During the summer months, sunset takes place around 8 pm in Budapest, Hungary. Even though you may be exhausted following a long day of exploring the expansive, ever-impressive city of Budapest, be sure to stay out after dark at least once during your visit to this beautiful capital city. During the day, the sunlight on these structures allows you to see these buildings in all of their detailed glory. Yet when the sun dips below the horizon and the strategically placed up-lighting comes on, the buildings and the city as a whole take on new and magical dimension. So, if you’re wondering about what to do in Budapest at night, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve got 3 great ideas for you, along with a few bonus options if you stick around to the end of the post!
3 Things to Do in Budapest at Night
Sunset Cruise to Experience Budapest by Night
Going on a Danube river cruise is one of the best things to do in Budapest at night. Sunset is the perfect time of day to have access to the best of both lights: twilight and after dark.
The particular Budapest evening boat tour we took left the dock at 8:15 pm and the lighting couldn’t have been better! Pink hues started to appear in the sky as the lights on buildings and bridges flickered to life all around us. The lights turn on around sunset (8 pm in the summer) and stay on until midnight or later (depending on the building).
The scenic cruises takes passengers under 4 of the Budapest bridges situated over the Danube, including the Liberty Bridge (pictured below).
Probably the most famous bridge, and Budapest’s first, is Chain Bridge (pictured below). It’s a truly remarkable structure from any angle and it’s a whole new experience to cruise calmly beneath it. Seeing the Budapest Chain Bridge at night is a sight to remember.
Our particular boat tour provided a film and audio commentary throughout the duration of the cruise, however, if we’re being honest, we didn’t pay one bit of attention to it. We had our eyes glued to the twinkling Budapest lights and our fingers glued to the shutter buttons of our cameras. We did, however, enjoy the beverage of choice (champagne, wine, beer, soft drinks, or mineral water) included in the ticket price. Really want to step up the level of romance for your visit to Budapest? Check out this 5-star Full-Day Romantic Spa and Dinner Cruise package! Or take to the skies and see the sights from a whole new perspective on this Romantic Sunset AirCruise!
There are a variety of evening and nighttime cruises available, so you’re bound to find something that meets your specific desires and budget – 1-Hour Sightseeing Cruise with Cocktail | 1.5-Hour Budapest Night Cruise w/ Buffet Dinner, Drink, and Live Hungarian Folk Music | 2.5-Hour 4-Course Candlelit Dinner Cruise with Live Music | Organ Concert in the St. Stephen’s Basilica & Night Cruise | Szechenyi Thermal Bath & Evening Danube Cruise & Combo Tour
The full moon shining behind the Budapest Parliament at night was just perfect. This impressive building combines Gothic Revival and Renaissance Revival styles creating one of the most magnificent pieces of architecture we’ve seen throughout our travels in Europe. TIP: To get great night time shots, you’ll want to have a good camera that allows you to manipulate ISO, aperture, and shutter speed. Though not impossible, it’s difficult to get good night time images with a cell phone camera. Here’s a nice beginner DSLR camera that is great for travel photography. It comes with two interchangeable lenses for both wide and zoomed-in shots. We also highly recommend you use a tri-pod when capturing night time images. We absolutely love our Manfrotto travel tri-pod, which folds up nice and compact perfect for travel! Though, keep in mind, a tri-pod may not be feasible on a Budapest sunset cruise due to the vibration and rocking of the boat.
On the bank opposite the Danube from the Budapest Parliament Building sits Buda Castle. It is also enormous in size, but not quite as majestic in stature. The castle sits atop Várhegy (Castle Hill) and glows royally in the Budapest night skyline.
A sunset cruise was awesome because we got to experience the magic of sunset, then watch Budapest transform into a twinkling city of gold!
WATCH NOW: Budapest at Night
Walk Along the Danube at Night in Budapest
Because many of the city’s main attractions lie along the Danube, it should come as no shocker that THE best way to enjoy Budapest at night is to take a stroll along the river front. Not only do the Budapest buildings along the Danube light up, but the entire river glows as the lights reflect on the water. It’s truly GLAMOROUS!
We could not figure out the occasion, but as we were standing along the river’s edge snapping pictures of Chain Bridge, fireworks began shooting off nearby. What a special treat that only added to the wonderful ambiance of this lovely Budapest evening.
We simply couldn’t get enough of the Parliament Building, so we took a tiny detour from our river walk to visit and photograph this remarkable building.
Looking much like swirling pieces of golden paper, flocks of birds drifted over the lights of Parliament, just as they do across the river at Buda Castle.
Another wonderful European city to explore after dark is Ghent, Belgium. Ghent Illuminated is a self-guided walking tour that takes you past the city’s most stunning landmark buildings. If your trip to Europe also includes visit to Ghent, you’ll definitely want to check out this post for details about the city’s nighttime walking tour.
Enjoy the Budapest Night at a Ruin Bar
Before visiting Budapest, we had never heard of a ruin bar, but quickly came to admire the concept. These pubs are abandoned buildings and derelict spaces transformed into an eclectic meeting place where you can enjoy a cheap beer or cocktail. Since we only learned of their existence on our last night in Budapest, we only had the opportunity to explore one, so we went to where it all started- Szimpla Kert.
Despite its inclusion in this post about how to best experience Budapest by night, you can also visit ruin bars during the day. Our guess would be that they are probably best visited after the sun goes down. The eclectic and colorful ambiance is like something we haven’t experienced before. The ruin bars are a fun way to end the perfect Budapest night!
Mismatched furniture, colorful lights, unique art work, and funky decor (including an old bathtub and a Trabant car) adorn these multi-room, multi-floor structures.
Beer is cheap and with multiple taps situated throughout, there’s plenty to choose from. Cocktails and wine are also available. So, no matter your drink preference, there’s something for everyone!
Szimpla Kert also has a few places where you can grab a bite to eat for when your hunger strikes. Perfect for a late night snack!
Want more ways to enjoy a Budapest night?! Dine with Locals, attend a 1.5-Hour Hungarian Folk Performance, or join in on a 3-Hour Evening Bike Tour. There is certainly no shortage of things to do in Budapest at night! For even more ideas on things to do in Budapest, no matter the time of day, check out our post – The Very Best of Buda and Pest!
We’d like to thank the Budapest Tourism Board for sponsoring our sunset cruise.