Five unmissable experiences in Budapest

A mix of stunning architecture, thermal baths and Hungarian scenery, the towns of Buda and Pest are brought effortlessly together by the River Danube.

Budapest is a vibrant capital city that is perfect for those seeking a contemporary fusion of past and present. Read on to see our top unmissable experiences for your next visit to the Hungarian capital.

Thermal baths

People bathing in Budapest's thermal baths: popular experience cruising the Danube

With more than 1,000 natural spring water sources in the country, it is no wonder Budapest goes by the nickname ‘City of Spas‘. The capital has a vast range of thermal baths to dip into during your visit, a popular one being Széchenyi Thermal Baths – the biggest bathing complex in Europe. This neo-Baroque palace houses 18 pools heated up to 38°C, ten sauna/steam cabins and several types of massage and facial treatment. Open all year round and even during some evenings, these baths are a highlight of any Danube river cruise.

Hungarian Parliament

Hungarian Parliament building on the banks of the Danube

Shrouded in Gothic architecture and golden splendour, the Hungarian Parliament building is a must-see attraction. Built at the end of the 19th Century, the building is the third largest of its kind in the world, sitting pretty on the banks of the Danube. The building is home to the Hungarian Coronation jewels and over 40kg of gold features in the décor of the interior. Take a tour around the grand building and see why this is one of the most widely-used symbols of Budapest and Hungary.

Great Market Hall

People shopping at the Great Market Hall: great destination for Budapest

Built in 1897, the Great Market Hall is a fantastic destination for both locals and tourists. Stalls offer fresh Hungarian delicacies like goulash and langos, as well as various handicrafts such as chessboards and embroidery. The market is spread over three floors under the original roof structure, and adorned with decorative Zsolnay tiles.

Ruin bars

Szimpla Kert famous ruin bar in Budapest

Jodie C /, CC by 2.0

Having only become established in recent years, ruin bars are growing in popularity across the city. Szimpla Kert was the original bar, opening in Budapest’s Jewish Quarter during the 2000s. From the outside the building is dilapidated but, once inside, an amalgamation of mismatched furniture, graffiti, fairy lights and bric-a-brac makes this a truly unique place to drink. Younger river cruisers (and the young at heart!) will feel right at home.

The Great Synagogue

Interior of the Great Synagogue in Budapest

The largest Jewish house of worship in Europe, Budapest’s Great Synagogue is a wonder to see. Containing a museum and archives, and overlooking the Holocaust Tree of Life memorial on the north side, the Synagogue serves as the main centre for the Jewish community. The stone-carved brickwork, onion domes and stained-glass windows make this an architectural delight, while the torah-ark and frescoes combine the colours of Budapest (blue, yellow and red) to make this building a truly spectacular landmark.

The Danube cruises smoothly between the cities of Buda and Pest, knitting them together to create a patchwork blanket of culture and contemporary delights.

Have you taken a river cruise through Budapest before? Let us know what your destination highlight was using the comment box, below.

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About Emma Smith

Emma has more than seven years' experience as a writer and has been in the travel industry for nearly five years. She loves learning about new places and cruise ships coming to market, as well as discovering fun and exciting activities to do while you sail. She has cruised with Princess Cruises, Cunard, Celebrity Cruises, Virgin Voyages, Avalon Waterways and Royal Caribbean and is looking to get something in her diary for 2024! Her favourite things to see on a ship include excellent entertainment, a delicious cocktail menu and extraordinary dining venues.

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