The many attractions of Budapest are what make it such a popular destination, and if you want to avoid the crowds it can take a bit of planning. With our guide to Budapest's top attractions you'll have all the info you need, from how to get there to the best times to visit.
High above the Danube, Buda Castle is home to the National Gallery and Budapest History Museum, as well as Fisherman's Bastion with its famous views across the river to Pest. The Castle district is open day and night, with the National Gallery and Budapest History Museum open from Tuesday-Sunday 10am-6pm.
Many visitors choose to walk up the hill from the Batthyány tér Metro station, or you can catch the Budapest Castle Hill Funicular railway from the Buda end of the Chain Bridge. The Funicular runs daily 7:30am-10pm, and some Castle Tour tickets include the ride on the railway.
On the Pest side, Hungary's Gothic House of Parliament is an iconic building on the banks of the Danube. There are daily tours through the building offered in different languages, and the Parliament's visitor centre is open Monday-Sunday from 8am, closing at 6pm in summer and 4pm in winter. Tickets cost HUF3,500 for EU citizens and HUF6,700 for non-EU citizens, with reduction for students and children. Note that the Parliament building does have a dress code, and there is an airport-style security check. Visit the website for more details.
Di Andrew Shiva / Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=42506947
Heroes' Square is one of Budapest's most important public spaces, where you'll find the landmark Millennium Memorial, as well as statues featuring important Hungarian national leaders, the Kunsthalle, and the Museum of Fine Arts. The square is open day and night - get there by taking the metro to Hősök Tere. From the square it's a short walk into the City Park for attractions including Vajdahunyad Castle, making it a good starting point for exploring this part of the city.
To do your sightseeing from the water, take a Danube boat tour on the river between Buda and Pest with fantastic views of Buda Castle, Gellert Hill, the Chain Bridge and the Parliament building. There are different types of boat tours on offer, from daytime sightseeing trips to evening dinner cruises, and some operators also include visits to Margaret Island, where you'll find thermal spas and swimming pools, parkland to explore and an Art Nouveau water tower that gives great views of the city.
There are lots of thermal baths in Budapest but the Széchenyi Spa Baths are the most famous of them all, with 15 indoor baths and three outdoor pools making this the largest spa complex in Europe. Such a landmark in the heart of Budapest is, of course, very popular, so plan your trip carefully.
You can miss out the ticket office queues by booking online, with special offers on weekdays, and you can avoid the crowds by going early in the morning. From 6am-8am the baths are almost exclusively used by locals having a swim before work, but any time before midday will improve your chances of escaping the tourist hordes. Take the metro to Széchenyi fürdő.
Di Marc Ryckaert (MJJR) - Opera propria, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7999894Great Synagogue
The story of Jewish life in the city is told at the Great Synagogue and Hungarian Jewish Museum, on Dohany street in Pest. It's the largest synagogue in Europe and is open to visitors daily, with limited hours on Fridays - visit the synagogue website for detailed opening times and to plan your trip. Within the complex, the standard tour will take you through the synagogue buildings, the Raoul Wallenberg Memorial Park, the Tree of Life Holocaust Memorial and the Hungarian Jewish Museum. Take the metro to Astoria.
To see the communist-era statues gathered together in the open-air museum that is Memento Park, the first thing you'll need to plan is how to get there. It is accessible using public transport via metro and bus, or you can take the park's own direct transfer from Deak ter (Metro: Deak Ferenc ter) each day at 11am.
The park is open daily from 10am until dusk, and entry costs HUF1,500 for adults and HUF1,200 for students. The park also offers guided tours in English for all the stories of the statues, monuments and memorials that once stood on the streets of Budapest. Get a discount on the transfer and the tour by booking in advance on the website.
For your place to stay in the Hungarian capital, explore our hotels in Budapest.
By Elelicht - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22764083