10 Best Attractions in Budapest Hungary That You MUST SEE
Budapest, the beautiful capital of Hungary, is made up of the twin cities of Buda and Pest. These lie on both banks of the River Danube. Buda is the hilly side, and represents the medieval world charm with its ancient castles, streets and caves. Pest, on the other hand, is absolutely flat, and is the modern part of Budapest with its sprawling Parliament House, riverside cafeterias, stores and much more. Budapest has so much to offer, that it is difficult not to fall in love with this fascinating city.
Gellert Hill is the best place to start your sightseeing in Budapest, as it will give you a panoramic view of the layout of this lovely city. Once you have got an overall picture, you can begin with the many attractions in Gellert Hill itself.
The first thing that catches your eye here is the Saint Gellert Monument which has a corridor of columns bearing a statue of Saint Gellert, the bishop after whom the hill is named. There is also a fortress called the Citadel, which is now a popular tourist destination. Budapest’s iconic Statue of Liberty, built during the Communist rule, still stands on this hill today. Several caves are also found in this area. One of the caves has a church inside it which has been in use since the time of the Second World War. The Gellert Hill Cave Church, as it is called, is a popular tourist spot, mainly because of its intriguing cave-like structure.
Kossuth ter or Kossuth Square is the famous square located on the bank of the River Danube. It is the symbolic landmark and centre of Hungary, as it houses the massive Hungarian Parliament building. In front of the building, a memorial has been built to commemorate the Great Hungarian Uprising of 1956. A statue of King Francis II Rákóczi sitting on a horse can also be found here.
Best Budapest Attractions
1. Hungarian Parliament Building
This impressive and sprawling building, with its 691 rooms, is the third biggest Parliament House in the world. Designed on Neo-classical lines, it has features, such as its towers, which are reminiscent of Gothic architecture, while its central dome is typically Baroque in style.
The Parliament building has a Lower House on the northern side and an Upper House on the southern side, with a Centre Dome Hall between the two wings. The Prime Minister’s office is located in the northern block, while the President’s office is in the southern block.
As you enter inside, you will be awestruck by its magnificence. The centre of attraction is the grand central staircase flanked by ornate pillars, arches and statues. The ceiling is adorned with beautiful paintings, and gold and ornamental stones are lavishly used in the embellishments.
2. Chain Bridge
This 375 metre long bridge across the River Danube links the twin cities of Buda and Pest. The two towers of the Chain Bridge are connected by huge chains which have given the bridge its name. You can see the Hungarian coat-of-arms and lion statues decorating the two towers of the bridge.
Although the original bridge was destroyed by the Germans in the Second World War, an exact replica of the same, as you see it today, was re-built after the war was over. The Chain Bridge has been used in the past as a place of public demonstrations and protests against the Soviet domination. Hungarians regard the Chain Bridge as a symbol of their independence.
3. St. Stephen’s Basilica
This huge landmark church is located in the Pest part of Budapest. Believed to have been built with 150 different kinds of marble, the basilica is a marvel in construction. Finely sculpted statues, mosaic decorations and beautiful frescoes vie with the exquisite altar pieces for admiration.
Neo-Classical in style, the church has two bell towers, and it is said that the bell on the south tower is the largest bell in the whole of Hungary. The top of the tower can be accessed by both stairs as well as an elevator.
The tour of the Church itself is free, while the tower has a ticketed entry. However, the enthralling view of the city from the top of the tower is well worth the entrance fee.
4. Fisherman’s Bastion
This bastion is comparatively new. In fact, it was built approximately a hundred years ago. The surrounding area was initially a fish market in the medieval period and was inhabited by fishermen.
The seven tent shaped small towers of the Bastion are said to represent the seven different tribes of Hungarian origin who came to inhabit this region. Fisherman’s Bastion itself is a tribute to all the fishermen who lived here, and guarded the city.
5. Hungarian State Opera House
The beautiful Opera House in Budapest ranks among the topmost opera houses worldwide. Designed in the Neo-Classical pattern, it has the shape and form of a horse-shoe. Two statues of famous Hungarian music composers stand at the entrance of the opera house.
The auditorium is very big and can seat 1,200 people. A visit to this opera house is a must, and watching the opera show itself is a wonderful experience.
6. Szechenyi Thermal Bath
This is one of the largest public baths in Europe. There are as many as eighteen pools which are fed with water directly from the hot springs.
The exterior is made like a Baroque palace with an impressive dome. As you go inside the main entrance, you reach the indoor thermal baths. The steam baths can be accessed from the side entrance, while the outdoor pools are approached from the back entrance.
Szechenyi Bath is a popular spot with the locals and holidaymakers alike. It is the ideal place to pamper and rejuvenate yourself whilst enjoying soothing and healing waters.
7. Buda Castle
Buda Castle is also known as the Royal Castle and Royal Palace. The appearance of the castle is sombre and grim from the outside, and equally plain and staid inside. There are no embellishments and adornments to recreate the original splendor of the past. Nevertheless, with its one thousand foot long façade which faces the River Danube, Buda Castle looks rather impressive and awe inspiring.
Built in 1295 as a castle and residential palace for the Hungarian kings, Buda Castle was declared as a Hungarian World Heritage site in 1987. The castle complex has much to see inside it. Near the ornamental gate at the entrance of the castle, is a statue of the Turul bird of death, which is the royal symbol of Hungary.
As you enter through the gate and step down the Habsburg steps, as they are called, you see a terrace decorated with a fountain of the Fishing Children. Yet another impressive fountain is the famous Mathias Fountain. Close to it is the majestic Lions Gate made of four lion statues guarding the castle. This gate leads to the Lions Courtyard in the centre of the castle.
The palace itself has several wings which house the National Gallery, the Szechenyi Library and the Budapest History Museum. The latter has a valuable collection of exhibits from the medieval period to the present.
8. City Park
Near the centre of Budapest is a huge rectangular shaped public park which is called the City Park. The main entrance to this park is from the historic Heroes Square, which is a World Heritage site. This park is believed to be the first public park in the world.
City Park includes several attractions such as Vajdahunyad Castle, the Botanical and Zoological Gardens and the Szechenyi medicinal bath and swimming pool. The park also has an amusement park with slides, a roller coaster, a merry-go-round, a cave railway, a fairy tale boat and a time wheel.
City Park has a large man-made pond, which is used for boating in the summer months. In winter this pond functions as an ice skating rink. The famous Gundel Restaurant is also located here.
The added weekend attraction here is the flea market which is held in the Park. With so many different kinds of activities, a visit to the City Park is indeed an enjoyable experience.
9. Palace of Arts
This palace has become the hub of culture and cultural activities in Budapest. It has three important cultural centres, namely the National Concert Hall, the Festive Theatre and the Ludwig Museum.
Many musical events are held here. Jazz, dance and opera shows keep the Palace of Arts buzzing with activity. Additionally, learning opportunities are available here for children who are interested in Hungarian folk music or different musical instruments.
10. Vajdahunyad Castle
This castle is located in the City Park area. Originally made of cardboard and wood in 1896, it was built as part of the millennium celebrations of the Hungarian supremacy over the Carpathian basin in 895. It was designed to incorporate the characteristic features of different iconic buildings in Hungary. The result was a fascinating and curious blend of varying styles and patterns covering different periods such as the Renaissance, the Gothic and the Baroque.
Vajdahunyad Castle was so well liked that the original cardboard and wood structure had to be re-built in brick and stone. It now houses the Hungarian Museum of Architecture.