Sightseeing in Budapest

Budapest Royal Palace

Top sights in Budapest, Hungary

Budapest straddles the Danube River.  This page lists the top sights on the "Buda" side of the river.  Please also visit our pages about the sights on the "Pest" side and Day Trips from Budapest.  You will also enjoy our page with general information about Budapest.

Castle District- Looming above the Danube River and the famous Chain Bride is Budapest's Castle District.  In Medieval times, this is where most of the citizens lived.  Today the hill town district is reached by a funicular located near the foot of the Chain Bridge.  Note that the funicular is not covered by the Budapest Pass.  The area is filled with small medieval streets with charming houses, shops and restaurants.  In such a large city you suddenly feel as though you are in a small town.  You can easily spend a day exploring this area, which includes the following sights.


Matthias Church- The tall Gothic tower and colorfully tiled roof dominate the main square of the Castle District.  The original church dates back to the 13th century.  It was rebuilt and enlarged several times, resulting in this 19th century version.  What makes this church unique are the large colorful murals that cover the walls, pillars and ceiling of the church, giving a very eastern (almost far East) feel.  Several coronations of Hungary's kings took place here.


Fisherman's Bastion- Located behind Matthias Church, this concrete structure with pointed towers was built on the spot of a former fisherman's village and market.  It was built for the 1896 celebrations and has since become a landmark of Budapest.  From the balconies of the bastion you have wonderful views over the Danube and the city. 


Royal Palace- On the top of Castle Hill is the Royal Palace.  There has been a palace on this site since the 13th century.  As the Hungarians recaptured Buda from the Turks, the original palace was destroyed.  The Habsburgs built a neo-baroque style palace during their reign but that too was destroyed during WWII.  The palace you see today has a modern interior and the exterior incorporates the past styles. 


National Gallery- This museum is located in one of the wings of the Royal Palace.  The focus of the museum is Hungarian art dating back to the 13th century.  The permanent collections are available to visit free of charge.


Gellért Hill and Citadella- This large hill offers some of the very best views in Budapest, especially at night when the city and its famous sights are lighted.  On the top of the hill is a large Citadel that the Habsburgs built to keep an eye over the city.  The best way to get to the top of the hill is by car.  Most public tours and private tours include a stop here for the wonderful view.


Liberation Monument- Also located on Gellért Hill is the famous Liberation Monument.  This 130 foot high statue of a woman holding the palm leaf of victory is a bit controversial.  It was originally built as a war memorial, but the Soviets later turned it into a monument to honor themselves for liberating Budapest from the Germans.  Most Soviet era monuments have been removed but this one remains, but the Name of the Soviet Army has been scratched away.  The statue of an armed Soviet soldier and a red star were removed from the monument after 1989.  This statue is now in Statue Park (see page about day trips).


Gellért Bath- A visit to Budapest is not complete without a visit to one of the famous baths.  The thermal waters of Budapest have been flowing for thousands of years.  The Gellért Baths were built in the art nouveau style and are most famous for their beauty.  You can enjoy the thermal baths and outdoor pools which are heated by thermal waters.  There are also services such as massages available.


The Chain Bridge- Buda and Pest were first connected by the Chain Bridge in 1849.  The original bridge, along with all others in Budapest, was destroyed in WWII.  The Chain Bridge was rebuilt to look like the original and is by far the most famous bridge in the city today.  At night the bridge is beautifully lit.  There are sidewalks on either side of the bridge so an evening stroll over the bridge is an enjoyable experience.


Margaret Island- This island in the Danube is a retreat from the city.  Bicycles and electric trains are on the island, but no motor traffic.  Spend an afternoon to enjoy the gardens, indoor and outdoor pools, thermal pools and, in the summer months there are performances at the open air theater.


Aquincum Ruins- About 2000 years ago the Romans founded a settlement called Aquincum and built Roman baths with the natural thermal springs in the area.  Today you can visit the ruins at Aquincum which include an amphitheater and aqueduct, plus a museum of artifacts found at the site.


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