I recently was lucky enough to visit Budapest for a week with my boyfriend. It’s such a beautiful city and so many people I know are going soon and wanted some recommendations for things to do and see – voila! One of the best things about Budapest aside from it being stunning, is that it’s superbly cheap. You can do and see plenty for a mere few pounds. I’ve ranked my top nine sights with pound signs ranking from £ to £££ so it’s easy to scan for the cheapest options if you’re travelling on a budget. Five out of the nine things to do are free! You could easily go for four or five days and cover all of these top picks, we realised that by day five of our holiday we had covered most of Budapest’s sights. Hope this helps you out and happy travelling!
1. St. Stephens Basilica – £
This is such a stunning building both inside and out, well worth a visit and it only costs a couple of pounds in donations to go in. We went to see a Mozart and Bach concert later in the week which was really lovely, so if that’s your thing then I recommend that too. The concert itself was a little more pricey, about £9 a ticket.
2. St. Stephen’s Tower – £
It only costs about £3 to climb up the tower and you’re rewarded with the most stunning views of the city once you’ve reached the top. It’s a bit of a climb but definitely worth it!
3. Fisherman’s Bastion – £
Fisherman’s Bastion is one of the most famous landmarks for giving some of the best views of Budapest. The building itself is also stunning, it looks like something straight out of Harry Potter! Definitely go as early as you can, we made the mistake of going at lunchtime when all the coach parties had arrived. Fisherman’s Bastion also has a restaurant (where the white parasols are in the photo) which served beautiful food with an even more beautiful view. It’s also excellent value for money, around £6 for two courses including a soft drink and a coffee – the food was worth every penny and more!
Pollock and spinach pasta
Hungarian cherry pie
4. Great Market Hall – free!
Yet another beautiful and bustling must-see and there are so many stalls selling absolutely everything. I picked up a Hungarian sour cherry strudel and it was so tasty and so different from the traditional idea of a strudel. It’s less crispy and more doughy, but just as delicious. Get there early if you want more choices though, they sell out of apple and sultana/cinnamon super quickly! Also there’s an Aldi on the floor beneath the main market hall, which is really handy if you need to pick up any bits and bobs. I can’t recommend the wine that we found in there highly enough, it’s called Tokaji Furmint, a local Hungrian wine and it is stunning. One of the best bottles of wine I’ve ever had ever! Even better, it’s only about £3 for an entire bottle. Buy two, drink one and pack the other to bring home, it’s worth it.
Hungarian sour cherry strudel
Delicious local wine
5. Liberty Statue on Gellert Hill – free if you’re willing to walk all the way up
Wear some comfortable trainers if you’re planning to walk up! We went on a super hot day which made the walk very tiring but it was worth it in the end. Thank goodness for the stall selling cold bottles of water at the top! The statue itself is quite something, it was built in 1947 in commemoration of those who sacrificed their lives for the independence of Hungary. The view is also incredible from the top, and as we were walking up there were various points where you could stop and take a breather, and look down across Budapest.
6. Vajdahunyad Castle at the City Park of Budapest – free
I mean, could Budapest get any better? The castle is in the City Park of Budapest and is such an amazing sight. It was a very hot day when we visited and it was lovely to sit and chill on the river bank and look at the castle from across the water. The park itself is also worth a visit, when we went there was a huge beer festival and there was a great buzz about the place.
7. Margaret Island – free, apart from the tram there which is only a couple of pounds
When I was reading all about Budapest in readiness for my trip, I didn’t read anything about Margaret Island, and yet it was one of the best experiences we had. Bit of background, Margaret Island is situated in the middle of the Danube River between Buda and Pest, and is mainly covered by an enormous recreational park. It’s very beautiful, if we had visited in the day time I would definitely have taken a picnic and chilled there for an afternoon. We went during the evening to watch the musical fountain, which was so cool. Sounds so cheesy but the illuminated water “dances” to the music, it’s truly magical, reminded me a bit of Disney.
8. Shoes on the Danube Bank – free
If you’re walking along the river to visit Parliament, then you’ll walk right past these metal shoes. They’re here to honour the Jews who were killed by fascists in Budapest during WWII. They were ordered to take off their shoes, and were shot so that their bodies fell into the river and were carried away. These metal shoes represent those left behind on the bank. It’s really sad but very important and moving to visit, and gives you a true sense of Budapest’s history.
9. Szechenyi Baths – ££
We visited these beautiful naturally heated thermal baths for an afternoon and it was so wonderful and relaxing. It was about £12 each for a day ticket and a locker which is pretty good value but fairly expensive for Budapest when everything else is so relatively cheap. There are 15 indoor baths, some almost 40 degrees and others absolutely freezing cold (was not brave enough for this). The outside baths are great too, a lovely sociable atmosphere and they’re much bigger, but still lovely and warm. Definitely go if you have tired feet from all the walking around Budapest!
Look out for the last in my mini series about my trip to Budapest, which will be all about the amazing food we had there (very much looking forward to reliving this!) In the meantime, check out my post about the beautiful tea dress that was perfect for sightseeing around Budapest.