Tired of being cooped up inside? Free walking tours have always been a Budapest staple, but with the coronavirus and lack of tourists, most temporarily ceased operations. Luckily, we’re starting to see them resume – with safety measures in place.

Walking around Budapest in 2019, you wouldn't have to go far before you came across the tell-tale signs of a walking tour: a group of tourists with cameras poised; an enthusiastic tour guide with a microphone head-set, walking backwards and gesturing towards one famous building or another.

The city's history was divulged in all languages, tempting even the locals to sometimes slow down and listen in on a fun fact they might not have known on this vibrant and historic place they call home. As 2020 wore on, and the borders closed, we began to miss these tours which once could be spotted everywhere. 

Many of those companies remain shut, waiting for the decision due on 11 January whether or not to lift the restrictions. But we need not stay indoors the whole time. As walking tours are, by definition, outside, it's a great way to get a little exercise while still keeping ourselves compliant with coronavirus precautions. There are even a few options still available to us these days. 

Perfect European Tours

This company opened in 2018, with the goal of designing “the most amazing and unique walking tours in Budapest”. They offer four tours: General HistoryAlternative (only available April-Oct), Outer 8th District and Communist Tours. Each lasts between 1.5-3.5 hours depending on the itinerary, so be sure to wear your comfortable shoes! Learn about industrial history and architecture of JózsefvárosHungary’s unique Goulash Communism, the rise of street art in the Jewish quarter and of Budapest’s most fascinating historical fun facts on these informative, fresh-air walks. 

Because of the coronavirus, the company asks that you register in advance, as only eight people will be allowed per tour. It is also mandatory to bring a mask in case areas become crowded, and maintain a distance of 1.5 metres apart. Tours are run three times a week. Due to coronavirus restrictions, the tours cannot run to a regular schedule, so each is announced 48 hours before departure. 

Head to the group’s Facebook page to receive announcements on when a tour will be running! 

Mysterium Budapest Bloody Tales within the Castle Walls

One of the most unique tours offered in Budapest is the Mysterium Tours' Bloody Tales within the Castle Walls. On this immersive storytelling experience, participants follow a mysterious guide by the light of his real oil lamp, who reveals the turbulent history of invasionsbattles and myths surrounding Budapest. It's sure to be a bloody good time. 

The tour runs in all weather conditions, and normally sees groups of ten to 15. During the pandemic, numbers have dropped, so be sure to check availability in advance, as the tours run less frequently. However, they are always ready to receive bookings, and take you on a memorable, spooky nighttime adventure! 

Self-guided tours

Perhaps the easiest way to maintain a safe social distance is to simply walk by yourself... luckily for those with a thirst for knowledge, there are plenty of self-guided walking tours which will take you all around Budapest! We have scouted out several user-created walking maps which can be easily downloaded to your phone through Google Maps. 

On the Buda side, enjoy a leisurely stroll via this map (by the travel writers Budapest by Locals) to visit such iconic sites as the Fishermen's BastionMatthias Church and the Buda Palace. Even if you've traversed this area many times before with visiting friends or relatives, the lack of tourists means you can enjoy the view in a solitary manner you're probably unfamiliar with. 

For an in-depth walk through Pest, following the river, this map by BigBoy Travel even provides a suggested walking path, not just destination points. See the Shoe Memorial, the ever-spectacular Parliament building, and work your way down to the Grand Market Hall, where you can stop for refreshments. The same map-makers have also put together a Jewish District walking map, a Városliget walking map and a Gellért Hill walking map, among others. 

Kolodko's mini statues

One of Budapest's most iconic works of street art – if you can spot them – are the Kolodko statuettes. These little figures are the works of guerilla-artist Mihály Kolodko, placed around the city and a delightful surprise to stumble upon. Due to their small stature, it's easy to pass them by without realising, which is why Budapest Flow have put together a convenient round-up of each statuette and the exact address to find them, as well as a map which shows the locations as plot points.

Budapest is a city full of street art, which many of the guided tours – in the "normal" times – will point out to visitors during their walk. Classics like the 6:3 – commemorating Hungary's famous defeat of England in the football match of 1953, the Man of the Year, or the entrance to the 7th District with the benevolent portrait of Queen Sisi looking down are all sure to impress. But there are many more worth checking out, and Budapest Flow have put together the most comprehensive map of Budapest's street art to date, with photos and addresses provided. Even the locals will find something here which they might not have seen before!