Budapest can be the most romantic places of all. You don’t have to work on getting romantic, as the city and its sights, landscapes cater for the romantic atmosphere anyway. Of course, your personal charm and the good relationship will make it the best.
If you want to make the most out of your romantic Budapest trip we suggest timing anything ‘more romantic’ (first kiss, proposal, you know what we mean) for the night: on the one hand, there are fantastic warm night lights (see the beautiful photos – click on them to enlarge), on the other hand, the lame graffitis and the occasional street waste is not ruining the big moments.
Now let’s see the top romantic places in Budapest, Hungary. It goes without saying that the top romantic attractions, sights to see and things to do in Budapest are in, or close to the Buda Castle in the Castle district on top of the Buda Castle Hill.
The Fisherman’s Bastion is right next to the Matthias Church. The Bastion itself is like a fairy tale turreted mock fortress (like the castle logo in Walt Disney films), and the views over the river and the Pest side architectural beauties are stunning. Imagine a long stretch of white towers, white cloisters with hidden stone benches, and white walls with many arched windows and alcoves to overlook the sights of Budapest on the Pest side (the Hungarian Parliament, the Art Nouveau Gresham Palace, the St Stephen Basilica, etc.). The Fisherman’s Bastion is probably the most popular Budapest attraction and panoramic photo taking place, so if you want to avoid the peak hours of tourists, and want to see the romantic night lights, go there after sunset. There is a restaurant in part of the bastion, and the top turrets are fee paying (but the lower rampart is free and open 24/7!). The stairwells of the bastion lead down to the river in nice shady walks under the trees, and old houses.
The gothic Matthias Church (dating back to the 13th century) is loaded with history, full of warm colours shining through the stained windows, and the walls are also painted lending a unique atmosphere to the church, which makes it stand out from the usual church interiors (see more Budapest churches that are worth a visit). Hungarian kings not only used it a coronation church but also as the venue of their weddings. They knew how to make weddings romantic. And the surroundings!
Besides walking down the stairs of the bastion and the streets on the Castle Hill, you can descend by taking the old fashioned, nostalgic Funicular Railway at the Buda Castle (it leaves from the huge prey bird statue – the legendary Turul – and the Alexander Palace. There are very nice views from the upper station of the Funicular Railway (see this romantic picture below – more or less the same view as from the Fisherman’s Bastion), and also from the cars of the funicular (although the cable car trip is quite short as the Castle Hill itself is not too high either. Mind you, Budapest transport passes are not valid on the Funicular, you will need to buy funicular tickets):
The Citadel is slightly less touristy than the Fisherman’s Bastion and we think the views are better: THE BEST in Budapest. The Citadel itself is not much of interest (a 19th century fortress with some cannons, a somewhat lame WW2 museum, cafes, souvenir stalls), but there is a good restaurant with good views for dinners (no lunches), and the walk up to the Citadel on the slightly steep Gellert Hill under the shady trees (which makes it very walkable even on hot summer days) plus the panoramic VIEWS from the top of the Gellert Hill are certainly ‘once in a lifetime’ experiences, and very romantic. No wonder, there are many proposals made here in Budapest: ‘Look dear, I’ll give you this beauty.’ (Mind you, girls usually don’t wear high heels for this walk)
Walking on the Danube Promenade is a must – Budapest is full of romantic walks. If you are too tired to walk, or just for fun, you can always get on tram number 2 on the Pest side. Tram number 2 is running from the southern tip of the Margaret island to the Petofi Bridge along the Danube Embankment, and you can see everything from the tram windows along the Danube Promenade (the stretch between the iconic Chain Bridge and the white modern Elisabeth Bridge). The tram trip is the most convenient way to see many of the UNESCO World Heritage site buildings and landscapes in Budapest, and it’s an almost free sightseeing tour (you get the tram ticket for a few hundred HUF, or about 1.2 euro / 1 GBP).
The Hungarian Opera House could be in any top notch 19th century romantic films. It is a smaller opera house (and the home of the Ballet Institue). The Opera House in Budapest is rated among the top European opera houses for both its architecture/interior and its acoustics. All glitter, lights, warm red carpets, frescos and statues, and of course operas (and ballets). And it is (dirt) cheap to get in, as the cheapest tickets for the topmost places (3rd floor, balcony) in the Opera are about 3-4 euros! For this price, don’t expect to see too much from the performance but you can look around the building (although balcony ticket holders must get to the top in a simple staircase – no lift, sorry – which means that you will miss the majestic main staircase. Still, during the break, you can take a look around, step out to the big terrace in good weather, etc.). The good news is that even the most expensive seats are very affordable (about 55 euros) compared to usual opera ticket prices of similar high quality. Needless to say, there are guided tours in the Opera House, so you don’t need to endure an opera performance, or fight for the last bits of the remaining opera tickets.
Vajdahunyad Castle in the City Park: not to be missed. Another castle, but this time with a bit of a twist: first of all, there is an artificial lake by the castle. Secondly, Vajdahunyad Castle (built at the end of the 19th century) is a showcase of the most famous buildings all over Hungary. Each building represents a distinct architectural style (e.g. the Romanesque church in the village of Jak, Renaissance and Baroque mix, and the castle towers of Vajdahunyad). The castle is in the biggest park in Budapest (the City Park). In summer time there is an artificial lake right next to the building, in winter time it is turned into a huge open-air artificial ice rink. Absolutely romantic any time!
The Medieval Cloister in the Vajdahunyad Castle, Budapest is exceptionally romantic too (click on the photo to enlarge):
The Tree of Love Locks on Elisabeth square: there is a young tree on Elisabeth square (in Hungarian Erzsebet ter, right next to the Deak square where all 3 metro lines meet). The tree is protected by a design metal fence with lots of locks. The locks of love. Couples pledging ‘forever love’ to each other put their love lock on the fence symbolising eternal love (you can only unbind the lock of your love if you remove the padlock from the Love Tree). A sweet romantic custom. Get the padlock engraved, and place it on the Love Tree.
National Theatre and the Ludwig Museum (art complex): if you are romantic, but not historical romantic (i.e. if you have a lot of modernity in your veins), it is worth visiting the newly erected National Theatre and Palace of Arts. Modern design, beautifully lit up at sunset (plus the Ludwig Museum is open until 8pm should you decide to take a look at the warm interior). There are several interesting statues in the park at the National Theatre, nice place for a walk among the figures, and to avoid awkward silences.
Up in the Buda Castle, on top of the Castle Hill, you can take a romantic tour in the Castle district with a horse carriage – white horses, padded seats, nice streets and views. Not many couples get the chance to take a romantic horse carriage tour in a beautiful city in a UNESCO World Heritage site. :)