12 Top Rated Tourist Attractions in Budapest
This small, down-to-earth city is a mix of fun-loving toga parties and beautiful medieval architecture. Its rich past is still visible throughout its quaint streets and elegant squares.
A lover's paradise, Budapest is an easy-to-get-to, easy-to-enjoy destination. A walk through its tranquil city center will reveal chic boutiques and lively public squares, and, of course, the famous thermal baths.
Budapest offers plenty of sightseeing destinations, including the Central Market Hall, Szabadsag Square, Parliament, and St. Stephen's Basilica, but the city is equally rich in history. Built on the ruins of an ancient Roman settlement, Budapest has plenty of Roman ruins to see.
Explore the sights with this Budapest travel itinerary.
Hungarian National Gallery
Established in 1802, the Hungarian National Gallery houses a collection of a staggering 6,852 pieces, representing nearly every known art form. Many are very notable and important works of art, many of which came from the collection of György Harmat, one of Hungary's richest and most successful industrialists. The National Gallery contains a number of famous works, such as the famous 13th-century Byzantine icon "The Descent of the Holy Spirit," by Andrea and Desiderio da Settignano, and a series of paintings depicting the life of the Virgin Mary by an anonymous artist from the 16th century. Works by Hans Memling, Andrea Mantegna, and the early members of the Hapsburg dynasty are also highlights of the collection. Another collection of special interest to students is that of paintings and sketches by Hungarian artist Eugene von Guericke, a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. Von Guericke painted a number of biblical scenes and also many magnificent portraits of members of the aristocracy. The National Gallery is located in a beautiful 17th-century baroque palace.
Hungarian National Museum
Built in 1789 by architect András Széchenyi as the Royal Palace of Joseph II, today the building houses the largest collection of Hungarian paintings in the world, which is housed in 24 museums around the capital. The Hungarian National Museum houses over 80,000 pieces, including magnificent paintings by Hungarian and international masters, together with fine examples of European art from the 17th century to the present day. Visitors to the museum can enjoy a selection of art exhibitions throughout the year, such as the dramatic showing of German Expressionist art, recent shows on classic American Impressionists, or selections from the remarkable Michelangelo collection.
St. Stephen's Basilica
Located on St. Stephen's Basilica Square in Budapest, the St. Stephen's Basilica is more than a cathedral, and is also a museum, treasury, and place of Christian worship. The cathedral itself, which dates back to 1077, is the work of King Stephen I of Hungary and has been classified as the world's largest Romanesque church. The building was severely damaged in the 1956 uprising against communist rule but has been extensively restored since. The interior is quite imposing, made up of a variety of architectural styles, including Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque. The upper reaches of the dome are a well-known example of the Belltowers of Bohemia style of architecture. Some of the chapels have ornately decorated interiors that were originally residences of the cathedral's bishops and clergy. Within the cathedral complex is the museum which includes a collection of Byzantine icons dating back to the sixth century. It is located in the 13th-century Romanesque-Gothic St. Stephen's House and was converted into the Cathedral Museum in 1971. Also of interest in the museum are early Christian frescoes, some dating back to the year 400.
Built over seven years in the late 19th century as a royal garden and later as a military parade ground, City Park (Budapesti Park) is today one of Budapest's top attractions. Full of grand baroque statues, fountains and an assortment of 19th-century monuments, the park boasts an endless array of beautiful and interesting sights to see. The Hungarian National Museum and the Opera House, both huge cultural behemoths, lie adjacent to the park. Since 1985, City Park has been open to the public. Those visiting the park have the option of taking a guided walking tour and a ticket for the zoo and Aquacity, a water park that's often more enjoyable than the hot summer sun.
The Budapest Parliament (Budapesti Parlament) is the second oldest parliament building in Europe after Strasbourg, and the former seat of government for the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The Parliament's most famous building is the neo-baroque, 134-meter-tall National Assembly or House of Delegates. The building was inaugurated in 1896 and today houses the National Library and the Museum of Fine Arts. The History Museum features an extensive collection of artifacts from the Hungarian and pre-Hungarian past. The Treasure House (Trebes or kis-kert) houses a vast collection of Hungarian art. Its most famous treasure is the 12th-century Pannonhalma Cross, which the Hungarian king Bela IV (1172-1196) had carved into a memorial for his wife, who died in childbirth. Other features to see in the Parliament building include the neo-baroque Palace of the Transylvanian Diet and the Great Staircase Hall, which is a historical monument in its own right and features a collection of 300 antique Hungarian walking sticks.
House of Terror
Despite its name, the House of Terror is actually the former palace of Elizabeth II. Formerly a residence of the queen of England before her accession to the throne in 1952, the palace has seen many uses over the years and now contains a film museum, the Museum of English Monarchy. Established in 1887, the National Museum of Hungary also enjoys this unusual location, and contains an extensive collection of Hungarian and world-renowned jewels and gold, as well as an extensive collection of Hungarian fine art. Outside of the building, more than 150 armed guards stand watch to protect the palace from possible revolution.
Museum of Fine Arts
The Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest was opened in 1866 and today holds a collection of almost 8,000 paintings. Perhaps the most famous work on display is the wall painting, "The Transfiguration," by Albrecht Dürer, who spent eight months in Budapest painting the picture. An array of special events is held throughout the year, including free guided tours, a lecture series, and workshops on topics such as Dürer, Raphael, Michelangelo and others. Some of these events are in Hungarian only, but they are included in the ticket price.
Built in the late 16th century by Miklós Zrínyi, one of the most powerful kings of Hungary in the 17th century, the Royal Palace of Budapest has played host to important Hungarian and international leaders since its construction. It is currently home to the offices of the government, and the majority of the public is not permitted inside. Highlights include the gold-domed Hall of Mirrors and the Lobogó-Palace, the original 17th-century residence of Miklós Zrínyi.
Museum of Applied Arts
Founded in 1896, Budapest's Széll Kálmán Museum of Applied Art is the largest private collection in the world of applied art and industrial design. The collection is well-rounded and has shows traveling exhibits on a regular basis. Highlights of the collection include furniture, jewelry, clothing, games, toys, everyday objects, and a unique ensemble of wooden sofas that served as furniture for social gatherings of early 19th century upper-class society. In the delightful garden, a large menagerie includes macaws, owls, and herons among many other species. You can enjoy daily guided tours of the collection and gardens and make reservations in advance.
Palace of Parliament
The Palace of Parliament (Köztársaság Tárgykológiai Palota), built in 1876, is the largest neo-classical building in Budapest. It has a gigantic dome and the tallest columns in the city. The building is particularly interesting to admire during the evenings, when it is floodlit and you can visit the Crystal Room (the chamber is the largest and most prestigious room, designed to show the history of Hungarian culture, whereas the guest book is the most important historical item of the room) or the Péterfy Opera House (the biggest theatre hall in the building), designed in the form of a ship. The building is not only an architectural jewel, but also an excellent example of the very important history of the Hungarian people.
Széchenyi Thermal Baths
It's not all glitz and glamour in Budapest, as you will find at the Széchenyi Thermal Baths. By day the quiet, scenic spa town boasts delightful public parks with incredible views of the City Park and the River Danube. If you are not tired after all the sightseeing, make sure you pay a visit to the City Park's Széchenyi Lános Gardens, which contain some of the oldest pine trees in Europe. Or, better still, just relax in the Thermae's rather than the public baths, as they are undoubtedly much more relaxing and relaxing is much easier in a bath than in a gym. They are not as large as, say, the in-skyscraper pools, but their admission fee is very inexpensive, making them attractive to all.
This 1,400-foot-long and 102-foot-wide bridge, erected in 1883, links the world-famous districts of Pest and Buda. It consists of two narrow steel arches, 10 support piers, 1,176 concrete piers, one and a half railroad tracks, and numerous stone pillars. It was declared an American National Historic Landmark in 1965 and a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1996. The bridge is said to have been the most expensive construction in the world at the time it was built. Today, it remains one of the most popular attractions in the world and is continuously visited by more than a million tourists per year.