Budapest is a stunning city that offers a wealth of attractions for visitors of all interests. Whether you are looking for history, culture, architecture, or nature, you will find something to suit your taste in the Hungarian capital. Here are some of the top tourist destinations in Budapest that you should not miss.
Buda Castle & Castle Hill
One of the most iconic landmarks of Budapest is the majestic Buda Castle, which sits atop a hill overlooking the Danube River. The castle was the residence of Hungarian kings for centuries and now houses several museums, including the Hungarian National Gallery and the Budapest History Museum. You can explore the castle grounds and admire the views from the terraces, or take a funicular ride up to Castle Hill, where you can wander around the charming cobblestone streets and visit other historic attractions, such as the 13th-century Matthias Church and the neo-Gothic Fisherman’s Bastion.
Hungarian Parliament Building & Crown Jewels
Another impressive sight on the banks of the Danube is the Hungarian Parliament Building, which is one of the largest and most ornate buildings in Europe. The building features a striking neo-Gothic facade with 365 spires and a huge central dome. You can join a guided tour of the interior and see the splendid halls, staircases, and chambers, as well as the priceless Crown Jewels of Hungary, which are displayed in a glass case guarded by soldiers.
St. Stephen’s Basilica
St. Stephen’s Basilica is the largest church in Budapest and a masterpiece of neoclassical architecture. The basilica is dedicated to St. Stephen, the first king of Hungary, whose mummified right hand is kept in a reliquary inside. You can admire the richly decorated interior with its stunning frescoes, stained glass windows, and marble sculptures, or climb up to the dome for a panoramic view of the city.
Fisherman’s Bastion is a fairy-tale-like terrace that offers some of the best views of Budapest. The bastion was built in 1905 as part of the celebrations for the 1000th anniversary of Hungary and features seven towers that represent the seven Magyar tribes that founded the country. The bastion is named after the fishermen who defended this part of the city walls in medieval times. You can walk along the ramparts and enjoy the scenic vistas of the Danube, Margaret Island, and Pest.
The Danube Promenade
The Danube Promenade is a lovely walkway that stretches along the river from the Chain Bridge to the Parliament Building. Along the way, you can see some of Budapest’s most famous sights, such as the Shoes on the Danube Bank memorial, which honors the victims of World War II who were shot by fascist militiamen and thrown into the river. You can also take a cruise on the Danube and see Budapest from a different perspective.
Matthias Church (Church of Our Lady)
Matthias Church is one of the oldest and most beautiful churches in Budapest. It was founded in 1015 by King Stephen I and rebuilt several times over the centuries. The church has a colorful tiled roof and a Gothic spire that dominates Castle Hill. The interior is equally stunning, with intricate frescoes, stained glass windows, and a Baroque altar. The church was also the coronation site of several Hungarian kings, including Matthias Corvinus, after whom it is named.
Exploring Gellért Hill
Gellért Hill is a green oasis in Budapest that offers spectacular views of the city and its surroundings. You can hike up to the top of the hill and visit some interesting monuments, such as
the Citadella, a 19th-century fortress that was built by the Austrians after they defeated Hungary in 1849;
the Liberty Statue, a bronze figure that commemorates those who died for Hungary’s independence;
and Gellért Monument, a statue of St. Gellért, who was martyred here by pagan tribes in 1046. You can also relax at Gellért Spa, one of Budapest’s most famous thermal baths.
Central Market Hall
Central Market Hall is a great place to experience Budapest’s culinary culture and shop for local products. The market is housed in a beautiful 19th-century building with a metal roof and colorful tiles. The market has three floors:
the ground floor sells fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, and spices;
the first floor offers souvenirs, handicrafts, and prepared foods;
and the basement has fish stalls and a supermarket. You can sample some traditional Hungarian dishes here, such as goulash soup, stuffed cabbage rolls, or lángos (deep-fried dough with various toppings).