Commonly referred to as the Paris of the East, Budapest is the capital of Hungary and an increasingly popular European travel destination.
Budapest is filled with attractions that will keep you busy for days. With its enchanting castles, unparalleled riverfront, ruin bars, and everything in between, Budapest won’t leave you looking for things to do.
But beyond its main attractions, Budapest is home to numerous hidden gems tucked away in its streets, waiting to be discovered.
Maybe you love to go off the beaten path, or maybe this isn’t your first time in Budapest. Whatever the reason, be sure to check out these eight cool hidden gems when traveling to the Hungarian capital.
1. Gül Baba Street
You’ll only find Gül Baba Street, a steep cobblestone road near Margaret Bridge, if you’re looking for it. Though this street is located far away from the hustle and bustle of the city, it is one of the most historically significant streets in the entire capital.
From 1541 to 1686, the majority of Hungary, Budapest included, was occupied by the Turks. Gül Baba, the Turkish holy man and Ottoman Bektashi dervish poet who, according to legend, introduced Hungary to roses, died in Budapest in 1541. The street named for Baba ends at his tomb, which is now located in a museum and is a popular Muslim pilgrimage site.
Gül Baba is known for being one of the steepest streets in all of Budapest, so be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes!
2. For Sale Pub
For Sale Pub, which allows pubgoers to leave their mark on its walls, floors, and even ceiling, is undeniably one of Budapest’s most unique bars.
Walking into For Sale Pub is kind of like walking into the Twilight Zone. This Budapest bar is covered from floor to ceiling in small pieces of paper — drawings, notes, business cards, paintings, pictures, and other mementos. The floor is covered in straws, and visitors are encouraged to throw their complimentary peanut shells directly onto the ground.
Come to For Sale Pub for some great Hungarian beer and leave your mark on its walls.
3. Shoes On The Danube
One of Budapest’s most moving memorials, Shoes on the Danube honors the Jews who were killed by fascist militiamen in Budapest during World War II. During the war, Jews were forced to remove their shoes so that when they were shot and killed, their bodies would easily drift away along the river. The memorial was created by film director Can Togay and the sculptor Gyula Pauer.
While it’s hard to visit Budapest without strolling along the Danube, many pass by this memorial without even noticing it — or simply wonder what a bunch of old shoes are doing sitting at the edge of the river.
This chilling memorial serves as a reminder of those innocent victims of war and of the dark days the city experienced during World War II.
4. House Of Hungarian Art Nouveau
A museum dedicated entirely to the Hungarian Art Nouveau style, the House of Hungarian Art Nouveau recalls the beginning of the 20th century, a time when Art Nouveau flourished throughout the country.
Art Nouveau is a style of decorative art, architecture, and design that was prominent in Europe from the late 1800s until World War I. At the House of Hungarian Art Nouveau, everything from the building itself to the jewelry sold in the gift shop represents Art Nouveau.
The House of Hungarian Art Nouveau is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is closed on Sunday. Admission to the museum costs 1,500 forints ($5.40).
5. Vajdahunyad Castle
Would you believe it if we told you that Budapest is home to a castle that was originally built entirely out of cardboard and wood? Well, you should.
Vajdahunyad Castle was constructed by Ignác Alpár in 1896 to commemorate the 1,000-year anniversary of the settlement of the medieval Magyars on the plains of Pannonia. The exhibition, intended to be temporary, was constructed out of wood and cardboard, but it was so popular that it was later converted to stone and made permanent.
The castle showcases four distinct styles of Hungarian architecture that represent the evolution of architecture in Hungary over the centuries.
Vajdahunyad Castle is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is closed on Monday. Admission to the castle costs 1,600 forints ($5.75) for adults and 800 forints ($2.88) for students and senior citizens.
6. The Buda Hills
For those yearning for some outdoor adventure and scenic beauty, head for the hills!
The Buda Hills, situated on the Buda side of Budapest, offer an abundance of hiking trails and breathtaking panoramic views of the city.
János-hegy is the highest point of Buda Hills and the most popular scenic area. To reach János-hegy, take the Zugliget Chairlift. Built in 1970, the chairlift is one of the most legendary of Budapest’s lesser-known attractions. Slowly ascending over lush green hills, the chairlift provides visitors the most spectacular views of the capital city.
7. Terror Háza
A museum dedicated to the terror regimes of Hungary, Terror Háza, also known as the House of Terror Museum, was purchased in 2000 by the Public Foundation for the Research of Central and East European History and Society. The organization strives to recreate for visitors the political brutality victims faced for decades in Hungary.
Architects worked together to restore the building to its original dreariness and create a multisensory experience for visitors.
Terror Háza features permanent and temporary exhibitions, photographs, historical mementos, and videos that portray what it was like to live during those dark periods in Hungarian history.
The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and is closed on Monday. Admission to the museum costs 3,000 forints (USD $10.79).
8. Füvészkert Botanical Garden
Founded in 1771, Füvészkert Botanical Garden is Hungary’s oldest botanical garden. It features more than 8,000 plant species spread over more than 8.6 acres of greenhouses and lush parks. It is best known for its lilies, bromeliads, cacti, and palms.
The botanical garden features more than 400 species of Hungarian flora, more than 200 endangered plants, and a palm house with tropical and subtropical plants. Each April, Füvészkert Botanical Garden hosts a beautiful cherry blossom festival.
The botanical garden is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission to the gardens costs 1,000 forints ($3.60).