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The Ultimate Budapest To-Do List

by Roberto
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It’s starting to seem like Budapest is the new “trendy” European destination this year, and for a good reason! I love finding “off the beaten path” types of places, so I planned a trip to Budapest with my mom on a bit of a whim. We didn’t know a lot about it, we just new many people loved it, and OH MY I totally get it!!

Budapest easily skyrocketed to one of my top 5 favourite cities and I’ve never felt such a pulling urge to return to a city!! It’s a city rich in culture and a tough history, but full of friendly and positive people!! A little known fact about Budapest, is it is actually two different cities separated by the river Danube. The Buda side is known as the “posh” side, possibly because this is where Buda Castle is located, and is the most hill-y side. The Pest side is where you will find a ton of restaurants, shopping, and nightlife. The food in Budapest was so unique and delicious and the ruin pubs are some of the coolest places to explore. Budapest is also stock full of thermal spas that are a great value and so relaxing, you wont want to leave!

I HIGHLY recommend visiting Budapest for a few days on your next European vacation! I wish we had a week to do everything there, but we only had 4 days, so I’ve created the ultimate Budapest to-do list for your visit so you can fit in as much as you possibly can!

Go on a Walking Tour

In any city you go to, I recommend always doing a walking tour to get your bearings and hear about anything else you may want to do that you didnt find in your research. Walking tours are also treat ways to hear more about the culture of the city and they are almost always FREE!!

Here are a few of the ones in Budapest.




After you finish your walking tour, you are probably going to be incredibly hungry. Many of the walking tours end at the top of the hill at the Fishermans Bastion on the Buda side of the river. If you end up here, they have the absolute cutest little market style restaurant in the park next to the square called Piknik Pavillion.

I had the YUMIEST Paprika Sausage here!

Visit a Ruin Bar

The Ruin Bars are one of the most unique and cool things about visiting Budapest. These iconic bars started in the early 2000s and have been built inside buildings that became dilapidated after World War II. We went to one of the first and most famous, Szimpla Kert. It’s been filled with art and vintage furniture, even a part of a graffiti’d covered car!

We visited during the day when they had an awesome art fair full of artists who made jewelry, lotions, purses, candles… all local!!

Szimpla Kert in Budapest

Go to the Thermal Baths

Budapest is famous for their Thermal Baths and visiting them was one of the things I was most excited for, and BOY did they NOT disappoint! This was BY FAR one of the most unique experiences I’ve ever had in Europe. There really isn’t anything like it and I HIGHLY recommend you fit a bath house into your itinerary while in Budapest!

We went to the most famous, the Szechenyi Baths. They had about 17 pools, all different temperatures and containing different natural minerals. Locals swear by the fact that different baths have different healing properties, but even if that isn’t so, I was definitely healed of all stresses of the day. We probably spent about 5-6 hours here, so definitely plan accordingly! The ticket we purchased got us a skip the line entry, a private locker and changing room each, and a 20 minute massage!

For any of you party animals, this particular bath house also holds bath parties on the weekend! Drinks, a spa, music… sounds like a great night to me!

Szechenyi Baths in Budapest

Eat ALL the food and buy ALL the things at the Central Market

The Hungarians have some of the most delicious food which is fitting for a country called Hungary (sorry, bad joke!). But it’s true. My mom and I pretty much ate our way through Budapest and one of my favourite places to try all their food was at the Central Market. This is where we got Langos, but they had SO many beautiful and yummy looking food stalls.

Central Market Chilis in Budapest

The Central Market is also a GREAT place to do all of your souvenir shopping! There are so many stalls of Hungarian hand made fabrics, trinkets, and artwork! I bought a really great hand drawn sketch of the Chain Bridge! .

Central Market Budapest

Ride the Funicular to the Castle

The funicular is probably one of the more iconic tourist attractions in Budapest. There are so many beautiful pictures circling the internet of the city’s skyline as seen from the funicular.

TOP TIP: There is usually a HUGE line waiting at the bottom of the hill to go up to Budapest Castle in the funicular. Instead of wasting a few precious hours waiting, go up the hill to the left. About 100 yards up, you’ll find an elevator that will take you right up to the castle! Then, after visiting the castle, take the funicular DOWN! There will be no line. ?

Budapest Funicular

Visit the Fisherman’s Bastion at Sunset

The Fisherman’s Bastion has one of the most amazing views of the Pest side of Budapest. We just happened to get there our first night around sunset and it was STUNNING! I felt like I was in a Disney movie in a castle fit for a princess.

Fisherman's Bastion in Budapest

If you head up to the Fisherman’s Bastion at sunset, you’ll have one of the most instagram-able spots in Budapest nearly to yourself. We went up again the next day and it was PACKED! This is definitely one of those attractions to see during off-peak times.

Fisherman's Bastion in Budapest

Have a Coffee or Hot Cocoa at the New York Cafe

This is the most fancy place you will ever have a cup of cocoa… EVER. The New York Cafe is a restaurant inside of a hotel, but you can easily visit as a non-hotel guest. We ended up going on a whim for a warm cup of cocoa, and the line was out the door. We decided to brave the wait, but it was surprisingly fast and only took about 15 min. It was worth it just to get in and see the place!

The servers were so nice, the hot cocoa was delish, and they even had a string quartet playing music on stage to add to the ambiance! My photos don’t do it justice, you’ll just have to go see it for yourself!

New York Cafe, Budapest

Tour the Parliament

The Hungarian Parliament is the biggest parliament building in Hungary! It’s a GORGEOUS building and one that will make architecture nerds swoon. The design of the building was actually inspired by the British Parliament in London.

The Hungarian Parliament building offers guided tours in multiple languages through out the day. I highly recommend trying to book tickets a few weeks in advance. We booked about two weeks before our trip in October, and there were only 2 English speaking tours left.

The tour was about an hour and was definitely worth it to see the inside of the building and hear about the different uses of the building. You also see the crown jewels as part of the tour! And if you’re lucky, you can catch the changing of the guard inside!!

If you take one thing away from this post, it’s to GET YOUR PARLIAMENT TOUR TICKETS IN ADVANCE.

Hungarian Parliament

Go on a Boat Cruise

One of the most popular things to do in Budapest is a boat cruise on the Danube River. They offer long tours that have Hungarian food and entertainment, day cruises, or short night cruises.

We did a 1-hour night cruise right after sunset so we could see all of the famous Hungarian buildings lit up in lights. Our tour even offered a free drink upon boarding!

Hungarian Parliament at Night

I hope this was helpful in planning your trip to Budapest! I’d love to go back again soon, so what did I miss!? Leave your comments below ?

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