Sightseeing in Budapest

Budapest Parliament

Top sights in Budapest, Hungary

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

Parliament Building- This is likely to be Budapest's most recognizable sight.  The large Parliament Building was a part of the building boom for the 1896 exhibition to celebrate Hungary's 1,000 year anniversary.  The building itself was inspired by the London House of Parliament.  Tours of the interior are offered in English at 10:00 AM, noon and 2:00 PM, except Mondays when they only offer the morning tour.  You climb the 96 steps (symbolic of 1896) to the main rotunda which has a 325 foot high dome and the country's crown jewels are showcased center stage.  Next you can visit one of the original Parliament chambers, which are still used today.


State Opera House- This is considered one of the most beautiful opera houses in the world.  It was modeled after Vienna's opera house and amazingly was not damaged during WWII.  Daily tours of the astounding interior are offered in English at 3:00 PM and 4:00 PM.  Evening performances must be reserved well in advance.


St. Stephen's Basilica- This church was built in the last half of the 19th century and its patron saint was Hungary's first king St. Stephen brought Christianity to the country (by force) and was then declared a saint by the Pope.  Ironically this is the only Catholic church in the world where the statue of a King is at the high alter.  The church can hold 8,500 people and a highlight is the neo-Renaissance dome which is 96 meters (symbolic of 1896) high.


Synagogue and Jewish Museum- The Great Synagogue of Budapest is the second largest in the world.  Before WWII the Jewish population made up over 20% of the city.  The main room of the temple can hold over 3,000 people and is well worth a visit.  Next to the Synagogue is the Jewish Museum which features ritual objects from the 18th and 19th centuries.  There is also an exhibit documenting the Holocaust in Hungary.  In the courtyard of the Synagogue there is a mass grave and the Tree of Life, a weeping willow sculpture.  The metal leaves of the memorial each list the name of a Hungarian Jew who was killed during the Holocaust.  The Synagogue sits in Budapest's 7th District, which is the old Jewish quarter.


House of Terror- This interesting museum is designed to give visitors an understanding and feeling of Hungary's darkest years of the 20th century.  This not only includes the time of German occupation in WWII but also life under Soviet rule.  It is wise to pay the extra fee for an audio guide.  Your alternative is to pick up and read leaflets in each room.  While the written material is very good, you would be there for hours reading it all.


Museum of Fine Arts- This museum has a large collection from artists throughout Europe.  However, the highlight is the Spanish exhibition which is the second largest after the Prado in Madrid.


Hungarian National Museum- The Hungarian National Museum is a history museum that features historical relics of Hungary and the Hungarian people.


Coffee Houses- No visit to Budapest is complete without visiting one of her traditional coffee houses.  Two very popular places include Café Central and Gerbaude Café.  The most famous is Coffee New York, in the Hotel Boscolo (reopens Spring 2006).  Stop by in the afternoon for coffee and dessert.


Andrássy Street- This beautiful tree lined street connects the center of the Pest side of the city with the city park.  The street is narrow in the center of the city and it slowly widens as it approaches the park.  The street has many formal villas near the park, which were once home to the richest people in Budapest.  Running below the street is the oldest underground tram in Europe.  Because the beautiful style of the palaces that line the street, it is on the list of World Heritage sites to be protected.


Sights in the Budapest City Park

Heroes Square- This large square was built for the 1896 exhibition and is the gateway into the beautiful city park.  On top of the large column is the Archangel Gabriel.  The statues on the pedestal below are the seven leaders of the tribes who conquered the region in the year 896 AD.  The semicircular colonnade holds statues of famous historical figures throughout Hungary's history.  On either side of the square are two large buildings which look as though they came from ancient Greece, one of which houses the Museum of Fine Arts.  From this square you can enter the park or, in the opposite direction follow Andrássy Street into the center of the city.


Vajdahunyad Castle- This in fact is not a castle at all.  As part of the 1896 exhibition, a series of temporary exact replicas of Hungary's most beautiful historic buildings were built here.  This allowed the visitors to see the "best of Hungary" all in one place.  It was so popular that the city decided to keep it.  The "castle" is on the island in the beautiful city park and it is very popular year round.  Just off the island, people can be seen rowing in the summer and ice skating in the winter.


Széchényi Bath- This is another of the famous baths in Budapest.  You can enjoy the thermal baths and year round outdoor pools which are heated by thermal waters.


City Zoo- Make a full day of the city park and include a visit to the city zoo.


Shopping in Budapest

Vaci Street- This pedestrian street and several smaller streets that stem off of it are by far the best shopping streets in the city.


Old Market Hall- If you are looking for a traditional Hungarian souvenir then head over to the old Market Hall.  This large indoor market is popular with both locals and tourists.  On the main floor you'll find fresh meat, vegetables and spices, including Hungarian Paprika which you can bring home to sample.  The basement level is a big fish market and modern supermarket.  The upper level is primarily arts and crafts from throughout Hungary.  Brightly colored embroidery work is found on linens, dolls and more.  You have freedom to bargain, especially if you visit during the slow periods.  Also on the second floor is a small food court serving traditional Hungarian foods.


Falk Miksa Road (at the Margaret Bridge) is known for its antique shops and galleries.


Other great options include the Flea Market Ecseri Régiség Piac, which is near the city border and open every day, and the factory shops of the world famous Herend china and porcelains, which have been produced in Hungary since 1826.


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St. Stephen's Basilica

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