With enough architecture, history, and culture to keep any traveler happy, Budapest is a fantastic vacation destination. Check out our list of 10 free things to do in Budapest!
1. Cross the Danube
Walk across the Chain Bridge (Széchenyi lánchíd), the first permanent bridge over the Danube in Hungary. It connects Buda and Pest (the western and eastern sides of Budapest) and is a symbol of advancement and strength within the country.
2. Do some shopping
These days, Vaci street (Váci utca) caters predominantly to tourists, but take a stroll past the chain stores and you’ll arrive at the Great Market Hall, which was commissioned by the city’s first mayor. Step inside and you’ll find an amazing variety of spices, produce, caviar, and much more.
3. Wander Buda Castle Hill
The castle at the center of this UNESCO World Heritage Site is, to put it mildly, gigantic. The palace was built in the 14th century, but today it’s home to the Budapest History Museum, the Hungarian National Gallery, and the National Library. You can easily spend a day (or more!) wandering the streets and grounds.
4. Visit a cave church
Gellért Hill Cave feels ancient (and the natural network of caverns most certainly is), but its entrance was actually constructed in the last 100 years. It’s an amazing sight to see, and has played many unique roles throughout history.
5. Grab a drink
Ruin bars started popping up around Budapest in the early 2000s and have become ubiquitous throughout the city. Part pop-up, part dive bar, these hangouts have been transformed from run-down buildings and unused outdoor spaces into lively spots to grab a beer (usually for under $2) and maybe even catch a free concert.
6. Spend an afternoon on the island
If you’re yearning for some outdoor time, Margaret Island is the perfect place to spend an afternoon. With gardens, a tiny zoo, running track, and an open-air water park, you’re sure to have a fun-filled afternoon with the whole family.
7. Hike the Buda Hills
Need even more fresh air? Head to the Buda Hills! Take the Children’s Railway (operated entirely by kids ages 10-14, except for the conductor) to the top, and take in the best view of the city.
8. Bust a move
Ready for a night out? Most clubs in Budapest have free admittance. You’ll find clubs with every kind of music imaginable, both indoor and out.
9. Catch a concert
The Palace of Arts houses a concert hall, theater, and museum, and hosts musical acts and performances of all kinds. Elvis Costello? Check! Opera? Check! Most of the performances are paid admission, but you can check out the Colour Concerts series for free classical concerts.
10. Hit the suburbs
Hop on the suburban railway and in 45 minutes you’ll be in the picturesque town of Szentendre. Though small, the town is packed with art museums and galleries and makes for a wonderful day trip away from the capital.