55 Things To Do In Budapest

Discover the top attractions in Hungary's capital city.

The sites below will provide a snapshot of Budapest's past and present.

The Buda Castle (1896-1905) viewed from the Pest side. Photo: Tas Tóbiás
The Buda Castle (1896-1905) viewed from the Pest side. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#1 - Roam the streets of the Castle Hill (location): Rising majestically from the Danube's bank, Budapest's Castle Hill contains the medieval Old Town as well as the Buda Castle, the Matthias Church, and the Fisherman's Bastion. This is also your chance to take panoramic photos of the Pest side stretched out across the river. Head to Ruszwurm pastry shop if it's time to break for hot chocolate and custard cake (krémes). This step-by-step guide could help you navigate.


The Museum of Fine Arts (Szépművészeti Múzeum) has a major collection of Old Masters paintings. Photo: Tas Tóbiás
The Museum of Fine Arts (Szépművészeti Múzeum) has a major collection of Old Masters paintings. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#2 - Go to the Museum of Fine Arts (Szépművészeti): The Museum of Fine Arts often turns out to be the greatest surprise for visitors to Budapest. The giant building flanking Heroes' Square holds a world-class collection of old masters paintings. Think Lucas Cranach the Elder, Albrecht Dürer, Raphael, Giorgione, Correggio, Titian, Bronzino, Tintoretto, El Greco, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony van Dyck, Frans Hals, Jan Steen, Diego Velázquez, Francisco Goya, and many others.

How did all this come together in our neck of the woods? Most paintings had belonged to the Esterházy family, one of the wealthiest in Austria-Hungary, before the financially strapped Prince Miklós Esterházy sold them to the state in 1871 (here, my favorites). Excellent temporary shows, too.


The Hungarian Parliament building (1885-1904) viewed from the Buda side. Its resemblance to the Palace of Westminster is not a coincidence. Photo: Tas Tóbiás
The Hungarian Parliament building (1885-1904) viewed from the Buda side. Its resemblance to the Palace of Westminster is not a coincidence. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#3 - Visit the Hungarian Parliament & Liberty Square (location): Built during Budapest’s golden era when the city was a capital of Austria-Hungary, this monumental Gothic Revival building dominates its Danube bank. The 45-minute guided tour is just the right amount of time to appreciate the lavish interior without getting tired and lost in one of its 691 rooms. After the tour, you could pay respect to the Budapest victims of the Holocaust at the poignant Shoes Memorial steps away on the riverbank. Nearby Liberty Square is also worth a glimpse for its gorgeous buildings and strange amalgam of statues.


Budapest's Andrássy Avenue seen from above. Photo: terezvaros.hu
Budapest's Andrássy Avenue seen from above. Photo: terezvaros.hu

#4 - Stroll down Andrássy Avenue (location): Named after Gyula Andrássy, the seminal foreign minister of Austria-Hungary of whom Queen Sisi was very fond, this 2.3 km (1.4 mile) grand boulevard connects the city center with Heroes' Square and the City Park. Starting in downtown, you'll pass fancy retail stores, then end up among handsome villas, many of them embassies now, taking in the heart of the city along the way, including the impressive Opera House. As you saunter along, peep into the side streets too, all of them the result of the great 19th-century buildup of Budapest.


Gellért Baths is known for its ornate interior decorations inspired by the Art Nouveau and produced by the Pécs-based ceramics manufacturer, Zsolnay. Photo: Tas Tóbiás
Gellért Baths is known for its ornate interior decorations inspired by the Art Nouveau and produced by the Pécs-based ceramics manufacturer, Zsolnay. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#5 - Go to a thermal bath: Budapest's bathing culture harks back to the Romans, who first enjoyed soaking in the mineral-rich hot water here. Today, you can visit medieval hammams built during Budapest's occupation by Ottoman Turkey or ornate baths dating back to Austria-Hungary. My thermal bath guide could help you choose one that suits you best.

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The Neoclassical building (1838-1848) of the Hungarian National Museum and its inviting museum garden are located in Budapest's Palace Quarter, the inner part of District 8. Photo: Tas Tóbiás
The Neoclassical building (1838-1848) of the Hungarian National Museum and its inviting museum garden are located in Budapest's Palace Quarter, the inner part of District 8. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#6 - Visit the National Museum (location): Founded in 1802, the country’s oldest and most famous museum contains a spectacular collection. The ground floor sheds light on the people and the cultures that inhabited the Carpathian Basin – Celtic, Roman, German, Hun, Avar, Slavic, Hungarian, and many others. The upper floor, across 20 halls, traces the history of Hungary from its tribal beginnings through the Habsburg period to the 1989 fall of Communism.

Even if you don't feel like spending a whole day here, the astonishingly rich collection – with short and informative wall texts – is worth at least a glimpse (child-friendly, too). A special exhibition on the ground floor displays the Seuso Treasure, fourteen silver vessels from the late-Roman era that were unearthed in Hungary. Afterward, you could wind down with an Esterházy cake at Geraldine pastry shop in the museum-garden.


A painting from 1910 by Károly Kernstok at the National Gallery in Budapest. Kernstok was a member of the Nyolcak, a post-impressionist art group in Hungary inspired by Fauvism, Cubism, and Expressionism. Photo: Tas Tóbiás
A painting from 1910 by Károly Kernstok at the National Gallery in Budapest. Kernstok was a member of the Nyolcak, a post-impressionist art group in Hungary inspired by Fauvism, Cubism, and Expressionism. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#7 - Go to the National Gallery (location): Located inside the Buda Castle, the National Gallery contains paintings and sculptures by Hungary's leading artists. I'd draw your attention to the 15th-century Gothic triptychs; the Neoclassical sculptures of István Ferenczy known as the "Hungarian Canova;" the paintings of Gyula Benczúr made in the Hans Makart mould; Károly Ferenczy's post-impressionism; the works by Nyolcak, the art group inspired by Fauvism and Expressionism; the nervous, uneasy joy on Vilmos Aba-Novák's canvases; the haunting sculptures of Tibor Vilt. And so much more!


Located in the heart of downtown, the Saint Stephen's Basilica is Budapest's biggest church. The building's dome provides panoramic 360-degree views. Photo: Tas Tóbiás
Located in the heart of downtown, the Saint Stephen's Basilica is Budapest's biggest church. The building's dome provides panoramic 360-degree views. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#8 - Take in the bird’s-eye view of Budapest from the St. Stephen’s Basilica (location): Named after Hungary's first king, the canonized Stephen, Budapest's biggest church is one of the great examples of Renaissance Revival architecture in 19th-century Europe. Sculptures of Hungary's saints decorate the central plan of the inside – Stephen, Emeric, Gerard, Ladislaus, Elizabeth, and Margaret – and there's a wonderful painting by Gyula Benczúr showing the moment when Stephen offers the Holy Crown of Hungary to the Virgin. Via elevator or stairs, you can visit the dome, with completely open vistas of Budapest. There's a small admission fee to both the church and the dome.

The Robert Capa Photography Center in Budapest has a major permanent exhibition of Capa's works. Photo: Tas Tóbiás
The Robert Capa Photography Center in Budapest has a major permanent exhibition of Capa's works. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#9 - Go to a smaller museum: There are many smaller, thematic museums in Budapest, for example the recently opened permanent exhibition on Robert Capa, the famous war photographer. Or an architecture show inside a stunning modernist house, the Walter Rózsi-villa, or the one about Zwack Unicum, the iconic herbal liqueur, which, yes, does include a taste. Is it stamps that get you going? No problem.


The eye-catching building of the Museum of Ethnography, complete with a roof garden, is located inside Budapest's City Park. Photo: Tas Tóbiás
The eye-catching building of the Museum of Ethnography, complete with a roof garden, is located inside Budapest's City Park. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#10 - Wander through the City Park (location): With the completion of several striking museum buildings, Budapest's City Park has reinvented itself in recent years. Take in the eye-catching architecture of the Museum of Ethnography, the House of Music, the Millennium háza, the Vajdahunyad Castle, and the Széchenyi Baths as you roam the park. For those with children: the country's top playground is also here. You could walk to the City Park from downtown via Andrássy Avenue and return with the museum-worthy M1 Millennium Underground (see below).

The House of Music (2019-2021) in Budapest's City Park was designed by the Japanese star architect, Sou Fujimoto. Photo: Tas Tóbiás
The House of Music (2019-2021) in Budapest's City Park was designed by the Japanese star architect, Sou Fujimoto. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#11 - Go to the House of Music (location): Budapest's newest museum explores the development of music from its tribal beginnings to the present day. The high-tech exhibition halls provide many samples and take visitors to detours about Hungary's great composers, such as Franz Liszt, Béla Bartók, and Zoltán Kodály. The museum, with an excellent concert calendar, is located inside an astonishing building designed by the Japanese starchitect, Sou Fujimoto.


The Millennium Underground opened in 1896 as the first subway line of continental Europe, connecting Budapest's city center with the City Park. Photo: Tas Tóbiás
The Millennium Underground opened in 1896 as the first subway line of continental Europe, connecting Budapest's city center with the City Park. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#12 - Take a ride on Europe's oldest subway line (location): Budapest's M1 line was completed just in time for the opening of the Hungarian Millennial Exhibition in 1896, an event similar to a World's Fair. The adorably undersized cars, at least by today's standards, connect the city center with the City Park and Heroes's Square (locals refer to it as the "kisföldalatti," meaning small underground). The stations are located conveniently close to the ground level and the train runs below Andrássy Avenue, so you can hop on for a few stops for the experience (tickets are sold at the machines). Just be sure to watch your head.


A local river cruise in Budapest approaches Margaret Island. Photo: Tas Tóbiás
A local river cruise in Budapest approaches Margaret Island. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#13 - Take a river cruise on the Danube (location): It's one of the best ways to appreciate Budapest's beauty to the fullest. As part of a cruise ride, which takes about an hour, the Chain Bridge, the Buda Castle, the Hungarian Parliament building, and Margaret Island all appear within arm's reach. There are many cruise operators to choose from; my experience is that Legenda offers a comfortable journey (and audio guides in 30 languages).


A concert at the Liszt Academy in Budapest. Photo: Tas Tóbiás
A concert at the Liszt Academy in Budapest. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#14 - Go to a classical music or jazz concert: Every year, many tourists head to Budapest specifically for its rich classical music scene, which is far from stuffy or old-fashioned. You could start by perusing the calendars of the Liszt Academy and Müpa Budapest. Iván Fischer's Budapest Festival Orchestra is another option. The Budapest Music Center hosts excellent jazz concert almost every evening. If experimental contemporary art is what you're after, head to Trafó.


Viewed from the Liberty Bridge, Gellért Hill rises from the center of Budapest. The steep hiking trail is lined with panormaic lookout points. Photo: Tas Tóbiás
Viewed from the Liberty Bridge, Gellért Hill rises from the center of Budapest. The steep hiking trail is lined with panormaic lookout points. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#15 - Climb up to the Liberty Statue (location): Budapest is one of the few capitals in the world with a panoramic hiking trail right within its city center! The reward of the twenty-minute cardio exercise that's required to mount the dramatically soaring Gellért Hill is the sweeping 360-degree views. Up top, the Liberty Statue was erected in 1947 to honor the Soviet troops that liberated Budapest from the Nazis. The torso beside it is what remained of the fortress from which Habsburg troops monitored their perennially recalcitrant Hungarian subjects after the Revolution of 1848-1849. For the best experience, take the quieter path setting off opposite the Gellért Baths. (I know people who bring along a chilled bottle of Tokaj for the hike and I don't blame them.)


The exhibition of the House of Terror focuses on the 1950s, the most repressive years of the Communist regime in Hungary. Photo: Tas Tóbiás
The exhibition of the House of Terror focuses on the 1950s, the most repressive years of the Communist regime in Hungary. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#16 - Learn about the Communist-era at the House of Terror (location): Hungary is still suffering the legacy of the four-decades-long Communist regime that reigned until 1989. This museum, inside the building that once headquartered the Communist secret police, is a must-see for anyone interested in exploring Hungary’s past and understanding its present.


The one-bedroom apartment is located between the lively old Jewish Quarter and the city center with panoramic fifth-floor views. Photo: Tas Tóbiás
The one-bedroom apartment is located between the lively old Jewish Quarter and the city center with panoramic fifth-floor views. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#17 - Stay in a panoramic one-bedroom apartment in the heart of Budapest

Consider staying at this cozy one-bedroom during your Budapest trip. The fifth-floor apartment is located in the heart of town, just steps from the lively Jewish Quarter. The balcony overlooks the Dohány Street Synagogue as seen above. I only accept advertisements from tried-and-tested sources and this Airbnb rental is one of them.


The rear facade of the Kazinczy Street Synagogue. Photo: Tas Tóbiás
The rear facade of the Kazinczy Street Synagogue. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#18 - Walk the “synagogue triangle” in the old Jewish Quarter (location): Before Hungary’s alliance with Nazi Germany and participation in the Holocaust, the country was home to a thriving community of almost one million Jewish people. In Budapest, where nearly a quarter of the population was Jewish, Jews had been central to the development of the economy, the arts, and many academic fields. Inside the city's old Jewish Quarter, you can visit three dazzling synagogues near one another – Dohány, Rumbach, Kazinczy – including Europe’s biggest in Dohány Street.


A Budapest street named after Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who saved the lives of thousands of Jewish people in 1944. Photo: Tas Tóbiás
A Budapest street named after Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who saved the lives of thousands of Jewish people in 1944. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#19 - Pay Tribute to Budapest's Holocaust Memorials (location): As mentioned above, Jewish people contributed immensely to Budapest transforming into a successful metropolis by 1900. Unlike in Vienna, antisemitism was rooted out by Hungary's political leadership until WWI. Not so in the period that followed: with active support from locals, nearly all Jewish people from the Hungarian countryside were deported to and killed in Auschwitz in 1944. Budapest fared better, but members of the Arrow Cross movement murdered thousands. Here, the main memorials.

The inside of Budapest's Great Market Hall. Photo: Tas Tóbiás
The inside of Budapest's Great Market Hall. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#20 - Explore the Great Market Hall (location): Opened in 1897, this enormous brick-and-steel indoor market is usually teeming with tourists, but plenty of locals, too, come here for fresh fruits, vegetables, and paprika-laced sausages. Upstairs, amid vendors of knick-knacks and tchotchkes, you'll find food stalls that serve lángos, a popular flatbread topped with sour cream and cheese.


#21 - Eat your way through the city with the Foodapest card: I've logged some essential foods and drinks that Budapest locals rely on to get through their days. Note: this isn’t a list of strictly traditional Hungarian fare; rather, it’s an honest cross-section of what many Budapest residents actually eat and drink. You could read this brief explainer to each of the featured items, or simply print the card and go at it.


Named after a prominent aristocratic family in Hungary, the Esterházy torte is popular across Central Europe. Photo: Tas Tóbiás
Named after a prominent aristocratic family in Hungary, the Esterházy torte is popular across Central Europe. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#22 - Go to a pastry shop: Budapest has enjoyed a vibrant pastry culture since the days of Austria-Hungary. After all, who doesn't like to socialize over a luscious Dobos or Esterházy torte and hot chocolate? Many pastry shops (cukrászda) scatter across the city. Before a visit, you could familiarize yourself with the most popular cakes in Hungary.


Drop Shop wine bar in Budapest. Photo: Tas Tóbiás
Drop Shop wine bar in Budapest. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#23 - Try Hungarian wine: Unlike beer, wine has been essential all throughout Hungary's history, with Tokaj being the most renowned wine region. Native grapes include furmint and hárslevelű (white) and kékfrankos (Blaufränkisch), which you can try at most Budapest restaurants and wine bars. If you're new to Hungarian wines, you could read my introduction.


Founded in 1978, Vass Shoes in Budapest is a pilgrimage site for shoe-fanatics from around the world, Photo: Tas Tóbiás
Founded in 1978, Vass Shoes in Budapest is a pilgrimage site for shoe-fanatics from around the world, Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#24 - Go shopping: Budapest's shopping options span antiques, contemporary designer clothing, high-end porcelain, vinyl records, handmade shoes, craft chocolate, Tokaj wines, and many more. See if the city's top retail stores offer something of interest to you.


The Postal Savings Bank building (1900-1901) shows off Ödön Lechner's unique brand of Hungarian Art Nouveau. Photo: Tas Tóbiás
The Postal Savings Bank building (1900-1901) shows off Ödön Lechner's unique brand of Hungarian Art Nouveau. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#25 - Take in the city's architecture: Budapest offers plenty of eye candy for architecture fans. The consistent Revival style from the turn of the 20th century still dominates the cityscape, but also interesting are the Neoclassical residential houses from the early 19th century (mainly along Nádor utca) and the buildings of Ödön Lechner, who pioneered Hungary's distinct style of Art Nouveau. Here, my 100 favorite buildings in Budapest. (You could also find out what caught the eye of a Pritzker juror during a recent visit to Budapest.)


Bubi, Budapest's public bicycle sharing system, is cheap and provides an excellent coverage of all downtown neighborhoods. Photo: Tas Tóbiás
Bubi, Budapest's public bicycle sharing system, is cheap and provides an excellent coverage of all downtown neighborhoods. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#26 - Use MOL Bubi, Budapest’s city bike system: With densely built streets and a flat surface, the Pest side lends itself to be discovered on two wheels. Bubi (App Store; Google Play) provides an excellent coverage of all downtown neighborhoods, featuring more than 1,800 bikes and 200 docking stations. You can pedal away at wallet-friendly rates – a 30-minute ride amounts to the Hungarian forint equivalent of €3. Just keep your wits about you and be respectful of others sharing the road. (More tips about getting around Budapest.)

Photo: gyermekvasut.hu
Photo: gyermekvasut.hu

#27 - Take the Children's Railway and the Libegő chairlift (location): Since 1948, Budapest has had an official rail line operated by children with adult supervision. The small train lumbers through beautiful nature with panoramic vistas over Budapest. You could get off at Jánoshegy and take the Libegő chairlift down from the hillside, also with striking views. The Children's Railway departs from Hűvösvölgy, reachable in half an hour from the city center by public transport. Naturally, both of these activities are ideal for families with small children.


The pergola-lined Várkert Bazár (1875-1883) provides spectacular open vistas from the Danube's bank. Photo: Tas Tóbiás
The pergola-lined Várkert Bazár (1875-1883) provides spectacular open vistas from the Danube's bank. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#28 - Amble through Várkert Bazár (location): These polished pavilions lie between the Castle Hill and the Danube's bank. In the past, the area was home to everything from retail stores to artists' studios and open-air concerts; today, you're here for the panoramic views, the expansive lawn, the restful cafes, and the temporary exhibitions both inside (YBL6 Művészeti Tér) and out. There's direct access to the Royal Castle, so you can combine this with #1 above.

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The 4th floor of the Szabó Ervin Library, which was formerly the Wenckheim Palace, has retained its aristocratic splendor. Photo: Tas Tóbiás
The 4th floor of the Szabó Ervin Library, which was formerly the Wenckheim Palace, has retained its aristocratic splendor. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#29 - Discover the Palace Quarter (location): Budapest's Palace Quarter, the inner part of District 8, was once the most desirable and the playground of the Hungarian aristocracy. Residential palazzos of families such as the Festetics, the Esterházy, and the Károlyi cradle the giant Neoclassical building of the National Museum (1837-1847) and its sculpture-filled, pristine garden.

Communism’s gray pallor is still notable, but the area is springing back to life thanks to hip cafes (Lumen), student bars (Fecske), craft beer bars (Mixát), smashed-burger joints (Smashy), pastry shops (Geraldine, in the museum garden), and second-hand clothing stores (Typo Showroom).


Opened in 2004 in Budapest's District 7, Szimpla Kert is considered to be the mother of all ruin bars. Photo: Tas Tóbiás
Opened in 2004 in Budapest's District 7, Szimpla Kert is considered to be the mother of all ruin bars. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#30 - Grab a drink at a ruin bar (location): Budapest’s ruin bars appeared in the early 2000s when a few creatively minded locals opened unpretentious drinking joints inside the neglected buildings of the old Jewish Quarter that barely escaped the bulldozers. Cheap drinks and a hodgepodge of flea-market furniture became their defining features. Although Szimpla Kert, the city’s first ruin bar, has become a major tourist attraction, it has retained some of its native spirit and is worth a visit.


The unbridled neo-Baroque interior of Budapest's New York Cafe. Photo: Tas Tóbiás
The unbridled neo-Baroque interior of Budapest's New York Cafe. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#31 - Travel back in time at a coffeehouse: Similar to Vienna, Budapest enjoyed a thriving coffeehouse culture in the late 19th century. The city's fast-growing population, especially artists and journalists, spent endless hours working and socializing under the sky-high ceilings. Though popular tourist attractions today, the few coffeehouses that remain offer a journey back in time in addition to coffee and cakes.

Photo: Tas Tóbiás
Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#32 - Experience the contemporary side of Budapest: Sure, you don't need to come all the way to Budapest to try specialty coffee, craft beers, or bespoke cocktails, but if you're already here, you could see how the local artisanal scene stacks up against those in other cities you've visited. Budapest's specialty coffee culture and new-wave pizza shops are especially vibrant.


A modernist building in Újlipótváros, Dunapark apartments, built in the 1930s. Photo: Tas Tóbiás
A modernist building in Újlipótváros, Dunapark apartments, built in the 1930s. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#33 - Visit Újlipótváros, a lively residential area set along the Danube (location): With a unique architecture and well-heeled residents, Újlipótváros is a little city within the city that flies under the radar of most tourists. Specialty cafés, bookstores, art galleries, and impressive modernist buildings from the 1930s and 1940s line Pozsonyi út, the artery of the neighborhood.


A view of the Lehel Market, located in Budapest's District 13, on a Saturday morning. Photo: Tas Tóbiás
A view of the Lehel Market, located in Budapest's District 13, on a Saturday morning. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#34 - Visit the Lehel Market (location): Inside a quirky postmodern building lies one of Budapest's busiest markets. You'll find here everything from Hungarian cold cuts to fresh and pickled vegetables and homemade jams. Also low-priced drinking joints where you can accompany local regulars for a beer and a shot of Unicum, the local herbal liqueur. Compared with the Great Market Hall, Lehel draws fewer tourists. For the best experience, go on a Saturday morning and combine it with a visit to Újlipótváros (see above).


Kelet Kávézó was a pioneer behind the nascent rebirth of Budapest's District 11. Photo: Tas Tóbiás
Kelet Kávézó was a pioneer behind the nascent rebirth of Budapest's District 11. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#35 - Discover the Bartók Béla Boulevard (location): In general, the Pest side is where most of the action is, but Bartók Béla Boulevard in Buda is a revitalized area teeming with cafés, bars, and art galleries. Local residents are an eclectic mix: fashionable Millennials, engineering students from the nearby university, and old-timers. A dip at Gellért Baths followed by delicious morning pastries at Pékműhely, coffee at Kelet, paintings at Godot, and drinks at Borpatika would be my kind of day.

Krisztina Kovács, the curator of Budapest's Várfok Gallery, describes a painting. Photo: Tas Tóbiás
Krisztina Kovács, the curator of Budapest's Várfok Gallery, describes a painting. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#36 - Go to an art gallery: After more than four decades of Communist-era censorship, Budapest's art world is slowly coming back to life. At the city's leading contemporary art galleries you can sample anything from early modernism to 1960s conceptual art to works of the younger generations. Most artworks command high prices but the shows are free and open to the public.


The mausoleum (1913-1909) of Lajos Kossuth at the Fiuemi Road Cemetery in Budapest. Photo: Tas Tóbiás
The mausoleum (1913-1909) of Lajos Kossuth at the Fiuemi Road Cemetery in Budapest. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#37 - Explore the Fiumei Road Cemetery (location): This vast 56 hectare (140 acre) park near the city center hides a beautiful garden cemetery. Stroll through the limestone mausoleums and impressively designed tombstones while getting to know Hungary’s prominent statesmen (Lajos Kossuth, Lajos Batthyány, Ferenc Deák), artists (Mihály Munkácsy, Ödön Lechner, Tivadar Csontváry Kosztka) and others, for example the Gerbeaud family behind famous downtown pastry shop. Also here: heroes from the Communist period.

In the back but accessed from outside is the Salgótarjáni Street Jewish Cemetery, with the funerary monuments of the Jewish upper class, including such well-known industrialist families as the Weiss von Csepel, the Hatvany-Deutsch, and the Buday-Goldberger.


Budapest's Falk Miksa utca is lined with more than 30 antique stores. Photo: Tas Tóbiás
Budapest's Falk Miksa utca is lined with more than 30 antique stores. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#38 - Visit Budapest's antique row (location): Named after the journalist who tutored Queen Sisi in Hungarian language, downtown’s Falk Miksa Street is known for two things. One, it’s lined with grand apartment buildings from the Austro-Hungarian period, many with elaborate entrance portals and vestibules. Two, it’s also lined with antique stores, more than 30 in total. Most are relatively upscale establishments, selling paintings, silver and porcelain dishware, and furniture, but those in search of tchotchkes and knick-knacks can also satiate themselves. Closed on Sunday!


Margaret Island shown from a birds-eye view. Photo: Danubius Hotels
Margaret Island shown from a birds-eye view. Photo: Danubius Hotels

#39 - Walk or bike around Margaret Island (location): This car-free, leafy island perched in the middle of the Danube River is a true paradise – no wonder the Habsburg family kept it close to its chest before finally selling it to the city in 1908. Bike around the island's manicured lawns; observe the remains of the medieval monastery where lived Saint Margaret (1242-1270), daughter of King Béla IV; see how many busts of Hungary's greats you can recognize along the Artists' Promenade; or join packs of locals on the running track ringing the island.


Every year, between May and August, Budapest's Chinatown (Monori Center) hosts a vast outdoor food market. The regular restaurants, also here and sixteen in total, are open year-round. Photo: Tas Tóbiás
Every year, between May and August, Budapest's Chinatown (Monori Center) hosts a vast outdoor food market. The regular restaurants, also here and sixteen in total, are open year-round. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#40 - Eat in Budapest's Chinatown (location): With more than 30,000 people, Budapest's Chinese community is the biggest in Central Europe. This means that excellent Chinese food abounds, be it Sichuan fare, seafood, noodle soups, or Chinese hotpot. Examples include the affordable Hehe and the more upscale Spicy Fish. Every evening from May to August, there's an outdoor food market. Budapest's Chinatown (Monori Center) is located a bit outside the city center, reachable in twenty minutes by public transport.


A dish at Babel restaurant in Budapest's downtown. Photo: Tas Tóbiás
A dish at Babel restaurant in Budapest's downtown. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#41 - Go to a Michelin-starred restaurant: While a Michelin meal always runs the risk of being a bit over-the-top, Budapest's Michelin-starred restaurants could be worth a visit: most of them showcase a unique blend of traditional Hungarian fare through the lens of contemporary fine dining trends. Excellent local wines to pair.


The Inner City Parish Church (Belvárosi plébániatemplom) contains Roman, Romanesque, Gothic, Ottoman, Renaissance, Baroque, Neoclassical, Revival-style, and modern elements. Photo: Tas Tóbiás
The Inner City Parish Church (Belvárosi plébániatemplom) contains Roman, Romanesque, Gothic, Ottoman, Renaissance, Baroque, Neoclassical, Revival-style, and modern elements. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#42 - Visit the Inner City Parish Church (location): Even if you aren’t religious, I recommend you visit this wonderful Budapest church, a true palimpsest of history with Roman, Romanesque, Gothic, Ottoman, Renaissance, Baroque, Neoclassical, Revival-style, and modern elements. There’s nothing like it in Budapest. The church’s continued existence is a small miracle – given its close proximity to Elisabeth Bridge and the car-forward urban planning of the 20th century, the idea of razing or moving it periodically resurfaced.

The Chain Bridge, recently car-free and bicycle-friendly, was the first permanent connection between Buda and Pest. Photo: Tas Tóbiás
The Chain Bridge, recently car-free and bicycle-friendly, was the first permanent connection between Buda and Pest. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#43 - Walk across the Chain Bridge (location): The first permanent connection between Pest and Buda, the Chain Bridge dates back to the first half of the 19th century when the ancient world inspired architecture, hence those stone pillars resembling a Roman triumphal arch. During the 1945 siege of Budapest, both the advancing Soviet and the retreating German armies tried to blow up the bridge (the Germans succeeded in this). Recently car-free and bicycle-friendly – and no longer with a toll, as was the case until 1918 – there's never been a better time to walk across the Chain Bridge!


Budapest's Fővám tér subway station (2014) features muscular concrete beams. Photo: Tas Tóbiás
Budapest's Fővám tér subway station (2014) features muscular concrete beams. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#44 - Check out the award-winning M4 subway stations: A crisscross system of exposed concrete beams, playful lighting solutions, and customized designs lend a distinctly 21st century feel to the platforms of Budapest's recently completed M4 subway line. The Fővám Square and Szent Gellért Square stations won the prestigious Architizer A+ Award in 2014.


The elephant house at the Budapest Zoo. Photo: Tas Tóbiás
The elephant house at the Budapest Zoo. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#45 - Visit the Budapest Zoo (location): Not far from Budapest's city center lies one of the oldest zoos in Europe, dating back to 1866. With elaborate Art Nouveau buildings housing the animals, a visit doubles as a tour of architecture. Although open year-round, some of the animals might be hibernating in the winter months away from the public eye. Economically, the thermal water of the neighboring Széchenyi baths provides much of the zoo's heating.


The shelves at a Budapest supermarket. Photo: Tas Tóbiás
The shelves at a Budapest supermarket. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#46 - Visit a local supermarket: A good way to gauge the "true" side of a city? Visit a grocery store! It's there that you'll glimpse a broad cross-section of Hungarian people and what they like to – and can afford to – eat and drink.


The octagonal tomb of Gül Baba, a muslim monk, was erected in the 16th century when Buda-Pest was occupied by Ottoman Turkey. Photo: Tas Tóbiás
The octagonal tomb of Gül Baba, a muslim monk, was erected in the 16th century when Buda-Pest was occupied by Ottoman Turkey. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#47 - Climb up to the scenic tomb of Gül Baba (location): Gül Baba, "father of the roses," was a muslim monk who died in 1541, when Ottoman Turkey occupied Buda-Pest. His impressive octagonal tomb (türbe) hides on a peaceful hillside right near the city center with sweeping views. For the best experience, climb up on Mecset utca through the rose garden, and leave the area on the other side down the winding Gül Baba utca.


The A38 ship viewed from the Pest side. Photo: Tas Tóbiás
The A38 ship viewed from the Pest side. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#48 - Go to a concert on the A38 ship docked in the Danube (location): The ship was a Ukrainian stone carrier lumbering on the Danube before it was converted into the city's go-to concert venue, hosting well-known international and local bands almost every night of the week.


My interview with Professor Barry Bergdoll at the InterContinental Budapest, with the Castle Hill in the background. Photo: Regina Papp for Offbeat
My interview with Professor Barry Bergdoll at the InterContinental Budapest, with the Castle Hill in the background. Photo: Regina Papp for Offbeat

#49 - Prepare for your Budapest trip with my interviews: Find out how others view Budapest – whether it's an art historian from Columbia University; a local star professor; a New York Times journalist; an expert of Austria-Hungary; or a culinary ethnographer specializing in Hungarian food. Here, the full list of people.


The main square of Szentendre (Fő tér). Photo: Tas Tóbiás
The main square of Szentendre (Fő tér). Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#50 - Take a day trip to Szentendre (location): Szentendre is a small, picturesque town about 45-minutes from Budapest by public transport and best known for its Mediterranean atmosphere, history of Serbian residents, and vibrant museum scene. It can make for a relaxing, culture-filled day trip. My Szentendre guide could help you get around.


A view from the hilltop of Esztergom. The area across the monolithic gray of the Danube is already part of Slovakia. Photo: Tas Tóbiás
A view from the hilltop of Esztergom. The area across the monolithic gray of the Danube is already part of Slovakia. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#51 - Take a day trip to Esztergom (location): From Budapest’s Nyugati Train Station it takes exactly one hour to reach Esztergom, a Danubian city by the Slovakian border known for its enormous Basilica and as the seat of the Catholic Church in Hungary. Given this clerical patronage, Esztergom’s architecture and culture are far more impressive than for cities of comparable size (a chapel commissioned by Archbishop Tamás Bakócz counts among the great works of the European Renaissance). In recent years, several new cafes, restaurants, and hotels opened, making Esztergom an attractive day-trip destination.


Pécs's main square, Széchenyi, is anchored by the 16th-century Mosque of Pasha Qasim. The building was later converted to a Roman Catholic church and still functions as such. Photo: Tas Tóbiás
Pécs's main square, Széchenyi, is anchored by the 16th-century Mosque of Pasha Qasim. The building was later converted to a Roman Catholic church and still functions as such. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#52 - Take a weekend trip to Pécs (location): The city of Marcel Breuer, of excellent museums, of rich Roman and Ottoman remains, Pécs is the most cultural city in Hungary beside Budapest, reachable within two hours by car. It's also a dynamic university town with a growing restaurant landscape. Here, find out how to spend an event-packed weekend in Pécs.


The Festetics family's 101-room Baroque Revival estate in Keszthely was one of the largest palaces in Hungary. The building functions as a museum today. Photo: Tas Tóbiás
The Festetics family's 101-room Baroque Revival estate in Keszthely was one of the largest palaces in Hungary. The building functions as a museum today. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#53 - Take a weekend trip to Lake Balaton (location): During the warmer months, locals like to wind down by Balaton, Central Europe's biggest lake located in Western Hungary. There are countless villages and vacation resorts to visit; my favorite is Keszthely, historically the cultural capital of Balaton. Although less fashionable and a bit farther than some other parts, the rich legacy of the Festetics family makes Keszthely a worthy weekend destination. My guide could help you discover it.


Bottles of aszú lining the cellar of Disznókő winery in Tokaj. Photo: Barna Szász for Offbeat
Bottles of aszú lining the cellar of Disznókő winery in Tokaj. Photo: Barna Szász for Offbeat

#54 - Take a weekend trip to the Tokaj wine region (location): "The wine of kings, the king of wines," said famously Louis XIV of France, referring to Tokaj, the world's oldest designated wine region, located two-and-a-half hours from Budapest by car. If you're into wines and curious about a beautiful and culturally layered (and rather poor) part of the Hungarian countryside, you should consider a Tokaj trip. My guide could get you started, and I also have recommendations for wineries, hotels, restaurants, and non-wine-related activities.


The 19th-century extension of the Imperial Palace. Vienna’s city center is still defined by 600-plus years of Habsburg legacy. Photo: Tas Tóbiás
The 19th-century extension of the Imperial Palace. Vienna’s city center is still defined by 600-plus years of Habsburg legacy. Photo: Tas Tóbiás

#55 - Prep for your Vienna trip: The twin capitals of Austria-Hungary, Vienna and Budapest, still share many similarities when it comes to food, architecture, and culture (notable differences also exist, starting with language). If your next destination is Vienna, where I live part-time, you could try exploring the city using my recommendations.

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