Budapest is located right in the heart of Hungary along the Danube River. The Budapest landmarks make this city truly special, and are a reason everyone should plan a trip to this Hungarian heaven at some point in their future. On top of that, the food in Budapest is very unique and incredibly delicious. All this adds up to the adventure of a lifetime!
We have put together the one and only guide to Budapest landmarks you’ll ever need! Everything from the Parliament building to the chain bridge and medicinal baths in Budapest, we have got you covered!
Budapest is known as the ‘Pearl of the Danube’, and rightfully so. What makes this city so beautiful? Food, landmarks, culture, and adventure!
Budapest should be right near the top of your European bucket list, and we’re going to tell you why! The architecture, art, natural beauty, bath houses, the cuisine, the people (so ridiculously nice!!), the Danube, the culture, we could go on and on and on!
On your trip to Hungary, you must make a few unique stops, such as the Budapest baths and the Shoes on the Danube. On top of that there are a TON of incredible landmarks and destinations to fill every day of your adventure. Let’s get to it!
The Hungarian Parliament building is the 3rd largest on earth! One more time for the people in the back: THE PARLIAMENT BUILDING IN BUDAPEST IS THE 3RD LARGEST BUILDING ON EARTH!
WOW, that fact alone makes this building a must-see. However, we won’t stop there. There are more reasons why this is one of the top Budapest landmarks there is. The building was inaugurated in 1896 on the 1000th (!!!) anniversary of Hungary. This gives it extra special meaning to the local Hungarians.
As the legend goes, Freddy Mercury attempted to purchase this gigantic gothic grandiosity. He was shot down by the Hungarian government of course, but you can see why he wanted to put in an offer. The pictures of this building just don’t do it justice (similar to pictures of the Grand Canyon, you have to be there to really see it). It is HUUUUUUUUGE and is a stunning site to see right off the Danube River.
You can take a tour of the Parliament building, but the outside is better than the inside in our opinion. Take a stroll along the Danube River right in front of the building. Trust us, you’ll be tired by the time you make it to the other end.
At night time, the Parliament building is lit up in an orange-yellow hue. The building is even MORE beautiful at night, if that is even possible!
Additionally, some of our adventures in the coming paragraphs offer incredible views of Parliament from around the city! With a building this BIG, you will be able to see it from basically anywhere.
For you history buffs (from The Culture Trip):
The Hungarian Parliament Building has stood through two World Wars, a number of uprisings and revolutions, and a shifting urban landscape. Overlooking Kossuth Lajos Ter, named after the Hungarian lawyer and regent-president of the country during the 1848 – 49 revolution, the building was witness to the tragic events of 1956 when, during an uprising on October 25, against the ruling Communist regime, protestors gathered in front of the Parliament. While little is known about the circumstances, shots were fired resulting in the deaths of many. A memorial to this event stands in the square today.
Shoes on the Danube
Located directly in front of the Parliament building, this Shoes on the Danube monument is a Budapest landmark you won’t want to miss. The monument is dedicated to victims from a tragic 1944 event where 3,500 people were shot into the Danube River in front of Parliament.
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These shoes are said to remind the Hungarian government of what can happen if their power is used destructively. For tourists and visitors, the Shoes on the Danube is a very powerful scene, one that we will not soon forget.
This was our favorite Budapest landmark. Why? There is a subtlety to it. You walk by and ask yourself, “Why is there 100 pairs of shoes by the river?” Your curiosity sparked, you research the monument and discover the devastating truth behind it. Subtle yet powerful.
Chain Bridge (Széchenyi Bridge)
Budapest’s bridges connect the old cities of Buda and Pest. They are both the symbolic and literal connector of the two towns, and therefore the glue that holds Budapest together.
The Danube may seem like just another iconic waterway as it winds through Budapest, but back in the day it was actually the dividing line between the two cities of Buda and Pest, which were joined by bridges to become Budapest in 1873.
Our favorite bridge in all of Budapest was the Chain Bridge AKA the Széchenyi Bridge. The structure of the bridge itself is absolutely gorgeous. Also, like the Budapest Parliament building, the Chain Bridge is lit up at night and becomes a beautiful Budapest landmark lit up in an orange-yellow hue.
4 lions mark the 4 corners of this bridge, as a symbol of protection. Rightfully so, as every single one of Budapest’s bridges were destroyed during a siege in World War II. It is refreshing to see these beautiful buildings stand tall. Take a walk between Buda and Pest on our favorite: the Chaing Bridge
Liberty Bridge, Elizabeth Bridge, and Margaret Bridge
On top of the Chain Bridge, there are many other bridges that stand beautifully and cross the Danube River in Budapest. As you explore the city, whether on foot, on a bike, or in a car, you will no doubt cross these bridges multiple times.
Travel is the bridge between you and everythingRumi
The Liberty Bridge, Elizabeth Bridge, and Margaret Bridge were our 3 favorites outside of the Chain Bridge. Each of these was incredible unique in their own way, and we highly recommend taking a stroll across each of them!
The medicinal baths in Budapest were absolutely one of our favorite adventures. Our recommendation is to do this on a day when you are exploring a few sites around town. Maybe double up with the Chain Bridge and medicinal baths in Budapest on the same day! Or hit the bath houses after hiking up to the Citadella! More on that soon…
We spent a day at the Széchenyi Bath house in the heart of the city. We absolutely loved swimming in the warm thermal water, playing games and taking pictures! There were even people playing Chess around the outside of the bath house, so you can try out your skills if you would like!
The Széchenyi Bath house is one of MANY medicinal baths in Budapest. In fact, there are bath houses spread all around the city in many different locations.
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Bath houses are really a distinct part of the culture, and we HIGHLY suggest you try one out. However, you have to do a little bit of research first. Some are men-only and some women-only, but we suggest you find a co-ed pool.
Here is what the Lonely Planet has to say about how to choose your Budapest bath house:
Rudas Baths The renovated Rudas Baths, with an octagonal pool, are mostly men-only during the week but have mixed nights on weekends. Vibe: Most famous of the Turkish baths
Gellért Baths The Art Nouveau Gellért Baths, now open to both men and women at all times, have the most beautiful indoor swimming pools in the city. Vibe: Get wet in a cathedral
Széchenyi Baths The gigantic and lavish Széchenyi Baths boast 15 thermal baths and three swimming pools; the water temperature is up to 38°C. Vibe: Hot water in a wedding-cake building
Veli Bej Baths This venerable Turkish bath, renovated in 2011, has five thermal pools and original clay pipes for pumping in the water. Vibe: Something old and something new
Király Baths The four pools at Ottoman-era Király Baths are very authentic though in need of renovation; they are open to both men and women on all days. Vibe: Ancient and very Turkish
Lukács Baths The waters of the Lukács Baths are meant to cure just about everything — from spinal deformation and vertebral dislocation to calcium deficiency. Vibe: For serious spa fans only
Danubius Health Spa Margitsziget The facilities at the Danubius Health Spa Margitsziget on Margaret Island are rather soulless but modern, and the choice of special treatments is epic. Vibe: Pampering and preening
Hike to the Citadella & Liberty Statue
In our opinion the PERFECT morning activity in Budapest. The hike up to the Citadella starts at the Danube, and is a quick 1 mile each way. You’ll get a great little workout in and see some awesome Budapest landmarks!
Along the way you get the real treat: the view of Budapest from above! The Parliament Building, all the stunning bridges, the church steeples, you get the best view of ALL of them on the hike. Great place for an Instagram shot.
At the top you’ll come upon Hungary’s version of the Statue of Liberty, called the Liberty Monument. She looks over Hungary as a symbol of resistance and freedom, and looks damn fine doing it!
There is a lot more to do on this walk, if you want you can spend an entire day on Gellert Hill! Advice from Big Boy Travel:
Known for having the best view of Budapest and one of the best spas anywhere, Gellért Hill (Gellérthegy) is an often the over-looked gem of Budapest. The cave on the Gellért Hill was inhabited before the city of Budapest was even officially settled. Thermal spring waters later attracted more visitors and the hill created a natural point of defense. Today the numerous unique sights make Gellert Hill a great way to spend part of a day.
Budapest Food & Drinks
As with any city, OF COURSE you have to try the local food in Budapest! In Budapest, you have to know up front that you’re going to get some paprika. We personally LOVE paprika, so pour it on!
Number 1 on the menu has to be goulash. Did your grandparents ever make this for you growing up? Ours did, and sorry Grandma but I gotta say Budapest’s chefs are pretty damn good.
Number 2 in our opinion is Hungarian chocolate. As self-proclaimed chocolate connoisseurs, we ALWAYS love when a city has its own take on chocolate. Budapest did not disappoint! There are almost too many chocolate bar options to choose from!
Pálinka is Budapest’s local liquor choice, and we may have had one or three too many. We loved it, especially when the bar is cheering you on because they LOVE when outsiders order a round of Pálinka. We even had to get some for our wedding back in the states! It’s that good.
Can’t say no to fried dough! Langos is flat bread made with flour, yeast, water and salt. You’ll frequently see it topped with mashed potatoes, sour cream yogurt, grated cheese, ham or sausages. Definitely a staple at the Central Market Hall.
Finally, you have to dive into some Hungarian sausage. Eastern Europe knows how to do sausage better than just about anywhere in the world, and that’s coming from a couple Midwesterners…
All in all, the Budapest food is one of the top reasons to visit. We of course recommend trying some of the items this city is known for, but also get out there and see what you discover! Ask a few locals where their favorite place to eat is, and what to order. You’ll find that the food in Budapest is as much about the experience as it is about the taste!
Clothing We Love
You need clothes to travel. Heck, maybe you don’t. We don’t judge. If you want to hop around the world in your birthday suit then go right ahead! But if you want to cover up, here are a few of our favorite clothing items we love, and we think you’ll love too!
Tour Budapest Churches & Opera Houses
Budapest’s architecture is unbelievable, and in our opinion is best captured in a tour of these 4 buildings (in addition to Parliament of course):
St Stephen’s Basilica – The largest church in Budapest, this was dedicated and named for Hungary’s first King. The church still displays Stephen’s mummified hand even! For real, it does.
Matthias Church – Full of surprises, mysteries and treasures, the church has a breathtaking interior with colours inspired by orientalism and romantic historicism. Its mystically exotic atmosphere paired with its Neo-Gothic features differentiates it from any other church
Fisherman’s Bastion – Another stop with a PERFECT panorama of the city. You can see it all, and grab some fresh seafood as you’re there!
Hungarian State Opera House – We assume this a great place to catch an Opera, but to be honest we had a great time walking around! The art and architecture throughout the building is marvelous and a must-see on your trip to Budapest!
A tour of the churches and opera houses around Budapest is a must for anyone interested in Budapest landmarks. Make a day out of it and stop to see 3 or 4 of these beautiful buildings, you will not regret it!
Go to Margaret Island
In our opinion the most underrated thing to do in Budapest. GO TO MARGARET ISLAND!
First off, you get to walk the Margaret bridge on your way, and halfway through the bridge you head down the stairs to the island! Our recommendation, rent a pedal car. For goodness sakes YOU HAVE TO!
The island itself is extremely big, so getting a pedal car will make it much easier to see the whole thing. Plus, they are ridiculously fun to ride around in.
On Margaret Island you should spend some time at the central fountain and the Budapest Zoo. On top of that, if you have time put a blanket out and have a picnic in the park!
We love to read, especially on a trip! We get our books on a Kindle so we can bring multiple books anywhere. Reading is a great way to relax and unwind while also getting caught up in a great story. We love everything from novels to self-help, business books to memoirs. Here are our favorites!
More Pics of Budapest – The Pearl of the Danube!
All in all, Budapest was top 3 in our favorite places in Europe. The food, architecture, natural beauty, and people all made it amazing!
When you get there for your adventure, make sure to ask the locals for their favorite food and drink stops! And of course make sure to see everything from Parliament and the Liberty Statue to the Chain Bridge and medicinal baths in Budapest!
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