If you are on your first visit to Budapest, you will surely be amazed by its beauty. It’s a city with a rich heritage, combining East and West, modern and old, in a truly unique way. And it has landmarks, so many sights to see… so, if you happen to have a day with just a handful of events to attend at Sziget, you can take the time to see at least some of them. Trust me, you won’t regret it.
We have selected a few of the most famous landmarks in Budapest you should visit while there. But further tips are welcome in the comments!
Chain Bridge (Lánchíd)
Designed by English engineer William Tierney Clark, the Szécheny Chain Bridge was the first permanent bridge to link the two halves of the Hungarian capital, Buda, and Pest. At the time of its opening, in 1849, it was the largest bridge in the world. Its role in the country’s social and economic life was comparable to that of the Brooklyn Bridge in New York – and it was a wonder of modern engineering at the time. The bridge was blown up during World War II, with just its two columns remaining relatively intact – but it was rebuilt and reopened in 1949.
Parliament (Országház – literally the Country’s House, or the Nation’s House)
The Hungarian Parliament is housed in one of the largest administrative buildings in Europe, and one of the most beautiful at the same time. It is the largest building in the country and the tallest in Budapest. It is a popular tourist destination – it has two identical parliament halls, one for the politicians, the others for visitors. The Central Hall of the building houses the “Holy Crown”, worn by the first Hungarian king, Saint Stephen.
Buda Castle (Budai Vár)
First completed in 1265, and expanded several times in the centuries to come, the Buda Castle is a vast complex of palaces on top of the Castle Hill. It is not just a beautiful landmark, but also houses the Hungarian National Gallery, the Szécheny Library, and the Budapest History Museum.
National Gallery (Nemzeti Galéria)
Speaking of the National Gallery – it is a must-see for those in love with art, especially Hungarian art of all ages. It houses Medieval, Renaissance, Gothic and Baroque works of art, sculptures, paintings, photographs and others.
Fisherman’s Bastion (Halászbástya)
Although its architecture is remarkable, the Fisherman’s Bastion is even more famous for its amazing view of Budapest. From its terrace, you can see most of the Pest, the Margaret island, the Danube – an amazing view, especially at night.
Heroes’ Square (H?sök Tere)
A tribute paid to the seven Magyar chieftains leading the Hungarian tribes to their new home, the Heroes’ Square is one of the largest ones in Budapest. It also houses the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the M?csarnok, a museum of contemporary arts. It is one of the most impressive landmarks in Budapest.
Margaret Island (Margitsziget)
Smaller than the island that houses Sziget Festival, but still quite large, Margitsziget is one of the preferred recreational areas of the locals. Mostly covered in landscaped parks and medieval ruins, it is the home to some major sports establishments, like the Alfréd Hajós sports pool, the Palatinus water park, and others. But if you seek high-quality lodging in Budapest, you can pay a visit to the Danubius Grand Hotel Margitsziget (****), which will impress you with its “fin de siécle” architecture, and the more modern Danubius Health Spa Resort Margitsziget (****), with a thermal spa and various other health and wellness services.
Szécheny Thermal Bath
Speaking of wellness – if you look to recover after a week of sleeping in a tent, this might be a great destination for you. It is the largest medicinal baths in Europe, offering a variety of services to its visitors. It’s also a landmark – a great example of neo-baroque architecture – and often a place of late night parties.
House of Terror
Hungary was both under Fascist and communist regimes in its history, both of which committed unspeakable atrocities against the people. The House of Terror (Terror Háza) is meant to serve as a memento of those times, as well as a memorial to all the victims detained, tortured and killed under these regimes. The exhibits are accompanied by background music composed by Ákos, well known to the Hungarian public.
Memento Park – a Collection of Former Communist Landmarks
The memory of the Communist times is alive in the minds and hearts of Hungarians. What better proof than Memento Park, an open-air museum that houses the monumental statues built in the Communist era, and removed after the fall of the regime in 1989. It has statues of Marx, Engels, and Lenin, as well as several Hungarian communist leaders. It is not just a memento of times past but also serves as an opportunity to freely discuss dictatorship.