05 Mar Top Free Things to Do in Budapest
It takes a lot of creativity to find activities you can do for free when you visit a new city, but the good news is Budapest has plenty to offer those on a budget.
Take a Walk in the Castle District
There are plenty of sites to see on a shoestring in Budapest, and a hike up Castle Hill is certainly worth it for the view. While you might not be able to get inside Buda Castle for free, you can walk around the surrounding gardens and take in views across the Danube and Pest.
Check out Fisherman’s Bastion, but don’t pay to walk around the colonnaded ramparts, instead head away from the crowds and walk down the stairs inside one of the towers. This not only offers a quieter view, but it’s quite a romantic one as well.
Visit Heroes’ Square & City Park
Up in Pest, a visit to Heroes’ Square and City Park will cost you zilch. This is one of Budapest’s most enigmatic landmarks, and a day in the City Park is also a relaxing one. Take a stroll round the Vajdahunyad Castle modelled after the larger original castle of the same name in Transylvania.
The idea behind the castle was to showcase various architectural styles. A visit here and the statue of Anonymous is free. The museum isn’t, and unless agricultural history or taxidermia interests you, you’re not missing much.
Hike up Gellert Hegy
Budapest is a city where you can actually go hiking, but unless you want to go off the beaten path in the outer fringes of Buda, in the Hills, Gellért Hill is a good choice. You can either start by the Gellért Hotel and the cave church or by the waterfall opposite Elizabeth Bridge, but there are plenty of paths that wind up the hill to the Citadel. It’s worth the hike for the views across the city on a breezy day.
Picnic on Margaret Island
Grab something from the bakery and some Hungarian cold cuts and cheese and head down to one of the parks with a blanket in tow. Margaret Island has plenty of nice spots for a picnic, you simply just need to pick your spot and have a lazy afternoon.
On a hot, sunny day take a bottle of white or rosé wine and serve with some sparkling water and you’ve got a traditional Hungarian fröccs, a local spritzer drink that’s perfect for picnics.
Visit Some of the City’s Free Galleries
While the more famous galleries have an entrance fee, most of the city’s smaller artistic hubs are free to visit. This is a good way to learn a bit about the local art scene.
There are plenty of places in the downtown part of the city, like Telep or Várfok Gallery. You can also head down to Bartok Béla Street behind the Gellért Hotel, where you will find a variety of galleries, cafés and design shops that are worth a visit free of charge.
Take a BKK Boat Trip
If you already have a public transport pass, then technically this is free. However, the cost is just a bit more than a metro ticket if you don’t have one. The BKK is the Budapest Transport Centre and in the summer they run a boat service up and down the Danube, from downtown all the way up to Romai Part. Just hop on a boat and enjoy the city’s sites from the river.
Explore the Kerepesi Cemetery
Cemeteries are fascinating places and are a resting place for history. The Kerepesi Cemetery is Budapest’s most beautiful one, home to Hungary’s most famous historical figures and home to some of the biggest national pantheons in the continent. You can visit some of the key figures in history and the arts here and marvel in some wonderful and eclectic architecture.