Budapest, Hungary

Map of routes and landmarks in Budapest

Budapest's must-sees

1. Hungarian Parliament
2. Fisherman's Bastion
3. St. Stephens' Basilica
4. Danube and Margaret Island
5. Buda Castle
6. Széchenyi Thermal Bath

Hungarian flag and Budapest coat of arms

Useful Information

Population

Budapest city limits: ~1.8 million

Metropolitan area: ~3.3 million

Nearby towns

Vác (28 mi / 45 km)

Székesfehérvár (40 mi / 64 km)

Szolnok (75 mi / 120 km)

Szeged (108 mi / 174 km)

Bratislava, Slovakia (124 mi / 200 km)

Debrecen (144 mi / 231 km)

Vienna, Austria (151 mi / 243 km)

Zagreb, Croatia (213 mi / 343 km)

Transport

Budapest’s public transportation is managed by BKK. They publish a practical transport guide with every line and available type of transport.

The most widely used method of transportation is the bus system. It’s 200+ bus lines reach nearly every point in the city. The metro and tram lines are faster but not as far-reaching.

The Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport is in the outskirts and connects with Budapest via bus 100E.

Route 1. Castle Hill and Fisherman’s Bastion

Depending on how much energy you have, you can either start the route from the Citadel (long route) or from Castle Hill (short route). From the Citadel, on the west bank of the Danube in the Buda district, head towards Castle Hill, on which the imposing Buda Castle is by large the protagonist (pun intended). Though the castle was originally built in the 13th century, the current architectural complex dates to the 18th century, and houses the Hungarian National Gallery and the Budapest History Museum, in which you can discover this district’s fascinating backstory.

The last part of the route will direct you to the north, past the Statue of the Independence War honoring the 1848 battle against Austria to Matthias Church and the famed Fisherman’s Bastion. According to legend, the original Matthias Church was founded by San Esteban in the 11th century. The now standing church, however, dates to the 14th century with restoration work from the 19th century. This church has hosted numerous royal celebrations, including the coronation of the last two Hungarian kings, Franz Joseph I and Charles IV, and several royal weddings. The Fisherman’s Bastion was erected next to the Matthias Church in the 19th century. Enjoy the view!

Route 2. Along Andrássy Avenue to the State Opera House and St. Stephan’s Basilica

This route begins at Heroes’ Square, which sits between the Fine Arts Museum and the Kunsthalle Museum at the east end of Andrássy Avenue. This square was built at the end of the 19th century to honor the arrival of Hungarian tribes to the Carpathian Mountains 1,000 years earlier. Also underway in the same period was the expansion of Andrássy Avenue and the construction of Europe’s first subway (the world’s third behind London’s and New York’s).

Strolling past Andrássy Avenue’s monumental architecture will transport you to the epoch of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Take special note of the State Opera House and the Drechsler Palace. Then get a close-up look at the Communist era – a jump in time but equally significant to Budapest’s history – at the House of Terror. Nearby is St. Stephan’s Basilica, a Neoclassical structure facing the Danube that was named in honor of King Stephan, the first Hungarian king.

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Budapest

Home to the third largest Parliament in Europe, the second largest synagogue (route 4) and the largest thermal water cave system in the world, Budapest is considered by many to be one of the most unique, diverse, and innovative cities of Europe. Its fast-growing urban economy contrasts with its incredible myriad of ancient cultures, architecture styles and cuisines. Since Buda on the west bank and Pest on the east bank of the Danube were unified in 1873 to become the capital of Hungary, Budapest has found its place among Europe’s avant-garde as the unifying link between western and eastern Europe.

Thanks to its impressive system of natural thermal waters, Budapest has long prided itself on its unique spa culture, which has especially thrived since Turkish occupation in the 16th and 17th centuries. Of the eight baths built in that era, two in Buda are still functioning in their original state: Rudas and Király. Among the most popular baths for tourists are Gellért, Lukács and Széchenyi, the latter being the largest spa complex in Europe and over 100 years old (route 5). Széchenyi is additionally known for its summer DJ-pool style parties called "Szecska". Any tourist can appreciate the incredible spa tradition in Budapest and take advantage of their many health benefits.

Alongside Champs Elysées of Paris and Austria’s Ringstrasse in Europe’s hall of fame for grand avenues is Budapest’s gorgeous Andrassy Avenue. A World Heritage site since 2002, Andrassy was built in the 19th century by prestigious architects of the time led by Miklós Ybl. The avenue quickly became the host of numerous Renaissance Revival buildings such as the State Opera (also designed by Miklós Ybl) and the Drechsler Palace (route 2).

Near the end of Andrassy Avenue is the peculiar Vorosmarty Square, with cafés full of charm and delicious pastries. The square boasts an exciting diversity of modern and traditional restaurants like the century-old Café Gerbeaud, with first-class Hungarian pastries and creative desserts. At nighttime, bars and clubs like the Akvárium and the G3 Gödör light up the area and entertain visitors with concerts and cultural shows.

Want a perfect ending to a day touring the city? The views at dusk hour from the Citadel lookout will leave you in awe. Alongside the glittering reflections in the Danube, you’ll be able to see the immense Hungarian Parliament Building boasting its presence between the elegant Chain Bridge and the island that was once royalty’s hunting grounds, Margaret Island (route 3).

Stocking up on energy while touring Budapest isn’t simply a necessity – it’s a pleasure, thanks to the diverse (and affordable) Magyar gastronomy. The slight spice in a warm Goulash stew or a halászlé, a traditional, spicy fish soup, will take your taste buds for a spin. These typical dishes are often served with spätzle, a tender, homemade dish made with flour and eggs. A true foodie would top off the meal with a tokaji, a reputable wine with an exquisite touch of sweetness produced in northeastern Hungary since the 17th century. These dishes are served in traditional restaurants, such as the Hungarikum Bisztro near the Parliament.

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