The full list of things you must see and do in Budapest
There are some things you have to see or do in Budapest. Some are in the Budapest guides, some not so here is an all complete list of things to see in Budapest! The points will have small comments what it is about or why you have to do it, most of them have links for further, more detailed information. This list will be updated constantly and if you have any suggestions about what to see or do please leave a comment.
Sights & Tours in Budapest
- Budapest Parliament
The parliament in Budapest is definetly a building you need to see, from outside and inside. It is not just beautiful but also a very historical building. By the way the best picture you can take from the other side of the Danube on Batthyány Tér.
The Citadella on top of Gellért hill is one of the memories Hungary has about the Turkish invasion. Nowadays it is one of Budapest’s biggest tourist attractions and probably the best view point in the city. The place is very popular for taking pictures about Budapest by night.
The Basilica is located in the city center and a big attraction among tourists but also very famous for hosting famous peoples weddings. I have never been inside but it is supposed to be a really beautiful cathedral.
- Hero Square
Hero Square is a must see in Budapest. There is no way around it because it is full of history and beauty and you can go to many other places from there like the city park, Széchenyi bath or the Zoo which are all listed here as well.
- Chain Bridge at night
It is absolutly beautiful to see the chain bridge at night lighted up with hundreds of lights. Just recently I took a picture of it with my mobile phone because it simply amazes me every time I pass it which basically every day. So if you are here make a stop there, have a walk over it and take a picture.
- Mátyás Church
In the castle district you can find Matyas Church which is a simply beautiful church and a very highly frequented place by tourists. You can also see there the Fishermans Bastion, the Buda Castle and much more. Unfortunately at the moment I think they are restaurating the church so you will not have a clear view on it but still you can go in.
- Buda Castle
Up on the Buda hill as well you can find the massive Buda Castle right next to where you get off the Sikló (later on more about that). I have been to the castle once for a Christmas party and it was a really cool experience to party in such a massive, nice and old building. I haven’t seen much of the castle itself from inside but it is lighted from outside which is really beautiful so if you have the chance have a look at nicht.
The Opera in Budapest is located on Andrássy út and from inside a really nice building. I have been just in the entrance hall but that is already really beautiful. But of course next to being beautiful you can see operas there and spend nice evenings. To check the latest program go and visit the Opera website.
- Fisherman’s Bastion
The Fisherman’s Bastion in Budapest is one of the best points to watch the city from above. Located in Castle District the white building was used for defense reasons and is one of Budapests biggest attractions nowadays. Unfortunately on the lower part where you always could go for free they built a Café which means that if you want to have a look you need to eat or drink something or, and that is why they built the Café there I believe, you pay and go to the upper part. Nevertheless, there are still some spots where you can have a look for free.
- Nyugati Train station
Not really a sight but really nice is the Nyugati Train station. If you are around have look but you won’t miss something if you just have a look at the picture because from inside it is not really spectacular.
- Keleti Train station
Same as with the Nyugati you can proceed with the Keleti Train station. There are some things around like the Puskas Ferenc Stadium or the Arena Plaza so if you are there have a look. Recently I have been in there and I have to say this is really the lowest you can expect in terms of customer care or visitor friendlyness. Cold (it was even snowing in there), windy, dirty, one waiting room which was full of homeless people warming up.
- Castle District
Definetly one of the places you have to see is the castle district with all the old buildings, history, cafes, embassies and many other sights you can visit there. I think every Budapest tourist is going up there to see Mátyás church, the Fishermens Bastion and the Buda Castle. Don’t miss this opportunity and have a walk up in castle district.
- Andrássy út
Well, when it comes to streets in Budapest I guess Andrássy út is the one you should see. Especially at night or in Christmas time Andrássy út is for sure the most romantic and nicest place you can go to. Have a mulled wine on the Christmas market at Liszt Ferenc Tér, take a walk or go into one of the many restaurants and enjoy the beauty of Andrássy út.
- Gellert Hill
A must be place if you are coming to Budapest. The Gellert Hill offers the best view on Budapest especially by night. There are busses full of tourists brought up there just for “the one Budapest picture”. If you actually check for images about Budapest on the web you will always find one taken from Gellert Hill. So go there and also see the Citadella.
- Váci út
Well Váci út is not the most beautiful place in particular (don’t get me wrong it is nice but still there are nicer parts) but it is worth a visit to see the touristic side of Budapest. I usually give advise about places you don’t find in every book about Budapest but this one is worth seeing. Anyways beware there escpecially of the girls offering you to have a drink. Once more, DO NOT GO WITH THEM!
- See the Time Wheel
The Time Wheel near Heroes’ Square in Budapest is a kind of sight that you will not find in every book about Budapest. Mainly it is a massive sandclock that is something like 5m high and runs all year long giving you the exact time whenever you go there. Maybe it is not worth to just come here for the time wheel but if you happen to be around I think it is worth seeing. For more information about the time wheel see the Wikipedia article.
- Drive on Tram Nr. 2
Sounds really boring doesn’t it? But tram Nr. 2 in Budapest is the one which goes all the way along the Danube so you can see from here all interesting sights like the Gellert hill, the Chain Bridge, go around the parliament and much more. So if you are on a budget travel that is your cheap sightseeing tour.
- See the fountain on Margaret Island
OK, just a fountain. Maybe it’s large? Well actually it is not really spectecular if there wouldn’t be the music and the water would come out following the melody. So it is a nice happening to see it, especially at night when illuminated and the classical music is playing. However I wouldn’t go there just for the fountain, maybe after a run around the track or visiting a club on Margaret island I would stop for a few minutes and than carry on.
- Drive with the historic Metro M1
Budapest currently has 3 Metro lines with the 4th in construction. The Hungarian Metro is the oldest underground system in continental Europe and Metro line Nr. 1, also known as the yellow line or Millennium line, was the first and is running ever since. The trains have been changed over time but the stations remained the same over the years and are really pretty and old fashioned. The yellow Metro is running between Vörösmarty tér and Mexikói út connecting the city center with the city park.
- Go up to the Castle district with the Sikló
The so called Sikló is a funicular railway, meaning it is a cable railway goind a very steep slope. The Budapest Sikló starts at the bottom of Buda hill on Clar Adam Square and brings you up to the Buda hill. Officially the Sikló is a part of the Budapest Public Transportation company BKV but has its own pricing, the way up is by the way more expensive than the way down. Check out more info on the Wikipedia article.
- Go on the Cog-wheel Railway
The Cog-wheel railway is a thing between a regular tram and the Sikló (point 80) which starts behind Moskva Square and goes up to Normafa. Basically it is a tram but it is powered by a cog-wheel instead of regular electricity. Interesting to know that it exists but there is no difference for the passengers to be honest so it is not a must see in Budapest.
- Visit Szabadság Tér
Not particularly interesting or spectecular but Szabadság Tér (Freedom Square) is full of history connected to the revolution of 1956 in Hungary. I would not put this on my “to die for to do list” but if you are around have a look.
- Roman Ruins in Óbuda
A sight nearly nobody takes really care about are the Roman Ruins in Óbuda. I don’t know if they are not mentioned in tourist guides or if nobody really cares about it. You find these ruins along the main road going from the city towards Szentendre. One big leftover you can even see here on Google Maps and another one here. So if you fancy these kind of sights you should definitely have a look.
- Boat trip on the Danube (by night)
Once I have done it and I will never forget it. A boat trip on the Danube at night is absolutely magical with the illuminated shore and bridges, the houses in the Buda hills and so much more to see. You can book this tour as a normal tour or including a nice dinner. Whatever you prefer I strongly recommend you to take that trip.
- See the Gresham Palace Hotel
If you cross Lánchíd (Chain Bridge) in direction of Pest this awesome, beautiful, highlighted building is the Gresham Palace. One of the best hotels in Budapest the Gresham Palace is not only a high class option to stay but also very nice to see. It is really like in a Disney fairy tail.
Museums, Galleries and Exhibitions to visit
- Memento Park
Far outside the city you can find Memento Park or as it was called earlier, Statue Park. What you can find here is a collection of many old, communistic statues that where collected and put outside the city which is nowadays something like a museum. These statues are massive, big statues of communistic heroes. I think the entrance fee is something around 500 Forint and there is a shuttle bus going from Déak Tér to Memento Park so it is definetly worth a trip, not expensive and no hassle.
- Palace of Art
The Palace of Arts or as it is called in Hungarian Művészetek Palotája is that not really nice building on Pest side next to Lágymányosi híd. Nevertheless when it is dark there are colorful lights giving it a fancy touch which can be changed accordig to the event. But not the building is the interesting part about the Palace of Arts rather than what is going on in there and thats what you can check here.
- National Theatre
The national theatre is the main theatre in Budapest thus the biggest one in Hungary. Originally it opened up in 1837 but they moved the name, not the building, from place to place so the latest national theatre is a quite modern building which was opened in September 2000. Just like the Palace of Arts it is about what is going on inside so go on and check out the website for the program.
I have never been inside the Synagogue but since the Jewish community in Budapest is really big it must be nice in there. Located in the middle of the city the building somehow stands out but in a positive way. Basically you can find this tip in any tourist guide so I leave the explanation to others until I have been inside and can tell my personal opinion. For more information please visit the website of the Synagogue.
- Post Office Museum
The Post Office Museum in Budapest might be a rather specific and special interest thing to do in Budapest but I am sure there are many people interested in the history of postal services in general. In times before emails and social networks there used to be letters sent around the world. In this museum you will see how that has been done for hundreds of years.
- House of Terror
Surely one of the most spectacular museums in Budapest and also a very popular motif for images is the House of Terror. I haven’t been inside so I can’t tell you details but it must be very intersting as it is in almost every tourguide about Budapest you find these days.
- Nostalgia Train
Similar to the Post Office Museum this might be an excursion for specially train interested people coming to Hungary. The Nostalgia Train takes you from Nyugati Train Station to the railway museum outside the city and back. I have been once for a dinner on this train and enjoyed it quite much even though I am not interested in trains at all.
- ARC Exhibition
the ARC exhibition is an anual exhibittion of posters, advertisements and other visual material created by Hungarians. You can find here things which probably you would rather expect to go viral on Facebook. If you have the chance to go there and you are interested in art and advertisement this is your place to go.
- Museum of Agriculture
OK it does not sound that exciting to be honest but the museum of agriculture in Budapest is a really interesting spot to visit and also in a very cool location, the City Park. Well you can see Hungarian history here how agriculture has been done hundreds of years ago and maybe still is practised in the country side.
- Hungarian National Museum
Not much to say about the Hungarian National Museum, if you are interested in History of the country of Magyars you should have a sneak inside.
- Museum of Flags
Well it’s about flags so if you are interested go there, if not leave it and jump to the next point.
- Labyrinth in the Buda Castle
Did you know that there is a massive labyrinth in the Buda hill under the Buda Castle? No? Well than take your time and experience it and see what has been build hundreds of years ago. It is so big that it even hosts a bar and much more.
Culture, Entertainment, Nightlife in Budapest
- Szimpla Kert
For all the alternative people Szimpla Kert was the place to go in the evening. Students and a lot of young people used to spend hours here to drink, talk and dance but with the times of popularity tourists come and make the place a highlight for everybody. So Szimpla lost a lot of its flair but still its worth going there.
Similar to Szimpla but approximately 2 years behind in terms of popularity. Instant is one of the ruin clubs in Budapest, just like Szimpla is, just not that much discovered by tourists which makes it a bit more enjoyable as you don’t have all the stag nights going on there… yet.
From the first months I have been in Budapest Holdudvar always has been one of my favourite places. First located in a backyard of a university Holdudvar was for me the place to go since it was open air, open long and the music played was awesome. Than Holdudvar moved to the Margaret Sziget and I thought that it will not be the same as before which actually became true because the location was unbeatable but what they made out of the old casino on Margit Island is really fantastic. Nowadays Holdudvar is a restaurant, bar, club everything in one and it is always full. Unfortunately only enjoyable in the summer time but really one of the top places to go. See also my Top 5 in the menu on top and the website of Holdudvar.
- A real Hungarian Kocsma (Pub)
I guess that this is what every local in every country in the world tells you to do because here you see the real live of Hungary. People coming from work having a beer, alcoholics spending their day or young people starting for the evening. Areal Hungarian kocsma is usually not the nicest place, dirty stinky toilets, cheap beer and a rough appearance but once you have your second beer down it starts to be a cool place where you can have fun. So if you know a kocsma or somebody who has a favourite one go there, it’s really worth the visit!
- Millenáris Park
Millenaris park is located behind Mammut Shopping Center and is a cultutral place for exhibitions, concerts and children program. It is an area with a very nice green area and a lot of halls to have events. No matter if the world press foto exhibition, Kruder & Dorfmeister concert, a children program on staurday afternoon or football worldcup live matches on big screens you can get everything here. Check out the program on the website to know what is on.
- Learn 5 basic words in Hungarian
Szia (hello and goodbye), köszönöm (Thanks), hogy vagy (how are you?) sör (beer) and my all time favourite which is actually a sentence gyönyörüek a szemeid (your eyes are beautiful). Especially the last one is really hard to learn but that was the first sentence I learnt and really effective. Ask a Hungarian how to pronounce it and use it, you will have fun!
- A night in legendary Piaf
All people who are out a lot in Budapest know Piaf, the legendary place to go to after a tough night out. Piaf is the place which opens at around midnight and stays open till early morning. This is usually the place where people go to at 4a.m. after a night out clubbing to have a last drink or even dance on. All night long you can literally knock the door, go down and party on.
- Sziget Festival
Well there is not much to say about the Sziget Festival I guess as it is THE festival of Budapest, the festival city. The Sziget takes place every August on Óbuda island which is in the North of the city and it hosts some hundred thousand visitors in 1 week. Many of them camping on the site, some coming just for the evenings but all of them are willing to party, non stop! It is a must do in Budapest if you are here in that time.
- Red Bull Air Race
The Red Bull Airrace takes place on a yearly basis in the middle of the city, right above the Danube river and is a free event for thousands of people who like to see planes flown in a skillful way. Next to it there are many other planes showing off in a kind of parade so if you fancy planes, go there.
- Christmas Market on Vörösmarty Tér
There are several christmas fairs / markets in Budapest but the one at Vörösmarty Tér is by far the nicest you can go to. As in most European countries the tradition on christmas markets are small gifts, mulled wine and some snack food to go. You can find the same here, the special thing is the advent calendar in the windows of Café Gerbeaud.
- Summer on Chain Bridge
“Summer on Chain Bridge” is a small event that takes place during the summer weekends on the chain bridge in the heart of Budapest. It is not a festival with a certain topic rather than a coming together and enjoy the time on the fresh air with live music, some food and little handcrafted things you can buy. Worth a visit.
- T-Mobile Connection Concert
This is an initiative by T-Mobile, the biggest mobile network operator in Hungary, which brings one international superstar to Budapest every year without entrance fee. So you can see artists like Chris Rea, Santana, Simply Red or recently Kesha live on stage without paying for it. Good initiative but very crowded each year.
- St. Stephen’s Day celebrations
The St. Stephen’s Day (in Hungarian Szent István) celebrations take place on August 20th, the Hungarian National Holiday. St. Stephen was the first King of Hungary from 1000 – 1038 and he is considered to be the founder of Hungary. Year by year there are big fireworks and party going on in Budapest where people meet on the street to see the fireworks, drink together and have a great evening celebrating the day.
- Jewish Festival
The Jewish summer festival or Judafest is a yearly celebration of Jewish habits and culture in Budapest. With its strong Jewish community Budapest is known as a good destination for people interested in Jewish culture and living. With the Synagogue (see point 40) it has a great central point of interest.
- Budapest Marathon
The yearly Budapest Marathon is one of the major sports events in the capital of Hungary and attracts thousands of runners from all over the world and a lot of spectators along the track throughout the city. If you are a runner maybe the marathon is an event for you to join, if you are rather the visitor than just have a look.
- Budapest Spring Festival
Every spring there is a festival in Budapest that is all about culture, music and arts. It is also the opener for the many Budapest Festivals taking place throught the year such as the famous Sziget Festival (point 44) or the Wine Festival (point 46). Budapest is also charmingly called “Festivalcity” as there is a festival for nearly anything happening.
- Formula 1 in Budapest
One date that you should mark in your calendar year by year is the Formula 1 race in Budapest that “has a fixed date in the race calendar” as Bearnie Ecclestone once said. As the only stop in Eastern Europe the Grand Prix of Hungary on Hungaroring baits spectators from all surrounding countries such as the Ukraine, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Croatia or Romania to Budapest.
- The fireworks on the national holiday
On 20th of August it is National Holiday in Hungary and that day is celebrated with a large firework at night in the entire city. All along the Danube people area gathering, drinking and celebrating and of course see the beautiful firework which is mainly started from Gellert Hill but not limited to.
- The running track on Margaret Island
Around Margaret island there is a running track which is approximately 5 km long and heavily used by hobby and professional runners around the clock. In the morning time, after work or on the weekends you can see somebody having a run even in cold winters. This is the spot to stay fit. So if you rather run outdoors than in a hotel fitness area go have a run here.
- See a Gypsy horse show in the Puszta
That might be rather an excursion for the older generation or at least it is more popular among old people however a traditional horse show in the Puszta including a dinner can be fun and entertainment. If you fancy these kind of traditions than check out tours outside of Budapest and I am sure you will find something that suits you.
- Take tram Nr. 4 or 6
Another tram to take? Well the tram 4 & 6 are not as spectacular as number 2 (point 72) but still you will see a lot of the city and the city life. Tram 4 & 6 are institutions in Budapest, everybody knows them, and they will bring you once around the city on Pest side on the ring spanning around the inner city. On the route you will find some museums, the Café New York, Nyugati Train Station and some other interesting buildings and places.
- Wake boarding on the Danube
Are you up for wake boarding and would like to do that on the Danube? Well you can. Not on the Danube part where all the big boats are going but on a small arm of the river at Óbuda island. That’s it, do it or not.
- Try to find friendly waiters in a touristic area restaurant
That is rather an adventure and a hint than a thing that you would put on your to do list but if you decide to pop into a restaurant in the touristic area of Budapest, lets say around Vaci Utca you will face unfriendlyness and ignorance wherever you go. So if you find a friendly, honest and attentive waiter in a touristic place let me know.
- Drive a car and get crazy
If you rent a car in Budapest be prepared to get a heard attack or see you life passing by you in fast forward. Driving in Budapest is not fun however sometimes essential and once you get used to it you know where to brake and where not. Cars cutting you, speeding, horning and all the other relaxing things in life are here on the agenda, so be prepared.
- Go paragliding from the Buda Hills
That is not a typical activity for everybody I assume and I haven’t done it myself but in summer time you see many para-gliders coming from the Buda hills flying around. It must be an awesome view from up there above the city. If you prefer the less adrenalin and dangerous version visit the Buda castle.
- Ice Skating on City Park Pond (Városligeti-tó)
In winter there is not too much tourism going on in Budapest but still there is and one outside activity you can do during cold days is go for a round of ice skating. Every year on the City park Pond near Heroes’ Square there is built up a massive ice rink that gives enough space for hundreds of people who enjoy the cold days outside.
- See Niki Belucci live
If you are up for nightlife and club music one world wide know DJane is Niki Belucci, actually she is a topless DJane meaning that she spins the turntables almost naked. As a former porn star she knows how to dress down, combined with club music that makes a hot combination. She is booked worldwide so it will be difficult to see her live in Budapest but maybe she will have a gig near you wherever you are. In that case get your ticket.
- The House of Future (Millenáris Park)
This is an absolutely wicked place and is often seen as a program for kids but I can tell you that you will see and experience things here that you haven’t seen before or at least you never understood how it works. It is all about explaining mechanics, physics and chemistry in a do it yourself way. I strongly recommend you to go there if your time allows it.
- Learn the longest Hungarian word: Megszentségteleníthetetlenségeskedéseitekért
Speaks for itself so go ahead, try to pronounce it. I can’t!
Relax and Leisure opportunities in Budapest
- Margaret Island
A beauty in summertime is the Margit Island. I think there is no better place to escape from the city than having a walk, swim, run, drink on Margit Island. It is like the green heart of Budapest and a well frequented recreation area. On its 0,965 km you can find a lot of bars, recreation areas, party places, swimming pools, a hotel, a running track and much more. If you are in Budapest in the summer time do plan a trip to Margit Island it is definetly worth it.
- City Park
If you want to relax a bit or take a nice walk I recommend you to go to the city park. Not only that it is quiet and green there but you can also see some nice places like the Szechényi bath or the zoo. Also it is possible to go ice skating in the winter time. Most people come to the city park to have a walk and eat or drink something on a warm Saturday afternoon in one of the many restaurants.
- Kopaszi Gát
Kopaszi Gát is a fairly new place on Buda side next to Lagyamnyosi bridge which used to be a flood protection for the near by industrial area. Beginning of this century Kopászi gát was kind of renovated with really nice green area, little cute cottages where you can find restaurants, bars, arts and much more. Kopaszi Gát is a really good place to take a relaxing walk or just sit in the sun watching the Danube.
- Szenchenyi Bath
The Szechenyi bath is probably the most popular in Budapest and also the biggest. Located in the city park the bath offers everything a natural bath needs to offer including a warm pool outside which is really popular in the winter time to swim outside in when it is snowing.
- Gellert Bath
The Gellert bath is obviously in the hotel Gellert and I guess that’s the reason what makes the hotel so popular. The hotel itself is not that high class but the bath gives a big extra on top. With an outside and an inside part the Gellert bath offers a great recreation area even though I personally think that Gellert is not too good.
- Király Bath
The Király bath is one of the smaller baths in Budapest but really original from the times the Turkes invaded the country. It has steam baths, saunas, many pools and so much more to try out. Give it a shot.
- Rudas Bath
Just like the Kiraly bath the Rudas Bath in Budapest is fairly old, actually it was built up in 1550, you heart right 1550. Thats pretty so have a look and take a bath in one of Budapests most historical baths.
- Aquaworld Budapest
Recently I have been there the first time and I have to say that Aquaworld in Budapest is really a cool place to relax and spend a weekend with family or friends. I don’t know about the room prices of hotel Ramada but the prices of the bar are quite pricy. Nevertheless Aquaworld has a fantastic pool area with slides, whirlpools, outside natural baths and of course everything else you need for being an up to date bath like Sauna, pool, solarium and so on. So if you search for a nice place for a weekend trip or real water adventure this is your place to go.
Things to do with Children in Budapest
- Budapest Zoo
It took me quite a while until I went first time to the zoo in Budapest but I have to admit that it is fairly big with loads of animals. From outside the zoo seems to be small but once you are insinde it just seems endless. Nevertheless the zoo gives me a bit of a communistic feeling and seems to be not too good for the animals since it is all concrete and stony. If you have a child I do recommend a walk in the Budapest zoo.
- Budapest Amusement Park (Vidám Park)
To be honest I have never been in the amusement park but I have heart from many people that there are a lot of attractions to see and have a ride with. The only thing I see every now and than is the old and rusty wood rolercoster where I would never put a food in. I guess that the amusement park in Budapest is about the same age as the zoo and existing since communistic times. Anyways in the summertime the amusement park seems to be a good attraction for people.
- Childrens Island (Gyerek Sziget)
Yet another festival, the childrens island is a festival devoted to kids in the age up to 16 I recon. You find there many attraction kids can ride or play, a lot of food and also small kids organizations exhibiting their products. If you have kids this is a nice activity you can do during summer weekends.
- Children Train
Mainly for kids but also for train interested people the Children Train is a half day tour that you can take in Budapest. It is a historical train that leaves at Normafa and comes back after half an hour which is (almost) fully operated by children. For a relaxing ride through the Buda hills it is highly recommendable.
- Visit Tropicarium
The Tropicarium is a bit far outside but if you are interested in fishes and / or reptiles than have a look because this is the biggest indoor aquarium in Eastern Europe and gives you the chance to face a shark eye to eye, see crocodiles, snakes and all kids of other swimming and creeping animals. This is especially a good trip for kids if you come with yours. More information needed? Than check out the website.
Culinary Highlights to experience
- Café New York
That is one you find in every book about Budapest and even though it is very cheesy it is a must see with all the paintings, gold and the wonderful fassade. If you fancy to go in there I do not recommend the coffee, rather the hot chocolate.
- Wine Festival
No year without wine festival in Budapest. For me the wine festival is a set event in the calendar because it is a cosy event which gives you a good view on the Hungarian Wine culture which is extremely interesting if you like good wines. Here nearly all wineyards will exhibit so you can taste the different regions and cellars.
- Pálinka and Sausage Festival
Whoever likes shots should have a look at the Pálinka and Sausage Festival. As you might know Pálinka is the traditional shot of Hungary and here on this festival you will get a good insight about the destillers, the types and of course also about the tastes. Make your way there.
- Mangalica Festival
Sorry, what? A Mangalica is a typical Hungarian pig race that looks rather like a sheep but the meat is phenomenal. That is also the reason why you should visit the Mangalica Festival in Budapest which is not a huge festival but you can taste all the products made from Mangalica meat.
- See how to make a real Goulash Soup
There are cooking competitions all over Hungary and it is really a blast to join one of them to see how Hungarians prepare their Goulash soup and celebrate around the entire process all day long with wine, beer and Pálinka. Of course you can taste it as well but that is the next point.
- …and eat the real Goulash soup
Goulash Soup is probably the most popular Hungarian food outside Hungary. You can find it nearly anywhere in the world, no matter if you go skiing in Austria or hiking in Germany. Goulash Soup exists nearly anywhere. But how does a real Hungarian Goulash Soup taste like? It is probably far different from what you know so find it out.
- Try yourself through all types of Pálinka
Maybe you should not drink all types of Pálinka but at least some flavors you like. Pálinka is the traditional Hungarian fruit brandy which is available in all sorts of flavors. Most popular though are plum, pear and apricot and cherry. Pálinka is also available in 3 different types, the regular one, with fruits inside or with honey to sweeten it up a bit.
- Eat a Rétes
Rétes is what you most probably know strudel. Puff pastry stuffed with all kinds of things like apple or cherries for the classics, Turo (cottage cheese) or poppy seeds for the typical Hungarian variation or even cabbage maybe rather for the Germans. There are many more variations which can also be mixed up like for example cottage cheese and cherries. Try them fresh in on of the markets.
- Eat Goose Liver
This for sure is a matter of taste, I for example do not like liver, but Hungary is know far across the borders for their (stuffed) goose liver and considered world class together with the French Foie Gras. It is also a very popular gift to bring to friends and family and everybody who has been in a Hungarian gift shop has seen the small black goose liver boxes. So if you are in a restaurant try it or take some home.
- A dinner in the Sky
Maybe you know this as it is available in many other cities and on festivals as well the so called dinner in the sky. Basically it is a massive crane that lifts up a table including chairs and people to a hight of 50m above the ground and you get served your food and drinks there. For sure something unforgetable especially with the skyline of Budapest in the background. For more information check out the website.
- Eat a Fish Soup
Very popular and typical in Hungary is the Fish Soup (Halászlé) which is based on a carp bouillon and contains pieces of carp, catfish, sturgeon and pike or perch. There are different types of Fish Soup in Hungary from different regions who are fighting for the best receipe and the original Fish Soup (yes there are festivals for that as well). You need to try it yourself and decide which one tastes best.
- Drink some Tokaj wine (If you don’t like sweet wines, try wine from Villány)
If talking about Hungarian wines Tokaj will be the wine region that pops up in most of the peoples heads. Famous for the sweet wines Tokaj region produces mainly white desert wines but also very good other white wines. If you like sweet wines after a nice dinner than I recommend you to buy a bottle or at least try it in a restaurant. If you prefer dry white wines maybe Szekszard is a region you would prefer, when it comes to red wines than you should try wines from Villány region.
- Eat a Túró Rudi
I have never heard of Túró Rudi before I came to Hungary as it is not available anywhere else in the world (yes I know there are shops offering them but they are no mass market products). Túró Rudi is a typical Hungarian chocolate bar stuffed with cottage cheese which sounds weird, tasts weird in the beginning but to be honest I quite like it by now. When you are in a supermarket or at a kiosk grab one and have a try. It is legendary.
- Eat Pick Salami
Together with Goulash Soup and Paprika I guess Salami is something that Hungary is world famous for. To be honest the typical salami you put on your bread in the morning is not that special but sausages are quite nice over here. However, you should try a salami once you are here just to know why Hungary is so famous for it. The best known brand for salami is pick so have one of these.
- Have an Unicum
Unicum is the Hungarian version of Jägermeister so a herbal liqueur that is very popular in Hungary. Trends are going rather towards Jägermeister but still Unicum is available in nearly any bar in Hungary. It is not as sweet as Jägermeister so it tastes much more like herbs.
- Visit the Tea House district
The teahouse district as I call it is an area mainly on Jókai street (parallel to the inner ring, between Nyugati train station and Oktogon) which is just overloaded by small tea houses. All of them offering hundred types of tea from all over the world in different sizes, for takeaway, together with a sandwich and so on. Simply speaking if you like tea ahve a go to one of them. I can’t recommend you a particular one I myself have been to 2 or 3 of them and they are fairly similar to each other.
- Café Gerbeaud
The Café Gerbeaud is located on Vörösmarty Tér and probably next to Café New York the most famous in Hungary especially because of their “Gerbeau Szelet”, the Gerbeau cake invented here. In my opinion a bit too sweet but many people really like it. Every Christmas season during the christams market time Café Gerbeau has a advent calendar in the windows of the first floor opening a window every night with a big ceremony.
Shopping and Hungaricums
- Get a pair of hand made “Budapester” Shoes
World famous are the Vass shoes that you can get on Vaci Utca. Since I don’t know how many years Lászlo Vass is making hand crafted, customized shoes for people around the world. If I remember right a hand made shoe here starts at around 300 Euro, the customized hand made version around 450 Euro. Please correct me if I am wrong.
- Take a walk on the Körút (Ring Road)
Mentioned already a couple of times (4 & 6 tram, teahouses etc) the Körút is an essential part of Budapest. Once it is like a belt around the city centre and of course there is a lot of activity going on concerning shops, cafés or restaurants. Have a walk if you enjoy walking and figure out some nice little spots.
- Arena Plaza
Arena Plaza for now is the biggest shopping center in Hungary and if I am not completely wrong (still) in Eastern Europe and offers all the big brands you need to shop for men or women. Also you fin cinemas, weekend programs and a lot more in Arena plaza. Basically some families spend there an entire day because you can get everything you need, from shopping in the afternoon, having a nice dinner, going to the cinema and having a drink in one of the bars at night. For information about all shops, bars etc please visit the website.
- Central Market Hall
I am not convinced that the Central Market Hallin Budapest is the best place to see traditional Hungarian market activities (rather go to Lehel Market) but it is a good place to shop fresh vegetables, fruits and meat. Have a look to see the stereotype picture of Budapest.
- Lehel Market
The Lehel Market is, compared to the Central Market Hall, a typical Hungarian market where local sell and buy. You can find here all the good things from vegetables and fruits over typical bakery to meat, Lángos, a good glass of beer and all that you need to see about Hungarian culture. It is worth a try.
So this is a bit of inspiration what to do in Budapest when you come for a visit. Pick the activities you like and put them on your to do list.