Dubbed the “Paris of the East”, the Hungarian capital is rich in history, charming and romantic corners and views. To better face a weekend of beauty and fun, you should be informed about what to see in Budapest.
Stately and elegant in its traditional buildings and monuments, but at the same time lively and surprising in its nightlife, a 360-degree city able to make visitors fall in love. The city is very large, but with the right advice, it is possible to visit it fully even in a few days. Here’s what to visit in Budapest.
Budapest is the capital of Hungary. The city is located in the north-central part of Hungary and is divided into two parts by the Danube river that crosses it: the historical part perched on a hill north of the river, and Pest, the old city built in flat area south of the Danube. The city represents the essence of Central Europe, thanks to the Austro-Hungarian domination, which made it very similar to Vienna and Prague, but extremely unique. Visiting Budapest on a weekend is possible, although there are many places of interest, the important thing is to choose well where to stay. The chosen hotel will, in fact, be the starting point for discovering the city, where you can move easily and quickly both on foot and by metro.
To optimize the time available, it is preferable to choose a hotel that rises between the famous Bridge of the Chains and the Elizabeth Bridge, preferably in the southern part of the city, in the old Pest. This is, in fact, the beating heart of the Hungarian capital from which you move in a short time to the main monuments and city attractions. The area is definitely touristy, so it won’t be difficult to find a good hotel (at competitive prices), perhaps with a suggestive view of the Danube.
Among the things to see in Budapest in 2 days, there is certainly the Hungarian Parliament, an imposing building symbolizing institutional power, which looks suggestively on the river bank. The Parliament of Budapest, which is still the seat of the Hungarian government, is a mix of architectural styles that tell of neo-baroque and neo-Gothic influences that the city has undergone throughout its history, but also Italian and Central European architectural styles. The building is open to the public and can be visited with guides in all languages. In the evening, illuminated by thousands of lights, it appears even more majestic and evocative, perhaps admired on board one of the boats that cross the Danube.
Continuing the visit of the city shore south of the Danube, a mandatory stop on the city tour includes the crossing of the Chain Bridge, the oldest in the city (which has nine). Built in the first half of the 1800s on the project of two Scottish engineers, it is the city symbol because it represents the union of the cities of Buda and Pest. Crossing the bridge you arrive in the area of Buda, where a tunnel was built along the bridge that connects to the Castle at the top of the hill.
The Basilica of Santo Stefano and the Synagogue are, then, an inevitable cultural and religious stop among the things to see in Budapest. The Basilica is one of the most appreciated and visited buildings in the city and is named after the patron saint of the city. Made in Neo-Renaissance style, it houses a relic – the mummified right hand – of the first King of Hungary, as well as Santo Stefano. Not far away, in the heart of the Jewish quarter, stands the Synagogue, imposing and majestic, second only to that of New York in size. Made in the Byzantine-Moorish style, it can be visited every day in the first half of the 19th century.
On the northern bank of the Danube, in a hilly area, develops the historical part of the city, what was once called Buda. Here stands the Castle, or Royal Palace, and all its immense park that contains other buildings, monuments and churches. The Castle, as it can be admired today, is the result of buildings built at different times (starting from 1200), expansions and reconstructions due to the kings who succeeded each other over time and to the battles that affected it. The majestic facade of the Castle, 300 meters long, fully represents the long and tormented history of this city made up of different influences and dominations of all kinds. Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987, hosted the various reagents of Hungary for over seven centuries. Today the Castle houses the Historical Museum and the Hungarian National Gallery, where objects and decades of national history from the Middle Ages to the present day are collected. All around the castle, in the green, you can visit other monuments such as the Palazzo Sandor, the panoramic monument of San Gellert, the church of Mattia, the Fishermen’s Bastion and the Baths of Buda.
If you want to live in full Budapest then you can’t miss a trip on the Danube. On board the numerous boats that sail the waters of this famous river, one can, in fact, admire the city from a suggestive perspective. From the river, you can see almost all the most important monuments of the city and in the evening crossings, you can even have dinner with typical Hungarian dishes. Boats can be taken from the station located in Piazza Vigadò, near the Chain Bridge and the Parliament thanks to the companies Legenda and Mahart.
If you have some time left, we suggest two more places to visit, which are in the immediate periphery, reachable by metro or bus: Margaret Island and Vàrosliget Park.
The Margaret Island, a little less than a square kilometre, is located in the Parliament area and can be reached on foot through one of the two bridges that connect it to the two banks of the river (since it is in the middle). On the island, nature reigns supreme: you can ride on a bike or with small electric or pedal cars and you can visit a small zoo, the dancing fountain (with music and lights that illuminate it at night), the water tower (UNESCO heritage) and the remains of the Convent of St. Margaret of Hungary. This small island is especially loved by the inhabitants of Budapest, who come here to do sports and jogging, to go for walks and picnics and to relax.
The other green lung of the city is represented by Varosliget Park where you can spend an entire day seeing the attractions that are there. Inside you will find the city zoo, a lake (which in winter becomes a skating rink), an amusement park, the Vajdahunyad Castle which houses the Agricultural Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts and the famous Mucsarnok Art Gallery. the very popular city thermal baths the Szechenyi Baths (the largest thermal complex dating back to the end of the 1800s with indoor and outdoor pools and saunas), as well as the Gundel restaurant, the most famous in Budapest.
Budapest is also excellent cuisine and nightlife, especially along the south bank of the Danube. As for Hungarian cuisine, there are many restaurants and places to spoil the typical dishes for a few euros. The Vasarcsarnok district is the most famous for eating well, spending very little: here you can find small restaurants where you can taste meat dishes (goulash, paprika chicken and cabbage rolls, rice and minced meat) or fish (mainly catfish ). Also try the Szalami, the Hungarian salami with the unmistakable smoky flavour and the Eros Pista, a spicy paprika-based sauce. Where is it? Among the most appreciated places to eat well is the Covered Market in Budapest, in the Ponte della Libertà area, here you can spoil many street food-style dishes with colourful stalls and traditional stands.
If you are a lover of nightlife, however, the trendiest places are in the Jewish quarter, in the area of the Basilica of Santo Stefano and on the island of Obuda, also called “Party Island” because in summer it comes alive with clubs and music.