Over the years all our visitors have asked us the same question: what to see in Budapest?, What to visit in Budapest?
The Hungarian capital surprises with its architectural, cultural and historical wealth and visiting Budapest requires a good preparation. To help you, here is our selection of the must-see sights of Budapest that you must discover during your trip!
The Matthias Church
The Matthias Church is one of the main Catholic churches of Budapest, located on the Buda hills in the old quarter of the castle district. It faces the bastion of fishermen and the statue of the 1st King of Hungary, King Stephen, on his horseback.
The Matthias church was the privileged witness of the coronation of several kings and queens and owes its popular name to one of them, Mathias Corvin crowned king in 1458 in this church become Gothic.
Indeed, since its construction in 1255, the Matthias church has undergone several transformations: in mosque under the Ottoman occupation (1526-1699), then in baroque style under the Habsburgs, it is finally the architect Schulek Frigyes (1841- 1919) which will return the church to its original appearance of the 13th century.
Impressive, the roofs of the church are covered with multicolored glazed tiles characteristic of the Secession style. A budapest must see sights, from outside and inside!
In this unique setting, the Matthias Church organizes classical music concerts several times a month with the Budapest Duna String Orchestra.
The Fishermen’s Bastion – Budapest must see sights
The Neo-Romanesque Fishermen’s Bastion was built between 1895 and 1902 by the Hungarian architect Schulek Frigyes instead of ancient walls of the compound. The bastion, 140m long, is composed of seven turrets representing the seven original Magyar tribes federated by Prince Arpad, founder of the Hungarian nation.
His name ‘Fishermen’s Bastion’ comes from the fishing village at the foot of the castle.
It will finally offer you an impressive panoramic view of Pest and in particular the magnificent Hungarian Parliament.
The price of entrance tickets for the upper gallery of the fishermen’s bastion is available on this link (free entrance from October 15th to March 10th, free evening between 8pm and 9am all year round, otherwise adult ticket 800 Ft ≈2 6 €).
Visit Budapest: Buda Castle
The Buda Castle (also called ’Budavár Palace’) is the historic castle built in 1733 where the kings of Hungary, listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, resided.
Within it you will find the Hungarian National Gallery, the Budapest History Museum and the National Library.
You can reach it by a funicular, by the bus n ° 16 on the place Clark Adám or by foot, and enter the district of the castle by the majestic door of Habsbourg and its eagle, the Turul, luminous messenger of God in the Hungarian mythology .
After admiring the superb view of Pest, you will find in front of the main entrance of the castle the statue of Prince Eugene of Savoy, victorious hero of the wars against the Ottomans.
Inside, the royal apartments of the main building and the hall of honor can be visited but it is the National Gallery which has retained all our attention for the quality of its permanent and temporary exhibitions.
Address: Szent György tér 2, 5th district, Pest – plan – website.
Opening hours: 24 hours for outdoor courses, National Gallery: Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 to 18:00 except public holidays, events (see this link of the site).
The Hungarian Parliament
The Hungarian Parliament is one of the emblematic monuments of Budapest:
inaugurated in the early twentieth century after 17 years of construction under the direction of the Hungarian architect Imre Steindl, it has been the location of the Hungarian National Assembly since 1902.
With 18,000 m2 it is one of the largest parliaments in Europe and its Neo-Gothic façade is inspired by London’s parliament, the Palace of Westminster.
Long of 268 m, it is composed of nearly 700 rooms, 10 courtyards and its dome rises to 96m.
The visit of the Parliament of Budapest is open every day and will allow you to discover the main staircase, the central hall in hexadecagon, the stained glass windows of Miksa Róth and also the crown of King St Stephen, 1st King of Hungary, and his jewels worn by the kings of Hungary since the Middle Ages.
Complete information in our article ‘Visit the Parliament of Budapest’ on this link.
Address: Kossuth Lajos ter 1-3, 5th district, Pest – plan – website – tickets.
Opening hours: every day from 8 am to 6 pm (at 4 pm from November to March).
Visit of 45 mn with guide of the parliament every day between 09:0 and 16:00 to book on this official link.
We also spotted an interesting package to visit Buda and Pest in half a day: guided tour of the main sights of Budapest (bus transfer) and guided tour of the parliament each morning from 9:30 to 13:00 (pick up at your hotel).
Do not miss: to the left of the Hungarian Parliament (when you face the Danube), go down to the riverbank to reach after 200m the poignant memorial of ‘Shoes on the banks of the Danube’, dedicated to the victims of the Holocaust. Budapest: About 40 meters of metal shoes represent the thousands of Jews who were shot before taking off their shoes.
Visit Budapest: the Great market Hall
The Great Market Hall of Budapest was built in 1897 by the Hungarian architect Pecz Samu. This large hall with a floor area of 10,000 m2, inspired by secessionist art, stands out for its brick and metal construction, and its roof covered with colorful ceramics.
In this beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site, you will discover on the ground floor the Hungarian food and its essential specialties (paprika, goose livers, salami, wines and spirits, etc. ..) while at the Upstairs you can eat at many buffets and discover Hungarian craft stalls and souvenirs. This Great Market Hall is one of our favorite Budapest must see sights.
Discover a video of the Budapest Great Market Hall:
St Stephen’s Basilica – Budapest must see sights
Stephen’s Basilica in Pest is sumptuous and imposing: it is the largest Catholic church in Budapest completed in 1906 after 50 years of work!
This neo-classical basilica is the work of architects József Hild, Miklós Ybl and József Kauser. It bears the name of the 1st King of Hungary, St. Stephen, founder of the Hungarian Christian nation.
In his chapel of Divine Right (‘Szent Jobb Kápolna’) is exposed a venerated relic of the Hungarian Catholic Church, the mummified right hand of St. Stephen.
You can climb to the top of the towers (by elevator or by its 370 essential steps) and from the gallery that surrounds the dome of the basilica, to admire the superb view of Budapest.
The Stephen’s Basilica also hosts weekly unique concerts!
Address: Szent István tér 1, 5th district, Pest – plan – website.
Visiting hours: 09:00 to 17:00 Monday to Friday, Saturday: 09:00 to 13:00. Sunday 13:00 to 17:00. Holidays see schedules on their website.
Visit Budapest: Heroes’ Square
The Heroes’ Square (‘Hősök tere’) is the largest square in Budapest at the end of Andrássy Avenue. This imposing, semicircular place was built to celebrate the thousand years of installation of the Magyars in the Hungarian plain, on the occasion of the 1896 Exhibition.
On the central column stands Archangel Gabriel, messenger of God. At the foot of the column, the central statue represents Prince Arpad and those conquerors, chiefs of the seven tribes who arrived in this basin of the Carpathians. Behind them are represented in an arc on each side the Hungarian rulers.
The Heroes’ Square is framed by the Museum of Fine Arts and the Műcsarnok “Hall of Art” and behind it the City Park (‘Városliget’) and its beautiful lake is transformed in a sumptuous ice rink during the winter.
Address: Hősök tere, 14th district, Pest – map.
Váci pedestrian street and Vörösmarty Square
Váci Street is Budapest’s main pedestrian street in the 5th district of Pest. It includes various restaurants, souvenir shops and many international brands (Zara, H & M, Mango, Promod, Tiger, Pylones, Swarovski, L’Occitane, Douglas, etc.).
It ends at the famous Vörösmarty square where the statue of the Hungarian poet Mihály Vörösmarty, carved in Carrara marble, is erected.
The imposing white stone building hosts the famous Café Gerbeaud where you can discover the Hungarian pastries (see our dedicated section on this link).
On the square in front of the Gerbeaud café, you will also discover the Vörösmàrty metro station: this is the starting point of the M1 line, the first Budapest metro line inaugurated in 1896 for the Millennium celebrations, 4 years ahead of the Paris metro. , and being the oldest metro in continental Europe.
Address: Vörösmarty Tér & Vàci utca, 5th district, Pest – map .
The Opera House and Andrássy Street
The Budapest Opera House is an emblematic place of the capital with its symmetrical neo-Renaissance façade. Built by Hungarian architect Miklós Ybl at the request of Archduke Franz Joseph, the opera opened in 1884. Since then it has been able to accommodate 1260 listeners and its acoustics are among the best in the world.
It is located on Andrássy Street, the most prestigious axis of the city in the past.
The opera is closed for renovation until the first quarter of 2020 but continues to provide daytime tours.
The Great Synagogue – Budapest must see sights
The Great Synagogue of Budapest located in Pest is the largest in Europe and the 2nd largest in the world. It was built between 1854 and 1859 by Viennese architect Ludwig Förster in Moorish style inspired by the Muslim models of North Africa and Spain (the Sevillian Alhambra).
27m wide and 75m long, it has a capacity of 3,500 seats.
One of its peculiarities is the presence of a majestic organ on which, at its inauguration in 1859, composers Franz Liszt and Camille Saint-Saëns performed.
In the back yard of the synagogue is the Hungarian Jewish Martyrs Memorial (400,000 of them were killed during the Second World War) and the Memorial Park in honor of Raoul Wallenberg who saved dozens of thousands of Hungarian Jews during the Second World War.
You will discover the Emmanuel Memorial Tree, dreamed by American actor Tony Curtis and sculpted by Imre Varga. The statue represents a weeping willow whose leaves bear the inscription of the name of a dead person. The Budapest Synagogue is a unique site where you can enjoy guided tours:
Address: Dohány u. 2, VIIth arrondissement, Pest – plan.
Visit Budapest: The Citadel
The citadel (‘citadella’) is the name of the stronghold that dominates Budapest at the top of Mount Gellért. Built by the Austrians in 1854 on one of the peaks of Budapest (235m), it served as a symbolic point of observation for the Hasburgs after the popular revolt of 1948.
At its end stands since 1947 the Statue of Liberty, holding a palm in his arms. Symbol of the city, it pays tribute to the liberation of Budapest at the end of the Second World War by the Soviet Red Army.
The citadel of Budapest offers you an impressive view of Pest, the Danube and the bridges of Budapest.
Address: Mount Gellért, 11th district, Buda – map –
Széchenyi Baths – Budapest must see sights
Visiting the famous thermal baths of Budapest remains a must!
The Széchenyi Baths are the largest baths in Budapest, located in Pest in the “City Park” (“Városliget”). This is our favorite bath in Budapest, with its architecture, its huge neo-baroque yellow courtyard and the 21 baths, all mixed, that make it up and make it a must.
The Széchenyi baths, marked by their neo-Renaissance style, were opened in 1913.
You will find 3 outdoor baths whose temperature varies between 27 and 38 ° C, 18 indoor baths whose temperature varies between 18 and 38 ° C and hammam spaces (wet heat, via steam up to 50 ° C.) and saunas (dry heat up to 90 ° C with a moisture content not exceeding 30%). Massage services are also available.
The Széchenyi baths can be reached by public transport via the Metro M1 – Széchenyi fürdő station – and the trolley bus 72 – Széchenyi fürdő station.
Address: Állatkerti krt. 9-11, XIVth arrondissement, Pest – plan.
Opening hours: from 06:00 to 22:00 every day (indoor thermal baths from 06:00 to 19:00).
Feel free to check out our article on Budapest’s Best Baths on this link with further information on the magnificent Gellért baths in Budapest.
Visit Budapest: the New York Café
The neo-baroque New York Café was opened in 1894 and quickly became the place frequented by Hungarian writers and poets. Partly destroyed during the second world war and then ‘nationalized’ by the communist regime, the coffee house was restored to its nobility thanks to the new Italian owner Boscolo who reopened it in 2006.
Considered by some media as the most beautiful café in the world, you will discover outside the bronze Lucifers evoking the many artists and intellectuals who frequented the Café and inside the frescoes on the ceiling of the nineteenth century Hungarian painters Gusztáv Mannheimer and Ferenc Eisenhut that rival the beauty of marble floors, gilding and frescoes.
Enter the New York Café in Budapest and discover the beauty of the Belle Epoque!
Do not miss this jewel of Budapest must see sights.
You will also find other historic cafes in Budapest in our dedicated article on this link.
Cruise on the Danube – Budapest must see sights
You can also discover Budapest in a new light with a cruise on the Danube! (1h): information on this link ‘cruises to Budapest on the Danube’