What would you consider to be the best bridge in Budapest? Some are beautiful, some are quirky, and others offer breathtaking views. Linking the two halves of the city, the bridges provide the best viewpoints for enjoying the fireworks on St. Stephen's Day, provide a route for a leisurely walking tour all around Budapest, or even sometimes host carefree picnics (more on that below).
Although many Budapest bridges were destroyed by German troops during World War II, they have since been restored to their former beauty.
Budapest is now one of the most popular cities in Central Europe, but did you know that Buda and Pest used to be two different cities (technically three, if you count Óbuda)?
The city of Budapest was officially created in 1873, and has only grown since. The Danube river that flows beneath the bridges touches no less than 10 countries, and the river has undoubtedly shaped Budapest's growth into one of the most exciting cities of Central Europe.
Nowadays, Buda has the reputation of being a quiet, affluent part of the city, while the Pest side is known for being the heartbeat of partying and nightlife. But of course, with every rule, there comes an exception, and you can find opportunities to relax or revel on either side of the mighty Danube river.
However, when it comes to sightseeing, you'll find that the main tourist attractions lie on both sides of the city. Thanks to the bridges, you don't have to choose between which ones you'll see! You can take yourself on a self-guided walking tour of the beautiful cathedrals in the city or explore some of the famous tourist attractions.
Famous Tourist Attractions in Buda:
Famous Tourist Attractions in Pest:
Sadly the Nazis blew up multiple bridges during the destruction of the Second World War. However, the perseverance of the Hungarian people made sure they were reconstructed, and now the bridges are now standing proud and tall, linking Buda and Pest once more.
The bridges themselves bear the handprints of Budapest’s history--don't miss out on them during your visit to Budapest. Here are four Budapest bridges you must see!
At time of publication, the Chain Bridge is currently being renovated.
How can we start this list with anything else besides the first permanent bridge of Budapest? The opening of Széchenyi Bridge (also called the Chain Bridge) was a momentous occasion in 1849, as the first bridge officially linking Buda and Pest together. The bridge's construction stunned crowds with its beauty, and even to this day remains one of the best-known symbols of Budapest.
As the story goes, before the bridge existed, the beloved Count Széchenyi lived on the Buda side, and was unable to cross the river in time to make it to his father's funeral. After this, the Count swore to personally fund a bridge that linked the two banks, no matter the personal cost. Thus, the Széchenyi Chain Bridge was born.
The Chain Bridge was destroyed during World War II but it was reconstructed in 1949. It is now one of the most visited places in Hungary. Stone sculptures of lions stand as sentinels on either side--give them a wink as you walk past! The walk across the Chain Bridge takes about 10 minutes--but of course, you're welcome to stop and take in the scenery.
Walking over the Chain Bridge will put you right in the heart of historical Buda. Once you step off of Széchenyi Bridge on the Buda side, you will be face to face with Adam Clark Square and Castle Hill.
Walk up the wide hillside and drink in the sights of Buda Castle, the Fisherman's Bastion, and Matthias Church. If you'd rather not walk, you can always take the brief ride on the historic Castle Hill Funicular, built in 1868.
If you look past Széchenyi Square, you'll see the beautifully wrought facade of Gresham Palace, now the Four Seasons. Stop here or at any of the riverside bars for a cocktail.
Liberty Bridge was built for the Millennium World Exhibition in 1896. Originally named Francis Joseph Bridge, after the then-emperor of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, it remains one of Budapest's most beautiful bridges. When the city rebuilt it following WWII, they gave Liberty Bridge its current name.
The artfully twisting green spires make for striking photos no matter the season. If you're in a rush to get to your destination, you can take a tram across. But of course, we recommend walking and taking it all in.
Sometimes on summer weekends, the city blocks off traffic to Liberty Bridge and turns it into a pedestrian paradise. People bring picnic blankets, hammocks, instruments, and more to create a peaceful urban space.
You're met with a view of the Art Nouveau masterpiece, the Gellért Hotel, as soon as you get off the bridge. From here, you can have a relaxing time at the Gellért Thermal Bath and Spa, or visit the Cathedral in the Rock.
At the foot of the bridge lies the Great Market Hall, one of the most impressive markets of Budapest. Although it's a major tourist attraction, many locals come here to do their daily shopping. Buy fresh produce and meats on the ground floor, or go upstairs to try traditional Hungarian dishes and buy souvenirs.
You can also take the time to walk south down the river, past the stunning Corvinus University, and make your way to Bálna for a stylish riverside drink.
The Margaret Bridge was inaugurated in 1876 and is a well-known place for lovebirds and couples wishing to throw coins into the Danube River. Aside from being beautiful, it also functions as a convenient way to travel between Buda and Pest, as the 24-hour 4/6 tram runs across it.
The wide bridge also has a dedicated bike lane for those looking to traverse the city on two wheels.
The decorative iron parts of the bridge were actually manufactured in and brought over from France, and if you look closely from the shore, you'll see the restored statues of winged female figures spaced across the bridge, watching over Budapest.
The lookout point in the middle provides one of the best views of Parliament--go in the evening to see it lit up and reflecting on the water.
Margaret Bridge is especially unique not because of what lies on either side, but what's located in the middle.
Did you know that Budapest has its own island? Margaret Island is a pedestrian paradise in the middle of the city. Without cars, you're free to take a leisurely stroll or bike ride, take in a show at the open-air theatre, or use the 5k track and urban gym equipment to get a workout in.
There are bars and food kiosks as well, to enjoy the long summer dazs
The Elizabeth Bridge is a very popular spot with tourists who like to take photographs against the beautiful backdrop of the river and Buda Castle--especially at sunset. Rebuilt after the Second World War, this is one of the only bridges of Budapest where they changed the design of the original bridge when they rebuilt it. Now the most modern of the bunch, the Elizabeth Bridge cuts a sleek pattern across the Budapest skyline.
Lace up your tennis shoes! When you walk off of Elizabeth Bridge you'll see the striking face of Gellért Hill, named after one of Budapest's most valued saints.
Walk up past the waterfall to access a green part of the city. You can even follow the trails all the way up to the Citadel where you'll enjoy an unmatched, panoramic view of the city alongside Budapest's Statue of Liberty. You’ll also be right near your cozy Budahome vacation rentals.
Elizabeth Bridge is nestled in the lap of luxury. Walk over to Váci Street, one of Budapest's main shopping streets, or enjoy a coffee at the lavishly decorated Párizsi Udvar or the newly restored Mathild Palace.
Many visitors choose to see Budapest's bridges from a different angle with a river cruise. You can dine on classic Hungarian fare during a dinner cruise or wine tasting cruise, get an adrenaline rush on a speedboat, or drink and dance your way down the Danube during a party cruise.
The bridges in the Hungarian capital are more than beautiful ways to get from Point A to Point B. They are pieces of history, linking the past with the present just as much as they link Buda and Pest. The next time you use one of Budapest's bridges to cross the Danube, look down and see what stories they have to tell.