Budapest is a great long weekend escape. I spent three days in the city earlier this year, and here are my top ten things I’d recommend you do on your trip.
- River Boat Tour of Danube or Tuk Tuk/Trabant Tour
- Castle Hill – Buda Castle
- Great Hill & Statue
- St. Stephen’s Basilica
- Great Central Synagogue
- Hero’s Square
- House of Terror
- Széchenyi Thermal Bath
- Great Market Hall
I didn’t do a boat tour, but I did a Trabant tour of the city. It’s a great way to cover a lot of ground quickly. You can also then go back to the places you liked the most to explore more in-depth on foot. The Trabant is an old car from the 1950s that was made in East Germany. It was fun riding around in it because everyone checks out the vintage car. Taking this tour is also great because they’ll take you to all the great hills (and saves you the trouble of climbing up them. Great Hill and Castle Hill are the two best peaks to visit to get amazing views of Budapest. Both neighborhoods are also very cute and worth walking around.
I also highly recommend visiting St. Stephen’s Basilica and going to rooftop (and don’t forget to see the Holy Hand of St. Stephen in the church – pictured below). It gives you a different perspective because it’s on the other side of the river. I didn’t do the boat tour, but I’d imagine it’s also really worthwhile. Budapest is actually two cities separated by the Danube and each side of the city has its own unique vibe. Buda is very picturesque with hills and spectacular views and Pest is flatter but with more of a city-hip urban vibe. I stayed on the Pest side of the city, and I’d recommend it since it has more bars and things to do in the evenings.
Food is also a big reason why I travel. Budapest has a few market places and they are worth visiting to try the different varieties of food. I visited the Great Market hall. My guide said all the markets are very similar so pick the one you’d like to go to instead of trying to visit them all if you’re time is limited.
I don’t like to spend too much time in museums, but the House of Terror is one that is worth visiting. It talks about the darker history of Hungary as a country that has been conquered by so many different empires and how it kept its citizens in-line.
I’d recommend ending your long days exploring the city in one of the many thermal spas. Széchenyi Thermal Bath is a popular one and is very large so doesn’t feel very crowded. It’s also a great way to relax your leg muscles from walking around exploring the Jewish Quarter where the Great Synagogue is to Andrassy Avenue, which ends into Hero’s Square, also known as the Champs Elysees of Budapest.