Unusual things to do in Budapest

Unusual things to do in Budapest

  • 27.05.2024
  • Events, What to do in Budapest

Travelling is all about trying out new things, right? Budapest allures those near and far with its culture and history, but if you’re looking to go beyond the typical sightseeing endeavours, why not explore the (cobbled) streets less taken with this list of unusual things to do in Budapest?

1. New York Cafe
2. Beer Spas, Secret Spas and Thermal Baths
3. Gellert Hill Cave Church
4. Ruin Bars
5. House of Terror
6. Uniquely Hungarian Street Food
7. Light Art Museum
8. Vajdahunyad Castle
9. Street Art
10. Floating bus tour on the Danube

11. Watch for more tips:

1. New York Cafe

Dripping in ornate finishings, golden accents, and interiors that look as if they belong in another time, New York Cafe transports you to bygone eras. Year after year, it is voted one of the most beautiful cafes in the world! Opening up in 1894, it’s modelled in the Italian Renaissance style (go figure), and serves up breakfast, lunch and dinner. Get dressed to the nines, and join for a spot of Afternoon Tea!

LOCATION: 1073 Budapest Erzsébet krt. 9-11
OPENING HOURS: Daily from 8:00 to 24:00

New York Cafe Budapest

2. Beer Spas, Secret Spas and Thermal Baths

Sure, there are spas in just about every global city, but have you ever tried out a beer spa? At spots like Lukács Bath, the thermal waters are combined with dry beer ingredients. Plus, get merry on unlimited beer. Thermal baths are super popular in Budapest (like Rudas Bath and the Gellert Spa), and some even have novel “sparties” where the baths transform into a party event in the evening, such as at the famous Széchenyi Thermal Baths. Or veer away from the crowds and unwind at a hidden spa, for example, the Secret Garden Spa.

Széchenyi Thermal Bath

3. Gellert Hill Cave Church

Fun fact: Budapest is home to around 200 unique cave systems, running beneath the city’s surface. Explore some of the most popular and accessible during caving tours, for example, the Pálvölgyi, Mátyáshegyi, Szemlőhegyi Caves and the Buda Castle Labyrinth. But for a setting that’s so utterly one-of-a-kind, don’t miss the Gellert Hill Cave Church (on Gellert Hill). Home to the Pauline monks, it’s literally a church within this cavern! Weekly mass is still held here, too!

LOCATION: Budapest, Szent Gellért rkp. 1, 1114 Hungary
OPENING HOURS: Mon-Sat from 9:30 to 19:30
Mass is held weekdays at 8:30, 17:00 and 20:00, and Sundays at 8:30, 11:00, 17:00 and 20:00

Gellért hill and the Citadel

4. Ruin Bars

Originating in Budapest’s Jewish Quarter circa 2003, the abandoned and derelict buildings got somewhat of a makeover when two youngsters created the city’s (and the world’s) first-ever “ruin bar,” Szimpla Kert.

Today, there are dozens more that have popped up around the 7th district, and some of the most popular include Dürer Kert, Instant-fogas (doubling as a free-entry nightclub), Csendes Létterem, Doboz and Mazel Tov.

Eclectically decorated with vintage memorabilia and furnishings from times past, they’re always a vibe and epic way to spend an evening.

5. House of Terror

If you’re absolutely fascinated by history, world wars or have the stomach for all things grim and gruesome, the House of Terror is calling your name – if you dare! Centred on the fascist (Arrow Cross Party) and communist regimes (the Soviet Union) that came about in Hungary between 1944 and 1990, four floors display eerie exhibitions containing artefacts, artillery, personal items and stories from victims detained, interrogated, tortured or killed. Old-time war uniforms hang from ceilings, curated rooms replicate war-torn offices, and there’s even an army tank!

LOCATION: 1062 Budapest, Andrássy út 60.
OPENING HOURS: Tues-Sun from 10:00 to 18:00, closed Mondays

House of Terror Budapest

6. Uniquely Hungarian Street Food

What’s a vacation without testing out the street food game?! In the capital city, there are delicious bites of sweet and savoury treats you cannot miss, only found in Hungary.

Must-try foods:
Langos (a deep-fried flatbread)
Chimney cake (a sweet dessert shaped like a cone)

One of the best places to sample loads of street food in Budapest, like these and more, is Karaván Street Food! Try other national dishes here, like goulash, and it’s just five minutes from Szimpla Kert.


7. Light Art Museum

From psychedelic light projections to trippy, abstract light installations, fall down the conceptual rabbit hole at the intriguing Light Art Museum.

In our digital age, tech-driven museums are popping up all around the world, and this is a prime example, hosted inside the newly transformed Hold Street Market Hall.

Over 40 artists gather to showcase their talents, all focusing on art made from light. Walk through parallel universes, see supernovas and even black holes, or explore the Northern Lights in crystal form.

There are also guided tours available.

LOCATION: 1054 Budapest, Hold utca 13.
OPENING HOURS: Daily from 10:00 to 22:00

Light Art Museum Budapest

8. Vajdahunyad Castle

Contrary to outside appearances, dreamy Vajdahunyad Castle is not actually a castle at all, but was built as a living museum in 1896.

Inspired by the country’s castles, 21 landmark sites and different architecture, scope out and compare the various styles, all the way from the Middle Ages to the 18th century.

Keep your cameras close! Its features are sublime – cue the marble staircases and stained-glass windows! Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque are some of the architectural styles to compare, and the Museum of Agriculture is within the Castle, too.

Can you spot the tiny metal figurine here of Dracula reading a book?

LOCATION: Budapest, Vajdahunyad stny., 1146 Hungary
OPENING HOURS: 1 November – 31 March: Tues-Fri from 10:00 to 16:00; 1 April – 31 October: Tues-Fri from 10:00 to 17:00. Sat-Sun from 10:00 to 17:00. Closed Mondays.

Things to do in Budapest with kids

9. Street Art

Dripping in art and culture since its earliest days, Budapest is still abuzz with creativity! Swap the historical sightseeing for more modern kinds, and hunt down the city’s incredible street art!

The best part? It’s completely free (but there are guided street art tours).

You’ll find a bulk of these colourful murals splashed across buildings, walls and roadsides in the Jewish Quarter (a famous piece here is the 3D “Rubik’s Cube” and “White Stag” by Carlos BreakOne). Other areas to hunt down street art are along the Danube Promenade, under the Elizabeth Bridge and the Rákóczi Bridge.

Street art Budapest

10. Floating bus tour on the Danube

Would you believe us if we said there’s a city sightseeing tour where a bus converts into a boat that then floats along Budapest’s iconic Danube river? You’ll have to experience this one to believe it …

Boarding a special amphibious vehicle, the yellow bus veers around the city, passing landmarks such as the Hungarian Academy Of Sciences, Dohány Street Synagogue, the Opera House and Heroes’ Square.

Then, something magical happens, and next minute, the bus begins to travel on water. From here, cruise past Margaret Island, the Parliament Building and the Royal Palace.

From one-of-a-kind museums to unique spa dates to architectural masterpieces, Budapest is the type of city with all sorts of weird and wonderful things to do and explore around every corner! We hope you have the most extraordinary time in the Pearl of the Danube.

With something for everyone, have fun!

Photo: House of Music

Here you can find more tips on THINGS TO DO IN BUDAPEST.

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