Top 7 Free Attractions in Budapest

  • 22 Sep 2023 9:02 AM
Top 7 Free Attractions in Budapest
As the song says, the best things in life are free. And this is just as true in Budapest, where you can admire amazing public art, wander among Hungary’s great and scale the slopes of Buda aboard a fire-red cogwheel railway.

1. Colourful Budapest Murals

Originally integral to a project called Színes Város or Colourful City, the murals spread across many firewalls of mainly but not exclusively Districts VII illustrate certain aspects of Hungarian history and culture.

You can pick up a free map from the tourist office and follow your own colourful mural trail.

For example on narrow Rumbach Sebestyén utca alone you’ll find a vast dedication to Hungary’s famous 6-3 win over England at football, also a depiction of a Rubik’s Cube plus a likeness of the Empress Elisabeth of Bavaria, after whom the district (Erzsébetváros) has been named.

2. Cogwheel Railway

OK, it’s only free for transport-pass holders, but for the price of a standard ticket, around 1 euro, you can board the fire-red Cogwheel Railway at Városmajor.

Aboard you can easily climb the slopes of Buda, up to Svábhegy and then, a total journey of 14 minutes, Széchenyi-hegy, where it crosses with the Children’s Railway.

Officially tram line 60 of the city’s transport network, this service runs every 15-20 minutes and comes into its own in autumn when the leaves of Normafa turn golden.

3. Fishermen’s Bastion

Created by Frigyes Schulek as an afterthought after his decades of painstaking work on Matthias Church next door, the architectural confection of Fishermen’s Bastion is free to enter at its lower level all year round.

The panoramic upper level, free between late December and the public holiday of 15 March.

Its seven towers represent the seven Hungarian chieftains who led the original Magyar tribes to this part of the Carpathian Basin in 895.

4. Kerepesi Cemetery

Free to enter all year round, with English-language tours also given, Hungary’s most prestigious cemetery is where the nation’s great statesmen and cultural icons rest in peace.

Often compared to Père Lachaise in Paris, Kerepesi is closer to its city centre, a stone’s throw from Keleti station, and can provide hours of relaxation as you stroll among the headstones and mausoleums.

Look out for the particularly ornate one of actress Lujza Blaha and grandiose last resting place of Lajos Kossuth. Also referred to as Fiumei út Cemetery.

5. Margaret Island

Several attractions on Margaret Island are free, including the petting zoo, the Japanese garden, the medieval ruins and the musical fountain, which lights up and plays tunes on a loop through summer.

The medieval ruins relate to the saint after whom the island is named, Margaret, daughter of King Béla IV, resident at the convent in the 1200s.

The Water Tower opens from 1 May to early autumn for exhibitions.

6. Amazing Views from Tram 2

Again, free to holders of transport passes, a mere Euro or so for those who need to buy a standard ticket, tram 2  is a sightseeing tour and regular mode of transport in one.

Running between Margaret Bridge in the north and Közvágó Bridge in the south, the line mainly follows the Danube, giving passengers the perfect sightseeing view of Parliament, the city’s main bridges and the sights of Buda on the opposite bank.

As it near its southern terminus, the tram also skirts the millennial arts centre of Müpa, nearly 20 minutes after setting off from Jászai Mari tér.

7. Vital Showcase for Young Local Artists  - Várfok Galéria

Founded after the political changes of 1989, the Várfok Gallery  (I.Várfok utca 11, closed Sun-Mon) offers a large display space to young artists for whom this is the vital showcase in town.

Monthly exhibitions of contemporary art are free, as are the regular events here.

The current joint show, Stereopsis, by Máté Orr and Sándor Rácmolnár, explores the weird side of life and runs until 28 October.

Words by Peterjon Cresswell for
Peterjon has been researching the byways of Budapest for 30 years, extending his expertise across Europe to produce guidebooks for Time Out and his own website

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