Things we love about Budapest

Let’s count the ways we love Budapest, the things that make us happy

1. Wandering around the castle district

It’s a no brainer. Everybody loves strolling the cobblestoned streets of the Castle District. Young couples holding hands, elderly couples sunbathing on a bench, little kids racing on Tóth Árpád promenade on their tricycles, tourists marveling the view from the castle walls. 

Castle District Budapest

2. Attending summer night concerts, wine and beer festivals in the court of the Royal Palace

3. Walking along the Danube promenade

The riverfront is iconic. UNESCO designated the entire section as a world heritage site, protecting such attractions as the Parliament, Buda Castle … and Marriott hotel, making it the ugliest UNESCO protected building in the world. The promenade has always been the place to show off, to be seen and to see. In 1874 chairs were set up here and were available for a fee. 

4. People watching

A favorite hobby for many and not only for pensioners. The chairs and benches of the promenade are great examples of perfect spots to enjoy this hobby. 

5. The sunsets

As sun sets behind the Buda hills, the city is full of spots that are perfect for sunset watching: Gellért Hill, Tóth Árpád promenade, Pest promenade and all the bridges of downtown Budapest, just to name a few.

6. Photographing architecture

Charge your camera and phone before leaving your accommodation, this city is full of beauty, and one of its sources is architecture. I wish I was better at architecture photography. 

7. Discovering the ruin bars

– during the day or the evening, it doesn’t matter. Ruin bars are fun all day round. 

8. Drink pálinka

The cure of all ails. “Pálinka in small amounts is a medicine. In large amounts, a remedy.”

Hungarian grandpas and grandmas swear by its healing powers. Stomach problem? Pálinka. Nervousness? Pálinka. Sore throat? Pálinka. So be sure not to refuse a shot when offered with this fruit brandy. It is a great insult and confuses every Hungarian party. 

9. Thermal waters

We love our waters. We use our waters: we drink them, bath in them, inhale them. Every water has its characteristics depending on its source. Actually, Budapest has more thermal water springs than any other capitals in the world.

10. Relaxing in thermal baths

The colder the weather, the more unique it is. Especially in one of the outside pools. Visit Széchenyi Bath for a quirky experience: you can sit in the thermal water while snow falls on top of your head (or hat). Interested? Follow the dots

11. Duck feeding in City Park

Just don’t give them bread. Buy them special food from one of the machines around the lake. 

12. Romantic boat ride in City Park Lake

Because boating in shallow waters in parks is universally considered to be romantic. And Budapest offers you a place to tick it on your romantic bucket list. Budapest has it alllll! 

13. Befriending cute dogs on the slopes of Gellért Hill

If you don’t have a dog of your own or had to leave it at home while on you are on vacation and miss him/her already so much, do what we do: creep up to Gellért Hill and play with the cutest dogs of Budapest while one of you distracts the owner. 

14. Stuffing our face with strudels, lángos or fresh veggies in Great Market Hall

Because everyone who is on a diet during a vacation in Budapest is nuts. Don’t be like them. We don’t like them. We eat hearty Hungarian foods

15. Eating traditional Hungarian dishes with paprika

Strongly connected to the previous: try as many hot foods with paprika as you possibly can: goulash, ‘pörkölt’, chicken paprikas, just to name a few. Eat ‘tejföl’ with them, dunk fresh bread in them and thank me later. 

16. Eating a hot chimney cake

Just avoid the tourist traps: a good chimney cake does not need any filling. No Nutella, no ice cream or whipping cream. Nothing. If you would like to taste a newer version, try the one with raspberry flakes. It is hipster enough. 

17. Eating lángos

But again: no Nutella and other crap. The more simple, the better: with garlic sauce, or cheese and tejföl. Again, if you would like to try something more new wave, try the ones with salami and onions. But nothing sweet, please. Seeing that hurts our soul, mind, and brain. 

Two lángos on a plate

18. Drinking Hungarian wine

Hungary has several wine regions and our wines are good. Actually, Hungary is home to the first official wine region in the world. King Károly made our Tokaj region the first one. Wine has been produced there since the 5th century. 

I am not a wine expert, but I recommend Tokaj wines (sweet white), the red Bikavár (Bull’s Blood) from Eger and the dry whites produced around Lake Balaton. If in Hungary, try Hungarian stuff. 

19. Discovering the cute guerrilla statues all across the city

It will teach you to pay attention to the details and not to hurry from spots to spots. 

Mihajlo Kolodko, Ukrainian sculptor began hiding miniature bronze statues all over the city in 2016.

Small tank - cute statue on the Danube bank

20. Riding a pedal car all along Margaret Island

One of the best advice of all regarding the Island. Because it is huge and you will get tired walking to the small Japanese Garden with the pond, but you definitely do not want to skip that place. 

21. Relaxing in small pocket parks...

… and picnicking on one of the benches or in the grass eating a “chocolate snail”.

22. Traveling by the cutes metro line (m1)

Just be very quick! This grumpy lady opens and closes its doors in about 5 seconds not paying attention to anything on earth. 

Millennium Underground Budapest

23. Tram 2

This line is the best way to take in scenic views of Budapest, it is a public transportation method that is also the best sightseeing line in one.  

Tram in front Palace of the Ministry of Justice

24. Dangling our legs sitting in the Chairlift

The panorama is wonderful, especially downwards

25. Gerbaud café

It’s fancy, it is ridiculously expensive and I have never understood the hype around it, but if you can find a free table on its right side close to the windows, you can feel the previously mentioned cute metro passing under you. It’s strange and cool in one. If we happen to visit this confectionery we love to watch people if they feel it and if they think it is a small earthquake. 

26. Guessing the meaning of street art murals

Some are self-explanatory but some make us use our imagination 

Reading my blog post about them helps, too. 😉 

Murals in Budapest Jewish Quarter

27. Shipcruising along the Danube with public boats

Use them as fun and cheap transportation method 

28. … or have dinner on a sightseeing boat at night

this option is much more sophisticated for sure. Candlelight, soft music… you know what I mean.

29. Marvel the beauty of the city while sitting on Liberty Bridge

I really do not want to assist you breaking the rules (written on the bridge) but it is fun and clearly not as not as dangerous as the dance Will Smith performed on top of Chain Bridge before. 

30. Walk through Chain Bridge

have a look at the views of the city, guess if the lions have tongue or not but do not imitate aforementioned Will. 

31. Drinking Uniqum

This herbal liquor is really famous, tasty and rather strong. It even has a museum with an old distillery and cellar that can be visited. The museum is really photogenic, by the way. 

32. Skating in front of St. Stephen’s Basilica in the middle of the Christmas Market

– because it is truly magical (you can rent skates on spot)

33. Have a drink at Pontoon and have a chat during sunset

You will not be alone, though 

34. Add Your Splash your feet into the pool of Akvárium club while drinking a 'fröccs'

Just do not attempt to stand in the pool, it would smash in, get loose and everyone would hate you. Also, you could die.  

35. Adoring the sights from rooftop bars

They are rather expensive, very trendy, full of people who are even more trendy. Tell me more about them after trying one. Please. 

36. Discover Hungarian designers and contemporary art

Jewish District and downtown Budapest is full of tiny design shops

Mono Fashion interior with accessories

37. Toning our muscles while climbing up and down on the stairs of the Castle District

Every stairway that leads up to the Castle is unique and photogenic. They really deserve their own post, so I will soon write one about them, for sure. I am just waiting for autumn because cardio activities are not my thing during the summer heat. 

38. Panicking in a panic room

There are a bunch of so-called ‘panic’ or ‘escape’ rooms in Budapest. Actually, they originate from here. There are rooms with all kinds of themes, one is more frightening than the other. Usually, you can get out using your logic and wit. If you can use them while terrified. I am claustrophobic and I always freeze when frightened so its not my thing for sure.

Speaking about escape:

The grandmaster of escapology, the greatest escape artist of all time, Harry Houdini was born in Budapest in 1874. House of Houdini in the Castle District is ‘the meeting point for magicians and lovers of the art of magic from all over the world’.

40. Stuffing our stomach in Szimpla Farmer’s Market on a Sunday morning

– well, this is much more my cup of tea. 

41. Sleep in and have a brunch

Who doesn’t enjoy this laziness? No explanation needed. Downtown Budapest is full of fancy brunch places. Just pick one. We are planning to try À la Maison Grand. We are still saving up our changes in a piggy bank.

42. Grab a book and read while laying down on the grass...

…or plan your next stop during sightseeing in Budapest reading my blog posts. 

43. Attending a sparty...

…especially if you are under 25. The older you are, the creepier you seem to be. Sparty!

44. Listening to Budapest inspired music

for example ‘Budapest’ from George Ezra.

45. Historic relics are everywhere

You never know when you’ll turn a corner and stumble upon one of the oldest buildings in the city

46. Walking.

Budapest is best experienced on foot, if possible – wander through its neighborhoods to understand the city better. Best areas to walk around are Castle District and Jewish District.

47. Seeing Budapest on the big screen

there are a bunch of movies that were shot in Budapest. It has already played Moscow, Paris and about any other city when the film needed some added Eastern European touch. We have already got used to it and also used to see our city destroyed partly or completely. One of the recent movies that were set in Budapest and that shows a lot from the city is the ‘Spy’ with Melissa Mccarthy, Jude Law and Jason Statham.

48. Sunrises from the upper terraces of Fisherman’s Bastion

No crowds, just peace, quiet and gorgeous views. The sun rises from the Pest side and slowly lights the Castle and Fisherman’s Bastion walls and the whole city under your feet. 

Fisherman's Bastion

49. Treasure hunting in the Buda Castle

Jewish District has its graffitis, murals, wall stickers, Castle District has medieval relics.

Hilton hotel interior

50. The ceiling at Lotz Café

Its frescoes were painted during Budapest’s “belle époque”, the ceiling is something worths to twist your neck for.

51. New York café

Another unmissable café (and not only for coffee addicts like me and 99% of adults on earth). It is considered to be one of the most beautiful cafés in the world. Just do not go down to the underpass of Blaha Lujza square on the corner. The difference between the two lifestyles is extreme.

52. Running into celebrities

As more and more Hollywood movies are made here, there is some chance to bump into one.

53. The subway

It takes us quickly almost anywhere. M1 is the oldest subway in continental Europe, M2 and M3 are also quite old and M4 is a new line. Some of the subway stations are like art galleries – just look carefully. 

54. The weather

Situated in central Europe, Hungary really has four distinct seasons with all their beauty.

55. … and bitching about the weather

Because nothing unites Budapesters better than crying about winter being cold and summer being hot. 

But we have every reason to do so: You might be able to experience a 60 °C difference between January (-20) and July (+40). How cool (and how hot) is that? Well, if you are prone to migraines it might not be that fun to you (and me). 

56. The abundance of extremely cheap eats

There are plenty of places to fill up your stomach for just some pocket change – sample a little bit of everything at Karaván food court or grab a pizza, chimney cake or lángos.

57. Getting lost in the narrow streets of the Jewish District

this bustling neighborhood has its own distinct atmosphere 

58. Waddling up to Buda hills with cogwheel railway

… to enjoy the panorama with strudels and mulled wine or tea in your hands

59. Climbing up to the panorama terrace of Basilica

… and marvel at the views after fantasizing about the church hiding aliens and their UFO inside the dome. Visit it and you will know what I mean. 😉 

View from the lookout terrace of St. Stephen's Basilica

60. The panoramic view from the top of Budapest Eye

Basilica’s lookout terrace is closing before dark but you can still enjoy the sight of the illuminated city from the top of the Ferris Wheel. 

61. Taking the public ferry to Római fürdő on a summer weekend afternoon

The most chill place of all the chill places in Budapest.

62. Cat cafés

Visit these over adorned hairballs in one of the cat cafés

63. Szabó Ervin Library Reading Room

Even if you don’t have any intention to read a single line. You can visit the most beautiful rooms of the library on its 4th floor. 

64. Creatures on the buildings

Naked women and men, dragons, chubby angels and other monsters look at you while you roam the streets of Budapest. Be sure to look back at them. 

The Twins statues

65. Hidden courtyards

Some are open to visitors, some are not and you need to be patient or lucky to catch their open door, some are also passageways between streets. And many of them are marvelous

arcades of Paloma courtyard

66. Christmastime

Because of Christmas markets, steaming thermal waters, lots of sweets and great coffees, mulled wines and skating. And because its magical, dammit.

67. Watching pensioners playing chess sitting in the pool of Széchenyi Bath

… and wishing they leave the table regularly 

68. Art Nouveau architecture

One of the architectural styles that can be adorned throughout Budapest. Best examples include: Gellért Hotel and Spa, Gresham Palace, Paris Department Store, Geological Institute

Gresham Palace

69. Street trees along Andrássy Avenue

Providing shades for us as we walk along the avenue to Heroes’ Square

70. Blooming cherry trees along Tóth Árpád promenade

… meaning the spring has finally arrived 

Tourists are enjoying the sight of the blossoming trees

71. Watching movies outdoors while the sun sets

Who doesn’t like the fusion of classic open-air cinemas, stylish rooftop bars and evergreen movie classics (and been eaten alive by mosquitoes)?

72. Summer concerts at Margaret Island

We make good use of the Island on hot summer nights for sure!

73. Finding nature where you wouldn't expect, like green plants in the cracks of walls

because “Life will not be contained. Life breaks free. It expands to new territories, crashes through barriers, painfully, maybe even dangerously.” Dr. Ian Malcolm

74. The diversity of residential architecture

Different buildings built in different eras standing right next to each other without competing.

75. "Arriving in Western Europe from the East, it is in Budapest where the traveler first feels the winds of the West. But traveling from the West, this is where one first feels the breath of the East.”

A quote from an unknown person who was right. 

76. Eating in old, retro eateries

like Frici papa.

77. Running

There is a running path around the riverbank of Margaret Island and also the promenades on both sides of the Danube are perfect running paths. 

78. Superior tap water

Budapest’s tap water is tastier, cleaner than any water in other cities. There are also drinking taps on our fire hydrants so you can enjoy the refreshing water anytime. 

79. Dog-friendly cafes

because nothing is better than chillin’ together with our best friend. Or if you are not lucky enough to have one – just like us – then with your friends’ best friends. 

80. Running with our kite

… at the semi-secret park of Philosophers Garden

81. Getting lost in the inside labyrinth of Széchenyi Bath

– just remind yourself that you are a wandered not lost.

82. Koller Gallery

Hide from the tourist groups in the secret garden of Koller Gallery.

sculpture in Koller Gallery

83. Palace Quarter

A hidden gem again. A decade ago this area was taboo for tourists; a slum with crime. Today it is one of the neighborhoods that I frequently recommend visiting. Renovated palaces, pedestrian streets, and cool cafés all around. 

wenckheim palace

84. Király baths

Some of our baths were built during the Ottoman occupation. Király Bath is one of them. Its atmosphere is very different from the others that were built around the turn of the 20th century.

85. Memento park

A surreal soviet Themepark that is full of statues that were moved immediately after the fall of communism. 

86. Bartók Béla Boulevard

‘BBB’ has always been the cradle of poems and artist. Recently the area started to gain new life with cafés, art galleries popping up. Start your stroll at Feneketlen tó (Bottomless Lake) and walk all the way to Gellért Square.

87. Aeropark

When you are ready to leave us, Budapest has one more surprise for you. A theme park with airplanes. You can get inside, sit in the pilot’s chair and also you can hear the anecdotes of former staff of Malév, former Hungarian airline. 

88. Children's railway

This railway, racing through the woods in Buda hills is actually managed by kids. 

89. Contra Aquincum

Artifacts from the Roman times right in the middle of downtown, right under your feet. Have a look at the engraved patterns and quotes, too. 

90. Mansfeld park

The park, named after Péter Mansfeld, one of the most tragic heroes of the Hungarian Revolution and Freedom Fight of 1956, is a perfect spot to relax and watch the city under us. 

91. Tomb of Gül Baba

Buda was under Ottoman rules from 1541 and became the center of the newly established province. Within just a few decades it gained an eastern appearance. The chapel was built in 1543-48 and it is also the northernmost Islam sacred place.

(Mansfeld Park and the Tomb are very close to each other so it is a “two birds with one stone” thing.)

Tomb of Gül Baba

92. Sas-hegy Nature Reserve

Climbing this hill we are very close to the city center but also far from the buzz

93. Bullet hole marks on the buildings

Remnants of time we should not forget. During the nationwide revolution in 1956, the streets became fighting scenes. Lot of buildings such as the building of the Ministry of Agriculture bare the scars from that time and they are purposely not covered, some is on the contrary: the holes are marked, enhanced.

94. Caves of Buda

Several underground caves were formed by thermal waters. Szemlő-hegyi Cave and Pál-völgyi Cave are two examples and they can be visited anytime. Also, there is a hidden gem in the cave systems of Buda: the Hospital in the Rock Nuclear Bunker Museum 

95. Drinking fresh, spring water

Healing water from the depths of the city can be drunk and available for purchase at the thermal baths and spring fountains. 

96. Get soaked in beer

Yes, Széchenyi Bath has this strange and unique offer. 

97. Budapest, the city of WTF

There is a Michael Jackson memorial tree in the city center, full of photos, drawings of him and Elvis Presley is an honorary citizen of Budapest

At least he did something for us to gain this honor: after his performance of “Peace in the Valley”

on American television, he brought attention to our anti-Soviet Freedom Fight and Revolution in 1956. There is even a small park (with its playground) named after him.

98. Rubik cube

In Hungary, almost everyone has one or more. I am sure that Hungary has the largest amount of Rubik cubes per capita in the world. We have 3. 

99. Castle Garden

A beautiful jewel at the foot of the Buda Palace. Great to relax and sunbathe a bit or have a bite into your sandwich 

100. Sziget festival

One of the largest music festivals in the world, attracting thousands and thousands from all over the globe. Unfortunately, as it gained popularity, it became almost too expensive for Hungarian youngsters. 

101. No building in Budapest is taller than 96 meters

The two tallest buildings in Budapest, the Hungarian Parliament and St. Stephen’s Basilica are both this height, and it is not coincidental: it symbolizes that government and religion has equal importance in Hungary. (Or at least, had.)

The number 96 represents the year when the Magyar tribes settled in the Carpathian Basin. 

102. We have a statue that makes you a better writer

If you touch the pen of Anonymous in City Park, it will bless you with great writing abilities. 

103. Our language is very difficult and tricky

It is said to be one of the most difficult languages to learn and English has more in common with Russian than Hungarian. 

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7 thoughts on “101+ things to love about Budapest”

  1. Wow, I love your list so much! I’ve been to Budapest twice, but had no time to try all the things you mentioned. I need to plan a proper trip to Budapest. Thanks for all the great suggestions!

    1. I hope you will be able to use my list. Just cherry-pick from these things depending on your interests … and the weather. 🙂

  2. Wow, 101+ things to do in Budapest! This city has always seem to me like a place with plenty of character and charm, and judging from your blog post, it’s true. Thank you for sharing such a wonderfully comprehensive post!

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