From the 78-meter-tall steeple soaring above Buda’s postcard-superstar Matthias Church to the fairy-tale turrets of Vajdahunyad Castle in City Park, a trio of Budapest’s towers provides scenic city vistas. All of these high-rise monuments are now accessible to the public, and each offers guided group tours in English. Those who scale these elevated landmarks are rewarded with wraparound views of the surrounding cityscape, while tour groups also discover the history of these historic attractions.
Mary Magdalene Tower
Amid the cobblestoned streets around Buda Castle, a medieval monument soars skywards, once a hallowed shrine for the local Christian community. The church around it was destroyed under the communist regime and only its steeple remained, albeit severely damaged. After thorough renovations on this Gothic-style spire, the Mary Magdalene Tower now welcomes visitors again with hourly music played on its 24 bronze-made bells and panoramic views over the city’s most famous buildings and the Buda Hills. In front of the tower, a statue depicts Hungary’s captivating coronation mantle in the garden of ruins. Admission is 900 forints and 30-minute English-language guided tours are available for groups on request (8,000 HUF/session).
Opening hours: Monday to Sunday, 10am to sunset
Gracefully dominating Buda’s skyline, 13th-century Matthias Church is an iconic landmark found within the historic Castle District. After renovations were completed on this elegant edifice a few years ago, its lace-like southern tower is now open to the public. Those who want to see Mátyás Tower from the inside first have to climb 197 steps of a spiral staircase, with the reward of far-reaching views over the colorful Zsolnay-covered roof of the church, nearby Fishermen’s Bastion, and much of the Pest cityscape. While you’re there, you can also admire the charming attractions within the tower itself, including its enormous bells and weather vane. You can access Mátyás Tower with the 50-minute Hungarian- and English-language guided tours that set off on the hour from 11am to 4pm. Adult admission is 1,500 forints.
Opening hours: Monday to Sunday, 11am-5pm
Vajdahunyad Castle Towers
Closed to visitors for decades, the panoramic towers of the fanciful Vajdahunyad Castle in the City Park have reopened. Two of them now welcome visitors, the lower, 65-step Gate Tower (300 HUF) providing views of the castle’s intricately crafted rose window. The Apostles’ Tower can only be accessed with a guide – its English-language tours (600 HUF) reveal little-known information about this 120-year-old monument. As your tour group climbs higher and higher, 360-degree vistas unfold, Budapest with landmarks such as Parliament House, St. Stephen’s Basilica, Buda Castle and the Citadel coming into view. On a clear day, visibility might stretch as far as the Gödöllő Hills way off to the northeast. A combined ticket to both towers is 700 forints.
Opening hours: Gate Tower – Monday to Sunday, 10am-7pm; Apostles’ Tower – Tuesday to Sunday, 10am-5pm (tours on the hour, last tour 4pm)