7 best museums in Budapest

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7 Best Museums in Budapest
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Often referred to as the Queen of the Danube and the City of Spas, you might be surprised to hear that Budapest is also a city of museums, with upwards of 60 on offer.

And Budapest’s museums range from the sublime to the ridiculous. You can spend the morning learning all about the capital’s long, fascinating and often tragic history and the afternoon playing pinball and taking silly selfies. Budapest has a museum for everyone!

Read on for our definitive list of seven of the best museums in Budapest.

1. Hungarian National Museum

The grand Hungarian National Museum is undoubtedly one of Budapest’s best museums.

No, you haven’t accidentally landed in Athens! While it’s true that this Neoclassical building’s grand columns and pointy pediment are reminiscent of ancient Greek temples, this building is all Budapest, baby!

Founded in 1802, the Hungarian National Museum is the biggest, oldest and best-known museum in the country. Many would agree that this brain-expanding behemoth is one of the Budapest’s best museums.

Its vast collection focuses on Hungarian people and their history. Marvel at splendidly singular items, such as a piano that once belonged to Beethoven; glasses that belonged to Imre Nagy (the leader of the Hungarian revolution who was secretly tried, found guilty and hung in June 1958); and countless books, medals and works of art that belonged to Count Ferenc Széchényi, a Hungarian aristocrat and the donor of many of this museum’s artefacts.

There are also some pretty gardens where you can sit, admire the building’s façade and contemplate everything you’ve just learned about this captivating country.

The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 to 18:00 and costs 2900 Hungarian Forints, approximately €7.50.

2. Museum of Fine Arts

The Museum of Fine Arts is to art what the Hungarian National Museum is to history

The Museum of Fine Arts is to art what the Hungarian National Museum is to history

Next up is another fine museum in a fine building: the Museum of Fine Arts. It’s situated in Heroes Square, at the top end of the elegant Andrassy Avenue. Known as the “Champs Elysee of Budapest,” this bourgeois boulevard is one of the main areas to admire Budapest’s opulent Belle Époque architecture. And this handsome building fits right in with its plush surroundings.

The Museum of Fine Arts is to art what the Hungarian National Museum is to history. Its collection of thousands of works of art spans centuries, from prehistory to the present day, and ensures that it regularly features on lists of the best museums in Budapest.

Art lovers among you will while away a very pleasant afternoon ogling thousands of international masterpieces by the likes of Raphael, Van Dyck, El Greco and Constable. The museum also houses an impressive Egyptian collection, including 25 coffins with real mummies inside!

This great gallery is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 to 17:00, and you can book tickets on their website.

3. House of Terror Museum

Learn all about Hungary’s two fascist regimes at the House of Terror Museum.

Next on our list is another of Budapest’s historic buildings. This museum was a true house of terror long before it was given its terrifying alias. In a previous life, the spine-chilling site was used by the two terror regimes that tore Hungary apart.

On the gruelling tour, you’ll learn about the Nazi-backed Arrow Cross party and their fascist regime. The far-right Hungarian party was in power from the 15th of October 1944 to the 28th of March 1945. Despite their relatively short rule, the regime managed to devastate the lives of thousands, murdering between 10,000 and 15,000 Hungarian Jews.

Just over a decade later, the eerie building was used as a Soviet headquarters by the AVH, the brutal secret police who were in power during the 45 years of Soviet rule in Hungary.

This is a sobering tour of a building where the worst of atrocities took place. Many were detained, tortured and killed within its walls. We highly recommend a visit to learn about this important part of Hungary’s history and how ordinary citizens suffered during that time.

The museum’s opening hours are Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 to 18:00.

4. Budapest Pinball Museum

The Budapest Pinball Museum is one the city’s best museums for kids.

There’s a good chance that you’ll feel in need of a bit of light relief after the harrowing House of Terror. Where better than the Budapest Pinball Museum to ping and zing all your woes away? This retro homage to the humble 80s arcade game is, rather cutely, called the Flippermúzeum in Hungarian.

And what exactly will you see here? Over 160 classic pinball and arcade machines! Relive your inner 80s child, delighting in the sights, sounds and colours of these “time machines.” Have a go on all kinds of “flippers” from throughout the decades as well as a whole host of other vintage videogames such as Pacman, Frogger and Space Invaders.

This hidden gem is a treat for kids, grownups and pinball wizards! Don’t worry about bringing loose change to play with – you pay the entrance fee of 4200 Hungarian Forints, just over €10, and get unlimited free plays! So, limber up those thumbs and get flipping!

5. Museum of Sweets and Selfies

Take selfies to your heart’s delight at the Museum of Sweets and Selfies.

Another one for all the family, the Museum of Sweets and Selfies does what it says on the tin. Make sure your phone is fully juiced up, as you’ll be taking the sweetest of selfies in the 11 different rooms, tailor-made for snapping a snazzy new profile pic.

You’ll be spoilt for choice for super cute backdrops. Which will you choose? Riding a unicorn? Bathing in sprinkles? Swinging on a banana? The sets are fun and original, and the whole family will enjoy taking part in the candy-coated capers.

If you’re partial to a profile pic, you’re bound to agree that this is one of the best museums in Budapest. You can rock up to this marvellous museum any day of the week, and it’s open from 10:00 to 19:00.

6. House of Unicum

Try out Hungary’s national drink at the House of Unicum.

Had your fill of sugary escapades? At our next museum, you’ll make the acquaintance of a bitter aperitif.

Unicum is Hungary’s national drink. Don’t expect to be able to re-create this exotic libation at home – the top-secret recipe is made from a blend of over 40 herbs and spices!

This herbal liqueur dates back to 1790, when the Zwack family started producing it by ageing it in oak casks. The Zwacks were exiled during the period of communist rule in Hungary, and in 1948, they fled to the U.S. with the family recipe, leaving behind a fake list of ingredients to trick the government. The family returned to Hungary to resume production of the real deal five decades later.

On your visit, you’ll discover the gripping history of the Zwack family’s journey and their quest to retain the drink’s unique essence. You’ll also see first-hand how this precious liquid is produced in barrels and, of course, taste the digestif.

This fantastic museum is open Monday to Saturday from 10:00 to 17:00 and booking a ticket in advance is highly recommended.

7. Hospital in the Rock

The Hospital in the Rock was originally built as a secret underground hospital and bunker!

Now, we’ve nearly reached the end of our roundup of the best museums in Budapest! But don’t worry because we’ve saved a really good one for last! It’s not often that an attraction can be described as truly unique, but the Hospital in the Rock surely deserves that accolade.

This incredible site was built as a secret underground hospital and bunker! Constructed inside a natural cave system, it was used as a covert emergency medical facility during the siege of Budapest (1944-45) and reopened in 1956 when the Hungarian Revolution began.

It remained a government secret for decades. Not only is the hospital underground, but it’s also located right under the bustling Buda district. Talk about hiding in plain sight!

Today, the space has been converted into one of Budapest’s best museums. The riveting tour takes you through the hospital’s many well-preserved rooms, where you’ll see waxwork models of the staff who risked their lives every day and even a lot of the original machinery that was used.

It’s open every day from 10:00 – 19:00 and offers tours in English every hour, on the hour.

Budapest’s Brilliant Museums

So now you’ve got your Budapest museum itinerary all sorted. Of course, there is plenty more to see in this fabulous city. Now, get booking your plane tickets, plan how you’re going to get around this stunning city, and go!

 Bye for now, or as they say in Budapest, Viszontlátásra!

Frequently Asked Questions

From the top picks in our post above, many of the museums are suitable for children, especially the Budapest Pinball Museum and the Museum of Sweets and Selfies. Some other child-friendly options are

  • The lego museum, The Art of the Brick
  • The creative Fairy Tale Museum
  • The scrumptious Szamos Chocolate Museum.

Most museums in Budapest charge an entry fee. However, on Hungarian national holidays, the Hungarian National Gallery, the Hungarian National Museum, Budapest City Museum, and the Museum of Fine Arts are free. Also, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Hungarian National Gallery and the Hungarian National Museum are all free on the third Saturday of every month.

The museums which have the most impressive and extensive collections are generally considered to be

  • The Hungarian National Museum,
  • The Hungarian National Gallery
  • The Museum of Fine Arts

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