What are the best things to do in Budapest?

Roberta Gyori

Budapest is a great walking city, and many of the city's attractions can be reached on foot. The main sights in Buda are located on and around Castle Hill, while most of the attractions in Pest can be found between the Danube and Grand Boulevard. While Budapest has a lot to offer, here are five things that Forbes Travel Guide’s editors think should not be missed:
 
1. Tour Castle Hill. One of the most visited attractions in Budapest, Castle Hill has a varied history that goes back as far as the 13th century. The cobblestone streets will lead you through narrow passages, and past Gothic ruins and rows of Baroque houses. The view from Fishermen's Bastion is simply magnificent, the courtyards of the former Royal Palace are majestic and the Castle Hill Funicular is a fun ride to the top of Castle Hill.
 
2. Stroll along the Danube Promenade. Whether you choose to promenade during the day or during the evening, when the city is all lit up, you’ll understand why Budapest is called “The Pearl of the Danube.” The Danube Promenade, located on the Pest riverbank, starts at the foot of Elizabeth Bridge and ends at the historic Széchenyi Chain Bridge, the first permanent bridge to connect Buda and Pest.
 
3. Visit a historic bath. Budapest sits on a large natural thermal water system, feeding a number of historic baths. With a bathing culture dating back to Roman times, the city’s baths or spas are perfect places to kick back and relax. Baths like Széchenyi and Gellért are perhaps the most popular choices but a visit to Rudas or Király baths, two original Turkish baths from the 16th century, is also a unique experience.
 
4. Shop at Central Market Hall. The largest indoor market in the city is a Budapest landmark. The ground floor and the lower level are packed full of local merchants offering everything from fruits and vegetables to fish, sausages and dairy products. Be sure to try the homemade strudels and farmer’s bread sold by several vendors on the main floor. When you get hungry, the upper level food court offers a variety of traditional Hungarian street food.
 
5. Enjoy a coffee house. The city’s coffee house culture dates back several hundred years, but it truly flourished in the 1900’s. Coffee houses in Budapest have a rich history, beautiful architecture and an old world charm. They are perfect for spending a couple of hours lounging, people watching and indulging in coffee and delicious cakes and pastries. The most popular and storied grand cafés are Gerbeaud, Auguszt, Lukács and Centrál.

  • On August 15, 2012
    Roberta Gyori answered the question: Roberta Gyori

    What are the five best festivals held in Budapest?

    Budapest is a city of festivals with many interesting events happening year around, ranging from gastro festivals to live concerts. Here are five of the best festivals held in Budapest, selected by Forbes Travel Guide’s editors.
     
    1. Sziget Festival. This weeklong summer music festival is one of the largest cultural events in Europe. Performances by many world-renowned artists representing different genres from pop-rock to jazz entertain visitors from all over the world. Sziget is held every August.
     
    2. Budapest International Wine Festival. Bringing together the best winemakers for over 20 years, this festival is a unique experience. Wine lovers can sample some of the best vintages, get to know wine makers and participate in wine tasting classes. The festival takes place in September.
     
    3. Budapest Spring Festival. The annual Spring Festival is one of the oldest and largest cultural events in Hungary. With focus on the performing arts, opera, theater and classical music, it's always a hit. The festival is held from March to April.
     
    4. Budapest Pálinka and Sausage Festival. This is one of the most unique gastro-themed festivals held in the city. It's a musical feast of two staples of Hungarian gastronomy that go well together: fruit brandy and sausages. The festival is held in Castle Hill each October.
     
    5. Budapest Christmas Fair. The city's annual Christmas market held in Vörösmarty Square is worth a winter visit. The scent of roasted chestnuts and mulled wine, a large Christmas tree and the sparkling lights create the perfect holiday atmosphere in a romantic setting. The Christmas market is held each year from November through December.
  • On August 15, 2012
    Roberta Gyori answered the question: Roberta Gyori

    What is the best thing to bring home from Budapest?

    Just like in most tourist destinations, you'll find many touristy mementos, such as t-shirts, key chains and mugs, sold near the main sights in Budapest. If you’re looking for a memorable souvenirs to bring home from Budapest, Forbes Travel Guide’s editors recommend the world-famous sweet Tokaji wine, Hungary's unique fruit brandy called pálinka, porcelain (especially Herend and Zsolnay), and paprika, the most important cooking ingredient in Hungarian cuisine. Szamos marzipan bonbons, available in an array of flavors, also make for a delicious gift idea. Another popular memento to bring home is folk art, mainly embroidery. For a fresh twist on traditional souvenirs, Forbes Travel Guide’s editors recommend visiting the Memories of Hungary store located near St. Stephen’s Basilica or unique local stores like Printa and Fregoli.
  • On August 15, 2012
    Roberta Gyori answered the question: Roberta Gyori

    What are the five best Budapest food experiences?

    While a bowl of traditional Hungarian goulash and a glass of tokaji wine should be on everyone’s to-try list when visiting Budapest, there are many exiting tastes for foodies. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ picks for the five best local food experiences in Budapest:
     
    1. Lángos. This popular street food is served at every market in the city. It's a deep-fried dough flattened into a disk and served with sour cream and cheese, or sprinkled with salt and garlic. It's a tasty and very filling snack.
     
    2. Kürtőskalács. This sweet, spiral-shaped pastry, also called chimney bread, has Transylvanian origins. Its golden brown crust encloses a soft and sweet pastry. You can buy it plain or rolled into walnuts, cinnamon, cocoa, coconut or other toppings from street vendors.
     
    3. Mangalica sausage. As a popular Hungarian staple, sausages (kolbász) come in a variety of forms. A unique and very tasty type of sausage is made from mangalica pork, a Hungarian heritage breed pig. The Central Market Hall is a good place to try some fried Mangalica sausage with mustard, pickles and fresh bread.
     
    4. Foie Gras. Hungary is one of the largest foie gras producers and exporters in the world. Foie gras comes in many forms and is on the menu at many restaurants. Whether you like it grilled, fried, torchoned or as a pâté, foie gras is a must-try food in Hungary.
     
    5. Dobos torte. This classic dessert is one of the many delicacies Hungary is known for. Dobos torte or cake is made up of thin layers of sponge cake with a rich chocolate cream filling topped with caramelized sugar; Gerbeaud and Zingerman’s make some of the best.
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  • On August 15, 2012
    Roberta Gyori answered the question: Roberta Gyori

    Where is the best nightlife in Budapest?

    If you’re looking for the best nightlife in Budapest, Forbes Travel Guide’s editors suggest heading for one of the city’s famous ruin pubs, usually located in old, rundown buildings. Inside you’ll find chic retro décor, live music, late opening hours and a great bar scene. They all have charming patios, some even have a rooftop terrace and many of them support contemporary art, adding a Bohemian-like atmosphere. You can't go wrong with any of them, but some of the most popular to try include Szimpla Kert, Grandio, Instant, Dürer and Ötkert.
     
    Wine bars are another great option for a night out in Budapest. Hungary is famous for its wine culture and wine bars are the latest hotspots in the city. Doblo, DiVino, Kadarka, Innio and Drop Shop are some of the city’s favorite wine bars. If you want to visit one of the greatest bars in the world (with the awards to back up that claim), add A38, a ship docked on the Danube, to your party itinerary.
  • On August 15, 2012
    Roberta Gyori answered the question: Roberta Gyori

    What is the best way to see Budapest in one day?

    If you have just one day to take in Budapest, we suggest you begin your day at the Central Market Hall, one of five surviving 19th century market halls in Budapest. Take a stroll on the ground floor packed with merchants offering a myriad of local produce, fruits and vegetables. Then walk along Váci utca, a pedestrian precinct lined with beautiful 19th century buildings housing boutiques, souvenir shops, restaurants and cafes. Walk to Vörösmarty Square and visit the famous Gerbeaud Café for some coffee and pastries.
     
    From there, head toward the river for a walk along the Danube Promenade to Széchenyi Chain Bridge. Cross the bridge and take the Castle Hill Funicular to the top of Castle Hill. There’ s a lot to see here, so allow for at least a couple of hours to take in all the sights. Take a stroll along the cobblestone streets and visit the National Gallery in the former Royal Palace, Matthias Church — the scene of several coronations — and Fishermen's Bastion for some of the best views of Budapest. Take a coffee break at Ruszwurm, one of the city’s historic coffee houses and pastry shops. Recommended lunch spots in Castle Hill are Vár: A Speiz, Café Miro and Café Pierrot. If you’re a wine lover, be sure to visit the House of Hungarian Wines to sample wine from Hungary’s 22 wine regions.
     
    Finish your day at St. Stephen's Basilica. If you’re a music fan, you’ll appreciate an organ concert. The area around the basilica is also home to many great restaurants and hip wine bars like Borkonyha, Café Kör, and DiVino.
  • On August 15, 2012
    Roberta Gyori answered the question: Roberta Gyori

    Where is the best shopping in Budapest?

    If you’re seeking the best shopping in Budapest, Forbes Travel Guide’s editors suggest you head for the famous shopping streets are Váci utca (utca means street) and the adjacent Fashion Street. Both are pedestrian precincts lined with upscale boutiques, stores, souvenir shops, restaurants and cafés. Located in the very heart of the city, you’ll find shops with familiar names like Hugo Boss, Max Mara, Promod and Zara. If you’re looking for more glamorous designer names like Louis Vuitton, Burberry and Gucci, head over to Andrássy Avenue.
     
    Our recommendation would be to indulge in some local fashion and art. Visit WAMP, the city's monthly design market featuring up-and-coming, contemporary designers selling clothes, jewelry and home décor. Art lovers should visit Falk Miksa utca, lined with art galleries and antique shops.
     
    Finally, you’ll want to save some time and money to explore Budapest's busy markets and flea markets. Along with a myriad of local produce, fruits and vegetables, Central Market Hall also has a large selection of souvenirs. The Ecseri Flea Market is perfect for finding something unique from its eclectic array of items.
  • On August 15, 2012
    Roberta Gyori answered the question: Roberta Gyori

    What are the best things to do with kids in Budapest?

    Budapest is a kid-friendly destination with plenty of activities, museums and attractions to keep your little ones entertained. Here are five of Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ favorite things to do with kids:
     
    1. See the Budapest Zoo. Always a favorite with kids, the Budapest Zoo's Kindergarten is a great place to get up close with various baby animals. With many different animals from all over the world and a large botanical garden, the zoo is an ideal family destination. Don't miss the guided evening walks offered during the summer months.
     
    2. Visit the Palace of Miracles. This interactive museum designed for children is a fun place to learn about basic scientific principles for kids of all ages. This is one of the few museums where it’s actually mandatory to touch the exhibits.
     
    3. Explore Margaret Island. This beautiful green island in the middle of the Danube offers a wide range of activities. You’ll find a petting zoo, a water park, a water tower with panoramic views and Romanesque ruins dating back to the 12th century. Vehicles are prohibited, but bicycle rental is available on the island.
     
    4. Ride the Children's Railway. Located in the Buda Hills, this railway track leads through some of the most scenic spots just outside the city. What makes this ride special is that children with adult supervision run the railway.
     
    5. Splash at Aquaworld. Rain or shine, you can't go wrong with one of Europe's largest water parks. Aquaworld boasts 17 pools, 11 slides, a separate area called Kids' World and a playhouse.
  • On August 15, 2012
    Roberta Gyori answered the question: Roberta Gyori

    What are the best things to do in Budapest?

    Budapest is a great walking city, and many of the city's attractions can be reached on foot. The main sights in Buda are located on and around Castle Hill, while most of the attractions in Pest can be found between the Danube and Grand Boulevard. While Budapest has a lot to offer, here are five things that Forbes Travel Guide’s editors think should not be missed:
     
    1. Tour Castle Hill. One of the most visited attractions in Budapest, Castle Hill has a varied history that goes back as far as the 13th century. The cobblestone streets will lead you through narrow passages, and past Gothic ruins and rows of Baroque houses. The view from Fishermen's Bastion is simply magnificent, the courtyards of the former Royal Palace are majestic and the Castle Hill Funicular is a fun ride to the top of Castle Hill.
     
    2. Stroll along the Danube Promenade. Whether you choose to promenade during the day or during the evening, when the city is all lit up, you’ll understand why Budapest is called “The Pearl of the Danube.” The Danube Promenade, located on the Pest riverbank, starts at the foot of Elizabeth Bridge and ends at the historic Széchenyi Chain Bridge, the first permanent bridge to connect Buda and Pest.
     
    3. Visit a historic bath. Budapest sits on a large natural thermal water system, feeding a number of historic baths. With a bathing culture dating back to Roman times, the city’s baths or spas are perfect places to kick back and relax. Baths like Széchenyi and Gellért are perhaps the most popular choices but a visit to Rudas or Király baths, two original Turkish baths from the 16th century, is also a unique experience.
     
    4. Shop at Central Market Hall. The largest indoor market in the city is a Budapest landmark. The ground floor and the lower level are packed full of local merchants offering everything from fruits and vegetables to fish, sausages and dairy products. Be sure to try the homemade strudels and farmer’s bread sold by several vendors on the main floor. When you get hungry, the upper level food court offers a variety of traditional Hungarian street food.
     
    5. Enjoy a coffee house. The city’s coffee house culture dates back several hundred years, but it truly flourished in the 1900’s. Coffee houses in Budapest have a rich history, beautiful architecture and an old world charm. They are perfect for spending a couple of hours lounging, people watching and indulging in coffee and delicious cakes and pastries. The most popular and storied grand cafés are Gerbeaud, Auguszt, Lukács and Centrál.