Vibrant leaves, refreshingly crisp air and cozy comfort foods are just some of the reasons why we love fall and particularly why we love fall in Budapest. If you’re planning a fall getaway to Hungary’s vibrant capital city, you won’t be disappointed. Here are some of our favorite fall-centric activities that will make you fall in love with Budapest, too.
1. Savor the Harvest Season with Hungarian Wine Tastings
Hungarian gastronomy owes a lot to the country’s rich wine culture. Wine cultivation spans across 93,000 acres in Hungary and provides everything from volcanic whites and smoky reds to the famed sweet Tokaji. While you’re here be sure to check out some of the revered wineries in Hungarian wine country. If you have limited time in Budapest, you can still enjoy a sommelier-led wine tasting of eight different wines paired with local artisan cheeses and charcuteries.
Photo: Budapest Local
2. Enjoy an Underground Cave Adventure Beneath the City
As you walk along the streets of Budapest you might not realize it but underneath you lies another world made up of more than 170 natural caves that also provide the hot springs for the city’s famed thermal baths. There are three protected caves that are open to visitors: Castle Cave, Pál-völgyi Cave (the longest caves in Buda Hills) and Szemlő Mountain Cave. As you wander, serpentine and crawl your way through these underground adventures you’ll hear stories about WWII, as well as tales of buried treasure and ghostly hauntings.
Photo: Pál-völgyi Cave
3. Take a Warm, Relaxing Soak in the Thermal Baths
With more than 120 thermal springs, Budapest certainly earned the nickname the “City of Baths”. Discover the beautiful Art Nouveau architecture of Gellért Baths in Buda, stay up ‘til 4am on Friday or Saturday and soak in Rudas’ rooftop thermal bath while enjoying the twinkling lights of Pest or head to the famous Széchenyi outdoor thermal pools in Pest in the City Park. You’ll leave feeling as renewed and invigorated as a brisk fall day.
The central pool at Gellért Bath. Photo: Gellért Baths
4. Hike up Gellért Hill for Gorgeous Panoramic Views of the City
Gellért Hill is true #fallfoliage goals, so if you enjoy hiking you’ll want to head across Elizabeth Bridge towards Buda. The bronze statue of St. Gellért hovering above the trees near the 235-meter-high hill is difficult to miss. Near the statue you’ll find a set of stairs, which will lead you up a winding trail that takes about 20 minutes. At the end of the trail you’ll be handsomely rewarded with amazing bird’s eye views of the city. As you might imagine, sunrise and sunset are spectacular times to visit Gellért Hill; however, you can’t go wrong at any time of the day.
Photo: Thermal Margaret Island Health Spa Hotel
5. Kick Back with a Picnic on Margaret Island
Contrary to what you might think, Budapest gets some unseasonably warm weather during the fall season. Why not take full advantage by sitting outside and soaking up those warm sunny rays? Get your dose of vitamin D and get out of the bustling city and head to Margaret Island, where buildings are replaced with promenades, gardens and lush spots to have a picnic. On the island you’ll also find the ruins of a medieval convent. For active travelers looking to boost their endorphins, you’ll also find a 5.8-km running track that borders the entire island. And if you’re looking for a truly relaxing experience, visit the wellness section of the Thermal Margaret Island Health Spa Hotel.
Photo: Thermal Margaret Island Health Spa Hotel
6. Experience Local Delicacies at Fall Food Festivals
September welcomes another glorious harvest season for Hungary, which means it’s time to enjoy some wine. The Budapest Wine Festival occurs each year in the beginning of September at Buda Castle. Sample wines from the country’s 22 different wine regions while taking in breathtaking views of the Castle District, the Chain Bridge and Pest. Throughout the month of October, you’ll also find the Kürtoskalács Festival at Vajdahunyad Castle (a festival dedicated to the popular street sweet, chimney cakes) and the Sausage Festival at Hungarian Railway Museum Park.
Photo: Kürtöskalács Fesztivál
7. Stroll Through the Hauntingly Beautiful Fiumei Cemetery
Fiumei Cemetery (formerly known as Kerepesi Cemetery) is a hidden gem within the city and the final resting place for many of Hungary’s most influential leaders, artists, politicians and writers. The intricately detailed gravestones, beautiful mosaics and impressive mausoleums will speak to your inner taphophile. Fiumei Cemetery also offers free guided tours. Enjoy a peaceful walk through the fall leaves while also learning about Hungary’s rich history, and if you’re just lucky enough to be in Budapest on All Saints Day (November 1st) head to Fiumei once the sun goes down. The cemetery will be aglow with thousands of flickering candles placed by relatives and visitors paying their respects.
Photo: Fiumei Cemetery
8. Be Seduced by Sweets at Hungarian Confectioneries
After a day of traipsing the cobblestone streets of Buda, hiking the hills or just wandering around the city center, afternoons are the perfect time to stop and enjoy a little pick-me-up. If your sweet tooth beckons, it’s in the right place. Home of Dobos and Eszterházy tortas, Somlói Galuska and Flódni, Hungary knows dessert. Enjoy coffee and sweets at popular confectioneries such as Café Gerbeaud, Auguszt Confectionery and Ruszwurm (the oldest confectionary in Hungary). If you want to learn more about the coffee culture in Budapest and the delicious sweets, make sure you sign up for a Sweet & Coffeehouse Walk.
FEB7 cake at Auguszt. Photo: Budapest Local
9. Immerse Yourself in Nature at Hungary’s First Botanical Garden
Head to the corner of Korányi Sándor Street and Illés Street in District 8 where you’ll enjoy a tranquil walk through ELTE Füveészkert, the country’s oldest botanical garden that dates back to 1771. Open daily from 9am to 5pm throughout most of the fall, this 3-acre garden is managed by Eötvös Lóránd University and contains over 12,000 different species of plant including orchids, water lilies, cacti and a Chinese gingko that is more than 150 years old. The botanical gardens also host an annual Cherry Blossom Festival every April.