Budapest is famous for the Hungarian Parliament Building, the Danube River, funky ruin bars, and relaxing thermal spas.
Budapest is the landlocked capital of Hungary, located in Central Europe. The iconic Danube River separates the city into two halves, hilly terrain, and a flat plain. Together they make up 21 of the 23 districts in Budapest, in addition to Margaret Island and Óbuda.
- TRAVELING TO BUDAPEST?
- 🚩 Top Tour Activity: Sightseeing Cruise On Danube
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (11,000+ Reviews)
- 📍 Special Attraction: Szechenyi Spa Bathhouse
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (9300+ Reviews)
- 👍🏼 Compact City Intro: 3-Hour Guided Sightseeing Tour
- 💰 Cost Saver City Pass: Budapest Card
- 🚃 Getting Around: Hop On Hop Off Bus
- 🛫 Airport Transfer: Shared Airport Shuttle
- 🚘 Car Rental: DiscoverCars
What Is Budapest Famous For?
Budapest is known for being the spa capital of the world, and the famous Sziget Festival, as well as unique landmarks and monuments such as the Parliament Building, Danube River, and Fisherman’s Bastion. The capital was founded in 1873 and as a result, has a rich history. In the same way, Budapest is famous for its traditional foods, which dominate the cuisine today.
History, Culture, And Traditions Budapest Is Known For
Approximately 70% of the population in Budapest identifies as Roman Catholic, one of the major denominations of Christianity. The history of this is fascinating as the Buda region was originally a Roman colony. However, Protestantism domineered for over a millennium until the 17th century.
Because of this, some of the most famous places in Budapest are associated with the religion. An example of this is St Stephen’s Basilica, named after the first king of Hungary.
You may not know it, but Budapest is known to be one of the top cities for chess in the world. It is the birthplace of Judit Polgár, a chess grandmaster who broke records for being the youngest grandmaster of her time. She is often considered one of the strongest female chess players around.
A tactical opening move dedicated to the capital is The Budapest Gambit, which includes placing an undefended pawn where it can be captured. This allows for a resulting attack on the opponent.
Randomly, a tradition in Budapest is to play chess in the thermal baths!
Spa Capital Of The World
A fun fact about Budapest is that it is the spa capital of the world! It is home to 123 natural hot springs, water that is naturally heated by the earth’s crust. These waters also created beautiful underground phenomena such as The Pálvölgyi Cave in the Buda Hills.
It is worth visiting the Széchenyi Thermal Baths that Budapest is famous for when seeking a relaxing day out in Europe. The complex is made of two baths which are said to have healing properties, which are pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory.
Hungarian food consists largely of meats and cheeses. It is hearty, affordable, and extremely flavorful, so it is enjoyed internationally.
The national dish is considered to be goulash, a beef and root vegetable stew. It is heavily seasoned with paprika, which is the most abundantly used spice. Similarly, chicken paprikash is an authentic and creamy stew that also uses this seasoning.
The Sziget Festival is held annually during the summer every August. It is located on Obuda Island, in the center of Budapest, and enclosed by the Danube River.
It usually lasts just under a week, and features hit acts known internationally. This includes David Guetta, Macklemore, and Imagine Dragons. Music ranges from pop to metal, and alternative music.
Almost half a million people travel to this dynamic festival each year, and it is one of the eventful activities in Budapest.
The Three Cities That Made Budapest
The history started in 1873 when Budapest was established. It consisted of a merger between three cities: Buda, Óbuda, and Pest. Before this, the land is assumed to have been occupied since the 4th century BC by the Celts and was later conquered by the Romans.
Buda was the capital for almost 600 years until the creation of Budapest.
Budapest is divided by the Danube River into the peaceful Buda on the west and commercial Pest on the east. They are linked by The Chain Bridge.
Districts And Areas Budapest Is Famous For
Traveling in Budapest is an interesting experience because of the different charming districts that form the city, apart from the segmentation of Buda and Pest.
Castle District (I)
The castle district is home to some of the most famous places in Budapest.
One of the most diverse attractions is Trinity Square. On it, you can find Matthias Church,located on the hill of Buda Castle. The religious structure is named after Mattias I, who was the King of Hungary and Austria. He built the bell tower which still exists in its renovated form.
The Buda Castle itself is a standout structure within the district. However, what’s even more special is actually seen from the surface. There is a cave system under the Buda Castle district that you can actually explore on a guided tour.
Another interesting Hungarian landmark is the Fishermen’s Bastion, a terrace serving panoramic views, with a statue of Stephen I on his horse in the center.
Lipótváros – Belváros (District V)
In the heart of Budapest, you will find Belváros-Lipótváros.
The most famous landmark here is undoubtedly the Parliament Building, which is the 3rd largest national assembly worldwide. It has 691 rooms as well as 10 courtyards.
And as the majority of the city is Roman Catholic, what is Budapest famous for if not churches? St Stephen’s Basilica is home to the mummified hand of St Stephen, the first king of Hungary! In addition, it also hosts classical music concerts that just delivers a magical vibe when complemented with the stunning cathedral interior and acoustics.
Terézváros (District VI)
Terézváros is a small yet lively district. Before 1873, it was a large and joint district with Erzsébetváros, however, they later became two separate districts.
The district is affordable and adored by the younger generations thanks to its dynamic atmosphere. It is home to the Hungarian State Opera, a neo-renaissance structure specializing in classical music and ballet.
Another structure worth visiting is the House of Terror Museum, which was controversially built to berate communism, fascism, and socialism. It also serves as a memorial to those tortured in the same building by Nazis.
Erzsébetváros And The Jewish Quarter (District VII)
Budapest is also famous for having the largest synagogue in Europe. It is found in Erzsébetváros, the majority of which is known as the Jewish Quarter.
The Dohány Street Synagogue has enough space for 3,000 people! It is impressive thanks to the Heroes’ Temple, as well as The Raoul Wallenberg Memorial Park which remembers the innocent victims of Nazi Germany.
As well as its Jewish heritage, Erzsébetváros is known for its tasty street foods and boho bars.
Margaret Island is located on the Danube River. It can be reached via Margaret Bridge which connects it to the city center.
Whilst Margaret Island is not one of the most famous places in Budapest, it is criminally underrated. The serene area is a hidden gem and a peaceful contrast to the otherwise bustling capital.
Here, you can stroll along the promenade, taking in the scenic views of the river and breathing fresh air. If you have time, you can also visit the Mini Zoo, Ensana Thermal Spa Hotel, or the ruins of the Dominican Convent.
Landmarks And Architecture Budapest Is Famous For
The Fisherman’s Bastion is found in the Castle District, one of the impressive structures Budapest is famous for due to its fairytale-like visuals. The landmark is a white viewing terrace made with stone benches, windows, and balconies. Furthermore, there is a small St Michael’s Chapel inside.
Initially, it was built as a defense mechanism as a part of Buda Castle. Its name comes from Fishermen’s Town which it was built over. The monument overlooks the Danube River and much of Pest.
Buda Castle is a complex that was initially built in 1265 for the monarchy, with Medieval architecture. In contrast, the Baroque style is because of renovations that took place four centuries later.
The main elements of the castle are the National Gallery and Budapest History Museum, which both display artifacts ranging from paintings to furniture and clothes. Additionally, the National Library is filled with books. Unfortunately, all of the pieces were stolen during World War II.
The Parliament Building in Belváros-Lipótváros is worth visiting solely for its architecture. This ginormous yet beautifully designed complex is one of the key things Budapest is famous for.
The central dome and symmetry reflect the Gothic revival, however, there is the perfect mix of the Renaissance. A bronze statue of Gyula Andrássy mounted on his horse stands in front of the building.
Inside are many lavish staircases and regal rooms. One of the best pieces is the Holy Crown of Hungary in the central hall.
Shoes On The Danube Bank
The Danube River is the second largest river in Europe running through the Black Forest to The Black Sea. It is especially significant in Budapest because it separates the city into two: Buda and Pest.
The Shoes on the Danube Bank is an important memorial that Budapest is known for constructing in 2005. The poignant memorial is a brutal reminder of the Hungarian Jews who lost their lives to the fascist Arrow Cross Party during World War II.
They would take off their shoes, which were to be resold after their death, and executed on the river bank. It’s one of the unassuming yet most meaningful monuments to stop by when walking along the Danube River.
Széchenyi Thermal Bath
As we mentioned, the spa capital of the world is Budapest. The Széchenyi Thermal Bath is one of the largest and most popular baths. You will find plenty of pools of different temperatures within the complex.
The geothermally heated baths are not only relaxing but also medicinal. The composition of the water, such as calcium, magnesium, and fluoride, can help with a range of health conditions such as arthritis.
If you need further relaxation, you can also subscribe to additional services on offer such as aroma massage. This is one attraction to check out and relax in after days of exploring the city.
Food Budapest Is Known For
The mother of Hungarian food is Gulyás, otherwise known as goulash. This hearty main meal is Central Europe and its neighbors, despite originating from shepherds in 9th century Hungary.
Gulyás is a stew that is made from ground beef, tomatoes, carrots, and onions. It is seasoned with predominantly paprika, as well as cumin and caraway seeds. For more depth, locals also add csipetke, a buttered noodle. The dish is then garnished with sour cream.
A simple yet flavorful main dish is chicken paprikash. The dinner is made solely with chicken thighs, marinated in sour cream and paprika sauce. Black pepper is also added for a kick.
This characteristic sauce is tangy yet sweet. There are also optional ingredients that are added which vary from region to region, such as red bell peppers. For more texture, you can also pour the chicken paprikash on a bed of csipetke.
Lángos is a savory, fried flatbread served hot, and heated in a traditional clay oven. It is a popular street food that you will inevitably find peppered along the markets and streets.
Originally, Lángos was made by using up the remnants of the dough left from that day, to avoid wastage. Subsequently, it was cooked the next day.
Usually, the flatbread is eaten for breakfast. The stereotypical breakfast that Budapest is famous for is a flatbread with a fruit conserve, salami, tomatoes, and strong espresso. There is no denying that this robust meal will power you through the day!
Kürtőskalács is otherwise known as a chimney cake. Its unusual shape of a truncated cone, and distinct sweet flavor, make it a must-try snack.
The cake is made from layers of dough stacked on top of each other on a cylindrical, rotating spit. This allows for the middle of the cake to be hollow.
You will find many variations of kürtőskalács. The original cake is dusted with icing sugar; however, fancy versions come topped with coconut flakes, chocolate, and more. It makes for a nice dessert in Hungary.
Halászlé is also called fisherman’s soup. Initially, it was cooked for fishermen who worked on The Danube. The dish is made with carp, red bell pepper, fish bouillon, and a little water. It is characteristically thick and has a vivid red color.
As we mentioned, Budapest is famous for heavily flavoring its dishes with paprika, and halászlé is no exception. Although the light soup makes a great dinner, it is also a delicacy prepared on Christmas Eve.
Famous People From Budapest
Widely regarded as the most recognized magician of all time, Harry Houdini is the performer that Budapest is famous for. Houdini’s real name was actually Erich Weisz, his stage name was a homage to Robert Houdin.
Harry Houdini’s magic career began in 1891, whereby he was coached by Joseph Rinn. His most famous stunt is the ‘Milk Can Escape’, for which he was placed inside an oversized milk can, and handcuffed. Subsequently, he would escape behind a curtain. He passed away in Michigan in 1926.
Albert Szent-Györgyi was a biochemist born in 1893 in Budapest. His most famous contribution was discovering the components of Vitamin C, for which he received a Nobel Peace Prize in 1937.
Albert attended Semmelweis University, which was regarded as the best medical school in Budapest. His studies were interrupted to serve as an army medic for his country in World War I, but he was discharged after shooting himself in the arm and claiming medical leave. He died aged 93 in 1986 in Massachusetts.
Ferenc Puskás is the greatest player Hungary is known for. He is one of the first international sporting superstars.
Born in 1932 in Budapest, Puskás, went on to score 84 goals during 85 games for his country. He also played for an adored city team, Budapest Honved, for over a decade, scoring 358 goals in 350 games.
He passed away in 2006 in Budapest, with an award named in his memory by FIFA, termed The Puskás Award, for the best goal of each year.
When it comes to stylish celebrities, Barbara Palvin is one of the famous people from Budapest. Palvin was only 13 when she was discovered by a modeling scout whilst with her mother out in the city.
Her runway debut was for Prada in Milan Fashion Week in 2010. Subsequently, she walked for Victoria’s Secret fashion show; later going on to become the first Hungarian Victoria’s Secret Angel in 2018.
Many have described her as a powerful contribution to body positivity, and health, despite the negative connotations associated with modeling. She has also gone on to appear in multiple movies.
Discovering More Things Budapest Is Known For
Budapest is known for its rich history which has influenced the churches, museums, and memorials scattered throughout the city. The prominent landmarks and monuments all have a story to tell from the capital’s varied past.
That said, Budapest is famous for its charming districts and neighborhoods. Each district has something different to offer, whether it is castles in District I to arts in District VI. You can interesting activities and attractions catering to different interesting, even though the traditional foods and charming people are present throughout!