Are you ready to explore one of Europe’s most fascinating and beautiful cities? Budapest awaits!
Whether you’re a seasoned solo traveller or taking your first steps into the world of wandering alone, Budapest solo travel is the perfect way to satisfy your wanderlust.
Budapest is a city that exudes beauty and grandeur from every corner. From its vibrant streets, to its stunning architecture and rich cultural heritage, it’s no wonder the Hungarian capital city has become one of Europe’s most popular destinations for solo travellers.
I’ve visited Budapest as a solo traveller and as part of a group a few times, and I’ve gotten to feel how incredible the city is. I may not speak their language, but I’ve found Hungarians so friendly and helpful when you need to ask them for directions or recommendations. It’s definitely one of my favourite European cities!
Let’s delve a little deeper into what Budapest solo travel is all about…
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- Why visit Budapest alone
- The practical stuff – what you need to know before solo travel in Budapest
- Budapest solo travel – 15 things to do in Budapest alone
- 1. Wonder at the Parliament Building
- 2. Spend the day soaking at the Thermal Baths
- 3. Explore Buda Castle District
- 4. Take in the views at Fisherman's Bastion
- 5. Get a taste of Hungarian food at Central Market Hall
- 6. Stroll across Szechenyi Chain Bridge
- 7. Explore Budapest History Museum
- 8. Make some friends at a Ruin Bar
- 9. Take a guided tour of the Budapest State Opera House
- 10. Wander underground for some Hungarian wine tastings
- 11. Take a leisurely cycle around the city
- 12. Discover the Holocaust Museum
- 13. Ride in style on a Segway
- 14. Visit the Matthias Church
- 15. Get out of the city on a day trip to Lake Balaton
- FAQs on Budapest Solo Travel
- Budapest Solo Travel: The Verdict
Why visit Budapest alone
Budapest has a lot of things to do even if you go by yourself. From the beautiful architecture of castles and churches, underground wine cellars to underground castle ruins and ice plunge pools to hot water baths, each one of the items listed below should be on your Budapest bucket list.
Solo travellers in Budapest are so common that you’ll likely meet others just like you! Whether it’s in a hostel or in a restaurant or bar, it’s so easy to meet new people – if that’s what you choose, of course. I’m an introvert at heart so I love exploring by myself!
The practical stuff – what you need to know before solo travel in Budapest
Before heading to Budapest, there are a few things you should note, especially for first-time solo travellers:
- The best time to visit Budapest is during the months of May, June, September, and early October, because of the milder weather and fewer tourists.
- The first language for the majority of the population is Hungarian but most locals can understand English. If you’re in touristy areas and the inner city, you can definitely get by using English.
- The Hungarian Forint (HUF) is the official currency in Budapest. Some places accept Euros and US Dollars, however, you might find that you’re paying more because of a higher exchange rate.
- I highly recommend getting travel insurance before heading to Budapest alone (or anywhere really) to ensure you’re covered for any unpleasant surprises. Get a free quote for travel insurance here.
- It’s customary in Hungary to tip 10-15% of the bill. And if you get the bill and are expecting change, don’t say “thank you” or they might keep the change!
- Budapest is pronounced Boo-dah-pesht (not Boo-da-pest) so that’s how you can keep on the locals’ good side!
Budapest solo travel – 15 things to do in Budapest alone
1. Wonder at the Parliament Building
The Hungarian Parliament Building, or the Országház, is the ground zero for Budapest travellers. It’s one of the best examples of Gothic revival and Renaissance revival architecture today and shows the rich history, art, and culture of the country.
Get your tour tickets in advance and choose from more than 50 languages offered. More than 700,000 people visit each year (I was one of them) so this is definitely a must-go for you, too!
The massive Parliament Building is the third largest parliamentary building in the world. Architect Imre Steindl designed this impressive masterpiece with precise symbology. The central dome is 96 meters high and there are 96 steps on the main staircase – both symbolise the year of the settlement of Hungary in 896.
And of course there’s the 365 towers throughout the building, one for each day of the year!
While you’re there, get a closer look at the Holy Crown of Hungary, also known as the Crown of St. Stephen, which was donned by more than 50 kings since the 12th century. Keep an eye out for the guards – they rotate every hour!
2. Spend the day soaking at the Thermal Baths
Solo travel in Budapest wouldn’t be complete without getting into the thermal baths of the city.
The spa culture in Budapest started even before the Romans came in the 3rd century and established public baths. The early Hungarian tribe, the Eravisci, discovered the springs calling them Ak-ink which means “abundant water”.
True to this name, about 123 thermal springs in Budapest alone release some 40,000 cubic meters of mineral-rich, hot water to support the many outdoor pools and thermal baths in the city.
Spend the day soaking in Széchenyi Thermal Bath, the most popular thermal bath in Budapest and the biggest natural hot spring bath in Europe. It’s more than 100 years old, and about 100 million people have enjoyed these fun pools with water jets, underwater aqua massage, whirlpools, and an impressive labyrinth of 18 pools.
Looking for a second option (because soaking in the thermal baths two days in a row is obviously better than one!)? The Gellért Thermal Bath is another famous spa and public bath with a wave pool, many swimming pools, and relaxation treatments.
Opening times at the different thermal baths vary so booking in advance would help. A quick tip: check if they open at night, some thermal baths are occasionally open for night dips!
Bring your swimwear, towel, and basic toiletries just to make sure you have what you need (don’t worry you’ll be provided with a locker). And drink a shot of the warm, mineral-rich water for good measure! Locals swear they have healing powers.
Taking a dip at the thermal baths is a quintessential Budapest experience – so take that plunge!
3. Explore Buda Castle District
The Buda Castle District is one of Budapest’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which includes museums, monuments, and of course, epic views.
The most scenic way to go up Castle Hill is to take the “Siklo” or funicular which runs from 7:30 AM to 10:00 PM every day. Another way to get there (not as fun) is by bus which runs every 5-6 minutes during the day.
Admission is free to The Royal Palace but you’ll need to pay for The Castle Museum and the Hungarian National Gallery, or any tours you join.
Other things to see in the Castle District are the National Archives, Europe Grove, Mary Magdalene Tower, Holy Trinity Square (The Old Town Hall), Matthias Church, picturesque restaurants, cafes, open markets, and the famous Fishermen’s Bastion (more on that next!).
You’ve got to stop by the old pastry shop, Ruszwurm, where locals have been enjoying their decadent sweets since 1827. Try their Ruszwurm Torte and you’ll get why it’s the fan favourite.
If you want some wine after the sugar rush (who wouldn’t), visit Faust Wine Cellar for a tutored tasting of local grape varieties like Harslevelu and Kekfrankos.
Take your time (one of the benefits of doing a solo trip) as you explore historic Buda Castle and its excellent views, especially during the warmer months.
4. Take in the views at Fisherman’s Bastion
Before leaving Buda Castle, take a stroll up to Fisherman’s Bastion, which has the most beautiful panoramic views of Budapest. It was originally built to defend the Fishermen’s Town lying beneath it and if needed, the fishermen could defend the tower as well. The views are just unparalleled from this side of Buda.
It’s free of charge to enter but you’ll need to pay to enter the towers, which offer a slightly better view than the other parts of the Bastion.
I can’t fully describe how exhilarating it is to stand on Fisherman’s Bastion but I’m sure the above photo can slightly capture that feeling of awe while looking at the city below.
5. Get a taste of Hungarian food at Central Market Hall
The best way to taste authentic Hungarian cuisine is to visit Central Market Hall, which is one of the largest indoor markets in Budapest. Even the locals buy their groceries and eat lunch there, so you know it’s gotta be good!
On the upper floors, sit down at the eateries and food stalls and dine in for your Hungarian spread like goulash, sausages, local wines, mushrooms, and dumplings. Don’t be surprised if you see Foie Gras in the market because it’s a Hungarian speciality.
Inside this stunningly beautiful Neo-Gothic architectural building, you can find loads of fresh produce, dairy products, meat, fish, cured meats, pickles, and spices. There’s also souvenirs, clothing, and crafts sold here that you might want to bring home with you. If you’re a certified food-lover, you can book locals for their Budapest Central Market Hall tasting tours. Locals always know best!
During the summer months of June to August, more farmers can be found displaying their produce at the small farmer’s market at the back and you can stroll around shopping and snacking on free samples laden on wooden spoons. Yay to free food!
And if you love food, you’ll love these food related tours!
6. Stroll across Szechenyi Chain Bridge
Strolling across the Szechenyi Chain Bridge is one of the best ways to breathe in the city’s vibe along the Danube River. The bridge lets you walk across the Buda side to the Pest side (and back) as it straddles the Danube River.
It takes about 10 to 15 minutes to walk from end to end of the Chain bridge. While you’re there, you’ll get to view the World Heritage-protected sites. Don’t forget to snap some photos of this architectural delight!
The Chain Bridge was inaugurated in 1849 and the iron chains were built into the structure from which the name came.
It’s currently closed for the first time since it was built because of reconstruction but it will soon be open for pedestrians again in the Autumn of 2023. However, you can still enjoy the historic bridge, whether day or night, as it’s one of the most famous landmarks of Budapest.
7. Explore Budapest History Museum
If you want to get to know more about the history of Budapest, the Budapest History Museum in Buda Castle on Castle Hill is a great place to start as it focuses on its history from the Middle Ages to the present.
Also called the Castle Museum, it best reflects the history and daily life throughout the various ages in Buda and Pest. There are tools, books, photos, furniture, clothes, and other graphics that depict the life of its people.
You might need some help understanding the captions as most of them are written in Hungarian.
I also highly recommend going down and discovering the basement where the Castle’s ruins are. They’re definitely worth visiting!
The museum is open Tuesdays to Sundays all year round but make sure you get your special festival entry on festival days in the country such as the Crafts Festival or Wine Festival.
8. Make some friends at a Ruin Bar
Interestingly, Budapest locals have a penchant for using derelict buildings from World War 2 and the Cold War. They left the facade in ramshackles, but they have actual bars inside these old, forgotten buildings.
Ruin bars have become popular watering holes in Budapest since the early 2000s.
Apparently, Hungarians vowed not to ‘cheers’ with beer for 150 years since the revolution against the Austrians in 1848. While that time period has long gone, most Hungarians have still never clicked glasses! Cheers or none, you can always enjoy a beer or local wine.
Try their national drink Unicom, a bitter herbal liqueur which is drunk with a digestif and aperitif. You also can’t refuse the boozy Hungarian favourite Palinka (a fruity brandy). As the Hungarians say, “a little Palinka is a medicine and in large amounts a remedy!” Tell me what you think when you get to taste them!
From the look of these abandoned buildings, you might be a little hesitant to go inside. But believe me, they have the hippest interiors I have ever seen – a different world inside!
Sip your cocktails at insanely unique bars designed with incredible art, weird interiors, funky furniture, and interesting antiques. And don’t forget to mingle with the ruin bars’ regulars, mostly Budapest’s young and artsy folks!
9. Take a guided tour of the Budapest State Opera House
The Budapest State Opera House or the Hungarian State Opera House is a neo-Renaissance building in central Budapest and has been marvelled as one of Hungary’s landmarks. It’s considered one of the finest opera houses in the world, with the quality of its acoustics and the beauty of its interiors.
I highly recommend a guided tour of this opera house as they take you to secret areas which are closed to the public during the evening performances. And you might even get lucky as some guided tours include a special short concert with the Opera’s soloists.
There are tours three times a day with 6 different languages offered. Book online here to get the best timings.
10. Wander underground for some Hungarian wine tastings
Hungarians know how to do wine! They’ve been producing wines for over a thousand years and have produced wines from 22 wine regions around the country.
The Tokaji is the pride of Hungary and the wine that was served to kings, emperors, and popes. This noble sweet wine was once described by Louis XIV as the “wine for kings, king of wines”.
The wines are stored underground in wooden barrels surrounded by walls. These walls are covered with a special kind of fungus that helps to develop the wine and its taste (I know, fungus might sound gross, but the wine isn’t!).
There are a ton of wine-tasting tours offered in Budapest, but I recommend this one. You’ll get to do a walking tour with a local wine expert – oh and tapas are included!
11. Take a leisurely cycle around the city
Biking around Budapest is fairly easy and safe because of the extensive cycle lanes crisscrossing the city.
The city has 200 kms of cycling paths that can get you anywhere from Buda to Pest.
What I love about cycling around Budapest (or in any city, that is) is that you get to cover a longer distance in a shorter period than walking.
One of the most scenic rides would be along the Danube River in Budapest where you can enjoy both the river views and the architectural sights. You can even stop and sit down in any one of the cafés or parks that dot the banks of the Danube.
There are also guided bike tours in Budapest where you can leisurely bike around with others while not missing out on the historic and cultural landmarks of the city like the Parliament, the Synagogue, or Hero’s Square.
But remember, before you start cycling around an unknown city all willy-nilly: please be mindful of pedestrians, the speed limit is below 10 kms per hour, and you’re not allowed to ride on the footpaths.
12. Discover the Holocaust Museum
The Holocaust Memorial Center is a former synagogue from the 1920s and commemorates the thousands of Hungarian Jews who were victims of the Holocaust. It was the first to be built of its kind in Central Europe which was also founded by the State.
Although this focused on Jews who were victims of the genocide, the museum also gives importance to telling the story of the discrimination and death of Romani gipsies and the challenges of those with disabilities.
The museum houses permanent and temporary exhibits and a research centre where families can come to add to the list of names on their database. It is a grim reminder of what happened in the past and one to learn from.
13. Ride in style on a Segway
If you’re pressed for time and want to cover a huge portion of the city, you can book a guided Segway tour (like this fun one) around Budapest. You’ll see all the important landmarks and hidden gems from the local guides as you breeze through the city on your own Segway.
You can also do this at night for a couple of hours as they also offer night rides around the city and alongside the Danube River. It’s a beautiful city at night!
I must say, I love a segway tour! It is easy, fast, and fun! Sometimes, the best way to go around Budapest is by Segway!
14. Visit the Matthias Church
Wondering how it feels to be in the presence of kings? Of course, you are!
Head over to visit the Matthias Church, which for centuries was where kings were crowned and married. There are some members of European royalty who are buried in this church too.
The Church of the Assumption of the Buda Castle, commonly called Matthias Church, is an impressive and intricately designed church from the Middle Ages. The tilework of the turrets is amazing! The colourful interior is equally and absolutely captivating. It reflects the influences of its owners: Hungarian kings, Ottoman Turks, Franciscans, Jesuits, and today’s Roman Catholics.
It’s the most visited Roman Catholic temple in Budapest and is situated in the Castle District on the Buda side. It’s also become a perfect venue for classical music concerts performed by the Hungarian Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra, Hungary’s most well-known ensemble.
To get the most out of your visit, book a guided walking tour and learn more about the Church and get an even better view by walking up to the big Tower.
And if you’re into classical music, you can book a ticket to one of Matthias Church’s classical music concerts each Friday.
15. Get out of the city on a day trip to Lake Balaton
Hungary is a landlocked nation but surprisingly you can still steal a getaway to the sandy beaches of Lake Balaton, a two-hour train ride from Budapest. Lake Balaton is the biggest freshwater lake in Central Europe and you can choose different activities around its breathtaking natural beauty.
One of the recommended must-stops is the Heviz Thermal Lake which is the largest thermal lake in the world where you can actually take a dip. There is a salt cave, a spa, and a sauna – a delightful pitstop after that train ride!
Tihanny Abbey and the Lavender Fields is another popular site, but it can be crowded during the peak season of July. Nevertheless, the endless fields of lavender are still worth a visit!
Public transportation can be a challenge here because Lake Balaton is about 77 kms long! Plan your day trip ahead, choose the places you want to visit, and time your activities so you can get back to the city after.
Alternatively, join this organised tour – that way you don’t have to do any planning or think about the logistics of getting there and back again!
FAQs on Budapest Solo Travel
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about solo travel in Budapest:
Is Budapest safe for solo female travellers?
Budapest is totally safe for solo female travellers, day or night. The city has retained its reputation as safer than other European cities because of low crime rates. But, of course, you have to use your common sense and stay away from the outer parts of the city centre or dark, secluded areas at night.
Is Budapest good for solo travel?
Yes, Budapest is a great destination for solo travel! The city is known for its beautiful architecture, thermal baths, vibrant nightlife, and friendly locals, making it an ideal place for solo travelers.
Is Budapest expensive?
Budapest is an very affordable city. Most places are reasonably priced and you’ll even find some places are free to enter. A typical daily budget for meals, transportation, and one or two attractions would be around USD 40-60. As with anywhere in Europe, public transportation is reliable and inexpensive, with no need to rent a car or take a taxi.
Is Budapest worth a visit?
Budapest is definitely worth a visit as it has amazing architecture, a distinct cuisine, long history, known spa culture, interesting culture, and vibrant nightlife.
Budapest Solo Travel: The Verdict
Budapest is an excellent destination for solo travel. With its stunning architecture, vibrant nightlife, and welcoming locals, the city offers a unique and unforgettable experience for solo travellers.
Whether you’re interested in exploring historical sites, relaxing in thermal baths, or trying local cuisine, Budapest has a myriad of things to offer for everyone.
With its efficient public transportation system and safe streets, Budapest is an easy and convenient destination to navigate.
So, if you’re looking for a solo travel destination that’s both exciting and comfortable, Budapest is definitely worth considering. And, with so many things to do in Budapest alone, you’ll no doubt want to stay longer than you planned!
Vourneen is a travel junkie and chronic illness warrior. Although she was late to game in terms of travelling, she has picked up numerous tips and tricks from the almost 30 countries she has visited in the past 5 years.