17 Fun Things to Do in Budapest – Ruin Bars, Thermal Baths and Kayaking (+ Insider City Tips)

Things to do in Buapest

So you are traveling to the Hungarian capital and want to know what to do in Budapest? There are many cool and fun things to do in Budapest – besides its actual tourist sights.

Know for its fairy tale architecture and its thermal baths, we collected many other experiences for your next trip.

Because we just simply want you to enjoy Budapest as much as we do.

Together with our 5 Star Hostels in Budapest: Maverick City Lodges, Maverick Hostel, and Maverick Student Lodge we completed a full list of things to do in one of the most beautiful European’s capitals to have an amazing time.

In this guide, we cover as well the best time to visit Budapest and where to stay.

Read: best hostels in Budapest – put on a map

List of 17 Fun Things to Do in Budapest

17 Fun Things to do in Budapest - Unique Nightlife and Thermal Baths Here you have a full list of different things to do in Budapest.

Even better: At the end of this guide we added a Budapest map with all the places mentioned. It will help you plan!

We cover what you can do in November in Budapest, in winter and even in May! Actually, you know what, it does not make a difference. You will have fun with this all year round. You will have just to adapt the activities to the time you are visiting the city and your preferences.

Full list of activities in Budapest:

  1. Thermal Baths
  2. Caving under the city
  3. Contemporary Art and Great Museums
  4. Kayaking
  5. River Cruise
  6. Cross the Danube on a floating Boat
  7. Galleries for Photography
  8. Escape to the nature
  9. Nightlife
  10. Ruin Bars and Clubs
  11. Jazz and Live Music
  12. Pub Crawl
  13. Where to eat
  14. Szimpla Kert
  15. Deák Ferenc tér – Square
  16. Mak Bistro
  17. Kopaszi Gát, Park and Harbor
  18. Where to stay in Budapest
  19. When to visit
  20. Extra top tips << be extra prepared! >>
  21. Summary

We start our list with one of the main reasons why people visit Budapest…

1. Thermal Baths

Everyone knows about the thermal baths in Budapest.

Budapest may actually be the capital of thermal water. There are many baths in town.

The most visited are:

All 3 are really cool places, you won’t be disappointed.

Our favorite we enjoyed is the Széchenyi Bath.

Book your Széchenyi Bath Ticket here

Enjoy a thermal bath in Budapest

However if you look for something a bit more hidden then check out:

Both can be found on the Buda side.

So choose at least one place and let your body relax in the naturally hot thermal water after you do a couple of rounds of sauna or steam bath.

If that still hasn’t satisfied you (which we doubt) then take a massage too.

This site will help you with further information about baths in Budapest.

2. Caving under the city

For the more adventurous visitors, we can highly recommend the caving tour under Budapest.

There are several large cave systems as ragstone is quite typical rock in this area.

You can go underground on the hilly Buda with a guided tour where you will get a suit and a helmet and you will crawl in narrow routes and explore some of the caves.

Join a caving tour under Budapest here

Not convinced? Check out this video

3. Contemporary Art and Great Museums

If you are looking for more mainstream exhibitions then you cannot miss:

Furthermore, you can find quite a few nice little galleries:

  • Godot Galéria – along the Bartók Béla road, where you can check out contemporary Hungarian art
  • Kiscelli Museum – located in a nice little castle in Óbuda.

A full list of things to do in Budapest

What to do in Budapest?

4. Kayak the Danube

Do you know you can kayak on the Danube?

The tour is not in Budapest city, but on the riverside beach, Római. You will also paddle on the Buda side.

You can get to Rómani in 45 minutes by public transport from downtown or you can join a tour.

A cool and different experience we totally recommend it.

Book your Kayak Tour here

kayak the Danube

Not a fan of tours?

You can just rent a kayak in Római. Once in Római, look for Béke Csónakház, it is the place where you will be able to rent a kayak or canoe.

From Római, you can get up to the tiny Lupa Island within 1 to 1,5 hours.

I would recommend stopping there for a short rest and looking around as it has a very unique architecture, almost all houses are built in Bauhaus style.

After that, you can take the downstream back to Római and enjoy the fact that mother nature still exists even in a major capital.

5. A Rivers Cruise

If you do not want to paddle around the Danube here you have an easier option…

A cruise along the Danube River!

Enjoy a panoramic sightseeing tour on the Danube River and see the landmarks and monuments on both shores from a different perspective.

Book your Cruise here

cruise along the Danube in Budapest

6. Cross the Danube on a floating Boat

This is not a boat, nor a normal coach.

It is a floating coach!

I saw it in little places, like Hamburg (in Germany) and Budapest.

Book your floating coach here

7. Galleries for Photography

Budapest is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, and that is certainly true.

Also a great inspiration for many people. If you do love photography, you will love these galleries:

The latest is named after a world-famous Hungarian photographer who has several emblematic pictures for example „The Falling Soldier”, made in 1936 during the Spanish Civil War.

Culture and museums in Budapest

8. Escape to the nature

If you want to escape the city then explore the nature and parks in or around Budapest.

Two popular places among locals for a walk or a nice run or even for a delicious picnic are:

Both are large forests still inside Budapest.

You can also catch some splendid views towards the city, especially from Normafa.

Things to do in Budapest at night

Budapest is also famous for its party scene and Bars. This is really no surprise. Budapest has one of the most fun and active nightlife in Europe. It is an open secret, yes yes!

No doubt the ruins bars are something special that you should visit even if you do not normally go out. For the night owls, there are also many other options.

Obviously, you will need a party hostel. The best ones are:

  1. Onefam Budapest by Hostel One
  2. The Hive Party Hostel
  3. Vitae Hostel Budapest
  4. Carpe Noctem Hostel
  5. Wombats City Hostel
  6. Maverick City Lodge

Read: The COOLEST Party Hostels in Budapest 2024

Keep scrolling, we are revealing all the good places here for the different kinds of travelers:

About Safety in Budapest: Like East Coast vs West Coast, Buda vs Pest and the Danube in between.

But don’t be worried, the biggest Hungarian city is very safe.

You can go out late at night and walk around the town without any problem.

9. Bars, clubs, pubs….are only the start of the night

There are many many bars and clubs to discover, so you will have some heavy nights if you feel like going for it. The old Jewish district is the busiest area in the nighttime.

There are an extreme amount of bars and restaurants. Just to mention a few tips to enjoy the night in Budapest:

Gozsdu passage is full of mainstream places and packed with people.

In Kazinczy Street you can find some interesting ruin bars like:

  • Szimpla,
  • Kőleves,
  • Mika or
  • Ellátókert.

Fogas in Akácfa Street is like a giant combo of a disco and a Ruin bar, you will get everything in one.

10. Specific Ruin Bars and Clubs

Here is a little guide for ruin pubs in Budapest.

On Madach Square you can find some hipster bars:

  • AKA Telep
  • Központ or
  • Hivatal

And for clubbing? Check out:

  • Aquarium,
  • Toldi club
  • A38 boat

A38 boat is a bit further out, but a very unique concept.

A boat is transformed into a super concert hall and open-air bar, where you can feel the connection between the river and the city. It was elected the best club in Europe at one point.

They organize concerts from jazz to black metal. So do not forget to check their homepage before you go there.

You can also join a tour and learn about what propelled the development of the ruin bars.

And how things have changed in Budapest since then.

Join a Ruin Bars Tour here


11. Jazz and Live Music

For classical music and jazz fans, we can offer some cool venue places and almost all year round you will find something interesting to listen.

Müpa is a modern and the largest music hall in town.

It is also worth checking the program of:

Trafo also organizes many modern dance performances as well.

Quite a few Hungarians like to participate in sophisticated cultural events, so join them and enjoy the nice melodies or contemporary ballet together.

12. Join the Pub Crawl

An easy way to meet for sure other travelers who want to party is a pub crawl, and Budapest is famous for having really good ones!

Joining a pub crawl is probably one of the best FUN things to do in Budapest.

What do you get joining a Pub crawl beside new party fellows from around the world in Budapest?

  • free shots and drinks offer all night
  • VIP entrance to one of Budapest’s best and biggest clubs
  • experience the nightlife scene with a party-loving guide

Good to know: There is also a classic backpacker pub crawl.

Join the Backpacker Pub Crawl here

This is one of the most crazy things to do in Budapest. Promise us, that you will bring your brain with you.

Best Pub Crawl in Paris, France

13. Where to eat in Budapest (good food!)

Eat or eat a lot, that is the question as for some reason Hungarians still prefer huge portions and many restaurants.

Go with the flow and you will probably get an enormous size of meal, especially in the more traditional diners.

The typical dishes are really heavy too like stuffed cabbage, Beef stew, sausages, or liverwurst.

There are many different meat plates, usually made as a stew, but sometimes it can be a steak too.

The meat quality is pretty good as all game meat is local from the forests of Hungary where the wild animal population (deers, wild boars, roes, rabbits) is very numerous and they have a fairly nice life compared to industrial farming.

best activities in Budapest

So, where to go to eat locally and delicious?

All of these places are nice options.

If you want to master the basics of Hungarian cuisine during, then join a cooking class!

It is a fun and interactive way also to learn about the traditional dishes.

Book your Cooking Class here

14. Nightlife + Art + Flea Market: Szimpla Kert

We already mentioned the ruin bars. And here comes our favorite bar in Budapest: Szimpla Kert!

If you are looking for a fun night out in Budapest, this pub is your place to be.

The bar is a typical old-school bar/ pub with lots of students, and an international atmosphere. Szimpla Ker is located near the city centre, right around the corner from our 5 Star Hostel Maverick City Lodge.

The Szimpla Kert is more than just a place to get a drink, it’s a Ruin Pub.

You will find here concerts, flea markets, workshops, art galleries, and more more more!

The design of the bar is kept in an eclectic mix of old cars and bikes, trees, and old foosball tables, we can’t even name everything.

Find more information about Szimpla Kert and the events on their Facebook Page.

Nightlife + Art + Flea Market: Szimpla Kert

15. Chill: Deák Ferenc tér – Square

One of the best things to do in Budapest in summer: Dek Ference Ter!

This square is the place to be on a warm summer night.

Join the atmosphere, and bring your own drinks. You can also get some delicious cocktails and beer at the bars around. The square is located just a 10-minute walk from the 5 Star Hostel Maverick City Lodge, and you can sit there in a small park.

This square hosts also a lot of events, so maybe there is even something special going on when you are in town!? Last but not least there is a fountain to cool off.

Chill: Deák Ferenc tér - Square

16. Tasty Food: Mak Bistro

Not far away from the Dear Ference Ter Square, you will find this bistro!

Experience art and creativity in the kitchen!

Be prepared for tasty flavors of modern gastronomy of the highest quality. The waiters make this place a home and are always joking around and enjoying their work. This makes this place very friendly and welcoming.

The Mak received many awards, and its concept is unique.

You can find more details about the concept, the bistro, and the team at the website Mak.hu. We recommend making a reservation before coming here.

MAK Bistro in Budapest

17. Relax: Kopaszi Gát, Park and Harbor

This park is one of the best green spots to chill on a sunny day.

You can get some food and drinks as well at the harbor or bring your own picnic with you.

Either way, this is a cozy local place.

Kopaszi Gát is located slightly outside the city center and you can come here via Public Transport or by renting a bike.

With its small beach, the beautiful sunset behind the bay, and obviously the green trees surrounding it, this place is a local’s favorite spot to get outside the city to relax.

Relax: Kopaszi Gát, Park and Harbor

When to travel to Budapest?

Budapest is located in the good old continental climate region with four seasons, cold winters and hot summers.

Although it cannot escape from global warming either.

Lately, Budapest has experienced more and more monsoon-type rain-showers during summer and spring and autumn is melting into the summer temperatures.

Still, we think the best time to come to Budapest is… anytime!

You will find interesting activities and a nice historical city with loads of bars and restaurants. The nature of this city means there is something fun to do all year round.

Where to stay in Budapest

Budapest is dotted with great hotels, apartments, and even cooler hostels.

We wrote a big guide to the best hostels in Budapest jam-packed with epic accommodations and useful information.

It includes luxury hostels, backpacker paces, and budget, party hostels. Oh, and we can’t forget… two 5 Star Hostels!

Your shortcut:

  1. Maverick City Lodge5 Star Hostel for female solo-travellers
  2. Maverick Hostel5 Star Hostel for flashpackers
  3. Flow Hostel – great for solo travellers
  4. BONUS: Maverick Student Lodge

Read the full guide best hostels in Budapest – all hostels are put on a handy map.

This is Maverick City Lodge in Budapest - the definition of what is a hostel

Insider Tips You Should Know

We’ve visited Budapest a few times and have collected a few tips along the way. You know, the kind of insider tips you only find out once you’ve visited a place, and the kind of things you wish you knew before you got there.

So, save some stress and glance over these handy insider tips…

Pee strategically

We hate to break it to you, but once you’re out exploring and unless you decide to sit in and eat your food, you’re going to have to pay to use the toilet! We thought we’d mention it so you can take a strategic pee before leaving the hostel…ok, that’s a bit of a weird recommendation, but still…

Get the Airport Shuttle

Whilst many hostels offer an airport transfer, if you don’t have too much luggage, we recommend taking the Airport Shuttle. A single ticket costs 1,500 HUF and the number of the bus is 100E. They run every 10 minutes 24/7 from outside the main terminal.


This is one thing we really wish we had known beforehand; slippers are mandatory at the popular thermal baths, including Széchenyi Bath. Make sure you take your own or risk spending over half the price of the entrance ticket for ‘official’ slippers which are nothing exciting or worth keeping.

Top tip: Hang around outside the main doors and approach people coming out to see if they’d be willing to give you slippers they no longer need. We did this and saved a lot of money this way!

Service fee

If you’re travelling on a budget, this is a good thing to be aware of. The nicer, more fancier restaurants automatically add a service fee which you won’t know about until you get the bill. Keep this in mind and budget an extra 12.5% if you decide to eat out.

Summary of Cool Things to Do in Budapest

Still there? I guess you have enough inspiration now about what can you do in Budapest city. If you want more, then make sure you check out this bloggers guide to 5 days in Budapest. It even covers an itinerary and a map.

Therefore, is time to start looking for the best deals to travel to Budapest.

What’s next?

We hope this big summary of activities around Budapest city is helpful.

Here you have a map with all the activities we mentioned.


Do you have another cool idea for Budapest? Then leave a comment below.

We are always keen to help our fellow traveler, to improve this article and add more activities!

And now, have fun!

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17 Fun Things to do in Budapest - Unique Nightlife and Thermal Baths

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