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Budapest Danube river things to do Hungary capital city landmarks


Travel with us as we explore the best attractions in Budapest, another award-winning city in Europe. Catch the world-famous Budapest vibe!

St Matthias Church Fishermans Bastion Chain Bridge Shoes on the Danube Buda Castle Best Budapest sightseeing Hungary

Budapest: the best 4-Day Itinerary

Check into your booked accommodation on the Pest side.  Walk around the city and catch the Budapest vibes.

End the day with views of illuminated Budapest.  Taste traditional Hungarian cuisine on the Danube while relaxing on a 2-hour long cruise, accompanied by live music.

  • Cross the historic Széchenyi Chain Bridge (Lanchid), constructed in 1849. The bridge was the first permanent bridge between the then separate two towns, Buda and Pest, to unite the two riverside towns. Today we know it as Budapest.
  • As you cross the bridge, Buda Castle lies in front of you.  Also, the Buda Hill Funicular.  To get the best of the views, I suggest booking a single ticket to go up and walk down the steps instead. By the way, the funicular has been in operation since 1870. Don’t expect to go up or down at a fast speed. It’s all part of appreciating that it’s been transporting tourists since 1920, and still going. The funicular connects the Buda Castle on top of the hill (with some stunning views of the city) with the Adam Clark Square down at the Danube river. Address: Clark Ádám tér
  • The almost 800-year-old Buda Castle is at the top of Buda Hill. The castle, previously known as the Royal Palace or the Royal Castle, dates all the way back to 1265. It grew in size between 1749 and 1769 and today hosts the Hungarian National Gallery and The Budapest History Museum. 
  • The magical 100-year-old Fisherman’s Bastion is about 10 minutes away, on foot.  Its medieval architecture is what fairytales are made of.  This most beautiful landmark along the Danube, located in the Buda Castle, has 7 high-pitched stone towers. The towers symbolize the 7 Hungarian chieftains who founded Hungary in 895. The current landmark dates to the 1700s and was renovated in Neo-Romanesque style between 1895 and 1902.
  • Next is the Matthias Church, constructed in 1015 with classic neo-gothic features.  “Two Kings of Hungary were crowned within its walls: Franz Joseph I of Hungary and Elisabeth, and Charles IV of Hungary and Zita of Bourbon-Parma.”  In 1686 one of the church’s walls collapsed because of cannon fire during the siege of Buda city. The only good that came from the collapse of the wall was that an old votive Madonna statue was found hidden behind the wall!
  • Then, on your way back stop at the Jewish World War II Memorial Shoes on the Danube Bank. Sixty pairs of shoes in the 1940s fashion, sculpted out of iron, true to life-size, is a haunting tribute to commemorate the victims of the Jewish community during World War II. The shoes serve as a reminder that the Jews were ordered to take off the shoes before they were shot.
  • Visit Europe’s largest synagogue, namely the beautiful Dohany Street Synagogue. It’s also the second-largest synagogue in the world. The entry ticket includes an entrance to the Hungarian Jewish Museum, on the side of the synagogue.  Also, in the courtyard is the Tree of Life memorial. It has 30.000 names of Holocaust victims.
  • The Jewish Quarter is famous for Ruin Bars, like Szimpla Kert. Ruin Bars are in old buildings and have plenty of character. It’s known to be funky and a popular hang-out spot when you want to meet up with other travelers or locals, drink and even dance.
  • Next up is a visit to the Central Market Hall.  Shopping time! Fővám Square is the starting point of the famous Váci shopping street. From here you will find the Central Market Hall, the enchanting Liberty Bridge, and plenty of great cafés and architecture!  The Central Market Hall is our recommendation for souvenir shopping. 
  • Liberty Bridge lies near the Market Hall and takes you back to the Buda side of Budapest. It’s noteworthy for two things, namely being Budapest’s shortest bridge, and secondly, being the first bridge that was repaired after World War II.
  • If thermal baths are not your thing, then head on over to the well-maintained gardens of Margaret Island. 
  • However, when you cross the Liberty Bridge, you find yourself in Gellert Square. Hungary is a land-locked country, meaning there is no ocean to be found but that does not mean there is no water in Hungary. “Thermal baths” is a strong tradition in the Hungarian culture. Gellert Thermal Bath is just the place to enjoy a relaxed spa afternoon. Alternatively, head on over to Széchenyi Thermal Bath, which is the largest mineral bath in Europe, with over twenty pools. The mineral-rich waters flow constantly from two hot springs. 

Travel Tip, Budapest

The Hungarian Parliament is a must-see.  Book well in advance(We did not and could not get tickets for our first trip.) They’re usually open from 08h00 to 18h00, and on weekends until 16h00.

  • The Hungarian Parliament Building is situated on the eastern banks of the Danube River which is Europe’s second-longest river, after the Volga that runs through Central and Eastern Europe.  The parliament building is on the Pest side of the city and was designed in the neo-Gothic style by the Hungarian architect Imre Steindl. It opened in 1902 and is a popular tourist destination. Address: Kossuth Lajos tér 1-3
  • From here hop on a river cruise from where you have fabulous views of plenty of Budapest’s famous landmarks.
  • Lastly, end the day and tour on a high note. Attend an organ concert in the St Stephen’s Basilica, a neoclassical wonder from 1905. The evening concert is an unforgettable experience. If you can afford the extra splash, get seated in the front section.
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This is Budapest

A must-read before visiting Budapest. Travel tips and tickets, accommodation, concerts and much more.

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Sneak Preview of Day 3

Dohany Synagogue Margaret Island thermal baths central market Liberty Bridge Best Budapest sightseeing Hungary

Margaret Island, dating back to the 12th century

It’s time to relax at beautiful, lush Margaret Island (a public space since 1908) with its beautiful gardens, medieval ruins, popular recreational area, and amazing view on the Danube belongs administratively to Hungary’s 13th district.

To conclude, Budapest has so much to show the keen traveler. If you have more than 4 days available, it will be worth it to extend your trip.

PS: If you’ve enjoyed Budapest: The Best 4-Day Itinerary, why not spread your wings and grab Popular Edinburgh: The Best 72-hour Itinerary!?

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