Whether it’s a meander through centuries-old Baroque architecture or a breath of fresh air in the leafy heights of Buda Hills, the Hungarian capital and its surrounds are best explored on foot. There’s no better time to venture forth than in summer, when temperatures peak at a comfortable 27°C and late sunsets invite long summer strolls through the city’s scenic routes. From an easy jaunt along the Danube to a climb into the more ambitious heights of the Buda Hills, here are the best Budapest walks to enjoy this season.
The finest introduction to the city is a walk along Budapest’s iconic river, the Danube. Slicing between Buda and Pest, it skirts a selection of the city’s best sites. Start this iconic Budapest walk at the Hungarian Parliament Building, and wander along the river towards Széchenyi Chain Bridge. Cross the bridge to Pest and hug the banks past the Shoes on the Danube, a haunting memorial to the victims of WWII. Cross back over just under Margaret Island, which provides a scenic, leafy detour for those inclined towards an increased step count. Finally, head back along the banks of Buda towards Rudas Thermal Baths near Elisabeth Bridge for a long post-walk soak.
The Castle District is Budapest’s oldest corner, and its narrow, labyrinthine streets are ripe for pedestrian expeditions into Budapest’s rich history. Start at Matthias Church, recognisable for its gleaming white Gothic spire. Its foundations were laid in 1015 by the first king of Hungary, and it also served as a mosque during Ottoman rule. Stop by the iconic turrets of Fisherman’s Bastion, delivering a spectacular panorama of Budapest before moving on. Skirt the Castle District’s perimeter, heading north towards the Medieval Jewish Prayer House, a tiny museum set in a 14th-century synagogue that’s well worth a visit. Continue around past the broad, stone arch of Bécsi kapu, the gateway to Vienna, to the 13th-century Magdalene Church Tower. Ascend its 170 steps to be rewarded with spectacular views, rivalled only by Fisherman’s Bastion. Wind back through the district’s charming streets towards Ruszwurm Confectionery to enjoy an al fresco slice of cherry strudel.
For a Budapest walk that sidesteps the urbanscapes, Normafa is an excellent place to start. Situated high in the hills above Budapest, it’s blessed with stunning panoramas across the city. It’s also an excellent starting point from which to launch an exploration of Buda Hills. For the prettiest hike with the best views, stroll across Anna Meadow’s vast, emerald expanse towards Fairy Rock, whose vistas are as enchanting as its name suggests. Alternatively, for a route with a little more leg work, head up János Hill to Elizabeth Lookout Tower. At 528m, it’s the tallest point in Budapest, and the view across the city is unrivalled. Those with a more adventurous spirit will appreciate the tucked-away hiking trails in the woodlands capping Ferenc Hill, and dedicated naturalists should seek out the rambling wilds of Sas-Hegy Nature Reserve. As well as breathtaking views, it has a dedicated visitor centre offering information about the area’s indigenous wildlife.