Best places to photograph Budapest in Hungary
Budapest is exciting, bizarre and filled with so many colorful and unusual places to explore on food or by public transportation. You will find a multitude of beautiful areas around the city that are very traditional and filled with gorgeous architecture and design. Photographing Budapest is fun and relatively easy to maneuver in the compact historic district, which makes all the main attractions and different neighborhoods easy to get to and explore on foot. There are many photogenic attractions to consider: food venues and markets, squares filled with impressive architecture, historic monuments and quirky areas of the city to explore and keep your camera buzzing while you tour around. To save you some time in visiting Budapest, I will highlight some of my favorite and places to photograph Budapest. Get your camera ready to shoot because you will definitely find plenty of photo opportunities to capture in and around the capital.
Here’s quick guide of the best places to photograph Budapest
Base of Matthias church and Fisherman’s Bastion
The Buda side of the city has so many magnificent attractions and historic landmarks to visit and spend a day or more if you have extra time. when you start from the bottom of Buda Castle hill, you will get some nice uphill views to the ramparts and historical sites at Buda Castle, Matthias church and the Fisherman’s Bastion. It’s nice to walk up slowly so you can capture some of the architectural splendor of these impressive monuments and ramparts while walking uphill. On the way up are some wonderful views framed views of the city with lots of greenery, peek-a-boo views to different bridges and shoreline along with details of the castle walls above.
Tip – If you prefer not to climb the trails to the ramparts and main areas of Buda Castle hill, you can easily take the Buda Castle funicular or the Castle bus: no. 16 and 16A from the base which takes you directly to the main tourist areas on top.
Views of Pest from the Fisherman’s Bastion at Buda
When you get to the top of Buda Castle and the Fisherman’s Bastion, you will be rewarded with panoramic views of the entire city and the Danube river. Photo spots to concentrate on would be Parliament, the Margaret Bridge, Chain Bridge and the other successive bridges along the Danube river with the scenic landscape and city details below. Even on dull grey days like the day I visited, you’ll still get some wonderful views – I would just cut most of the grey skies and include more frontal frame views of the city along with the bridges.
You never know what you’ll discover walking around Fisherman’s Bastion
Tip – if you go to the large tower on the far left of the Fisherman’s Bastion, there is a restaurant/bar with a large upstairs balcony where you can have a meal or visit for a nicer views of the city and ramparts of Buda Castle from above. This music combo group below typically performs on weekends if you want to hear them play and even do a dance if you’re in the mood.
Detail studies and views of Budapest parliament
Exploring Buda Castle Hill
Outside of Fisherman’s Bastion and Matthias church, there are many attractions worth visiting on Buda Castle Hill, this includes: Trinity Square, The Royal Palace and the Hungarian National Gallery, Labyrinths of Buda Castle, the National Széchenyi Library, and the President’s palace(Sandor palace). All of these locations offer fantastic photo opportunities along with more scenic views of the Danube river and the Pest side. While exploring the cobble stone streets around Trinity square, you will find unique buildings and architectural details hosting a variety of shops, galleries, bars and local restaurants.
Tip – for a complete guide of attractions and places to visit at Buda Castle hill, check out the Budapest by locals site here.
A view of Matthias church and the baroque Trinity statue
Interior of Matthias church
Fascinating painted walls and patterns of Matthias church
Before you start to explore the area around Matthias church, make sure to purchase a ticket for a reserve time for entering the church and check out all the gorgeous interior details which is a must see attraction. There are docent tours that you can also take part of the understand the history and significance of the church on Buda Castle hill.
Tip – make sure you walk up to the upper galleries of the church to see the beautiful painted columns and ceilings, stained glass and other unusual architectural details that are fun to capture with your camera.
Gellert Hill at Buda
Close to Buda Castle on a separate hill is Gellert Hill with the Bronze Gellert monument (Hungary’s famous saint) sitting proudly at the peak. You will get the same spectacular views to the entire city below along with views looking directly to Buda castle, Matthias church and the Fisherman’s Bastion. At the base of the hill sits one of the celebrated baths called the Gellert baths which is also worth a visit for the beautiful interiors thermal pools that are fun to explore and photograph.
Tip – From Gellert Hill, you can take some wonderful pictures of the many bridges that span the Danube river. The Elisabeth bridge leading to the Pest side is a nice bridge to capture from this hill on the way up to the Gellert monument. Or below is another bridge you can photograph from Gellert Hill, this is the Chain bridge with the basilica of St. Stephens in the background.
Views of the Chain bridge and Pest from Gellert Hill
Danube promenade at Budapest
The Danube riverfront promenade is where you want to explore the area for some lovely landscapes and city skyline from the Buda or Pest side. On this long promenade, you can visit a variety of interesting monuments and views that you can frame an easy postcard photo worthy moment. Take for an example the bronze shoes on the steps of the Danube which reflects the Jewish mass deportation with the Nazi occupation of Hungary, this spot of bronze shoes gives you a different story about the Jews living in this once vibrant Jewish filled city and perhaps their last view of the Danube and Budapest. If you stay along the waterfront area for sunset and later into the night when the monuments are lit up then, you will get some fantastic photo captures of this lovely landscape with city views from twilight to evening.
Sunset views of Buda Hill
Tip – for perfect sunset views of Budapest, go late afternoon along the shoreline on the Pest side along the Danube promenade (the area around the bronze shoes is ideal but a bit of a walk). On a clear day, you will be able to catch some magnificent sunsets over Buda castle hill like the image below. Then stay a little longer to catch the hillsides and shoreline with most of the monuments lit up for the night.
The monuments lit up on the Buda side at night
St. Stephen’s Square and Basilica
The large square around St. Stephen’s basilica is a fantastic area to explore the cathedral and the surrounding neighborhood which is filled with stunning architecture that spans many genres of the city’s classical periods. It’s a fun area to explore and take in some of the beautiful buildings and architectural details, outdoor cafés and street scenes around the square. You can enter the cathedral but no tripods are allowed inside. Look for a solid surface or pew bench as a brace to take a photo of the interior. Or you can bump up your ISO settings and keep your hands steady for a clear shot of the beautiful altar and other chapels in the cathedral.
Tip – visit this area again at night and you will get some wonderful illuminated shots of the square, cathedral and other street scenes. There are music programs offered at night for a nominal fee.
Budapest central market
The ornate brick structure that houses the central market on the Pest side is definitely worth a visit for visitors that want to see and photograph colorful stalls filled with beautiful arrangements of produce, meats, seafood and other specialty foods from the area. You can easily take pictures with the vendors, but do ask permission if you want to include them in your photography of the market. This is a great place to try some of the specialty food or even take something to snack on for later.
Tip – go to the upper level to take photographs of the market below or to take detailed shots of the glass framework or the mostly souvenir stands on the 2nd floor.
Budapest thermal baths
Called the “City of Spas”, Budapest has more spas and medicinal baths than any other capital in the world. Used by the early Romans and then expanded by the Ottoman empire, the thermal baths at Budapest are a must visit experience. The only difficulty would be deciding which of the public or private spas to choose from. One of the largest and grandest spas is the Széchenyi Thermal Bath which was the first public bath established in Pest. There are many outdoor pools to choose from and a variety of ornate interior pools that are fun to explore the different rooms, saunas, steam rooms and hot to cold pools.
Tip – It is difficult to bring a camera with you to all the thermal pools without cold stares or accidentally dropping your camera. The best option would be to take a few pictures outside the pool areas before you head inside to the locker room. Or you can also take your cell phone and take a few photographs of the interior pools while you are just scouting the pools and then go back to the locker to store your phone so you can enjoy the pools without worry about losing anything.
Public squares of Budapest
There are many wonderful public squares throughout Budapest that are a nice place to visit and to photograph anything interesting that is spontaneously happening. Most of them have beautiful fountains, statuary and attractive architecture surrounding the historic squares with unique features that you can capture. My top pics of photogenic squares include St. Stephen’s Square with the main cathedral, Trinity Square on the Buda side, Heroes’ Square with the Millennium Monument and the bronze statuary, and Vorosmarty Square where you will find regular events and outdoor markets with specialty goods to check out along with local street food vendors. For a list of the most popular and lively squares to visit in Budapest check out this list of public squares from Go To Hungary.
Outdoor markets and street food at Vorosmarty Square
Inner Ring and Vaci Street
The main pedestrian promenade on Vaci Street is where you will find all the main shopping and designer boutiques inside the Inner ring of Budapest. Outside of shopping, you can see some beautiful architecture and enjoy the street scenes of the city while exploring some of the popular squares and other historic landmarks in the area.
Vaci promenade at night
The best place to photograph the stunning architecture of Budapest Parliament is from the Buda side typically around Fisherman’s Bastion with views above to the Danube and the majestic Parliament building. If you want to visit Parliament, you can make reservations to tour the interiors of the government building which are impressive and includes visits to the grand staircase, the upper house halls, coronation jewels in the Dome hall and a variety of other fascinating rooms on the tour. You can check out the details and reservation information on the Hungarian Parliament tour site here.
I hope that this has inspired you for exploring some of these wonderful attractions and landmarks around Budapest, Hungary. Have you been to some of these places or know some other interesting places to explore and photograph? Please do share them in the comments section below. If you enjoyed the tour of Budapest, please check out my night tour of Budapest here.
Best places to photograph
If you enjoyed this post, please check out my other best places to photograph series from around the world.
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