Budapest, the capital of Hungary, is a city steeped in history and culture, with stunning architecture, natural beauty, and delicious food. But did you know that you can experience all of this without breaking the bank?
From historical and cultural attractions to natural wonders, museums and galleries, and entertainment and festivals, Budapest has plenty of free things to do. Here are some of the best.
Budapest, the capital city of Hungary, is known for its stunning architecture, rich history, and vibrant culture. While it’s a great destination for travelers on a budget, the city also offers plenty of free activities for those looking to experience its charm without breaking the bank. From exploring beautiful parks and gardens to visiting historic landmarks and taking in breathtaking views, there are endless opportunities for free things to do in Budapest.
So if you’re planning a trip to Budapest and want to make the most of your travel budget, read on for our guide to the best free things to do in this incredible European city.
Best Free Things to Do in Budapest Based on Type of Attraction
Historical and Cultural Attractions
Visit Buda Castle on Castle Hill and its surroundings, including Fisherman’s Bastion and Matthias Church
Buda Castle is one of the most iconic landmarks in Budapest, and a visit here is a must for anyone exploring the city when you are on the Buda Side of the River.
The Castle itself dates back to the 13th century, and has undergone numerous renovations and restorations over the years. Today, visitors can explore the castle grounds and take in stunning views of the city from various vantage points.
One of the most popular attractions in the Castle area is Fisherman’s Bastion, a beautiful lookout terrace with seven turrets representing the seven Hungarian tribes that founded the country.
Another notable site is Matthias Church, a gorgeous Gothic structure that has been used for coronations and royal weddings throughout history. Both of these attractions are free to visit and offer a glimpse into Hungary’s rich history and culture.
A walk through the Buda Castle area is also a great opportunity to take in the city’s stunning architecture and learn more about its past.
Explore the Parliament Building and its surroundings, including Kossuth Square
The Hungarian Parliament Building is one of the most iconic landmarks of Budapest. The building is a marvel of neo-Gothic architecture, with intricate details and beautiful carvings. The Kossuth Square, where the parliament is located, is a spacious public square with several monuments and statues.
Wander around Heroes’ Square and City Park, including Vajdahunyad Castle
Heroes’ Square is a grandiose public square with a monument featuring the seven chieftains who founded Hungary.
The square is surrounded by two museums and a beautiful park, the City Park. Don’t miss the Vajdahunyad Castle, a stunning castle built in different styles, including Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque.
Walk around the Chain Bridge
A stroll around the Chain Bridge is a must-do activity while in Budapest. It’s a beautiful suspension bridge that connects the Buda and Pest sides of the city, offering a stunning view of the Danube River and the cityscape.
Walking across the bridge, you can see the Hungarian Parliament Building and the Buda Castle, among other landmarks.
You can also spot the famous lion statues guarding the bridge from each side. The Chain Bridge is especially charming at night when it’s lit up, and you can capture some beautiful photos.
Walking across the Chain Bridge is completely free, and it’s a fantastic way to experience the city’s beauty and history.
Take a stroll along Andrassy Avenue and see the Opera House
Andrássy Avenue is one of the most famous streets in Budapest and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s worth taking a leisurely stroll along the avenue to see the stunning architecture and beautiful tree-lined streets.
Don’t miss the Hungarian State Opera House, which is considered one of the most beautiful buildings in the city.
While you might need to pay for a ticket to see a show, simply admiring the grandeur of the building from the outside is completely free. It is one of the most important thing to do on the pest side of Budapest.
Visit St. Stephen’s Basilica and admire its architecture and views from the top
St. Stephen’s Basilica is a must-visit landmark in Budapest. The grand architecture and stunning interior are awe-inspiring and it is also free to enter.
But the real treat is the view from the top. Climb the stairs or take the elevator up to the dome, and you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the city. Best of all, entrance to the basilica is free, though donations are appreciated.
Read More: Budapest Card Review
Explore the Jewish Quarter and see the Great Synagogue
The Jewish Quarter is a vibrant neighbourhood with a rich cultural heritage. The Great Synagogue is the largest synagogue in Europe and is a stunning building with intricate details and beautiful stained-glass windows.
See impressive Roman ruins in Pest and Óbuda
Relax in one of Budapest’s many parks, including the City Park, Margaret Island, and Gellért Hill
Budapest has several beautiful parks where you can relax, have a picnic, and enjoy the natural beauty.
The City Park is the largest park in Budapest and is home to several attractions, including a lake, a castle, and a thermal bath.
Margaret Island is a lovely island in the middle of the Danube, with parks, gardens, and a small zoo. Gellért Hill is a beautiful hill with a stunning panoramic view of the city.
Walk along the Danube Promenade and enjoy views of the city and the river
The Danube Promenade is a lovely walk along the river, with beautiful views of the city and the river. The promenade is lined with several statues and monuments.
Hike up Gellért Hill for panoramic views of Budapest
If you’re looking for one of the best spots in Budapest to take in the beautiful panoramic views of the city, then look no further than the top of Gellért Hill.
This popular attraction is a must-visit for any traveller seeking to experience the essence of Budapest. Throughout the hike up the hill, you’ll pass beautiful parks, statues, and historic monuments that offer a glimpse into the city’s rich cultural heritage.
Once at the top, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of the Danube River, Buda Castle, and the city skyline. It truly is one of the best spots in Budapest to capture beautiful photographs and make lasting memories.
Whether you’re a nature lover, history enthusiast or avid photographer, hiking up Gellért Hill is a must-do activity during your time in Budapest.
Take a break on Margaret Island
Looking for a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of Budapest? Look no further than Margaret Island, a 2.5-kilometre-long island located in the middle of the Danube River.
This serene paradise is the perfect spot to take a break and enjoy some fresh air and natural beauty. Enjoy a leisurely stroll through the island’s lush gardens or take a bike ride along the many winding paths.
You can visit the island’s famous medieval ruins and the stunning 19th century water tower. If you’re looking for something a little more active, there are also plenty of sports facilities to take advantage of, including swimming pools, tennis courts, and a mini golf course.
Whatever your interests are, Margaret Island is sure to provide a peaceful and enjoyable escape from city life.
Museums and Galleries
Budapest is a city steeped in history and culture, and there are many museums and galleries that offer visitors a glimpse into the country’s past and present.
The Hungarian National Museum, located in the heart of Budapest, is a must-visit for history buffs. Here, visitors can learn about the country’s fascinating history, from the early days of the Hungarian tribes to the present day.
Visit the Hungarian National Museum and learn about the country’s history
The Hungarian National Museum is the oldest and largest museum in Hungary, with a vast collection of artefacts and objects that tell the story of Hungary’s history.
Check out the contemporary art exhibitions at the Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art
For those interested in contemporary art, the Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art is a must-see. This museum features an impressive collection of modern art from Hungary and around the world, including works by renowned artists such as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein.
Explore the art collections at the Museum of Fine Arts
The Museum of Fine Arts is another popular attraction for art lovers. Here, visitors can admire an extensive collection of European art, including works by Rembrandt, Rubens, and Leonardo da Vinci. The museum also features a collection of Egyptian and Classical antiquities.
Visit the Budapest History Museum and learn about the city’s past
If you’re interested in learning more about Budapest’s past, the Budapest History Museum is a great place to start. This museum is housed in the Buda Castle and features exhibits that cover the city’s rich history from the Roman times to the present day.
See the unique exhibits at the Museum of Applied Arts
The Museum of Applied Arts is another unique attraction that is well worth a visit. This museum showcases a variety of applied arts, including textiles, ceramics, and metalwork. Visitors can admire the intricate designs and craftsmanship of the exhibits, which range from medieval tapestries to contemporary fashion.
Enjoy the free exhibitions at the Hungarian National Gallery on Sundays
For those on a budget, the Hungarian National Gallery offers free entry on Sundays. Here, visitors can admire a collection of Hungarian art from the Middle Ages to the present day, including works by famous artists such as Mihály Munkácsy and József Rippl-Rónai.
Entertainment and Festivals:
Budapest is a city that loves to celebrate, and there are many festivals and events that take place throughout the year. For those on a budget, there are plenty of free events to enjoy.
Take a free walking tour of Budapest If you’re visiting Budapest
A great way to see the city and learn about its history and culture is by taking a free walking tour. These tours are usually led by knowledgeable guides who will take you to the most important sites and offer insights into the city’s rich past.
There’s no need to worry about paying for anything; these tours are completely free, though it’s always a nice gesture to tip your guide at the end if you feel that they’ve done a good job.
Some popular tours Free Budapest Tour include the Pest Walking Tour, which takes you through the heart of the city and highlights its architectural gems and main sights, and the Jewish District Walking Tour, which delves into Budapest’s Jewish heritage and history, visiting landmarks such as the Great Synagogue and the Jewish Museum.
A free walking tour is a fantastic way to discover Budapest and make the most of your time in this beautiful city.
Attend a free concert or event at Vörösmarty Square or other public squares
Vörösmarty Square is a popular gathering place in the heart of Budapest, and it’s a great place to catch a free concert or event. Throughout the year, there are many festivals and events that take place here, including the Budapest Wine Festival and the Christmas Market.
Watch a movie at an open-air cinema during the summer
During the summer months, open-air cinemas pop up all over the city, offering free movie screenings under the stars. This is a great way to enjoy a movie while taking in the city’s beautiful architecture and atmosphere.
Enjoy the free street performances and events during the Budapest Fringe Festival
The Budapest Fringe Festival is another popular event that takes place every summer. This festival features a variety of free street performances, art exhibitions, and other cultural events. It’s a great way to experience the city’s vibrant arts scene without spending a lot of money.
Food and Markets:
Sample Hungarian street food, including chimney cake, lángos, and goulash
Hungarian cuisine is a must-try when visiting Budapest, and sampling street food is a great way to experience it. Some of the most popular street foods in Hungary include chimney cake, lángos, and goulash.
Chimney cake is a sweet pastry cooked on a spit over an open fire and coated with sugar, cinnamon, or other toppings. Lángos is a savory fried dough topped with cheese, sour cream, and garlic. Goulash is a hearty stew made with beef, potatoes, onions, and paprika.
Visit the Great Market Hall and browse the stalls of fresh produce, meat, and souvenirs
Visiting the Great Market Hall is a great way to experience the local food scene in Budapest. The market is a large indoor space filled with stalls selling fresh produce, meat, cheese, pastries, and souvenirs. It’s a great place to try some Hungarian delicacies like smoked sausage, paprika, and pálinka (fruit brandy).
Check out the organic and artisanal products at the Fény Street Market
Another market to check out is the Fény Street Market, which specializes in organic and artisanal products. Here you can find fresh produce, handmade cheeses, organic meats, and locally produced wines.
Go on a tasting tour of Hungarian specialties at local markets and street food vendors
Going on a tasting tour of Hungarian specialties is a fun and budget-friendly way to explore the local food scene. You can find food tours that take you to local markets and street food vendors to sample traditional dishes like lángos, chimney cake, and goulash. You can also take a picnic to one of Budapest’s parks and enjoy the local produce while taking in the scenery.
Night Out at the Ruins Bars or Ruin Pub
Buda Castle is one of the most iconic landmarks in Budapest, and a visit here is a must for anyone exploring the city. The Castle itself dates back to the 13th century, and has undergone numerous renovations and restorations over the years.
Today, visitors can explore the castle grounds and take in stunning views of the city from various vantage points. One of the most popular attractions in the Castle area is Fisherman’s Bastion, a beautiful lookout terrace with seven turrets representing the seven Hungarian tribes that founded the country.
Another notable site is Matthias Church, a gorgeous Gothic structure that has been used for coronations and royal weddings throughout history. Both of these attractions are free to visit and offer a glimpse into Hungary’s rich history and culture. A walk through the Buda Castle area is also a great opportunity to take in the city’s stunning architecture and learn more about its past.
Budapest is a city that offers a wealth of free activities and experiences for visitors. From exploring historical and cultural attractions to enjoying natural parks and trails, Budapest has something for everyone.
Sampling Hungarian cuisine is a must-do activity while in Budapest, and there are plenty of budget-friendly options available. With so many free things to do in Budapest, it’s easy to see why it’s becoming a popular destination for budget-conscious travellers. So why not plan a trip to Budapest and experience all it has to offer without breaking the bank?
Q: What are the top free things to do in Budapest in 2023?
A: Some of the best free things to do in Budapest in 2023 include visiting Heroes Square, exploring the Hungarian Parliament, admiring street art, and taking a stroll along the Shoes on the Danube.
Q: How can I get free admission to Budapest attractions?
A: The Budapest Card offers free admission to several attractions and museums, and you can also find free admission days at various cultural institutions throughout the city. Additionally, some attractions offer free entry on specific occasions.
Q: Are there any free guided tours in Budapest?
A: Yes, there are several companies and organizations that offer free walking tours in Budapest. These tours often cover popular landmarks and provide insights into the city’s history and culture.
Q: What are the best free thermal spas in Budapest?
A: While many thermal spas in Budapest require an entrance fee, there are a few that offer free access to certain sections or features. For a complete free experience, visitors can explore the public thermal springs and fountains in the city.
Q: Where can I find free street art in Budapest?
A: Budapest is known for its vibrant street art scene, and you can discover stunning murals and graffiti in areas such as the Jewish Quarter and along the Danube River. Many of these artworks can be enjoyed for free while exploring the city.
Q: Are there any free events or performances at the Hungarian Parliament?
A: Throughout the year, the Hungarian Parliament occasionally hosts free concerts, exhibitions, and public events. Keep an eye on the official schedule to catch these special free offerings.
Q: Can I gain free entrance to the Budapest Zoo?
A: Yes, the Budapest Zoo offers free admission on certain occasions or special promotional days. Visitors can take advantage of these opportunities to enjoy the zoo’s attractions at no cost.
Q: What are some of the best free viewpoints in Budapest?
A: For incredible views of the city without spending a dime, head to the top of the hill in Buda or the Elisabeth Bridge. These vantage points offer breathtaking panoramas of Budapest’s iconic landmarks and scenic beauty.
Q: Is there a way to experience Budapest’s cultural heritage for free?
A: Travelers on a tight budget can explore Budapest’s rich cultural heritage for free by visiting sites such as Heroes Square, the Shoes on the Danube, and the Jewish Quarter. These locations provide insights into the city’s history and traditions without any entrance fees.
Q: How can I enjoy free samples and experiences in Budapest?
A: Visitors can enjoy free samples and experiences in Budapest by exploring the city’s vibrant markets, such as the Great Market Hall. Additionally, keep an eye out for special promotional events that offer free tastings and demonstrations.