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With an ancient history, intriguing past, monumental sights and scenic landscape, Budapest is best seen on foot. Budapest is both dazzling and evocative, glorious and imposing. Our Self-Guided Free Budapest Walking Tour features the city’s top attractions and best viewpoints. And, to help visitors to Budapest find their way, we have included step-by-step directions, links to Google Maps and a Budapest Attractions Map marked with all sights.
DIY Free Budapest Walking Tour
We created this free walking tour in Budapest to highlight the best of the city. Our route begins at the most iconic Budapest sights and moves through the city’s most interesting districts.
Because the city is so massive, we have sectioned our walking tour of Budapest into six shorter Budapest walks. That said, all six of our free walking tours in Budapest can be linked together into one long city tour.
The six free Budapest tours are listed in order, so ambitious travelers can simply continue to the next tour. Visitors who prefer a more relaxed sightseeing experience can split our walking tours of Budapest into two or three days of city navigation, rather than trying to squeeze it all into one day.
Whether visitors complete our Budapest city tour in one day or if travelers tour Budapest at a more leisurely pace, a Budapest map is essential to getting around the city. No need to worry! For each Budapest free tour, we include a link to Google Maps and step-by-step walking directions. And, at the end of the post, we have a walking map of Budapest marked with all of the sights.
Looking for guided free walking tours in Budapest? We most enjoy seeing cities at our own pace which is why we designed our detailed Budapest walking tour self-guided. We provide information at the end of the post for visitors seeking a free guided tour of Budapest.
Understand Budapest History
Walking tours in Budapest are best accompanied by a basic understanding of the history of Budapest. For each attraction listed in our Budapest sightseeing tours, we provide a brief explanation of the sight. However, before getting started on our Budapest Self-Guided Walking Tour it’s a good idea to get acquainted with a historic timeline of the city.
Early History Of Budapest
Budapest, the capital of Hungary, has origins that date to the 1st century AD. First settled by Celtics then the Romans, Hungarians moved to the area in the 9th century. Towns were established along the banks of the Danube River – including Buda on the west and Pest on the east.
In the 14th century, Buda was named the capital of the Kingdom of Hungary; a hill-top castle was built along with stone fortifications. The Ottomans overthrew the Kingdom of Hungary in the mid-1500s; the Turkish ruled the land for 150 years (during which time they built Turkish baths to utilize the area’s natural hot springs).
By the late 1600s, Buda was back in control of the Kingdom of Hungary. However, in the 1800s, the city came under siege by the Habsburgs and the Russians – which ultimately resulted in the formation of the Austria-Hungarian Empire in the year 1867.
In 1873, the towns of Buda and Pest were consolidated to create the metropolis of Budapest, with Pest becoming the heart of the city’s politics, trade and administration. When the Austro-Hungarian Empire fell in 1918, Hungary declared itself an independent nation.
Modern Budapest History
Budapest was a target during World War II; Allied Forces attacked by air in 1944 and the Soviet-led assault of the Battle of Budapest in 1945 destroyed much of the city (and saw the loss of 38,000 civilian lives). All bridges were destroyed and thousands of Budapest Jews were subjected to the terrors of the Nazis.
The Soviet Red Army freed Hungary from Nazi Germany, only to then begin decades of military occupation. Hungary became a communist republic in 1949; and the Soviets squashed the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 (which resulted in the deaths of 3,000 people). In the following three decades, Budapest was rebuilt and grew under the watchful eye of Dictator Stalin.
After the Fall of the Iron Curtain that ended communist rule in the early 1990s, Hungary emerged as a democracy. Today, the city is experiencing one of the fastest-growing economies in Europe and is recognized as one of the world’s most important business centers.
Now that we have covered the city’s fascinating history, let’s go see Budapest on foot!
Pro Tip: Get your bearings before setting off on a self-guided Budapest walking tour! The Danube River runs north-south through the center of Budapest. Buda (and the Buda Hills) are on the west bank; Pest (and the Parliament) are on the east bank. Buying a paper Budapest map (like this one on Amazon!) in advance of your trip could be helpful in better understanding the city’s layout.
Save, Pin or Bookmark this Budapest blog post so that you can use it while planning your trip to Hungary!
6 FREE BUDAPEST WALKING TOURS
Our free walking tours of Budapest cover some ground! The areas that we cover are: Iconic Pest Sights, Castle Hill Buda Tour, Gellert Hill Sights, Jewish Quarter, City Culture and Budapest after Dark.
Remember, our Budapest city walking tour can be done as one longer tour or in several shorter walks. Each tour segment has a link to Google Maps and written walking directions – and each sight has a short description.
#1 Free Walking Tour Budapest: ICONIC SIGHTS OF PEST
Explore the city’s most recognizable sights in this short – but essential – Budapest walking tour. This walking tour includes Budapest landmarks and memorials. Start at the city’s most opulent building: Parliament. Use this link to Google Maps.
A first look at Parliament up close often stops visitors in their tracks. The colossal building is much larger than most people anticipate. The Budapest Parliament building stretches for 879 feet along the bank of the Danube River – and ranks as the world’s third largest Parliament building.
Built from 1885 to 1904, Parliament was inaugurated in 1896 for the country’s 1000th year celebration. The Gothic design features spires, statues, arches and a dome that soars 96 meters high (which honors the country’s birth year, 896).
If time allows, walk around the entire structure so that you can gaze at it from all directions – but make sure to end up in Kossuth Square on the east side of the building…it’s the next sight on our walking tour.
With perfectly manicured green lawns and a smattering of statues, Kossuth Square exudes grandness. Even more so because of the majestic buildings that surround it. The two stately buildings on the east side of the square are the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Justice, which now houses the Ethnographic Museum. Relaxed guards are stationed at the entrances, with more rigid guards standing at the base of the flag in the center of the square.
Leaving the square from the southeast corner near the equestrian statue, walk past the Imre Nagy Statue (man standing on a bridge) in the corner park and follow the southeast diagonal street, Vecsey, to Liberty Square.
Liberty Square is ringed by historic buildings, such as the Hungarian National Bank, the Old Stock Exchange and fashionable apartment buildings from the late 1800s. The stoic US Embassy is on the northeast side of the square (and is guarded by a high fence and blockades). The square, however, is inviting with a center café and a small dog park.
There are two statues on the square – both of which honor famous Americans. One statue is of Harry Hill Bandholtz, an officer from World War I; the other statue is of U.S. President Ronald Reagan. The smiling president is strolling down the path into the square (you will see him on your way in) – and visitors often grab his hand to stroll alongside him and pose for a picture (because it’s just not every day you get to hold hands with a president!).
In addition to the statues, two memorials stand at each end of Liberty Square: A Soviet War Memorial on the north and a sculpture on the south end of the park commemorating the country’s German Occupation on March 19, 1944. Both monuments are controversial.
Leaving the square from the southeast corner, walk south for a couple of blocks on Sas Street to St. Istvan’s Square in front of the famous basilica.
St. Istvan’s Basilica
Also built for Hungary’s 1000th birthday, the enormous St. Istvan’s Basilica has two bell towers and a dome that reaches the height of 96 meters. The height, celebrating the year in which Hungary became a nation (896) matches that of Parliament’s dome and is meant to signify the balance between church and state. No other building in Budapest can exceed that height.
Visitors can climb the wide staircase and enter the church’s glittering interior. The extravagant decor is breathtakingly beautiful. Entrance to the church is free (although they may request a small donation). The dome is also open, but requires a ticket.
Pro Tip: Find the small chapel to the left of the altar that houses the decaying right hand of St. Istvan, Hungary’s first Christian king. Slightly gruesome, visitors can pay a small fee to light up the box for a view.
From the front steps of the church, walk west (away from the church) through St. Istvan’s Square onto the pedestrian street, Zrinyi.
Zrinyi Street Budapest
The pedestrian-only Zrinyi Street connects St. Istvan’s Basilica to Szechenyi Square and the famous Chain Bridge. The street is lined with typical Hungarian eateries – most of which cater to tourists and offer classic dishes, like goulash and meat platters.
Pro Tip: Don’t miss a photo op with the “Fat Policeman.” The statue of the old-time Hungarian police officer is complete with a big belly and mustache – both of which are rubbed for good luck.
Walk west on Zrinyi Street to the east end of Chain Bridge.
Chain Bridge Budapest
Visitors can get their first look at Chain Bridge from the riverbank. The bridge was commissioned by Count Istvan Szechenyi and built by Adam Clark between 1842 and 1849. It was the first bridge to span the Danube River and connect the towns of Buda and Pest.
The original bridge was destroyed in World War II, but was rebuilt. The lions that mark both ends of Chain Bridge miraculously survived the destruction.
Walk onto Chain Bridge along the north side walkway…and marvel at the spectacular views of Budapest.
This ends our first free walking Budapest tour. Visitors who want to continue sightseeing can follow our second walk: Buda Walking Tour – which picks up right were we left off!
#2 Budapest Free Walking Tour: CASTLE HILL & BUDA TOUR
Our Buda Castle walking tour begins at the west end of Chain Bridge on the Buda side of Budapest. On this free tour of Buda, we discover top sights and see the city from the best viewpoints.
From Chain Bridge, walk west around the roundabout to the entrance of the Varhegy Tunnel. Use this link to Google Maps.
Also called the Buda Castle Tunnel, the passageway runs for 350 meters under Castle Hill. It was opened in 1857 and features a panoramic lookout terrace above the arch. In front of the tunnel is the Zero Kilometer Stone, which marks the city center point from which all distances from Budapest are measured. To the left of the tunnel is Buda Castle Funicular, which makes ascending Castle Hill effortless.
However, to continue our Free Budapest Walking Tour, we are going to go to the right of the tunnel to the Kiraly Lepcso stairs that lead up the hillside. At the top of the stairs, take a left onto Hunyadi Janos, then your first right onto Disz Ter. Stay to the right where the road splits, passing the Statue of the Independence War and continue walking on Tarnok Street.
In the Middle Ages, Tarnok Street – or Treasurer’s Street – was lined with shops, just as it is today. Now catering to tourists, the quaint street features shops adorned with painted facades and beautiful balconies. The Tarnok Cafe (number 14) dates to the 14th century.
Walk north on Tarnok Street to Trinity Square.
Holy Trinity Square Budapest
At the end of colorful Tarnok is Trinity Square. The ornate Holy Trinity Column, which dates to the early 1700s, stands in the center of the square. Originally built in 1700 to ward off the Black Plague. When the disease returned to the city just three short years later, it was determined that a bigger and better plague column was necessary…and after it was built, the plague never returned.
On the east side of the square is Matthias Church.
There has been a church on the site where Matthias Church stands since the year 1015, when the Church of Mary was built at the request of St. Stephen (St. Istvan), Hungary’s first king. That church, however, was rebuilt, updated, renamed and changed several times. The Matthias Church, which is a fabulous display of Hungarian architecture, is nothing like the original. Although the elaborate Neo-Gothic spire (added to the church in the 15th century) rises high above the church, it is the colorfully tiled rooftop that garners all the attention.
The Matthias Church history is as fascinating as the design. Named for King Matthias Corvinus – not the saint – the Matthias Church is where Hungarian kings were coronated – at least until the Ottoman Turks took over and turned it into a mosque. Completely overhauled in the 19th century, the Catholic Matthias Church is a true gem – both outside and in. To enter the church, however, visitors need to buy a ticket and wear appropriate clothing (covering shoulders and knees).
To the east of Matthias Church is the white Fisherman’s Bastion.
Fisherman’s Bastion & St. Istvan Statue
East of the church, at the edge of the hill overlooking the Danube River, is Fisherman’s Bastion. Constructed in a completely different style from the church, the arches along the columned arcade offer fantastic views of the river and Pest side of Budapest.
The seven, pointed towers represent the original Magyar tribes that founded Hungary. In the center sits a statue of St. Istvan, the Hungarian king responsible for bringing Christianity to Hungary.
Pro Tip: Portions of the Fisherman’s Bastion require a ticket to enter – but not all! There are plenty of free places to enjoy the sight and view; so only buy a ticket if you want to go up to the top. And, visitors who visit in the off-season (from October 16 to March 15) can access all of the Fisherman’s Bastion for free!
After taking in the views, walk west past the church and through Holy Trinity Square onto Szentharomsag Street. Walk west to Ruszwurm Café; then continue walking west to the viewpoint terrace and promenade.
Ruszwurm Café & Buda Hills Lookout Point
Claiming to be one of the oldest cafes in Budapest, Ruszwurm is a good place to stop to rest your feet and recharge with a cup of coffee and a piece of cake. Operating since 1827 and featuring some original décor, Ruszwurm is the perfect spot to try a classic Hungarian pastry, the Ruszwurm Cream Cake.
From the café, continue walking west to the west-facing terrace, Toth Arpad. From the lookout point, take in the views over the neighborhoods of the Buda Hills. If desired, take the stairs and elevator down to tour the Hospital in the Rock Museum (a WWII hospital built in a cave and used as a nuclear bunker; tours begin on the hour and require a ticket). Otherwise, walk north along the promenade to St. Mary Magdalene Church.
St. Mary Magdalene Church
Built in the middle of the 13th century, the St. Mary Magdalene Church has been expanded, used as a mosque and nearly destroyed in war. Only the bell tower remains – and it sat in ruins for decades. Only recently has the tower been re-opened to the public. For a fee, visitors can climb the stairs to the top of the bell tower for incredible views.
Before leaving the north end of Castle Hill, find the Turkish Grave, the Archive Building and the Vienna Gate – map to these three sights. Pass the small Lutheran Church, which was built in 1895, and walk back to Trinity Square on Tancsics Mihaly.
Retrace your steps on Tarnok Street (or hop over one street to the west if you want to see something different) and walk to the end of Disz Square parking lot (near the top of the stairs that that you used to walk up the hill). Turn right and walk a few steps to the Statue of the Old Hussar (a Hungarian warrior holding a sword) and turn left to walk along Szent Gyorgy. Walk past the ruins, along the flag-lined road to the large white Sandor Palace.
Sandor Palace Budapest
Once the residence of kings and governors, today Sandor Palace is the official residence of the President of Hungary. Built in the early 1800s, the Neo-classical palace was built for Count Vincent Sandor. The palace was heavily bombed during WWII, gutted and left in ruins. Sandor Palace was restored according to original plans.
Two guards stand on the south entrance. A ceremonial Changing of the Guards takes place every hour. The palace is open to visitors only during select weekends in the summer.
Directly opposite the Sandor Palace is an ornate gate that leads to the front of the Buda Castle. The back of the castle can also be explored; don’t miss out on the ruins!
Buda Castle Royal Palace
The enormous Royal Palace is essentially a replica (of a replica…of a replica) with barely any of the original features still standing. The first palace was built in 1265, but it was destroyed – both by fires and by wars – numerous times. World War II left the Buda Castle in complete ruins.
After the war, archaeological research commenced and revealed remains of the Medieval castle, as well as other substantial finds. However, rather than reconstructing the castle according to prior plans, any remaining castle embellishments were destroyed, and the castle was rebuilt with a less ornate and more modern design.
Today, the main use of the Buda Castle is to house museums – the Budapest History Museum and the Hungarian National Gallery – and the National Library. Tickets are required to enter the museums, but it is free to enter the palace grounds and palace courtyard, which is expansive and impressive.
Buda Castle Statues: King Mattias Fountain, Eugene of Savoy and Turul Bird
When exploring the palace grounds, seek out these statues.
King Mattias Fountain – Honoring the last Hungarian-blooded king of Hungary, the Mattias Fountain resembles the Trevi Fountain of Rome (on a much smaller scale). The fountain is on the exterior of the castle, towards the back, near the courtyard entrance.
Eugene of Savoy – Dedicated to the French General who fought against the Ottomans, the equestrian statue of Eugene of Savoy sits in front of the palace, under the large green dome.
Turul Bird Statue – The Turul Bird is a mythical creature of Magyar legend. The statue dates to 1905 and, although it was damaged in the war, it was restored.
Buda Scenic City Viewpoint
Before leaving the Buda Castle grounds, take in the sweeping views of Budapest. The scenic view encompasses Gellert Hill to the south and the Basilica and Parliament to the east. From the castle perch, visitors can see the length of the Danube River and the many bridges that cross it – including a phenomenal view of Chain Bridge.
This completes our Budapest Castle Hill Walking Tour. Visitors who are ready for more sightseeing can continue to our next walking tour of Budapest, Hungary: Gellert Hill.
Note: There are several routes that lead from Castle Hill to Gellert Hill; the walk takes about 20 minutes. From Buda Castle, walk down the hillside path toward the river. Once riverside, walk south to Erzsebet Bridge, then walk west (away from the water) onto the Gellert Hill Trail (Szent Gellert Lepscso) using the staircase. Use this link to Google Maps for the route. It is also possible to hop on a tram and ride just two stops.
#3 Budapest Walking Tour Free: GELLERT HILL
Gellert Hill is the tallest hill in central Budapest, standing at 771 feet. With a few top Budapest tourist attractions and amazing scenic viewpoints, we think trekking up Gellert Hill is one of the best free attractions in Budapest. That said, it is a hike up, so be prepared for the incline. Shrouded in trees, visitors get to experience a touch of nature in the heart of the city (and the shade is nice in the summertime!). Gellert Hill is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sight that encompasses the Banks of the Danube River.
The first stop on our Gellert Hill Budapest Walking Tour route is the St. Gellert Statue. Use this link to Google Maps for this Budapest Walking Tour Map.
Top Tip: The sights are well-connected by hiking paths – and there are viewpoints and benches along the way. Although the paths are not clearly marked with trail markers, they are almost all interconnecting…so just keep going up and you will eventually arrive at the Citadel.
Statue of St. Gellert
The hill is named for Bishop Gellert, a monk who was brought to Hungary in the year 1000 by King Istvan to aid in converting people to Christianity. According to legend, a group of those opposing that plan captured Gellert. They sealed him in a barrel and rolled him down the hill to his death. The statue was built to honor the monk; in addition to his statue, there is a waterfall and panoramic viewpoint.
Continue following the trail up the hill, passing a few scenic lookout points along the way, until you reach the Liberty Statue.
The 45-foot-tall statue of a woman holding a palm leaf overhead represents peace. The Liberty Statue, which is visible from most points along the riverside, sits on an 85-foot-tall pedestal. The inscription reads: To the memory of those all who sacrificed their lives for the independence, freedom and prosperity of Hungary.
There are two other statues that sit at the base of the Liberty Statue – one of a man slaying a dragon, which represents the defeat of fascism.
Behind the Liberty Statue is the Citadel of Budapest.
Budapest Citadel & Views
The Gellert Hill Citadel building was constructed in 1851 by the Habsburgs (but built by Hungarian forced laborers) as a show of power after the (unsuccessful) Hungarian Revolution of 1848. The military fortress was designed to be a strategic vantage point over Buda and Pest – and it certainly has the best viewpoint in the city!
After savoring the views, start the downhill trek. Walk south along the paths to the Cave Church.
Gellert Hill Cave Church
Transformed into a church in the 1920s, the Budapest Cave Church is the most unique church in the city! The church is under the care of the Pauline Order and the monks live in the nearby hillside monastery (it’s the building with turrets just below the church). Standing in front of the church is a statue of St. Istvan and his horse, with a lovely view of Liberty Bridge in the background.
During the communist era, the entrances to the church were sealed with concrete and the monks were imprisoned. The church was restored in the early 1990s and is now open for mass and tours (for a small – but we think worth it – fee!).
Continue the downhill hike to the base of the hill. At the base is the famous Gellert Bath.
Gellert Thermal Baths
At the base of Gellert Hill on the south end is the opulent Gellert Thermal Baths, one of the city’s most famous natural hot springs spa. Featuring grand Art Nouveau architecture, the Gellert Bath opened in 1918 to provide medical water treatments. Today, the baths are used by tourists (and some locals) for luxurious spa treatments and the swimming pool.
From the Gellert Baths, walk east to the Liberty Bridge.
The green Liberty Bridge – sometimes also called Freedom Bridge – is one of the prettiest bridges in the city. It was originally built in the late 1800s as part of the Millennium World Exhibition. Sitting atop the bridge are four Turul birds – the mythical creature from the ancient Magyars.
Cross Liberty Bridge to the east side of the Danube River; pause at the end of the bridge to take a look back at Gellert Hill. Then, continue walking east one block to the Great Market Hall.
Great Market Hall Budapest
Not only is the Great Market Hall the largest market in Budapest, it is also the oldest. The market, which opened in 1897, is housed in a 10,000 square meter building and has market stalls on three floors. In the basement, vendors sell fresh fish and meat; on the ground floor, stalls overflow with cured meats, produce and paprika; on the upper mezzanine, visitors will find small kiosk restaurants and souvenirs.
This marks the end of our Budapest free walking tour of Gellert Hill. From the Central Market Hall, visitors can continue to our next Self-Guided Walking Tour of Budapest: The Jewish Quarter.
The first stop on our Budapest Jewish Walking Tour is the Dohany Street Synagogue, which is just a 15-minute walk north on Muzeum krt. Use these Google Map directions to find your way from the Great Market Hall.
#4 Walking Tour Budapest Free: JEWISH QUARTER
There had long been Jewish people living in Budapest – and by the 20th century, Jews made up nearly a quarter of the Budapest population. After German Occupation in 1944, the Nazi regime created a Jewish Ghetto in Budapest, confining all Jewish citizens to a small district surrounded by stone walls and barbed wire.
The Ghetto only existed for two months before the Red Army liberated the city. During that time, Jews were killed, died of disease and sent to concentration camps, diminishing the Budapest Jewish population of 200,000 citizens to just 70,000.
Our Jewish Walking Tour Budapest begins at the landmark Dohany Street Synagogue. Use this link to Google Maps for the route.
Pro Tip: In recent years, the Old Jewish Quarter has become a hub of bars – including both Ruins Bars and Budapest Craft Beer Bars. While many people flock to the district to party the night away, our Self-Guided Walking Tour of Budapest Jewish Quarter is a sightseeing tour of historic Jewish sights.
Dohany Street Synagogue
Also called the Great Synagogue, the Dohany Street Synagogue is the largest synagogue in Europe and one of the largest in the world. Built in the 1850s, the synagogue has a capacity for nearly 3,000 seats. The Dohany Street Synagogue was damaged during WWII, but was restored in the 1990s.
In addition to the Great Synagogue, the Hungarian Jewish Museum, the Heroes’ Temple, a Jewish cemetery and the Raoul Wallenberg Holocaust Memorial Park are also found within the complex. There is a fee to enter the synagogue and complex, but everyone can get a good view of the Dohany Street Synagogue building from the front.
Walk around the synagogue to the left (north side) on Wesselenyi Street. Peer through the gates to the Memorial Park at the back of the complex.
Raoul Wallenberg Holocaust Memorial Park
Get a glimpse of the moving Holocaust Memorial Park from Wesselenyi Street. The park is dedicated to Raoul Wallenberg – a Swedish diplomat credited for saving thousands of Jews during the Holocaust by issuing them protective passports. The park’s most stunning feature is the Weeping Willow Tree sculpture. Also called the Emanuel Tree, the metal weeping willow features leaves engraved with the names of Holocaust victims.
The next stop on our free Jewish Walking Tour Budapest is the Kazinczy Street Synagogue. Standing outside the memorial park, walk northeast on Wesselenyi to Kazinczy Street and turn left (northwest) and walk to the Synagogue.
Pro Tip: Turning right (southeast) on Kazinczy Street – rather than north – will take you to one of the famous Budapest Ruins Bars, Szimpla Kert.
Kazinczy Street Synagogue
Tucked tightly into Kazinczy Street, the enormous Kazinczy Street Synagogue was built in the early 1900s for the strict Orthodox Jews. Although the synagogue was damaged in WWII, the building has been renovated and features a vibrant interior. There is a fee to enter the synagogue.
From the synagogue, continue on our Budapest Jewish Walking Tour to the next stop: Klauzal Square. Continue walking on Kazinczy Street to the first intersection. At Dob Street turn right. Walk one block on Dob to the park.
Klauzal Square Budapest
Although now Klauzal Square looks like any other city park with a playground and dog park, it once was the heart of the Old Jewish Quarter.
Retrace your steps south on Dob Street, passing Kazinczy Street, to Frohlich Koser Cukraszda.
Frohlich Kosher Bakery
Established in 1953, the family-run Frohlich Pastry shop is the only kosher bakery in Budapest. The bakery churns out delectable Hungarian treats – like tortes and strudels. The signature Hungarian Jewish sweet is Flodni, which features five layers of cake alternated with four fillings: apple, walnut, poppy seed and plum jelly.
To get to the next stop on our free walking tour Budapest Jewish Quarter, Carl Lutz Memorial, continue walking south about one block on Dob Street. Look for the understated memorial on your right.
Carl Lutz Memorial
A Swiss Diplomat, Carl Lutz served as the Swiss vice-consul in Budapest during WWII. Using his diplomatic skills, he was able to negotiate a deal (and, twisting the wording a little bit), was able to save more than 60,000 Hungarian Jews from death. The poignant memorial is emblematic of Lutz helping the Jews.
Pro Tip: Carl Lutz also set up Safe Houses around Budapest; his most famous safe house, The Glass House, was home to 3,000 Jews. Visitors can learn more about Lutz and his work with the Jewish Community at the Glass House Museum.
From the Carl Lutz Monument, continue walking south on Dob to the next street, Rumbach Sebestyen. Turn right and walk to the last stop on our Jewish Quarter Walking Tour Budapest: Rumbach Street Synagogue.
Rumbach Street Synagogue
The beautiful Rumbach Street Synagogue was built in 1872 in the Moorish Revival style. The intricately patterned facade and rising turrets make it the most beautiful synagogue in Budapest. The interior is currently under renovation.
This concludes our Budapest Jewish Quarter Walking Tour. Want to see more? Keep walking on our Free City Tour Budapest Culture!
From the Rumbach Synagogue, continue walking northwest on Rumbach Sebestyen Stret to Kiraly Street. Turn left (southwest) and cross the wide Karoly Boulevard to the small Deak Ferenc Square. Exit the square on the southwest pedestrian lane, Deak Ferenc Fashion Street. Use this link to Google Maps for directions.
#5 Free Walking Tour of Budapest: CITY CULTURE
Budapest is rich with culture. The city’s famous museums, theaters, concert halls, spas, squares and parks emanate the city’s dedication to the arts and historic figures. On this sightseeing tour of Budapest culture, we feature some of the city’s most prestigious places.
Begin your self-guided Budapest Tour on Deak Ferenc Utca Fashion Street. Use this link to Google Maps for the walking route.
Budapest Fashion Street: Deak Ferenc Utca
Built as a prominent street in the late 1700s as a means of connecting the city to the riverside, Deak Ferenc boasts grandiose architecture. However, the street was time worn by the early 2000s. Rather than let the buildings deteriorate, the district was renovated with strict attention to historical details and is now home to major retailers from around the world. Visitors will find familiar brands, like Tommy Hilfiger, Hugo Boss and Lacoste on Fashion Street.
Pro Tip: Fashion Street is especially beautiful at Christmastime! The street is illuminated with holiday lights and each retailer creates artful window displays.
Walk to the end of the street to the riverside Vigado Ter Square.
Vigado Concert Hall and Square
The large plaza, Vigado Ter, provides a stunning view of the riverside Vigado Concert Hall. Built in 1859, Vigado is the second biggest concert hall in Budapest. Vigado has a firm place in Budapest history; it’s where it was declared that Buda and Pest would merge into one city, where Emperor of Austria Franz Joseph held his coronation celebration and where numerous famous musicians have taken stage. The building was heavily damaged during WWII – and it took 36 years to repair. Visitors can see the interior on guided tours with a ticket.
From the plaza, walk around the north side of the building and walk along Vigado Street into Vorosmarty Square. Exit the square on the north side (by the Lion Fountain) and turn right on Harmincad Street, then walk to Erzsebet Square.
Erzsebet Square Budapest
Home to the Budapest Eye Ferris wheel and a few chic bars and restaurants that occupy the former city bus station, Erzsebet Square is a popular hangout in the summer months.
From the northeast corner of Erzsebet Square, cross diagonally to Andrassy Avenue, the city’s main thoroughfare.
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Andrassy Avenue was built in 1872 and connects Erzsebet Square to City Park. The wide boulevard is lined with stately mansions, embassies, luxury shops, fine boutiques and the famous Opera House.
During the turbulent times of the 1950s, the street’s name was first changed to Stalin Street, then the Avenue of Hungarian Youth (after the Hungarian Revolution of 1956), and then People’s Republic Street. The street’s name reverted to the original name, Andrassy (after Prime Minister Gyula Andrassy) in 1990.
Walk along Andrassy Street to the Opera House.
Hungarian State Opera House
The Opera House in Budapest is one of the city’s most luxurious buildings. Constructed from 1874 until 1884, the Opera House auditorium seats nearly 1,300 people and boasts excellent acoustics. The interior is just as sumptuous as the exterior, featuring marble columns, an elaborate staircase and an extraordinary chandelier. Visitors can tour the Opera House with paid entry.
Pro Tip: There are a handful of incredibly inexpensive tickets to some of the performances at the Opera House. We bought upper balcony seats to a performance for just $2 USD. Step inside the ornately decorated lobby and inquire about tickets.
Continue walking along Andrassy to the Oktogon intersection.
Although a busy intersection where Terez Korut and Andrassy meet, the large, octagonal juncture is ringed by chic cafes. When the intersection was designed, it was considered an architectural achievement.
Walk two blocks north of Oktogon to the House of Terror Museum.
House of Terror Museum
Aiming to reveal the crimes of the fascist and communist governments that reigned in Hungary during the 1900s, the House of Terror displays exhibits and shares real-life stories of the regimes’ victims. The specific building at 60 Andrassy was chosen purposefully, as it served as the headquarters of the Hungarian Nazi Party (also known as the Arrow Cross Party) during WWII.
Continue walking on Andrassy to where it ends at Heroes’ Square.
Heroes’ Square Budapest
Heroes’ Square is dedicated to Hungary’s most revered residents. At the center of the square is the grand Millennium Monument, which features 14 of Hungary’s most legendary leaders. The center column acknowledges the Seven Magyar Tribes that settled the area in the year 896; Archangel Gabriel sits atop the column at the height of about 120 feet.
The square is also home to the Hungarian War Memorial and two museums – the Museum of Fine Arts and the Hall of Art – which flank each side of the square. The spacious square is used for modern art installations, by small groups of protestors and by young kids on skateboards.
From Heroes’ Square, exit to the east…and enter into City Park.
Budapest City Park
Sitting northeast of the busy Budapest city center is a 302-acre enclave of green space, simply named City Park. The origins of the park date to the 13th century, however, it wasn’t until the early 19th century that it became a public park. City Park is often cited as being the first public park in the world.
In 1896, the park grounds were revamped for Hungary’s millennium celebration. Besides the many paths that weave through Budapest City Park, there are ponds, monuments and a castle.
The Vajdahunyad Castle was originally constructed of wood and cardboard for the 1896 celebrations, with a clear intent to tear it down once the party was over. However, the castle gained such popularity that it was reconstructed using stone.
Four distinct architectural styles (Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque) are incorporated to replicate some of Hungary’s finest architectural styles. The main castle, built in the Renaissance style, is patterned after the Transylvania Castle (which is in Romania, but was part of Hungary at the time).
The Romanesque Benedictine Jaki Chapel is modeled after those of the 13th century. The mansion decorated in Baroque touches houses the Museum of Hungarian Agriculture.
Szechenyi Thermal Baths
Budapest has more than 120 natural springs – and about 25 thermal bath houses that feed the naturally occurring hot water into elaborate, fancy and playful pools (some of which are even lined with jets).
Inside the grandiose Szechenyi Baths, which ranks as one of the largest spa complexes in Europe, there are 21 different pools. The Szechenyi Thermal Bath was constructed in 1913 and expanded in 1927 to include an outdoor pool.
Szechenyi Baths are the most popular thermal spas in Budapest. A ticket is required to enter, but even guests not venturing inside can gaze at the impressive structure and gardens from afar.
Give your feet a rest (or perhaps dip into the relaxing pools at Szechenyi) – OR, if it’s already getting dark and you want to see the city at night, follow our final Budapest Walk: Budapest Night Tour.
#6 Free Tour Budapest: NIGHT WALK
Walking around Budapest at night is a stunning sight! After the sun goes down, the iconic monuments and buildings are illuminated by spotlights. Our Budapest Night Tour takes in the best sights on a short stroll along both banks of the river.
Because we have already covered these Budapest sights in detail in our previous Budapest walks, we are only sharing our suggested route and attractions to see along the way. Use this link to Google Maps.
Chain Bridge Walk
Start the Self-Guided Walking Tour of Budapest at Night at Chain Bridge on the Pest side. Take a moment to marvel at the bridge from the east riverbank. Cross the bridge using the north walkway. Pause halfway across the bridge to take in the Buda Castle (up on the hill to your left). At the end of the bridge, near the Lion, take in the view of Parliament down the river.
Buda Riverside Path to Margit Bridge
From the west end of Chain Bridge, take the stairs (to your right) down to the riverside path. Walk north along the riverside, keeping your eye across the river on Parliament. Continue walking all the way to Margit Bridge. Cross the street (walking west) to find the stairs to Margit Bridge, then using the southside walkway, cross the bridge. At the crook in the bridge, pause to take in the panoramic views of Budapest.
Pest Riverside Path to Chain Bridge
Complete the walk across Margit Bridge to the east and take the stairs down and walk back to the riverside. Walk south on the riverside, passing right by the colossal Parliament Building, to the Shoes on the Danube Bank monument (which we think is the most heartbreaking of all monuments in the city – more details here). From the monument, take in the views across the river of Matthias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion. Then, complete the loop back to Chain Bridge.
St. Istvan’s Square
Take one last look at the serene landscape, then walk around the north end of Szechenyi Square to Zrinyi Pedestrian Street. Walk east to St. Istvan Basilica, one of Budapest’s most beautiful nighttime sights!
Szimpla Kert Ruins Bar
It wouldn’t be right to visit Budapest and not visit a ruins bar! Szimpla Kert is the most famous one – and from St. Istvan’s Church it is just a short 15-minute walk.
That Ends Our Free Walking Tour Budapest. We hope you enjoyed your visit to Budapest!
Budapest Sightseeing Map
Use this Budapest walking tour map to get to the sights outlined in our Free Budapest Walking Tour. All six of our Walking Tours of Budapest are marked on the map, each in a different color. RED = Iconic Pest Sights; YELLOW = Buda Castle; GREEN = Gellert Hill; BLUE = Jewish Quarter; PURPLE = City Culture; BLACK = Night Tour. This link will take you to an online version of the map.
Hop On Hop Off Budapest
We think our above outlined routes are the best walks in Budapest – but we cover some miles! If our walking tours in Budapest, Hungary are too cumbersome for your travel style, consider buying a ticket on a Budapest Bus Tour.
Budapest Big Bus
The Big Bus Budapest Hop On Hop Off Bus is a great option, because it makes stops at all the top attractions. You can still use our walks as a Budapest Guide…but you can take a ride between the sights rather than walking between them! Find out more here!
Budapest Guided Tours
Our Budapest free walking tours include everything you need to explore Budapest – information, directions and a map! – but we understand that some travelers prefer having a guide to lead the way.
There are organized, guided Free Walking Tours of Budapest, but it is important to remember that a Budapest Free Guided Tour is not really free. The guides work for tips – and they deserve to be compensated accordingly. How much to tip on a free walking tour of Budapest is left up to the individual participant, but we have heard of tip-based tour guides asking for 2000 HUF (about $6.75) as a minimum.
There are many guided free tours of Budapest – and the Sandemans free walking tour of Budapest gets consistently good reviews. If you want to take a tip-based tour, we recommend checking out Sandemans Budapest tours.
Small Group or Budapest Private Tour
Tourist looking for a small group or private guide for Budapest tours can check out the top-ranked Budapest walking tours on Viator.
Budapest Pub Crawl
Meet fellow travelers and bar hop to the city’s most notorious bars on a 5-hour pub crawl of Budapest. Get the details here!
Visitors who plan on entering sights and using public transportation should consider purchasing a Budapest Card. One of the benefits is an included Budapest walking tour! Check out the details and pricing here.
Walking Tours Budapest: What You Will Need
Whether you choose to use our detailed self-guided Budapest city tour or join a tour, make sure you pack the following items!
Pro Tip: Get (and stay) organized for your Vacation to Budapest by using our Trip Planning Printables!
Walking Shoes for Budapest
Budapest is a walkable city – but only if you have the pack the right travel shoes! While I love walking around cities in my flip flops, the hilly terrain of Budapest requires something a little sturdier. For city walking tours, I like to wear comfortable and lightweight shoes, like these from Columbia, while Kris prefers wearing Merrell shoes.
Sunscreen…or Rain Gear
The weather in Budapest varies by season. Make sure you are prepared! In the summertime, don’t forget to apply sunscreen and bring along a wide-brimmed travel hat to shade your face from the sun’s rays. In the spring, having a travel umbrella or raincoat is a necessity. Autumn and winter in Budapest can be cold – so bring a warm winter coat…and a hat and gloves, too!
Water Bottle and Day Pack
Regardless of what season you visit Budapest, if you are walking around the city you will need water. For travelers, we recommend using a refillable, collapsible water bottle. Whether you travel with a backpack or a suitcase, you will also want a great day bag to organize and secure all of your essential everyday travel items.
Travel Camera for Budapest Photos
Budapest is a beautiful city! Rather than trying to capture the sights with your phone camera, we recommend upgrading to a real camera for better quality photos. We use a DSLR Canon Rebel with an everyday 18-135mm lens. However, travelers who want a great budget camera that is lighter – but still takes great shots – we recommend a Canon Powershot.
Budapest Paper Map and Wifi
Although we have provided a walking tour Budapest map and links to Google Maps for each walk, you will need an mobile internet connection to use them! We have a GlocalMe mobile hotspot that we use to stay connected when we are out exploring cities.
Visitors who don’t anticipate having access to the internet while discovering the city sights should purchase a paper Budapest City Tour Map – like this one on Amazon. In fact, it’s a good idea to buy a map of any city you are traveling to so that you can study the city layout prior to arriving. A Budapest Guidebook is a good idea, too – you can buy one here.
Budapest Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is always essential! Not only can it come in handy during unfortunate flight delays or lost luggage, but it is especially useful if you fall ill or get injured during your trip. Check out the coverage and rates of Travel Insurance with World Nomads.
Looking for more Free Things To Do in Budapest? Check out our guide to Budapest on a Budget!
We Want To Know: Are there any sights you would add to our free Budapest walking tour? Give us your best tips and advice in the comments below!
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