The Hungarian capital of Budapest impresses with its special flair, great sights and the picturesque banks on the lifeline – the Danube. Budapest is often compared to the French metropolis of Paris for its beautiful splendid buildings. There is much to discover in the incredibly beautiful metropolis. Wonderful cathedrals, castles, monuments, bridges, but also museums, art and curiosities characterize the cityscape.
In Budapest lived great rulers, famous people and many creative people. Kilometer long shopping miles on which rows of buildings with fascinating facades invite to explore. On the one hand, the must see attractions in Budapest illuminate the glittering days of a metropolis and, on the other hand, the gloomy history of Europe. Today, monuments and museums recall the persecution of Jews during the Nazi era.
Cheap tickets for Budapest attractions and guided tours are available here
One of the most famous sights of the Hungarian capital is certainly the magnificent Parliament building in Budapest. The huge building with its dark red domes and a fascinating facade is located on the banks of the Danube on the Pest side. The best view of the Parliament building can be had on the opposite side of the Buda side, and especially at night, when the building is illuminated, when crossing the Danube.
In 1867 Hungary gained more independence and its own constitution after the Austro-Hungarian settlement. The construction of the parliament building began at this time – inspired by the Houses of Parliament in London. It is a symbol of the independence of the country.
Only in 1902 was the then largest parliamentary building in the world completed. A total of 691 rooms and ten courtyards are located in the 268-meter-long magnificent building. The 27 towers and the wonderful dome already show the parliament building from the plane. The dome is the highest part of the building – at this point the building rises 96 meters in height.
You can not get enough of the façade with its ornate statues of Hungarian rulers, gothic ornaments and gargoyles. The same applies to the rooms, which inspire dreaming with gilded ornaments, ceiling paintings by Károly Lotz and granite pillars. In the dome space the coronation crown and insignia of King Stephan are exhibited. The orb, the sword, the Stephanskrone and the scepter can be admired since the year 2000. There are also 500,000 books in the National Library.
It connects the two banks of the Danube and is one of the city’s most famous landmarks:
The Chain Bridge is a real attraction in Budapest. The two districts of Buda and Pest, which are divided by the Danube, were merged in the 19th century with the beautiful bridge in another place. The Chain Bridge hovers majestically over the river – the first permanent bridge of the Hungarian metropolis.
Before the construction of the famous bridge was the nearest transfer possibility of the Danube in Vienna. In winter, the ferry was the only way to get from one bank to the other. The temporary bridge was only available during the summer. To protect them from drift ice, it had to be dismantled every year.
Officially, the Chain Bridge is named after Count István Szécheny:
The count missed his father’s funeral because ferry traffic was interrupted due to bad weather.
On this occasion, the respected statesman supported the construction of a permanent bridge over the Danube. Civil engineer William Tierney Clark has already built the Hammersmith Bridge and the Marlow Bridge in London. In November 1849, the 375 meter long and 16 meter wide bridge was opened. At that time, the bridge was the longest suspension bridge in Europe.
At the towers of the beautiful construction impressive stone lions watch. Both pedestrians and motorists can cross the bridge. The two provincial towns Buda and Pest were able to develop into a jointly growing metropolis with the construction of the bridge. The Chain Bridge is a symbol of independence and was the scene of countless demonstrations during the fall of the Iron Curtain.
In order to stop the advance of the Red Army, the Germans blew up the bridge in 1945 towards the end of the Second World War. In 1949, a detailed copy of the original was opened.
On the Buda side there is a very special attraction of Budapest: The Fisherman’s Bastion, with its countless towers and stairs, is reminiscent of a medieval castle that could have grown out of the stones of the castle hill. Between 1899 and 1905, the huge work was created according to the designs of Frigyes Schulek. Today, the Fisherman’s Bastion characterizes the panorama of Buda like no other building. A wonderful view of the Fisherman’s Bastion can be enjoyed from the opposite side of the Danube, Pest.
But on a trip to Budapest you should plan a tour of the building and visit Buda. The fisherman’s bastion was created at the place where the fish market was located in the Middle Ages. The section was defended by the guild of fishermen who lived in the southern part of the mountainside in a kind of water town. Today, the Fisherman’s Bastion has only one purpose – to fascinate visitors and to make the cityscape even more beautiful.
Over 140 meters, the facade of the building extends. The stair cascades are accessible to visitors free of charge – from here you have a unique view of Pest and the Parliament building on the other side of the Danube. From the southern tower of the Fisherman’s Bastion, a flight of steps leads to the lower church of St. Michael’s Cemetery Chapel. Here is an exhibition on the history of papermaking.
The fairy-tale fisherman’s bastion is located near the castle district and combines neo-gothic and neo-Renaissance elements. During the Second World War, the building was significantly damaged – since 2003, the beautiful Fisherman’s Bastion can shine again with the other attractions in Budapest. The Fisherman’s Bastion is visited on a day with good weather, because then the view is best and you can enjoy a long view.
If you do not want to walk to the historical castle district, you can take the funicular, the subway or the bus to the castle hill. By the way, in the north tower of the bastion there is a restaurant where you can enjoy food and a great view.
The hero’s place
Heroes’ Square or Hősök tere in Hungarian is the “gate” to the City Park, which is located immediately behind the unique square. The construction of the monument to the heroes of Hungary was decided in 1896 for the 1,000th anniversary of the Hungarian conquest. Only in 1929, the place was completed.
There are statues of great personalities, such as famous tribal princes and kings, the millennium monument, the colonnade and many pillars. The Millennium Monument in the center of the square rises 40 meters high. On the top is an image of the Archangel Gabriel, who ordered King Szent István to convert the Hungarians to Christianity. Already the Metró, which drives visitors to Heroes Square, is an attraction Budapest.
The M1 line is one of the oldest subway lines in the world and has even been declared World Heritage. Not only the Heroes’ Square with its statues is worth seeing – there are regularly organized great events on the famous square.
Heroes’ Square is also surrounded by numerous sights of Budapest: the Museum of Fine Arts is located on the north side. There is a wonderful collection of European art. Rubens, Rembrandt, Titian, Raphael and many other famous masters are represented with well-known works.
Across the street from the Museum of Art is Műcsarnok, an art gallery reminiscent of a Greek temple. Here mainly contemporary works are exhibited. In the city park you can go for a walk or visit one of the numerous events, such as flea markets.
Around the castle hill on the Buda side of the metropolis are numerous sights – most of them are world famous and part of the World Heritage by UNESCO. The Castle Palace, one of the most magnificent highlights in Budapest, dominates the castle district with its beautiful facade.
The history of the castle palace begins in the 14th century, when, on the site where the palace is located today, a majestic building was erected for the first time by Hungarian kings – nothing remains of the previous building. A Renaissance chateau built in the 15th century, much during the rule of the Turks. Finally, the Habsburg Charles III. designed a Baroque style castle that has been enlarged and enlarged again and again.
The castle palace was not completed until the end of the 19th century. The Second World War destroyed parts of the palace. Inside he burned out, so he had to be rebuilt. Today, inside the palace, there are exciting exhibitions and institutions, such as the National Library, which has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Treasures such as the collection of King Matthias and other historical works are housed here. Also worth seeing is the National Gallery with over 100,000 works of Hungarian art. Tourists who spend only a few days in the Hungarian metropolis should consider in advance which of the great collections they would like to admire. The historical museum (the castle museum) is also located in the castle palace – here history lovers will get their money’s worth.
On the Buda side of the Hungarian metropolis towers the castle hill with the famous castle district over the banks of the Danube. There are incredibly beautiful sights to discover that tell of the history of Budapest. The ensemble has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
The castle district stretches over 500 meters in width and 1.5 kilometers in length. Already in the 13th century, the area was built as a royal fortress with keep. Especially in the years 1241 and 1242 the fortification was indispensable for the city, because the Mongol tribes ravaged parts of Hungary. Today, many tourists admire the historic facades.
The Budapest Castle District has several highlights:
Of the many churches that are located here, the Matthias Church is probably the best known.
Already from afar, the neo-gothic building shines with its colorful bricks and elaborately worked façade. The Burgpalast offers exciting museums and exhibitions for art and history fans. The narrow and winding towers of the Fisherman’s Bastion invite you to romantic walks in the Castle District – from here you have an excellent view of the opposite Pest, with the beautiful Parliament building, numerous famous bridges and St. Stephen’s Basilica.
On the fort are also several monuments and other exciting museums that should not be missed on a trip to Budapest. The attractions are surrounded by many souvenir shops, cafes and restaurants. If you do not want to climb the castle hill on foot, you can take the famous cable car or public transport – but a walk through the narrow streets is definitely worthwhile.
The impressive St. Stephen’s Basilica is one of the most magnificent Roman Catholic churches in the Hungarian capital. With its impressive dome and a beautiful façade, the magnificent building already leaves a lasting impression on the outside – not to mention the fascinating interior! It is the third largest church in Hungary and attracts many visitors for exploration.
UNESCO declared this architectural masterpiece a World Heritage Site. The construction of the cathedral began in 1851 – a few years later the dome collapsed because the ground was very wet due to its proximity to the Danube. The foundations were finally strengthened and a multi-storey cellar was built so that the basilica can endure protected centuries. St. Stephen’s Basilica contains the most valuable relics of Hungary. This also includes the right einbalsamierte hand of King Stephen I, who incidentally eponym of the magnificent building should be.
Thousands of pilgrims visit the “Holy Right” every year on 20 August for the feast of St. Stephen. Like the Parliament building, the St. Stephen’s Basilica is exactly 96 meters high – the height equality symbolizes the equality of spiritual and temporal power. Higher than 96 meters may not be built in the Hungarian capital. A total of 8,500 people find space inside the cathedral. Countless paintings, mosaics, stained glass and sculptures can be found in the basilica.
The excellent acoustics are used for choirs or organ concerts. The ascent to the dome is chargeable – but worth a visit, because you have the sporty 297 steps behind you, you can not get enough of the view over the highlights in Budapest! So you also get to know the famous dome and the six bells inside up close.
One of the most famous churches in the Hungarian capital is the Matthias Church in the Castle District. That the beautiful sacred building is a highlight of Budapest, can be seen from afar, because with its bright white façade and the colorful bricks, the Matthias Church with the other historic buildings lights up against the bet. Officially, the church is also called Liebfrauenkirche.
Here history was written, treasures hidden and kings crowned. The Matthias Church is therefore not only because of its beautiful appearance an attraction in Budapest: Already in 1255 the construction began on the Trinity Square in the castle district. The Matthias Church was to become the first parish church in Buda. For several years, the sacred building was changed many times, constantly renovated and architecturally adapted to the style of each epoch.
The Matthias Church received its name later:
The namesake was the reigning King Matthias between 1458 and 1490. The ruler was known as an advocate of the Enlightenment and for the restoration of the Hungarian state after years of feudal anarchy.
When the Turks conquered Buda in the 16th century, the Church of Our Lady became a mosque – important church treasures were shipped and the frescoes on the walls were whitewashed. During the liberation of the city from the Turks in the 17th century, the church was destroyed. After attempts of the Jesuits failed to restore the Baroque building, the restoration was completed in pristine splendor only in the late 19th century.
Gothic elements, roof tiles in diamond patterns and many more details make the church radiant. Inside there is the famous main altar, magnificent stained-glass windows, frescoes and paintings. The most famous monument is the sarcophagus of King Béla III and his wife Anne de Châtillon. There are also some relics, the Matthias-Kelch and many other treasures.
Budapest is known for its healing water springs. For centuries, Hungarians have used hot water to fill wonderful thermal baths – a total of 10 spas with mineral-rich water are available in the Hungarian capital. The Széchenyi Thermal Bath is the largest thermal spa in the whole of Europe and a popular attraction among locals or tourists.
Looking for a retreat where you can recharge your batteries and relax, should visit the Széchenyi Thermal Baths. The wonderful building was built in 1914. It was initially an exclusive spa, which was expanded in 1927 by a beach and swimming pool. Later, the thermal bath was supplemented by an outpatient hospital with a physiotherapy department.
After a renovation in 1999, the Széchenyi Thermal Bath has become a modern water park, offering not only mineral water but also services and a healing program. Among other things, massages, drinking cures, water aerobics and fitness programs are offered. In the pools there is also a lazy river, underwater jets, neck showers and massage fountains.
Visitors can sweat and relax in the sauna. In particular, the healing of degenerative joint diseases should be supported by the thermal water from St. Stephansbrunnen. Internal diseases and inflammations can be combated with the fluoride-containing healing water of the drinking fountain. After a visit to the Széchenyi thermal bath, you will feel wonderfully relaxed even without illnesses.
Especially during a city trip, a day in one of Budapest’s wonderful spas offers a great opportunity!
One of the most famous streets in Budapest is Andrássy Avenue or Andrássy út in the center of Pest. The street was named after Count Gyula Andrássy, stretches for 2.5 kilometers and connects the city center with the City Park. Andrássy Avenue is the location of famous Budapest attractions – a walk worthwhile in any season.
Andrássy Avenue has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO along with Metro Line 1, which runs underneath. It was not until 1867 that the Andrássy út was completed, a wide street that was to run parallel to the magnificent avenue, no longer withstanding the growing traffic of the turbulent city.
The Andrássy Avenue was modeled on the famous Champs-Elysées in the French capital. If you start at the Deak Ference Tér, you can free yourself through numerous shopping opportunities. In the Oktogon area you will find great houses from bygone days. Numerous villas and beautiful gardens are located on Andrássy Avenue, with well-known sights of the Hungarian capital.
In any case, one of the most beautiful sights in Budapest is the Hungarian State Opera, which is associated with well-known personalities such as Franz Liszt or Ferenc Erkel, the composer of the Hungarian national anthem. The luminous Neo-Renaissance façade captivates visitors from the outside – not to mention the interior. Ornate frescoes, ceiling paintings, stucco and marble columns invite you to dream in combination with the music.
Also represented is the Franz Liszt Memorial Museum, housed in the former residence of the composer. Furniture, pianos, portraits and documents are housed here.
The House of Terror is also on Andrássy Avenue:
Picture frames with portraits, plaques and burning candles remind of victims who had to suffer in the house. The house became the headquarters of the National Socialist Arrow Cross in the 1940s. Since 2002, the house is a memorial and a museum that is reminiscent of history. However, Andrássy út has many more monuments, museums, event venues, sculptures, sculptures and exciting things.
The house of terror
One of the famous exhibitions on the persecution of Jews in Budapest is the House of Terror on Andrássy út. A relatively inconspicuous house, which fits perfectly into the beautiful architecture of the neighboring villas and magnificent buildings, but tells a story that still holds many visitors breathless. The black frame on the roof, portraits on the facade and a plaque reveal that the House of Terror is dealing with the dark chapter of Hungarian history: Nazism and Communism. In 1880 the building was built.
During the Second World War, it became the seat of the Hungarian Pfeilkruezler party – it became a prison for opponents of National Socialism. Innumerable innocent people were tortured and killed. After the war, there was a change of occupation in today’s House of Terror – it became the headquarters of the Communist State Security Service. Also in this time in the house opponents were interrogated, tortured and killed.
In 2002, the House of Terror finally became a memorial site to reminisce about the bad times. A soviet tank is already aimed at the entrance to the visitors – the oppressive atmosphere is only reinforced with pictures of the countless victims. Marching soldiers – from the Nazi era and communism – numerous photos, descriptions of interrogation methods, prison cells and much more remind of the cruel time and the victims.
Towards the end of the 19th century, the Hungarian Royal Opera House was built on the Andrássy Avenue. Today, the Hungarian State Opera House is a famous attraction of Budapest, which should not be missed on a city break. For the millennium celebration of Hungary, the 1896 was inaugurated. Miklós Ybl, the well-known Hungarian architect, wanted to create a structure that could easily compete with Europe’s famous opera houses.
The neo-renaissance-style house still radiates Baroque elements between the historic villas of Budapest. 16 statues of famous composers, such as Verdi, Mozart or Beethoven can be admired on the parapet. Only the famous Hungarian musicians Ferenc Erkel, the composer of the Hungarian national anthem and former director of the opera, and Franz Liszt, the well-known composer and virtuoso pianist, can sit down.
The interior of the beautiful building is also impressive. Frescoes, statues, an incredible amount of gold, chandeliers, marble columns and other elements of splendor decorate the interior of the opera house. In total, 1,200 guests can be accommodated here. A painting of the nine muses impresses next to marble and Co. already in the foyer of the opera. Performances in the Hungarian Opera House are very much in demand.
If you can do without a show, you should enjoy a guided tour of the famous house. The Hungarian State Opera is a symbol of the 300-year tradition of opera in Hungary. Even today, the building in Budapest is one of the most beautiful opera houses in the world. Plácido Domingo, Luciano Pavarotti, Renée Fleming, and Cecilia Bartoli were already on stage. Dario Argento, the Italian film director, used the building as a backdrop for the film “The Phantom of the Opera”.
A real attraction in the Hungarian metropolis is the Margaret Island, which receives sightseers on the Danube. The Margaret Island is located exactly between the two halves of the city Buda and Pest. Through the Margaret Bridge in the south and the Árpád Bridge in the north, the island connects with the two districts.
The green heart of Budapest is a popular resort among locals and tourists. Except taxis and buses vehicles are prohibited on the green island. The Austrians converted the island into a kind of health resort. On Margaret Island there are numerous attractions that you should definitely look at. The centenary monument of István Kiss recalls the union of the cities of Buda, Pest and Óbuda in 1873.
The English-style parking area in the center of the island invites you to relax and unwind. Here are also remains of a Franciscan monastery from the 13th century. More than 2,500 different types of roses are waiting in the rose garden – a small zoo invites you to explore. In the restored ruins of the Dominican monastery, once the daughter of the king Margaret lived, after which the island was named.
In the 19th century, the tomb of King Stephen V with the precious crown was found here. Numerous busts and statues of famous writers, architects and artists adorn the paths on Margaret Island. The 57-meter-high water tower, which is located below the open-air stage, is a World Heritage Site. Also worth a visit on the Margaret Island is the Japanese Garden and the play fountain, where many musicians meet.
Shoes on the Danube bank
On the eastern bank of the Danube in the district of Pest are about 300 meters south of the parliament building 60 pairs of metal shoes. The monument extends over a length of 40 meters, reminiscent of the execution of the persecuted Jews in Budapest during the World War II pogroms.
Countless innocents were shot dead on the banks of the Danube and thrown into the river. In addition to the metal shoes, the mass executions are reminiscent of a blackboard that describes the events. The monument was completed in April 2005. The monument was designed by the Hungarian artists Gyula Pauser and Can Togay.