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FREE THINGS TO DO IN Budapest

TOP FREE ATTRACTIONS IN Budapest

Traveler's Guide to Top Attractions In Budapest For Free

Free Things To Do in Budapest - 2018

1. Danube Promenade (Free)

4.5 Free Tourist Attraction

A walk alongside the river in Budapest is a rewarding, educational and invigorating experience. The best plan is to start at the Chain Bridge and head either north towards Margit Bridge or south towards Erzsebet Bridge and on towards Szabadság Bridge. You can walk on either side, but the official Promenade runs from Chain Bridge to Erzsebet Bridge on the Pest side.

The Shoes Monument is an important and moving memorial located on the Promenade near to the Parliament. It consists of sixty pairs of cast iron shoes fixed to the embankment, to represent Jewish victims who were shot into the water by the fascist Arrow Cross militia during World War II; they were first ordered to take off their shoes.

There are several other sculptures along the Promenade, including the Little Princess and Shakespeare. Buildings include the attractive Vigad? Concert Hall and Hungarian Academy of Sciences. An evening stroll along the Promenade offers stunning views of the city’s landmarks lit up.

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2. St Stephen’s Basilica (Free)

4.5 Free Tourist Attraction

This stunning neoclassical church is named after Stephen, the first King of Hungary, and contains his right hand as a holy relic. It is the joint highest building in Budapest, alongside the Parliament Building, at 96 metres. The construction stretched over 54 years, finally being completed in 1905. The delay is explained by the dome collapsing in 1868, meaning work had to start again from scratch.

The basilica has a rich musical life and there are frequent concerts featuring choral, classical and contemporary music. There are performances from Hungary’s top organists and singers every Thursday evening, and the basilica choir performs every Sunday during the summer.

There are fantastic views to be enjoyed from the dome’s observation deck, open from April to October, which can be accessed either by stairs or lift. Inside, the basilica is sumptuously decorated, with beautiful marblework, stone, paintings, mosaics and stained glass windows. The church has two bell towers and Hungary’s largest bell at 9.5 tons. Although entrance is free, a small donation is appreciated.

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3. Gellért Hill (Free)

4.5 Free Tourist Attraction

This 235-metre-high hill is one of the best places to get panoramic views of the city. It makes for an invigorating walk, although public transport is also available, and there are several interesting features on the hill.

It is named after St Gerard, a bishop who was said to have been rolled down the hill in a barrel to his death during the Pagan Rebellion of 1046. A bronze statue of the saint can be seen near the Elizabeth Bridge.

At the top, there is the Liberty Monument which was erected in 1947 to honour the Soviet Red Army which had liberated the city from the Nazi occupation. Also worth investigating is the Citadel, built in the 1850s by the Austrian Habsburgs in order to keep control over the city. It was partly torn down by citizens after the Habsburgs’ downfall, but was used again by Hungarian soldiers, as well as the SS during World War II. The former barracks are now a hotel.

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4. Margaret Island (Free)

4 Free Tourist Attraction

This island in the Danube is a restful place to spend an afternoon with its beautiful wooded landscapes and ruins of churches. It is named after St Margaret who lived in the island’s Dominican convent.

Today there are a wealth of activities on offer, including a 5 kilometre running track around the island’s perimeter and the Palatinus water park, and bikes are available for hire. There are also tennis courts and an athletics centre.

There is a small zoo, a Japanese Garden, and the charming Music Fountain, where the water springs out in time with classical pieces. The Water Tower offers good views of the city and hosts exhibitions.

An open air theatre has seats for 3500 people. There is also a small train around the island. If you just want to stroll, there are many romantic pathways, colourful flowers, and venerable trees, as well as the Centenary Monument, created in 1873 for the hundredth anniversary of the merging of Buda and Pest.

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5. Walk Across Chain Bridge (Free)

4.5 Free Tourist Attraction

This iconic bridge physically and symbolically links Buda and Pest, on the western and eastern sides of the River Danube. It was opened in 1849 after a nine-year construction period and was the first permanent bridge in Budapest.

There are many interesting features of the bridge including the stone lions which resemble those in Trafalgar Square, London, although they were built earlier. The bridge makes for a beautiful sight at night when it is spectacularly lit up.

It is in close proximity to, and has a good view of Buda Castle, which can be accessed via a funicular railway. Designed by English engineer William Tierney Clark, the construction was overseen by the Scot Adam Clark (no relation), after whom Adam Clark Square is named on the Buda side.

The bridge was destroyed by the Germans towards the end of World War II and was subsequently rebuilt, reopening in 1949, one hundred years after it first came into use.

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6. Walking Tour (Free)

5 Free Tourist Attraction

There are a range of companies offering free tours of Budapest. For this article let’s look at one of the most acclaimed, Free Budapest Tours. They actually offer three different tours at different times of day: the Orientation Tour at 10.30am, giving you an overview of the twin cities, including Danube Promenade (link), Chain Bridge (link), Clark Adam Square, Royal Palace (exterior), President’s Palace and the Castle Quarter.

If you want to delve deeper into the darker parts of local history, check out the Essential Pest Tour at 2.30pm, subtitled Faith, Terror, Communism. This visits St Stephen’s Basilica (link), Liberty Square, the Soviet Monument, and various sites to do with the Communist regime and the 1956 revolution.

No booking is needed; all you need to do is turn up at the meeting point. Tips are dependent on how much you enjoy the tour and what you think of your guide.


Opening Times
Getting there
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7. Central Market Hall (Free)

4.5 Free Tourist Attraction

This large hall is a great place to browse for a huge variety of meats, spices, fruit, vegetables, fish, pastries, sweets and spirits. It is divided into three levels; on the ground floor, you will find the fresh produce, the first floor has souvenirs and food stalls where you can buy some readymade lunch, while the basement has a supermarket, fish market and pickles. There’s also a money exchange in the building.

The oldest and largest indoor market in Budapest, it was opened in 1897. Conceived by the city’s first mayor, Karl Kamermayer, he retired the year before and attended the opening ceremony as a citizen.

Covering an impressive floor space of 10,000 square metres, the building is enclosed by a steel framework. It suffered badly in both World Wars and was finally restored in the 1990s to its former glory. The roof has a lot of character, being rebuilt with colourful Zsolnay tiling from Pécs.

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8. City Park (Free)

4.5 Free Tourist Attraction

This large park has a diverse array of attractions, and is an ideal place to spend a whole day with the family. The main entrance is Heroes’ Square, itself the sight of notable features including the Millenium Monument, Museum of Fine Arts (link), and the Palace of Art.

In the main park you can visit the Zoo (one of the oldest in Europe, dating from 1866), the thermal baths and swimming pool, Vajdahunyad Castle which houses the Agricultural Museum, Vidámpark amusement park which features a merry-go-round from 1906 and a rollercoaster from 1922, the Grand Circus, the Transport Museum, and City Park Pond, used for ice skating in winter.

For a special treat, the Gundel Restaurant serves signature crepes and soup. At weekends the park hosts highly popular flea markets.

If you just want to spend a relaxing afternoon, there are many lovely paths lined with beautiful flowers and trees, and benches and places to have a picnic.

Nearby Attractions

9. Millenáris Park (Free)

4 Free Tourist Attraction

This leafy and attractive park, established in an old industrial site in Buda, is great for a stroll and also offers a range of concerts and cultural events. There is a large pond, playgrounds and exhibition halls.

Concerts feature performances from jazz, soul and alternative bands as well as sets from top DJs. There is also a gallery and theatre. A big emphasis is on kids’ entertainment, with puppet shows, theatre workshops and other events. Check the website to see what’s coming up.

The park is quite interesting on an aesthetic basis, with parts of old factory machinery still visible. If you want, you can just go for a little walk, feed some bread to the ducks and take in the tranquil atmosphere. A bench by the pond is a great place to have a picnic, but be aware that it can get crowded at lunchtime with an influx of local office workers and students.

Nearby Attractions

10. Károlyi Gardens (Free)

4 Free Tourist Attraction

Known as Károlyi-kert in Hungarian, these relaxing gardens, once the reserve of the Károlyi family, are now open to the public. It’s a secluded spot away from the noise of the city, with its winding, shaded walkways, fountains, and diversity of rare plants including Caucasian wingnuts, honey locusts, and trees such as silver poplars and horse chestnuts dating from up to 200 years ago. There is also a football pitch, a playground and a sandpit for the kids.

The classicist Károlyi Palace which adjoins the gardens now hosts the Petöfi Literary Museum, open from mid-July to late August, Tuesday to Sunday 10am-6pm. At one corner of the park is a cafe and bar with a terrace.

The park is enclosed by an ornate fence and gate, and with its modest size is somewhat reminiscent of the parks of Paris. An ideal place to have a picnic, read a book or just chill out.

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4.5 (10,116 reviews)

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Budapest Parliament Tour

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Budapest City Sightseeing Tour

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Gellert Spa Skip-the-Line Ticket

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