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What Is Budapest Known for & Famous For

Budapest is one of the most beautiful cultural cradles in the world, attracting millions of tourists every year. Boasting photogenic panoramas, breathtaking architecture, and a gorgeous view over the Danube river, Hungary’s capital, has a lot to offer. 

Some of the attractions Budapest is known and famous for include the Hungarian Parliament Building, thermal baths, the Buda Castle, the St. Stephen Basilica, the Danube promenade, the Heroes’ square, the Dohány synagogue, the New York café, the Jewish quarter, the Danube bank memorial, and more.

However, these are only a few of the gorgeous and culturally significant attractions that the city offers. Keep reading to find out which experiences you don’t want to miss out on the next time you have the chance to visit this breathtaking city.

1. Hungarian Parliament Building

Let’s start with arguably the most famous attraction in Budapest. The Hungarian Parliament Building is the world’s third-largest national assembly; however, it’s hard to find a more jaw-dropping political building as far as aesthetic appeal goes.

The structure draws from a variety of styles that have influenced Hungarian architecture throughout the centuries, with a facade featuring elements of a Gothic style. This floor plan will remind you of the Baroque era and the ceiling bears that characterized the Renaissance.

Each component of this one-of-a-kind building carries an essential historical and political message, so if you ever get the chance to visit, I assure you you won’t be disappointed.

2. Baths

Budapest’s thermal baths are attractions that draw hundreds of thousands of tourists every year, both due to their breathtaking view and their health-related benefits. Many of these baths are more than a few centuries old, meaning they boast a tremendous historical value.

The thermal baths you’ll find in Budapest are affordable, relaxing, and make for an excellent romantic destination; in short, the perfect location for a quick getaway.

3. Two Cities as One

An element that makes Budapest one of the most beautifully unique cities in the world is that it essentially features two cities as one. In 1873, two cities called Buda and Pest, located on opposite sides of the Danube River united and created the breathtaking, culturally diverse Budapest we know and love today.

The united city quickly became the center of the Kingdom of Hungary, turning into a stronghold that could withstand years of war and oppression. As a result, the people still practice the country’s rich historical traditions, allowing you to live a part of Hungary’s culture every time you visit.

4. Buda Castle

The Buda Castle is a majestic embodiment of Hungary’s turbulent history. You’ll be able to learn more about it by visiting the Budapest Historical Museum or the Hungarian National Gallery, both located within its premises.

The former palace of Hungarian kings and queens features intricate ornaments and decorations representing a piece of the country’s culture and innate love of everything beautiful. The original structure was built in 1265, meaning if you ever get to visit, you’ll be able to experience eight centuries of a rich history full of glories and defeats.

5. Castle District

The Castle District is widely viewed as the nerve center of the city’s history, as it’s an attraction that’s filled with some of Budapest’s most gorgeous and historically rich museums. However, if you’re not the biggest history buff, you’ll still be able to find plenty to do here.

Budapest’s Castle District features various elegant restaurants and gorgeous parks. It might be another touristy spot on this list, but I assure you the visit will be worth it.

6. Buda Castle Hill

If you’re (like me) a sucker for panoramic views, this is the attraction for you. Buda Castle Hill is a district that crowns over the Buda side of Budapest, with so much to offer that you won’t be able to see all there is no matter how many times you visit.

On this jaw-dropping site (that looks over the restless Danube), you’ll find Buda Castle, the Budapest History Museum, the Fisherman Bastion, and much more. If you’re paying Budapest a prolonged visit, I highly recommend visiting Buda Castle Hill several times if you want to take in all it offers.

7. Castle Garden Bazaar

Built in the late 1800s to please the then Queen of Hungary Elisabeth, this building complex is now one of the most famous Hungarian attractions and has been a World Heritage since1987.

Even though WWII severely damaged some of the structure walls, the building has slowly started returning to its previous glory through extensive renovations. The new spaces feature many state-of-the-art architectural features that allow this site to fuse the modern and the traditional perfectly.

8. Buda Castle Hill Funicular

If you’re short on time, choosing a means of transport that goes over this century-old railway to the Buda Castle allows you to make the most of your journey. You’ll be able to use this time to enjoy the glorious view of the Danube while passing over the second-oldest railway in the world.

In fact, the scenery is so gorgeous that Budapest authorities actually slowed down the Buda Castle Hill funicular so that passengers traveling on it would be able to enjoy it properly. This funicular is one of the least time-consuming attractions in Budapest, and the payoff is more than worth it.

9. St. Stephen’s Basilica

St. Stephen Basilica is the largest church in Budapest and an attraction you won’t want to miss. The massive structure can accommodate around 8,500 people at the same time.

This breathtaking Neoclassical church was dedicated to Hungary’s first king St. Stephen, whose name it still holds today. If you’re an architecture enthusiast, you don’t want to miss out on this building’s impressive interiors and exteriors, rivaled in beauty only by the 360-degree panoramic view you can enjoy from its dome.

10. Fisherman’s Bastion

If the premise of a breathtaking panoramic view sparks your interest, you’ll love visiting the Fisherman’s Bastion. Even though the competition is tight, I’d say that visiting this attraction is arguably the best way to take in the city’s sheer beauty.

On Fisherman’s Bastion, you’ll see Pest, the Danube river, and Margaret Island from one of the seven turreted towers that date back to the 19th century.

11. Danube Promenade

If you’re planning a more low-key vacation to the capital, enjoying a walk on the Danube Promenade might just be the activity for you. Why watch the river from hundreds of feet away when you can walk right beside a pleasant, antique promenade that provides you one of the best vantage points to enjoy the city’s natural beauty and architecture from up close.

12. Széchenyi Chain Bridge

The Széchenyi chain bridge is the most famous in the city, and it connects, you guessed it, Buda and Pest. Builders erected the structure in1849 to connect the two towns on the opposite sides of the Danube river.

If you’re looking for a peaceful walk and a gorgeous river view, this is another excellent attraction to visit.

13. Heroes’ Square

Budapest is a city that features numerous squares, home to many historical and tourist attractions. However, It’s safe to say that none are as famous or popular as Heroes’ Square.

The attraction is an ode to Hungary’s seven founding figures, providing historical interest. However, the square is also one of the most populated tourist attractions in the city since it serves as a convenient central point from where you can easily explore the rest of Budapest.

14. Central Market Hall

This century-old market hall is one of the unique attractions you’ll find right in the heart of Budapest. Central Market Hall encompasses an area of over 110,000 square feet (10,200 square meters), and it’s still as popular and functional as ever. Therefore, if you’re looking to buy some one-of-a-kind souvenirs or try out the local produce, this is the place to be.

You won’t be able to miss the enormous structure, as its colorful roof features thousands of Zsolnay tiles, which are unlike anything you’ve seen before.

15. Dohány Street Synagogue

Budapest’s Dohány Street Synagogue is the biggest in the world outside of Israel. Like many other buildings and attractions I’ve covered thus far, this synagogue, built in 1859, holds a great deal of cultural and historical value. This venue boasts the stunning architectural detail you’ll be able to observe if you ever get the chance to visit this attraction.

16. Hungarian State Opera

It doesn’t matter if you’re an art enthusiast; the Hungarian State Opera in Budapest is one of the most beautiful embodiments of the country’s culture and artistic tradition, so I highly recommend visiting this attraction.

The elegantly-decorated auditorium holds 1,200 spectators at a time, so even if you don’t get the chance to attend a live performance, you can always follow one of their guided tours if only to view its gorgeous interior.

17. The Danube River

I believe this goes without saying, but it didn’t feel right to compile a list of Budapest’s most famous attractions without mentioning the Danube river. The Danube is the second-longest river in Europe, and it conveniently passes right through Budapest.

You’ll likely view this restless waterway when walking around the city (or visiting one of the previously mentioned attractions). I strongly urge you to take a guided cruise through the Danube to truly experience its strength and beauty. You’ll also be able to take in the fantastic views of the city’s architecture.

18. New York Café

You’ll often find this attraction referred to as “the most beautiful café in the world,” and for a good reason. Budapest’s New York Café promises a feast for your stomach and your eyes, featuring an endless array of intricate designs bathed in velvet and gilt.

However, the breathtaking interior still doesn’t take away from the delicious dishes you’ll be able to enjoy here, boasting a wide range of flaky pastries and rich creams that are bound to make even the biggest dessert skeptic salivate.

19. Citadella

This fortress, built more than a century ago, was first designed as a structure to keep the city under surveillance. Now that the danger of evil intruders seems to be behind us, this attraction serves as an excellent vantage point from where you can view Budapest in all of its glory.

However, Citadella is much more than an advantageous location with breathtaking views; locals widely view this fortress as a symbol of oppression and glory.

20. House of Terror

House of Terror is one of the darkest museums Budapest has to offer; however, it is a testament to Budapest’s suffering and perseverance. This museum was once a site of numerous tortures and executions carried out by the Nazi and Soviet regimes.

Now, House of Terror lives to tell the heartbreaking story, allowing everyone to marvel at the courage and strength demonstrated by this unfortunate population.

21. Jewish Quarter

The Jewish quarter is a site that combines art, history, and excellent dining establishments – in short, everything you’d want to experience as a tourist. This area is home to the famous Dohány Street Synagogue and many other sites and attractions that will provide you with a full experience of the area.

Here, you can spend the day visiting historical locations, going to avant-garde galleries, trying on clothes at eclectic boutiques, and enjoying the delicious local cuisine.

22. Gellért Baths

I briefly mentioned Budapest’s famous thermal baths in one of the previous sections; however, none are as renowned or widely sought-after as the Gellért Baths. You’ll find plenty of visitors raving about the health-related benefits of some of their most famous pools.

However, even if you’re not interested in the medicinal aspect of these baths, you can always visit this attraction in search of one of their famous recreational facilities while enjoying the gorgeous Art-Nouveau interior decor.

23. Széchenyi Thermal Baths

This attraction is essentially an all-in-one wellness center, providing lots to see and do while catering to those with special health-related needs. Széchenyi Thermal Baths feature pools rich in calcium, fluoride, magnesium, and bicarbonate, which can significantly improve certain health conditions.

24. Cave Chapel

Cave Chapel is one of the most peculiar attractions in Budapest, consecrated by Pauline monks in the early 1900s. Even though Cave Chapel served as a monastery in its early beginnings, the site quickly became a field hospital once World War II hit.

Today, Cave Chapel boasts more than its one-of-a-kind history, as its unique natural setting makes this attraction one of Budapest’s most special charms. However, don’t expect intricate decorations or luxurious interiors when visiting this religious structure. In fact, the chapel’s simplicity sets it apart from so many other churches and synagogues on this list.

25. Caves

The labyrinth of enormous caves lying underneath Budapest is one of the most impressive attractions when visiting the city. In fact, Budapest is the only capital in the world that features such an intricate underground cave system.

Therefore, if you’re looking for a unique experience that takes you away from the usual churches and museums, I highly recommend visiting one of the jaw-dropping caves lying right below the streets thousands of people walk in every day.

26. Danube Bank Memorial

The Danube Bank Memorial is another touching tribute dedicated to those who lost their lives during WWII. You’ll be able to find this one-of-a-kind attraction right alongside the Danube Promenade, and I guarantee its setup will leave you speechless.

The memorial comprises 60 pairs of iron shoes, which serve as a reminder of the countless victims that had to take off their shoes right before the fascist militia massacred them.

27. Great Market Hall 

Rain or shine, the Great Market Hall has three market floors to explore with a wide variety of products. From pickles to clothes and delicious local fare, the market caterers to every taste and a great way to spend an afternoon stocking up on gifts to take home to friends.

The market also sells an array of fresh produce, pickles and cured meats, and a selection of spices and wines. If you have a busy day sightseeing, you may also select from several food stalls for a perfect brunch. 

28. Flea Market

If like me, you’re someone who likes finding unique trinkets and souvenirs from each city they visit, you’ll love Budapest’s Flea Market.

However, you have to be dedicated to treasure hunting to visit this attraction, as unfortunately, it is quite far on the city’s outskirts. However, those that don’t enjoy overcrowded touristy spaces might enjoy the opportunity to experience a more authentic side of Budapest.

29. Food

In the first paragraphs of this article, I promised my fellow foodies some recommendations; after all, what’s a better attraction than a creamy, succulent entreé or a decadent dessert? Therefore, in the following sections, I’ll be covering some traditional Hungarian dishes for which Budapest is renowned.

Going out to eat in Budapest can often feel overwhelming. Their cuisine is so rich with one-of-a-kind dishes that it can be challenging to sort and choose. Make sure to read through the following dishes to find out which one seems like the best way for you to experience Budapest’s mouth-watering cuisine.

30. Strudel

A flaky filo pastry combined with a creamy, fruity filling – there’s no better dessert to top a heavy, rich Hungarian meal. However, the strudel comes in plenty of savory variations, making it one of the most versatile dishes you’ll come across when visiting Budapest.

Apple is usually the most popular strudel filling; however, depending on your preferences, you can always opt for:

  • Poppyseed
  • Plum
  • Apricot
  • Sour cherry
  • Cottage cheese
  • Chicken and potato.

31. Beef Goulash

Goulash is Hungary’s national dish, and I believe its hearty, warm quality perfectly represents the nature of the locals. The humble dish consists of a stew usually made with beef and vegetables, seasoned with lots of paprika, which seems to be the country’s unofficial national spice.

32. Paprikás

Speaking of Hungary’s love of paprika, there’s a whole dish dedicated to the spice called paprikás. This comfort food cuts the strong paprika flavor with rich cream, resulting in a perfectly-balanced taste and texture. Afterward, the saucy base gets a few cuts of tender meat, which makes for a hearty meal that will always leave you asking for seconds.

33. Ruszwurm

Ruszwurm is a family-owned café operating in Budapest for the last two centuries. The establishment is famous for its traditional yet decadent desserts, unlike anything you’ve ever tried before. The café is easy to spot as its cherry-wood counter and dial plate clock have become iconic.

34. Margaret Island

Moving on from the food-related attractions, next on our list comes Margaret Island. Located strategically right between Buda and Pest in the Danube river, this island makes for a perfect tranquil getaway that allows you to view the city from another perspective.

 

Margaret Island features a virtually endless array of attractions that cater to all types of tourists, so I highly recommend visiting it.

35. Ruin Pubs

If you think that visiting local pubs and bars abroad is a waste of time that you could spend exploring, think again. Ruin Pubs in Budapest is a collection of bars located in a formerly abandoned building.

While this is a typically touristy spot, there’s a good reason behind its popularity. These drinking joints feature a type of atmosphere and interior design you’ll likely never be able to experience elsewhere.

36. Andrássy Avenue

Andrássy Avenue is an iconic boulevard in Budapest dating back to 1872. This boulevard is a sight to see, as the jaw-dropping neo-renaissance mansions surrounding it only add to its beauty and historical value. Andrássy Avenue is also a World Heritage Site, yet another reason why you don’t want to miss out on it.

37. City Park

City Park Hungary is one of the biggest public parks in the Hungarian capital, located close to the city center. The venue has been hosting some of the country’s most historical events for centuries now. Even though it might seem like an overly touristy attraction, it still provides an excellent economical way to enjoy the city’s history and culture.

38. Museums

You already know that Budapest boasts a rich history if you’ve read through this list. If you’re looking to learn more about the city’s historical and cultural background, here are a few of the most famous museums you might want to visit:

39. Ancient Ruins

Budapest is the site of many ancient ruins that serve as a testament to the city’s (and country’s) rich history. For example, by visiting the Aquincum Museum, you’ll be able to see the ruins of the ancient city of Aquincum, which was a part of the Roman Empire situated on the northeastern borders of Pannonia.

Conclusion

Each of these attractions carries a distinct historical and political value, so if you ever get the chance to visit Budapest, use this article as your guide on everything you don’t want to miss visiting.

Whether you’re a history buff, a food enthusiast, or simply looking for a breathtaking panoramic view overlooking the Danube, you’re guaranteed to find what you’re looking for by visiting a few of these gorgeous attractions.

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