The best things to do in Budapest
Being a gorgeous city no matter in which season are you visiting you will find several interesting and entertaining things to do in Budapest. Of course, it always depends on how many days you plan to spend in the capital city, but with my personal suggestions I hope you will have a great time for more days. I have been several times to the below mentioned places and as an insider I can highly recommend all of them to you.
1. Thermal Baths
Budapest is also known as the Thermal Bath Capital, so is famous for the bathing culture and the thermal baths. You will find a huge variety of baths with different sizes and styles.
The biggest one with 21 pools is the Széchenyi Thermal Bath situated in the City Park. Being the biggest it is the most popular as well, so it will be quite crowded. If you don’t mind that is not quiet, you should check it out.
Another option is the Gellért Thermal Bath situated just next to the art nouveau style Hotel Gellért. I love the architecture and the atmosphere of this bath! It was opened in 1918 and in that period, it was fancy to come here. During summertime the wave pool is so much fun. It is less crowded, but every year is more and more popular.
If you want to explore a bath having still some Turkish influence, I suggest visiting the Király Thermal Bath. It was opened in 1565 during the Ottoman rule in Hungary.
My top favorite is a less crowded one, the Lukács Thermal Bath. It was used since the XII. century first by the knights of St. John, later by the Turks. Here you will find huge green areas, birds chirping and a relaxing atmosphere.
You will find many interesting museums in Budapest, that offers fascinating permanent and temporary exhibitions. Really it depends on what is your interest, are you with child or children, how much do you want to know about Hungarian art, history, etc. If I could only choose three I would choose the following ones: House of Terror, Hungarian National Gallery and the Great Synagogue & the Jewish Museum.
In the House of Terror you can find a very detailed exhibition about Hungary during the fascist and communist period. I believe worth seeing it even if you aren’t a history person. Many photos and documentaries are displayed, so there you can see and learn what really happened in 20th-century Hungary.
In the Hungarian National Gallery you can find all the major Hungarian artists and their work pretty much in all genres. There is a section of international artists as well. It is not a huge exhibition, so you won’t need to spend the whole day there.
The Great Synagogue is near Astoria metro station (M2) and it is the largest synagogue in Europe. A lot of very sad history can be found here. The whole area was part of the ghetto during World War II and there is a mass grave in the backyard of the Synagogue. A very touching visit where you should spend more time.
3. Musical performances
In Budapest there are quite many music halls where you can enjoy different very good performances. If you don’t like classical music or the Opera you can watch a contemporary dance performance, a folk-dance show or even a ballet. These are the places that usually offers performances: Palace of Arts, Pesti Vigadó, Opera House, Danube Palace, Franz Liszt Academy of Music. If you check out their programs and you like something, the easiest and the fastest is if you buy your tickets online. You can show the purchased ticket on your phone.
It is always so much fun to go out to different parks, explore less packed places in the city. One real green treasure in Budapest is Normafa, 20 minutes from Széll Kálmán tér (M2) with bus 21A. This bus will take you directly there. From Normafa you can enjoy a beautiful view of the city and have a nice walk in a forest setting.
If you don’t want to go out this far, the City Park can be another option, but this is quite popular, so depending on the weather you will find crowds. In the City Park there is the Zoo, the Circus, the Széchenyi Thermal Bath and the Vajdahunyad Castle. During wintertime the biggest ice-skate rink is functioning here. So for sure you can spend a nice morning or afternoon here!
The other popular green place in the heart of Budapest is the Margaret Island. No cars are allowed here, so it is very safe to bike. You can even rent tandem bikes (we call it bringóhintó) for the whole family or friends and explore the Margaret Island with it. Great place for a nice walk, having a lángos (fried dough with cheese and sour cream) and a beer, wine or lemonade.
5. Exploring the city
And last but not least the best way to explore the city is by walking. This way you will be able to see most of the sights within a shorter period and to explore hidden gems off the beaten path. And walking with a local guide is the best way to get to know the local culture, language and the best spots in the city. I offer several walks in Budapest, also thematic ones so I’m pretty sure you will find something that meets your interest. If not, you can always contact me, and I will be happy to help. I love to customize my tours the way my guests asks. So just check out my webpage and send me an email or message!