Buda Castle: tickets, tours, tips...

The Buda Castle and the surrounding neighborhood will be essential visits during your trip to Budapest. If you want to know what you can see and how to do it, here I leave you all the information you need.

Joaquín Montaño

Joaquín Montaño

8 min read

Buda Castle: tickets, tours, tips...

Buda Castle | ©Daniel Edwins

One of the things that catches your attention when you are studying what to see in Budapest is its division into two large areas: Pest and Buda. In the case of the second sector no one can miss the complex that forms the so-called Buda Castle.

The complex itself does not require the payment of an entrance fee, although they are needed to enter the different sites that are inside such as the National Gallery and the Museum of History of Budapest, among others. To get to know this area in the best possible way, I recommend you to hire a guided tour around the Buda Castle.

Tickets in the Buda Castle complex

Entrance to the National Gallery of Hungary| ©alex.ch
Entrance to the National Gallery of Hungary| ©alex.ch

The gardens, the main courtyard and the surroundings of the Buda Castle are free, so you can wander around for as long as you like. However, the three wings of the main building house different institutions that do require an entrance fee for you to visit them.

You can get to know the Buda Castle district by hiring a guided tour of Budapest or by means of a tourist pass. In that case, I recommend you to buy the Budapest Card, which includes tickets to several of the interior buildings.

I leave you information about the attractions that, in my opinion, you can not miss if you get to visit the castle and its surroundings:

  • Hungarian National Gallery: about 9 € for the permanent exhibitions, with a 50% discount for EU youth between 6 and 26 years old, as well as for seniors over 62 years old.
  • Budapest History Museum: about 6.5 € per person, with 50 € discount for young people and seniors.
  • Széchenyi National Library: free admission.
  • Buda Labyrinth: just over €8 for adults. Students, teachers and pensioners pay about 6.80 € and children under 12 pay only 1.6 €. Budapest Card holders pay about 6,20 € for the entrance fee.

Book a tour of the surroundings of the Buda Castle

The best option: a guided tour of the castle and its neighborhood.

View from the Buda Castle| ©Chris Yunker
View from the Buda Castle| ©Chris Yunker

The best way to make the most of the visit to the Buda Castle and the surrounding neighborhood is to book a guided tour of Budapest and visit the area. The main advantage of this option is the presence of an expert guide who will explain the history of the complex, as well as its narrow cobbled streets that surround it. You will feel like you have traveled back in time to the Middle Ages.

These tours usually cover the entire Castle complex, although entrance fees to the museums and different buildings are not normally included.

  • Duration and price: the tour usually lasts about 2 hours and costs from about 48 €. It starts at the Buda Castle itself and usually also runs through the streets to buildings such as the National Dance Theater and the Sandor Palace, the official residence of the Hungarian president.
  • I recommend that when choosing a tour you take into account whether it includes a visit to the Matias Church. I advise you to try to see it as it is a really impressive monument for its neo-Gothic exterior and towers.
  • Other points of interest where you usually pass during the tour are: the Fishermen's Bastion with its seven towers and the magnificent panoramic views of the Danube, Pest and Gellért hill, and the Vienna Gate, from where you can see the so-called Old Buda (Obuda), where the Romans founded the first settlement of the city.
  • The groups are very small, which makes the experience more personalized. During the journey there is usually a stop for a coffee and some of the cakes that you will have known if you have done any of the best gastronomic tours of Budapest.

Book a tour of the Buda Castle Quarter

Opening hours

Buda Castle and Danube River Cruise| ©Dennis Jarvis
Buda Castle and Danube River Cruise| ©Dennis Jarvis

In principle, both the gardens and the courtyards are open 24 hours a day. I recommend you to check if any concerts or festivals are held there, as they are usually paid.

The National Gallery is open every day with the exception of Mondays, from 10:00 to 18:00. The History Museum has the same opening hours as the gallery. In both cases, the closing time in winter is brought forward to 16:00.

If you want to visit the National Library you will have to book in advance by telephone, as it is not possible to visit it on your own.

Finally, the Buddha's Labyrinth is open every day between 9:30 and 19:30, as well as at night between 20:30 and 8:00.

Joaquín's Traveller Tip

I recommend that you always bring your camera ready to capture the beautiful views that can be seen from various points of the castle district.

Is there a tourist card for Buda Castle?

View from Buda Castle| ©Chris Yunker
View from Buda Castle| ©Chris Yunker

To save money during your visit to the Buda Castle (and other places in the city) you can buy the Budapest Card.

There are three different modalities of this card that allows you to enter for free or with important discounts to the main attractions of the city. Thus, you can choose between a card for 24, 48 or 72 hours, with a price ranging from approximately 23 € to 45 €.

To calculate whether you should buy it, you not only have to take into account the price of each museum, but also the price of public transport (included in the card) and a free thermal bath.

Buy the Budapest Card.

Visit the exterior of the Buda Castle

Interior of the Buda Castle| ©damian entwistle
Interior of the Buda Castle| ©damian entwistle

The first thing to know is what you can visit in the Buda Castle, also known as the Royal Palace. Given its history, this castle has suffered attacks that meant the destruction of much of its structure, although it has always been rebuilt every time this happened.

Today, the exterior of the castle is quite austere, especially when compared to the exuberance of the decorations inside and are able to make the visitor travel back in time to its heyday.

The first thing that stands out is its position within the city: on a hill about 300 meters high with stunning views of the Danube.

The main building, the castle itself or Royal Palace (so named for having been the residence of the Magyar kings for a time) consists of several wings built around the so-called Lion's Courtyard.

The vast majority of tours and individual visitors usually enter the grounds through St. George's Square, as this is where the funicular stop that connects the hill to the Chain Bridge and thus to Pest is located.

To enter you have to go through a beautifully ornate gate dating from the early 20th century. Next to it you will see a bronze statue of a bird on a pedestal, the symbol of the Kingdom of Hungary.

Book a tour around the castle

Which buildings to see inside the Buda Castle

National Library in Buda Castle| ©Daniel Edwins
National Library in Buda Castle| ©Daniel Edwins
  • Lion's Courtyard: it is worth walking through this courtyard to see the exterior of the various museums that are now housed in the castle.
  • National Gallery: this great museum occupies no less than four of the wings into which the palace is divided. Here you can see the works of Hungarian artists since the Middle Ages. One of its most interesting rooms is the former throne room.
  • National Library: opposite the gallery is the wing of the palace that occupies the National Library, founded no less than in the early 800. It is said that today contains at least one copy of all the books published in the country.
  • Museum of History of Budapest: the last part of the castle is occupied by the Museum of History of the city. Inside you can learn the history of the Hungarian capital from prehistoric to modern times. If you go inside, I recommend you not to miss the Gothic Chapel and the Hall of Arms.

Joaquín's Traveller Tip

If you go in winter and, as it happened to me, it has snowed, I recommend you to try a good mulled wine from one of the stalls that are installed in the courtyard. Nothing better to warm up a bit before continuing with the visit.

Visit the surroundings of the Buda Castle

Matthias Church| ©bvi4092
Matthias Church| ©bvi4092

When we talk about visiting the Buda Castle, we usually include the neighborhood around it. In its streets, really interesting, you will see some of the most famous monuments of the city, without forgetting the great views of the Danube that can be seen from some of its viewpoints.

  • Fishermen's Bastion: possibly there is no better place to see the whole city from above. The building was built on an ancient fortress and you can admire seven towers symbolizing the seven chiefs of the Magyar tribes. You will also see a large statue of St. Stephen.
  • Matthias Church: built in the thirteenth century in Gothic style, the continuous renovations have not made it lose any of its great prestige. Its interior is divided into three naves, in which the decorations of the chapels stand out. Several Hungarian kings were crowned in this temple and, if you are lucky, you may be able to attend one of the concerts that are held there today.
  • Vienna Gate Square: it is located in the upper part of the Buda Castle district. Formerly it was the place where the market was held and today you can see a beautiful gate with a rich ornamentation.
  • Buda Labyrinth: one of the great attractions of the area is this labyrinth of caves and natural tunnels that cross much of the hill. In total, there are 4 kilometers of these tunnels, although only the first kilometer can be visited. Exhibitions and guided tours are held inside the tunnels.

Joaquin's Traveller Tip

If you like contemporary history you should not miss a visit to the Museum of the Rock Hospital and Nuclear Bunker located in the tunnel system of the neighborhood.

How to get to Buda Castle

Corvinus Gate| ©Genesis Vera
Corvinus Gate| ©Genesis Vera

If you want to go to Buda Castle on your own there are several ways to get there. My recommendation is that, at least, you make the ascent or descent on foot to be able to walk calmly through the streets of the neighborhood. To do this, you can use one of the two main entrances to the Royal Palace.

The first one is reached through a decorated gate (located a few meters from the funicular station) that leads to the Habsburg Staircase. The other option is to reach the Corvinus Gate from Dísz Tér, near the Buda Labyrinth.

. This gate is easily recognizable by an ornament in the shape of a crow holding a golden ring representing Matthias Corvinus.

In addition to walking up (or down), you can also reach the Castle by the Budavári Sikló funicular. The ticket price per way is around 3,30 €, with discount if you buy the round trip. This means of transport usually operates between 7:30 a.m. and 10:00 p.m.

Finally, bus lines 16, 16A and 116 also drop you off at the Buda Castle so you can start your visit.

Book a guided tour of the Buda Castle Quarter