The 10 Best Experiences in Budapest

The Neo-Baroque Széchenyi Thermal Baths date back to 1913
The Neo-Baroque Széchenyi Thermal Baths date back to 1913 | © John Kellerman / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Fabrizio Mifsud
3 October 2019

If you’re looking to discover another side to the Hungarian capital, uncover experiences that offer a unique take on Budapest’s culture and sightseeing highlights.

Booking a tour, class or tasting can be a stress-free way to get the most out of your trip to Budapest. From discovering culinary traditions and unwinding at the Széchenyi Thermal Baths to paddleboarding along the Danube, there is an experience in Budapest to suit every interest.

Classes and workshops in Budapest

Budapest ‘fungarian’ language and cultural orientation tour

Shop, Historical Landmark
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Learn key shopping phrases on the ‘fungarian’ tour | © GetYourGuide

Get the lay of the land in Budapest with an orientation tour of the city. This private tour combines sightseeing, cultural insight and the chance to learn some basic Hungarian phrases. Whether your passion is architecture or fashion, your expert local guide will customise your experience (and the phrases you learn) to your interests. For example, you might pick up some key shopping phrases when wandering down the majestic Andrássy Avenue, flush with Neo-Renaissance mansions and high-end boutiques.

Hungarian cooking class and market hall tour

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Shop for ingredients at the Central Market Hall, and then take a cooking class | © GetYourGuide

After finding your footing in the city, discover all there is to know about Hungarian gastronomy by taking a cooking class and market hall tour. Following an hour-long guided tour of Budapest’s Central Market Hall, where an expert talks you through a range of ingredients and spices (including the near-ubiquitous paprika), you will have the chance to put all you have learned into practice. Under the guidance of a professional chef at the Chefparade Cooking School, you will prepare a three-course meal and leave the class ready to recreate it at home.

Art and culture experiences in Budapest

Hungarian folk performance

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The Danube Palace regularly hosts performances by folk dance ensembles | © GetYourGuide

Hungary has a rich tradition of folk dancing, complete with a college dedicated to the study of this distinctive art form. You can discover these historical dances and indulge your visual and aural senses with a performance at the Danube Palace (Duna Palota) theatre where Béla Bartók, Zoltán Kodály and Antonín Dvořák once performed. Here, you can watch a dynamic one-and-a-half-hour show by one of Hungary’s foremost folk-dance groups – either the Danube, Hungarian State or Rajkó ensembles. The centuries-old music and dances are seamlessly choreographed together and coupled with vibrant traditional costumes.

Organ concert in St Stephen’s Basilica

Church, Concert Hall
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St Stephen’s Basilica can house more than 8,500 people
St Stephen’s Basilica can house more than 8,500 people | © GetYourGuide

What better way to experience one of Budapest’s most historic buildings than by attending a live concert within its walls? Listen to a 70-minute organ recital in the majestic Neoclassical St Stephen’s Basilica, featuring pieces by Mozart, Bach, Verdi and Hungary’s very own Liszt Ferenc. Organist Miklós Teleki is accompanied by internationally renowned flautist Eleonóra Krusic as well as by Kolos Kováts, a Liszt Ferenc Prize winner who performs the programme’s arias.

Sports tours and spa days in Budapest

Stand-up paddleboarding tour

Sports Center
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If you love the outdoors and want a break from the busy streets of Budapest, consider taking to the water on a stand-up paddleboarding tour along the Danube. Timed to coincide with the sunset, this journey from Lupa Island southwards to Római Part offers a fresh perspective on Budapest and the sights and sounds of its surrounding nature. If the heat gets to be too much in the height of summer, rest assured that swimming breaks and friendly splashes are frequent.

Széchenyi Thermal Baths full-day entrance pass

Spa, Swimming Pool, Health Spa
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You cannot visit Budapest without checking out a thermal spa. Built in 1913 in the Neo-Baroque style, the Széchenyi Thermal Baths is one of the largest thermal bath complexes in Europe. Following an expansion in 1927, the spa today comprises three outdoor and 15 indoor pools. By booking your full-day skip-the-line ticket online, you can avoid queuing at the entrance and use a separate welcome desk. If you forget to pack swimwear, no fear – towels and swimsuits are available to buy or rent at the baths.

Games and escape rooms in Budapest

Budapest real-life escape adventures

Amusement Park
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Logic, creativity and teamwork are essential to solve this escape room challenge | © GetYourGuide

Grab some friends and participate in one of Budapest’s oldest and most-loved escape room adventures. If you fancy yourself as a bit of a action hero, then get ready to solve various puzzles in a race against time to save the Hungarian capital. Something’s amiss in Budapest’s Parliament metro station, and it’s up to you and your team to save the city and get out! Suitable for beginners and expert players of all ages, this escape room challenge is an adventure in logic, creativity and teamwork.

Budapest treasure hunt and discovery game

Amusement Park
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If you’re visiting Budapest with a group of friends or family, and like puzzles and problem-solving, then a treasure hunt around the city is a fun way to discover the capital. Choose a start time (day or evening), and get to know your new surroundings in an interactive way by solving various clues and riddles that will lead you to top attractions around Budapest. If you have what it takes to complete your quest, you will receive Hungarian-themed prizes while having a well-deserved complimentary beverage at a local bar.

Here’s what else you can do in Budapest

Pub crawl of Budapest’s most legendary bars

Pub, Bar, Nightclub, Beer, Cocktails
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To experience the best of Budapest nightlife in good company and get the inside track on the city’s most popular bars, join a lively pub crawl. Make your way with newly made friends and a local guide to the city’s quirky ruin bars. Enjoy drinks (included in the price of the ticket), and don’t shy away from a quick game of beer pong and flip cup before heading to one of Budapest’s top clubs for a cocktail and dancing. VIP skip-the-line entrance is also included.

Hungarian pálinka tasting

Bar, Hungarian
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If you prefer a slightly more refined and intimate drinking experience, savour a selection of seven premium pálinkas (Hungarian fruit brandies) on a two-hour private tasting tour dedicated to the spirit. Originating in the Middle Ages, pálinka is a distilled alcoholic beverage traditionally made from fruits grown in the Carpathian Basin. Learn about its history, sample some Hungarian culinary delights and discover which pálinka is your favourite. Although the drink is most commonly made with plums, other fruits used include cherries and peaches. A guide and sommelier are on hand to steer you through the very best pálinkas Budapest has to offer, and there is a chance to buy a bottle (or three) to take home.

These recommendations were updated on October 3, 2019 to keep your travel plans fresh.