10 Things To Do In Budapest As A First-time Visitor

Budapest is a city known for its rich history, amazing architecture, and vibrant nightlife. As a first-time visitor, you will find there are hardly enough days to visit all the attractions. Here is a list of the best places you cannot afford to miss on your trip to Budapest.

1. Walk Over The Széchenyi Chain Bridge

What better way to start your tour than with the only attraction that unites Buda and Pest—the two cities that make up Budapest?

The Széchenyi Chain Bridge defines Budapest. This exceptional 19th-century masterpiece was the first permanent stone bridge arching over the Danube River.

The bridge suffered severe damage during the second world war that almost destroyed it. However, to this day, the bridge date stands on its original pillars; even the stone lions that guard the ends of the bridge are original structures.

Take a walk across the beautiful bridge to enjoy a fantastic view.

2. Relax At The Thermal Baths

Budapest has good reasons to be called “The City of Spas.” The city is famous for the healing properties of its thermal waters. The Turkish baths date back to the 16th century and offer a look into the Ottoman Dynasty.

Of all the baths, the Széchenyi Baths are the most popular and the largest in Europe, oozing calmness in the bustling Budapest. From luxury spa treatments and massages to steam baths and saunas, Széchenyi offers plenty of services to get you relaxed, all in the grand 20th-century Turkish building.

3. Visit The Great Market Hall

The 19th-century neo-Gothic tunnel is now known as the Great Market Hall. It is a giant marketplace offering local produce and handicrafts.

You will witness exemplary architecture and experience a sensory overload due to the beauty and delicacies that the place offers. Exploring the three floors of the market gives you a look into the local culture and the lifestyle of the people.

It is the best place to pick up a souvenir that you will cherish for a lifetime, along with the beautiful memories you make on your trip.

4. Spend A Day On The Margaret Island

Margaret Island is Budapest’s most impressive green space. Many bridges connect this 2.5-kilometer-long island on the Danube to Buda and Pest.

The island has a rose garden, Japanese gardens, many small waterfalls, and a stunning and famous “music fountain” that comes alive and dances to classical music.

This is the perfect place for you if you crave a break from city life. With multiple destinations to explore, you will need more than a day to do justice to this Island.

5. Visit The Shoes At The Danube Bank

This is a memorial to around 3,500 Hungarians who lost their lives to Fascists during World War II.

Arrow Cross militiamen commanded these innocents, including 800 Jews, to remove their shoes. They then shot them, and their dead bodies flowed away with the river.

The 60 pairs of cast iron shoes lining the bank of the Danube river are a heartbreaking sight that will be imprinted in your memory forever.

6. Visit The St. Stephen’s Basilica

St. Stephen’s Basilica is the largest church in Budapest. It can house more than 8,500 folks at a time. With its ornate religious relics, it is one of the city’s most iconic structures.

You will be able to see the relics of St. Stephen, the patron saint of the church and Hungary’s first king, here. The Basilica preserves his mummified right hand near the main altar in a case.

After taking in the neoclassical architecture, climb upwards for beautiful views from the cupola.

7. Explore Many Cool Places At The Jewish Quarter

The Jewish Quarter once homed a prosperous community of around 1 million Jewish people. However, after the alliance of Hungary with Nazi Germany, most of these places were left in ruins. With its edgy, hip, and cool culture, this place is a must-visit for every tourist.

Now home to many excellent restaurants, modern cafes, and edgy bars, it has become the favorite spot for all food lovers.

Don’t miss the Szimpla Kert, a ruin bar,  and the three dazzling synagogues—the Great Synagogue of Budapest, the Holocaust Memorial Centre, an Abandoned Jewish Cemetry

8. Visit The House Of Terror Museum

Once an epitome of fear, today, it is a museum that takes you back to the dark times that the city witnessed.

The Terror Museum was once the headquarters of the Hungarian Secret Police. The police brutally interrogated and tortured many innocents during the Stalinist and Fascist regimes.

The four-floor informative museum on the Pest side gives you a first-hand rundown of the horrible event from the survivors themselves through installations and interactive screens.

One of the most alluring parts is the basement, which once was an interrogation center of political prisoners by the Arrow Cross Party.

9. Visit the Great Synagogue

The Great Synagogue is the second largest synagogue in the world and has stunning architecture and a colorful interior. It holds the Hungarian Jewish Museum and Archives, the Holocaust Tree of Life Memorial, and a cemetery in the garden.

The place educates the tourist on the history of the Jewish people in the beautiful city. It pays homage to the thousands of Jewish holocaust victims through the Holocaust Tree Of Life Memorial. The tree has the victims’ names written on its leaves to honor them.

10. Take A Tour Of The Parliament Building

One of the city’s most famous landmarks, The Parliament Building, has 691 rooms bursting with Gothic Revival architecture, impressive interior, life-like statues, and beautiful paintings.

Outside the Parliament are the Kossuth Memorial, the 1956 Hungarian Revolution Memorial, and several notable statues of the elite and important people in  Hungarian history.

Explore the gold-gilded staircase, session rooms, the Great Vaulted Hall, and the 1000-year-old crown jewels inside this architectural masterpiece.

Wrapping Up

This list is not exhaustive. You need to explore many places here, but this list of the top 10 things to do in Budapest as a first-time visitor will give you a headstart.

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