Measures just introduced by the Hungarian government have banned indoor gatherings of more than 100 people, and outdoor ones of more than 500. As many popular hangout spots close their doors, there’s still lots to do in the bustling Hungarian capital.
Stroll around Buda Castle
The views around the grounds of Buda Castle are some of the finest in Budapest – and the fresh air is just what the doctor ordered! Visitors can admire the reconstructed Déli Rondella, a circular fortification on the southern end of the castle grounds, originally built in the 15th century. But don’t stop there – continue up the cobblestoned streets to the castle itself, Matthias Church and the Fishermen’s Bastion alongside. Check out a full itinerary of Buda Castle sights here.
Visit Bodies 2.0
The famous (and famously controversial) Bodies Exhibition is travelling the world with new specimens never seen before, hence its title of Bodies 2.0. The exhibition in Budapest runs until 31 May, and so far the doors are still open. Visitors will have only one hour to peruse the exhibition, and attendance is limited to 95 people at a time, in order to comply with government regulations. If you’re a fan of the morbidly interesting, make sure to get yourself a ticket.
Take a walking tour
Budapest is full of fascinating history, from the sweeping grandeur of its palatial mansions to the tiny statues of street artists commemorating fallen Hungarian heroes. If you’re wary of being inside around too many sneezing strangers, stick to the streets and spend an enjoyable two hours exploring the city on foot! Whether you want to learn about history, art, myths and legends, or the cave systems which lie beneath Budapest, there’s a plethora of walking tours available every day of the week. Check out our most recent recommendations here.
Practise sport at City Park
The City Park is a great place to break out the frisbee and stretch your legs. And that’s not all – new outdoor sports courts have been installed as part of the park's huge revamp, including basketball courts, running tracks, gymnastics bars and other workout equipment. Gather some friends and soak in some extra vitamin D!
Admire ELTE Botanical Gardens
Located in the 8th District, Budapest’s Botanical Gardens have existed since 1771. The sprawling grounds are a bit subdued in the colder months, but the greenhouse complexes on site are lush and picture-perfect. This attraction is one of the lesser-known landmarks in the city, making it the ideal place to ride out the coronavirus while taking in over 8,000 plant species. There’s also a shop where you can buy plants propagated from those found in the gardens – sometimes impossible to find anywhere else in the city!
Enjoy a picnic at Normafa
Normafa is one of the worst kept secrets in Budapest – a panoramic hilltop escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, easily reached by bus from the centre. Several walking trails cross Normafa, so a full day’s excursion can be made from this Buda landmark. The name Normafa refers to an old legend, claiming that King Matthias Corvinus planted a beech tree here in the 15th century, only felled by a lightning strike in 1927. In 1840, the National Theatre troupe performed Bellini’s Norma opera in front of the tree, and thus Norma Fa – 'Norma Tree' – became the name. Due to undergo a little revamp to make it more accessible, Normafa is also the gateway to the calf-crunching incline towards the Elizabeth Lookout Tower, the highest point in Budapest.
See the animals at Budapest Zoo
Although the Holnemvolt Castle children's attraction has had to temporarily close its doors, all manner of animals still await at Budapest Zoo, which is maintaining its usual business hours. One of the first to open in Europe, the zoo is located just behind Heroes’ Square, easily accessible by metro. New residents are arriving all the time – a baby sloth was born here just before Christmas, and its extended family are currently lounging around the exotic Palm House.
Go for a hike
The hills around Budapest are full of walking paths, and ramblers who reach the top are rewarded with unbeatable panoramic views. Many hikes in the Buda Hills come complete with man-made lookout tours, to extend the view even higher. Make sure to bring some water with you, because the Hungarians like their trails to go straight up the slope – it’s quite a work-out! Check out a list of six hikes in and around Budapest here.
Ride the Ferris Wheel of Budapest
The Ferris Wheel in downtown Budapest contains 42 cabins and reaches a height of 65 metres, affording views of Deák tér, Andrássy út, the Basilica and the Buda hills beyond. Open from mid-morning to midnight – even later at weekends – this is a fun attraction which doesn’t put you in the presence of too many strangers! Tickets can be bought on the spot.
Watch the sun set from Citadella
Set atop Gellért Hill, it’s easy to spot Lady Liberty from most points in Budapest. Couples canoodle here for their wedding photos, and it’s not hard to see why – the view of the Danube is something special. During the day, this point is bustling with visitors, but as dinner calls the tourists away, this is the ideal vantage point to watch the golden glow of sunset. Take bus 27 to access the top or trek up by foot if you’re hardy enough!