Top 8 Attractions for Your First Trip to Budapest

A world of discovery awaits when you make your first visit to Budapest!

‘The Pearl of the Danube’ has captured the hearts of millions in its illustrious history. Spellbinding architecture, incredible history and creative hangouts gives Budapest a characteristic charm separate from its European neighbors.

You could spend months, or years, exploring the city and still not see everything. Fortunately, we know exactly where to begin, and these eight attractions will make your first trip to Budapest an unforgettable journey.

  1. Take a Cruise on the Danube

Day or night, nothing beats seeing the most iconic landmarks of Budapest from the River Danube. From dinner cruises to party boats, there are tons of ways to enjoy a scenic cruise.

Whatever style fits your preference, seeing the top sights of Budapest is the best way to appreciate its beauty. Ensure your camera is ready as you sail past the Hungarian Parliament Building, Buda Castle and the Chain Bridge.

  1. Relax in the Thermal Baths

Budapest is teeming with relaxing spa baths that the locals have enjoyed for generations. Hot springs have been enjoyed in the city since the times of Ancient Rome, but spa culture skyrocketed during the rule of the Ottoman Empire.

Many of today’s thermal baths have been modernized but visitors will still find baths that have distinct Turkish influence. Also, medicinal treatments are available to accompany the medicinal properties of the pools.

Széchenyi and Gellért are the most frequently visited among tourists but check here to discover other splendid spa baths.

  1. Cross the Chain Bridge

You will likely find the historic Széchenyi Chain Bridge on every postcard of Budapest. The engineering feat revolutionized life in the city by becoming the first permanent link between Buda and Pest.

Opened in 1849, the impact the bridge had on Hungarian civilians rivaled that of any construction project around the world. It was considered one of the world’s greatest technological achievements at the time.

The best way to appreciate the beauty of the Chain Bridge is to walk from one end to the other. Admire each intricate detail up close as the mighty Danube flows beneath your feet.

  1. Visit the Great Synagogue

The Dohány Street Synagogue is a cultural treasure and is surrounded by numerous historic landmarks. Wander around the old Jewish Quarter and get a glimpse at the once vibrant Jewish community in Budapest.

This area was home to over 200,000 Jewish individuals before WWII and its largest synagogue is one of the grandest in the world. In fact, the Great Synagogue remains the largest in Europe with a seating capacity of roughly 3,000.

  1. Have Drinks Inside the Ruin Bars

The legendary Szimpla Kert started the trend of developing bars inside deserted buildings with crumbling walls and tacky furniture. With the emphasis of a judgement free zone, everyone from all backgrounds can bask in the quirky atmosphere.

Broken toilets, historic relics and vintage antiques are the norm, but each ruin bar manages to exude a unique personality. The cluster of ruin bars is situated in decaying buildings of the old Jewish Quarter, but others are popping up across the city.

A visit to Szimpla Kert is a must but explore more of the ruin bar culture by going bar hopping in the old Jewish Quarter. You never know what hole in the wall you may discover wandering the ruins.

The Just Budapest blog is your go-to source for recommendations on the hottest ruin bars in town.

  1. Snap a Panorama at Fisherman’s Bastion

Those who guarded the city from the location of Fisherman’s Bastion had a dream job in Budapest.

The sensational view overlooking the Danube is among the best in the city and visitors swarm the Romanesque structure simply for the scenery. Marvel at the structure’s arches, spires and turrets that resemble a Renaissance-era masterpiece. Each tower of the dreamlike castle represents the tribes that first inhabited the land in the late-9th century.

The structure was not completed until 1902 but the scenic lookout has a history dating back to the Middle Ages. Brave fishermen who lived at the base of the hill protected Budapest from potential invaders.

  1. Tour Buda Castle

No visit to Budapest is complete without a trip to the world-famous Buda Castle. Nestled along the banks of the Danube, the glorious structure has an incredible history dating back to the Middle Ages.

The castle has undergone a complete transformation over the centuries and features a wonderful blend of architectural styles. Today’s predominantly Baroque-style structure was primarily built in the mid-18th century.

An enjoyable way to reach the castle and admire the stunning views over the Danube is to hop on the funicular.

  1. Explore Heroes’ Square

No other square in Budapest contains as much history and architectural brilliance as Heroes’ Square. The main attraction of the square is the Millennium Monument which celebrated the tribes who first settled modern-day Hungary.

Statues of the tribe leaders and other notable figures of Hungarian history can be found between the columns of the monument.