The Bohemian Elegance - Top Things To Do in Budapest

Panoramic View of Budapest from the Citadel, Hungary

In Budapest old-world elegance meets bohemian and eccentric features. The Hungarian capital has a unique charm thanks to its rich history and the cultural influences during the centuries. This city thrives in stunning architectural wonders, historical sights, museums, Instagrammable spots, thermal baths, Jewish sites, traditional elegant cafés and restaurants, trendy and unconventional ruin pubs and captivating nightlife. Treat yourself also with flavorful Hungarian wine and Hungarian dishes.

Keep on reading, and you'll find some interesting info on, people you didn't know were first and second generation Hungarian, and inventions you didn't know were Hungarian.

1. Check Out The Must-See Attractions and Instagrammable Spots

The capital of Hungary is full of stunning architectural wonders, historical sights, museums, and Instagrammable spots. Old-world elegance meets bohemian and eccentric features. If you are an architecture lover, Budapest is the right place for you. There are plenty of architectural styles across the city: Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Classicist and Art Nouveau. Even if you're just walking around the city, you can find plenty of hidden gems, cool neighborhoods and places off the beaten path. Some of the must-see attractions are the Castle District (Buda Castle, Matthias Church, Fisherman's Bastion, Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest History Museum, Trinity Square, The Labyrinth: Caves beneath Castle Hill, Hospital in the Rock Nuclear Bunker Museum, The House of Houdini), The Parliament, The St. Stephen's Basilica, The Chain Bridge, The Citadel (it offers one of the most stunning views of Budapest), Hungarian State Opera House, Szécheny Bath, The Great Market Hall, Vajdahunyad Castle in City Park, Dohány Street Synagogue ( Europe’s largest synagogue (and the world’s second largest!), Heroes' Square, Margaret Island, Andrássy Avenue and more)

Tour tips:

Budapest: 3-Hour Grand City Tour and Castle Walk

Budapest by Night with 3-Course Dinner and Folklore Show

Budapest Parliament 45-Minute Guided Tour

2. Learn About The Rich and Fascinating History

Palais Clotilde in Square Ferenciek (Ferenciek-tere), Budapest

Budapest is a union of three settlements: Óbuda, Buda, and Pest. The city has a rich and fascinating history, beginning with an early Celtic settlement transformed into a Roman town of Aquincum, the foundation of the Kingdom of Hungary, the Tatar-invasion in the 13th century the Ottoman-Turkish rule (which lasted for ca. 150 years), becoming part of the Habsburg-Empire and the birth of Austrian-Hungarian Monarchy. After the Treaty of Trianon in 1920, Hungary lost over two-thirds of its territory. After World War II followed the Soviet occupation, the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and in 1989 the Fall of the Iron Curtain. There are several historic sites to be discovered.

Some of the best museums to learn more about Hungarians and their history are The Hungarian National Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, The Hungarian National Gallery, the House of Terror, the Budapest History Museum, the Memento Park, the Hungarian Jewish Museum, the House o Houdini and more.

Museum and tour tips:

House of Terror

House of Houdini

Communist Budapest: 3-Hour Walk with a Historian

Budapest Full-Day Tour: Life Behind the Iron Curtain

Notable first and second generation Hungarians in the US: William Fox (the founder of 20th Century Fox), Drew Barrymore (mother is a Hungarian immigrant), Adrian Brody (mother is a Hungarian immigrant), Tony Curtis (his parents were Hungarian), Zsa Zsa Gábor, Mariska Hargitay (father is Hungarian, she is the daughter of actress Jayne Mansfield, plays in Law & Oder: Special Victim's Unit), Bela Lugosi ( most notably remembered for portraying Count Dracula in 1931 for Universal), Barbara Pálvin (Hungarian model), George Cukor (film director) and more. Check out the full list in Wikipedia.

Hungarian inventions: Rubik's Cube, ballpoint pen, binoculars and opera glasses, Vitamin C, tungsten lamp, electric railways, Ford T Model car, hydrogen bomb and more. Check an article on it here.

3. Relax in One of The Thermal Baths

Gellért Thermal Bath, Budapest

Budapest is also often called "the City of Spas". There are several natural warm spring waters under the city. Many of the thermal baths in Budapest are more centuries old. First the Celts, then the Romans and then the Turks enjoyed the warm spring waters as baths, healing waters and drinks. The oldest remaining baths are the Turkish baths ( Kiraly Bath, Rudas Bath or Veli Bej Bath (the former Kaiser Bath or Császárfürdo). The most popular ones are the Széchenyi Bath and the Gellért Bath, both were opened at end of the 19th century. You can also enjoy summer night spa parties!


Skip the Line: Széchenyi Spa Full-Day Entrance Pass

Gellért Bath

Rudas Bath (Turkish)

4. Explore the Jewish Quarter in Budapest

Dohany Street Synagogue, Budapest

The Jewish Quarter is the trendiest and exciting neighborhood in Budapest. It is packed with synagogues, quirky and alternative ruin bars, eccentric places with street food and street art. The synagogue in Dohány Street is the largest synagogue in Europe and the second largest synagogue in the world. Other two notable synagogues are the Rumbach Sebestyén Synagogue and the Kazinczy Street Synagogue. Earlier the buildings in the Jewish Quarter were considered for demolition, then the first ruin bar opened in one of the crumbling houses, and set a tone to an unusual style which is now one of the most reasons tourists visit Budapest. The Gozsdu Courtyard is a meeting point for locals and tourists where past and present meet. It combines gastronomy with entertainment. It can be a little crowded in peak time. Scroll down to read more about ruin pubs and eccentric nightclubs in Budapest.

Tour tips:

Budapest: The Great Synagogue Ticket

Budapest Jewish Quarter Walking Tour with Wine Tasting

Gozsdu Courtyard

5. Check Out the Ruin Bars and Eccentric Nightclubs

Hello Baby Nightclub, Budapest

These unique spots in Budapest combine art, culture and fun all together. These places are not to miss! These bars are built in Budapest’s Jewish Quarter, in the ruins of abandoned buildings and have a unique design (flea market furniture, walls decorated with bizarre and unusual pieces of art). The opening of the first ruin pub (Szimpla Kert) has been a milestone in the underground life of Budapest. Other famous ruin pubs and nightclubs in Budapest are Anker't, Instant, Fogas Ház, Ellátó Kert, Mazel Tov Budapest, Csendes Vintage Bar and Café, Szatyor Bar, Doboz and Hello Baby.


Alternative Budapest Walking Tours

Budapest: Urban Lifestyle Tour

Szimpla Kert

6. Book a Danube River Cruise

River Cruise on the Danube with the Parliament in the background, Budapest

Budapest has many nicknames: The Paris of the East, The city of Spas and The Pearl of the Danube. The Danube separates the hilly and green Buda side from the bustling flat Pest side. The river is the heart of the city. It is also one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites in Budapest. Some of the landmarks along the river are the Szabadság Bridge, the Chain Bridge, The Buda Castle, The Gresham Palace, the Parliament and the Margaret Island. There are several cruise options you can choose from: Dinner Cruises, Wine tasting Cruises, Party Cruises and more.


Budapest: 1-Hour Sightseeing Cruise with Welcome Drink

Evening Folklore performance, Dinner & Cruise in Budapest

Day Trip to Danube Bend from Budapest

7. Taste Iconic Hungarian Foods and Wine in Budapest

Hungarian Sponge Cake (Somlói Galuska)

Hungarian food is fierce, spicy and flavorful. Typical Hungarian food is heavy on dairy, cheese and meats. Hungary is also renowned for its amazing pastries. A lot of recipes rely on the main ingredient: paprika powder. The most well-known Hungarian dish is probably the Goulash soup (in Hungarian "gulyásleves"), which is actually not eaten very frequently, it's more likely served for special occasions. Some of them show similarities with desserts in Austria and in France (thanks to the former relations to Austria: Austrian-Hungarian Monarchy). Some notable Hungarian dishes are Crépe of Hortobágy (savoury crépe filled with meat and with spicy sour cream), Chicken Paprikash, Stuffed Cabbage, Lángos (fried dough with sour cream and cheese on top) and more. Some of the famous dishes are Dobos Cake, Eszterházy Cake, Gundel Flaming Crépe, Spunge Cake (somlói galuska), Plum Dumplings.

Hungarian wine has a long history dating back to the Kingdom of Hungary. The best-known wines are the white Tokaji (it was famously christened by Louis XIV of France "Vinum Regum, Rex Vinorum" – Wine of Kings, King of Wines) and the red wine Bull's Blood of Eger (Egri bikavér).


Budapest: Chocolate Museum Tour with Chocolate Tasting

Half-Day Etyek Wine Tour from Budapest with Meal

Budapest: Food Bites and Sites Walking Tour

8. Drink Coffee in One of The Traditional Cafés in Budapest

New York Café in the Boscolo Hotel in Budapest

Budapest also has a rich coffee culture. Hungarians like their coffee strong (just like the Italian espresso) with maybe a little bit of milk. It is an essential drink for Hungarians. Coffee was introduced in Hungary during the Turkish invasion. Nowadays Budapest has one of the finest choices of cafés in Europe (similar to Vienna and Paris). The most visited coffee house is the New York Café in the Boscolo hotel that was also recently called "The Most Beautiful Café in The World. Another notable example is the Alexandra Book Café which is well-known for its beautiful frescos, and it is located in the former Paris Department.


New York Café

Alexandra Book Café

Gerbaud Confectionary

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