6 Amazing Museums in Budapest (Hungary)

Whether you like art or history, the museums in Budapest will not disappoint. From national galleries displaying the medieval history of the country to a museum dedicated to the horrors of fascism and communism, here are my top picks for the best museums to visit in Budapest.

Hungarian National Museum

Location: Múzeum krt. 14-16 | In the Palace District
Opening: Mon CLOSED, Tue-Sun 10:00 – 18:00
Website: mnm.hu/en

The Hungarian National Museum has a history that goes back over two hundred years, when in 1802, Count Ferenc Széchényi set up the notable National Széchényi Library.

One year later, the Count Széchényi’s wife would donate a mineral collection to the place, which would remove its status as a simple library and turn it into the Hungarian National Museum, a general history and natural history museum.

The current museum is a Neoclassical building, built between 1837–47 by the renowned architect Mihály Pollack, and is one of most beautiful museum buildings in Budapest.

The Hungarian National Museum currently holds six permanent exhibitions, most notably: the History of Hungary, which is divided into two parts; Between East and West, which shows the variety of people who inhabited their land; and the Coronation Mantle, which displays the garments of Hungarian kings used during their coronation.

The whole place is full of interesting things to see and is indeed a national treasure. The image above shows the famous sepulcher of György Apafi, the governor of the Küküllő county. This was the work of Elias Nicolai, who in 1635 moved to Transylvania from Upper Hungary. It is a classic piece of Hungarian Renaissance stone-carving and one of my favorite pieces in the museum.

Location: Inside Buda Castle
Opening: Mon CLOSED, Tue-Sun 10:00 – 18:00
Website: en.mng.hu/

It quickly becomes very clear to any visitor that the Royal Palace in the Buda Castle is one of the most magnificent royal residences in Europe. It dates back to the 14th century, to the reign of kings such as Matthias Corvinus. And what better place to host the Hungarian National Gallery than this magnificent palace?

When we talk about the Hungarian National Gallery, we are talking about the largest public collection documenting and presenting the evolution of arts in Hungary. Although it was earlier run as an independent institution, it moved in 1975 to the former building of the Royal Palace of Buda.

The Hungarian National Gallery currently holds six permanent exhibitions, most notably: Art in the 19th century, displaying pieces from the Age of Reforms to the Turn of the Century; Modern Times, about Hungarian Art Between 1896 and World War II​; and Shifts, showing Hungarian Art After 1945.

This museum is quite gigantic, so I would suggest you take a whole day for visiting the Buda Castle District and slowly take-in what all the museums here have to offer. Make sure to read all the commentary on the works of art you see, but feel free to direct yourself towards the sections of the museum that please you the most aesthetically or historically.

Budapest History Museum

Location: Szent György tér 2 | Inside Buda Castle
Opening: Mon CLOSED, Tue-Sun 10:00 – 18:00
Website: varmuzeum.hu/

Unlike other museums in the city, which are dedicated to the broader history of Hungary and the Hungarian people, this museum specialized in the history of the city of Budapest. The museum itself is located inside the castle, and its exhibitions are displayed in the restored halls of the medieval palace, the former castle chapel, as well as the Gothic hall.

Here you will learn how the Roman provincial center known as Aquincum successfully developed. Then, you will discover how the seat of the medieval Hungarian Kingdom thrived, and how it all perished during the wars and sieges done by the Ottomans. And finally, you will experience how Pest, Buda, and Óbuda unified and Budapest became one of the fastest-growing metropolises in Central Europe in the 1920s.

The Budapest History Museum currently holds four permanent exhibitions: Buda, the Center of the Royal Dignity, telling the history of the medieval royal palace and its royal court; the Hungarian-Anjou Coated Silk Carpentry; Budapest, Light & Shadow, telling the thousand-year history of the capital going through its highs and lows; as well as the exhibition displaying the Gothic Sculptures from the Royal Palace in Buda.

Similarly to the Hungarian National Gallery, this place is huge and requires a bit of time. So make sure to take a whole day to visit the Buda Castle district in order to patiently and successfully take in all the info it has to offer.

Panoptikum Labyrinth

Location: Úri u. 9 | Under the Castle Hill
Opening: Mon-Sun 10:00 – 19:00
Website: labirintus.eu/

Before becoming a museum in Budapest, the Panoptikum Labyrinth started as a natural cave system, half a million years ago. In the 13th century, its isolated components began to be connected by the inhabitants of surrounding villages.

It has been used ever since the Middle Ages for a variety of purposes: as a shelter, a patio, or a prison. By coming here, you will participate in underground time travel with the destinations ranging from the palaces of Sigismund of Luxemburg and Mathias I, going through mystical monuments from the time of the Turkish occupation of Hungary.

This is by far one of my favorite things to see in the Buda Castle district. Although the place is now a tourist attraction, keep in mind that it is still an actual labyrinth. That means that although you will not get lost and starve to death, you might actually lose a couple of hours inside if you do not pay attention! But do not worry, it is really amusing, especially the places which are completely deprived of light. Make sure to bring a lot of friends for extra fun.

One of the things that led me to visit this place for the first time was the fact that it held the famous Vlad the Impaler (Dracula) as a prisoner. The story says that the Hungarian king marched against the Wallachians to free Dracula from Turkish captivity, but for some unknown reason, when he reached Transylvania, the king who had previously married one of his family members oof to Dracula, dragged him off to Buda and punished him with ten years of imprisonment. I think nowadays we know why.

Hospital in the Rock

Location: Lovas út 4/c | Inside the Castle District
Opening: Mon-Fri 12:00 – 18:00, Sat 10:00 – 19:00, Sun 10:00 – 18:00
Website: sziklakorhaz.eu/en/

As we already know, the Buda Castle hill hides a series of natural caves underneath it. Due to the threat of world war, Dr. Károly Szendy, the mayor of Budapest, ordered the construction of an emergency hospital and reinforced bomb shelter under Buda Castle, with the construction beginning in 1939 and finishing in 1944. Thus, the Hospital in the Rock was born.

This hospital/shelter is now a fascinating museum that tells a lot about the tragic story of Budapest over the last century. Unfortunately, you are not allowed to take pictures inside. But in return, you can get an original souvenir from this place: the actual gas masks stored within the hospital/shelter over time.

Your visit will be divided into two parts: first, a small film will give you historical context as to why the Hospital in the Rock exists, followed by a long guided tour across the whole complex. Keep in mind that the guided tour is mandatory as the place is huge and full of details you can very easily miss if not presented by a guide.

The guided tour is segmented by time period, addressing specific rooms and tools which were essential during the developments within these specific events. It covers the Second World War, the 1856 Revolution, the Cold War, and to finalize a presentation on the dangers of the nuclear threat.

House of Terror

Location: Andrássy út 60 | Near Hunyadi Square
Opening: Mon CLOSED, Tue-Sun 10:00 – 18:00
Website: terrorhaza.hu/en/

The House of Terror museum functions both as a museum and a memorial. After going through the two faces of totalitarian terror (fascism and communism), the Hungarian people decided to erect this monument to the memory of the victims of terror, as well as to present the horrible living conditions during the periods in which terror reigned supreme.

The building itself has a horrendous history: it was used both by the Arrow Cross Party (fascists) and the ÁVH (communist secret police). So be prepared, as what you will see inside here is not for the weak-hearted. The museum has a very heavy atmosphere (probably caused both by the aesthetic of the place combined with the ominous music which permeates the whole museum).

Photography inside this Budapest museum is not allowed under any circumstance. And to be honest with you, this is one of the few places in which I honestly did not feel the need to take any pictures, both out of interest and respect.

Different from many other museums, the exhibitions begin on the second floor, chronologically starting with the fascist regime of the Arrow Cross Party. Going one floor down to the first floor, you will experience the terror caused by the communist secret police known as ÁVH. On the ground floor, you will see a massive T-55 tank inside the building, with photos of the victims of terror as background. After that, you will then reach the basement, where all the torture and interrogations happened.

Incredible Museums To Visit In Prague

Museum of Alchemists and Magicians

Location: Jánský vršek 8 | Near Prague Castle
Opening: Mon-Sun 10:00 – 20:00
Website: magisterkelley.com/

Located in a house at the Donkey by the Cradle (this weird name comes from a fresco on the building that used to display the birth of Jesus, but due to fading you can see only a donkey by the cradle now), the Museum of Alchemists and Magicians of Old Prague exhibits the story of alchemy in Prague inside the building that once belonged to illustrious alchemist Edward Kelley.

The main building has an astonishing recreation of a supposed ‘alchemic ritual’, where you can see Doctor Faustus being sucked up in the ceiling by the devil. Here you will buy tickets for the tours of the attic, that is where the fun starts.

After climbing the 60 steps of one of the oldest wooden staircases in Prague (designed by Kelley himself in the 16th century), you will get access to the laboratory of the famous alchemist.

The first room served as storage, library and waiting room for those who wish to visit the lab. Names such as Rudolf II, John Dee, and even William Shakespeare came to this place. The second room is a separate laboratory, where you can find the place where Kelley tried to create a homunculus, the furnaces which were used to try to create the philosopher’s stone, experimental animals, etc.

Museum of Ghosts and Legends

Location: Mostecká 18 | Near Charles Bridge
Opening: Mon-Sun 10:00 – 22:00
Website: muzeumpovesti.cz/en

Prague had a very turbulent history involving invasions, insurgencies, wars, etc. Out of this turbulence and death, many legends arose. They come in many ways: holy, unholy, headless, skeletal, filled with love, hatred, etc. The Prague Ghosts and Legends Museum is a living collection of these stories that surround the streets of Prague.

The Prague Ghosts and Legends Museum is divided into two main levels: the interactive ground floor and the underground basement.

On the interactive ground floor, you will see an exhibition of the main legends from the city, either coming out of the walls or in the shape of objects related to them. In case you want to read more about them, you can purchase a book containing their stories in the ticket office, or download their app.

In the underground basement, you will find the ghosts. Simulating medieval Prague, without cars and bright lights, you will experience how it must have been like to face one of these spirits while strolling across the city during the 16th century. Some you will see clearly, but others you will need some investigating to find.

Museum of Medieval Torture

Location: Křižovnické nám. 194/1 | Near Charles Bridge
Opening: Mon-Sun 10:00 – 22:00
Website: museumtorture.com/

The Museum of Medieval Torture displays over 80 of the most famous and important torture machines used by the courts during the Middle Ages. It serves as a rich historical and cultural reserve, preserving the haunting past behind the Czech Republic.

On the image above, you can see something called a scold’s bridle, used to hurt and humiliate people accused of being witches. This was actually the most softcore thing I found in this museum, so be aware that you will find a lot of suffering pumped up with the sounds of people screaming, moaning, and crying.

Even though this museum if not for the faint-hearted, it is definitely a must-see. Torture has been a common practice in medieval history and much can be learned from the people who both utilized and suffered from them.

Museum of Communism

Location: V Celnici 1031/4 | Near the Powder Tower
Opening: Mon-Sun 9:00 – 20:00
Website: muzeumkomunismu.cz/en/

The Czech Republic had a very troubled recent past when it comes to communism. Decades of censorship, persecution, and executions. To avoid past mistakes it is important to remember them, and this is the role of the Museum of Communism in Prague.

Housed in a space of nearly 1,500 square meters, the Museum of Communism provides visitors with an authentic feel of the communist era in Czechoslovakia, enhanced by the incorporation of short videos, posters, and artifacts.

The Museum of Communism shows the daily life, politics, history, sports, economics, education, art, propaganda in the media, the People’s Militias, the army, the secret police, censorship, and courts and other institutes of repression, including show trials and political labor camps during the Stalinist era.

Speculum Alchemiae

Location:  Haštalská 1 | Near the Spanish Synagogue
Opening: Mon-Wed 10:00 – 18:00
Website: alchemiae.cz/en

In the late Middle Ages and early Modernity, science and mysticism were one. Researches were trying to discover the secrets of nature, no matter if gravitation (harmony of the spheres) or the secret to eternal life. The Speculum Alchemiae is another great place to learn about the alchemist past of Prague.

During the reconstruction of one of the oldest historical buildings of Prague, one of the oldest alchemical laboratories in the region has been found. It was incredibly preserved, especially after the demolition of the Jewish quarter at the end of the 19th century.

It contains a main study room, normal to untrained eyes but hiding a secret passage to the underground laboratories. The underground rooms are many, containing furnaces for experimenting with different metals, laboratories for the production of different elixirs, etc.

Museum of Illusions

Location: Staroměstské nám. 480/24 | Near the Astronomical Clock
Opening: Mon-Sun 10:00 – 20:00
Website: iamprague.eu/en

The Illusion Art Museum of Prague (IAM Prague) is the Czech Republic’s first museum dedicated to illusion and trick art, located on Old Town Square, directly across from the iconic astronomical clock, locally known as Orloj. 

Here you will find illusion art in many different styles: some rooted deep in history, others modern and contemporary. The peak of the exhibition are anamorphic installations representing historical figures in unexpected ways, from metallurgical panting, trick art, spatial illusions, etc.

These works of art are not random, but rather from established and internationally-recognized artists such as Patrick Hughes and Patrik Proško. Apart from these famous artists, you can also find the work of smaller local artists, providing a truly unique experience.

Tower Museum

Location: Karlův most Praha 1 | One the Charles Bridge
Opening: Mon-Sun 10:00 – 18:00
Website: No Website

The tower on the Charles Bridge is the bucket-list of most tourists who visit Prague, but few know that there is something more than a view to it. If you pay close attention, after you cross the door, you have the possibility of not only going up to the tower, but also going underground.

Although not really a full museum, the exhibitions under the tower are definitely nice to see, especially if you already bought the ticket for climbing the tower to get a view of the Charles bridge.

It contains a video exhibition, telling the story of the construction of the Charles bridge, as well as many ‘archeological pieces’ found during the many reforms the bridge has gone under. You can find a lot of fun stuff there, the ones that most surprised me were some Brazilian credit cards.

Incredible Museums To Visit In Munich

With over 80 museums to choose from, Munich is definitely one of the best picks in Europe for culture lovers, holding exhibitions from prehistory to modern art.

Note that most museums are closed on Mondays. Apart from that, during Sundays, there is a special admission charge of only €1 for state-owned museums, which will be marked throughout this post.

Alte Pinakothek

Location: Barer Str. 27 | Kunstareal
Opening: Mon CLOSED, Tue-Wed 10:00 – 20:30, Thu-Sun 10:00 – 18:00
Website: pinakothek.de/en/visit/alte-pinakothek

Around 700 European paintings from the 14th to the 18th century are on display in the 19 halls and 47 cabinets of the Alte Pinakothek.

Alte Pinakothek History

The Old Pinakothek was built on behalf of King Ludwig I, opening its doors in 1836. The architect Leo von Klenze has created it as a groundbreaking museum building, mostly lit by skylights and with the accompanying cabinets on the north side being also exemplary for other museum buildings.

The building was sadly destroyed during the Second World War but then rebuilt by Hans Döllgast in 1957, with the missing facade parts replaced by exposed brick masonry, a symbolic gesture to remember the ‘wounds’ of the city’s troubled past. He created an impressive example of the architecture of reconstruction.

Pinakothek der Moderne

Location: Barer Str. 40 | Kunstareal
Opening: Mon CLOSED, Tue-Sun 10:00-18:00
Website: pinakothek.de/besuch/sammlung-moderne-kunst-der-pinakothek-der-moderne

With an area of ​​approximately 12,000 m², the Pinakothek der Moderne majestically displays an overall view of the art coming from the 20th and 21st centuries.

Pinakothek der Moderne History

The Pinakothek der Moderne was designed by Stephan Braunfels and opened its doors in 2002. It is known by the locals as the ‘Third Pinakothek’, after the Old and the New. It is one of the largest collections of modern and contemporary art, as well as architecture and design, in Europe.

Under its roof are four completely independent museums: the Neue Sammlung – the International Design Museum, the Collection of Modern Art, the Museum of Architecture and the Graphics Collection.

Staatlichen Museum Ägyptischer Kunst

Location: Gabelsbergerstraße 35 | Kunstareal
Opening: Mon CLOSED, Tue-Sun 10:00-18:00
Website: smaek.de/

Although this museum is not one of the greats in its field, it has one of the highest quality collections in terms of its size and is a sought-after lender internationally. Many of the objects displayed here, especially in the field of round sculpture, are world-class works of art.

Staatlichen Museum Ägyptischer Kunst History

The foundations for the collection were laid at the beginning of the 19th century by the Bavarian King Ludwig I, who already began to acquire the first Egyptian monuments for his planned Glyptothek while being Crown Prince. The second pillar in the collection history of the Egyptian Museum of Munich is the acquisitions of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences, especially sarcophagi and steles.

Museum Brandhorst

Location: Theresienstraße 35a | Kunstareal
Opening: Mon CLOSED, Tue-Sun 10:00-18:00
Website: www.pinakothek.de/besuch/museum-brandhorst

Why should you visit the Museum Brandhorst? Over 1,200 works of art from the 1960s to the present day. The largest collection of works by Cy Twombly, the largest collection of works by Andy Warhol in Europe, highlights of the neo-avant-garde and postmodernism and emerging figures of contemporary art.

Museum Brandhorst History

The Museum Brandhorst has started from the private collection of Anette and Udo Brandhorst. After being transferred to a foundation in 1993, the collection was made accessible to the public with the opening of Museum Brandhorst in 2009 and has since been part of the Bavarian State Painting Collections.

NS-Dokumentationszentrum

Location: Max-Mannheimer-Platz 1 | Kunstareal
Opening: Mon CLOSED, Tue-Sun 10:00-19:00
Website: ns-dokuzentrum-muenchen.de

This important exhibition started in May 2015, placing Munich as a central place for learning and remembrance of the crimes committed by the National Socialist dictatorship. It educates and creates awareness around the causes, characteristics, and consequences of the Nazi regime up to the present day.

NS-Dokumentationszentrum History

It is impossible to separate the rise of Nazism from the history of Munich. The building known as the “Brown House” in Brienner Strasse was the first headquarter of the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP). At this historic location, the building of the National Socialism Documentation Center was built.

Jagd- und Fischereimuseum

Location: Neuhauser Str. 2 | Near Marienplatz
Opening: Mon-Sun 9:30-17:00
Website: jagd-fischerei-museum.de/

This unusual museum in the former Augustinian church displays everything related to hunting and fishing stemming from German-speaking countries. In addition to historical, there are also natural history and ecological exhibition areas. You can experience more about fishing in the “Water World Fish Stories” area, or learn more about the local wildlife on the “Forest Trail” section of the museum.

Jagd- und Fischereimuseum History

The origins of the German Hunting and Fishing Museum can be traced back to the period around the early 20th century when Germany experienced numerous historical and natural history-oriented museum foundations. For hunters, forestry officials and association officials, the idea of ​​a German hunting museum seemed perfect, but the plan was delayed for financial reasons.

With the Nazi government takeover, things took a turn after the official approval of Adolf Hitler as well as sponsorships coming from politicians, businessmen, and hunters. In 1934, with the support of the influential NSDAP Treasurer Franz Xaver Schwarz, the acquisition of the world-famous antler collection of Count Arco was realized in Munich and the foundations for the future hunting museum were laid.  The Deutsches Jagdmuseum was later founded in Munich in the same year.

Staatliche Antikensammlungen

Location: Königsplatz 1 | Kunstareal
Opening: Mon CLOSED, Tue-Sun 10:00-17:00
Website: antike-am-koenigsplatz.mwn.de/

The soul of the Greeks, Etruscans, and Romans inhabit the Antikensammlungen at the Königsplatz. Not only works of art but also everyday objects made out of ceramics, metal, and stone allow visitors to immerse themselves in the amazing world of antiquity.

Staatliche Antikensammlungen History

The earliest collections of the museum come from the Kunstkammer of Duke Albrecht V of Bavaria (1550-1579). The Wittelsbachers extended their art collection in the “Antiquarium” of the Munich Residence over the centuries according to their personal interests. Finally, as the crown prince, Louis I began to acquire antiquities in Italy on a large scale.

Right before the museum was reopened in 1967 named as “Staatliche Antikensammlungen”, the diplomat Hans von Schoen (1876-1969) donated his collection to the museum. The last significant addition came from the more than 700 gems and ring stones from the Helmut Hansmann collection (1924-1996).