Located on the Danube this is perhaps the most represented monument and what is more appreciated at your arrival to Budapest. It is almost obligatory authough the tours in Spanish happen very few times during the day and maybe that´s why many tourists don´t do it. The majority of the trips last barely two days where you need to set aside one hour and maybe you will find yourself on the other side of the city visiting something else, you will see that it doesn´t give you time to pass by. Once you enter you will find a magnificent set of stairs that guide you to visit the crown room, some rooms and galleries richly decorated where they have the parliament sessions. The visit lasts about 45 minutes and the price is 8 Euros.
Joining Buda and Pest, the bridge is a must-do. Like Brooklyn in NY, Szechenyi bridge is one of the main and most recognizable landmarks in Budapest.
Do not forget to take a jacket! Even in the sunbeams, wind can make your experience a bit chilly!
The thermal baths in Budapest are an institution and a must visit for anyone travelling to the city. For its geological situation, 30,000 cubic meters of mineral water between 21-76 ° C rises up out of about 120 springs which makes it an important thermal center. The Széchenyi Medicinal Bath are at the north end of City Park. It has a 12 thermal baths and 3 outdoor pools, its bright and clean and the water temperature are up to 38 º C. It's open to men and women, even in winter, when I visited, in mid-December. Bath outdoors in -8 ° C while it snows in a warm water pool is an experience not to forget. It was very relaxing and a pleasure for the body and mind. I recommend it.
Budapest's history is and full of conflicts and disputes. It has suffered every type of invasion and has been a victim of bombings during WWII. These conflicts have left their mark on their city and today you can still see some of the scars from the damage caused in the past.
Even so, the Hungarians have been rebuilding their city little by little. Today it shines bright. The hill castle, the medieval city in the Buda zone, are especially beautiful. Fisherman's Bastion is one of those places that takes your breath away when you see it in person. It has seven towers that house different museums, where you can look at works of art, among them, Pablo Picasso's. Its strange name comes from a group of people charged with the defense of the city during the Middle Ages.
On the other hand, from here, as a lookout, the views of the Danube and the commercial area of Pest are priceless, and you can appreciate the impressive city Parliament like a star across the river.
No visit to Budapest is complete if you don't spend at least one day here.
St. Stephen's Basilica is dedicated to the first king of Hungary, St. Stephen. It is the largest church in Budapest that can hold up to 8500 people. There is no fee to visit the basilica, but there is for certain things, like climbing to the dome or accessing the Treasury. It was built around 1851, and the construction ended 54 years later. Its completion was delayed because the original dome had to be demolished in 1868. It has a neoclassical Greek cross plan and is 87 m. long by 55 m. wide. The main facade is complete with twin towers, but the bell in the right tower is the heaviest and largest in Hungary. It weighs nine tonnes! Inside the basilica you can find one of the most sacred relics in the country: its right hand.
This huge square, guarded by the Museum of Fine Arts and the Museum of Art, is located at the end of Avenida Andrassy. At it's center is the Millennium Monument with statues of the leaders of the seven Magyar tribes that founded Hungary in the 9th century and other people from Hungarian history.
This site is a prelude to park Varosliget and it's very easy to get to, right on the metro line with the stop right in front.
In the old part of Pest and near the corner of Károly Körut, you´ll find one of the largest synagogues in the world - with a 3,000 seat capacity. Built in 1859 by the German architect Ludwig Förster, there are some discrepancies within the Jewish community due to the luxurious interior that was designed by Hungarian architect Fryges Feszl and which does not seem like a typical synagogue. In the winter of 1944-1945, more than twenty thousand Jews fled here to escape the Nazi deportations. During this time, 700 people died due to the intense cold. At the entrance, males place the Jewish hat call the Kipah on their heads. Once inside you´ll notice the luxurious and excessive decoration that makes this seem like much more than a temple. It has Gothic, Byzantine and Arabic architectural elements. You can also visit a Jewish museum and see costumes, clothing, old photographs, etc .... In the back there is a small garden which contains a memorial tree in honor of Raoul Wallenberg, who saved many Jews from Nazi persecution. On each silver branch of the tree, a name of a murdered Jew is engraved. Viewing highly recommended.
The Danube River defines Budapest geographically, if not historically and mentally. One one side you have proud UNESCO-recognized Buda, home of kings and aristocrats while on the other side you have Pest, Buda's down-at-heel sibling which is currently the heart of the city's thriving arts, nightlife, and cultural scenes.
When you first see the Danube, you'll understand why it's considered one of the most important rivers in the world. It’s massive, first of all, and connects many of the most important capitals of Europe in its slow crawl towards the delta. If you're planning on being in Budapest, I'd sincerely recommend taking a walk along the river banks right as the sun goes down. All of the city's major monuments like the Hungarian Parliament, the Fisherman's Bastion, Buda Castle, and its numerous bridges and palaces light up to create one of the most beautiful and romantic strolls imaginable.
There are river and dinner cruises which will take you up the river and back, but they tend to be overpriced and not quite as romantic as you’d expect. Trust me, go on foot. I’d suggest starting at Elizabeth Bridge, walking along the Buda side until you get to the Chain Bridge, then crossing again to take in the amazing views of Buda Castle from the Pest side.
Budapest's Central Market Hall is a must if you're at all interested in learning more about Hungarian cuisine. The market itself is massive, probably the biggest one I've ever seen in my life, and it's spread out across three floors: the basement area full of preserves and pickles, the ground floor mainly serving meats and vegetables, and the top floor for souvenirs, textiles, and restaurants.
The market walks a fine line between local favorite and tourist trap...there were lots of locals there doing their weekly shopping, but there were also a lot of stands obviously designed to sell kitschy and overpriced items to tourists, so you really need to explore the space to find the authentic stands. It was really interesting to check out the various cured meats and sausages on offer, as well as the endless amounts of cheeses I'd never seen before. Most of the vendors speak English so don't hesitate to pick up a few slices of what looks interesting and dig in!
For me, the most interesting part of the market was the basement. That's were you really saw the authentic side of the market with jovial, red-faced old Hungarian women chatting at their pickle stands and nibbling pieces of freshly-baked breads. I'd suggest going first thing in the morning to have a look around before grabbing some pastries or even a sweet lango (a tasty Hungarian treat of fried dough with various toppings) on the top floor for breakfast.
Right next to the Bastion de Pescadores stands the church of San Matias. It was under renovation while I was visiting, as most of it was being restored, but you could see its importance. It is in a prime location and it doesn't only stand out for its exterior and facade. Inside you can see a great altarpiece, with beautiful stained glass windows and, in general, this is a rather quaint place for tourists, regardless of its religious significance.
Taking into account that one of the main touristic things to do would involve crossing Budapest's river; Freedom Bridge and Chains Bridge would be the main ones to walk.
2nd favourite, coated with awkward industrial colours; can get really cold in winter!
If there was one thing that the Austro-Hungarian Empire excelled at, it was building opera houses! Though not quite as spectacular as the Vienna State Opera (in fact, this was an explicit rule when it was built), the Hungarian State Opera House is a stunning building and a visit not only lets you enjoy the magnificent architecture, but it also helps you get a sense of what high-society life was like during the Budapest's heyday in the late 19th century.
First, some logistics – if you're not planning on seeing a show (which is actually a lot more affordable than you'd expect), you can visit the Hungarian State Opera on one of the guided tours offered daily at 3:00 and 4:00 in the afternoon. Visits in English, Spanish, French, German, and Italian are offered daily, and visits in Japanese and Russian are offered a couple of times a week. If you're visiting Budapest during the high season, make sure to stop by the Opera House and grab your tickets in the morning as there's a good chance it will fill up. Now, on to the fun part!
The interior of the Hungarian State Opera House is just spectacular. The main hall is all gold leaf and red velvet and has an amazing chandelier weighing several tons and ornate frescoes of figures from Greek mythology (interesting note: the faces of many of the Greek gods are actually of the architect and his daughter!). The tour takes you through the private balconies, the smoking room, the king's private staircase, and the amazing bar area decorated in crystal and Croatian marble. I'm usually not one to visit opera houses, but I can honestly say it was one of the highlights of our visit to Budapest and the tour was just long enough to give you a good overview of the place without getting bogged down in the tediums of Hungarian architectural trends and suchlike. All in all, recommended 100%.
The best way to get an idea of what Budapest is like is by taking a cruise on the Danube River. I did the last day and I left the city with a great taste in my mouth, but I would recommend doing it first, in order to control more or less geographically where are hot spots are of the city. From there you will see the two sides and will even come across Margaret Island in the center of the river, which is a natural oasis that clears the city. The price is quite affordable and the journey takes just over an hour. There is an audio in several languages and you are also served something to drink, which is always something nice.
Right on the banks of the Danube opposite the Parliament, you'll find a strange-looking piece of art: a long line of men's and women's shoes which seem to be waiting for their owners. The history is far darker, though: the Jews of the Budapest ghetto were tied in pairs then one of each pair was shot and thrown in the river, dragging the other down to the depths. This sculpture is intended to remember those victims. The monument was created by Gyula Pauer and Can Togay in 2005.
Still trying to decide whether is an authentic place or has become more of a ruin bar for the masses, you can't skip it! More than 10 different rooms decorated in a unique and bizarre style. Affordable prices and pretty much full of people always. Wi-fi and endless picture opportunities too.
There are many points in Budapest that allow you to take some of the best photographs of the city. From the Bastion of the Fisher and towards the Royal Palace, whatever point is good to take a photo of the Danube, the Parliament, the roofs or simply the daily life of the city. ALso Budapest has something that makes it highly visited, it is very photogenic. It sees to be stopped, quiet, while the visitor presses the button of their camera to immortalize it forever.
Margaret Island is a two-mile long island in the great Danube river which runs between Buda and Pest. It is an island full of nature and has become a playground for the citizens of Budapest. It is a bit like Central Park: a place to go for a run, to rest, to walk with your significant other, or play sports. At the end of the island there are also a couple of hotels and resorts, and the occasional cocktail joint (lively, as almost all bars in the city are). Margaret Island is accessible by boat, on foot, bike, tram or car, but there's no transportation on the island itself.
This castle, located in the City Gardens, was set up first in wood, to imitate a castle of Transylvania. Today it is a museum of agriculture. Since it is in a recreation zone, it´s surrounded by lakes that also serve as places to ice skate in the winter like you will see in the photos. There is a chapel that in this moment is used as wedding backdrop. As a compliment, a lake of thermal water hosts birds of all types.