for your brain? Try one of the many escape rooms - fun for all the family. 

Book Escape Rooms in Budapest

35. Check Out Hosok Tere 

Heroes Square Budapest
You must stop off at Hosok Tere or Heroes' Square. It's a gigantic square with monuments to important historical figures - nice to look at, more interesting if you go on a tour and find out who they are. 

Book Budapest Walking Tour

36. Learn Your History at the House of Terror

House of Terror Museum
Budapest has a very sad history, the House of Terror is a museum that concentrates on the fascist and communist regimes in 20th century Hungary. 

37. Ice skate in the Winter

One of the best things about Hungary is the weather: sweltering hot in the summer, blistering cold in the winter. Whilst one of those (or both) might not be your cup of tea, you can't deny Hungary does classic European summer and winter weather perfectly (unlike the UK where it's mostly just crap). In the winter you can even ice skate in Budapest!

38. Climb up to the Liberty Statue 

Liberty Statue at Gellért Hill
Climb up Gellért Hill to see the Liberty Statue and to be rewarded with epic views of Budapest. We haven't actually done this yet, it's on our list of things to do in Budapest :) 

Update: done it twice. HA. Take that past Laura. 

39. Go Underneath Budapest 

Budapest caves
If you've seen Budapest from above you may as well see it from below, there's a lot going on under there from caves to churches to bunkers and even a hospital! 

Book A Cave Tour

40. See an Opera at Budapest Opera House

Budapest has a beautiful opera house and from what I've heard tickets are a lot cheaper here than say London or Vienna. So if you've always wanted to see an opera but never done it, perhaps Budapest is the place for you. 

41. Don't Miss Out On The Best Flight Deal

When booking flights be sure to check out Kiwi - this website compares all the rates to find you the best deal. It's a really flexible website - you can be flexible with your dates and even where your flying from. Not sure which city is best to fly from? Put both in the search bar.

And it's so much more than just finding the cheapest flights (which admittedly most flight comparison websites do well), Kiwi takes it a step further - they will also find you the most convenient flight. Why take the cheapest flight which takes 20 hours and changes four times, when you can take a direct flight for just £5 more? 

Book flights to Budapest

42. Party on at the Hive Party Hostel

Hive Party Hostel budapest
If you know us at all you know that we're not hostel people - we like our home comforts too much. But we do like to party just like the people that stay at the Hive Party Hostel Budapest - it's in the name!

Book the Hive Party Hostel

43. See Matthias Church

Matthias Church Budapest
Budapest has many churches, but our favourite is Matthias Church because we think it's the prettiest. Well worth the climb to see it!

44. Visit Gondor, I Mean Fisherman's Bastion

Fisherman's Bastion, Budapest
Right next to Matthias Church is Fisherman's Bastion which was actually the inspiration for Gondor :O at least in the films anyway, I don't think Tolkien went to Hungary? Let me know!

45. Try Homemade Pálinka

Pálinka is the Hungarian national drink and comes in all different types of flavour - give a Hungarian a fruit and they can make Pálinka out of it (yes even banana). The best flavour of Pálinka though is one made and drank with your new Hungarian friends :) Special thanks to Kata, Lilla and Zoli for sharing their Pálinka with us. 

46. And don't forget about Unicum 

Nowhere near as loved as Pálinka, but still definitely worth a try is Unicum - it's also a Hungarian spirit and tastes a lot like Jägermeister, but better (#sorrynotsorry)

47. Embarrass yourself by trying to say cheers in Hungarian 

With all the drinking and friend making you'll be doing in Budapest, you'll need to learn how to say cheers, it's really hard. 

(e GAY SHAY ged RE)

48. Learn Hungarian 

Once you've learnt a bit of Hungarian you might not want to stop. Hungarian is a beautiful language and very unique. If you're looking for a language that's unusual and impressive Hungarian is for you.  

49. Explore More of Hungary

Don't just stop with Budapest, explore the whole of Hungary - it's just as beautiful and has stunning buildings and lovely locals in every corner. Check out our guide to travelling around Hungary to find our recommendations of where to go, where to stay and what to do when you get there. 

50. Watch The Sun Set 

A post shared by LAURA + TANBAY (@travellingweasels) on
Budapest has some stunning sunsets, don't miss a single one of them. 

Book flights to Budapest now!

[And if 50 is way too many to choose from, check out the Budapest Long Weekend Break Guide]

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