The Quintessential Budapest City Guide for the First Time Visitor
7 Places That should be there on your Budapest City Tour Itinerary
Budapest, Hungary’s capital city, is one of the most vibrant and budget friendly cities not only in Hungary, but also in all of Europe, and it’s not surprising to say that, Budapest is one of the Best Destinations in the World for Solo Travellers, either. We highly recommend in this Budapest City Guide that you keep out at least 2-3 days of your time to explore Budapest at leisure, and experience the plethora of experiences it has to offer. Trust Me, you won’t be disappointed at all.
Budapest, if you didn’t already know, is also one of the Best European Cities for Nightlife, and when you do visit Budapest, and are looking for Where to Stay in Budapest, we highly recommend that you check out these Boutique Hotels in Budapest.
Budapest Castle District
The first are we recommend you to tick off your Budapest City Tour, in this Budapest City Guide is the Budapest Castle District.
Buda Castle sits on the south tip of the Castle Hill, bound on the north by what is known as the Castle District, which is famous for its medieval, Baroque and 19th-century houses, churches and public buildings. Buda Castle is a part of the Budapest World Heritage Site, as declared in 1987.
The easiest and least crowded way to enter the whole complex, is to get up to the Vienna gate, on the northern end of the Castle hill. Vienna Gate is just a small walk from the Szell Kalman Square, where you can get the Castle Bus, that goes up and down the castle district.
To reach back to the foot of the Chain Bridge, the best way is to walk back down, or if you want to enjoy some panoramic views of Budapest, while going down, you can take the funicular.
Apart from the Buda Castle, two of the main structures standing out are the Matthias Church and the Fisherman’s Bastion.
Matthias Church is one of the oldest buildings in Budapest and also one of the finest and unique church. Matthias church is not only a church, but a museum and a venue for classical concerts as well.
Behind Matthias Church (as you look toward the Danube) is Budapest’s most famous lookout point: Fishermen’s Bastion which is almost 100 years old.
In medieval times, the fish market was nearby and the bastion was built to commemorate the fishermen who protected this part of the city. The seven tent-like turrets symbolize the seven Hungarian tribes that arrived at the Carpathian Basin in 896.
To see the Fisherman’s Bastion at its best, head down the spiralling stairs to the park below to catch a view of the spectacular lookout from below, before heading up again.
The lookout towers, provide one of the best panoramic views of Budapest, and you can spot not only the Chain Bridget, but also the Hungarian Parliament.
Szechenyi Chain Bridge
Spanning 380 m in length and 14.8 m in width, The Chain Bridge is one of the best-known landmarks of Budapest and connects Széchenyi Square on the Pest side to Clark Ádám Square in Buda, crossing the Danube.
Walking across the bridge offers an amazing view of the Hungarian Parliament, dominating the riverside in Pest, and the Castle hill towards the Buda end.
Related : 55 Best Things to do in Budapest
The Hungarian Parliament building which is also the world’s third largest Parliament building, is over 100 years old and is a magnificent example of Neo Gothic architecture. With over 691 rooms and 20 KM (12.5 miles) of stairs, the highest point of this palatial building is 96 m, same as that of St Stephens Basilica.
While the best views of the Hungarian Parliament are from the opposite side of the Danube, you can also enjoy the building from inside, through different guided tours, when the assembly is not in session. The tickets can be taken at gate ‘X’.
The Hungarian Parliament looks best at night, when its lit up.
St Stephens Cathedral
St. Stephen’s Basilica is the largest church in Budapest, and the third highest church in Hungary, and can hold up to 8,500 people, and is not only one of the most important churches in Hungary but also a significant tourist attraction.
Built in the Neo-Classical architecture, the façade is anchored by two large bell towers, and the southern tower is home to Hungary’s biggest bell, weighing over 9 tonnes. One of the most memorable experiences is the panoramic view from the top, which can be accessed by elevators, or by climbing 364 stairs.
With a capacity of hosting 330 people in its 42 cars, and standing at a height of 65 m, this giant mobile Ferris wheel, located in Erzsébet tér, was inaugurated in April 2015, and offers fantastic panoramic views of Budapest. The wheel is lit up with over 10, 000 coloured lights in the night sky, and is a beauty to admire.
Great Market Hall
If you are thinking about food, souvenirs, wine, paprika – there’s one place where you get it all, under one roof, and that’s the Great Market Hall, which is the largest and oldest indoor market in Budapest, located on the Pest side of the Liberty Bridge.
You can find all sorts of meat products, paprika, fresh vegetables and fruits, Tokaj wines, Palianka, candies, and various spices on the ground floor. Go one level up, and you’ll find yourself surrounded by a variety of souvenirs, and the smell of yummy food pulling you towards it. A definitely must try is the Langos, which not only is one of the Best Street Food in Europe, but also the top recommendation in this Budapest Food Guide.
The famous Ruin Bars – Szimpla Kert
In the early 2000’s, the inner part of the VII District was made up of abandoned and crumbling buildings. Once the site of the Jewish ghetto, the historic Jewish Quarter became dilapidated in the decades following World War II, after the deportation of 10,000s Jews. In 2002, the guys behind Szimpla opened up the very first venue on Kertész utca – where you’ll find the Szimpla Café today. Szimpla Kert, located on the bustling Kazinczy Street in downtown Budapest, which began as a small experiment – a bar set up in an abandoned building offering affordable drinks for the young and creative crowd in Budapest, is the mother of all ruin pubs, and without a doubt the most famous one among theses 7 Amazing Ruin Bars in Budapest.
Szimpla not only became the hottest place to party, but it also set a trend and a movement for alternative spaces. Szimpla became a bohemian hub after the crumbling building got spruced up with local design and vintage, mismatched furniture, and is now one of the world’s most famous bars.
A lot of these places, recommended in this Budapest City Guide are in walking distance of each other. While the Budapest Castle District, Fisherman Bastion and Matthias Church lie on the Buda side, the remaining of the attractions lie on the Pest side, which is connected to Buda through a number of bridges like the famous Chain Bridge or the Elizabeth Bridge.
While the free walking tours, takes you to all these places of interest, mentioned in this Budapest City Guide, but the walking tour by Absolute Tours, goes a step ahead, and takes you to the Hero’s Square, and a sampling of the traditional strudels is also included, which adds on to the experience.
If you are planning on visiting Budapest, you should definitely check out whether the Budapest Card is worth the buck or not.
I hope you found this Budapest City Guide, to be of help to you, as a reliable Travel Resource for planning your Trip to Budapest in Hungary. Don’t forget to Pin these images, and save this Budapest City Tour Itinerary, for future travel planning.
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38 thoughts on “The Quintessential Budapest City Guide for the First Time Visitor”
What a great guide and some really stunning photos. I really love the architecture in Budapest. We’re visiting in December and I really can’t wait to see it lit up in the winter.
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Eye-popping images Arnav. The shots are stupendous. What a charming city Budapest is. Tweeted for you.
Thank you so much Ryan. Much appreciated
I desperately want to go to Budapest! I think it looks and sounds amazing. A great guide here – you have included so many useful things. I love the look of all those beautiful churches and cathedrals – truly amazing works of architecture!
Oh you’ll love Budapest. Don’t forget to go on a food tour while you are there.
You’ve hit the nail on the head for amazing places in Budapest! My favorite was the Hungarian Parliament, sailing in from a river cruise and seeing those lights was one of the most amazing sights ever! 😉 Great photos.
Thank you so much
Great tips and places here. Budapest is a great city. I much prefer it over the nearby, and over hyped Prague. I hope it doesn’t go too far in the direction of tourism as its Czech neighbour.`
I too prefer it over Prague, and I too hope that the charm of Budapest doesn’t disappear with the rise in tourism.
Budapest looks like such a beautiful city. I think I would love all the old architecture in the city.
Oh you’ll love it for sure. Keep a minimum of 3 days with you.
Such beautiful photos. I always wanted to go to Budapest and you’ve made me want to get there soon. The bridge connecting the Buda and pest sides sounds cool.
We would start out in the Great Market hall for a true taste of Hungarian food. That would get us ready to see some of the fine architecture. Of course, the thermal springs would be a great way to enjoy the city, especially on snowy days. Are there other spa towns nearby?
Thanks for including evocative photos of the city.
That’s so atmospheric with your beautiful snowy photos, and the lovely warm glow of lights in the night pics. The Parliament building is beautiful; its spot on the river reminds me of the Palace of Westminster here in the UK.
What stunning photos you have! Budapest looks like a great time – I always think it’s so cold there though… I do tend to steer to the warmer climate cities and countries!
Thank you so much.
I absolutely LOVED Budapest. I’ve actually been wanting to go back for awhile, maybe in the spring. I’d go back just to see the Matthias church at night… beautiful!
We just returned from Budapest! It’s such a beautiful city. I loved your photos. They’re beautiful and it was so nice to see everything covered in snow!
Thank you so much.Am glad you loved my photos.
Arnav!!! Special thanks for this post. I’m heading to Budapest in a couple of months! Booked my tickets. Glad to see this guidance post!
Ofcourse the Buda Castle is my prime place to go. Looking at your picture of the church, I know now that I have to make a night walk there as well!
Szimpla sounds the most intriguing. I’m definitely adding it to my must-visit place.
Am really glad, you found this post useful for your upcoming trip. Budapest is an amazing city, and theres plenty to do, which you’ll realise once you are there.
Have a nice trip !
Arnav Mathur recently posted…What to EAT when you are Hungry in HUNGARY ? The Budapest Food Guide
Budapest is always top on my wishlist and your detailed guide with beautiful photos of major landmarks makes me tempted to book tickets now. I loved how this beautiful city looks under the snowy blanket. Fisherman’s Bastion and Chain Bridge photos are beautiful. Thanks for sharing amazing guide with us.
That scenery is just stunning. I’ve always wanted to visit Budapest and I’m thinking, from those photos, that winter would be a magical time to go. It looks like a fairy tale place.
Wow a great post about an equally beautiful city Budapest. I visited this city 2 years ago and this brought back memories. The most impressive fir me is budda castle which gives you such great views of the city. The bridges were another favourite of mine. It’s a beautiful city for a long weekend. Well presented post thanks for sharing.
It’s one of my favourite cities in all Eastern Europe!
Did you attend a Sparty Party by chance?
I love that you mentioned the markets, I love seeing the local treats they had to offer… the cheese is amazing!!!
This is a great guide for Budapest, you’ve really captured some great things to see. I like the idea of the Great Market Hall it looks amazing. I’m thinking about all the Hungarian delicacies I could try there. Thanks for a great post.
So many beautiful impressions of that city! The winter look gives Budapest a very special magical touch and makes it even more impressive in my opinion. I would definitely make a ride with the Budapest Eye, hoping for some greta shots from up there and afterwards having some good snacks in the Great Market Hall. Looks like I really need to visit Budapest, your post makes me want to visit that city!
I have been wondering where to plan my vacation this winter and you’ve just given me the brilliant idea of going to Hungary! I never considered it – the place looks amazing with a blanket of snow. I have to visit the castle district of course and the Parliament, and I know I will look for all rooftop bars and vantage points to get that view of the Parliament from a distance. Such a lovely city Budapest is and I can’t wait to check out what its like during Christmas!
Budapest is a dream to visit and take photos of! I definitely agree with all the sites that you have mentioned on this list. And I love seeing Budapest in the winter. How cold was it and how prepared were you for the snow?
This is a lovely city guide to Budapest, especially as I haven’t yet made it there. I’ve seen many photos of the Hungarian parliament building and think it’s one of the most beautiful in the world. I’ll take your advice and photograph when it’s lit up at nighttime. The chain bridge is also iconic and I’d like to see it under the snow!
The Hungarian Parliament is huge and gorgeous. I had no idea that it was the world’s third largest Parliament building. Is it better to visit Budapest during the warmer months or do you prefer winter?
I believe, Budapest is one place, which awesome no mater which time of the year you go. I was lucky to see Budapest covered in white, and without the white blanket in the period of 3 days. And both views were stunning.
I love Budapest, it is such a beautiful city. I need to go back though, I have to explore more of the ruin bars! I loved the view from Fishermen’s Bastion though, and the parliament building is incredible.
True that. The view of Pest from the fishermen’s bastion is just awesome.
After reading this post, I again realise how many beautiful buildings Budapest has. The Hungarian Parliament building looks spectacular and the view from Buda castle looks really amazing! Is it possible to visit all 7 places in one day?
As a matter of fact, yes its possible to visit all these in 1 day. But to enjoy Budapest, ill recommend a minimum of 2-3 day stay.
Now that is one bookmarked article I ll read over and over again, once I head to Budapest next month ..super excited that I am makes me wanna see how is it to look at the same place during Autumn time ..great write up on the wish list city
Am really looking forward to your trip and your stories, as am sure, its going to be one crazy trip. I know you are planning to cover a lot of cities in less time, but I really hope, you have some amazing experiences in Budapest.
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