Take your pick from Budapest’s top ten tourist attractions, including free attractions, historic landmarks, and even 2 UNESCO World Heritage sites.
The top 10 Budapest attractions includes the major must see places, for Budapest hidden gems please visit our off the beaten track guide. Also, take a look at our Top Ten Things to Do Budapest list for inspiration.
Top 10 Attractions in Budapest
The following top ten attractions in Budapest are highly recommended by all locals and tourists (based on locals’ tourists’ votes and reviews on travel sites like TripAdvisor, travel guides like Frommer’s Travel Guide, Fodor’s Travel Guide, the Lonely Planet, travel forums, etc. and of course our own experience).
The top ten attractions in Budapest are highlighted in bold; neighbouring attractions and places of interest have also been added to make planning your Budapest itinerary easier. Click on the links of each attraction to get loads of useful info about them: detailed overview, history, architecture, opening hours, entrance fees, miscellaneous tips and info, etc.
Szechenyi Bath – Budapest Top Ten Attractions Number 1
Szechenyi Bath is one of the best thermal spa baths in Budapest, the City of Baths. Highly popular, highly rated, open all year round, with spa treatments, massages, and even spa parties. A great way to relax after your city walks and tiring flights. Entrance fees are not cheap, but affordable. Open all year round means even in winter time, or at Christmas.
See our guide for Which is the Best Bath in Budapest and Why? Other cities have many museums, castles, palaces, galleries, but we think Szechenyi Bath is a unique attraction in Budapest, so this is our number 1 pick.
Buda Castle Hill – Budapest Top Ten Attractions Number 2
Buda Castle Hill with the Buda Castle (World Heritage site), the fairy tale Fisherman’s Bastion and the 700 year old Matthias Church, the 19th century Funicular, the nuclear shelter of the Hospital in the Rock, the 18th century Cafe Ruszwurm Confectionery or the old Alchemist house, now the Golden Eagle Pharmacy Museum is a fascinating, historical, romantic and fun place.
The whole Castle Hill or Buda Castle quarter could be a one day programme in itself. You can take the best panoramic photos of Budapest from Fisherman’s Bastion without a fuss.
Central Market Hall – Budapest Top Ten Attractions Number 3
The Central Market Hall is a great place to try Hungarian fruits, Langos (yummy snack) in the summer, and buy the most traditional gift items.
From the Central Market Hall you can walk over the 19th century Liberty Bridge to the Gellert Baths, or go to Raday street full of restaurants, or continue your walk back to the city centre through Vaci utca pedestrian only shopping street (more shopping) to arrive at Vorosmarty square (Cafe Gerbeaud), Gresham Palace and the Chain Bridge, the symbol of Budapest.
House of Terror Museum – Budapest Top Ten Attractions Number 4
House of Terror Museum: the most popular and unique historical museum in Budapest revealing the horrors of the Communist and Nazi regimes in Hungary. Unique content, great displays, recommended as a ‘must see’ by most tourists, a great favourite amongst local Hungarians. After the exhibition it is good to step outside from the House of Terror museum to feel relieved in the UNESCO World Heritage site called Andrassy Avenue – from terror to beauty. A memorable experience, followed by a good walk.
Alternatives for those interested in the history of Hungary, Central and Eastern Europe:
- National Museum of Hungary (also a great place for looking at old artefacts, and century old applied arts)
- Budapest History Museum (located in the Buda Castle with many old remains and some interesting exhibits of Budapest)
Opera House – Budapest Top Ten Attractions Number 5
The Hungarian State Opera House is on Andrassy Avenue (Andrassy, Budapest’s Champs Élysées is a World Heritage site): the Opera House is like a jewel box, 19th century architecture, superb acoustics, tickets from low prices up to elegant stalls and prices.
The opera performances are not only great, but can be the best budget programmes you can have in Budapest. Romantic, beautiful, high quality and inexpensive. The only problem is that there are no performances in summer. That said, the singers and dancers of the Opera House perform on the Budapest Opera Cruise and Show from May to October under the direction of Laszlo Csanyi opera singer.
For those only interested in the architecture but not the music, opera building tours are also available.
Hungarian Parliament – Budapest Top Ten Attractions Number 6
Hungarian Parliament in Budapest. The Parliament building by the river Danube was modelled after the English Parliament (in Gothic revival style). The Parliament is magnificent, opulent, and also home of the Hungarian Crown Jewels.
From 2013 January visiting the Parliament is NOT free for EU tourists any more. Please expect long queues as places are limited for a given day (it is still the Parliament of Hungary with many sessions). You can book your Hungarian Parliament tours online in advance to save you some time.
Once at the Parliament, you can walk along the Promenade of the river Danube, or take a day or night Budapest river cruise on the Danube.
St Stephen’s Basilica – Budapest Top Ten Attractions Number 7
St Stephen’s Basilica is the biggest church in Budapest.
The church building is a beautiful, richly ornamented Catholic cathedral, which almost took 40 years to build.
It is located in downtown Budapest, and serves as an excellent landmark for navigation while walking on the Pest side of Budapest.
Admission is free, and there are some special organ concerts in the Basilica to enjoy. The mummified hand of the first Hungarian king, St Stephen, is also on display here.
Steps or lift will take you to the lookout tower of the Pest side, as the Basilica is the highest point on the flat Pest side of Budapest.
Heroes’ Square – Budapest Top Ten Attractions Number 8
The Heroes’ Square in Budapest is a grandiose and historic landmark with the Millennium Monument, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Kunsthalle, the Outdoor Ice Rink of Budapest (only in winter) and the backdrop of the City Park trees, or the towers of the Vajdahunyad Castle. The Heroes’ Square (Hosok tere) is also the crescendo of the Andrassy Avenue (UNESCO World Heritage site).
Take the Millennial Underground to Heroes’ Square for a fun nostalgia ride (feels like travelling on a kid sized metro), or if you have ample time and like walking, take a stroll on Andrassy Avenue from Oktogon Square to Heroes’ Square. Drop in Lukacs Confectionery for a proper tea or a nice coffee and cake.
Great Synagogue in Dohany Street – Budapest Top Ten Attractions Number 9
The most well known European Synagogue, i.e. Budapest Great Synagogue in Dohany Street is the second biggest synagogue in the world.
The Synagogue has lots of further must see attractions, like the Jewish Museum, the Jewish Cemetery, the Holocaust Memorials, and the nearby Jewish Quarter (Budapest had a big Jewish community before WW2). The Great Synagogue in Budapest is enormous (seating 3,000) and beautiful.
There are several concerts, and tours, but visiting the Great Synagogue is not free.
In the courtyard, at the back of the Synagogue you can see the most touching Holocaust monument, the Wheeping Willow Tree where each leaf has a name on it to remember.
Please note that there is an entrance fee to visit the building (Jewish Tours in Budapest usually include the entry).
Margaret Island – Budapest Top Ten Attractions Number 10
Margaret Island park: to relax, rest and have fun in a bit of nature in the middle of the city of Budapest go to Margitsziget (Margaret Island).
Take a ride on 4 wheeled bike carts, electric cars, have a Langos (surprisingly great sour dough with sour cream, even if it doesn’t sound so), drink and dance in Cafe Holdudvar, visit the pet zoo, throw frisbees, have picnic, splash in the pools of Palatinus lido, watch the Hungarian water polo team in Hajos Swimming Pool, etc.
Related: Top ten things to do in Budapest, Hungary: the top ten list includes activities and other
It is a great challenge to put together an ultimate guide to the top ten Budapest attractions as have had to pick from more than 50 great things to see in the city, nice markets, 10 bigger historical spa baths, over 50 museums in Budapest, dozens of churches, and a range of beautiful 19th century buildings (some of which are built in amazing Art Nouveau style), some historical cafes and restaurants.
If you only spend 2 days in Budapest, you will regret how little time you have to enjoy the attractions and things to do Budapest has to offer, but you may have time to see at least the World Heritage sites.
Please check the following Budapest tours for a good sightseeing experience.