Best time to visit Budapest for an unforgettable experience
Budapest, a city where vibrant nightlife, hearty cuisine, and stunning architecture come together, awaits your exploration. If you’re wondering why you should visit, the answer is simple. Budapest offers a unique blend of culture and experiences that will leave you awe-inspired. But when should you visit this European gem for an unforgettable experience? We’ve got you covered.
Budapest is a city that captivates, whether it’s your first visit or your second. We’ve returned for more because this city has countless activities and highlights to offer. Let’s delve into Budapest’s essence, the best time to visit Budapest for an unforgettable experience, and uncover what makes it so special.
Originally a Celt settlement in the 9th c., the region was later part of the Roman Empire and later invaded by the Magyars, who founded the Kingdom of Hungary in 1000.
In 1361 the Buda castle was built, and since then, Budapest has been the kingdom’s capital. Later on, by 1873, both towns, Buda and Pest, joined the third area of the city, Óbuda (Old Buda), forming what is now known as Budapest.
When it comes to the etymology of Budapest, the word is composed of 2 words: Buda and Pest. Legend has it that Buda means either water which Slav languages or the second option, the brother of Attila and Pest, meaning caves.
Pest is the most prominent part or area in the city, with 2/3 of the population.
Our trip there
Best time to visit Budapest for an unforgettable experience
Budapest, the capital of Hungary with 2 million inhabitants, is divided into two parts by the Danube river: Pest – nowadays the commercial side and Buda which used to be the political center.
Buda was the home of the royalty, and Pest was the commercial area back then.
Here are the top 5 places to visit in Budapest, along with reasons to explore them
Buda Castle and Castle Hill:
This iconic historical complex offers breathtaking panoramic views of the city and is steeped in history. Explore medieval architecture, museums, and charming cobbled streets.
See Castle Hill
A UNESCO World Heritage Site that offers a breathtaking view over the Pest and the Danube River. For us, this was the most charming area in Budapest. As you stroll along the cobblestone streets of this section of the city, you travel back in time to the Middle age and admire baroque houses and Habsburg monuments. You can get up the hill by foot, bus, or take the funicular.
Mathias church on the left below was then turned to Ottoman style and then back to Christianity another important sight in Castle Hill.
2. The Parliament Building:
This stunning architectural masterpiece along the Danube is a must-see. Its grandeur and intricate design make it a symbol of Budapest and a photographer’s dream.
3. Széchenyi Thermal Bath:
Experience the famous thermal baths for relaxation and rejuvenation. It’s the largest medicinal bath in Europe and a delightful escape from city life.
4. Fisherman’s Bastion:
Discover fairytale-like towers, turrets, and panoramic terraces. It’s not only visually captivating but offers some of the best views of the city and the Danube River.
Another must-see, located at the top of the hill, is the Fishermen’s Bastion, Neo-gothic, neo-Romanesque styles blend in the Buda part of the city. This terrace has seven towers, each one representing a Hungarian tribe that founded the city.
I felt like these castles and towers inspired the ones at Disney World.
In addition, this is an excellent viewpoint of the city, the Danube City, and the main highlights of this iconic place.
Our 3-hour tour took us to the top of the hill, to Citadella, nowadays a restaurant offering some fabulous vistas.
The Opera House
The Opera House is a Neo-Renaissance building opened in 1884, with a 1200 auditorium considered one of the best for operatic performances.
The inside is richly decorated with frescos and statues of great composers, such as Mozart, Verdi, Beethoven,n, and Tchaikovsky.
The outside of the building showcases the statues of two famous Hungarian composers: Ferenc Erkel (composer of the Hungarian National Anthem) and Ferenc Liszt.
If you love opera or classical ballet and want to enjoy a performance, make sure to buy tickets ahead of time.
St Stephen’s Basilica
Another important stop in our walking tour was St Stephen’s Basilica, named after the first king of Hungary, Stephen
An imposing building, built in neo-renaissance style, is the basilica, a holy site and one of the highlights in Budapest. If you want to go inside, know that you must keep your knees and shoulders covered for all who wish to enter.
Hungarians came and wanted to convert people to Roman Catholicism. 25% Christian, many could not practice their religion during communism.
If you want to get a bird’s eye view of the city, you can go to the dome’s base and enjoy some postcard views of Budapest.
A must-see or stop is the Heroes Square, a semi-circle of pillars with lots of history and incredible architecture, an excellent spot for picture opportunities.
Saint Stephen basilica
If you are ready for beautiful vistas over Budapest including the Fishermen’s Bastion, climb the stairs up to the tower. ( right picture below)
Join a walking tour
Choose your own tour
You can eat your way through Budapest, as restaurants and street food options abound.
Visit some of the food trucks and stalls to enjoy some of the street food that Budapest offers.
You can then visit the Jewish Quarter in Budapest for some traditional Jewish Food.
Twenty percent of the population of Budapest was Jewish a hundred years ago, and now around 80.000 Jewish people live there.
We loved enjoying some Jewish food at a restaurant called Macesz, including two favorites cholent and matzo ball soup.
Great Market Hall
Budapest’s most famous marketplace is the Great Market Hall.
It was one of the activities we added to our itinerary, and we enjoyed watching the variety of locally grown vegetables and fruits, colorful souvenirs, and other items.
The highlight for us was to visit the top floor and try some local delicacies at some of the food stalls upstairs.
Visit a Ruin Bar
Eclectic, arty, and funky ruin bars are a must if you enjoy going out at night. In the ’90s, bars began to appear in the abandoned buildings in the old Jewish Quarter and are nowadays filled with worn-out furniture and plenty to drink.
We decided to take the Communist tour on the second day of our most recent visit to Budapest.
The tour included a visit to a ruin bar, where we found a “monopoly” in communism, and “how to become a loyal farmer”. The maps did not include the U.S. and, there was another map, marked like the rest of the world. Why should people want to travel there?
Other facts we learned during the Communist tour include:
Where to stay in Budapest?
Are you planning a city Break? I found that this website helps me find & book tours in Budapest.
The city is also very famous for its thermal baths, with more than 100!
Here are the top 3 Hotels in Budapest:
- Hotel Aria – A boutique hotel with a musical theme, it’s a top-rated gem in the heart of Budapest. Book here
- Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace – An exquisite five-star hotel offering unparalleled luxury. Book here
- Buddha-Bar Hotel Budapest Klotild Palace – A fusion of Eastern and Western aesthetics, perfect for a unique stay. Book here
Interesting fact: Hungary is a relatively small country, a member of NATO, of the EU, but they still have their currency due to the conditions of the country’s economy.
TIP: Public transportation, buy a 24-hour pass, never go online on a non-validated ticket, and do not cross the street outside the zebra lines, there are big fines.
In conclusion, here we share the best time to visit Budapest for an unforgettable experience and places not to miss out on.
Budapest’s charm is undeniable, and the city’s alluring blend of history, culture, and gastronomy makes it a must-visit destination. So, pack your bags and get ready for an adventure you won’t soon forget.
After you visit Budapest, you realize that there are many things to do and that this is a destination you can keep coming back to again and again.
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If you want more in-depth information and a guide that you can bring along during your trip, I recommend the Lonely Planet Budapest travel guide. It is an excellent source of information maps and all you need if you plan on visiting Budapest. I like the option of having a hard copy version where I can take notes and have them at hand.
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