The union of two cities, Buda and Pest, has created a diverse European metropolis on both sides of the Danube River. To its west lie lush green hills and to its east stretches a vibrant urban flatland. There is a lot to see in the capital of Hungary: From ornate bridges to the neo-Gothic style Parliament to Buda Castle with its cobblestone streets.
But don't worry – with centuries-old thermal baths to enjoy a dip in and excursion boats to board, there are plenty of ways to switch off and relax.
Spring (March – May): Now temperatures in the city rise from 5°C in March to pleasant weather with up to 20°C at the end of May, making this time of year perfect for a visit.
Summer (June – August): One heat wave after another heats up the temperature in the city streets, with peaks of up to a dry 30°C. So prepare to sweat both inside and outside the city's thermal baths. The Sizget Festival, which is one of the largest music festivals in Europe, makes August a popular time to visit among visitors.
Autumn (September – November): Spring-like temperatures can be expected in the fall, with an average of a chilly 4°C.
Winter (December – February): the least popular time to visit Budapest brings snow and dense off with sub-zero temperatures dropping to an average low of -2°C in December.
Budapest Castle at night
The Budapesti Kozlekedési Központ, or BKK, operates buses, four metro lines, streetcars and trolleybuses throughout the city. Streetcars form the backbone of Budapest's public transportation system. These little yellow streetcars run through the main streets and offer budget-friendly rides to various destinations around the city.
One-way tickets, ten-trip tickets and network tickets valid for one, three or seven days are available for customers who want to explore the city on the cheap. As an alternative, the Budapest Card allows unlimited use of public transportation for up to 24, 48 or 72 hours. In addition, free or discounted admissions to several attractions are included in the Budapest Card.
If you want to take a cheaper cab, book it through a hostel or the hotel reception desk. Waving a yellow cab from the side of the road is not out of the question, but unregistered cabs have been known to occasionally overcharge fares. Look for the obligatory cab license plate in the form of a yellow registration sticker and for the taxi meter to be turned on for an optimal driving experience.
Check out this LINK for all the important information about renting bikes and rental cars in Budapest.
Visit the Matthias Church on Castle Hill, whose roof with a mosaic of geometric rainbow tiles will amaze you. Afterwards, head to the off-white building next to the back of the church for the best view of the city. The name of the castle dates back to the Middle Ages, when the defense of the castle walls was left to the Fishermen's Guild.
House of Terror
Today Budapest is a thriving metropolis, famous for paprika sausage and thermal baths. Still, the city has a dark history with oppression by fascist and communist regimes. The House of Terror Museum is a memorial to the victims of these powers, with exhibits informing visitors about the country's relations with Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. Here you can reflect in peace and listen to interviews with survivors who lived through those bad times.
Széchenyi Thermal Baths
Bathe in the largest spa in Europe along with hundreds of other relaxed bathers and enjoy the yellow interior of the spa, which is designed in a cheerful neo-baroque architecture.
The spa can be very good for relieving joint pain and inflammation. In addition, the natural water in the huge whirlpool provides soothing warmth on the coldest winter days. The environment invites friendly exchanges among guests wading through the clear, shallow water.
Fill the time between visits to the baths and museums with visits to other sights in Budapest, which you can find described in our guide "Sights in Budapest".
Explore Budapest's stalactites and stalagmites
For the travelers who like it a bit fancier, crawling through Buda's underground caves is a great way to experience nature. Take a tour of the Pálvölgyi or Szemlohegy caves and see the cave rooms with ancient rock formations in underground cool air.
Set sail on the Danube
The river that separates Buda and Pest offers many opportunities for boating, both for party animals and for couples who want to spend a romantic time.
Enjoy a cocktail during a three-hour leisurely boat ride, or opt for an adrenaline rush on a thrilling speedboat ride. The latter is the fastest and most exciting way to see the sights of Budapest.
Plan unique adventures and book tours using our guide to things to do in Budapest.
Set sail on the Danube
Dishes you must have tried in Budapest:
- Kolbász – A sausage that is a ubiquitous street food in Budapest – and none more famous than the delicacy made with pork and a good dose of paprika.
- Nokedli – Small dumplings made from shredded noodles cooked in hot water. Its buttery flavor complements savory dishes like goulash and Hungarian paprika chicken.
- Lángos – Similar to pizza, but better. These bases of fried dough carry sour cream, cheese and many other delicious toppings.
- Töltött káposzta – cabbage leaves stuffed with a meat and rice mixture and topped with sour cream, – the perfect meal on a cold day.
- Kurtoskalács – A sweet cylindrical bread, also known as "chimney cake", generously covered with sugar.
Usually ca. 10% tip given for good service.
If you want to try more dishes and look for the best places to do so, check out our food guide& Drinking in Budapest.
Hotels in Budapest
Budapest is considered an ideal destination for backpackers on a budget as well as wealthy tourists. For all, the city offers a wide range of accommodations.
Luxury hotels such as the Buddha-Bar Hotel and the New York Palace Hotel offer guests interiors designed with modern elements and vintage style.
Expensive hotels can be found in central parts of the city near the sights. However, there are also affordable accommodations in this location.
The budget NH Budapest City Hotel is located on the outskirts of the Pest district. From there, you have quick access to the bridges leading to the more attractive Buda. For more hotel recommendations that match your price preferences, visit our Budapest hotel guide.
Nightlife in Budapest
Famous for its clubs and ruin bars that adorn abandoned buildings, there is something unique about Budapest's nightlife.
Szimpla Kert's touted popularity may be off-putting to those who want to avoid tourist traps, but this bar is anything but over-hyped. The multi-story abandoned building has graffiti covered walls, antique furniture and a dance floor. Other ruin bars copy this landscape, so it's easy to get lost in the maze of different abandoned buildings. For more recommendations and suggestions for ruin bars and clubs, see our guide Nightlife in Budapest.
Shopping in Budapest
Unlike Andrássy Avenue, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the city's shopping streets don't necessarily cater to high-end designers. Instead, they house charming stores selling a range of local goods and handicrafts. Find well-known brands and smaller stores in Buda and Pest, or check out the various markets that are set up on the sidewalks on weekends when the weather is nice. Special souvenirs can be found in the large market hall, where you can also buy food. For example, how about a packet of paprika powder to remember your stay in the city?? For more information on shopping, see our Budapest Shopping Guide Shopping in Budapest.
Shopping in Budapest
Visa requirements for Budapest, Hungary
American, Canadian, Australian and British citizens should have a passport valid for three months beyond the period of stay and issued within the last 10 years in order to meet the entry requirements. EU citizens are only required to have a passport or ID card valid for the duration of their visit. For more information on the documents you need to visit Budapest, please see the Entry Requirements for Hungary page.