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Hungarian State Opera House

This Neo-Renaissance opera house on Andrássy út features world-class acoustics, and has seen many an important resident.

TravelCurious Tip

If you go to an evening performance, dress the part. You won’t be turned away for scruffiness, but you will feel out of place!

Miklós Ybl was one of the great Hungarian architects. He designed the Várkert Bazaar, parts of St. Stephen’s Basilica and the Rácz Thermal Bath — but the Hungarian State Opera House, built in 1884, is perhaps his finest contribution to Budapest.

Set off the beautiful Andrássy Avenue, the opera house is approached by streets paved with small wooden cubes. Once the whole avenue was paved in the same way and traversed exclusively by horse and carriage; now this romantic image is the preserve of the opera house.

Its style is neo-Renaissance, with a Baroque twist. The façade is adorned with statues of muses and opera greats, celebrating the links between European and Hungarian music. So statues of Liszt Ferenc and Erkel Ferenc stand alongside those of Mozart and Puccini. It is a heritage the opera house deserves: Gustav Mahler was once its artistic director.

Within, the decor is opulent. The marble columns and gilded vaulted ceilings show the wear of time, which lends them an old world air. The auditorium is vast, seating 1300 people and illuminated by a huge chandelier that weights over three tonnes and was crafted in Mainz especially. A magnificent fresco of the Greek gods on Olympus provides a worthy audience for the spectacles.

Good vibrations

The opera house was designed with precise attention to its acoustics. A recent study rated its acoustics as the third best in Europe, after only the Scala in Milan and the Opera Garnier in Paris. Sometimes third place isn’t so bad.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Budapest
Andrássy út
A lovely boulevard named as a World Heritage Site, lined with spectacular Neo-Renaissance mansions and luxury boutiques.
St Stephen's Basilica
A neoclassical cathedral dedicated to the first Christian king of Hungary; his (alleged) right hand is housed in its reliquary.
Great Synagogue
Europe's largest - and the second largest in the world - this imposing Moorish Revival synagogue dates from 1859.
Hungarian Parliament Building
On the bank of the Danube, this impressive building displays an eclectic mixture of architectural styles and is home to the Crown of St Stephen.
Buda Castle
The historical residence of Hungarian royalty, this impressive palace complex has seen a series of transformations since the mid-13th century.
Hungarian Goulash
Hungary is the birthplace of goulash, a delicious meat stew spiced with paprika.

Related Tours

Visit Pest: Urban Half Day Highlights with Private Guide
In this four hour walking tour, your expert local guide will direct you to some of the important historical and cultural sites of the Pest.

  • Explore the importance of the Danube to Pest in ancient times
  • Visit the Great Synagogue, Europe’s biggest place of worship for the Jewish faith 
  • Stroll the leafy Andrássy út boulevard, passing by the National Opera House 
  • Find out what drove Buda and Pest to unify as one large capital city
  • Discover Pest’s stunning array of architectural styles, from Turkish era to Art Nouveau
  • Snap pictures of St Stephen's Basilica, a neoclassical cathedral 
  • Enjoy the buzz of Pest, a vibrant cultural hub on the eastern banks of the Danube
  • Discover the significance of the monument at the heart of  Heroes' Square 
  • End your tour at  Széchenyi Spa, a colour-rich bathing complex in Art Nouveau style
Your tour will begin at the formidable Hungarian Parliament Building, which boasts a truly eclectic mix of architectural styles. Straddling the Danube, this stunning building is home to the Crown of St Stephen, a historically significant treasure of the Hungarian nation, bequeathed by Pope Sylvester II on Christmas Day in the year 1000. Another highlight is St Stephen’s Basilica, a neoclassical cathedral named after the first king of Hungary that is supposedly where his right hand is entombed. 

Budapest’s Great Synagogue - a statuesque landmark that ranks amongst the world’s largest places of worship for the Jewish faith - was consecrated in the city in 1859. A stroll down Andrássy út Boulevard will take you past the National Opera House built in glorious neo-Renaissance style. 

Towards the end of the boulevard, the Heroes’ Square is one of Budapest’s favourite public spaces: a popular gathering point with a monument dedicated to the Magyar (Hungarian) conquest at its heart. Your final destination on the half day tour of Pest is the largest spa in Europe, the mosaic-rich Széchenyi Spa, an immense bathing complex built in elaborate Art Nouveau style, where you have the option of purchasing tickets to explore the bubbling hot springs and steaming pools of curative waters, enjoyed throughout the centuries by around 100-million bathers.  
The Ultimate Private Full Day Highlights Tour of Budapest
In this seven hour tour with private transport, your expert local guide will direct you to some of the most important historical and cultural sites of Budapest.

  • Commence your tour on Castle Hill, which offers phenomenal panoramas of the city 
  • Visit the Great Synagogue, Europe’s biggest place of worship for the Jewish faith 
  • Stroll the leafy Andrássy út boulevard, passing by the Hungarian National Opera House 
  • Enjoy the buzz of Pest, a vibrant cultural hub on the eastern banks of the Danube
  • Discover the significance of the monument at the heart of Heroes' Square 
  • Revel in the quietude of Buda and its characterful, storied streets.
  • Find out what drove Buda and Pest to unify as one large capital city
  • Discover Budapest’s stunning array of architectural styles, from Turkish era to Art Nouveau
  • Admire the scale and finery of the Hungarian Parliament Building 
  • Admire the elegance of St Stephen's Basilica, a neoclassical cathedral 
  • Explore the importance of the Danube to Budapest since ancient times
  • End your tour at  Széchenyi Spa, a colour-rich bathing complex in Art Nouveau style
Origins of Budapest

Budapest is blessed with some truly superb, grand buildings in Gothic, Art Nouveau, Romantic, Neo-Gothic and Turkish era style: a pleasing mix of genres that draws millions of culture buffs to the city each year.  The capital of Hungary is the administrative, cultural, economic, educational, financial and trade hub of the nation. The mighty River Danube, broad and sweeping, neatly dissects the city, with the old city of Buda extending into the hills on the west bank and Pest sitting in the lowlands to the east. As Hungary’s largest metropolitan hub, Budapest boasts more diversity in its ethnicity still, combined with the historical legacies of Asiatic conquer, Mongol invasion, Ottoman siege, German control and Soviet rule. 

From Castle Hill to Heroes’ Square

Immerse yourself in the unique character of Budapest with its beautiful buildings, fairytale towers, storied streets, Hungarian culture, quirky communist-era sites and gritty spirit. Stroll some of the streets to access treasures best viewed on foot and journey via luxury transport to the city’s far-flung corners. Your expert local guide will provide a narrative to your exploration of Budapest’s most compelling historical and cultural sites.Visit Castle Hill, an elevated focal point of Budapest’s history that is home to some of the city’s most iconic medieval monuments such as the fairytale towers at the Fisherman’s Bastion and handsome Matthias Church with its royal connections. Prepare to be wowed by the sheer size and scale of the Hungarian Parliament Building, which boasts an eclectic mix mixture of architectural styles. It is here that the Crown of St Stephen, one of the most historically significant Hungarian treasures, is held on behalf of the nation.

The St Stephen’s Basilica, an elegant neoclassical cathedral named after the first king of Hungary, is the most sacred of all Catholic church in the country and took 54 years to construct, finally opening in 1905. Similarly impressive is the Great Synagogue, one of the largest places of worship of the Jewish faith in the world. In the Pest area of the city you will be able to admire the National Opera House, a temple of acoustic perfection, in a building of resplendent neo-Renaissance style. Nearby, find Heroes’ Square at the end of Andrássy Street, a neatly paved plaza built in the late 1800’s that is now topped with a monument to Hungarian conquest. Our final stop is the Széchenyi Spa, an Art Nouveau bathing complex of grand decor filled with hot bubbling pools, outside baths and whirlpools. The largest spa baths in Europe, the Széchenyi Spa boasts iconic status in Hungary and is used by people of all ages, including families, for bathing rituals in its spring-fed curative bathhouse. You are free to enjoy the spa at your leisure at the end of the tour.
Communism to Democracy with Private Guide and entrance to House of Terror Museum
This private walking tour through central Pest will take you through the Hungarian political history of the twenty-first century. 

  • Commence your tour outside the Parliament House, where you will learn the backdrop of Hungarian politics in the preceding centuries. 
  • Visit the Memorial to the 1956 Revolution, which subsequently led to the rule of the communists for nearly four decades.
  • Then continue your journey through Liberty Square and hear stories of Hungary's Communist past
  • Explore a collection of retro bars and butcher shops as you wander through the central district while discussing life under communist rule.
  • Lastly finish your tour at the House of Terror Museum (entrance tickets included), where you will see remnants of the Iron Curtain.
  • Your guide will depart with you at the museum before you enter, having laid the context for you to enjoy the museum with the complexity and nuance of the country's history. 
This experience chronologies the turbulent history of communism within Hungary, navigating through the rise and fall of this political regime. Discover how the scars of communism are scattered across the city – through architecture and memorialisation – and form a unique understanding of Hungarian politics. 
When the Second World War drew to a close, Hungary was a democratic country with several parties for three years, and thereafter declared a People’s Republic, when socialist ideals announced the nation’s goals. By 1950, nationalisation meant the state-controlled a majority of the economy, causing friction between the people and the government. This tumultuous relationship culminated in the 1956 revolution, in which it became clear that Hungary’s unique political structure demanded an individualised form of communism. During the 1960s to the late 80s, Goulash Communism was born, but Hungary faced a transition to western-style democracy in 1989. Since, the country became a parliamentary republic, joined NATO in 1999, and integrated with the EU in 2004. 

On your tour, you will spend two hours with a private guide journeying through the complex history which led to the rise and fall of communism in Hungary. At the end of your tour, your guide will part with you at the House of Terror Museum after helping you purchase tickets (included). Then, visit the museum at your own pace as you delve into the history of Hungary's two reigns of terror. 


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