Attractions in Budapest: The 7 Best

Budapest, Hungary
Elisabeth Bridge over the Danube

Budapest, Hungary's capital, is one of the biggest and most attractive cities in Europe, with a population of nearly 2 million people. The city's core district along the Danube River is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with several famous classical architectural structures, including the Hungarian Parliament and the Buda Castle.

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On the site of Budapest in the first century BC, there was a Celtic settlement and trade and craft center, Ak-Ink. It was renamed Aquincum and designated as the administrative center of the Roman province of Pannonia in the 2nd century. The Hungarian tribes (Magyars) arrived on the Danube at Aquincum in the 9th century. November 17th is Budapest's official birthday because, on that day in 1873, Buda, Pest, and Óbuda towns merged to form the city.

Each year, approximately 12 million international tourists visit Budapest, making it a popular European destination. Known as the "Pearl of the Danube," the city delights, impresses, and intrigues. Here is my list of seven attractions worth visiting in Budapest.

Top 7 Budapest Attractions

1. Buda Castle

Budapest Sights

The Buda Castle, also known as the Royal Palace, where previously the Hungarian monarchs lived, is undoubtedly one of the most well-known landmarks in Budapest. This iconic architectural marvel, a World Heritage Site, is best seen from the Pest side of the Danube.

The massive Baroque-style architectural structure that dominates the historical complex today dates back to the 18th century, five centuries after its first construction in the mid-1200s. Currently, the castle houses the Budapest History Museum, the Hungarian National Gallery, and the National Széchényi Library.

The impressive Buda Castle stands atop Castle Hill. The castle is easy to reach: take a bus from Dísz tér stop, lines 16, 16A, or 116, or walk. A more exciting option is to take the funicular, the world's second of its kind (after Lyon, France), which departs from the base of the hill opposite the Chain Bridge.

2. Fisherman's Bastion

Budapest Attractions

The Fisherman's Bastion is a prominent tourist and local attraction in Budapest, offering a view of the Danube and the city's numerous magnificent sights: the towering Hungarian Parliament, Budapest's four main bridges, the Cathedral of St. Stephen, Gellert Hill, Margaret Island, as well as the picturesque urban landscape of Pest.

The lower terrace has grand staircases that ascend beautifully towards the upper bastions and ornate Matthias Church. The upper one has view platforms providing panoramic views of eastern Budapest.

The 19th-century remarkable architectural structure, a Unesco World Heritage Site, is located in the Buda Castle District. It is one of the most outstanding examples of Hungarian Neo-Romanesque architecture. To get to the Fisherman's Bastion, take bus line 16 to Donáti utca or Szentháromság tér.

3. Hungarian Parliament Building

Budapest Attractions

The Hungarian Parliament Building, built in the early 20th century in the Neo-Gothic style, is a magnificently beautiful structure on the east bank of the Danube inspired by the House of Parliament in London.

This UNESCO World Heritage Site is the world's third-largest parliament building, with 27 gates, nearly 700 interior rooms, 365 towers, and ten courtyards.

Anyone interested in Hungary's history and culture should visit the Hungarian Parliament Building. It would take a long time to walk up and down all of the building's stairs. The stairs cover a total distance of 20 km (12 mi). Don't miss passing by the building at night – it looks like a magical Disney castle.

4. Pálvölgyi Cave

Budapest Cave

Budapest's Pálvölgyi Cave, with its narrow passageways and dramatic levels changes, is Hungary's second-longest cave (after Mátyáshegyi Cave), well known for its dripstone and stalagmite formations. As of today, its whole length reaches 7.2 kilometers (4.5 miles); there are 500 meters (1640 feet) of the walkway, which are well-lit and safe to walk through.

Underground cave systems in Budapest became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995, and many of them are not open to the public, except for a few, such as the Pálvölgyi Cave.

5. St. Stephen's Basilica

Budapest Attraction

The Neo-Classical Basilica of St. Stephen, dedicated to the first king of Hungary, Saint Stephen, is the largest church building in Budapest and the third largest in present-day Hungary. Built between 1851 and 1905, the church has a stunning Neo-Renaissance dome, and, like the Hungarian Parliament Building, it is one of Budapest's highest buildings at 96 meters (315 feet).

The streets surrounding the Basilica appeared in the 2016 American action mystery-thriller film Inferno, starring Tom Hanks, and scenes from the NBC drama Royal Pains. Madonna starred in the 1996 film Evita, which depicted the wedding scene of Evita and her beloved Perón in the Basilica.

The spacious St. Stephen Square has several terraced cafes and restaurants. When visiting the Basilica, you can climb the dome and get a bird's-eye view of Budapest.

6. Heroes' Square

Budapest Attraction

Heroes Square, located at the end of Andrássy Avenue next to City Park, is one of Budapest's main squares, notable for its iconic Millennium Monument, a 36-meter (118-foot) central column topped by a statue of the archangel Gabriel holding the Hungarian Holy Crown and the apostolic double cross in his hands.

The crescent-shaped monument with semi-circular arcades is Eclectic and features bronze statues of famous Hungarian personalities on the left and right sides. In recent years, Heroes' Square, home to the Museum of Fine Arts and the Palace of Art since the 20th century, has been a spot of many political events in Hungary. To get to the site, take metro line 1 to the old-fashioned station Hsök tere.

7. Central Market Hall

Budapest Attraction

The Central Market Hall in Pest, close to Liberty Bridge, is Budapest's largest and most impressive indoor market. It attracts with its brilliant lighting, vibrant fruit and vegetable colors, the aroma of fresh herbs, and, most importantly, gorgeous architecture.

This impressive brick building of Hungarian Historicism dates back to 1897. The entrance's stone gates have Neo-Gothic elements. Franz Joseph I, Emperor of Austria-Hungary, was the first famous person to visit the market in May 1897.

Despite being open every day except Sunday, the market is busiest on Saturdays when a wide variety of foods and souvenirs are on sale. If you do not want to deal with crowds, go to the market during the weekdays a little later in the morning, as most people shop until around 8 or 9 am. While exploring the Central Market Hall, if you get hungry, keep an eye out for low-cost food kiosks on the top floor, where you can sit at tables with locals and other travelers.

Where to Stay in Budapest

Unsure of where to stay in Budapest? For my trips, I use, a well-designed website that helps me find everything from small B&Bs to large hotel chains, vacation rentals, and homestays.

Read More Hungary Travel Tips:

Have any questions about things to do in Budapest? What about other suggestions? Feel free to leave a comment below.


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