Things To Do In Budapest
Architecturally rich, culturally unique, and home to two world-class thermal baths, few cities are more deserving of the title ‘Paris of the East’ than Budapest. From Magyar tribes to the Red Army, civilisations have clashed on the site of its founding for over a thousand years, forging what has slowly but surely become one of Europe's most distinctive national identities.
These qualities rank the Hungarian capital among the world’s most intriguing city break destinations - a place where rich history melds seamlessly with modern nightlife and contemporary chic. To make the most of your own trip to Budapest, consider giving the following activities a try:
If ever a city had a clearly defined raison d'etre, Budapest's would be rooted in its natural thermal springs - one of only two capital cities in the world to have them (Reykjavík being the other). As such, a relaxing soak in one of Budapest's thermal baths is a must.
Sunny at Széchenyi Thermal Bath.
Széchenyi, Gellért and Lukacs are the two main ones, but for sheer atmosphere and tranquillity we also strongly recommend the Mandala Day Spa. Located on Ipoly Street, this award-winning day spa is as classy as it is suave. Spa treatments on offer include the Rainfall Jacuzzi, which comes complete with fresh towels, slippers, bathrobes and a spa. It also has tons of special hen packages, massages, and beauty treatments to choose from.
You can also enjoy a steaming cup of their famed herbal tea in the in-house oriental tea house, alongside complementary chocolates, cookies and fruit. It's the perfect pampering session for you and your group.
The mountainous landscape of Buda, located on the west bank of the Danube, is a must-visit. Buda Castle (once known as the Royal Palace) sits atop steep hills overlooking Pest. Its modern name actually refers to the wider complex more than the Baroque palace itself, but the latter is home to three key attractions: The Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest History Museum and the National Széchényi Library.
Outside the Hungarian History Museum on Buda Hill.
A popular way to explore the wider district is by Castle Segway Tour. These excursions run all year round and depart every hour between 09:00 to 18:00. Led by a professional English-speaking guide, you'll visit significant landmarks such as Fisherman's Bastion and Matthias Church, as well as Mary Magdalene Tower, the Vienna Gate and more.
Busy, vibrant and cosmopolitan, Pest endows the capital with that modern ‘city feel’. A wide assortment of gourmet restaurants, cafes, clubs, and bars will provide ideal chill spots for your group. Budapest Zoo and the Botanical Gardens are also located in Pest and local parks often host open-air markets and live music. While here you should definitely consider popping into one of the iconic ‘ruin bars’ located in Budapest's old Jewish Quarter.
If you've looked into Budapest's ruin bars at any length you'll no doubt have encountered the name 'Szimpla'. As far as ruin bars go Szimpla Kert has it all. Its crazy décor has a grunge-boho-punk vibe that you will absolutely adore. The food is also delectably simple and fairly priced. What’s more, Szimpla has a great selection of drinks to choose from, whether to wash down your brunch or dinner, or kick off a night on the town. Fancy hitting the dance floor? You’re likely to hear plenty of recognisable tunes.
Bustling bars leading to Szimpla Kert's main courtyard.
This deeply charming European city didn’t earn its fame from silent nights. Local residents love to party and there is enough good food and drink to go around. Whatever your group’s size, you should consider taking a guided bar crawl or go guest-list clubbing at one of the city’s popular nightclubs.
Check out: Corven Club, A38 Ship, Akvárium Klub, Lärm or Toldi Klub if you’re looking for a memorable night on the dance floor. There’s also the option of partying in style by sailing down the Danube on a popular Party Cruise.
Budapest party cruise sailing beneath the Chain Bridge.
The Danube Islands:
The three islands on the Danube are considered the diamonds of the city. The one closest to the centre, Margaret Island, is particularly notable as a place of leisure and relaxation. It’s packed with all manner of attractions, from a miniature extension of Budapest Zoo to the iconic Music Fountain and the Water Tower. Be sure not to miss its open-air theatres and music festivals as well.
Music Fountain On Margaret Island.
Hajogyari Island, on the other hand, is known for its vibrant nightlife and has become a prominent party-going hub. Hajogyari also offers quality sporting activities, with cycle routes and tennis courts.
Hungary’s national dish is Goulash, a spicy meat soup served with delectable onions. Then there’s Greek Gyros. Plenty of these local pita shops dot the city, most of which have whole rotisserie pigs right behind the counters. Make sure you try this local favourite, which is especially grand after a couple of drinks.
Hungarian Goulash, available in most sit-down restaurants.
Alternatively, consider visiting 21 Magyar Vendeglo, a friendly bistro that serves high Hungarian cuisine and wines. Another option is Costes, a gourmet restaurant in Budapest. It sources its quality ingredients from all around Europe and has a 2 Michelin-starred chef at its helm.
Getting About Budapest:
Budapest has a number of public transport options including a modern underground metro system. Metro tickets are cheap and should be purchased before boarding, otherwise you may be fined for trying to travel without one. Taxis are slightly more expensive, though still generally affordable.
A Big Bus Budapest tour passing Adam Clark Square.
Sightseeing options during your hen weekend include a range of Danube city cruises, Segway tours, walking tours, and the Big Bus Budapest Tour. All of these services provide a unique way to get around while learning more about the city. In most cases, staff can also advise on the best bars to hit, places to eat and additional activities to try.