The 10 Best Sites of Budapest

On November 20, 2013 by Oren and Cassie

Hungary has always been on my list of must-see places. Why? It’s in my blood. My grandmother is from there. And, after years of eating sour cream and paprika with (almost) every meal, I knew I needed to experience the country first-hand. What really sealed the deal for our visit is that Oren ALSO has Hungarian ancestry on his father’s side. We knew Budapest would be a necessary stop, and we’re thrilled that we slowed down a bit and spent a week there.

budapest-parliament-at-night

Budapest’s Parliament building and the Danube River

The country has loads of history – more than 1,000 years’ worth. And in certain ways Budapest is still feeling the effects of its more recent throes, including World War II and Communism. Although Hungary is a member of the European Union (since 2004), the country still uses the Hungarian Forint. 1 dollar is equal to 220 forints and most places prefer cash to credit cards. The GREAT news for budget travelers is that if you stay away from tourist traps, you can stretch your money really far and see some awesome places. Street food like langos (pronounced lan-gosh) is both traditional and inexpensive. Bonus points!

THE BEST SITES OF BUDAPEST

If you are a little hazy on your Budapest history, it may be a good idea to take an introductory walking tour. We took the Free Walking Tour, which was excellent. It gives you great background about Budapest’s history and its premiere sites. After the tour you can decide what you’re still interested in visiting and if there’s anything you’d like to return to. Here are our 10 Best Sites of Budapest:

budapest-parliament1) Parliament: This breathtaking structure is one of the oldest legislative buildings in Europe and houses the National Assembly of Hungary. Tours are available in multiple languages. Or you can just admire it from afar.

 
budapest-palace2) Royal Palace: Buda Castle and complex was home to Hungary’s past kings. First completed in 1265, every visitor should take the time to walk around the grounds on the hill. Like Parliament, this is also beautiful from across the river.

 
budapest-st-stephenss-basilica3) St. Stephen’s Basilica: This Roman Catholic basilica is named after the first king of Hungary, St. Stephen I. It ties the Parliament building for tallest structure in Budapest at 96 meters.

 
budapest-lady-liberty-gellert-hill4) Gellert Hill: This is one of the best vantage points of the city of Budapest. Simply take the 15 minute climb to the top and enjoy the view. This is also a perfect place to watch the sunset.

 
budapest-chain-bridge5) Szechenyi Istvan Ter (Chain Bridge): This famous suspension bridge links Buda with Pest over the Danube River. It’s great for photos day and night, and it’s very pretty to walk across at all hours of the day.

 
budapest-market-hall6) Great Market Hall: While the first floor of the market houses vendors selling meat, produce, and cheese, the second floor is the perfect place to buy souvenirs and eat some traditional Hungarian food.

 
best-of-budapest7) Heroe’s Square: Although it’s a bit of a walk to get to, this is one of the major squares in Budapest. The center features the Millenium Memorial, which showcases the 7 tribes that founded Hungary in the 9th century.

 
budapest-best-thermal-bath8) Szechenyi (Thermal) Bath: It’s a relaxing tradition in Budapest and worth doing. There are several baths to choose from. Szechenyi is the biggest and most famous, with heated pools outdoors for winter bathing.

 
budapest-dohany-synagogue9) Old Synagogue: The city is filled with World War 2 Jewish history and this synagogue is at the center of it all. One of the most moving memorials is the Remembrance Tree, a weeping willow whose leaves list the names of Jews killed in the Holocaust.

 
budapest-szimpla10) Ruin Pubs: When it comes to nightlife in the city, ruin pubs are the coolest phenomenon. These once abandoned spaces were turned into bars overnight, decorated with some of the most random and ecclectic items. Szimpla was our favorite and was rated one of the best bars in the world.

 

MEETING FAMILY

One of my favorite experiences of this trip was meeting my family in Hungary for the first time. They invited Oren and me over for dinner in their home outside of Budapest. My Hungarian is a little rusty, i.e., nonexistent, but my cousin, Zsofi, studies English in school. So, with her translating, all six of us were able to all communicate with each other. It was an evening we’ll never forget!

budapest-family

Cassie’s family in Budapest

Check out our Budapest photo gallery.

-C.K.

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