Budapest, the capital of Hungary, is one of the most unique cities in Europe. The city is divided by the Danube River into two parts – Buda on the western side and Pest on the eastern side. Nicknamed the “Pearl of the Danube”, the Hungarian capital is full of historic sites, landmarks and other notable attractions that can keep you occupied for days. While Budapest has an excellent public transportation system, one of the best ways to explore the city is by doing a self-guided walking tour.
Doing a walking tour of Budapest is ideal if you have limited time in the city and would like to cover as many stops as possible without breaking the bank. It also allows you to discover some hidden gems and spots off the beaten path that you normally wouldn’t find in a guided tour. Below is a walking route that covers some of the best sites and experiences the city has to offer.
The Ultimate Budapest Walking Route
This walking tour of Budapest will take up your entire day. It’s best to be prepared before you go by following these tips:
- Wear comfortable shoes and prepare an umbrella or sunscreen for protection.
- Find a Budapest luggage storage facilitywhere you can store large bags, backpacks and other items.
- This itinerary includes stops in one of the city’s popular baths. If you’re planning to swim, bring a swimsuit, towel, extra clothes and a waterproof bag to store your wet clothes in.
- Having a hop-on hop-off bus tour ticket will come in handy as you can get on and off a ride anytime you want to rest from all the walking. Book yours here.
- Although this itinerary starts on the Buda side, you can do it in reverse order if you wish. You can also add or remove stops depending on how much time you have.
The Castle District is a great starting point for your walking tour because it is home to three key attractions in the city – the Buda Castle, Fisherman’s Bastion and the Matthias Church.
- Buda Castle:Start off by heading to the Buda Castle, which is no doubt one of Budapest’s most prominent attractions. The Baroque-style castle has been around since 1265 and once served as a royal residence. Today, the castle is a tourist spot and home to two major cultural establishments – the Budapest History Museum and the Hungarian National Gallery.
- Fisherman’s Bastion: A short walk from the Buda Castle is the Fisherman’s Bastion, which is a former defensive fortress that has now become one of the city’s best viewpoints. Climb the terrace and spend some time here to admire the views.
- Matthias Church: Across the Fisherman’s Bastion is the Matthias Church, which has hosted some of Hungary’s most historic events, including the coronation of Franz Joseph I and Charles IV. Take some pictures and admire the stunning Gothic-style architecture before heading to the next stop.
Gellért Hill is a 235-meter tall hill that provides a scenic view of the Danube River and the Pest side of the city, particularly the facade of the Hungarian Parliament Building. The hill is the location of some renowned sites such as the Hotel Gellért, Gellért Baths and the Gellért underground caves.
After reaching the top of the hill to get a panoramic view of the city, head back down towards Gellért Square, where you will find the Liberty Bridge, which connects Buda and Pest. The shortest bridge in the city, it is easy enough to cross the Liberty Bridge on foot in order to get to the Pest side.
Great Market Hall
Once you reach the end of the bridge, you’ll end up at the Fővám Square, which is the site of the Great Market Hall, the oldest and biggest indoor market in Budapest. The market has a dizzying amount of stalls that sell produce, meat, delicacies and more. You can grab a bite here or in any of the restaurants along Váci Street, which is where the market is located.
Hungarian Parliament Building
When you’re done shopping or eating, it’s time to continue your walking tour; this time you’ll be seeing some of Pest’s best sites. Start with one of the city’s most iconic landmarks, the Hungarian Parliament Building, which is the seat of the National Assembly of Hungary. You can admire the beauty of the Gothic Revival-style architecture from the outside or opt to go on a tour of the Parliament (book your ticket here).
St. Stephen’s Basilica
This basilica is one of the biggest churches in Hungary and was named after the country’s first king, Stephen I. It is also known as one of the two tallest buildings in the city, along with the Hungarian Parliament Building. Aside from admiring the Neo-Classical architecture, you can also head inside and check out the mummified right hand of St. Stephen.
When you’re done with St. Stephen’s Basilica, head over to Andrássy Avenue, Pest’s main street and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The 2.5-kilometer long avenue is lined with mansions as well as a variety of cafés, restaurants and boutiques. The street is also home to some of Budapest’s most historic landmarks, including the Hungarian State Opera House, Zoltán Kodály Memorial Museum and Archives and the Liszt Ferenc Music Academy.
At the end of Andrássy Avenue, you will find the beloved Heroes’ Square (aka Hősök tere), which is best known for its iconic statue complex. The square also serves as the entrance to City Park, Budapest’s biggest park as well as its most popular one. There are plenty of amenities and attractions that can be found within the park’s vicinity, such as the Vajdahunyad Castle and Budapest Zoo (although this itinerary skips these attractions).
Instead, make your way to the Széchenyi Thermal Bath, one of the biggest and most renowned baths in Budapest. Taking a bath in one of the many pools available here is the best way to end a long and tiring day of walking around the city.