With stunning Baroque and Art Nouveau architecture, world-class thermal baths and vibrant nightlife, it’s not hard to see why Budapest is among Europe’s most popular city breaks. Discover the Pearl of the Danube through these top city tours that will speak to every traveller, from history buffs to adventurous foodies.
Go off the beaten path in the up-and-coming Eighth District
Market, Historical Landmark
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Tour Budapest's Józsefváros district | Courtesy of Urban Adventures
Józsefváros, the city’s eighth district (just southeast of the city centre), has undergone a Cinderella-like transformation over the last decade, shaking off its rough reputation and replacing it with funky art galleries, hipster-style cafés and homey restaurants. This tour starts at the Rákóczi Square Market Hall, one of the city’s original 19th-century markets nestled in the district, and will give you the chance to sample traditional street food before visiting the oldest Baroque church in the city. Learn about the history of the area’s ‘gypsy musicians’, visit the Communist-era housing of Szigony Street and the gentrified Corvin Alley before grabbing a drink at a local watering hole. With proceeds from this tour going to local charities, you can learn about this up-and-coming area of Budapest while supporting those in need.
This three-hour gastronomic adventure starts at the popular Central Market Hall where visitors will indulge in salami and paprika-spiced sausages while learning about the history of this 19th-century market. Enjoy a lunch of freshwater fish and other delicacies at a hidden local haunt before sampling chocolate bonbons at an award-winning chocolate factory. Wander down the beautiful Andrássy Avenue, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Jewish Quarter before settling in at a ruin bar for a drink. Don’t forget to try a glass of fröccs (Hungary’s wine spritzer), the perfect refreshment to help you unwind after a delicious day of touring.
Wine connoisseurs will fall in love with Hungary, which boasts over 22 wine regions. From the famed sweet Tokaj to the playfully named Egri Bikavér (which translates to “Bull’s Blood”), Hungary is home to over 100 wine varieties. This tour invites you to hang out in the vibrant Jewish Quarter, also home to the city’s bustling bar scene. Here, tour participants learn about the history of the Jewish ghetto while noshing on traditional snacks and enjoying happy hour in five of the area’s most popular watering holes, from eclectic ruin pubs and wine bars to a local favourite known for the best reds in the city.
Get away from the crowds and explore both Buda and Pest’s street art culture with this three-hour, small-group walking tour. An opportunity to gain real insider knowledge, this tour takes in hidden cafés, ruin bars, abandoned synagogues, galleries, artists’ studios, music venues and popular local hangouts. Grab a cup of coffee or a beer at an art and coffee collective while picking your guide’s brain on other fun things to do around the city, all the while indulging in Budapest’s emerging underground fashion, art and music scene. Come rain or shine, this guided tour operates in all weather, so make sure to dress appropriately.
Discover the joy of Hungarian cooking with this four-hour culinary experience hosted by Kitchen Pixie. Guests will prepare traditional recipes such as chicken paprikash and learn about Hungary’s rich food culture while sipping delicious wine, kneading dough, chopping vegetables and enjoying delicious smells from the kitchen. At the end of the class, sit down to a three-course lunch complete with finger foods and pálinka (a traditional fruit brandy). Guests can take the recipes to test out their Hungarian cooking skills at home.
From the stunning Castle District to Gellért Hill, this walking tour includes all the main sights of Budapest. This history-focused tour begins at 10am in City Park, home to Heroes’ Square, Vajdahunyad Castle and the famed Széchenyi Baths. From there, walk down Andrássy Avenue towards the river to visit the Jewish Quarter, St Stephen’s Basilica and Parliament before heading to the Buda side to experience sweeping views of the Pest side from Gellért Hill and Fisherman’s Bastion. While traditional walking tours are usually two to three hours, this four-hour tour allows visitors to experience more of the city in a day.
Step back in time and discover Communist-era Budapest with this three-hour, historian-guided walking tour. Discover what life was like under Goulash Communism (referring to a variety of communism in Hungary following the 1956 Hungarian Revolution) while visiting important landmarks such as the Bem József Square and Kossuth Square, where crucial events and demonstrations took place during the revolution. Take a ride on one of Stalin’s trolley buses to Dózsa György Street and the House of Terror, the secret service headquarters-turned museum.
With over a dozen public thermal baths, Budapest has become known as the “City of Spas”. The source of the city’s hot springs lies in a labyrinthine system of nearly 200 caves found below the rolling hills of the city. These caves were formed by thermal water over millions of years, and now adventure seekers can crawl and climb their way through the beautiful limestone rock formations with this 3.5-hour caving tour in the Danube-Ipoly National Park. Note that there is no transfer with this tour, so attendees will need to meet at the Pálvölgy Caves either by taking public transportation (a 45-minute trip) or using Bolt (the city’s version of Uber).
Visitors who want to enjoy the best views of Budapest can do so by land and water with Budapest’s Floating Bus Tour. Drive by St Stephen’s Basilica, the Dohány Street Synagogue, the Opera House and Andrássy Avenue (the Rodeo Drive of Budapest) while listening to historical facts about these impressive sights. After cruising around the city, this amphibious bus will plunge into the Danube for a 100-minute river tour that offers a different perspective on Parliament, Margaret Island, the Chain Bridge and the Royal Palace.
Get out in nature, meet other like-minded travellers and explore both Buda and Pest on this three-hour bike tour. Visit the Fisherman’s Bastion and Buda Castle while riding along the blue Danube. Chill out on Margaret Island before heading to the Pest side to discover Parliament, St Stephen’s Basilica and the Hungarian State Opera. All the while, the local guide will be providing fun facts and history about the city. The tour will provide you with helmets and mineral water before your jaunt around Budapest.