Free things to do in Budapest was contributed by travel blogger Cris Puscas.
Over the years, Budapest, the capital of Hungary, has become quite expensive. Luckily, there are a lot of free things to do in Budapest and places to visit, without paying a forint.
Fisherman’s Bastion, built between 1895 and 1902, takes its name from the fishermen’s guild responsible for defending this part of the city in the Middle Ages. Almost completely destroyed during the World War II, it was restored between 1947 and 1948. Climbing to the viewing deck at the interesting tower-like structure is free.
Expert tip: Go between December and March when it’s less crowded; the views of Pest – with the Danube and the Parliament- are worth the bitter winds. (It’s very busy during summer.)
A walk on Gellert Hill
Gellert Hill, on the Buda side, is my favorite viewing point in Budapest. The first thing you’ll see is the famous Chain Bridge; further up the view is of the Parliament and Margisziget (Margaret Island). The Hill was named for Saint Gerard, who was thrown to death from the top of the 235 meter (771 foot high) hill. At the end of your climb is the Cidatella (Citadel), a fortification build in 1851. Next to one of its Danube-facing walls is an open-air display of a small collection of weaponry dating from the World War II. The hill is also home to a cave that houses the Cave Church. It’s free to enter during religious services which are held three times a day. Gellert Hill is easily accessible via the Liberty Bridge.
Explore Margitsziget (Margaret Island)
Ready to get away from the hustle and bustle of the capital? Walk along the Danube towards Margaret Bridge and onto Margitsziget (Margaret Island). Once on the island, follow the road until you see a lovely dancing and singing fountain. It sings different songs every hour (there’s a program on display). The 2.5 kilometer (1.6 mile) long island is a lovely place to just relax or to take a walk. Other sites to see on the island include the Centennial Memorial of 1973, a Japanese Garden, and a the art nouveau Water Tower.
The Danube Promenade
The Danube Promenade is between Elizabeth Bridge and Chain Bridge, on the Pest side of the city. Sights along the way include Elizabeth Bridge, The Little Princess, and Chain Bridge. Elizabeth Bridge is one of the most beautiful, and probably the most elegant, of the eight bridges spanning the Danube. It was damaged beyond repair during World War II; a new bridge was built in the 1960s, using the old pillars. The Little Princess is my favorite statue in Budapest. Chain Bridge (pictured) was the first bridge to connect the two sides of the city.
Shoes on the Danube Bank
The Shoes on the Danube, on the Danube Promenade, was created by sculptors Gyula Pauer and Can Togay, is a memorial to honor the people who were killed by the fascist Arrow Cross in Budapest during World War II. People were lined up on Danube’s bank and shot. They fell into the river and were washed away. Their shoes were removed before they were shot because shoes were in short supply at the time. As many as 20,000 Jews may have been shot here. The memorial is located on the Danube Promenade on the Pest side. The shoes are an eerie sight to see and you cannot help but get incredibly sad. Most often, there are fresh flowers in some of the shoes.
More free things to do in Budapest
Budapest is an amazing city to explore any time of the year. Just like any large capital city, it does get crowded (and more expensive) during the summer travel season (May until end of September; the peak season is July and August). There are more places to explore for free located further from the city center. Take a ride on M1 (Millennium Line underground) and stop at Heroes Square. Spend some time here and then take a walk in City Park or just stop to feed the ducks (or pigeons). If you just want to do some people watching or window shopping, walk on Vaci Utca (street). There are many free things to do in Budapest, you just have to get there.
Cris Puscas is a travel and lifestyle blogger. While she was born in Romania she has Hungarian roots. Cris currently travels with her husband who shares her passion for discovering new and affordable places in Europe. They share their travels (and help others plan theirs) on their blog, LooknWalk. You can follow their adventures on Instagram and Facebook.