When visiting a city as rich in history and architecture as Budapest, it’s easy to fill a few days. Here are a few of the most unique things to do in the capital:
1) Visit a ruin bar: These peculiar bars are found in the city’s old Jewish Quarter, where derelict spaces have been transformed into kitschy drinking joints with cheap drinks and mismatched patio furniture. The most famous ruin bar is Szimpla Kert, but you’ll find many others that are equally quirky and popular.
2) Take a tour of the Hungarian Parliament Building: The exterior of this neo-Gothic and neo-Romanesque building graces every postcard and guidebook in the city, but few visitors are aware that its interior is just as remarkable. This 45-minute guided tour is a great way to see the vast halls of this impressive structure and gain a better understanding of its significance in Hungarian history.
3) Take a stroll on Andrassy Avenue: This impressive avenue is lined with what were once palaces, mansions and lavish townhouses — now they’re embassies and trendy boutiques. It’s a beautiful place to stroll, especially at sunset or in the evening when all of the lights come on.
4) Explore the Palace Quarter: This district (inner parts of District 8) was once Budapest’s most desirable neighborhood and the playground for its wealthy residents. After Communism, it took on a grim pallor, but now it’s springing back to life with restaurants and cafes.
It’s a good idea to stop in at the Gellert Baths and experience what locals call one of the most beautiful bathhouses in Europe. The thermal pools are surrounded by art nouveau-style buildings, and you can enjoy the view of the Danube River from the upper level.
Then, take a walk across the Chain Bridge. This impressive bridge connects the two halves of the city and is a pretty sight at sunset or in the evening when all of its lights are on.
5 ) Spend the day at Margaret Island: This island in the Danube River is a tranquil retreat from the bustle of the city. You can stroll through the extensive parkland, check out a musical fountain, visit a small zoo or even take a dip in the thermal spas.
6) Wander through the City Park: After decades of Communist-era censorship, Budapest’s art scene is coming to life. You can see evidence of this at the city’s top contemporary galleries, where you can experience everything from conceptual art to works by younger generations.
7 ) Roam the streets of Castle Hill: The charming medieval streets of this district are usually swarming with tourists, but if you go a bit before sunset or after most of the crowds have returned to the Pest side, you might have the medieval Buda castle, Matthias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion all to yourself.
While you’re here, make a point of stopping in at a specialty coffee shop. The artisanal coffee culture in this city is alive and well, and you’ll find independent cafes on nearly every street corner. things to do in Budapest