Updated: 29th of November, 2021
Yes, by a local! That’s me :) I know where to go, trust me! Discover Budapest and its tourist attractions from these 5 scenic viewpoints. Every 5 offers an amazing panorama of the city from different heights and angles.
Budapest is a magnificent city with 2 million citizens. My favourite part is the riverbank and the view from the bridges. Its river is called Danube (Duna), which divides the city into Buda and Pest. The Buda part has hills, like the Gellért Hill or other Buda Hills. The Pest side is flat. Both parts have many tourist attractions.
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Here’s my local travel guide to Budapest’s best viewpoints!
1. Gellért Hill with the Citadel – Currently, the main panorama terraces are closed!!!
The 235 m high hill dominates the side of Danube with the Citadel (Citadella). The hill was named after St. Gerard (Szent Gellért), who was thrown to death from the hill. Since 1987 the Gellért Hill (Gellért hegy) has been part of the UNESCO World Heritage. A lot of tourists climb to the top to admire the magnificent view.
Citadel is a fortress built in 1851 by the Habsburgs after the Hungarian Revolution of 1848. Its original goal was to frighten the citizens instead of protecting the city. Today we think of it as a symbol of freedom.
The Statue of Liberty stands next to the Citadel since 1947. Its total height is 40 meters, the lady with the leaf is 11 m tall, an essential gem of Budapest.
Follow the green sign up to the Citadel. That path goes closer to the river, and it offers many stops with a beautiful panorama, like this one with the Liberty bridge and the Central Market (Központi Vásárcsarnok).
The highest located panorama terrace has 2 popular viewpoints. One is next to the Statue of Liberty, and the other is facing Buda Castle. UNFORTUNATELY, YOU CAN’T VISIT THE MAIN VIEWPOINT TILL 2023 BECAUSE OF THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE CITADEL. However, the other panorama terraces along the Danube are still free to visit, so you can enjoy the Budapest panorama from a different angle.
The panorama terrace is open every day, every time.
How to get there?
It’s located between the white Elizabeth Bridge (Erzsébet híd) and the green Liberty Bridge (Szabadság híd), so the panorama terrace can be reached from both sides. The top of the hill can be reached only on foot.
By public transportation to the foot of the Gellért Hill
The 1st option is to take off at St. Gellért square (Szent Gellért tér), next to the Liberty Bridge. You can go by metro (M4), bus (7, 133E), tram (19, 41, 47, 48, 49, 56, 56A) or boat (D12, D13).
The other option is to start your walk from the foot of Erzsébet bridge. Take off at Döbrentei square (Döbrentei tér) or at Rudas Thermal Bath (Rudas gyógyfürdő) stations. Reach it by bus (7, 8E, 108E, 110, 112) or tram (19, 41, 56, 56A).
Walk from Szabadság bridge or Erzsébet Bridge. Just follow the green triangle, as I mentioned before. Of course, you can choose from many paths.
I like to depart from St. Gellért square and go down on the other side of the hill, to the direction of the Buda Castle. From the Gellért Hill, it’s easy to reach the Castle District through the Castle Garden Bazaar (Várkert Bazár).
Aaaaaand the next point is the Castle District!
2. Matthias Church and the Castle District
Thanks to its more extensive area you can enjoy the view from many spots. I leave the best one for later…
Panorama terrace of the Buda Castle
If you are arriving from the Castle Garden Bazaar (Várkert Bazár), take the escalator, elevators or use the stairs. The vast and long terrace of the Buda Castle/ Royal Palace provides a fantastic panorama to the other side of the Danube with the St. Stephen’s Basilica, Parliament, Chain Bridge (Lánchíd), Margaret Bridge (Margit híd). And to the Gellért hill as well.
The Buda Castle was the home of kings from the 13th century. In the 19th century, it went through construction, and now it is the home of the Budapest History Museum, the National Széchényi Library and the Hungarian National Gallery.
Enjoy the view from the terrace and the big iron gate with the Turul statue, which is the stop of the Budapest Castle Hill Funicular (Budavári Sikló).
Pass through the Dísz square and Szent György square to the direction of the Matthias Church (Mátyás templom). Then, wander along Tárnok street, where you can find cute historical houses.
Tárnok street leads you to Holy Trinity square (Szentháromság tér) with Matthias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion (Halászbástya). MUST-SEE! The 7 bastions represent the 7 settled down Hungarian tribes from the 9th century.
You have to pay to enjoy the view from the terrace of the Fisherman’s Bastion, but only between 9 am and 7 pm.
Matthias Church’s story started in the 13th century, so it has a long and complicated history. It witnessed occupations, wars, fire and reconstructions. It obtained its final Neo-Gothic style in the early 19th century, according to the plans of Frigyes Schulek.
For the best panorama, you have to climb 197 steps in the tower of Matthias Church. Not kidding, there’s no elevator. The tower is 78 m high, and the panorama terrace sits at 46 m in height. There are 3 stops on the way: an exhibition space, lower bell level with 4 and upper bell level with 2 bells. The terrace presents you with a panorama in every direction. Breathtaking!
Opening time of Matthias Church Tower
Every day: 9 am – 5 pm (last admission: 4 pm)
A tour begins every hour. The tower tour meeting point is on the left side of the church entrance, and it’s marked with a big flag. In addition, a board shows the time of the next tour.
Adult ticket: 2200 HUF / Student, pensioner ticket: 1700 HUF / Children ticket: free.
The price includes the guided tour. The ticket office can be found next to the Fisherman’s Bastion, opposite the church. Or you can buy your ticket in advance online.
How to get there?
The district of the castle is extensive, so you can reach it in many ways.
By public transportation
By funicular: Budapest Castle Hill Funicular (Budavári Sikló) is a funicular railway. From Adam Clark square (Clark Ádám tér) to Castle District, it takes 1,5 minutes. Leaves in every 10 minutes, depending on the passenger number. Opening time: Every day: 7:30- 22:00. Price: 1200 HUF for one way, 1800 HUF for a return ticket, discounts for groups.
By bus: Bus 16 and 16A goes between Széll Kálmán square and Deák Ferenc square, the buses have more stations in the Castle District, take off at Szentháromság square (location of Fisherman’s Bastion and Matthias Church) or at Dísz square (closer to the Royal Palace).
You can find several steps leading up to the Castle, for example, one starts at Clark Ádám square, next to the funicular.
Or choose my favourite route! Reach the Castle District from the Castle Garden Bazaar (Várkert Bazár), which has been beautifully renovated in 2014. From the garden, an escalator or a staircase takes you to the elevator, which goes up to the new sidewalk.
I see you are interested in sightseeing. Learn more about Budapest. Read my other post about 40 reasons to fall in love with Budapest and download the free checklist. These 5 viewpoints are on the list as well.
3. St. Stephen’s Basilica
St. Stephen’s Basilica (Szent István-bazilika) is the largest church in Budapest. The building dominates the city centre with a height of 96 m (just like the Parliament). The basilica is the 2nd highest church in Hungary, so it has to offer a spectacular view of the heart of Budapest 😉
Its construction began in 1851 and it was finished in 1905 after 54 years of construction. It was built in neo-classicist style. The facade is framed by two large bell towers. Hungary’s biggest bell hangs in the southern tower, weighing over 9 tonnes. The interior is also worth a visit, it’s characterized by rich ornamentation. Read more about the basilica and its opening time here.
Panorama Lookout Tower can be reached in 2 ways.
Climb 364 steps or take the elevators up to the dome’s observation deck. The stairs start at the ticket office, if you prefer to take the elevator, it’s on the other side, behind the shop. The ticket is cheap and the view is awesome! The ticket office is at the church entrance, where the staircase starts.
Up there, you can walk around the dome and enjoy the 360º panorama. The Parliament, Buda Castle and Citadel are also visible from there.
Opening time of the Panorama Lookout Tower
June, July, August, September: 10 am – 6:30 pm
April, May, October: 10 am – 5:30 pm
November, December, January, February, March: 10 am – 4:30 pm
Adult ticket: 1500 HUF / Student, pensioner ticket: 1000 HUF
How to get there?
By public transportation
St. Stephen’s square (Szent István tér) can be reached from many directions.
By metro: It’s halfway between Deák Ferenc square and Arany János street M3 metro stations. Metro line M1 station called Bajcsy-Zsilinszky street is also close.
By bus: Bus 9 station called Szent István bazilika
By tram: Tram 2 goes on the Danube bank, 5 minutes walk from Széchenyi István square.
Located in the V. district, in the city centre, a few minutes walk from Deák Ferenc square and the Danube.
4. Budapest Eye, the ferris wheel of Budapest
The name, Budapest Eye was inspired by the London Eye. This is also a ferris wheel, just smaller and not that tall. It offers a new perspective of Budapest, which you’ve never experienced before.
The highest point of the ferris wheel is 65 m. It has 42 cabins, and every cabin can host 6 people. It goes more rounds and you have to take off after 5-10 minutes.
I would recommend going to the top of the St. Stephen’s Basilica (see the previous point), it’s more affordable and you can spend there as much time as you want.
But if you have a crush on ferris wheels, this is your turn.
(I don’t have any decent photos from the top, the glass was always shady…)
Monday – Thursday, Sunday: 10 am – 11 pm
Friday, Saturday: 10 am – 12 pm
Adult ticket: 3000 HUF / Student ticket: 2400 HUF.
It’s possible to buy your tickets online and skip the queue. Check out the tickets on the website.
How to get there?
By public transportation
By metro: M1, M2 and M3 stations at Deák Ferenc square
By bus: 9, 16 and 105 stations at Deák Ferenc square, 15, 16, 105, 115 stations at József Nádor tér
By tram: 47, 48 and 49 stations at Deák Ferenc square
Located in the V. district at Erzsébet square, in the middle of city centre, 2 minutes walk from Deák Ferenc square.
5. Elisabeth Lookout Tower, János Hill
Enjoy the fantastic panorama from the highest point of Budapest. You have to fight for it, relax, not that hard, but a little hike is needed to reach the Elisabeth Lookout Tower (Erzsébet-kilátó). Won’t regret it, trust me. From here, you can see all of the viewpoints I’ve written about in the previous points 🙂
János Hill (János hegy) is located in the 12th district, near Normafa, a popular hiking area in all seasons. The last stage to the tower is a steep road, or you can choose the stairs as well.
The tower is the tallest point in Budapest with its 527 meters. The historic lookout tower was built in 1908 from limestone, named after Empress Elisabeth, who visited János Hill in 1882. 4 terraces are part of the building, the highest has a height of 23,5 m. 101 steps lead you to the top of it. It was designed by Frigyes Schulek, who also designed the Fishermen’s Bastion (Halászbástya) in the Castle District.
Every day: 8 am- 8 pm
How to get there?
I’d recommend you to take the bus or the cogwheel train to Normafa station. Relax at the park of Normafa, enjoy the nature, walk to the Elisabeth Lookout Tower and return to the city centre by chairlift (it also offers a great view) and bus.
Here are the other options:
By public transportation
By bus: Bus 21 and 21A goes from Széll Kálmán square, takes 20 minutes to get Normafa station, from where the lookout tower is 2-3 kilometres far.
By cogwheel train: Cogwheel train (fogaskerekű) also takes 20 minutes from its terminal in Városmajor (close to Széll Kálmán square).
By train: A small train winds in the Buda Hills named the “children train” (gyermekvasút). Depart from Hűvösvölgy station, it goes through Jánoshegy till Normafa and Széchenyihegy terminal.
By chairlift: János hill is also reachable by chairlift (libegő), the station is just a few minutes far from the tower. I would recommend it for the way back to the city because this way you just have to enjoy the view in front of you. At the bottom, take bus 291 (to Nyugati Railway station) back to the city centre. The chairlift operates from May to August, every day: 10 am – 7 pm. In the other months, it closes sooner. Check out the timetable here. An adult single ticket costs 1200 HUF.
Okaaaaay, this was a bit long… I’d like to provide useful information for you, so it couldn’t be shorter. I adore viewpoints because I like to have different perspectives and from the top, you can see more.
If you are still reading, I guess you are really interested in Budapest. Nice 🙂
We need some energy after sightseeing, so I have my Budapest food guide to traditional Hungarian dishes for you.
Are you into discovering the city? Read my other post about 40 reasons to fall in love with Budapest and download the free checklist.
Do you fancy viewpoints and panorama terraces too? Which is your favourite one in Budapest?
Pin the photos for later to have it on Pinterest. Write a comment also on Pinterest and tell me your opinion.
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JEnnyFebruary 23, 2020 at 2:33 am
This was really helpful! It was great to see the actual names in your language.
alizswonderlandFebruary 23, 2020 at 3:01 am
Thanks Jenny 🙂 I’m glad you liked it!
PatMarch 4, 2020 at 6:16 am
Great info – many thanks
alizswonderlandMarch 4, 2020 at 2:12 pm
My pleasure, Pat! I’m happy to help 🙂
Manali VaishampayanApril 14, 2023 at 11:21 pm
Wow you provide so good information. I was looking for a page like this. For my upcoming visit. 😊 Thanks
alizswonderlandApril 17, 2023 at 10:56 am
Thanks a lot Manali 🙂 I’m happy you appreciate it and have fun in Budapest!