Explore and experience. The remnants of the ancient Roman Civil Town, Turkish baths, monarchical grandeur, Zsolnay-accented Art Nouveau, Bauhaus and award-winning modern architecture. Thematic walks to discover Europe’s first café culture, the fine-de-siècle landmarks, the quaint Jewish quarter or leafy Buda. Consult the concierge for bespoke sightseeing options in Budapest.
Best Cultural Secret - Socio-Cultural Walking Tour
This tour features both the diversity and the contrasts Budapest's eighth district is known for: luxurious palaces and time-worn backstreets, former aristocratic residences and slummy neighbourhoods. As part of the Socio-cultural Walking Tour, Budapest Beyond Sightseeing will take you to the home of a musician’s gipsy family, a hundred-year-old blacksmith workshop and an authentic pastry shop. Battle-scarred buildings from WWII and bullet holes left behind by the 1956 Revolution are also part of the tour, along with interesting tales and original stories from the locals. It's an interactive experience that gives a unique insight into the district's diversity and daily life.
Top Day Trip - Várbarlang / The Castle Cave
Take a break from looking up and around to descend to the depths of the city. The Castle Caves in Buda Castle Hill reveal not just a fascinating maze of underground passages and nooks, formed by natural springs dissolving the cementation of the rock, but also funky titbits of history. Count Dracula was imprisoned here in the 15th century, for starters… You can visit various exhibitions and a wax museum or roam free, and after 6:00pm, there’s a guided oil lamp tour for the less faint-hearted.
Top Architectural Find - Hungarian Art Nouveau
Paris, Brussels… Budapest! The heyday of modern Hungarian history not just encouraged a construction boom but inspired architects to create their own derivative of contemporary aesthetics. Ödön Lechner’s riotous, colour-crazy ornamental glazed tiles remain the most conspicuous of this imaginative era, with others drawing on folk art and Oriental traditions. Explore the facades and what’s behind them of a versatile range of edifices, such as the Fasori Calvinist Church, Gellért Spa, the Institute for the Blind, the Geological Institute, the Paris Department Store, and the Hungarian State Treasury (former Hungarian Royal Post Office Savings Bank).
Top Three Sights
1. Széchenyi Bath
2. Heroes Square
3. Buda Castle
Built just off Heroes’ Square in City Park in 1913, Széchenyi Baths remains the largest medicinal baths complex in Europe. Its Neo-Baroque splendour is in curious contrast with the Buda-side spas’ Orientalist and Ottoman grace, while its outdoor pools have forever attracted water-lovers even at dead of winter, so warm and unique is their thermal water. Don’t miss playing chess with the locals in the steam!
But a choice of 21 pools in spectacular surroundings is only the cherry on the cake – Széchenyi’s mineral-rich thermal water, sourced from 1,246 m below ground, is known to benefit physiotherapy, while another source provides artesian thermal water good for digestive problems.
Insider tip: for a more exclusive time at the baths, buy supplemental admission to the Palm House, an eco-friendly green oasis created in cooperation with the nearby Botanical Gardens for a less crowded and more quiet time.
You may know Heroes’ Square from a Michael Jackson video or “Evita”… Its intended purpose in 1896, however, was to commemorate the 1,000th anniversary of the conquest of the Carpathian Basin by the forebears of Hungarians and to present the historical leaders of Hungary. This magnificent and proud semicircular display, its iconic statue complex, the Millennium Memorial, contains statues of the leaders of the seven tribes that founded Hungary in the 9th century and other outstanding historical figures, some of whom were edited out after 1945. For a colourful chronicle of Hungarian history, this is the hall of fame you cannot miss! This sprawling square is flanked by the Museum of Fine Arts and the Hall of Arts. The Museum of Fine Arts is undergoing renovation and will open on 31 October 2018. Don’t miss its meticulously restored, breathtaking Roman Hall and the second-largest collection of Goya’s work.
The adjacent City Park is home to the Zoo and the Grand Circus, while work is ongoing to construct Liget, or a museum complex, by 2020, featuring pavilions, the beautifully restored transport museum and other cultural venues.
How to get there
Széchenyi Baths, Heroes’ Square and City Park are accessible by Metro 1 from Deák Ferenc tér, at the Hősök tere stop. Open daily from 6:00am to 10:00pm; the thermal bath closes at 7:00pm.
Nowhere else is the cavalcade of history more evident than in the quaint hilltop Castle District perched above Buda, Pest and the Danube. While it’s famous for its Medieval, Baroque and 19th-century houses, churches and public buildings, the stories they tell speak of not just Hungarian but Ottoman, Jewish, Christian European and Habsburg chapters of history. Further must-see sights include the Vienna Gate, the Museum of Hungarian Military History, Castle Labyrinth, Buda Castle, Trinity Square, Mathias Church (surrounded by the Fisherman’s Bastion) and Sándor Palace, which is the Hungarian president’s official residence. The Pest-facing hillside Várkert Bazár was recently reconstructed to reveal its full Neo-Renaissance grandeur, with its promenades and spaces now home to exhibitions, cultural events, gardens and restaurants.
The Royal Palace was the former residence of Hungarian kings. Built in the 13th century, it was destroyed and rebuilt many times. During the 19th century, its reconstruction followed a Neo-Baroque style. Under the palace, ruins of the Medieval and Renaissance building were excavated. The castle is a part of the Budapest World Heritage Site, which was declared a UNESCO Heritage Site in 1987. The Hungarian National Gallery is located in Buda Castle.
Fisherman’s Bastion in Budapest is without a doubt one of the top Budapest attractions. The present-day lookout towers, the decorative fortifications of Fisherman’s Bastion, were built in the 19th century to serve as lookout towers for the best panoramic views in Budapest.
Matthias Church is a Roman Catholic church located in Budapest, Hungary, in front of the Fisherman’s Bastion in the heart of Buda’s Castle District. It was originally built in Romanesque style in 1015. The current building was constructed in the florid late-Gothic style in the second half of the 14th century and was extensively restored in the late 19th century, adding new motifs, such as the signature diamond-pattern roof tiles and gargoyle-laden spire.
How to get there
You can take bus Nr. 16 from Deák Ferenc tér and get off in the Castle District, or you can take Nr. 16 to Clark Ádám tér and ride the funicular to the Royal Palace. You can also walk to the Castle District, which will take about 20 minutes.
Picnic Over the City
For me, Budapest is best enjoyed from Buda. Because leafy Buda is built on a series of hills overlooking the Danube and commercial Pest, you get the most striking impressions of the city from the Buda Hills. My favourite vantage point is at the top of Gellért Hill, the Citadella area, where I walk to have a picnic over the city, 140 m above the Danube.
The Citadella was once a fortress, and one can enjoy the lush greenery of Buda as well as views of Buda Castle, which sits like a crown on top of the next hill. Then there is the blue Danube, with its many bridges of differing architectural styles, split by Margaret Island. It is the perfect opportunity to bring the family together for a hiking outing, and frankly, for me, it is also the most romantic part of the city, especially at night, when the Citadella and the night-lit city below show the unforgettable sparkle of Budapest.
Silvia Rajniak - Executive Assistant Manager
Fun on the River
The best part of my Budapest is that it’s a truly unique waterside city. The breath-taking views never fail to amaze me, and I enjoy the buzz of its people coming and going. I never miss a chance to look at the view over the floodlit Castle and Chain Bridge as I drive home on Elisabeth Bridge. To experience such unforgettable moments of beauty, I sometimes take a river cruise on the Danube. There are several kinds of boat trips both within and in and out of Budapest. Apart from sightseeing, you can also dine and wine aboard. If you’re looking for adventure, I would recommend River Ride, which is an amphibious vehicle. The experience is something like taking a floating sightseeing bus, as it shows Budapest’s main attractions on both land and water. There is more to the Danube than views and cruises. Since I am a music fan, I go to the A38 Music Boat. This decommissioned stone hauler ship holds some of the coolest music events both Hungarian and international. In 2012, it was voted the best bar in the world by Lonely Planet.
Árpád Szó - Revenue Manager
The Most Spectacular Tram Ride in Europe
I’ll let you in on a secret: to discover the world-famous sights Budapest has to offer, the best way to experience the must-sees is by taking public transport; namely, tram No. 2. This signature yellow vehicle chugs along the Danube on the Pest bank and its route showcases thrilling views of historical and architectural gems. I get on the tram at the magically lace-like parliament building and head south, enjoying the scenery of the river, the grandiose bridges and the Royal Castle. I get off at the Eötvös tér stop and walk on the picturesque Danube promenade, where Budapest’s buzz quiets and slows. I would continue my ride to the iconic Great Market Hall (Vásárcsarnok), which is the largest indoor market in Budapest. Simply put, this is foodie heaven and a fabulous landmark! By all means, savour lángos on the first floor. You know the saying "it’s so good they do it twice"? It definitely applies to this experience. Ride tram No. 2 by day and by night.
Zoltán Schubert - Financial Controller
Be sure to head back to our Local Information page to discover more of what to see and do in Budapest. Of course, our Clefs d'Or Member concierges and our entire staff at Kempinski Hotel Corvinus will be more than happy to assist in any way they can during your stay too.