Hungarian Parliament budapest night visit

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15 ans. 15 years since I’d been back to Budapest. I was already totally charmed back then, but I wasn’t the same type of traveler, I didn’t take the time. So here we are, almost 4 full days in Budapest to really enjoy the city and take the time to discover the little corners (and the big touristy ones too, of course). And frankly, the charm is still there.

The city has changed a lot, but it’s still magnificent. Maybe even more so, as many things have been renovated, iconic buildings cleaned up and neighborhoods redone. It’s a real pleasure to walk around, and safe too. And people speak more English than they used to, which makes things easier (because Hungarian is arguably a rather complicated language!)

In this article, I’d like to give you my favorites, the places you must see. I’ve tried to be objective, to not overdo it, to have something for everyone. These are what I consider to be the most beautiful places in the city, but there are others, some of which I list at the end of the article and which also deserve to be seen.

Anyway, no more blabla, here we go!

Hungary Budapest Parliament

The Budapest Parliament

It’s impossible not to start with it. It’s the emblem of the city, sumptuous, one of the most beautiful buildings in the world (especially now that it’s been renovated and looks as good as new!)

The Budapest Parliament is an architectural marvel. It was built between 1885 and 1902, and is the largest Gothic building in the world, no less! It was designed by Hungarian architect Imre Steindl, who drew inspiration from the Westminster in London and the Bundestag in Berlin. Well, the London resemblance is obvious, but I’m having a bit of trouble seeing the Bundestag. But if the architect says so 😀

There are several ways to admire it. The best is to be opposite, on the other bank of the Danube, especially for the sunset when it hits its superb facade at the end of the day. But you also have to walk around it and get as close as possible to admire its details – it’s really very well done!

Finally, I can only suggest a guided tour, as the interiors are also very beautiful, and the history is also interesting. Especially the crown jewels and the magical dome room (which cannot be photographed)

Hungary parliament budapest visit
Parliament hungary budapest danube
Hungary budapest parliament by night bridge
dome parliament budapest hungary visit
dome parliament budapest hungary visit

Buda Hill at sunset

Well, it’s super easy to say “you’ve got to visit Buda Hill!”, because it’s a no-brainer. There’s so much to see up there, you’ll need to spend several hours there, and in my opinion, you’ll need to be there for the sunset.

The first part of Buda Hill is made up of the Budavar Palace, also known as Budapest Castle. Superbly elegant, it houses a large museum (the Hungarian National Gallery, which I haven’t visited yet), but above all, in addition to its magnificent architecture, offers a breathtaking view of the city.

Next to Budavar Palace is one of the city’s most surprising (and beautiful) sights: the Fishermen’s Bastion. It’s an ultra-photogenic little fortress, with 7 neo-Romanesque turrets (well, I prefer to say it looks like nothing else, because it is! it’s unique). It’s perhaps the best view of the city and the Parliament, great for sunsets.

What’s more, the environment is superb, with a beautiful statue of St Istvan and the magnificent St Matthias church. No kidding, but in 3 visits to Budapest, I’ve never managed to get inside – it’s still under renovation!

Note that Buda Hill is undergoing major renovation work for some time to come. They’ve decided to rebuild the original buildings, which were destroyed during the war, and redo the whole complex that existed before. It won’t interfere with the visit to these two main sites, and it’ll normally be even nicer afterwards!

fishermen's bastion budapest hill
statue st istvan hill budapest
chateau budapest budavar colline
Castle budapest budvar colline

A walk along the Danube

The banks of Budapest’s Danube are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it’s easy to see why.

Between the Margit and Erzsébet bridges (and why not Szabadság), a stroll along the banks will fill your eyes on both sides of the Danube. You’ll come across historic buildings like the Parliament (of course), lots of little bronze statues, especially in the pretty Vigado Park, and beautiful churches.

On the other side of the Danube, you’ll be at the foot of Buda Hill. After crossing the Erzsébet Bridge, you can easily see the statue of Saint Gerard, the Monument to Freedom, and continue along the bank until you reach the castle steps. But I’d say that the best way to discover the banks of the Danube is BY A SMALL ONE-HOUR CRUISE, super pleasant (and not expensive at all!).)

danube bridge budapest boat cruise
parliament budapest hungary danube stroll
statue budapest danube
danube budapest cruise

Varosliget Park to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city

A place I loved the first time around, and it’s still going strong 🙂 Varosliget Park is Budapest’s dose of freshness, but it’s much more than just a large wooded park where it’s great fun to stroll around (enjoying the coolness and the various bodies of water).

The Heroes’ Square, at the entrance to the park, is a magnificent square dedicated to national heroes such as Istvan Szechenyi and Ferenc Deak. This square is made up of two series of arched columns with lots of statues representing these heroes, preceded by a monumental Roman column.

This square is surrounded by two magnificent buildings: the Museum of Fine Arts and Műcsarnok, a very beautiful art gallery. Well, the only problem is that on my last visit, this square was inaccessible because of a soccer match for the European Cup final.

In the Varosliget park, you’ll also find the Széchenyi thermal baths, the city’s most famous.

The Chateau Vajdahunyad is also one of the most beautiful spots in the park! It’s halfway between a typical Eastern European castle with a Dracula atmosphere and other buildings in Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance styles. It’s a tribute to the history of the country and the conquest of the region, and next door you’ll find a funfair with little restaurants, games and entertainment. If you have the time, why not!

Castle Vajdahunyad varosliget budapest
thermes széchenyi budapest varosliget
thermes széchenyi budapest varosliget
place des héros varosliget budapest
Castle Vajdahunyad varosliget budapest

See Szimpla Kert, the most amazing bar in town

Be careful, it’s completely crazy! When I last visited (which was a good 15 years ago), Budapest was a pretty, lively city, but with quite a few crumbling buildings. Since then, some of these beautiful, typical buildings have been renovated, while others have been turned into… huge bars!

These are called ruin bars, and they offer both the good and the not-so-good. The Szimpla Kert is, quite simply, the only bar of its kind in the world. It’s obviously huge, with lots of bars in the bar, a striking, vintage decor, where you can put whatever you want on the wall. And there’s also music, which is excellent.

Now, I’m by no means a clubber, dancefloor king or club enthusiast. But I loved this place. On the other hand, it’s a bit busy at weekends! But you can come at the end of the afternoon for a drink (they have a very pleasant open area), it’s around 10pm that things get a bit tricky.

Anyway, let me show you a picture of Szimpla Kert, so you can get an idea:D

ruin bar szimpla kert budapest
ruin bar szimpla kert budapest
ruin bar szimpla kert budapest
ruin bar szimpla kert budapest

Shoes on the Danube

This is less fun. Budapest and Hungary share a long history with the Jews.

In 1940, it is estimated that there were 800,000 Jews, or just under 10% of the population. And although it’s not often mentioned on our side of Europe, and we think mainly of Poland, Hungary was hit hard. It was part of the Axis with Germany, and was ruled by the Nazi party.

In all, it is estimated that more than 500,000 Jews, i.e. 2/3 of the population, died. Just south of the Parliament building is this poignant memorial. Sixty pairs of metal shoes on the banks of the Danube symbolize the victims of mass executions.

Towards the end of the war, the Nazi militia Arrow Cross Party would shoot Jews and opponents, but first ask them to remove the shoes so they could use them again. Their bodies then fell into the Danube.

shoes danube budanest jews war
Shoes danube jews budapest

The beautiful village of Szentendré, 30 minutes from Budapest

When I arrived in Budapest, one of the first things I was recommended to see was… the town of Szentendré, north of Budapest. I’d heard of it, but had forgotten to include it in the program (or at least what vaguely resembled a program). So the next day we set off for half a day to visit this big village 30 minutes north of the city, a village with very pretty architecture, full of Serbian churches, on the banks of the Danube.

Frankly, it’s a very pleasant trip! (well, on weekends, it’s a trip for the whole of Budapest, so it’s a bit crowded), very easy to get to by train, and you can admire colorful houses, beautiful churches and even a crafts area.

All the little stores are full of souvenirs typical of the place: lots of embroidery, porcelain.You can get there by train from Budapest, on the H5 line from Batthyány tér.

Alternatively, you can take a tour with an agency that includes 2 other small villages in addition to Szentendré: Esztergom and Visegrad, with a return trip by boat.

szentendré village budapest umbrellas
szentendré village budapest
village szentendré budapest
village szentendré budapest
Trouver logement Budapest Hongrie

The Jewish Quarter transformed

The last time I was in Budapest, a very long time ago, the Jewish Quarter was one of the city’s most neglected. Some of the city’s most beautiful architecture was simply abandoned, the buildings dilapidated and dusty.

The Jews of Budapest settled here at the end of the 18th century, in the heart of what is now the 7th district. There’s plenty of evidence of this history here, including several synagogues and Europe’s largest, on Dohany Street. In addition, there are works of art commemorating the massacre and several kosher restaurants, all of which coexist surprisingly well with the other facade of the district.

Indeed, the Jewish quarter has become a very hipster place, where vegan restaurants and hummus have replaced traditional eateries, along with a very large number of trendy bars.

In fact, it’s in the heart of this district that you’ll find the ruin bars I mentioned earlier. Finally, this district has also become the place to be for partying, and probably a little too much so. The mini Gozsdu Udvar street in particular, with its countless bars and clubs, is a must-see!

A fun district to visit (lots of street art), surprising, and one that can meet a number of nightlife needs

  • Discover the Jewish Quarter and its heritage on a guided tour!
biggest synagogue budapest hungary
jewish district party budapest
architecture jewish quarter budapest
restaurants quartier juif budapest

The ruins of Aquincum, Budapest’s astonishing Roman past

In the middle of Hungary, you wouldn’t expect to come across the ruins of the Roman Empire. And here we are ! The Romans were quite well established in Central Europe, particularly between the years 0 and 300.

The city of Aquincum was built on an ancient Celtic settlement (handy for recycling), first as a garrison to protect the borders of the Roman Empire. Eventually, it grew into a city of up to 40,000 people. In the end, the Romans were driven out of the region by Attila and the Alans, which means that you’ll find everything you’d expect from a normal Roman town: amphitheatres, thermal baths and, above all, all the ruins that make up the Aquincum archaeological site, which can be visited every day, but takes 2 hours.

Don’t arrive less than an hour beforehand, as it’s a big place! You’ll find some lovely remains in the museum and gallery, statues in the back and mosaics too.

roman ruins aquincum budapest hungary
roman ruins aquincum budapest hungary

A chance visit to the Hotel Parisi, Budapest’s most beautiful hotel

A big crush discovered totally by chance. On the way to Buda, from the Jewish Quarter, we pass the corner of Kossuth Lajos and Ferenciek tere. Perhaps the most beautiful building in the city.

It’s the Parisi Udvar hotel (Hyatt group, so it costs an arm and a leg! but it’s beautiful). Housed in a former art nouveau shopping mall, it’s like stepping 100 years back in time, really.

So, no, I didn’t stay there (or my banker would have written me off), but you can visit it and, above all, you can have a drink or even dine there (although you’ll have to make a reservation). To sleep there, it costs from €270.

And even this simple visit is very nice and will blow you away.

hotel parisi budapest hungary
hotel parisi budapest hungary
hotel parisi budapest hungary
hotel parisi udvar budapest hungary
hotel parisi budapest hungary

Discover Saint Stephen’s Basilica in Pest

To avoid disappointment, I’d like to point out that St Stephen’s Basilica, or St Istvan’s Basilica, is very nice, with a very beautiful interior, but it’s not an eye-catcher either. It has to be said that a little earlier I was in Rome, and just after that I was in Vienna, where the churches and cathedrals are crazy.

Budapest is very nice, very beautiful, but it’s not up to those standards, so I can understand why some people might be a little disappointed. The Basilica of St. Stephen in Budapest is one of the city’s oldest Christian churches, built between 1851 and 1905.

It’s close to the historic center of Pest, just 2 steps from Deak Ter and the Opera House. Romanesque in style, it is renowned for its richly ornate façade and gilded domes. It’s the only religious building in Budapest built in the 19th century that wasn’t damaged by American bombing in 1945 (Hungary was part of the Axis powers along with Germany and Italy).

Inside, the walls are decorated with a large number of white marble sculptures depicting biblical figures and religious scenes, some dating back to the 18th century.

The Basilica is also home to the tomb of King Stephen I, founder of Hungary. A visit to the Basilica is not free, at around €5. I’d say you have to do it, because it’s fun, but above all you can climb the towers and the view over Budapest is magnificent!

Basilique St Istvan Budapest hungary
Basilique St Istvan Budapest hungary
Basilique St Istvan Budapest hungary
Basilique St Istvan Budapest hungary
Basilique St Istvan Budapest hungary

Get lost in the streets of unique architecture!

This is actually my favorite thing to do in Budapest, even if it makes your legs ache at the end of the day (well, you can comfort yourself with a cheap and refreshing beer!), even if the city is immense.

Discovering Budapest’s fantastic architectural streets is a real eye-opener. Rococo, art nouveau, columns, a replica of the Champs Elysées, the embassy district, magnificent buildings at the end of their life… you’ll see absolutely everything. And it really has its charm! Well, I can speak for myself, I really love this city and walking around it.

Just before we talked about the Jewish quarter, so I won’t go into that here. But if you go to Varosliget, walk back down to Andrassy, and occasionally take the side streets, as there are lots of nuggets. Pay attention to the details on the facades, the sculptures.

You’ll come to the Opera House, and finally to St. Isztvan. You’ll also have a great time in the streets of the hypercenter, like Vaci Utca, on Kossuth Lajos Utca, or around the Parliament. No, really, there are beautiful buildings absolutely everywhere!

Finally, there was a period of architectural revolution in Budapest called“szecesszió“, which is very characteristic, especially when it comes to roofs. These colored tile roofs, usually green/yellow (e.g. on the Museum of Decorative Arts, on religious buildings like in Buda), a style that blends art nouveau and oriental influence

streets budapest architecture hungary
streets budapest architecture hungary
Church St Matthias Budapest hill
streets budapest architecture hungary
streets budapest architecture hungary

We could also mention…

  • the troglodyte church of Saint Gérard, a pretty little church with surprising architecture, the most recent part of which is carved out of the rock
  • the Citadel and Monument of Liberty, a large esplanade and statue of liberty dedicated to the liberation of Budapest after the war
  • the view from the statue of Saint Gerard, very nice for the view over the bridges
  • Margit island, a cool and refreshing park, reached via the magnificent Margit Bridge
  • Központi Vásárcsarnok, Hungary’s oldest and largest indoor market. Really nice! You’ll find absolutely all the local specialties, so you can eat for less and do your shopping at the same time.
  • the various bridges (Chain Bridge, Margit Bridge, Szabadság Bridge), but for this I recommend a boat trip on the Danube to see them up close.
cable car budapest hill
streets budapest architecture hungary

Practical information about Budapest

  • Recommended accommodation: I stayed at the Roombach, right in the center of town, a very nice hotel, not particularly expensive, and a very good team.
  • The most beautiful place to see: the exceptional architecture of the city center, but above all the Parliament from every angle.
  • The best season: April/May and September/October to avoid the heat and the influx of tourists.
  • How long to stay: 3/4 days is not bad at all.
  • Flying: from €30, compare flights on Kayak

4 recommended accommodations in Budapest

Hotel Roombach budapest cheap center


  • great and very well located
  • 9.0/10 on Booking
  • From €78
rent flat budapest city center cheap


  • 40m² in the center of town
  • 9.3/10 on booking
  • From €43
Kozmo Hotel Suites & Spa budapest 5*


  • A superb affordable 5* hotel
  • 9.4/10 on Booking
  • From €130
Parisi Udvar Budapest Hotel beautiful


  • Just exceptional
  • 9.2/10 on Booking!
  • From 290€ onwards
parliament budapest hungary
szentendré village budapest
vincent voyage instagram northern lights norway
buildings architecture budapest

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