Curious what would be considered MUST SEE sights and things to do/experience if visiting Budapest for the first time? Will be there about 5 full days in September 2017.
Off the beaten path must do's:
- Enjoy the Ruin Bars Szimpla and Mika Tivador - they are so eclectic - just wander through them.
- Eat goulash stew at Spinoza
- Eat at the Central Market - a wonderful place to explore
- Enjoy rose shaped gelato at Gelarto Rose
- Eat walnut cake at the Cake Shop
- Stay in an old palace, Brody House. It was perfect walking distance to everything.
There are also great museums of all kinds in Budapest--200 in all. Forget the Torture Museum as it's a let down.
The grunge bars are hard to beat. I like the one that has all the furniture on the ceiling.
Our close friends and two 20's something sons just left Budapest yesterday, and it's their new favorite European city. They're missionaries in Uganda. Come to think of it, Budapest is also high on our list of places to stay.
The view of the legislative building from across the river and up the hill is pretty impressive.
You'll have time to get through a lot of Rick's prioritized list under Budapest - At a Glance, or to add to it. His first listing, the Széchenyi Baths, was one that I was going to name. Something not on the list, but given 3 stars in his guidebook, is a walking tour with a local guide.
Five days is a good trip to Budapest. If you stuck to the top 10 list you could cover it in 3 days, but that doesn't even scratch the surface. But to go further it would help to know you interests and the things that don't interest you. Are you a museum sort of person or a living culture sort of person for instance? Music, the various plights of culture and suffering, religious, adventure, antiques, trains, food, wine, beer.
One day on Castle Hill, with wine tasting in the bowels of the Hilton (next to Fisherman's Bastion). Even if you don't do the wine, walk down to through the hotel to see the ancient ruins (and a very good toilet). Go to a concert at the basilica (the nave is well-lit for the concert and you can really appreciate the detail while you listen to the music. The Parliament tour was worth the hassles and lines. Ride the Line 1 metro (underground). Leave lots of time for the great wines and food. Has the Post Office Museum reopened? It's a gem and was sadly closed for several years.
Also recommended but not on my must-sees - the Holocaust Museum, the Museum of Ethnography (if you are interesting in folk museums). Near the Holocaust Museum is another museum, applied arts? I went in because it was described as "what it's like to be inside a wedding cake" and it's true. I didn't get to the art museums which I hear are excellent. Next time. . .
I'll second the Széchenyi Baths. If you are the adventurous type you should try the merry-go-round - much better than a simple water slide. Merry-go-round zoom in all the way.
From castle Hill take the funiculare (http://www.budapestlowcost.it/castello-di-buda/funicolare-di-budapest/) down.
We enjoyed a dinner cruise (https://legenda.hu/en/candlelit-dinner-cruise) but it may not be for every one.
With five full days for Budapest, I am sure you'll be on Castle Hill (lots of tourists there) for the view if not the museums. See the Military History/Army Museum on Castle Hill, signs in English point the way, one of the first places I went to after seeing the Heroes Square. The Military History/Army may not belong to the "MUST SEE " category but the Mathias Church certainly is, for its historical significance and beauty.
Take a tour of the Opera House, it is beautiful. And definitely the baths. We also caught a folk dance/concert which we enjoyed.
There are lots of predictable sights to see such as the parliament building, but when I was there in December (which was very busy with tourists, even midweek), I enjoyed a half day trip up to the Janos Hills for great views over the city, but without the overbearing crowds of Castle Hill. Take the No. 21 bus or the cog railway up there and the chair lift back down for amazing vistas.
Most over-rated - the Central Market Hall - far too busy, with people elbowing others out of the way; upstairs was filled with stalls selling tourist tat; the cafes sold average food but there was nowhere to sit or stand to eat; freezing cold and altogether an unpleasant visit. The downstairs food stalls were more interesting and there was more space. Szimpla Sunday market was a much pleasanter experience and is worth a visit.