Budapest is home to plenty of great museums covering everything from Hungary’s folk culture to the history of the pinball machine. There are tons of awesome art museums in the Hungarian capital; for a taste of something different, these are the city’s best non-art museums you need to visit.
The House of Terror
The 20th century saw two authoritarian regimes take hold in Hungary, and this building on Budapest’s Andrássy Avenue played a role in both. When the Arrow Cross Party took control of Hungary during the final years of WWII, the building was used as its headquarters; during the 40 years of Communist rule that followed, it passed into the hands of the State Protection Authority (AVH). Today, it’s a museum commemorating the victims of both regimes. Permanent exhibitions at the House of Terror allow visitors to learn more about the struggles of life during this time, from show trials to deportations; in the basement, reconstructions of the building’s prison cells allow an insight into the brutality of these governments.
The House Of Terror, Andrássy út 60, Budapest, Hungary, +36 (1) 374 2600
Hungarian National Museum
Hungary’s largest museum, this neoclassical building houses exhibitions allowing visitors to learn more about the country’s history. Artefacts from as early as the Paleolithic Era are on display, while collections focus on archaeological and historical discoveries. From the Ottoman Empire to the Communist regime of the 20th century, this museum is the one to visit for an informative overview of the country’s past.
The Hungarian National Museum, Múzeum krt. 14-16, Budapest, Hungary, +36 (1) 338 2122
The Hospital In The Rock
During WWII, a series of caves under Buda Castle Hill were converted into a hospital. They would retain this purpose until 1956 when, after treating wounded soldiers and civilians during the 1956 revolution against Communist rule, the hospital was repurposed as a nuclear bunker. Recent years have seen the former hospital converted into a museum, allowing visitors to learn more about its medical history, with waxwork figures recreating scenes from the hospital’s past. There’s also the chance to get an insight into its use as a nuclear bunker; the museum can only be visited by guided tour, meaning visitors receive an informative experience at this unique historic site.
The Hospital In The Rock, Lovas út 4/C, Budapest, Hungary, +36 (70) 701 0101
The Ethnographic Museum
Housed in a stunning Neo-Renaissance palace, the Ethnographic Museum is worth seeing for its grand architecture alone; however, for anyone hoping for a glimpse into Hungarian traditions while checking out authentic folk arts and crafts, a visit to the museum itself is a must. Entitled ‘Traditional Culture of the Hungarians’, the museum’s permanent collection focuses on the Hungarian peasantry between the late 1700s up until WWI. Over 3,000 items of traditional dress, tools, crafts and more are on display throughout 13 rooms, while temporary exhibitions allow for a further insight into Hungarian culture and history.
Ethnographic Museum, Kossuth Lajos tér 12, Budapest, Hungary, +36 (1) 473 2400
Unusual, quirky and a lot of fun, Budapest’s Pinball Museum houses 130 pinball machines – which visitors are welcome to make full use of. Thanks to this interactive element, the museum has become incredibly popular since opening its doors in April 2014. Machines from as early as the 19th century up until the present day can be found here, allowing visitors to see the evolution of pinball and experience a fascinating insight into its history and development. For a nostalgic, fun filled experience – this museum is the one to visit!
Pinball Museum, Radnóti Miklós u. 18, Budapest, Hungary, +36 (30) 900 6091
During the 40 years of Communist rule in Hungary, a number of statues and monuments were erected in Budapest in honour of the regime. When the Soviet Union fell in 1989, many of these were immediately taken down. They found a new home in what is today Memento Park, an open air museum featuring a large number of these statues and offering an insight into the regime thanks to guided tours and exhibitions.
Memento Park, Balatoni út – Szabadkai utca sarok, Budapest, Hungary, +36 (1) 424 7500
Holocaust Memorial Center
Located in a modern building encompassing the Páva Street Synagogue, once a significant site of worship for the capital’s Jewish community, Budapest’s Holocaust Memorial Center remembers the thousands of Hungarian Jews killed during the Holocaust. Opened in 2004, the museum’s permanent exhibition is an exploration of the history of anti-Semitism in Hungary and the Holocaust itself, told through original documents such as photographs and personal items. There’s also a remembrance wall featuring the names of the over 500,000 Hungarians who lost their lives as a result of the Holocaust.
Holocaust Memorial Center, Páva u., Budapest, Hungary, +36 (1) 455 3333
During the Roman Empire, Hungary was part of the province of Pannonia, protected by a vast defense line called the Limes. The ancient city of Aquincum was situated along this defensive border and today, the Aquincum Museum allows visitors to learn more about its interesting history. Permanent exhibitions include artefacts from the city; the role of ceramics in ancient Rome; and an archaeological collection displaying items from prehistoric times through to the Migration period. There’s also an archaeological park, in which excavation is ongoing and visitors can check out the structures from the city of Aquincum that have been discovered so far.
Aquincum Museum, Szentendrei út 135, Budapest, Hungary, +36 (1) 430 1081
Hungarian Natural History Museum
A family-friendly museum with a vast natural history collection allowing visitors to learn about Hungary and the Carpathian Basin, the Hungarian Natural History Museum is home to a number of fascinating exhibitions. The permanent collection includes a section on minerals, rocks and gems; an exhibition about the history of dinosaurs in Hungary; and a fin whale skeleton.
Hungarian Natural History Museum, Ludovika tér 2, Budapest, Hungary, +36 (1) 210 1085
Museum of Hungarian Agriculture
Housed in the striking Vajdahunyad Castle, the Museum of Hungarian Agriculture is the largest agricultural museum in Europe. Visitors can see exhibitions examining the history of agriculture; farming in Hungary; and wine-making. A visit to the museum is also a great opportunity to check out the inside of the architecturally stunning castle itself.
Museum of Hungarian Agriculture, Vajdahúnyad vár, Budapest, Hungary, +36 (1) 363 1117