Explore 1,000 years of Hungarian art and history at Buda Castle, the former home of the Hungarian royalty. The huge building houses both the National Gallery and the History Museum. Make a day of it and see 19th-century Hungarian paintings before getting a good idea of Budapest through the ages.
The separate cities of Buda, Pest and Óbuda were united in 1873 to create a new capital, Budapest. Cross the Danube from Buda to Pest (or vice versa) using the 19th-century Chain Bridge. On the Pest side, there’s the beautiful Gresham Palace, while on the Buda side you’re just a funicular ride away from Buda Castle.
Enjoy a drink at Budapest’s trendiest bar, where everything from the bar top to your champagne flute is made of ice. A nippy 5oC means you’ll need to wear your winter clothing no matter what season you’re visiting, but thermal capes and gloves are given out at the door. Book ahead as this place gets very busy.
Walk to the top of Gellért Hill and get the best view of the city. At the very top is the Citadella, a fortress-like building with views up and down the Danube river. On your way up, stop off at the caves and be dazzled by the white crystals that cover the interior walls. Finish your walk (or start it) with a relaxing dip in the Gellért Baths at the foot of the hill.
Take your pick from the 15 thermal baths that are open to the public. Enjoy a bit of pampering at the baths near Gellért Hill, or head to the 16th-century Rudas Bath that also hosts regular spa parties on Fridays and Saturdays. Children will love the chutes and wave machine at the Palatinus Bath on Margaret Island.
The Budapest Christmas Fair is held at Vorosmarty Square – one of the biggest Christmas markets in all of Europe. With a plethora of stalls to explore and food to enjoy, the delicious honey cookies and local plum brandy at the fair are a must try! The unveiling of the advent calendar is a daily event, accompanied by heart-warming carol singing.
When dusk draws near, the city ignites, as you can enjoy cool drinks in romkocsma pubs set in arty ruined residences. As well as trying the local fruit brandy known as palinka, you should also stop by at Budapest’s famously ornate coffee shops. Delicacies are often liberally spiced with paprika, such as the classic stew, goulash. Wander along the Danube in Pest and you’ll see many restaurant boats to enjoy the traditional cuisine in a waterfront setting.
Travelling around Budapest is a beautiful, unique experience, thanks to the Millennium Underground Railway. The oldest underground system in mainland Europe, its stations have a classic style that recall the late 19th century when they were built. Many areas of the city are pedestrianised too, such as the grand Heroe's Square.
Date: 06/02/2016 - 08/02/2016
This is a foodie festival not be missed. Paying homage to the heritage breed Mangalica pig, this event celebrates all things pork with a showcase of tasty produce like smoked hams, salamis and sausages.
Date: 11/06/2016 - 14/06/2016
One of Budapest’s top festivals is not just for beer lovers. The 4-day event takes place in the beautiful Castle courtyards where you’ll find food stalls, live music, comedy sets and of course, beer!
Date: 12/03/2016 - 02/04/2016
With a wine terrace, food stalls, handicrafts and live folk music, this three-day festival brings to life Hungarian traditions, art and culture in one big celebration.
Date: 09/09/2016 - 13/09/2016
The popular Budapest Wine Festival brings together a wine auction, arts festival and lots of live music performances. Hosted at the historic Buda Castle, you can learn all about wine as well as sample some of Hungary's best tipples.
Click here to check out our European events calendar for a comprehensive round-up of the goings-on in 2016.
Please note, dates are subject to change.
★ Great Market Hall is the number one place to pick up real Hungarian food and drink. It can get very busy at weekends, but is quieter during the week – especially on a Monday.
★ If you fancy doing a spot of shopping during your city break, Pest is best! As the more modern side of the city, its streets combine artisan fairs, chic boutiques and contemporary shopping arcades.
★ It may be steep, but it’s well worth the effort to reach the top of Gellert Hill. Amongst the mighty statues, you’ll enjoy incredible views of Buda Castle, the River Danube and Chain Bridge.
★ Visit one of the most original venues in Europe – the Artemovsk A38. Converted from a Ukrainian stone trawler, this huge ship on the Danube houses cultural events, live music and a nightclub!
Part of the World Heritage complex, this beautiful building is definitely a must see sight. Watch the changing of the guards, explore the museum, take in views of Pest or enjoy one of the many festivals that take place here.
This stunning suspension bridge is one of the city’s main attractions. It’s beautifully lit up at night and you can get a front row view from one of the restaurant boats nearby.
Dedicated to Hungary’s first king, this is the largest church in Budapest. Discover one of the most sacred treasures, Stephen’s mummified right hand, and climb to the top to take in the impressive views.
This impressive building stretches for 268m along the banks of the Danube. Enjoy guided tours inside or simply admire the magnificent architecture of this famous landmark from outside.
For unique souvenirs, Hungarian folk art shops are a sure thing as they feature traditional embroidery, delicate dolls and local pottery. Shopping of a grander nature starts on Vaci Street, which is the main medieval thoroughfare of Pest. Andrassy Avenue is also lined with both boutiques and architectural marvels. Alternatively, you could find some bargain souvenirs at the many stalls of the Great Market Hall. Most shops are closed on Sundays so use this time to meander the quiet streets, admire the architecture and see the sights instead.