Budapest’s central area is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site with its monuments: Buda Castel, Fisherman’s Bastion, Gresham Palace, Széchenyi Chain Bridge, Matthias Church, and the Hungarian Parliament. You can see most of the spectacular in this area. If you have just 1-2 days for Budapest, but you would like to see the city, I recommend you my TOP10.
I recommend you my Budapest TOP 10
1. Margaret Island
The first place of my Budapest TOP 10 is the biggest island in Budapest, which is 2.5 km (1.6 mi) long, and 0.965 square kilometers (238 acres).
The island mostly consists of a park and is a popular recreational area for tourists and locals alike. There is a dance club in the summer, swimming pools, an aqua park, athletic and fitness centers, bicycle and running tracks can be found on the Island.
2. Castle District
There are three churches, six museums, and a host of interesting buildings, streets, and squares. The former Royal Palace is one of the symbols of Hungary – and has been the scene of battles and wars ever since the 13th century. Nowadays it houses two impressive museums and the National Széchenyi Library. The nearby Sándor Palace contains the offices and official residence of the President of Hungary. The Matthias Church is built in neo-Gothic style, decorated with colored shingles and elegant pinnacles. This is in Budapest TOP 10 in most of the travel guides.
3. Heroes’ Square
This Square is one of the landmarks of Budapest. In the middle is the Millennium Memorial – built in 1896. The monument was ruined in World War II and rebuild after than. Originally, the figures were part of the Habsburg dynasty. After the current figures replaced reconstruction figures.
At the sides of the squares are two museums: Museum of Fine Arts (under reconstruction until the middle of 2018.) and the Palace of Art. It shows modern art exhibitions.
4. Ludwig Museum and National Theatre with the park around
Ludwig Museum is situated on the Danube river bank, a 15 minutes road with the tram from the inner city. It shows contemporary national and international exhibitions. The building is a very interesting one; it’s worth to take a walk in and around it.
In this huge building, you can find not only paintings and sculptures but the Bartók National Concert Hall. The big Concert Hall (total capacity for 1699 people) was designed by Russel Johnson. It’s said to be the best concert hall in Europe. It’s’ organ is the largest one in Europe with its 5028 tin pipes and 1214 reed pipes. The intonation period of the organ lasted 10 months.
Festival Theatre received placement in the building of Ludwig Museum and National Concert Hall.
5. St. Stephen’s Basilica (the Holy Right Hand of the founder of Hungary, King Saint Stephen is on display)
This is the most known Roman Catholic basilica in Hungary. It was named after the first king of Hungary, whose suspected part of the right hand is in the basilica. This is the most famous Church in Hungary – owing to this royal hand.
It was build in neoclassical style, on a Greek cross ground plan. You can take elevators to go up to the top of the basilica – or take the 364 stairs. It’s one of the most overlook to Budapest.
6. Budapest has 7 bridges:
I know that this part of my Budapest TOP 10 is more than 10, but bridges are part of Budapest.
- The Árpád Bridge (built in 1950 at the north of Margaret Island) – this is the widest bridge in Budapest, It is the northernmost public bridge of the capital and the longest bridge in Hungary, spanning about 2 km with the sections leading up to the bridge, and 928 m without them. It is 35.3 m wide.
- The Margaret Bridge was built in 1901. The bridge was restored to its state in 1937 when it was most ornamented. The bridge was destroyed during the war by an explosion and then rebuilt in 1948); Margaret Bridge is the second oldest public bridge in Budapest. It was planned by Ernest Goüin French engineer and built between 1872-1876. This bridge leads across to Margaret Island, its two parts enclosing 150 degrees with each other at the embranchment towards the island. It is 637.5 m in length and 25 m in width. It was under complete reconstruction from 2009-2011. If you go to the South part of Margaret Island, you can take interesting pictures about this unusual line bridge.
- The Chain Bridge was built in 1849, destroyed during World War II and rebuilt in 1949. The Chain Bridge is a suspension bridge that spans the River Danube between Buda and Pest. It was the first bridge in the city. It was designed by William Tierney Clark English engineer in 1839 and supervised locally by Adam Clark Scottish engineer. Square is named after Adam Clark at the Pest end of the bridge. At the year of construction, it’s center span of 202 m was one of the largest in the world. The famous pairs of lions at each of the abutments were added in 1852.
- The Elisabeth Bridge is the third newest bridge in Budapest. The bridge spans only 290 m. The original Elisabeth Bridge was built between 1897 and 1903. It was destroyed at the end of the Second World War by retreating Wehrmacht. It was the only pre-war bridge of Budapest that was in completely new style rebuilt. The currently standing slender white cable bridge was built on the same basis between 1961–1964. Its lightning system was renewed with the help of Japan government in 2009.
- The Liberty Bridge is the third southernmost public road bridge in Budapest. It is 333.6 m length and 20.1 m width. The top of the four masts is decorated with large bronze statues of the Turul, a falcon-like bird, prominent in ancient Hungarian mythology. Hungary’s biggest Turul sculpture is in Tata – 60 km far from Budapest. The bridge was built between 1894 and 1896 to the plans of János Feketeházy, in Art Nouveau style. It was partly exploded at the end of World War II and rebuilt with a simpler form after that. During the 2007-2009 complete reconstruction, all war damages of shape were repaired, and a steel structure replaced the concrete sustaining the road lanes and tramways. All of the original ornaments equivalents were reinstated, the original molds of barriers were previously found, and the bridge received flood light. The structural elements of the reconstruction ensuring were funded by the EU, while the municipal government funded the artistic elements of the reconstruction.
- The Petőfi Bridge (completed in 1937, destroyed during the war and rebuilt in 1952);
- The Rákóczi Bridges’ (completed in 1995): Its name was earlier Lágymányosi bridge because it connects Lágymányos quarter with Pest. It was renamed after the Hungarian leader Francis II Rákóczi. By 2015, tram line 1 was extended across Rákóczi Bridge to Buda (the western side of the city), to Fehérvári road. On the Buda side, a section of the tracks is covered by grass. This is the newly built unit from my Budapest TOP 10.+ 1: Megyeri Bridge It is a cable-stayed bridge serving as part of the M0 motorway that encircles the city. The bridge was built in 2006-2008. It’s very spectacular from a distance but not a pedestrian-friendly one. Although it’s far from the inner city – but it is recommended to see for architecture-funs.
7. Geothermal springs
Budapest is rich in geothermal springs, most famous is the Szechényi Bath in the City Park, built in modern Renaissance style. These spas are good for health with its rich minerals. It is one of the largest bathing complexes in all of Europe. The indoor medicinal baths started in 1913 and the outdoor pools in 1927. There is an atmosphere of grandeur with the bright, largest pools resembling aspects associated with Roman baths, the smaller bath tubs reminding one of the bathing cultures of the Greeks, and the saunas and diving pools borrowed from traditions emanating in northern Europe. The outdoor tree pools can be used int he full year.
The other well preserved one, the Gellért Bath and Hotel were built in 1918, although there had once been Turkish baths on the site, and in the Middle Ages a hospital. In 1927, the Baths were extended to include the wave pool, and the effervescent bath was added in 1934. The Art Nouveau interior includes colorful mosaics, marble columns, stained glass windows, and statues. If you want to see one of Budapest TOP 10, it must be a thermal bath.
Budapest has the largest synagogue in Europe in the Dohány street. The Dohany street Synagogue and the Hungarian Jewish Museum are in the same building. The synagogue was named after the street, but it is also known as the great, or main synagogue. The special red brick pavement has been decorating the square in front of the Dohany synagogue since Andrassy avenue and its environs (7th district, Elizabethtown – the Jewish Quarter) became part of the World Heritage. Visitors passing by or entering the building are usually focusing on the building itself, never noticing the Menorah they are entering on.
9. Opera and Andrássy street
There are many beautiful houses from the 19th and 20th centuries in the inner city. Very famous are those at the Andrassy St. This is the part of UNESCO World Heritage. If you walk along the street you can admire old villas from XIX-XX. centuries. There are nice shops from the beginning. In the middle of the way, there is the Hungarian National Opera with its classicist building. At the end of the avenue is the Kunsthalle Budapest and the City Park “Városliget” with its little castle Vajdahunyadvár.
In the middle of Andrássy Street is situated Opera House. Hungarians say this is the most beautiful in the Middle European Region. It was built in neo-renaissance in the 19th century. The building is richly decorated with paintings and sculptures from Hungarian artists (Bertalan Székely, Mór Than, Alajos Stróbl, etc.). There are guided tours for visiting the Opera House. It is not the biggest in the world with 1261 people’s auditorium but it has very good acoustics. If you like opera you can go in for a performance from September to June.
10. City Park and ZOO
City Park (Hungarian: Városliget) is close to the inner city. This is situated at the end of Andrássy Street. This is one of the biggest public parks of Budapest. It includes the Vajdahunyad Castle, Széchenyi Thermal Bath, Budapest ZOO, Municipal Circus and the Gundel Restaurant.
You can try here traditional Hungarian kitchen – not the gluten free one, sorry.
Vajdahunyad Castle was built in 1896, for the Millennium. It is partly a copy of Hunyady Castle in Transylvania. The architectural style is a little bit eclectic: Romanesque, gothic, renaissance and baroque. In the end, you will see a lovely one. It houses the Museum of Hungarian Agriculture. Near the castle, there is a little lake. It is a boating lake in summers and partly a rink in winters. You can find more newly renovated buildings in the original style near the lake.
If you travel with children, you must not avoid to ZOO and Botanical Garden in City Park. It is one of the oldest zoo parks in the world. It was opened in 1866 in a nature reserve area. Károly Kós designed its art nouveau buildings. Among one of the first donations to the ZOO was a giraffe from Kaiser Franz Joseph and Queen Elisabeth. It shows thousand species and unique subtropical fauna and flora in a large glasshouse. If you like butterflies, you feel yourself in a butterfly paradise – in one of the buildings of the ZOO. You can go very close to vultures, too.
I think this is really part of Budapest TOP 10 for every family with kids.
I collected my most beloved photos about Budapest here.
If you want to know more about Budapest, more about gluten free vegetarian Budapest, just get the book!