An architectural gem, vibrant and fast-paced, Budapest is one of Central Europe's most interesting cities. Being an economical, cultural and financial hub, Budapest is Hungary's capital, the largest and most important city. What I learned during my visit is that Budapest used to be Buda, Pest and Óbuda, three different cities which united in 1873 and became the flourishing capital it is today. You can spend days in Budapest and still feel like it's not enough. Its amazing young culture, phenomenal nightlife and exciting sights attract countless tourists wishing to capture a quick glance of Hungary's true heart. Yet, if you only have 24 hours to spend in Budapest, here is your best guide on how to have the most amazing day in the beautiful Hungarian capital.
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What you must see
The Hungarian House of Parliament
Also known as the Országház (which literally means the House of the Country) is one of the most sought after and photographed tourist attraction in Hungary. The main façade overlooks the Danube: A beautiful combination of gothic architecture, alongside renaissance features, managed to capture a traveller's imagination for decades.
The House of Parliament is home to the Holy Crown of Hungary, a magnificent jewel which was used for most of the coronations throughout the existence of the Kingdom of Hungary. You can buy tickets to view the interior of the House of Parliament by visiting this website.
For truly spectacular views over Budapest and the Danube river, head up to the Fisherman's Bastion. This is a wonderful terrace which takes its name from the fishermen who were in charge to protect the area during the Middle Ages. For the history enthusiasts: the Fisherman's Bastion has seven towers, each dedicated to the seven Hungarian tribes that settled in Carpathian basin in 896 AD.
Note, this is a popular tourist destination and it can get busy during peak times. If you have some time to spare, bring your camera gear and take spectacular pictures either during sunrise or sunset.
Have more time to spare? Why not check out this ultimate Budapest itinerary?
Széchenyi Chain Bridge
This beautiful early 19th-century bridge links Buda to Pest. The Széchenyi Chain Bridge is renowned to look most amazing during the blue hour and many go to great lengths to capture its true beauty. The bridge has a special lane for pedestrians, so feel free to cross the Danube back and forth.
One of Hungary's largest churches, this beautiful gothic style building sits imposingly on the Castle Hill, right next to the Fisherman's Bastion. This historic wonder was once destroyed by the Mongols and rebuilt from its ashes during the late 13th century. Matthias Church was home to many coronations and royal weddings.
Walk on this 19th-century boulevard, named a World Heritage Site in 2002. Dotted with trees, shopping boutiques and mansions, Andrássy út is a place of culture as it is home to the Hungarian State Opera House and the Ferenc Hopp Museum of East Asian Arts. For a glance into the past, visit the House of Terrors if you dare to see the fate of victims under the Communism and Nazi regimes.
If you have time, have a stroll in the park surrounding the Gellért Hill and make your way up to the Statue of Liberty, by the Citadella. Enjoy magnificent views over the Széchenyi Chain Bridge and The Hungarian House of Parliament.
Kemkem from Nextbiteoflife also recommends the House of Terror in Budapest. Would you dare?
For a more comprehensive travel guide to Budapest, click here.
What you must eat
If you like trying authentic dishes, then look no further, as Hungary has a wonderful culinary scene. Known for its paprika houses, no wonder their traditional dishes are deliciously spiced up. When in Budapest, you must try the gulyás, a soup with meat, vegetables and specific dumplings (galuska).
Hungarian Szilvás Gombóc
This is one of my favourite desserts of all times. My grandmother used to make this for me when I was a child, and I still make it myself every now and then. Szilvás Gombóc is basically a plum dumpling. The plum is wrapped in a dough made with mash potatoes, then covered in golden breadcrumbs and sugar. You can also find the Szilvás Gombóc on Romanian, Polish and Croatian authentic menus.
Whilst you walk around in Budapest, make sure you stop in a Hungarian sweet shop (look for the sign: cukrászda) and treat yourself to a krémes, which is essentially a traditional custard slice. Imagine a soft top and bottom, filled with the most delicious homemade custard. The consistency, taste and look of this dessert are so amazing, you will want to skip lunch just to eat more krémes.
Did you visit Budapest? What did you like most about this wonderful city? Tell me all about it in the comments section below.