Written by John Morris, for WheelchairTravel.org , May 24, 2023
Introduction to Wheelchair Accessible Budapest
The City of Budapest was formed in 1873 with the unification of the towns of Buda, Óbuda and Pest, recognized then as the co-capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Today, Budapest is the capital city of Hungary and is among the European Union’s 10 largest cities by population. Bisected by the Danube River, the city is recognized as being two cities in one, with the hilly and quiet Buda to the west, and the largely flat, high-action Pest to the east of the river.
Tourists will find themselves drawn to both Buda and Pest, however most choose to stay on the Pest side of the river. Disabled visitors will find the Pest side of the city much friendlier to wheelchair and scooter use, though neither side offers a particularly high level of accessibility. In reflecting on my own trip to Budapest as a wheelchair user, it reminded me of cities like Bucharest, Romania and Prague, Czech Republic — completely manageable for wheelchair users, though certainly not as accessible as one would like. Using this guide to wheelchair accessible Budapest, you’ll learn about the city’s public transportation system, wheelchair taxis, accessible hotel rooms and more — enough information to plan your own trip to the city known as the Queen of the Danube.
Attractions & Sights – 7 Wheelchair Accessible Things to Do in Budapest, Hungary
Budapest’s top attractions can be explored in a couple of days and many are wheelchair accessible. Some historic church buildings, businesses and many restaurants lack barrier-free entry, but the majority of the most celebrated tourist sites do provide some level of access.
1. Heroes’ Square
Heroes’ Square is one of Budapest’s most iconic public squares, home to the Millennium Monument and flanked by the Museum of Fine Arts and the Budapest Hall of Art.
The Millennium Monument was constructed in 1896, the year the city’s first subway line opened, to honor the one thousand year anniversary of the founding of the Hungarian state. The monument features multiple statues representing important figures in Hungarian history, primarily kings. The central column is topped with a statue of the Archangel Gabriel, who holds the Hungarian Holy Crown.
The square has become an important cultural gathering place, and the square itself is wheelchair accessible. Wheelchair users should experience no difficulty in rolling over the paving stones, even though many are uneven.
2. Buda Castle
Palace to the Hungarian kings for centuries, Buda Castle traces its history to 1265 although the majority of the present complex was constructed in the 18th century. Today, the castle is no longer a functioning royal palace, and is instead home to the Budapest Historical Museum, Hungarian National Gallery, St. Stephen’s Hall and the National Széchényi Library.
Located on the western side of the Danube River, Buda Castle is an important fixture in the section of Budapest that is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Information on visiting the institutions housed within the castle complex is available via their individual websites:
Much of the castle was rebuilt and restored following World War II, and the interior no longer features the royal trappings. Although you won’t experience a true palace tour at the castle, a visit is still rewarding with such a variety of exhibits and Hungarian cultural heritage on display there.
3. Matthias Church
The Church of the Assumption of the Buda Castle or “Matthias Church” is located in Holy Trinity Square at the heart of the Buda Castle District. The Gothic-style church was constructed in the 14th century, and is commonly used name honors King Matthias I, who ruled Hungary and Croatia from 1458 to 1490.
The church hosted two coronations — the first in 1848 for Franz Joseph I, Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary, and the second in 1916 for Charles IV, the last Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary, who was deposed following the end of the First World War. The church’s long history is clearly displayed in the religious artwork, altarpieces and statues on display.
Wheelchair access to the church and sanctuary is possible via a barrier-free entrance on the right side of the church. For more information, visit the Matthias Church website.
4. Central Market Hall
Opened in 1897 and sizing up at more than 100,000 square feet, the Great Market Hall is the oldest and largest indoor market in Budapest.
The market’s three levels offer a variety of goods, with stalls on the ground floor selling the most popular products of meat, produce, spices, wine and spirits. The basement level features fish and vegetables, while the second floor is home to restaurants/eateries and tourist souvenirs.
Located just two blocks from the wheelchair accessible Fővám tér metro station (M4 line), a visit to the market is convenient and should be on every tourist’s list of things to do in Budapest. There is something for everyone, from the hall’s incredible architecture to the local food vendors and the comforting buzz of a busy marketplace. Additional information can be found on the Central Market Hall website.