Top 5 Things to Do in Budapest

Whether you’re on a short break or a long layover, Budapest has plenty of things to do. From soaking in muscle-melting waters at centuries-old thermal baths to forging new connections at a 19th-century coffeehouse, here are the best ways to see and do more of this fascinating city.

#1 – Visit the Budapest Castle: This neo-Gothic fortress towers over the River Danube and makes its way onto many postcards of the city. Inside the castle, you can find Hungary’s Holy Crown, which has been used to crown monarchs since the 12th century, as well as a variety of other treasures and artifacts.

#2 – Take a River Cruise: The city’s most scenic sights, including the Chain Bridge, Buda Castle, the Hungarian Parliament building and Margaret Island, come into dazzling focus on a gentle river cruise. Several operators run tours, but I recommend Legenda, which offers consistently comfortable rides and audio guides in 30 languages.

#3 – Tour the Museum of Fine Arts: Budapest’s most famous art museum is home to masterpieces by renowned Old Masters, including Cranach, Raphael, Titian, and El Greco, as well as a collection that belonged to the Esterhazy family until it was sold in 1870. The neoclassical building is also known for its superb collection of classical sculptures.

#4 – Soak in Budapest’s thermal pools: Budapest sits on a patchwork of hot springs, and soaking in the mineral-rich waters is one of the city’s top experiences. You can visit medieval hammams, ornate baths from the heyday of Austria-Hungary and even ones built into the sides of the mountains. This guide to Budapest’s bathhouses will help you pick the right one for you.

#5 – Walk around the City Park: The city’s best outdoor leisure space has become an eye-catching exhibition space in recent years, with the addition of such striking buildings as the Museum of Ethnography and the House of Music, designed by Japanese star architect Sou Fujimoto. Wandering the park, which includes a boating lake and a children’s playground, is a relaxing way to spend an hour or so.

While the City Park’s newest buildings are impressive, some of its oldest attractions are equally moving. Just behind the City Park is the Shoes on the Danube memorial, where you can see the site where over 20,000 Jews were marched to this spot on a dark winter’s day, ordered to remove their shoes and then shot and fallen into the river. This moving monument is a reminder of the horrors of the Holocaust. The nearby House of Music is also worth a visit for its stunning interior and exterior design.  things to do in Budapest