10 Things To Do in Central Budapest

Photo of Barbara Boda
9 February 2017

Central Budapest is situated mainly in District V, but some other parts of the city, like the other side of Danube on Buda, belong to the central area as well. It’s riddled with shops, banks, cultural hot-spots and entertainment, so the best place to spend a few hours or even days if you’re in Budapest. Beautiful surroundings and a sparkling social life guarantee excitement day and night.

Parliament | ©HoremWeb/Wikipedia

Parliament, Fisherman’s Bastion, Chain Bridge

If you are in Budapest’s central area, either on the Buda or Pest side, you must visit these iconic places – they are the symbol of the city and Hungary as well. The Parliament building was built in a neo-Gothic style, and its resemblance to the British parliament is not incidental, since the latter inspired the designer. Have a walk on Buda side of the Danube to be able to take a charming photo. And if you are in Buda, don’t miss the Fisherman’s Bastion – with its fairytale towers it provides a beautiful view of Pest and the Danube. The easiest way between these two features – the Parliament and the Fisherman’s Bastion – is to walk across on the Chain Bridge. Guarded by two stone lions, this bridge takes you back into the 19th century. Rumor has it that these lions don’t have tongues – you can check for yourself!

Parlament Address: Kossuth Lajos Ter 1-3 Budapest, Hungary phone +36 1 441 4000

Budapest at night | ©Cristian Bortes/Wikipedia

Sightsee on the Danube by cruise – or hop on tram number 2

A panoramic view from the slow and majestic Danube, with an optional stay on Margaret Island for a very reasonable price. Offering boats day and night, this trip can be a unique experience during your stay in Budapest. If you prefer to stay on the shore, tram number 2 runs through a scenic route right next to the Danube, stopping at various sites that are part of the UNESCO World Heritage.

Address: Dock 7 Jane Haining rakpart, Budapest phone +36 1 317 22 03

Window shopping on Váci street

Perhaps one of the most famous streets in Budapest, Váci street offers a lot to see. The area is famous for having gorgeous buildings but very pricey shops, as well as luxurious restaurants, elegant stores, antique shops, and no traffic (it is a pedestrian zone). It’s an ideal place to have a nice walk and to do some window shopping. Don’t miss the beautiful buildings like the Thonet house either.

Faust Wine Cellar

Fancy to get to know the real taste of Hungary? Under the Dominican UNESCO World Heritage Cloister there is a superb chance waiting for you. Hungary is a famous wine producing country; usually you won’t find any wines in any shops other than Hungarian varieties. It’s not surprising, then, that around 80 wines from this rich country and 30 sorts of pálinka (schnapps) are battling to quench any curious tourist’s thirst.

Address: Hess Andras ter (square) 1-3) | (inside the Hilton Budapest, at the Dominican Cloister), Budapest, Hungary

Phone +36-20-3263503

Bars, cafés and restaurant

There is really everything that can be desired – Michelin starred non-plus ultra (Onyx), paradise for meat-lovers (KNRDY), Mexican fast food (Burrita), Hungarian bistro (Kispiac), a premium bakery with French tastes (á table!), quality pasta-focused street food (PASTA.), five-star café (Alibi), bonbon manufacturer (Cadeau), world famous patisserie (Gerbeaud) and so on. Whether you’re looking for international or traditional Hungarian food, you can find anything to your taste!

Budapest Whale – the City’s Newest Attraction

Opened in 2013 after a long dispute between the municipality and the constructor, this curious and out-of-the-way building awaits great and small into its huge belly. You cannot miss noticing this enormous glass building on the Pest side of the Danube, and, referring to its shape, it soon became Bálna, meaning whale. It is a cultural, entertainment and commercial center and hosts the Budapest Gallery as well. There is an antique and design market on Sundays, individual shops (like a handmade beer pub, a vernacular store, bars and cafés) that are opened each day, Belgian beer festival and spring festival in specific times. Definitely a fun day out!

Opening hours: 10 am – 10 pm

Address: Fővám tér – 11-12, Budapest +36 30 418 5805

Central Market Hall

Map View

Built at the turn of 20th century, this was a unique, large shopping center and famous for its architecture. It preserved its function and provides a great place to do everyday shopping for fresh vegetables, fish and game, special international delicacies and traditional Hungarian food. You might find yourself walking slowly row by row and spending ages admiring the immense selection. If you would like to return home with a variety of edible souvenirs, then this is your spot: paprika powder, wines, foie gras, salamis and sausages are on display. Opening hours: Mon 6am – 5pm, Tues-Fri 6 am- 6pm, Sat 6 am-3pm Address: Vámház krt. 1-3, Budapest, Hungary Phone:

Gellért Bath

Building, Spa, Health Spa
Map View

This amazing and grandiose bath stands on the Buda side of the Danube. Built in 1918 in an Art Nouveau style, it harnesses the natural thermal springs from the inside of Gellért Hill. Indoor and outdoor swimming pools, children’s pool, thermal baths, saunas, massages and several packages ensure relaxation during the day. If this weren’t enough, the wonderful ceramic tiles, Roman style columns and glass roof flatter the visitors’ eyes. There is a café as well where you can treat your stomach with a nice cup of coffee and cakes. Open: Mon- Sun: 6 am-8pm, Address: Kelenhegyi út 4, Budapest, Hungary

Hungarian National Museum

Building, Museum
Map View
The Hungarian National Museum, Budapest.
The Hungarian National Museum offers an overview of the country’s past | © JOHN KELLERMAN / Alamy Stock Photo
This magnificent, columned giant museum proudly presents everything relating to Hungarian history from its very beginning until the Nazi regime and Soviet era. It offers marvelous frescoes on the walls, a nice courtyard area with quiet benches, well-preserved artifacts and a nice café where you can have a reasonable priced lunch. Don’t miss it if you want to know and understand Hungary a bit better. Opening Hours: 10 am to 6pm. Closed on Monday Address: Muzeum korut 14-16, Budapest, Hungary phone

Cave church

Map View
If you are longing for some solitude and a different experience than you get in most churches, this derelict cave church offers some silence in a beautiful environment. Inside of Gellért Hill, the temperature is almost constant throughout the year, which can be very refreshing on a hot day in August! There is still an active life inside, and because of the Pauline monks, regular masses are held in this serene cave. Address: Szent Gellert ter 1, Budapest, Hungary phone

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