Welcome to Budapest, one of the most interesting cities in Eastern Europe and certainly within Hungary itself. While most people visiting the city flock to Hungarian Parliament or the banks of the Danube, one of the best sides of the city is Gellért Hill.
When you book a stay at your vacation rental by Budahome, you’ll be unlocking instant access to the heart of this neighborhood, while still keeping the rest of the city of Budapest well within reach. From the top of Gellért Hill to its riverfront base, there’s a lot to unpack in this area.
Gellért Hill may boast the best views of Budapest, but its surrounding environs have many stories to tell. Castle Hill normally gets the bulk of press, what with Buda Castle, Fisherman’s Bastion, and Matthias Church. But what makes Gellárt Hill so special?
Explore the nature, history, and entertainment of the Gellért Hill area with this guide!
One of the highest points of Budapest, Gellért Hill is a comforting presence, standing tall on the Buda side of the Danube river. It's named after one of Budapest's most beloved saints, the Venetian-born bishop Gerardo Sagredo. As the story goes, In 1046, angry pagans put Bishop Gellért into a barrel and rolled him down the hill into the Danube, fulfilling his visions of martyrdom.
The history of Gellért Hill stretches far. Evidence has been found of cave dwellers from prehistoric times. Interesting to think that ancestors so far back used the same thermal waters that course through the Gellért Hotel and Spa today. The Gellért Hill area has quite evolved from cave dwelling, however. In the present day, Gellért Hill is primely located for excursions in both Buda and Pest.
Tabán is a scenic neighborhood on the shores of the Danube. It’s located between Buda Hill and Gellért Hill, giving it a prime location in the city. It’s easy to blur the lines between Tabán and Gellért Hill and while walking through the area, you most likely won’t notice when you’ve crossed into one or the other.
An upscale neighborhood with plenty to see and do, some of the must-see items on this list are actually in Tabán itself. The neighborhood serves as the gateway to some of this area’s best bars, restaurants, and parks. Not only is it a great neighborhood to stroll around and snap pictures of the Baroque architecture, but there’s also plenty to see, do, eat, and drink in Tabán.
We would be remiss if we didn't mention the grand Hotel Gellért, an Art Nouveau masterpiece of times gone by. Often referred to as the most beautiful bath of Budapest, you can spend an afternoon soaking in the exquisitely detailed rooms, or testing your endurance in the wave pool. The outdoor pools are especially refreshing during the winter, when you can watch the steam rise into the cold air.
At the time of writing, the hotel and bath are closed for renovations, check their site for updated opening times.
Rudas Thermal Bath is also close by, nestled at the base of the hill. This 16th-century spa is a mix of history and modernity. A holdover from the Turkish occupation of Budapest, Rudas baths is a glimpse into the past. Don't miss out on its most unique feature: a rooftop hot tub that lets you steam your cares away while taking in the sights of the city.
The Liberty Bridge is often cited as one of the most photogenic bridges in Budapest. Its verdant green spires and romantic decoration make it a sight that never gets old.
Originally named after Franz Joszef, the emperor of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the bridge was renamed after freedom once it was rebuilt following the Nazi retreat out of Budapest.
Your gateway into Pest, you can cross Szabadság on foot or hop on one of Budapest’s iconic yellow trams. If you’re fortunate enough to visit during the summertime, you might catch one of the bridge’s ‘Open Days’. The city shuts the bridge down to traffic and it becomes a pedestrian paradise where you can picnic, sunbathe, or watch one of the pop-up performances!
One of the main perceived distinctions between Buda and Pest is that Buda is more peaceful and slow-paced. There's no better place to experience this than on spacious Bartok Béla street.
Stemming from the junction of Gellért Hill, this wide boulevard full of cafes, bars, and restaurants is begging to be explored. There are also shops where you can pick up any travel essentials you may have forgotten.
Some can't-miss spots are:
This warmly lit cafe takes its coffee seriously, accompanied by vegan baked goods and an Indonesian-fusion menu. Lined with bursting bookshelves, the ground floor is a cozy place for a catch-up, or head upstairs to get work done in the bright atrium above. Keep an eye out for art installations from local artists.
This could very well be the most whimsical bar in Buda. Step into this mix of jungle vibes and turn-of-the-century charm. Tip--try the lemonades (the peach-thyme is the best in the city!).
Hadik is a time machine to times gone by, when intellectuals would gather in Budapest coffeehouses. Originally opened in 1911, it has recently been restored to its former splendor. Enjoy a coffee under the chandeliers and sit where the great writers once sat.
Known as the meeting and eating place of the crème-de-la-créme of the Buda hills, Déryné oozes class and simplicity. Treat yourself to a boozy dinner or stop by for their famous Sunday brunch--just make sure to make reservations first!
This is the place where you can let your inner nerd run free! Lovers of all things fantasy and sci-fi are welcome at this self-proclaimed "Esport & Geek Bar". Maybe you'll reserve a monitor and spend a few hours in a comfy gamer's chair, maybe you'll go analog and grab one of their many board games. But either way, don't miss out on one of their themed cocktails (the Tower of Mordor is our favorite--complete with a gummy Eye of Sauron on top!).
If you follow the boulevard all the way through, it'll lead you to Moricz Zsigmond square, a terminal for the 24-hour 4/6 trams, which will easily carry you into Pest and onwards on your Budapest adventure!
Don't let yourself miss out on the panoramic views afforded by climbing to the Citadella on Gellért Hill! From here, you’re rewarded with amazing views and great sightseeing opportunities.
If you start at the foot of Elizabeth Bridge, you'll find the monument of St. Gellért, backed by a majestic waterfall. Continue up the hillway path and eventually, you'll emerge onto the top of the hill where the Citadel awaits. Built in the mid-19th century, the curved stone fortress was established by the Habsburgs during the span of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. However, take note of the main attraction, Budapest's own Statue of Liberty. The symbol commemorates liberation from the Germans, a strong woman stands with her arms outstretched, holding up a palm leaf. Make sure you hike this hill and see this iconic part of the Budapest skyline up close!
Just across the bridge from Gellért Hill lies an opportunity to do as the locals do. Or rather--to shop as the locals shop. This grand market hall is perfect for people-watching or souvenir shopping. Get your groceries or souvenir paprika on the ground floor, and then head upstairs to sample traditional Hungarian food at one of the many stalls. Bring your appetite!
Next to the market hall are the towering pillars of Corvinus University--walk through this beautiful building if you have the time!
A bit closer to Buda Castle than Gellért Hill, the Hospital in the Rock is still an unmissable attraction. During Budapest's many wars and sieges, these Buda caves were repurposed into a hospital, bomb shelter, and finally, a nuclear shelter. Take the guided tour through this unique museum and learn about the hardships and victories faced by those sheltering in its depths.
Buda's caves are put to another use in the Cave Cathedral. Legend has it that a hermit from the Middle Ages, St. Stephen, lived in this cave, healing ailments with the hill's natural thermal waters. The cave church was later occupied by Pauline monks. Unfortunately, the cave has a bit of a dark history, as the monks were arrested and detained there by the Communist regime. However, the cave church was reopened in 1989, and now serves as a subterranean beacon of hope for local and traveling faith seekers.
Gellért Hill has plenty of winding pathways and trails. However, nature lovers may find themselves drawn to the verdant oasis that is the Philosopher’s Garden. Not many tourists know about this peaceful place, as it’s hidden from view up in the wooded area back from Elizabeth Bridge. The garden features a circle of statues of great thinkers such as Jesus, Gandhi, and Buddha. Visit the garden to think intellectual thoughts—or maybe just stretch out and enjoy the sunshine!
This little-known activity can result in a big adventure. Did you know that the Buda hills are full of caves? Caving Under Budapest has plenty of subterranean activities available! For those unafraid of small, tight spaces, adventure caving will take you on a 3-hour tour of one of the winding cave systems. For those with a more intellectual interest, a walking tour or geological tour are also available. See a whole other side to Budapest!
Gellért Hill is a gateway to many historic buildings, Hungarian nature, and interesting Budapest attractions. Use this guide to explore all that the heartbeat of the Buda side has to offer!