Top 10 Tourist Attractions and Things to do in Budapest
I have visited Europe many times as a traveler, and I have written countless articles on the beauty of this continent’s public parks, the picturesque brick roads of Barcelona, the hidden calles and shops of San Sebastian, and the symbolic Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile in Paris.
Hungary is another European country that is the dream. Located in Central Europe, Hungary is home to elegant architecture, traditional folk music, and the world-famous Goulash stew. Many of its streets and buildings are centuries old, and they continue to stand against time as icons of the country’s greatness.
Capital city Budapest is the central hub of culture, business, arts, fashion, and tourism in Hungary. It is the most populous city in the country and one of the top ten largest in the European Union, and it can be a tough city to conquer if you are a first-timer, so I have listed ten things to do in the Hungarian capital on your next European trip:
Watch a musical in the Hungarian State Opera
The state opera, formerly known as the Hungarian Royal Opera House, is a lavishly decorated, neo-Renaissance auditorium that was opened in 1884 in central Budapest. It is currently one of the largest opera houses in the country, with a seating capacity of 1,300 guests.
Many musicals and plays that showcase the local culture are held here annually. Schedules of which may be viewed at their website (http://www.opera.hu/programme). Tickets start at 7,200 Hungarian Forint (approximately Php 1,360). If not for a musical, you may also choose to tour the opera house, which is already a show in itself.
Stroll on the Danube Promenade
Did you know that Budapest is divided into Buda (West) and Pest (East)? The Danube Promenade is a riverside pathway in the Pest side that is lined with five-star hotels and cafés, a couple of sculptures, and a panoramic view of the Buda side of the city.
Somewhere along the path is the collective monument called Shoes on the Danube Bank, a memorial dedicated to the 3,500 people who were killed by the river during World War II.
Visit the local wine cellars
Like most European countries, wine is an essential aspect of the local culture. In fact, Budapest has its wine village, a specific portion of the city where every structure is a wine cellar.
There are many tour operators that offer wine and champagne tasting tours and access to famous cellars, including the world-famous Faust Wine Cellar in the Buda Castle District.
Tour the Buda Castle
Completed in the 1260s, Buda Castle has been a symbol and has seen history unfold itself. Additions to the structure were constructed until the late 1700s, but the majority of what is visible today still dates back to 13th century.
Buda Castle, which is sometimes called Royal Castle and Royal Palace, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that houses the Hungarian National Gallery and the Budapest History Museum. At nighttime, the castle is lit with golden orange lights, which makes is more so beautiful.
Goulash is a thick and flavorful meat stew that is one of the national dishes of Hungary. While beef is usually the main ingredient, many variants use pork, lamb, and veal. Wine or white vinegar is sometimes added to the stew just minutes before turning off the heat, which gives the dish its distinct explosive flavor.
This traditional dish is available in nearly all restaurants in Budapest.
Indulge in Gellert Bath Palace and Spa
Besides being home to 13th-century architecture, kilometers-long of wine cellars, and tasty beef stews, Budapest is also frequently referred to as the Spa City of Europe. The city earned this title since 1934, and, even without doing the math, it is fair enough to say that a lot of people and a lot of years have proven this.
Gellert Bath Palace is one of the iconic indoor thermal baths in the city. The complex also offers other types of swimming pools that use medicinal mineral-rich water sourced underground.
Shop at Great Market Hall
Also known as the Central Market Hall, the Great Market Hall was the idea of Károly Kamermayer, the first mayor of Budapest who served from 1873 to 1896. The market has a gothic façade, as was common in the late 1800s, and it continues to stand today as one of the largest indoor markets in Hungary.
Here, you can buy anything ranging from fresh produce and spices to handicrafts and cooked meals, and, yes, souvenirs.
Pray in the Churches
A considerable percentage of the capital city’s population is Roman Catholic. In fact, Budapest alone is home to one of the largest Christian communities in Central Europe.
There are a handful of Catholic churches and cathedrals here in the city, in case you want to do an out-of-season Visita Iglesia. These include St. Stephen’s Basilica, Matthias Church, and Inner City Parish Church.
Soak in the Széchenyi thermal baths
If the Gellert Bath Palace offers indoor pools, the Széchenyi thermal baths offer outdoor pools! This is the largest medicinal pool in the continent and was built in 1913. The three grand outdoor pools attract thousands monthly so make sure to reserve your tickets early.
Nearby is Budapest City Park, a large public park that is often the jump-off point to many major landmarks in the capital.
End your day on Fisherman’s Bastion and Gellert Hill
The Fisherman’s Bastion is part of a 19th-century fortress that offers amazing views of the city below. It was given such name because guilds of fishermen were believed to actively protect the fortress during the Medieval Ages. Today, the bastion serves as an observation deck.
Another natural view deck in Budapest is Gellert Hill, a hill standing at 235 meters. The top of the hill offers a beautiful snapshot of the Budapest Skyline, including the Danube River that separates the Buda and Pest side of the city.
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