With 2 cities in one you get double the sights and experiences in Budapest. Explore Buda to see the Old Town and Roman history, then cross the Danube into Pest to stroll along the elegant boulevard Andrássy út. From beautifully manicured gardens to Baroque architecture, and relaxing thermal spas to invigorating nightlife, there are plenty of things to see in Budapest.
1) Visit Buda Castle
Wherever you are in Budapest you'll notice the towering Buda Castle. Ruling over the city, this beautifully domed building is home to the Hungarian National Gallery and the Budapest History Museum. Why not take the funicular railway up to the Castle from the Chain Bridge?
2) Cross the river
Chain Bridge is a tourist attraction in itself, being the first permanent link between the old cities of Buda and Pest, and a beautifully designed suspension bridge. When the Iron Curtain fell in 1989, protesters gathered here and many still look upon the bridge as a symbol of independence. Look out for the lions guarding the bridge on either side of the river.
3) Take to the waters
Budapest is a city of water. And we don’t just mean the Danube. Under the city there's a vast network of thermal springs, and you'll find dozens of thermal pools and baths across the city. You can choose from baths that seem steeped in time and Ottoman architecture, or go for something vibrant and modern, with light shows and a real party atmosphere.
4) Stroll along Andrassy Avenue
On the Pest side of the city stretches Andrássy Avenue, with its spectacular neo-Renaissance townhouses and luxury boutiques. At the end of the Avenue is Heroes’ Square - the ideal place to stop and take some Budapest selfies. You could pop into City Park for a stroll and a picnic, and visit the inhabitants of Budapest Zoo too.
5) Go island hopping
In the middle of the Danube sits Margaret Island. This beautifully kept park is a riot of colour in the summer. Make sure you catch the petting zoo and medieval ruins hidden away in the center of the park. If you’re here in the colder months, it’s still worth a visit, especially if you’re a runner. There’s a racetrack running all the way round the perimeter, making it a great place to come and stretch your legs.
6) Try the goulash
Hungarian cuisine is truly unique, and always comes with a heady dash of paprika. There are lots of local delicacies to try, such as goulash, a meat stew, or paprika chicken. But Budapest cuisine doesn’t stand still, and the city is home to four Michelin-starred restaurants. Prices can be cheaper than what you might expect to pay, so wherever you eat be sure to enhance your meal with some fine Hungarian wine – there are lots to choose from.
7) Stay up late
Budapest is a city that likes to party. If you’re in the mood to dance 'til dawn there's a huge selection of venues where you'll be able to cut shapes to your heart's conent. You can even party at some of Budapest's premium thermal baths, with some presenting lightshows and music as a backdrop to the steam. And if you’re looking for something a bit more traditional, there are clubs and bars specialising in jazz and traditional folk music.
8) Visit the Grand Synagogue
Budapest is home to the second largest synagogue in the world. It can hold 3,000 people, and within its walls you'll also find the Jewish Museum, the Jewish Cemetery and Raoul Wallenberg Memorial Park. The rose window in the Synagogue is breathtaking – and check out the organ too, which was played by Liszt at the Synagogue’s inauguration.
9) Climb a hill
Gellert Hill is the highest peak in central Budapest, and it’s an easy stroll for most people. It takes just an hour or so to get to the Citadel at the top, and you’ll be rewarded with some superb views of the city below. On your way up, you’ll pass the Gellert Hill Caves. The hill is named after Saint Gerard who, the stories say, was stuffed into a barrel by pagans and thrown down the hill.
10) Go to church
Matthias Church was originally built over 700 years ago, and this magnificent building has seen all sorts of additions and refits since then. It’s still splendidly ornate, with its iconic steeple, and you can even see replicas of the Hungarian crown jewels on display.