24 Hours in Budapest: Five Attractions You Can’t Miss

Take in these essential sights on a whistle-stop tour of Budapest.

Photo: Fisherman’s Bastion © iStock/ chrisdorney

24 Hours in Budapest: Five Attractions You Can’t Miss. With its historic palaces, magnificent sights and expansive riverside views, Budapest has plenty to fill a mini city break. The Hungarian capital overflows with historic and cultural treasures, from incredible panoramic views across the city from Fisherman’s Bastion, to admiring the art along the gracious banks of the River Danube. Here’s how to get the most from a whistle-stop tour of Budapest.

Wander along the Danube
The Hungarian Parliament’s neo-gothic turrets make this one of Budapest’s most striking landmarks, and it’s a scenic place to start a saunter along the Danube. The banks of Europe’s second longest river bristle with sculptures and edgy street art, and it offers sigh-worthy views of the old city of Buda and its younger sibling, Pest. Straddling the 70 metre-wide river is the famous Széchenyi Chain Bridge, at the Buda side of which the Castle Hill Funicular awaits to whisk you up to the Castle District (or if you’re feeling energetic, the Király lépcső ‘Royal Steps’ provide a healthy 15-minute hike).

Explore Buda Castle District
Follow in the footsteps of Budapest’s kings and queens in the Buda Castle District, where winding cobblestone streets lead you to historic landmarks such as The Royal Palace, Mattias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion. History buffs can dive deep into the area’s fascinating museums—the Castle Museum providing a rare peek at restored palace rooms dating from the 15th century—and there are plenty of charming cafes and restaurants for breakfast or lunch.

Take in the View at Fisherman’s Bastion
Commemorating the fishermen who protected the city in the Middle Ages, the striking structure of Fisherman’s Bastion is one of Budapest’s seriously breathtaking lookout points. Marvel at the seven medieval turrets, representing seven Hungarian tribes, then climb to the top level for truly stunning vistas. A visit at sunset pays worthy homage to Budapest’s twinkling skyline.

Soak in Budapest’s Thermal Baths
Reward a busy bout of sightseeing with some pampering at one of Budapest’s famous thermal baths. Take a dip in the steaming waters of Király Bath, the oldest bathhouse in the city; the ancient Ottoman-style Veli Bej Bath; the riverside Rudas Bath; or the palatial Széchenyi Bath, the largest baths in the city with nearly 20 indoor and outdoor pools to kick back and relax in. There’s a burgeoning evening bath party scene in case you don’t quite manage to fit one in before dinner.

Tuck into Budapest’s Foodie Scene
If you’re looking for a somewhere delicious to end your day, you won’t be disappointed with Budapest’s inspired options. The city has five Michelin-star restaurants and two Bib Gourmand eateries serving authentic Hungarian cuisine along with international flavours. Visit the glamorous Onyx restaurant to enjoy Hungarian dishes with a modern twist under sparkling chandeliers. Alternatively, head to Costes, the first restaurant in Budapest to receive a Michelin star, for an innovative menu in an immaculately stylish setting. For something more laid-back, Fakanál in the Great Market Hall is the go-to for traditional canteen-style Hungarian meals. Arrive early, though, as it closes at 6pm.

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