Europe's most underrated big city, Budapest can be as challenging as it is enchanting. The sprawling Hungarian capital is a city of nuance and paradox — a unique metropolis at the heart of a unique nation. Here you'll find experiences like nothing else in Europe: Feel your stress ebb away as you soak in hundred-degree water, surrounded by opulent Baroque domes…and by Speedo- and bikini-clad Hungarians. Ogle some of Europe's most richly decorated interiors, which echo a proud little nation's bygone glory days. Take in a first-rate performance at one of the world's top opera houses — at bargain prices. Ponder the region's bleak communist era as you stroll amidst giant Soviet-style statues designed to evoke fear and obedience. Go for an after-dinner stroll along the Danube, immersed in a grand city that's bathed in floodlights.
At a Glance
▲▲▲ Széchenyi Baths Budapest's steamy soaking scene in City Park — the city's single best attraction.
▲▲ Hungarian Parliament Vast riverside government center with remarkable interior.
▲▲ Great Market Hall Colorful Old World mall with produce, eateries, souvenirs, and great people-watching.
▲▲ Great Synagogue The world's second-largest, with fancy interior, good museum, and memorial garden.
▲▲ Hungarian State Opera House Neo-Renaissance splendor and affordable opera.
▲▲ House of Terror Harrowing remembrance of Nazis and communist secret police in former headquarters/torture site.
▲▲ Heroes' Square Mammoth tribute to Hungary's historic figures, fronted by art museums.
▲▲ City Park Budapest's backyard, with Art Nouveau zoo, Transylvanian Vajdahunyad Castle replica, amusement park, and Széchenyi Baths.
▲▲ Vajdahunyad Castle Epcot-like replica of a Transylvanian castle and other historical buildings.
▲▲ Holocaust Memorial Center Excellent memorial and museum honoring Hungarian victims of the Holocaust.
▲ St. István's Basilica Budapest's largest church, with a saint's withered fist and great city views.
▲ Hungarian National Museum Expansive collection of fragments from Hungary's history.
▲ Margaret Island Budapest's traffic-free urban playground, with spas, ruins, gardens, a game farm, and fountains, set in the middle of the Danube.
▲ Zwack Museum Venerable Zwack family distillery and samples of Hungary’s favorite liquor, Unicum.
▲▲ Matthias Church Landmark Neo-Gothic church with gilded history-book interior and revered 16th-century statue of Mary and Jesus.
▲▲ Gellért Baths Touristy baths in historic Buda hotel.
▲▲ Rudas Baths Half-millennium-old Turkish dome over a series of hot-water pools.
▲▲ Memento Park Larger-than-life communist statues collected in one park, on the outskirts of town.
▲ Hungarian National Gallery Top works by Hungarian artists, housed in the Royal Palace.
▲ Hospital in the Rock Fascinating underground network of hospital and bomb-shelter corridors from World War II and the Cold War.
▲ Buda Castle Park (Várkert Bázar) and Grand Staircase Lovely Neo-Renaissance people zone from the Danube riverbank to the Royal Palace.
▲ Vasarely Museum Two floors of eye-popping, colorful paintings by Victor Vasarely, the founder of Op Art.
▲ Imre Varga Collection Evocative works by Hungary's top sculptor, also featuring a fine sculpture garden.