Budapest, Hungary – if you have been there, you might think you’ve and done it all. Soaking in the famous Szechenyi Thermal Baths. Hiking up to Buda Castle. Having lunch at the Great Market Hall. Admiring the Gothic-style Parliament Building.
But if you want to go beyond the touristy Budapest, here is a cool list of unique or unusual things to do in Budapest.
To see all of the highlights of Budapest, consider getting the Budapest Card for your visit.
It allows you to get on unlimited Budapest public transportation, as well as get free and discounted admission to many Budapest museums and tourist destinations.
You can read more about this card at our Budapest Card Review here.
You can get your card at the official Visit Budapest tourism office.
Need a hotel in Budapest?
Farmer’s Market and Brunch at Ruin Bars
While partying the night away at the Ruin Bars is popular with travelers, visiting the weekly Farmer’s Market is also one of the different things to do in Budapest.
Every Sunday morning, the famous Szimpla Kert, or Ruin Bars, turns into a “hangover” paradise, famous for its colorful farmer’s market.
It is an intimate market with a handful of vendors. Surprisingly, it offers a plethora of products. Locals and visitors alike browse through different vendors with product samples, friendly smiles, and interesting conversations with local farmers.
Photographers will enjoy spending lot of time here. Sample famous Hungarian paprika and honey, as well as browse through fresh and locally-grown produce, bread and pastries, cheese, and meat products.
Don’t miss the amazing brunch here, too. Local chefs and bakers prepare it for you.
Although visiting this colorful farmer’s market is free to enjoy, you can add an additional farmer’s breakfast to your itinerary for a small fee (5000 Hungarian Forint, 9am-2pm on Sundays).
Go to the second floor for the mouthwatering range of food!
Szimpla Kert, 1075 Budapest, Kazinczy u. 14.
The Legendary Budapest Pool SPArty
Budapest is famous for its deeply-rooted love affair with hot thermal baths. There are at least seven major baths you can visit to soak in their medicinal pools.
Although the experience of soaking in one of Budapest many baths is one the top things to do in Budapest, many people have never heard of or experienced its hip and legendary pool party.
The most famous bath party of all is the SPArty at the Scezhenyi Baths. The Szechenyi Pool Party happens every Saturday during Spring, Summer, and Fall.
In the colder winter months, they move the weekly pool party indoors to the Lukacs Baths. Tickets often sell out way in advance.
We recommend getting them online instead of at the door.
For more, check out our post – A Guide to Budapest Thermal Baths for useful information on different thermal baths in Budapest.
Széchenyi gyógyfürdő, 1146 Budapest, Állatkerti krt. 9-11.
Pay Homage to Budapest’s gaming legacy
Budapest is famous as the birthplace of the most popular puzzles ever invented – the Rubik’s Cube. Today, you can visit a few places in the city where you can pay the homage to this great game.
They include many references and sculptures around the city (there’s one hanging above the Ruin Bars hallway).
Talk of opening a museum dedicated to the Rubik’s Cube has been on the table since 2012, but it has been behind schedule.
They’ve pushed the date out.
However, these are two other museums in Budapest where you can check out some game relics:
Game Over Budapest
The small, but exciting, retro video game museum houses a vast collection of game consoles from the 70s, 80s, and 90s. If you grew up in this era, you will enjoy your visit here.
Remember Pac-Man and Atari? Old Mortal Combat, Crash Bandicoot?
You can find them here!
Console Game Over museum, 1061 Budapest, Liszt Ferenc tér 1.
UPDATE. As February 2018, sadly, the place is closed.
The Pinball Museum
The Budapest Flipper Museum – the name says it all. You only need to pay an admission fee, which includes unlimited opportunities to play the pinball machines.
The Pinball Museum houses more than 130 pinball machines, and you can easily spend hours here if you try to play them all.
You can check out their official page here.
Visitors spend an average of 2.5 hours here.
Flippermúzeum, 1137 Budapest, Radnóti Miklós u. 18.
Tour the Metropolitan Szabo Ervin Library
Contributed by Our Escape Clause
As lifelong bookworms, we often find ourselves enchanted with gorgeous libraries and bookstores around the globe, and the Szabo Ervin Library in Budapest was no exception.
On the fourth floor of what appears to be a lovely but fairly standard library sits a wing dedicated to absolute beauty. As you walk through the door, you’ll likely find your mind wandering toward palaces around the globe, because that is what the Szabo Ervin Library resembles.
From intricately carved walls to majestic chandeliers, the library will quickly stun you into silence.
Even better? The Szabo Ervin Library is cheap to tour (around $3.00 USD/ticket) and not crowded with tourists.
While we were there, we saw far more people reading than taking photos.
Fővárosi Szabó Ervin Könyvtár, 1088 Budapest, Szabó Ervin tér 1.
Visit the House of Terror
Contributed by Travel Eat Enjoy Repeat
The House of Terror is a museum dedicated to the turbulent history of Budapest under Fascist and Communist regimes.
Now it is not only a museum but also a memorial to all the victims of both regimes.
The Arrow Cross Party had his headquarters in this building. After that, they used it as a prison and torture venue for the Hungarian State Security Services.
Through texts, pictures, and movies, you learn more about the different regimes and the horrible crimes they committed.
There is also the possibility of visiting the prison in the basement of the building.
These types of museums are important to have, because they keep the memory alive of the crimes that were committed in history. Although not a very fun thing to visit on a trip, it was interesting nonetheless.
Because although we learned a lot about Fascist regimes during our history lessons, there is still so much more that has happened.
And it is important to learn about it and remember it.
Terror Háza Múzeum, 1062 Budapest, Andrássy út 60.
Admire the Master Work of Budapest Architects
If you are an architecture buff, you will notice that many of Budapest’s beautiful architectural details are contained within the delicate design of stained glass.
Often forgotten, Miksa Róth was a nineteenth-century stained glass artist who successfully designed and installed many beautiful colored glass windows in many city’s building projects in the turn of the century.
Checking out his life and amazing work is one of the unique things to do in Budapest
You can visit Miksa Roth Memorial House – a humble apartment where he lived. It is interesting to see that he chose to live in a brown living quarter, in distinct contrast to his colorful creations.
Róth Miksa Emlékház, 1078 Budapest, Nefelejcs utca 26.
Pay Respect to Budapest’s Most Important Person
St. Stephen is the Patron Saint of Budapest, and you can view his mummified right hand at the basilica honoring him, housed in a glass box shrine.
While you’re in the Basilica, make sure to climb up to the top of the tower observation deck.
It offers one of the best views of Budapest!
Szent Istvan Bazilika, 1051 Budapest, Szent István tér 1.
Learn about Budapest’s Turkish Heritage
Budapest (and Hungary) was occupied by the Ottoman Empire, which left a few legacies throughout the city. The obvious one is the city’s bath culture.
The Rudas Baths octagonal pool survived several occupations, wars, and uprising.
It’s still used today.
When the Turks seized Budapest, they converted the Matthias Church into a mosque. After the Ottoman Empire left Budapest, the structure was converted into a church and left some of the tower windows intact with Turkish architecture.
One of the cool things to do in Budapest is to visit is the Gül Baba Tomb, only a stone’s throw away from Margaret Bridge, Budapest’s major landmark. It was built in mid 1500s.
Throughout history was converted into a church, back to mosque and, after its renovation, this Turkish Tomb was declared as a national monument and owned by the Turkish government.
Across from the famous Lukacs Baths lies the warm pond of Molnar Janos Cave. The Turkish took advantage of the ever-flowing warm waters here by building a grain mill, which still works, even in Budapest freezing months.
Subsequently, they converted the mill into a Budapest medicinal pool, and now it lies abandoned.
You can find this abandoned structure on privately-owned land. If you want to access it though, you’ll have to join Molnar Janos Cave Dive.
The structure is now laying in ruins, and faces an uncertain future.
Mátyás-templom, 1014 Budapest, Szentháromság tér 2.
Gül Baba turbeje, 1023 Budapest, Mecset u. 14.
Molnár János-barlang, 1023 Budapest, Frankel Leó út 48.
Visit Normafa: The Highest Point in Budapest
You can hike it
Contributed by Surfing the Planet
Budapest is not only a fascinating cultural destination, but also a city with enviable landscape features.
While you explore the essential sights in Budapest, you will find yourselves every now and then at fascinating viewpoints. It’s due to the fact the flat Pest and hilly Buda are divided by the Danube River.
From the Castle and other sights in the Buda Hills, you can enjoy a breathtaking view of this city.
One of the less touristy hills of Budapest is Normafa, which has picturesque hiking trails and perfect picnic facilities. It’s popular amongst local people who come to jog or walk their dogs here.
But the nice walk following the path leading to János Hill is an interesting alternative for nature lover tourists and those who love beautiful views.
This nicely-paved trail in the forest leads to the Elisabeth Lookout (Erzsébet-kilátó), which offers you the best overall views of Budapest.
How to get there: You can easily get to Normafa by bus Nr. 21 from Szél Kalmán tér. You have to get off at the end stop and the walk starts directly from there.
Erzsébet-kilátó (Elizabeth Lookout tower), 1121 Budapest.
…or take the chairlift
Contributed by Travel Hacker Girl
If you had enough of the city’s hustle and bustle, I suggest you go hiking in Budapest. There are many trails in and around the capital.
One option is János Hill, which is the highest point in Budapest. You won’t need a car for this adventure. Simply make your way to Zuglo by bus number 291.
You can either hike up to the top in about 30 minutes from Normafa or take the chairlift from Zuglo in about 15 minutes.
The return journey for adults cost 1400 HUF.
The Chairlift could make for a romantic date as well if you are in the city with your significant other. Once you are at the top, make your way to the Elizabeth Lookout Tower, which offers great views to the city!
To end your day, set up a romantic picnic and enjoy the views!
Erzsébet-kilátó (Elizabeth Lookout tower), 1121 Budapest.
Dive in a Budapest Cave
Budapest is a city full of exploration. You can spend a lot of time on the surface, as well as explore the subterrain world underneath the city.
A popular option to check out Budapest underground is the caving tour. Budapest also has a catacomb that you can enter, but the most unique of all is scuba diving Budapest’s labyrinth of caves, where the city gets its fresh thermal water source.
One of the locations where you can dive is the Molnár János cave. It is a protected cave, and you have to be cave diving-certified to explore this.
If you are not cave certified, you must have at least Advanced Open Water certification in order to join their introduction to cave diving, offered by the MJCave Dive.
Bookings and inquiries can be made directly through MJDive at firstname.lastname@example.org – read more on Molnar Janos Budapest Cave diving.
If you want to see our experience scuba diving in Budapest sub terrain world, watch our YouTube travel vlog here. Scuba diving under the city is probably one of the most unusual things to do in Budapest.
Molnár János-barlang, 1023 Budapest, Frankel Leó út 48.
Budapest Underground Caving Tour
Contributed by Becky the Traveller
Are you looking for something a bit more adventurous to do on your Budapest trip? Then a tour exploring Budapest caves is the perfect thing for you to take part in.
A short distance from the city centre you can spend 2 hours underground. The tour involves some crawling and squeezing through tiny gaps (although there are some big spaces, too!)
Your guide will look after you during the adventure, giving you tips and advice on how to navigate through the cave system.
It’s a wonderful experience and something that I’ve not tried before in another big city. Who would have thought that there were caves in Budapest to begin with?!
You can read about my full experience here – Caving in Budapest. It includes tips for what to wear and what else you need to know about the day.
This tour is not for the faint-hearted, but if you love a bit of adventure on your travels, this is perfect for you.
Pal-volgyi Caves – 1025 Budapest, Szépvölgyi str 162.
Ride the Children’s Railway in Budapest
Contributed by Little Big Traveler
The Children’s railway is among the most odd things to do in Budapest. The route – the Gyermekvasut railway – runs through Buda Hills between Hűvösvölgy and Széchenyi Hill stations.
The line is nearly 12km long and the ride is about 45 minutes.
Gyermekvasut railway is not a typical rail route. It’s famous because children aged 10 to 14 years old manage it – with adult train engineers, of course.
The children conduct all other duties on and off the train, like selling and checking tickets, blowing whistles, and managing the traffic.
It’s quite hard to get the job, though. Students need to have excellent grades at school for consideration for these positions. After approval, they start a four-month training course and they must take the same exam as the adult railway workers do.
The Children’s railway is a fun and unique Budapest activity. Furthermore, there is a museum at Hűvösvölgy station where you can see some artifacts from the Communist regime.
A one-way ticket cost 700 HUF per adult and 350 HUF per child.
The Budapest Makery
If you’re looking for a truly unique experience in Budapest, then you can’t go wrong with the Budapest Makery. Located in the Jewish Quarter, the Budapest Makery is a do-it-yourself restaurant.
You read that right – you pick what you want from the menu, they bring you the ingredients and a tablet with instructions, and you make your own dinner.
And the food is delicious. I made a delicious pancake soup as an appetizer and then goat cheese balls with beetroot as the main course.
If I had any questions, there was always someone there to assist.
While I did this by myself, I highly suggest doing it as a couple or a group. If you’re a couple, it’ll be a good test of your relationship. If you’re a group, it’ll just be a great laugh!
Check out the Budapest Makery next time you’re looking for a really cool activity to do in Budapest.
It’s a blast!
For more on the Budapest Makery:
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Hotels in Budapest
Budapest hotels are easy to find, and there are also a lot of options for budget travelers. Budapest is one of Europe’s friendliest cities for backpackers and budget-conscious people!
Find hotels and hostels here:
We’ve stayed in four different hostels in Budapest. You can find their reviews here.
- Baroque Hostel Budapest
- Full Moon Design Hostel Budapest
- Budapest Maverick Lodge Hostel
- Hopstel BeerHotel
If you are looking for a Couchsurfing host in Budapest, check out our Couchsurfing tips.
They’ll help you create or improve your profile, write requests, and be a great guest.
Considering using Airbnb for the first time in Budapest? Sign up using our referral link to get $40 off your first stay!
More unusual things to do in Budapest?
If you’ve been to Budapest and want to let us know about your experience, tell us about your weird, cool, and different things to do in Budapest in the comments!
For More on Hungary and Budapest: When we travel, we use Lonely Planet. By buying a book at one of the Amazon.com links below, we get a small referral fee at no additional cost to you.
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Halef moved from Indonesia to the US nearly two decades ago to go to college here. He hasn’t looked back. He’s been to over forty countries and doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon. He’s a Landscape Architect in Atlanta, GA.